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Renaissance Man
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It all started with a plan. Plans are meant to be broken.

Another member here and I had decided to get together and get into the woods. We had never met, but we had chatted a bit, and discovered that we had a lot in common. This member, (I'll call him Mister X as I'm not sure he wants to be known... OPSEC and all that :upsidedown:) lives about an hour and half away from where I do, so we made plans to get together for a 3 day, 2 night trip. Bare bones. Minimalist. So minimalist I don't have many pictures.

We headed to a local WMA nearby Mister X's house. He was familiar with it, I'd never even heard of it. I figured the area would be fairly flat and hot, as that's what the terrain in this area tends to. I looked at some topo maps, and noticed that it looked a little hilly, but that meant a lot of creeks and that meant water would be easy to find. Normally, in this area of the state, there's not a lot of water. And with this heat, water was going to be a huge issue.

So I packed. And then someone offered to loan me a brand new pack I'd never tried. A Deuter ACT Trail 32. I've been looking for a well built, versatile, civvy styled pack that would be smaller than my week trip pack, but larger than a typical day pack. I really don't have much problem getting all my 3 day stuff in a day pack, especially in the summer, but something versatile would be a nice option. The ACT 32 is probably just a little big, (have you noticed that you can have two packs that claim to be 30l and you have to cram all your stuff in one with the seams about to burst, and the other swallows the same gear with enough left over for carrying a small beer keg?) as all my 3 day gear barely filled half of it. But it has a good compression system to keep the pack bag small, and the gear tight. And it was black, my favorite color. So I decided to give it a try. I'll put more about the pack at the end as a short review.

I drive down to where we were meeting, Mister X was being dropped off by Mrs X, and I was to park my car in a small church parking lot on the edge of the WMA. Since I'd never met Mr or Mrs X, I did not know what to expect. The first thing I noticed was that Mr X was indeed packed light. A small daypack, and that was it. It's always fun to meet people after talking to them online and see how close your perception of them meets reality. I was way off. Mr X was half my age, and looked pretty fit. But that's ok, I'm really young at heart, never having really grown up yet. But after talking for only a few minutes, I sincerely forgot about age. This guy is wise beyond his years, and far more mature than many friends my own age. The more we talked, the more I was convinced we had to be related. We like a lot of the same guns, books, facial hair, and we've even both had the same businesses. Well, he still does, mine was sold several years ago.

We met at noon, and the day was already hot. I mean brutal hot. Probably just shy of 100 degrees and high humidity. We both carried about a gallon of water since we weren't sure about the water situation, but even with 8 lbs of water weight, both our packs were right around 20 lbs.

We said goodbye to his missus, and walked down a dirt road for a bit, talking and getting to know each other a bit. We found a hunter's track heading generally north, our intended direction of travel, and headed down it. No vehicles were allowed in this area, but the road was pretty clear so it was easy walking. For a while. At the top of a small hill, the road abruptly ended, and to continue in our intended direction, we headed downhill from the pines and scrub at the top of the hill to an older growth section of forest in a small ravine. It was much shadier, a bit cooler, and there was much less undergrowth to trample through. We crossed over a creek that was fairly large, 3 foot banks and maybe 6 feet across, and it had a few stagnant puddles, but no moving water.

We continued on our way, occasionally finding these hunting tracks that were going in the direction we wanted. We were heading for a pond that looked to be a great place to camp.

We hiked about 5 miles to the pond, which we found by late afternoon. A good bit of the hike had been in the sun, so we were very hot and tired. Most of our water was gone, and so was our energy. So before reconnoitering the pond area thoroughly, we took a little afternoon break in the shade and waited for the sun and heat to drop down a bit. A couple hours before dusk, we scoped out a nice wooded hillside that overlooked the pond. It was an excellent campsite. During our afternoon siesta, X had tried making a hammock out of his poncho. I got the camera out, waiting for him to bust his butt, but amazingly, it held.



So he redid his ponchammock, and I set up my own hammock. Some storm clouds moved in about this time, so we made it a priority to get our tarps and ponchos strung up over our hammocks and gear. It never really rained hard, and it actually felt quite good being in the drizzle, so it wasn't exactly a panic. We then cooked our Chef BoyArDee and chili over my little alcohol stove and surveyed the area. The pond was a great source of water, although it was not flowing and seemed to be slowly drying up in the heat. But that's why we carry water filters, because you never know what you may have to drink.

