Archive for the ‘Backpacking’ Category

In the first quarter of the year, I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.  I was, and to some degree still am, quite heavy.  I love to cook, and hey, guess what? Eating what I cook goes hand in hand with cooking.  I have a job that is entirely desk-based, so the only way I could burn less calories at work is if somebody paid me to sleep.

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I started off watching a ton of videos on YouTube, reading fitness posts, etc. etc., but I’ve been around long enough to know that it’s really just diet and exercise to loose weight.

No, really, that’s it. Spend more calories on exercise, eat less calories, try to avoid fried foods, processed foods, etc.  Not some crazy ‘eat nothing but avocados and sunflower seeds for three weeks straight’ diet or anything like that.

At my heaviest, I was around 365.  I say ‘around’ because the scale at work stops at 350, and I wasn’t going to go find a CARGO SCALE to put my Sasquatch-sized carcass on for better accuracy.  In the six weeks leading up to being diagnosed with diabetes, I had lost thirty five pounds with very little effort. That’s what worried me, that and having to go to the bathroom about every forty-five minutes, all day, all night.

Since that time, I’ve been walking, lifting, and keeping track of what I eat with various applications on my smartphone.  I believe these are all UnderArmor apps, My Fitness Pal, Map My Walk, Map My Fitness, and Map My Ride. I’ve walked 279.6 miles since June 1st. So in 92 days, I’ve averaged just a hair over 3 miles per day.  Some weeks I’ve done far more than that, walking eight and ten miles at Sweetwater Creek State Park, Chattahoochee Bend State Park, and Red Top Mountain State Park. We also hit Skidaway Island State Park when we were in Savannah on vacation in June for a couple of miles.

I’ll toss a gallery of some of my UnderArmor walk ‘finish’ screens at the end of the post along with some photos from my hikes.

I think most people would be quite surprised at how fast their physical condition can improve simply hiking a few hours per week, let alone per day.

I’ve been lifting weights, I have a Weider home gym that I’ve nearly maxed out in all of the major exercises.

I’ve got my weight down to 314, almost all of the progress was made in the first month though, which would be disheartening, if I hadn’t also lost two pant sizes since then.   Yes, I know, muscle weighs more than fat. I’ve known that since high school biology, yet every other person I see gives me that nugget o’ information like it’s the Holy Grail of ‘Keep going!’  My blood pressure is finally in the green, my resting heart rate went from 90 to 60, and I feel very odd on days when I have to sit still. So it is working, I just have to keep going, keep reminding myself that I didn’t get here in 90 days, I’m not going to get back to where I was before in 90 days. I just hope it doesn’t take quite as long to get fit as it did to get to where I was at the beginning of the year.

My current goal is to get down to 300 pounds, at which point I want to start doing higher intensity training, because the goal after that is 275,  then 250.  I’d be quite happy with 250 at this point.

So if you’re pining away for a better you, find something, anything, to get off of the couch, out of the chair, and go do something.   Even if it’s just walking in your neighborhood.  The UnderArmor applications have challenges built in, like ‘Complete 30 GPS verified hikes in 30 days’ for a chance to win prizes, and to be honest, I don’t care about the prizes, it just helps motivate me.  The prizes are a random drawing based on completion, so don’t think you can’t win based on where you are in the ratings.’

If that sounds boring, add in audio books, or your favorite internet radio station over your smartphone, but it’s a sure bet that if you just sit still, you won’t improve your physical condition.

My big contest at this point is completing the ‘You vs. 2018’ challenge – 1018 kilometers in 2018.  I’ve completed 587.9 k at this point, and I have 123 days left to do the rest.

Easy.

Tomorrow is the start of Dove season here in Georgia – y’all be safe, and enjoy.

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In keeping with the last two years, I’m trying to increase my outdoor activities in 2018 by a wide margin.  I need the exercise, I’d like to get away from the city and suburbs a LOT more, even if that just means ‘drive to a remote place, get out of the truck, cook a lunch over a small grill, eat, relax for a bit, drive home,’ and I’d like to practice more camping and bushcraft skills.

I’ve been watching Joe Robinet’s YouTube channel quite a bit, along with McQBushcraftDoug Outside, Wranglerstar, and some other channels (I’ll put a list at the end of this post, I don’t want to leave any of them out because, lets face it, if they are running a YouTube channel, they need people to be able to find them.)  These channels have given me plenty of motivation to camp, fish, and just enjoy nature more. Thirty years ago, I camped probably one to three weekends per month and spent a good part of the summer either at a summer camp, or working at a summer camp.  Camp Chickagami to be specific.  Now, unless I push for it, I don’t get out at all, so push for it I must.

Yesterday, the wife and I drove to Cloudland Canyon State Park, near Rising Fawn, Georgia.  It’s about a two and a half hour drive from the house, but it’s one of four parks in Georgia that make up the Canyon Climbers Club achievement.

