Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Projects - Favorite Subjects- True Trail Stories

I've begun a new project with favorite subject matter: true trail stories about the people, adventures and ridiculous stuff over 12 years of trail life. Most of the stories have never been told. Most of the stories are just too damn embarrassing.

This tiny photo is of a thru hiker named "Falafel". He spent a night in a Georgia AT shelter and woke to find a mother mouse had not only given birth in his pack, but had taken up residence.

I met this couple on their honeymoon on the Pacific Crest Trail. These two lovebirds carried a four pound camera and their last resupply from Stehican  consisted of 52 candy bars and one package of ramen noodles. I met them the next year while I was hiking the AT and they were working for Backpacker's Magazine "Get out more " team. Fantastic couple. Shout out to Brent and Amy. PCT hikers sometimes don't have trail names. We called these two the Honeymooners.

This is me on the second day of my PCT hike at the Kick Off Party at Lake Moreno. We were fed all kinds of fantastic food by well wishers, trail angels and family members. I met some wonderful people there. If you're heading out to the PCT, this party is usually the last weekend in April.

Smurf and Radio Flyer, good dudes from the AT thru hike. We liked getting our 20 mile days done early, then relax on whatever the shelter had to offer. These dudes and I shared a room in Harper's Ferry. I felt like the mom when they went out on the town shopping and gave me silk shorts. Ahem, all in the family.

This food orgy could only happen when hiker trash is involved. Take any food, place it in the middle of the table and stand back. Spoons appear out of no where, I mean. This is a Pacific Crest Trail Photo, and I remember much hunger being replaced by bloated town bellies. You gotta love it.

The Poet. Need I say more? Great guy, quiet and thoughtful.

My new project has photos and true stories woven with lessons I learned the hard way, sort of a how to and how not to book, along with ultra light gram weenie embarrassing moments.

To all my trail bum friends, hiker trash, and gram weenie aficionados: May All Your Gear be Lighter, Happy New Years, and I'll See you up the trail.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Mayan Ruins Near Appalachian Trail

A friend posted this link on facebook. I followed it up.

Its a fairly long and decent article. The AT uses nearby towns as resupply and access points. Blairsville, Helen, and Sautee are commonly used by long distance hikers.

The ruins in question are pyramid shaped mounds. All along the AT various historical sites are passed, especially for the civil war. Many do not have markers. This is one reason to slow down, keep your eyes open and your nose open to the wonderful smells.

The trail has so much to offer, truly an experience of a lifetime, or many lifetimes.
Apparently this article is receiving much attention. I hope the little towns and surrounding area receives extra tourists, too. Things are slow in the winter in these mountains.

I think its ligit. The guy has done his research. Interesting read.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Fighting for the Planet Maybe Fatal

I know the planet will win. She'll fight back. I am saddened by the loss of those who fight against the  poachers and oil companies, those that distroy our home.
The Mayan Calendar predicts an end of some kind on Dec. 21, 2012. Maybe it will be an end to world wide humanity. Maybe those that survive will be those who can love the earth for what it is.
Minimalism is still the answer.
May all your stockings be stuffed with love.
Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Great Quote for All Endeavors

2012 is right around the corner. Wonder what kind of resolutions will be made as the economy stutters along.

I'm very deep into my writing. The notebook shows a tiny portion of the "goal" pages I set. It keeps me out of trouble. Maybe it will get me into some.

I use maps and try to picture what's really going on, will highlight, but in the end, here is my favorite quote and I think it will work for all walks of life, the trail, new relationships.

Very often audacity, not talent, makes one person and artist, another a shadow. Take a chance, be bad, make mistakes.
We may look and feel erratic.
Creativity is blocked by falling into others' plans for us. It makes us frustrated. Your own healing is the greatest message of hope for others. Anger is a loyal friend, tells us it is time to act in our own best interest.

I believe this came from "the Artist's Way" a workbook of sorts.

Either get stuck in the rut, or go through the crisis.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Trail Gods

Today I found a cigarette lighter on the trail. I needed one. Thanks Trail Gods!

The other day I reached into my wood stove to light a swatch of paper and dropped my lighter. Once the fire got hot, it exploded. The stove wasn't damaged. I jumped several feet straight up.

So I needed another one...but here's the whole story.

This winter I've been writing an Apocalypse series called End of Days. I finished book three, complied it into a trilogy. Its available at either or barnes and

The ending has a twist, so I won't go into details, but the gods seemed to think I should get real, so this fourth book, a darker, gritty, spirit-guide thing was born. Carla gets seriously scathed and we see the wicked side.

I admit to trepidation in publishing it. I thought of holding back. While walking this morning the lighter appeared. How strange. Sort of a sign.
And I thought, don't tell anyone, just put it up there and hide.

But the trail gods and I have a long history together.  Maybe I'll blog more about that later.
For now, though, I think they're ok with this book.

This is for mature audiences and a warning, do not try the vision quest detailed in chapter seven. Remember this is fiction.
Dark Trails-an interlude with gods. Right now, only 99 cents.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Disco Scarecrow and Fabric Content

Our scarecrow kept falling over in the last storms so I just decided to switch her location. She's now guarding from the back, instead of the frount.

Taking a page from some neighbors, I utilzied a sapling. Looks like she enjoys this spot much more. Boogie, Baby!

On a more serious note, I finally coughed up nearly 20 bucks for new camo pants. These are from Walmart in the hunting section. Youth's 14/16, they fit perfectly. And better still, fabric content is 60% cotton and 40% polyester. I like this blend cause it will dry faster than all cotton.

I love the Real Tree mix, the greens are deeper than they look in this photo, sorry.