Before dark settled in, I tried making a bow saw. I carried a bow saw blade with me, with the intention of seeing how well a bush saw would work. I rarely build fires or cut down trees, so I don't really need to carry a saw, but I thought it would be great to have the blade so that if I needed a saw, I could have one. The weight penalty for the blade was only about an ounce and a half, but once assembled, it gave me a full 19" blade that worked wonderfully. I simply cut a small sapling for the bow, and whittled two wooden pegs to insert into the holes in the end of the blade. The tension of the sapling held it all together. I tested it on some deadwood around camp, and it worked really well, even on fairly large wood.



Then we settled in to listen to the sounds of wildlife, the approaching storm, the lightning off in the distance, and the peace and quiet behind all of it. About 4 am, a coyote howled by the pond, not 50 yards from where we camped.

We slept well in our hammocks, and got up early to beat the heat. At least we tried. I had some trouble getting going, not the least of which was getting used to packing and finding things in my new pack. Unfortunately, I could not fill my bladder all the way in the pond as it was too shallow, and X had similar problems getting his filter to draw as well. But he managed to get more water than I did. And that turned out to be a good thing.

But we managed to head out before it got too hot, circling the pond and picking up another dirt road that headed in our general direction. That road turned sharply the wrong way after a few thousand feet, so off we headed into the woods, traversing areas that were burned and possibly clearcut years ago, and eventually managing to find a big creek that looked hopeful for water that was on our map.

That big creek turned out to be completely dry. It seemed impossible as we were downstream from the area we crossed yesterday, and it rained last night! But there it was. Dry as a dusty bone in the desert of hell. Well, no biggie, there's another bigger creek just another half mile or so in the direction of travel. (Our planned direction today was to get back to the general area where I parked so that we would have a short walk the next morning to the car and to where Missus X was picking up Mister X. The other thought was that the church where I parked might have a spigot where we could get some water if needed) So we continued. It was getting hot now, and we were sweating buckets. It seemed like every hilltop was sparse pines and chest high scrub, making bushwhacking hot and difficult. We followed game trails as much as we could (and saw lots of deer!) Our water was going quickly, and we had to slow down our intake or possibly run completely out. We made it to the second creek, and it too was completely dry. This area was far from flat, about every quarter mile we would cross a steep ridge down into another shady canyon with a dry creek bed. We probably crossed 10 of these dry creekbeds before 1pm. It was very frustrating, and we decided to change course and head directly to the church to see if it had water. My big mistake here was assuming that X would understand my "seat of the pants" navigating technique. I have an excellent sense of direction and time, and can generally get pretty darn close to where I want to go without too much of the calculating, getting bearings, measuring distances, etc. But since X didn't know me from a wandering lunatic, he was clearly getting frustrated with my inability to point to where we were on the map. I should have forseen this and made more of an attempt to navigate correctly. I've learned my mistake...

Eventually we came out on the road about 1/4 mile east of the church. Hot, tired, thirsty, and smelling really, really bad. X shared his last bit of water with me as I had been out for a little while. I'm glad he had the foresight to get more water!

So we decided to end the expedition a day early. When Mrs X came to pick up X, she told us it was 100 degrees with a heat index of 108. We definitely pushed ourselves, hiking around 10 miles, most of it bushwhacking in this incredible heat. We learned a bit about what we're capable of. I also learned that seed ticks are the spawn of Satan. My clothes and gaiters were treated with Permathrin, but my knees were exposed. I got about a half dozen bites around the backs of my knees and going up my thighs. X was picking them off his arms by the dozens, so it could have been much worse.

But it was fun, and I'm ready to go again. Hopefully when it's not quite so hot, and when all those creekbeds have a little water in them! And DEET goes on the exposed areas! But we saw plenty of wildlife, turkeys, turtles, coyotes, deer, ticks... especially considering there was two of us crashing through the forest like runaway semis downhill on a mountain road. I'm amazed we saw much of anything!

