Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wild Edible Addition

I added a new wild edible to my knowledge collection. Chickweed. I was watching Dual Survival the other day and there was a quick segment where Cody found some and put it on Dave's cut. I did a little research and decided that it would be a good edition to my repetoir.

I had a good idea what it looked like from my research and when I was heading over to play some volleyball, I saw some and tried it out. It does taste like corn silk and I'm sure it would be a good addition to a salad or as a cooked green. It has a lot of vitamins and can act as a duritic, antihistimine or externally as a pultice on a cut, bite, burn or rash. Seems like a good addition to my library.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Earth Day

For me, every day is Earth Day. I love being out of doors and doing things outdoors. Today we went to Lowes and got a free White Spruce tree sapling to plant. I put it in a pot and we will keep it there this year. Next spring, we will find a place to plant it.

Also, I have been planning on on expanding the small garden a little and today we got some wood and top soil and I got it done. Ginger likes to go back there and bark at the neighbor dogs, but she will adjust fine.

Today started out a little cool and rainy, but it turned rather warm later and turned out to be a rather nice day. Around sunset, Ginger and I headed into the woods and she got to play with her friends for a while. I then came home and made a little fire in the chimera out back. I tried to do a bow drill, but it didn't seem to be cooperating and I just flashed some spark into my nice birds nest with my ferro.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Camelback Mountian Trek

After a great night at the Wagner's, I decided to take Johns suggestion and made plans to head to Camelback Mountain to do the climb. Camelback is a very popular place and once I had carved out some time in the day and headed over the parking lot was a full as I feared. The car in front of me was waiting at the beginning of the circle right next to the sign that says you are not allowed to do that. I sat for a while and after a few minutes a car came out and he had his space. I came up and sat for a bit and two girls coming down pointed to their left. I figured they were pointing to an empty spot and as luck would have it, there was. I quickly parked grabbed my pack and headed up the trail.

The trail starts up as steps leading up the hill and very quickly turns into steep rock strewn climbing. This first picture is from a few hundred yards up the trail looking down to the full parking lot.

It was just about noon as I headed up and it was quite hot. There were lots of people heading up and down. Some kids that looked like they were having no problems at all and some teens that would just buzz right past me as the jogged/trekked up the trail. I would try to keep a steady pace, stopping to rest every once and a while and constantly drinking water as the sweat poured out of me. I had to take this picture to get the cactus in the frame. The views were already spectacular and kept getting better as I got higher.

At one point I stopped to rest and drink and I looked down and saw this little guy looking up at me, so I took his picture. After that I saw quite a few lizards and on the way down saw a huge iguana. Some of the trail was so steep there was a hand rail that you could use to help you get up and down. It was quite a trek. Just when you thought you had reached a summit, you would see another climb that was hidden a short time ago and the climb would continue.

I got to one point that was about 3/4 up to the top and had to sit for a bit and rest. I took this self portrait as a memento. I was pretty tired at this point, but determined to get to the top. By now, even though I was constantly sipping water, I was feeling the effects of losing so much sweat. The climb up was exhausting as you were constantly using your legs and hands to get a little higher, seeking good places to put your feet; sometimes fairly easy rises, sometimes large ones that took some good leg work.

I could see the summit by now and was more determined than ever to get to it. The last leg was just as hard as the rest, but before long, I was at the top. There was a nice breeze and I sat for a bit, drank the rest of the water I had in my first bottle and then started the trek down.

Going down wasn't as fatiguing as coming up, but it was a constant set of squats as I would bend to get low and not slip, then I would lower my legs using my hands to support and then move to the next drop. After a while I knew why I had seen some of the hikers wearing gloves. The rock of the mountain is a rather rough granite that would start to wear on your hands for a while.

I was able to get down 15 minutes faster than coming up, but the whole hike was a good 1:45 with a distance covered of about 2.4 miles or so. The elevation gain was 1,264 feet.

It really felt good to do this hike and even though I was shivering with dehydration, I felt good after the hike.

All night long my legs complained about what I had done to them and in the morning my quads, calves and even my heels were very sore. It was quite a good workout.

I thank John and Candy for recommending this hike. It was certainly better than sitting in a conference that covered stuff that I had not interest or involvement in. I would love to be able to do something like this on a weekly basis. It would be such a good workout.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Desert

It was 50 some degrees and there was rain in the air when I boarded the Southwest jet bound for the land of Cody Lundin. I was headed to Phoenix Arizona and a work conference on communications.

