Friday, December 26, 2014

Happy New Year, Hope You Got New Gear

I'm time pressed to keep up with everything, but that's no excuse. Hope you all had a great series of holidays and look forward to the New Year like I do.
2015, bring it on. Do your damnedest.
Now that we've recovered from the sugar hangover, we're scoping out seasonal sales. Post Christmas madness should net decent gear.
Ok, the wish list includes lots of basics, cause when you're living basic, those things wear out.
Things like waterproof gloves, and tights, leggings and fleece tops.
No turtle necks, they make me feel like I'm choking. Nice long scarves for double wrapping head and neck.  Gotta love those serious wool socks.
But, hoods and pockets are prime selling points, with real zippers, not wanna be coil calamities. Unless I'm dancing in a gym, I need pockets.
By the way, that's something I learned about having a smart phone! That baby requires a serious soft pocket. Don't dare scratch the face throwing it willy-nilly in beside the keys and loose change.
Thanks for reading me this year. New adventures await.
Happy Trails.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Beefing Up Winter Sleeping Bags

I loved this picture I saw on Facebook. The caption said, "Pack Light, Freeze at Night." 
My reply, "No skills, lot of chills."

When new, this sleeping bag was rated at 15 degrees and lived up to its potential. After several years of constant use and decreasing effectiveness, I washed it per manufacturers directions. However a week of testing it in the Gila, New Mexico proved it no longer kept me warm in sub- zero temps. 

With winter coming on, I've decided to utilize a second layer to beef up the bag rather than buying a negative-degree monster. I'd rather own components that can be added as the need arises, thus maintaining a versatile minimalist lifestyle.

I placed the quilt bottom side up, on top the sleeping bag for discussion purposes only, showing you that it doesn't have a hood and the footbed is significantly tighter. Previously I used this quilt as a 'topper', or alone during the summer. The lacing keeps the quilt snugged up around a sleeping pad or main bag.

As you can see, the quilt is red for easy visibility in rescue situations, and gray for stealth. Its reversible, is rated for 40 degree nights.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Trip Report-Gila Wilderness in December

My friend picked me up at the Albuquerque Airport for a week of intensive survival experimentation, scoping out the Continental Divide Trail routes and some R& R.
While at the Gila Hot Springs, we met a wonderful couple touring the southwest in a blue bus 40 feet long.

I was invited to view my new friends living quarters and was amazed at the wonderful transformation from school bus to cabin. Native American jewelry and artwork, wood floors and an extensive kitchen created a fantastic ambiance.

But, off to more remote locations. Off at Apache Creek Campground, Brian and I scouted a rugged setting and found this ponderosa pine leaning over a dry creek bed. But it wasn't dry for long so next came the tarp lean-to, created with a 5 x 9 tarp, staked to a back log, secured above. Damp leaves were piled under the overhanging blowdown. Below you see the spacious emergency shelter. Sorry for the rain drops on my camera lense.

Next, Brian strung a massive blue tarp and built a Dakota fire pit, which proved to be quite welcome as the rain continued drenching the land. New Mexico in December? Bring warm clothes and rain gear.

We slept in the shelter that night, with sleeping bags and pads, after drying out gear over the fire. My gram weenie rainsuit was hung to dry after being my mainstay all day long.

Nearby hiking provided welcome relief from gathering firewood and leaves. We saw pictographs 600 years old, elk carcass gnawed by wolves, hawks and a rattle snake casing shed earlier this fall.

I highly recommend the Gila and Apache National Forests. Camping is free at many locations. There were fire pits, picnic tables and privies.
The Columbia Jacket proved very valuable when temps dipped to low twenties after skies cleared.It made a great pillow and its generous, zippered pockets came in handy when navigating airports.

Other major needs proved to be: several LED flashlights and head lamp, matches and lighters, fleece and wool socks, fuel for backpacking stove and a warm hat. I ate a lot of enhanced trail mix which I brought from Idaho, while Brian ate lots of fresh fruit and cooked on a camp fire utilizing all his truck camping equipment.