Thursday, June 27, 2013

Gear Modification-Single Wall Tent Custom Fly

While camping at Dry Lake near Steamboat Springs, Colorado, I made this video. I had hoped to get on the Continental Divide Trail at Summit Lake. But, the access road was closed and my muffler gave out. Either I need a truck or a mountain bike.

This project can be accomplished in an hour or less. If the tarp is wider, you can make a longer shock corded pole to create a wider canopy or fly. Happy trails.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Like a Rented Mule

My base camp at Mike's place was taken down on Thursday night. The South Col tent proved to be a magnificent shelter. A four season three person tent with two vestibules, this favorite base camp tent was ideal, withstanding wind and thunderstorms. Here you can see my sleeping bag airing on the clothesline. All cooking was done near the fire ring below once the bear made his stand on Sunday. 
The solar panels on location produced 45 watts of power. Every night I wrote on my laptop for two hours. The next day, Mike turned on the panels so I could recharge. Each night he turned the converter off so the large marine battery would not be overcharged. Stay tuned for a video explaining all the aspects of solar panels at remote locations. I was sold on the entire idea. For under $200 a person can have enough power to charge phones, cameras and several laptops.

During the day I excavated at the cabin site. The dirt was hauled to raised vegetable beds I build and seeded with beans, squash and peas. It really built muscles because the cabin is located up on the south facing mountain side while the garden is below near the spring.

Thankfully some rock and dirt was used to widen the trail and plant morning glories. Mike told me how he wanted it reinforced with rebar and logs nailed together to form a solid support. I told him to work me like a rented mule before I headed back to the trail.
Early one morning, Mike asked, "You want to go for a hike?' Immediately I answered, "Sure!" Within minutes I was ready, hat, hiking poles, trail boots. I even forgot about making coffee, nearly unheard of. We hiked a mile or two and came to Battle Pass where the Continental Divide Trail crosses Highway 70. The flame was reignited. I don't like section hiking because of the logistics of getting to a specific trailhead  then back to the car parked where ever. Hitch hiking gets more dangerous and difficult every year.

Tomorrow morning I'll head back to the trail. Most of the snow has melted.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Photos From the Mountain Retreat-Gear Review

The solar five gallon water bag is a fantastic asset when you're base camping. This one is being filled under a rapidly moving mountain stream. The red cap fits tightly, and the handle makes it easy to haul back to camp. I'm using this bag for the hand washing station. Lay it clear side up in full sunlight and within a couple hours you can wash your hands in dirt cutting very warm water instead of ice cold streams.
I've embedded a video at
demonstrating this.

One of many sunrise photos I took this morning before heading into Saratoga to the library. The snow has finally melted enough for some serious hiking on the Divide. While its been "fun" and hard work up at Mike's Retreat, I'm ready to move down the trail. My youtube channel will have many more videos of the week I spent there working on his cabin and checking out his survivalist bunker and buildings.

The solar bag heating up, work gloves and snow sort of sum up the experience of living at 9,500 feet off grid. We did have solar panels to charge the laptop and camera, allowing us to write and record the adventure.

I've been using the same soda can stove since 2001 when it made its maiden voyage on the Pacific Crest Trail. Because I'm cooking up at 9,500 feet, I bought a gallon of denatured alcohol at the Saratoga hardware store before heading up the mountain. It lights easily even on cold mornings and produces a blue flame. Here you see the pot boiling spaghetti for two people. Once cooked, it was drained and topped with canned spaghetti sauce.
Note to all CDT hikers. Encampment still has a post office, but if you're looking for food supplies or a hot meal, you'll have to go a mile north on highway 70 to Riverside. There, the Mangy Moose or Beartrap Bar and Grill serve up delicious food. Friday and Saturday nights there is live music.

This pot support and windscreen are doing great. Everything nests in my two pint pot. In spite of being in a base camp, I still make instant coffee using this pot every morning.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Who Is This Woman?