I landed in 88 degree sunshine and into a landscape I am not too used to. I headed up to my hotel and settled in.

I called an old friend who lives in the area and went over for an evening of steak, salad, tater tots and beer. There was also lots of catching up and reminiscing. They have a beautiful house in a wonderful neighborhood. It was a good time seeing their grown and growing children and seeing that they were still doing good.

Today is supposed to be 90, but I should be indoors most of the day and doing the job I came here to do.

Time for breakfast.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Schramm's Woods Overnight - Recap

The overnight went very well. Pretty much as planned. After packing and repacking my pack I had all I needed and was ready to go. Around 1900, I headed out and walked into the woods. As I got to the PS I saw a group of people down slope towards the Green Haven houses, but they were heading out by then.

I got my shelter up and set out my sleeping bag. The sun was due to go down at 1945, so around about 15 minutes before that, I got the fire going. I made some noodles for supper and settled in to enjoy the woods in the evening hours. I had brought a six pack and started working my way through it.

The evening was pleasant and I worked on making another frog gig using a length of pine and some hanger parts. At around 2200 I hit the sack and slept as best I could through the night. Of course it is still sleeping on the ground. The sleeping pad is pretty thin and not very good and I had pillow issues as usual. This time I put my rain gear in a dry bag and sealed it up. I was hoping the air would stay int there and help make the pillow soft, but it seemed to lose its air after a while.

I awoke around 0600 got the fire going made some oatmeal and broke camp. I had a bit of a headache from the beers, but other then that it was a good night out.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Tonight I am finally going to get into Schramm's Woods and do an overnighter. It will just be a simple set up and sleep over to see how my Modular Sleep System works. I may cool some noodles in the evening and maybe some oatmeal in the morning if I feel like it.

It shouldn't be too difficult or anything. I saw a list on a forum where the guy tried to limit his kit to 15 items. I am going to try the same. Here is what I plan on packing in:

1. Knife
2. Fire Kit
3. Space Blanket (Shelter)
4. Sleeping bag (MSS)
5. Bivi bag
6. Roll mat
7. Cook Kit
8. Cordage
9. Head Lamp
10. Saw
11. Food and water
12. Spork
13. Hygiene kit
14. FAK
15. Rain Gear

All will easily fit into my Medium Alice pack. I hope to head into the woods later in the day when the kids have headed home, so I don't attract any undue attention. Set up should be quick; just a cordage line with the space blanket set up in lean to fashion. Start the fire and enjoy the evening. A few beers should help set the mood. I should take a project to do, if I can think of one.

Today is supposed to be about 60 degrees and it should go into the 40s overnight. Saturday speaks of showers and thunder storms all day long.

Update - 1644:
I have played with the pack a few times; going through the list and just putting what I need in it. I weighed it and it was about 3olbs. Quite a lot for a one nighter that is about 500 yards from my house. The MSS itself is 10lbs. I took everything out, dumped the black sleeping bag and repacked everything and I like the feel a little better now. I put the main sleeping bag inside the Alice (it just wasn't full enough with what I was taking) and wrapped the sleeping pad in the bivi and put that on the outside. Ginger and I will be taking a walk into the woods soon and then I will head in about 1900 or so. Sunset is scheduled for 1945. Let the fun begin.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Michaux State Forest Plan

Something I have been obsessing about lately is taking a trip up into PA and hiking the trails of Michaux State Forest. This looks like a perfect place to spend some time in the bush and maybe do some dispersed camping. I have been pouring over the maps of the area and have a general plan from where to park, what trails I want to take to possible places to camp. I will have to be open to changes as I have never been there and I don't really know what the place is like. The AT goes through the forest and I plan on moving along it for a ways, but then I want to head down towards a lake that is within the forest. I will continue to plan and study the area and hope to get up there within a few weeks. It is only about a 2 hour drive from the house, so it should be easy to get to. I do however will want to spend some time there exploring once I drive that distance. Onwards...

Personal Space (PS)

Here is a picture of my Personal Space aka PS and mostly referred to by me as The Campsite.

I have been playing with the porch on the end of the shelter with mixed results. It kept falling down or was knocked down by the gremlins of the woods, but this time I buried the two front supports about 8 inches or so. It was still a little wobbly until I put up the side supports. I am harvesting bark from nearby dead trees to act as shingles and will probably finish off with leaves and other floor debris.

