Christopher Nyerges' Survival Walk

Jan 03, 2009 at Hahamonga Park in Pasadena

I try to attend one of Christopher's walks whenever I am in California. It was a beautiful day, a chance to reconnect with old friends, to make new friends, and to learn and share primitive skills.

Christopher has conducted these walks since the 1970s. He does so almost every weekend. To learn more, go to

#1. (L-R) Robert, Tony, Tonya, Gary.

#2. Alan, The Fire God.

#3. Tonya makes fire with batteries and steel wool.

#4. Christopher discusses fire making with a parabolic car headlamp and a large fresnal lense.

#5. (L-R) Tony, Tonya, Gary, Pierro, Daniella.

#6. Robert gets a fire going with the Doan's tool (magnesium and ferrocerium).

#7. Tony makes fire with batteries and steel wool.

#8. Robert makes fire with batteries and steel wool.

#9. Tony makes fire with flint and steel and steel wool.

#10. Mike catches a spark on charred cloth.

#11. Pierro catches a spark on charred cloth.

#12. Robert catches a spark on charred cloth.

#13. "Cool". Yup.

#15. Young stinging nettles. (We didn't use these. We had a salad only. These must be cooked.)

#16. Tony gathers mugwort for tinder.

#17. Christopher gathers mulefat for fire spindles.

#19. Me with Tony ("Flint" on the Hoodlums forum). Note that Tony is wearing a wool shirt, scarf, and down vest, and I am wearing a t-shirt. Not hard to guess which of us lives in southern California and which of us lives in Chicago!

In anticipation of questions, my t-shirt says "If you torture your data long enough..." on the front, and " will confess" on the back. It's a reference to statistical analysis. Guys like me find it funny. Normal people do not.

And check out the hat! Soon to be made available on Thanks, Alan!

#20. Christopher points out curly dock. The leaves can be added to our salad, but only a few will be added as these are kinda old and consequently they can be a little sour tasting. The seeds can be winnowed and mixed 50/50 with flour as you would California buckwheat.

#21. Alan and Tony.

#23. Cattail fluff.

#24. The fluff easily catches a spark from a ferrocerium rod, but it burns down very quickly. It is best used along with other tinders.

#25. Tony will be taking home an armload of stuff. I hope his wife is understanding.

#26. A staple on Christopher's walks is Chickweed. But watch out for the hemlock which often grows amongst it!

#27. Gary makes a willow fire board for hand drill fire.

#28. Mike makes a willow fire board for hand drill fire. In the background, Alan is talking on the phone to Dude who used the "family stuff" excuse to explain his absence. I miss the old guy.

#41. Jim gets an ember with the bow drill.

#29. Jim blows the ember to flame.

#30. Alan explains the finer points of the hand drill. He should know! He is recognized in these parts as having the world record for producing an ember: two seconds!

#31. He makes it look so easy. He stresses it is more about constant downward pressure than about speed. Want to know more? See

#32. Daniella makes the salad, which clearly pleases Christopher.

#34. Tonya and Nellie.

#35. Robert gets his first hand drill fire. You never forget your first!

#37. Jim coaches Tony on bringing the ember to a flame.

#39. He's got it!

#40. Alan showed us that you don't need a closed tin to make char cloth. A tall can on the fire will work. But don't let the flames reach over the rim of the can.

#42. Team fire making. Use the "Egyptian" fire bow technique for tying the rope to the spindle. This is a lot of fun with three people, and quite simple!

Copyright © 2009 by Bill Qualls. Last updated Jan 03, 2009.
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