I regret to say they are made in china. Well, trading partners are still part of the game.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Rainmaker's Survival Novel

David Mauldin has his first novel complete and available both at and Barnes and Noble.

The web page at trailquest:

will give many more details, let you feast on a sample, and show you the cover. He's been practicing what he preaches, and knows his way around survival. A long distance backpacker, friend and mentor, I count him among the gifted ones.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Grandkids Loved It!

I wrote my first children's book. Its only 30 pages and each page has a photo, nearly all of them from the trail camera installed near here by my friend. I child tested the text and combination by sending  the file to my daughters. Looks like thumbs up. Course, maybe they were just being nice.

Wild Neighbors
Its only 99 cents at

Hi Mom, I just wanted to write and tell you thank you so much for the children's book you sent. It is a huge hit in our house!!! B**** loves the animal pictures, and so does I****. We've been very busy and have had company this whole time, but we've been talking about the pictures and the camera, and she would listen to me read the book and look at the pictures ten times a day if she could! That was a neat idea for the kids.

Awesome, Mom! I can't believe all those great photos! And you have a good, informative story line there too. :) I will show B**** when he wakes up. Do you think you might print these on hard copy, or is that alot of work and/or expensive? Very creative, as always.

Hi Mom,
S*** and C**** loved the book and all the pictures. We were amazed at all the wildlife you have so close to you.

And another  review  came in:
I down loaded Wild Neighbors and both me and my kids loved it. The pictures David took are terrific and it is amazing the variety of wildlife in your backyard!--Flo

It was fun creating this work, my family lives across the country. Thank god for internet.

(I blocked out the kids names, just because.)

Friday, November 25, 2011

What Next, Water Outlawed?

This nice old man who makes Polar Pure for backpackers, campers and travelers is being shut down because the DEA says his product might be used by meth cookers.

"But federal and state drug enforcement agents are coming down hard on Wallace's humble homemade solution, which he concocted to help backpackers purify water.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and state regulators say druggies can use the single ingredient in his "Polar Pure" water purifier -- iodine -- to make crystal meth."

Ok, people that cook meth use a lot of stuff. I bet they even use water. Hope they don't outlaw that stuff too.

I saw a link posted on facebook, followed it at:

Its a great read.
I use iodine on rare occasion. Will I soon have to sign for it? Seriously, what is happening to this country when a nice couple like these can't even produce a well know, well liked beneficial product .

Surely there's got to be a way the feds can adequately legislate this. I digress.

Please don't take my water away, don't call me collateral damage in the fight against these shitheads who cook meth.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The New Streaming Movie Box

If you've never heard of Roku, you're not the only one.

Until just a few months ago, I woulda swore it was a Japanese dish, or stir fry or something.

Turns out, this little contraption sells for just Fifty bucks and can be plugged into any t-v. It comes with its own remote which enables you to open up a whole new world.

I don't make a cent writing this, so its totally unbiased. My guy just bought his second one so that the t-v on the table, the t-v in the bedroom, and the t-v in the living room all have access to 350 channels. Now, its true, some of the channels you have to subscribe to, like Netflix or Hulu plus. But there are tons of channels that are free, everything from food and games to news and foreign language.

Its pretty cool, because now instead of paying for a separate satellite receiver in the back room so I can watch a chick flick while my dude is watching baseball, I can just fire up the roku device and pick out one a hundreds on netflix, or if there's something on digital video you want to see.

Course, my pc gets netflix also, but it doesn't have the 42 inch screen.  is the web address

When you're watching something like Breaking Bad, the bigger the screen, the Badder it Breaks.

Yeah, what he said.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Potato Research and the Wikipedia

I absolutely love Wikipedia. In one place you have tons of information, links, photo, history and bibliography. I was researching potatoes for a survival test project and was not disappointed.

This is my garden in spring. We had a marvelous crop of tomatoes.

One thing especially caught my attention: growing them in a bag.
The garden here has been put to bed, and now leaves are being layered to create more depth and looser medium.

I still don't think its loose enough for potatoes. Check out the photo of the potato bag set up at:

My grandparents grew tons of potatoes. I remember picking them out of the soil when the harvest was ready. They'd turn the soil to expose the spuds, making it easier than with a shovel.

The bag thing would be wonderful. I'm getting a potato tomorow, and letting the eyes grow out.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Black Death Movie Review

I watched the 2010 movie, Black Death, this afternoon and was amazed by the artistry. Its a dark film, a horror flick which takes 1.5 hours to unfold a disturbing tale of bubonic plague in 1348 England.

The producers give us the whys and how of revenger and torture at the hands of the Church and conterculter village. We see everything from guttings to drawn and quarter, burning, and torturous elements of water.

Not to worry, most of the imagery is suggested and not as graphic as some new movies, like Walking dead where flesh is eaten in rubbery fashion.

Anyways, I enjoyed it and felt it was poetic in revealing the maniac passion humans have had for religion.

The scenery reminds me of a walk along the Chatooga, beautifully photographed. The teeth of our army and monk are yellowed, the dead and dying are grotesque. Very realistic. I hate it when everyone had blinding white teeth in an apocalyptic setting. Really.

The monk is the good guy here, but be advised, the twist at the end is very good.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Path of the Rabbit Under Full Moon

I've finished the third book in the End of Days series.

It is available now at . I should also be available at Barnes and Nobel soon.
Writing it was an incredible experience. I really delved into the post grid down scenario and readers say this is my best work yet.
I'm like the rabbit, whose self preservation is a Look before you Leap variety. The first book in this series, A Measured Response, began at that level. The middle book, Journey North, shows the main character evolving her self defense, until at last in the final book we see a proactive approach.

