As you gaze around from inside the grove of Red Spruce that will be your home for the night, visions start dancing in your head of sitting by the campfire silently. At this point, you’re slightly conflicted. Your feet are tired from the hike, and your hammock only takes five minutes to set up. On the other hand, it’s much easier to gather firewood before you sit down to take a load off, because you know you won’t want to get back up for a while.
Walking over to the two trees that will be your foundation, you drop your pack and unclasp the top pouch. Shoving your hand into the nylon bird’s nest inside, you feel around and find your folding saw. Your decision has been made. Firewood gathering will come first. After a large swig of water, you wander over towards the thicker trees, secretly hoping you will come across a full cord of seasoned, split hickory that a good Samaritan has left. A quality fire is all about preparation, so you’ve resolved yourself to 45 minutes of gathering.
Behind a few rhododendrons, you spot a tall maple tree peeking out. Here’s hoping it’s dropped a few branches.