I recently took a camping trip with a friend to a very large fire burned area of Lake County California. We passed through at least two different fire zones probably burned two or three years apart. The main area was only burned in 2018, so the ecology had only this past summer to show the effects. It was very interesting to look at the response of the plants and strategies for survival. I have two videos from that trip now on YouTube linked here. I also have some pictures, which anyone that follows me on Intstagram has probably already seen.
The main purpose of the trip was to get high enough up into the mountains to find some Incense Cedar for friction fire boards. This is my favorite wood for that purpose. I’ve been meaning to get out there for literally years so that I can make fire kits to sell. I’ve sold these in the past. The idea is to put together known good, tested kits so that anyone practicing hand drill fire making can know that the kit is reliable and that if the fire isn’t happening, it’s a matter of working on technique, not continually trying new kits of unknown quality. On day two, after driving over 25 miles of rough dirt roads we reached about 4500 feet and started seeing new species of trees. It was dusk and I was like, okay, 15 more minutes of driving and it’s time to give up on the mission. 5 minuets later, the first cedar tree was spotted, and in a few minutes found a nice downed trunk, busted out the chainsaw, threw a bunch of rounds in the truck and drove home late into the night. It was also hunting season on public land, so I wasn’t crazy about hanging around there the following morning.
The cedar wood is seasoning and will be minced up with a bandsaw into 1/2 inch boards. I’ve found that a good cedar board will work with almost any good drill, and most cedar boards are better than good. Once I get some boards sawn up, seasoned out and kits tested, I’ll have them available in the store.
I also took 15 minutes to see how much charcoal I could pick up as free biochar. The result was about 2 cubic feet per hour, or 5 hours to amend a 100 square foot bed to 10% charcoal at 12 inches deep. I’m convinced I could at least double that collection rate though, using a rake and not worrying about dirt and leaves and stuff.