The Calendar Keeper

The entire series began with the thought: what if the world ended as we know it, with the Grid Down and a few natural disasters to help it along. Living way out here in the wilderness, on top a mountain, how long would it take for us to find out?

The first sign would be no power. That's happened before, for several days at a time, so at first we wouldn't worry.
After a few days, we'd go into town and then there would be rumors, no power, sketchy government interaction. Of course, folks who live in town would know something is up, but perhaps the hoarding and violence would take a while to become widespread.

This morning, having finished and uploaded my latest work, I relaxed in my studio and caught some early photos.

These were taken about seven a.m, just as the sun was rising.

I found this blog to be very inspirational and informative: If you are an aspiring author, run over there and give it a look. She turned me on to the Barnes and Nobel e-book for Nooks and other applications. I am working on my account, making the five books I've written thus far available.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Four Season TarpTents and Question

I used to sew lots of ultralight backpacking gear. One of my most successful designs in terms of weight to square foot living space was the BrawnyTarptent.
This photo of it in Yosemite in winter was sent to me by a very satisfied customer.
The main thing with four season gear is it's ability to shrug off snow, hold up to freezing temperatures changing structures integrity and the comfort level the shelter offers.

Of course, there are always trade offs. This tarp tent weighs 21 ounces and packs to the size of a bag of bagels. One reason its so light is you use your hiking poles or suspend the apex from a branch. Hence, the support of shock corded poles is eliminated along with that weight.

I love this South Col tent. It accommodates 2-3 people, double walled, two generous vestibules, and is free standing.

Its a pretty massive structure and good for base camping. It weighs over 9 pounds. I would use it in severe conditions. Being a dome, it will shed snow, however a person would still have to shake it off periodically if the snow were wet. The poles could conceivably break. I always bring repair sleeves, which are short metal sleeves about 5-6 inches long. In the event of breakage, slip the sleeve (cut from old hiking poles) over the fracture.

In winter a person is tempted to cook inside, out of the wind. Be aware of carbon monoxide and burning issues.

I don't recommend cooking in a tent, and have done a video on that issue. See other winter camping suggestions on this blog.

Dropping a tent usually means dealing with frost, cold fingers, perhaps melting snow. I use a separate set of gloves, or tough it out bare handed so my hiking gloves are dry.
I love a larger than normal stuff sack for silnylon structures in winter so I don't have to fight with the shelter packing up because sometimes the inside is coated in frost.

One technique I've used is bringing an ultralight tarp to configure over my ultralight silnylon tent. It sheds snow, creates a double wall effect and adds enough extra warmth to merit the weight. A 5 x 10 works for me on a solo structure.

As you can see, winter, or four season tents need not be elaborate, just be sure the structure can shed snow and hold up to the contractions of severe cold. If you're anticipating freezing rain, I would definitely go with a tarp canopy, but be very sure to allow fresh air into the shelter.

I heard a woman layered plastic over her tent and suffocated. Maybe its a myth, but its a warning to the wise, cause I'm not going to test that theory.

I have slept under the stars in minus six degrees in northern Wisconsin. Shelter is necessary, just be sure you can still breathe.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Morning of Facebooking

Who says Facebooking is a waste of time?

This morning I saw two things of intellectual interest, read a wonderful poem a friend of mine read, caught up on family photos, posted my one liners and saw this great photo below. I love the download button which lets a person share the photo with others not in their facebook friends.

And because I Like Bankrate, I get messages and articles from them.
This article deals with the question, Should we teach our kids, hell, even Require our kids to learn personal finance in school.

Yes, yes, yes. I'll even take the class. How to buy a home, how to buy a car, how to make investments, how to budget, deal with snooty banks, avoid getting ripped off. There's a ton of valuable information we need that is way more important that advanced algebra. I must admit, anyone taking advanced algebra probably knows enough math to figure out a budget, but learning about all the hidden costs of buying a home would be a safe guard against the epidemic of foreclosures our country faces now.

The air is warming and I'll go enjoy my daily walk in the woods.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Walking Dead, A Movie Review

No, this is not a zombie. Its a neighbor man hiking in the woods. His photo was shot with a trail camera.
This is me as a zombie Personal Chef. Halloween Party, a karaoke night, brought out the best or worse in us.

The Walking Dead is an AMC series filmed in Atlanta. The first season, 2010 had only 6 episodes.

44 minutes is a good amount of time to explored this theme. The premise of a devastating virus on the loose infects live people who are bitten or scratched by the walking dead. These zombies can smell the live humans, can hear all the sounds of mechanical and human device, but can not speak. This is a valuable piece of information. Talk if someone is about to shoot you because you're dripping blood from someplace.

The series is gruesome enough for all thrill seekers. We have a cop as a hero who is near fatally wounded and left for dead in a local hospital. He wakes to find the place deserted, zombies clamoring behind a chained door, and dead folks lying head to toe, rows upon rows on the loading dock.

We have some survivors holing up near a quarry, camping and sending supply parties back into Atlanta. We have rescues going on, and likable people getting overrun and eaten. Funny how the flesh always stretches into elastic gory messes.

But, I'm "enjoying" the series and will look for the next season of this.
Happy Halloween.
Go eat some candy.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Minimalist Lifestyle Lends Itself to Survival

I am friends with Treehugger on facebook. That means I get neat links to stories like this:

Yesterday I read a story at that site about a sixteen year old who is building himself a portable 130 sq. foot home. It will cost him $2,500 and eliminate the rental and mortgage problem as he goes on to college, then finds a job and settles down. It will make him available for various jobs nation wide.

