Can You Feel The Heat
-36 degrees and a near empty fuel bottle, possibly 2-3 ounces left. I go to pump up the pressure and am met with no resistance, not a good sign when using a pressurized system. Getting nowhere, I decide to go through the process of lighting up the stove anyway.
Turn the valve and wait for the right amount of fuel to fill the priming cup. You hear it first, then you can see the liquid pooling in the small cup. Too much and you will have an inferno, to little and you won't heat things up enough.
I had neglected to bring a lighter, instead relying on matches and a spark tool. The latter had been working remarkably well up until now, but with the extreme cold and the pain in my fingers, fiddling with the spark device made no sense ( I still believe this is the best way to go, but I will defer judgement until I can try another brand...). I grabbed a match and the strike panel, hoping beyond hope that the first match would lite. I broke the first match and had to root around for the second one. The strike panel fell apart, now I had to dig another one out. I know that someone must make a water/moisture resistant and durable striker -- something that is now on the top of my purchase list, right next to down camp booties.
The second match lit and the little priming cup sprang to life. The flame started small and slowly began to build. I was doing this in my little cuben fiber shelter, not the smartest of things, but something necessitated by the conditions. Besides I thought, the tent was completely frozen -- I am sure there is no way it could catch fire... I did have the opening tied bag, but still, as the flame grew larger I used a pot to fan it away from the sensitive material.
As with all priming exercises the flame began to dwindle as I watched for the moment, that perfect moment, to turn on the flow of gas, the moment that does not cause a flare up, but instead beautiful blue flame and the lovely sound of a pressurized stove working. I did not know what would happen as I turned up the gas, so it was with great enthusiasm that everything worked as it should. Water boiled, shoes defrosted, hands warmed, even if only for the briefest of moments.
This, this is why you pay money for good gear that just does what it is supposed to do. The MSR Universal has been bomber so far.