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From the map we picked up at the trading post, the hike down to the waterfall looks TINY, and in fact it’s less than two miles.  We parked near the Interpretive Center, walked the Overlook trail and took a few photos, then walked the Overlook trail to the Waterfall trail behind the cabins, down to Hemlock Falls and back again, and I think my Under Armor walking app recorded 1.69 miles.  It’s the stairs that are the killer, because you drop down several hundred feet in switchbacks along the cliff face on a combination of natural trails and wooden walkways with expanded metal stairs and decks with benches for people like me who need to sit down on the way back up.  It took us (out of shape as we are) about two and a quarter hours for the entire hike, which is very slow considering my normal hiking pace is closer to two point six miles per hour when I’m taking it easy.  We needed to take the time, because unless you really exercise on stairs or a Stairmaster, this is a serious thigh-and-calf workout. The app reported that we burned approximately 2,955 calories in that time frame.

The temperature was perfect, mid 60’s Fahrenheit, but with a nice cool breeze, plenty of ice left from last weeks freeze, and a beautiful blue sky.  We will most definitely have to go back and camp, this park has a lot of trails and is very well set up for folks to get out into nature, my only slight concern is that it does look very popular, so ‘getting away from people’ probably won’t happen unless you take the longer trails and get lucky.

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Now for the YouTube list I promised you:  I am going to link to the YouTube channel and copy the ‘About’ section from each channel below. Except for Joe Robinet, MCQBushcraft and Doug Outside (who I have been watching a lot of lately) the rest are presented in no particular order other than where I find them on my YouTube subscription list.

Joe Robinet

Bushcraft, Back Country Camping, Wilderness Canoe Tripping, Backpacking, My Dog, Scout. This channel is mainly bushcraft style camping trips, sometimes I build a natural shelter, sometimes I sleep in a tent, under a tarp, or in the snow. I try to show the realities of being out in the bush, weather it be an overnighter in the woods, or an extended, 10 day fly in canoe/fishing trip. I’ll leave in my failures, as well as my accomplishments, in an effort to show you who I really am, just a regular Canadian guy who enjoys spending time outdoors. I’m not a survivalist, and my definition of “bushcraft” may differ from yours. 🙂

Doug Outside

On this channel you will find videos on Bushcraft -Carving -homestead – making stuff and whatever else floats my boat at the time -thx for stopping by

MCQBushcraft

I’m a UK based outdoorsman who started hunting and fishing with my friends when I was young. Educating yourself about your surroundings and having the core skills to sustain yourself using your environment is a lost curriculum in the United Kingdom. We are well provided for, so well that “why do anything if somebody else will do it for you”. This lifestyle has drastically disconnected people from having the knowledge and skills required to spend even one night in the woods and not get hungry. I love being outdoors and have never lost the desire to learn and practice skills that I get a sense of natural connection from. Hunting hangs controversy in the minds of many, but in my eyes there is nothing more natural if you choose to eat meat. I appreciate that not everybody hunts in moderation though. Thanks for reading Michael McQuilton

Wranglerstar

In 2010, the Wranglerstar family decided to turn our backs on a comfortable city life and become modern day homesteaders. Our adventure starts in the rugged mountains of the Pacific Northwest. Have you dreamed of stepping off the treadmill of life? Join the Wranglerstar family as we blaze a trail for all those who dream of becoming truly independent from the mythological American dream.

TA Outdoors

Bushcraft, Wild Camping, Wilderness Hiking Trips, Solo Overnight Camps, Fishing, Shooting, Hunting, Cabin Building, DIY projects are all things I love. My dog joins me on some of the trips. His name is Jaxx. My name is Mike. If you wish to send me stuff: Mike Pullen PO Box 7466 HOOK RG27 7NA Check out our other YouTube Channel TAFishing: https://www.youtube.com/user/TAFishing

Tumblehome

Wilderness tripping / Shenanigans in the bush / Paddling the waterways of Ontario

Survival Russia

The Survival Russia Channel is about “The Reality Of Survival”. I live on a Homestead in far away Russian wild nature and here are no room for “TV” Survival. Only Reality counts here. Survival Russia promotes the philosophy of always carrying equipment and never to be parted from equipment which will affect chances of Survival. So did the old timers and pioneers of both the East and the West. I’m Danish and I Live In Russia!! Get Out and Train and Get it Done! All Content On The Survival-Russia Channel is Reserved and Copyrighted By: Survival Russia Regards, Lars

Burley Outdoors

(Burley didn’t publish an ‘About’ on his YouTube page – he is a friend of Joe Robinet’s and a great outdoorsman.)