The key here, of course, is minimalism. If a person can keep their gear down to manageable size they can easily live in 130 square feet. However, if a person needs a host of different products for bathing, washing, and house cleaning, for example, all those things take space.

Minimalism is an art form, in backpacking, traveling, lifestyles.

With the economy so challenging, its becoming the fashion. Good thing for the planet, too.

My little studio is 12 x 16. The livable space is nearly 180 square feet. With the addition of this wood burning stove, I can use this space all winter long with no heating costs. There's a full size bed, electricity and wifi.
Its not portable, however, but look at my yard. Color is peak.
This photo makes the studio look like its slanting. But, believe me, its level. The company that brought it out 5 years ago leveled it and installed hurricane anchors.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Wrangler Reroutes Griz near West Glacier

This is an amazing interview. Check it out at:

She is a great spokeswoman for seasona workers dedication and fun personality. Put the bravery and knowledge with that and you have a winning combination.

I love it!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Fresh Beats Fried Who Knew

I personally  never thought the day would come when Subway beat out McDonald's in total locations.
According to Time Magazine, by the end of 2010, home of the foot long for $5 had 33,749 locations while McDonald's had 32,737.

They say this is the "world's biggest restaurant chain" in terms of locations, not sales or pounds of aficionados.

No problem, I love Subway. They have this great bread and fix the sandwich right before your eyes with gloved hands. Wrapped in a nice paper instead of Styrofoam, a couple napkins, and its pretty low on the carbon footprint scale, one would think.

My only "beef" with them is not all locations serve coffee after noon.  Hopefully, this winter when its cold, we can have a hot beverage with our meal. But, hey, don't do it just for me, Subway Owners. I seldom eat out anyways.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Borowitzer Report Hilarious on Occupy Wallstreet

I find Andy Borowitz hilarious. His short news stories cover political events like no other can. Check it out:

I've been invited to come camp out at a number of venue's protesting Walstreet. We've got Occupy Atlanta going on, theres the one up in New York, and I hear its spreading across the country. Personally, I'd like to go Occupy Key West.

I know they need some Occupying going on cause housing down there is unaffordable for folks like me. Especially in the upcoming season if I'm going to commit to a tent for any length of time, its going to be south of the Mason Dixie line, youbetcha.

I'd like to see Occupy Manhattan (Walstreet or anywhere's north) in about a month. Hell's about to freeze over. Will there be bon fires and space heaters?

Interesting stuff. I see mostly dome tents, free standing. Easy to move, too. Just unstake them, and carry the structure as is. Soon the grass will be dead beneath.

I'm not saying I support or dis the movement, I'm saying its not sustainable. These rich folks know it, too, so time is on their side.

Looking forward to the Halloween scene in Gatlinburg. Hope to post photos here , stay tuned.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Second Book Completed

I haven't posted in awhile. Between enjoying the fabulous color here in north east Georgia and completing the second book of my trilogy End of Days, time just sort of got away from me.

I created this book cover on the Paint Program, a challenge in itself. The background is a shimmer of light off my car, which actually became an exciting canvas to work on. If you would like to view more details on this work, please visit  Journey North (Book 2 :End of Days) or see more on my website at which is more personal page currently under construction.

May all your journeys be light.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Refrigeration using Sand and Claypots

I love learning new tricks for creating necessary items out of unlikely components. I read The Survivalistblog. He usually has a guest post contest going whereby people write articles and the best one  wins a prize. This is a great idea because so many good writers detail creative ideas.

Check out today's post describing how to create a viable refrigeration unit with ordinary clay pots and sand.

I'll be testing this idea soon.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Silnylon Bag Set-Sale Item

Ultralight Stuff Sacks and Ditty Bag set includes:

Four stuff sacks:9 x 14, 7 x 11, 8 x 10, 8.5 x 11

One stake bag
one belt loop pouch 4 x 7.5

and 3 ditty bags: 4.5 x 4.5, 7 x 7.5, 5.5 x 9.5

The entire collection weighs just 3 3/8 ounces. The variety of sizes and colors makes organizing your backpacking gear easy.

See Sales Page
to purchase for only $30, which includes shipping.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Eureka Spitfire Tent-Sale Item

Read my review and click on the link to see manufactures photos and stats. This tent fits anyone in the six foot range, very generous for someone of my size.

I'm selling it for $70 which includes shipping. In excellent shape, used to produce this review. As a gear designer, I make my own tents, so this one is now available. Reviews

See the Sales page on this blog if you are interested in proceeding with questions or would like to order.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Appalachian Trail Thru Hiker Dies

Its always a sad day when someone you love passes away. For those who have hiked the trail, a special affinity and speculation on "what went wrong" also occurs.
Here's the link for the article concerning the guy who died in Maine:
In the end, we all will die somewhere. I'm happy this man was not alone, nor stuck someplace he didn't want to be.
This was his third thru-hike, and I give special thanks to all the family members  and trail angels who supported him emotionally and assisted him in living his dreams.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Update from the Homestead

I haven't written in awhile because I'm furiously working on the second book in the trilogy End of Days.
The first of this series is available via Kindle. In this book, we have a long journey underway, some dangerous encounters with wildlife, and assimilation into a vastly different culture.

This actually happens while on a long distance hiking trail and I can feel for our heroine. Yet, she has a lot of secrets and issues, and finds herself changing in unexpected ways. Who doesn't?

Life goes on around me, though, the colors are beginning to change. The fall weather always reminds me of campfires and cold frosty mornings where kids burst from the tent and run to the fire, ready to receive their mug of hot chocolate.