As far as the pack goes, it's a great technical pack. It has just a couple of outside pockets, but this keeps it slim, which is important with climbing, bushwhacking, or just trying to move quickly around obstacles. It's a top loader, but it has a unique U shaped zipper at the bottom front of the bag that allows access to things in the bottom of the bag without unloading the whole thing. The suspension was pretty good, the waist belt carried most of the weight of the pack, and the shoulder straps were well padded, but still allowed some ventilation. The back was adequately ventilated... I've seen better, but I've also seen a lot worse. And with the heat we endured, ventilation was really important.

The only thing that bugged me was that the frame bent horizontally in the middle, almost like it was hinged. When you pulled the compression straps to secure the load, it bowed the back pad in a convex shape, directly into your back and opposite the natural curve of your back. This was uncomfortable, and the only solution was loosening the compression straps which allowed the pack to be more bulky and wobble around on my back. I will be searching for a different solution for my 3 day pack. I'm very picky and want the best suspension, the best ventilation, and the most compressible, technical pack. I'm still looking...

Az
 

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war comin, choose a side
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Mr. X, i like it might change the handle. Okay not really i like nagants more. :) That is a very good tale of our adventure. I couldnt have said it better. No i was not to worried about your navi skills. I knew you were right. There was really only one direction we could head. And that was the direction we headed. You had to have noticed, "what direction next, navigator?" You did fine. I did learn i will not carry as much food but i will supplement that with more ways to carry water! It was definitely a great trip. I will be glad to go out into the wilderness with you again. I just really wasnt expecting on going mountain climbing. Those hills, if you can call them that, were not too long or to terribly steep but they were non stop. Constant uphill and down hill. Fun either way. I did like that stove. :thumb: i have yet to make mine. :( I will have one soon, as soon as i by me an energy drink. I learned alot from you and like i said will gladly do it all over again. Just with more water next time. I have also seen you navi skills, there is no doubt in my mind now. If only the church would have had water it would have helped. It is just hard to believe all the creeks were dry. Especially with some water, what little there was, in them previously. I guess the ground sure soaks it up fast. Thank God for that china water filter, eh? And thanks for mrs.nagantghost for having a gallon of water in the car. Its good to be a prepper, huh? When you cant find water, you have some stored.

Seed ticks? Dont even get me started. I am still itchin. LOL. I think i have just about got them licked though. The worst part is you really cant see them until it is too late. I even had DEET. They must be those super genetically modified seed ticks. ;) I talked to the preacher at the church this morning and he said there was a coyote in the yard at the church, during the day. Thats strange. Either way i am glad mr. Coyote alarm clock decided not to come much closer or we would have had to make him breakfast. LOL

I too am also suprised my makeshift hammock held up so well. But as you remember, i tested it before i got in it. An ounce of prevention is worth more than 145lbs falling on sticks and pinecones. You poncho helped alot. Even if you didnt have a pillow. :) Your saw was cool too. Just remember it takes a saw to make a saw.

We definitely need to get together again. Maybe when it is not scorching and uber-dry. Either way i am sure we did what 90% of the population couldnt/wouldnt do. (Present company not withstanding, you people are survivors :thumb:) I would recommend that some people on the boards take a chance and meet up. You can meet great people, learn some things, and have fun. :thumb:

Azb, i am looking forward to our next trip. Hopefully our schedules will click into place again, it was fun. BTW, hurry and watch sherlock holmes, the next movie is due out in december.
 

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Renaissance Man
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Is it just me, or is itching those seed tick bites almost orgasmic? It's different from say, poison ivy, where you start to itch and it feels good, but then it tapers off and if you keep itching it just starts burning. The seed tick bites just keep feeling better the more you itch!

It's almost worth getting the bites to feel the relief from scratching!

And yes, I'm losing my mind. I'm glad I only have a half dozen bites. If I had a lot more, I think I would be completely insane.

Az
 

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war comin, choose a side
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Orgasmic? You may have very well lost your mind. ;) i only got about oh.. 40 or 50 bites. I have almost got em licked. Finger nail polish was the first thing to go on. Clear, i didnt want to be a walking rainbow. :) I scratch them open and rub them with an alcohol pad. It works well to dry them out. Or am i just a glutton for punishment? The world may never know. I have also been putting a little benadryl cream on but i do believe the benedryl is done with. I have gotten to the point where they are almost gone. I will definitely treat my clothing with whatever that was you said. I can never remember it. I know it starts with a P.