I have also repositioned the opening of the fire ring to better facilitate putting a lean-to basically right in front of the camera. The prevailing wind comes from the right side of the picture making the position of the debris shelter not the best. The ring is also a little too far from the shelter, but it does have its uses.

Here is another angle that show the bark shingles. It is still a work in progress, but it is going pretty good.

I hope to spend a night here real soon.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Hobo Fishing Kit and Early Wild Edibles

Yesterday I finished up the Hobo Fishing Kit I have been wanting to make for a while. It came out pretty good. Right now the contents are in little plastic bags, but I hope to find small bottle like containers to put the hooks, sinkers, leaders and other assorted items in.

Also, yesterday, as Ginger and I were on our second walk into the woods when I came across some wood-sorrel. I snacked a little on some and Ginger even thought about trying some. I don't think she liked it too much.

So this morning, I brought along the camera and took a few pictures of my findings.

Here is a River Birch tree that I planted in my front yard. The best darn tinder you can use. Mixed with the Broom Sedge makes for an awesome tinder bundle that works great.
On the walk I found some wild chives, dandelion and wood sorrel. Spring has sprung.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Saturday Update

Yesterday hovered in the 40's with sporadic rain throughout the day and evening. I thought about just heading into the woods for a sleep over, just to test the MSS and bivvy, but decided against (chickened out). Not a big deal, but I really need me some overnight in the bush time.

We drove over to the northern side of the city yesterday to have some lunch at Cheesecake Factory with the college going daughter. It was a good meal and the area is cool to visit, but very city like. On the way back I went to Home Depot to return a full set of sockets that I bought when I only needed one size (15/16). Earlier that morning I had watched a video of one of my Pathfinder classmates making a hobo fishing kit and I had that on my "list" of things I wanted to do, so I used the refund to pick up some PVC pipe and connections. As I was putting it together in my mind, I thought of another way to do the frog gig set up and I bought a couple extra parts to try and get that together.

I spent the late afternoon putting together the hobo kit and today I will paint it if weather permits. I also hope to hit Walmart today for some fishing stuff that I don't have already. Namely line and bobbers that will fit into the kit.

This morning it still looks gray out and the temperature is still in the 40's, but Ginger has shown up at the computer room at 0800 sharp and if I make any moves away from the chair, she will take that as an indication that it is walk time.

Well, I guess it is time to hit the woods...

p.s. Also, I did some more research on the Michaux State Forest up in PA. It is about a 2 hour drive, but I think it would be nice to just head up there one weekend to explore and maybe do some dispersed camping bushcraft style.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Woodland Happenings

I think I am going to try and write an entry here at least a few times a week for a while. Just to get down what is happening in the nearby woods I have adopted as my own.

First of all, the trees are starting to sprout their yearly growth and the understory is starting to green up. This will provide my PS with a little more concealment and keep the nasty kiddies away.

Speaking of the kiddies, they have wholeheartedly jumped into their moto-cross trail building. The good thing is they are concentrating on the southern end of the woods, near where we enter and are pretty far from my PS. There are others who still play nearby, but have seemed to stay away from my shelter for now.

I got another idea on what to do with all the hangers I have from dry cleaning my uniforms. Those things sharpen up real nice and are sturdy enough to become a decent frog gig. I did a test assembly on a short piece of stick and I think it would work just fine.

I took four pieces of hanger about 6 inches long and bent about 1/2 an inch at the non sharpened end into a 90 degree angle. I drilled four holes into the end of the stick about two or so inches down. I put the small end into the hole and secure the four prongs to the shaft with para-cord. It seems to be pretty stable and should work. I hope to get a full sized prototype together soon and maybe test it out if I can find a pond with some frogs.

I am anxiously waiting a chance to spend a night in the woods. Just a simple set up to test out my modular sleep system with its bivvy bag. Weather isn't a factor. I can set up and stay in any type Mother Nature wants to offer. I would like to have Ginger with me, but I don't want to wake up to find her gone because she decided to head home and get away from the crazy guy. Still thinking about that one.

Until next time...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Planning a Night in Schram's Woods

The winter wallyball season is done and the weather is getting better. I have been hoping to spend a quick one nighter in the nearby woods, just to do it and maybe practice a little bushcraft.

I might do it this Friday or the one after. I think it will be fun.