There’s something about the campfire that is indescribably appealing to all of us. Maybe it’s the process of making the fire, or maybe it’s just the show the flames put on flawlessly every time. Whatever it is, it is, the campfire is arguably the best part about any camping trip or adventure.
It all starts with the simple plan of figuring out how much wood you’ll need for the trip, because even though we all have fancy, warm down-jackets; the fire is really the only true source of warmth on a chilly night. Is it going to be a 2 bundle night, 3 bundle? Multiply that by each night and plus some for the morning. Then comes the act of making the fire. You already have the logs, but you can’t just go lighting those hunks of wood on fire so you need to get kindling. And after finally getting a sharp enough hatchet to chop down the wood into smaller, burn-able, pieces. Swing by swing, the logs get smaller and smaller and the pile of kindling gets bigger and bigger. And then comes the fire!
Stacking wood and getting the first bit of scavenged wood sticks to burn is truly an art. Depending on how quickly the tiny sticks catch, how windy the conditions are, and worst of all, was there recent rain. But once that flame ignites and sticks around, you officially have a fire! One by one you stack the wood, sometimes on top of one another, other times in the shape of a Tee-Pee. Either way, the process of building a fire and maintaining it brings out our most inner evolution drive. And to think, all this takes a dozen minutes or even more sometimes, but happens with a push of a button in our homes.
Sitting around a roaring, or even just smoldering fire is mesmerizing. The flames dance all night long to a beat all of their own. Rising up, reaching into the starry night’s sky. The true colors of red, orange, yellow, and white all exist and disappearing at the same time. The more we stare into the flames, the more we see. As the flames take over the logs that spawned them, the wood turns a dark black highlighted by streaks of hot red throughout. And then there’s the heat. A sphere of warmth that surrounds the fire is what brings us all together. A few feet away, the cold can attack. But stand near the fire, a sense of safety exists.
Because it forces us all to surround the fire for warmth, a sense of community immediately is created. Whether it’s you and your significant other, a group of your friends, or strangers you met that night in camp, a fire is the ultimate tool for creating a sense of belonging. No matter how you started your day, or where you came from, the campfire is right where you’re supposed to be. That, mixed with a bottle of whiskey and a few beers, really can tie a night together. Quickly, story after story begin to be shared. Some that others can relate to, others are just personal accounts of epic days in the mountains. Through the spoken stories, strangers can become friends, friends can become life-long friends, and even some times friends can become lovers.
I’m not saying that a campfire is some magical place or moment in time, but it has that indescribable experience associated with it. If you don’t believe me, next time you’re out with friends by a campfire, remember that feeling. Then, as you get up from your chair to retire to your tent for the night, remember how much different it feels. Just as the warmth of the fire leaves your side, so does the closeness you felt with everyone around you. Those moments and stories you shared can never be recreated or recaptured, only left to our memories. I guess I am trying to say that a campfire is a magical place. It’s the place I’ve felt closest with my friends, and even more so with my girlfriend. All of this, because of a few pieces of wood, burning into the night, throwing off a little bit of heat. Seems magical to me, doesn’t it?