Mountain Man Survival Guide

Bushcraft and Survival

Far North Bushcraft and Survival

Here at Far North Bushcraft And Survival you will learn about many long forgotten tricks and tips of the old time woodsmen. Not only will you learn about bushcraft / woodcraft but you will learn many things that will help you to survive in less than ideal “survival” situations as well. Come along and sit with me by the campfire as I delve into these subjects in a way that you can easily learn to then do yourself. I will show you how to make shelters, gather food, use wild medicines as well as start fires without matches, lighters, ferro rods, etc

Well, I said I wanted to get out more, and this year I did, though it was a modest improvement instead of the ‘leaps and bounds’ I wanted to accomplish.  I’ll still treat it as a win though, several good hikes, bowhunted a new area over a dozen times (for me, that’s quite good, between shifting work schedules and taking care of the petting zoo around here) and even getting a couple of shots at a small buck.

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One of the quick photos I took from my stand in Camp Creek VPA Wildlife Management Area.

We managed to get a night of bowfishing in with TreeTop, and had a lot of fun at West Point that night.

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We lost Brody this year, which still hurts enough that I haven’t been able to go back and edit the post for typos and grammatical errors.  I don’t know if I ever will, every time I try to scroll back through the posts to link something for somebody, I try very hard to scroll past that post quickly.  He meant a lot to me.

I’m in the early ‘kind of’ planning stages to go backpacking while it’s still cold weather here in Georgia: I’m from the frozen north, I like thirty degree weather a heck of lot better than ninety degree weather, and I want to make some use of it while I can.  I haven’t been on a backpacking trip since Minister Creek Trail in Pennsylvania around 1990, so it’s been quite a long time. I dug an old frame pack I have been toting around for decades out of the garage and after really looking at it for a few minutes, scratched my head and told my wife “I don’t think I’ve every used this pack. The last time I did a backpacking trip, I used my pack with a metal frame. This is a polymer framed pack.”  And I honestly think that at some point in the mid 1990’s, I purchased this pack for a trip that never happened, but I’m stymied as to when or where I purchased it.  It’s nice, so I might as well put it to use.  I’m not sure where I’ll go at this point, I was looking at the Chattahoochee National Forest, but the parts of it I’m really familiar with are not really the ‘walk into the woods and camp’ part, unless you like nearly vertical hiking, however there is part of the Appalachian Trail up there that has a good reputation for being a hike and camp area, so I might try that.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year.

In April, I ordered a Etekcity backpacker sized stove with self-ignition in the hopes that I could use it to make a hot beverage or heat water to use with a dehydrated meal on the trail sometime during the year.  I didn’t end up hiking as much as I wanted to (my work schedule was changed multiple times, making it difficult to tie in with my wife’s days off, so when our days off coincided we would use the time to catch up on housework etc.) so I hadn’t used it.

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Etekcity Ultralight Portable stove with piezo ignition – this image is from Amazon.com

Recently, I watched quite a few bushcraft videos, mostly Joe Robinet and McQ Bushcraft, and remembered that I’d bought this tiny stove, but hadn’t used or tested it yet.

The stove takes butane-propane mix canisters, so on a recent shopping trip, I picked one up at REI for under $5 to test the stove out.  Be careful when buying this kind of stuff, my first stop for most gear is Amazon, but always, always double check prices with other sites and/or physical stores.  REI doesn’t even list this item on their website, and Amazon has it listed for $18.99, but it was $4.95 at the REI near Kennesaw, GA.  (In the past, I’ve found quite a few items listed by third party sellers that was outrageously priced.  One item was $8 per can at Academy Sports, and $49.00 from a third party seller on Amazon.)

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To test this, I used a tin cup I picked up in Afghanistan about ten years ago, two cups of cold tap water, and put the stove on the railing of my back porch.  I wanted to see how long it would take to bring the water to a rolling boil.  According to our outdoor thermometer, it was 34′ outside,  and Intellicast.com shows a 10-15 mph NW wind.  I don’t have a lid for the cup, and for the first seven minutes of the test, I didn’t block the wind.

The little stove heated the water very quickly, but it wouldn’t come to a boil until I stood blocking the wind, at which point roughly one minute later I had a rolling boil.  If I had a lid for the cup, and had blocked the wind from the beginning, I have no doubt that this tiny stove would have had the water boiling quite fast.

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The water started to steam in the cold air in under a minute

I really like it – the package lists the output as 6,666 BTU, which I think is really good for something under $12 that can fit in a shirt pocket.  I don’t know if I would rely on this kind of thing for long-term survival, but as a short term, light weight option for camping trips and backpacking trips, it would certainly be much faster than cutting firewood and starting a full campfire when all you want is to re-hydrate a meal and have a cup of tea before moving on. It cools down very quickly, by the time you have the meal ready to eat, it should be cool enough to put back in the carrying case.

The stove comes with an orange plastic two piece carrying case.

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This shows the stove when out of the case, in the case, and when the case is closed – Image is from Amazon.com