I loved taking the kids camping at Starved Rock, Illinois, so named because back in the mid 1700s a band of Indians took refuge atop the rock, surrounded by  a rival band determined to slaughter them all in retribution. During their ordeal, the natives lowered buckets to attempt water collection, but that failed as their nemesis cut the ropes.
Later, french traders traveled the nearby trails, saw the buzzards circle and decided to investigate. They found all the bodies, and discovered what happened, recording this story at the nearby fort.
Turns out the whole warfare began when some lusty braves killed the chief of the rival band.

The moral of this true story is not to start something you can't finish, or perhaps a little tolerance goes a long ways.

Hope you enjoy the autumn.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Bandits-A Movie Review

I just finished watching a terrific movie with Billy Bob Thornton and Bruce Willis,
called Bandits.
Its a 2001 movie, and I'm surprised I hadn't seen it already. The writing is funny, the plot somewhat zany yet believable, the ending a nice twist and satisfying.
There are some great songs embedded into the scenes, and a beautiful woman. The rationale for robbing banks is that the money they steel is insured by the government and the government steels from the people, so they are just taking it back.

Billy Bob does an excellent job as the brains, albeit, hypochondriac of the team. Bruce of course it the muscle, and a smooth romancer as well. Our leading lady get wined and dined, a love story.

They have a dream for Paradise in Mexico. We see this is definitely before all hell had broken out south of our border. I wonder if that movie would have much appeal these days with the gang stuff going on down there, all the murders.

This is a movie I would like to buy, which is saying a lot.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Breaking Bad-AMC TV Series Review

I picked up the July issue of Time from this year and read a three page review on this series which is actually beginning its fourth season.

An unlikely scenario, the hero finds he has terminal lung cancer and works as a chemistry teacher. Without sufficient money for his surviving family and treatment, he goes into meth cooking which would normally cause us to hate him, a drug dealer. But, think Weeds and Dexter and you may find yourself curious like I was.

On Netflix the first three seasons are available and as I watch episode two of season one, I am committed to watching it all.
We find a gentleman who has turned 50 who partners with a previous student due to unsavory circumstances. The student has graduated and very hip, it feels real. The teacher loves chemistry, this is obvious. His compulsion for neatness and perfection and novel ways of solving problems are well done. As he learns about weapons, and the hard core characters that interact in this business, I can't help rooting for him.

My first take away here is not to judge a book by its cover, and that you never know where your skill set will lead you , or what the desperation you may encounter will drive you to do.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

If You Move it They Will Come

My boyfriend has four trail cameras. They can be set to photo or video, timed intervals between first detected movement, and sensitivity.

Anchored to their location by locked cable to metal painted in camouflage motif, most animals totally ignore them while getting their pictures taken. Some amazing bear, fox, coyote, bobcat and hog photos are the result.

A house cat defied reason by hanging out at the Mulch pile camera. I knew something was eating all the watermelon rinds, apple cores and various garden refuse. Nothing likes the broccoli stems. But a house cat? I finally figured he must be stalking the mice and squirrels, but still, I would have thought we'd catch a deer browsing on it.

So, with that lackluster result, my guy moved the camera down trail and farther away from our homestead.

This morning, while checking the draw of my new wood stove, I walked out behind the studio and a huge black bear was caught unawares, running away from me.

Moved the camera, the bear comes near.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Silnylon Stuff Sacks and Ditty Bags-Sale Item

This set consists of 3 stuff sacks, one stake bag and three ditty bags. All together, they only weigh 2.5 ounces. Price includes shipping. $25

You get:
Large blue stuff sack 10.5 x 14.5
Medium green stuff sack 8 x 12
Smaller blue stuff sack 8 x 10.5

black ditty bag 6 x 12
green stake bag 16" long
blue ditty bag 4.5 x 6.5
camo ditty bag 4.5 x 6 (a heavier ripstop, ideal for fuel tablets, knives, etc.)

The three stuff sacks shown above have squared off bottoms. The smaller blue one has a pull loop which aids in cinching to a pack, or facilitate removing tightly stuffed gear.

See sales page for ordering information.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

New Green 8 x 10 Tarp-Sale Item

Sold==The 8 x 10 silnylon tarp is the work horse of the backpacking world. I've sewn more of this size than any other, including. I use staking loops, not ties or grommets, which have proven strong enough to last years and never rip out.

The staking loops on an 8 x 10 work out to 2 feet apart on the center seam, and 8 foot lengths. On the 10 foot length the loops are 2.5 feet apart. This is "halved, quartered, and corners", a standard spacing option for many tarps.

The green tarp was made with first quality 1.3 ounce silnylon, some call it soarcoat, a brand name. The center seam is rolled, with my signature double sided center staking loops. This tarp has never been used.

It weighs just 15 ounces, including the stuff sack.


Stuff sack included, measures 7 x 9.4
Price  includes shipping to anywhere in the USA.

If you are interested in purchasing this tarp, see the Sales Page on this blog.

Sorry, no tent stakes are included.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

127 Hours- A Movie Review

I just finished watching the gripping saga of a young man who goes hiking in Canyonlands alone and after 5 days cuts off his own arm which had been totally trapped by a rock.

The accident and events leading to this drama are very well photographed. Its very believable, as well it should be, the guy has lived to tell about it.

We learn many lessons from watching this movie such as always leave your itinerary with a friend, carry a sharp knife, its good to go with a buddy whenever possible.
This sort of vicarious learning is long lasting. Its not preachy, the guy is very likable, we never feel he "got what he deserved".

He has water for his day hike gone wrong. After becoming trapped, he sparingly drinks, savoring each swallow. He attempts self rescue by emptying his pack and evaluating options. He uses his abundant climbing gear to rig a harness to facilitate sleeping, to wrap himself in against the cold nights in the desert, and to create a tourniquet.