I started writing An End of Days two years ago. It began with a question: If TEOTWAWKI happened,  baring a natural world wide  explosion or local catastrophe, how long would it take us to find out, way  back in the mountains?
I based the main characters on the folks up in the Appalachian mountains. The villain was a neighbor. He didn't own a gun and took to  atrocities to sustain his family. He has since passed away. It sort of gave me the creeps because I killed him off in this book.
The protagonist, the main female character I gave flaws. She's an artist who has a soft heart. She gives everyone the benefit of the doubt, and isn't comfortable with firearms. After the grid goes down circumstances cause her to change dramatically.
She doesn't always trust her own judgment.She has a bad habit of leaving the keys in the ignition. Sometimes, her temper flares up and people suffer excruciatingly. She takes matters into her own hands, spontaneous combustion on a very personal way.
On June 14th, you can read this book free.
This promotion of the first book in The River Survival Series lasts for five days. If you have a Kindle Reader you can begin the journey in a post grid world where law and order belongs to the hands strong enough to grab it.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Read End of Days Free

Beginning June 14th, you can download the first book in The River Survival Series for free. allows authors to promote their work for five days with a give away. The promotion ends on June 18th.
for more details.
Please, leave a book review. Next month, we'll offer the second book in this series, All Hell Won't Wait.
I'm really passionate about this series. If the world systems would ever collapse, it is those who possess old fashioned skills that will survive. There are no zombies in this series, just a mess of cannibals, brutal slavers, and a government bent on retaking control no matter what.
Read more about the how and why of this four book series on the page linked at the right side bar.
A final fifth book is in progress bringing a happy closure and twist after the devastating fourth book, No Storm Like This. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Trail Update and Gear Report

Because the Mystic Trail was closed for Bear activity, I routed through the Madison Campground in Yellowstone National Park. This hiker-biker site was $6 bucks. I met Lenard there. He was in route from northern Montana to a job taking care of indigents in Arizona. His bike and trailer were an interesting combination of handyman tools and camping equipment. He told me he was a disabled veteran who had planned ambushments in Afghanistan.

Once I hit West Yellowstone, I found a hotel, which is called Madison Hotel, located on Yellowstone Avenue, across the street from the Police Station. I quickly unloaded my pack and hung the Brawnygear prototype tent to dry. The last couple days were frosty. Packing up this morning, the  slight condensation was still frozen on the inside. They charge $36 a night. A good deal if you're not camping here so close to the park.

My tent is supported by two hiking poles. By cocking the entry pole off to one side, entry is much easier. This tent has a full floor, zippered screen and half back wall, allowing good ventilation. Its been so cold, I did close off the air flow, which added some condensation issues. This custom tent is only 76 inches long and weighs 22 ounces with 6 stakes and guy line.

As my trail wound its way through the mountains, I came upon this informational sign detailing the great quake registering 7.5 on the Richter scale, the largest ever recorded in the Rocky Mountains. On a moonlit night on August 17, 1959, near midnight, the earth shook, an avalanche took out a mountain road, 28 people died. The lake 'tilted' and a roar of mud and water took out campgrounds all along this beautiful  mountain pass.

Before heading south of the park and resuming my journey on the Divide, I decided to take a couple days. Its still a little early in the season to be backpacking at 9,000 feet.

Base camping with my South Col tent is luxurious. I did a gear review on this four season tent and created a video you can watch on you tube. Because my car is parked nearby, this is really sweet and relaxing. Baker's Hole Campground is 3 miles west of West Yellowstone on HWY287-191. Its only $16 bucks a night, as cheap as you're going to find this close to the Park. There are campground hosts too which can help direct you to the best eateries in town.
Hike along the Madison River near the campground and you'll find peaceful mountain vistas, blue waters, and plenty of prime bear habitat.

Store all food and drink in your car or bear box unless you are within sight of it and awake.

A typical site at Baker's Hole Campground.