It was definitely an experience worth the bites. The bites are just a friendly reminder of time well spent. :thumb:
 
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Renaissance Man
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
http://www.campmor.com/sawyer-24-oz-permethrin-clothing-insect-repellant-pump-spray.shtml?source=CI&ci_src=14110944&ci_sku=8133624OZ

This is what I use. The bottle is good for treating 2 sets of clothes twice, and lasts about 6-8 weeks, even through several washings.

So one bottle is good for one person per season. Treat in Spring, and again in mid Summer. Spray on, let air dry completely, and you're good to go. Don't put it on your skin directly or wear the clothes before drying. I spray both the insides and outsides of socks, shirts, hats, gaiters, etc.

Great stuff, I spray it on my hot weather hat and it keeps the gnats away from my face and ears. Mosquitoes too.

That's one nice thing about winter camping... no bugs! Or snakes!

I'm kinda surprised we didn't see any snakes on our hike. That area seems like heaven for rattlers, copperhead, ratsnakes and kingsnakes.

Az
 

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war comin, choose a side
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I will get some of that stuff to treat my clothing. You definitely came off on the better end with the bug bites. I too am surprised we did not see any snakes. That place is definitely rattlesnake central. King snakes too. I have seen king snakes out there before. I did have my snake killer knife, i would have showed you the technique, with a live demonstration. It must have been we were making so much noise they had ample time to get out of our way. Good thing too.
 
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Bush Walker
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great that two strangers were brave enough to come together for a common interest - cant say that id be so brave. id like the experience but we have a lot of nut jobs around here :)



anyone wanna do a CT overnight?
 

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war comin, choose a side
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@busher: it was definitely worth it. Azb is a great guy. It also seems that alot of people here hide behind the anonymity of the internet. Armchair commandos and what not. You will definitely find out who is real and can really do what they claim they can. In the words of Crutch, "you gotta put in that dirt time". Some people also need to realize you can go overboard with OPSEC. I do not know where azb lives, nor does he know where i live. So the important opsec was never violated. You do not have to do an overnight trip. I have read some people on here meet at gun shows or restaurants. Neutral locations are paramount. Some people also need to realize that finding/meeting valuable assets will be a good thing pshtf. People need to realize that if they stay scared of meeting people they will be the lone wolf when the time comes and being by yourself makes it alot harder to survive. I also had ample means of protecting myself if things got a little sketchy. ;)

Please note busher that none of this was aimed at you. This was/is just a generalization. I hope you do not take it as an attack because it is not meant that way. I appreciate the replies. I just would like people to understand, sometimes it is good to meet new people. The old adage, no risk no reward. Azb is a cool guy and we have alot in common. I am glad i met him and the only thing i would change was how much water i carried with me. LOL

P.S. We also talked for almost two months beforehand. It wasnt a last minute kinda thing. So we had a little time to get a feel for one another. Albeit through internet world. :)
 
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Renaissance Man
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I was a little concerned when I first met thenagantghost and he was wearing that hockey mask and carrying that huge chainsaw, but I figured, what's the worst that could happen?

:D:

Az
 

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war comin, choose a side
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From the moment i saw your black cloak and scythe, I knew you had to be a good guy. :thumb:
 
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Bush Walker
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totally valid points from both of you - i too think that it gets a little too OPSEC-y around here at times


I would call myself an armchair commando at this point because its been a few years since ive been out in the woods. we've had a few kids these last few years and i havent had time to get out and about - but im feelin the call to get out and practice a few things for sure.


this was a real good thread detailing a good experience - happy for you two that you got out, got together, and got going
 

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Practice is definitely a good thing. It had been a couple of years since i had been out in the "field" myself. I definitely learned some things about myself. And azb showed me some great things, i will be putting into practice next time. He also showed me up, by showing me what that "old man" can do. ;)

(Just messing with you azb, you aint that old. You are like you said young at heart and thats what counts.) :thumb:
 
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war comin, choose a side
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Careful, or I'll smack you over the head with my walker.

Az
That is too funny. The reason is because i know a guy who was in the waffle house one day and there was a old guy with a walker. The old guy thought he said something to him or about him or something. The old guy took his walker and shoved it against the guys chest, and it got jammed between the booth and table. The younger guy was stuck. Then old man proceeded to wail on the guy. There was nothing the younger guy could do except sit there and take it. I guess that guy had "tactical" walker training. :) we helped our buddy after the laughing subsided.
 
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