Watch it, enjoy it, and be prepared for gut wrenching scenes when the arm is being amputated. Very realistic.
In the end we are told the long term outcomes. Spoiler: they are good.

127 Hours- A Movie Review

I just finished watching the gripping saga of a young man who goes hiking in Canyonlands alone and after 5 days cuts off his own arm which had been totally trapped by a rock.

The accident and events leading to this drama are very well photographed. Its very believable, as well it should be, the guy has lived to tell about it.

We learn many lessons from watching this movie such as always leave your itinerary with a friend, carry a sharp knife, its good to go with a buddy whenever possible.
This sort of vicarious learning is long lasting. Its not preachy, the guy is very likable, we never feel he "got what he deserved".

He has water for his day hike gone wrong. After becoming trapped, he sparingly drinks, savoring each swallow. He attempts self rescue by emptying his pack and evaluating options. He uses his abundant climbing gear to rig a harness to facilitate sleeping, to wrap himself in against the cold nights in the desert, and to create a tourniquet.

Watch it, enjoy it, and be prepared for gut wrenching scenes when the arm is being amputated. Very realistic.
In the end we are told the long term outcomes. Spoiler: they are good.

Friday, September 9, 2011

One Person Can Make a Difference

Does anyone remember the adage that yes, one person can make a difference. Sometimes its easy to feel very small in a world with several billion people in it.

According to this report, one person made a huge difference, not only in the south west, but the whole country. When a huge power outage goes down, people sit up, and take notice.

Hopefully, the powers that be will work on safe guarding the Grid. And the rest of us, hopefully we'll be making plans to live off the grid, at least short term if it happens in our neighborhood.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Filter Rain Water Run Off

On the next Hobo Project, I used water from the abundant run off from Tropical Storm Lee. We were without power for 18 hours and I took this time to make and demo a double filtering system using recyclables, totally hobo style. Finish with a few drops of bleach. By removing the organic material from the water, less chemicals are needed to make potable water. Of course, one may also boil the water instead of using chemicals.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Alaska Buget Details OMG

Many thanks to Kara who posted this trip review and listed the money she spent thouroughly enjoying 17 days in Alaska. Its an eye opener.
Alaska on a Budget 2007

I really appreciate her openness in the journal, sounds like she had a great time. Even getting her flight free with frequent flyer miles, she spent nearly $4,000 bucks. She traveled alone, stayed in hostels, rented a car.
I've got to do better.

I spent 2 weeks in Cozumel which is way cheaper. My cheap plane ticket, meals in a deli and free snorkeling helped keep the cost to below $ 1,000 in 2007. I split the cost of a nice budget motel room with my guy, so that wasn't too bad.

But, Alaska, wow. I'm going to plan that trip with more money available.
Things that used to be free, I'm told, are now being charged for. The shuttle bus, I'm told, was free to travel down that road in Denali to Wonder Lake with the admission to the park. It now is $40. I'm sure everything is higher than when my friend went in the 90s. So, I've been warned!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Vampires Suck-Movie Review

This 2010 movie is so well  cast that you would swear they are the same kids who starred in Twilight and New Moon, the Hollywood hits that have teen age girls swooning over Edward and Jacob. The heroine, Becca has the same maddening twitches, the same confusing bewilderment that the star of Twilight does.

If you've never watched either of those, you will probably be confused by the crazy parody and ridiculous events witnessed. We do have the vampires drinking True Blood, and we can see other derivative drama unfolding from that hit HBO series.

Personally, as a grown woman, I soon became tired of the whole thing, but continued until the end just for the purpose of giving a fair review.

With so much name dropping, the piece dates itself and will soon become meaningless. We see the cover of a magazine posting Tiger Woods picture. The heroine's mom was being banged, she said. We have mention of Face book, the Kardashiens, Jonas Brothers, George Clooney, and Cris Brown, all in appropriate context.

You could just about slap the stuff out of Becca because she can't seem to figure out why Edward is "different". Why do cute girls fall for SSJ, the Strong Silent Jerk ?
Nothing is sacred in this film, the dad is gross, beats up his friend who is wheel chair bound, and says crude stuff to his daughter. In the roll playing for safety part, she maces him, tears off his 'stash, and kicks him in the balls. Sad stuff.

I think its rated pg-13. I'd rate it a  near TDFW, too dumb for words. Again, if you're going to watch it, it will seriously help to find and watch the Twilight series.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Ultralight Backpacking is Survival School

This is my 9 ounce silnylon pack I designed and used for my successful thru hike of the Appalachian Trail. It was pretty basic, yet I made sure the shoulder straps were wide and padded to keep the pressure of a fully loaded food bag from causing pain on the trail.

Successful ultralighters think ahead. We plan, learn skills, innovate and don't expect to be bailed out.
We make mistakes, suffer awhile then fix it as soon as possible. I used to have problems not sleeping warm enough. Tried lots of things. Don't camp on hail, if you can help it. An empty silnylon backpack is poor insulation under the feet in winter. Use a full length pad. When the down bag gets marginal performance, it probably needs washing. If you have to wear your rain jacket to bed, do it. If you need 10 more degrees, use a bag liner.Buy fabric from walmart and sew one on the trail.
Its pretty rugged country up there in Vermont, and that hurricane Irene did a job there. Its easy to imagine communities being cut off. I'm surprised, however, that those folks didn't have more food and camping supplies tucked away for emergencies, any emergencies. I bet they will in the future.
Life is all about live and learn.
Ultralighters weren't born overnight. It takes schooling, a learning process. Sometimes we cut it too close, get into town starving. Then we eat everything in sight and probably haul way too much food out to the trail.
Sometimes we eat bad food combinations, forcing ourselves to eat anyways until next town stop.

Live and Learn. Makes great memories.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Stumphouse Tunnel Park and Trail

I've driven by this place for over 11 years. It was about time I stopped and checked it out.
There are lots of picnic tables, a very cool, albeit somewhat dry, waterfall. Its called Issaqueena Falls, and named for an Indian Maiden who hid from her Cherokee captors way back when.

The double yellow blazes warn of a turn in the trail. Many have cut the switch backs so this was needed.

Because its still hot enough for poisonous snakes and bees, and I didn't bring my bear spray, I've elected to come back in the fall when color is better and its also not so hot.

There were many garbage bins designed to be bear proof. This is an excellent clue to how many problem bears must be in the area.

The steep trails climbing up the mountain are well worn, and very lush. Its hot and humid still.

Apparently before the Civil War, there was to be a railroad built to connect Charleston, S.C to Cinncinati Ohio. It would have been over 5,000 feet long when completed, and 260 feet at the deepest place. Slow progress due to the incredibly hard rock left the tunnel unfinished and without funding at the onset of the War. Afterwards, the tunnel was never completed.

There are several trail displays detailing the history of the area. This park is open 10 a.m to 5 p.m then the gates close. Its about 5 miles east of Wallahala, S.Carolina. The picnic pavillion and abundant picnic tables make it a great place for locals to enjoy an outdoor gathering.

I definitly plan a second day long excursion into this tunnel. I had a solar powered LED with me, not nearly bright enough for the 1,600 feet available to its end. The plaque warns not to wear the same clothes or shoes into this cave as another because fungus can infect each caves bats. Bats.
Well, I'll keep that in mind and come prepared.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My First Novel Is Published

Several years back I wrote and published my first book, My Journey to Freedom and Ultralight Backpacking.
It was all completely true account of my hikes and completion of the Pacific Crest Trail and the Appalachian Trail. As non fiction and a discussion of my ultralight techniques, it felt fairly straightforward, albeit, emotional at times.

Then I did the cookbook, Everything Except Corn Pasta. It too is non fiction. Both are available world wide via Kindle, and Kindle for PC at

On my drive home from the Tetons this summer, a story began fermenting in my mind. It took on a life of its own, and it is the first fiction novel I've published. You can see it at Kindle by clicking on this link:
Measured Response (Book 1 of the trilogy:End of Days)

Needless to say, I've learned a lot with this first book. It became an emotional out of body experience nearly. Well, like I said, nearly. This photo below sort of fits, so I inserted it for your amusement.

I found that each morning while hiking on my normal jaunts, the best ideas and "corrections" would take place. I started bringing a tiny notebook, and stopped mid stride to jot down  notes. Then, I'd go home and write. But it's not over.
The second book, Journey North, due out end of October, is a continuation of  this trilogy I call  End of Days. I've had to research and develop skills to incorporate them in these works of fiction, a passion of mine anyways.

May all your trails have meaning.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Innovations and the Lowly Bleach Bottle

Innovation is the Ultralighter's best friend.

A common technique for teaching innovation involves the use of one lowly empty gallon jug, I personally prefer the bleach bottle for this.

Everyone has a bleach bottle at some point in time. If not, you can use an empty laundry soap jug, a milk jug or other bottle, preferably with a built in handle. It helps individuals get creative to add this feature.

Think of as many ways as possible to use the jug. An obvious starting place is to store clean water in case of power outage. In winter, don't fill the jug all the way or it could burst if the water freezes. I use laundry soap bottles for storing water only meant for washing. Seems it never looses that slightly soapy taste, no matter how many times it gets rinsed.

Ok, that was easy. Another way is to cut a square out of the middle front panel, and make a bird feeder. Screw the cap on so it sheds the rain. Hang it by the handle.

Cut the bottom off and turn it upside down to create a funnel.
Cut either end off at a wide angle, leaving the handle to create a scoop. Use at the beach in the sand, or in the garden, for cat litter, to bail water, etc.

Cut the bottom off and use to protect delicate seedling transplants in spring.

Cut the top off to create a bowl, or wash basin. Add some holes to allow drainage and it becomes a planter. Decorate with magic markers for a cool kids project. Cut  evenly spaced 3 inch slits into the sides to weave colorful cloth or yarn and it becomes an art project.

Fill with sand or pebbles and create an anchor for tarps or tie downs.

Cut 3 x 6 strips out of the bleach bottle to create trail markers. I saw that on the northern section of the Appalachian Trail. Makes sense. They last forever, easy to install, exact dimensions and never fade.

Cut them into exact height to use for drawer deviders. I would go with a rectangluar soap bottle. Round is ok, but the colored bottles might be cuter.

Ok, you got the idea. By cutting off the things we don't need, we fashion what we already have (and might have thrown away if not recycled) into valuable items. We decide the correct demensions and end up with custom gear.

Ultralighters take this same approach when paring down their gear, designing new stuff, and reworking camping equipment to function for long trails.

I've been invited to share my passion and teach some classes this fall. This is going to be a lot of fun for me because I've been doing this a long time and it never gets old.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Please Translate this Study Result

Found in the Local Food Guide, Georgia Organics 2011-2012

"Adolescents who participated in garden-based nutrition intervention increased their servings of fruits and vegetables more than students in two other groups. Although further research is needed, the results of this study seem to indicate the efficacy of using garden-based nutrition education to increase adolescents consumption of fruits and vegetables. (Mcaleese, J.D. & L.L. Ranklin 2007)"

This lends itself to a  series of questions:

What is a garden based nutrition intervention? (Put that stinking twinkie down, here, eat this cucumber?)

What two other groups? (Latch key kids, free range kids, kids who pack their own lunches?)

How long did this study go on? (Please don't tell me we spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to find out that kids who had adult supervision and encouragement to eat more garden foods did so.)

The study seems to indicate? ( The data must be pretty shabby if that's all it accomplished)

I find this kind of thing misleading and ridiculous. Kids who become involved in their own health will do better than kids without leadership and opportunity. Garden based nutrition intervention? I wonder if this is being done in the school cafeteria, with real food on the menu.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Using a Compass-Review Skills

After awhile if a person doesn't use a skill they forget how, or else, it takes awhile to reorient oneself to that skill. This is a great link, among others, to get a person comfortable with map and compass again.

A lot of folks take a GPS with them, or a cell phone. Relying on batteries or satellite delivery can leave a person in deep trouble. The most important equipment we have is our brain.

I'm doing some refreshing myself.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bears Behaving Badly, or Normally, Basecampers Beware

Here's a link for the bear story outside Helen, Georgia. This town is not far from the Appalachian Trail, although many hikers don't visit it because they just finished going through Neels Gap, a store right on the trail.
The video is very good, and you'll enjoy listening to these local people.
Of course, cell phone coverage is spotty at best, and there are a lot of black bears. Many bears are becoming used to people, especially on the trail. Hang your food decently, and be aware of smells on clothing and gear.
I marveled that the report would say food was scarce this time of year. Its fall, its actually harvest time, seeds and acorns, roots and fruits are mature.
Interesting stuff.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Rechargeable Solar Lights-Gear Review

This yard light has batteries which are recharged by solar power. Each night when it gets dark, they come on automatically. The darker it gets, the better the light shows up. These photos don't really do them justice.
We have 6 stationed in the front parking area, a nice way to light up the yard at night without costing anything except the initial few bucks apiece. These are Westinghouse, and weigh 4.5 ounces each. I thought they might even be nice for a base camp.

I found this half ounce "forever" solar powered flash light at Walmart. I bought two, one for backpacking and one for the key ring. My only suggestion for the manufacturer-a switch to keep it on. Right now, a person has to hold the button down for the light to stay on. Sometimes that can be tricky when you're hunting a piece of gear at night.

I love the weight, the durability, and the brightness. I've had it 18 months and its still going strong. My friend had one that quit on him. He laid it out on the table for three days. It seemed to be just what it needed, and it started working fine.

The brand name of the flash light is Rayovac.
Sometimes battery powered gear works better than solar.
I like to support the solar industry.

As we see with personal computers and cell phones, widespread public usage increases profitability for the industry. I believe the technology will become more affordable and deliver greater service as competition for the consumer dollar increases.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Still Waters Run Dangerously

After reading the story here about the brain eating amoeba found in warm, calm waters, I just thought I'd share it with you.

One of our favorite trail things to do was find a nice pool of water and take a swim. Sometimes a person can time that just right. The heat of the day, after a light lunch, which is the norm, actually, a person would be so tempted to chuck the pack and wade right in, trail clothes and all.

These nice warm pools are more likely to harbor rapidly growing bacteria, though. Snakes could be swimming, yes, amazingly copper heads do swim near shorelines, as well as rattlers.

The most dangerous critters I've come across, however, are bees, especially those that build their nest under rotted logs. I've been stung six times while running away from a weed cutting expedition. Trail maintenance can become hazardous unless its very cold and the bees are sluggish or dormant.

Whats so aggravating is they don't even bother to buzz a warning before stinging. I would run if I heard them buzzing.

At first I thought maybe I'd grabbed a pricker, like a raspberry bramble, until suddenly several were stinging me. Off I run, shedding clothes like a boy bound for skinny dipping.

The other day I was working in the garden oblivious to them peacefully swarming my ankles. My friend pointed them out and I backed away from the entrance to their underground home. I avoid that place now.

There are a lot of dangers out there, but like Thoreau said, We sit more risks than we run. Its not even the big things that can kill a person, like bears or snakes.

Sometimes I wonder how the human race has survived so long.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Coleman Solar Shower Test

I found its much easier to take a solar shower if you have an easy way to raise it high.
I installed this heavy duty hook years ago, and decided to use it for my shower hook.
Sling it just as you would a bear bag, raise it to the height desired, and anchor the rope.

I put the water in the bag at 10 a.m. By 1 p.m. it was too warm! There is a warning printed right on the bag itself that temperatures may reach over 120. They have that right. I waited for it to cool a little, then enjoyed a nice shower. I had plenty of water to wash my hair as well.

This piece of gear is good for base camping or dry docking in remote areas. I didn't install a shower curtain because this area is very private already.

For $8 at Walmart, I can enjoy a hot shower, cost free.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Off On a Novel Adventure

I'm writing my new book, a novel this time. Its fun, hard work, all consuming and becoming a lifestyle. Scary.

Based on an End Time scenario of survival and betrayal, I find myself learning many skills. I realized that being able to render fat into usable lard from wild hogs and bears would come in handy. Native American skills of brain tanning and net fishing would be advantageous.

I've thought much about various types of personalities and how they would handle the crisis. How many people would become subservient just to have food for the belly? How many would turn in their best friend for a seat at the table?

Then what if you found out stuff about your neighbor that left you tossing awake at night?

I'm pondering all the skills, emotional aspects, and warfare my people must go through. I'm learning about the research that's needed just to write a decent novel.

Anyways, that's what I'm up to lately, and my other blog, the female survivalist, is documenting some of my research into the skills aspect.

I plan to have it available at Kindle end of September.