Power to the people

January 18, 2008

Bear Electric Fence SystemI’m no Luddite, but sometimes I rail against over-reliance on technology in the wilderness.

In fact, I’m just as tech-obsessed as the next geek. It’s just that I’d rather not trust my life to a set of AA batteries and a few microchips.

So when I saw this product, I was, well, shocked.

Bear Shock is the first ultra lightweight battery-powered, electric fence system and is designed to provide safety and sound sleep while in bear country and to help protect you and your equipment from curious bears by providing a surprising electrical shock if touched. Bear Shock uses three sets of poly-wire with two hot and one ground. When the energizer is turned on, Bear Shock will distribute an electric charge of about 6,000 volts if touched.

Okay, let’s think about this, folks. You’re going to carry a 3.7 lbs. (with batteries) device so you can forgo the need to properly store food and follow other safety precautions in the wilderness.

And if that does make sense, did anyone think of what’s likely to happen when you get up in the middle of the night to pee?

Tip: The Goat


But how many packages of instant oatmeal were in there, Jason?

January 8, 2008

Jason KlassJason Klass received a package in the mail and decided to post a video about its contents.

If you’ve ever seen a box of stuff nobody wanted in a shelter on the Appalachian Trail, you’ll immediately get the idea behind this box of stuff.


Trail of Teas

January 8, 2008

Sarah at Freezer Bag Cooking has a two-part review of hot and cold tea recipes for drinking on the trail and in camp.

Considering all of the reported potential health benefits of tea, these are probably worth a try.


Did somebody say there was a drought in the Southeast?

October 23, 2007

Caney Fork River

This ain’t no creek bed.

This is the Caney Fork River at Virgin Falls Pocket Wilderness. As Wikipedia puts it:

The Caney Fork River is one of the major streams draining the Cumberland Plateau region of Tennessee and a major tributary of the Cumberland River system.

But on a recent backpacking trip we discovered there wasn’t a drop of water to be found.

Fortunately, the falls had a trickle of water. The source of this water is a cave. The water plunges more than 100 feet, then drops into another cave.

So how much water is normally in the river? Well, even in late summer there’s usually plenty of water. To give just an idea of that, the spot where I took this photo is a swimming hole, complete with rope swing.


I wish I had thought of that

September 10, 2007

measuring cupOver the weekend I joined some Boy Scouts and a couple other leaders on an easy and relaxing backpacking trip in Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area.

At dinner time I was confronted by a problem I’ve faced many times: Trying to estimate the amount of water needed for my dinner.

The obvious way to do that is to use a measuring cup. Ah, but that requires carrying a measuring cup.

My double-walled titanium mug doesn’t have measuring marks, but I’m not about to give up that. And I don’t want to add the weight of a second cup just for the purpose of measuring water.

So what’s a gram weenie to do?

Jason Klass came up with a great idea. He says, make a measuring stick.

It’s nothing more than a strip of paper with measurements for different volumes of water in my pot. To make it waterproof, I simply sandwiched it between 2 pieces of packing tape but if you want to get fancy, you can laminate it.

Brilliant! You just stand the stick up in your mug and pour water to the correct mark.

But then I had a better idea. I’ll etch those markings on the handle of my spork. Then, I won’t have to carry (and lose) the measuring stick. And the sporkto hot water.

That’s not only one of those why-didn’t-I think-of-that-before ideas, it’s a why-didn’t some-backpacking-gear-company-come-up-with-that idea.

UPDATE: Chris at A reader named Chris pointed out to me that purebound.com demonstrates the idea here.


I needed a self-test to tell me that?

September 4, 2007

I just took a quiz at CNN.com called “Which hobby best suits your personality?” It contained several inane questions, like “Stranded on a desert island, what could you not live without?”

Despite the obscurity of some of the options, the result of the quiz pretty well nailed it.

You can’t be cooped up! People like you need to breathe fresh air and commune with nature. Feeling the dirt, rocks, water or sand beneath your feet and hands and having the wind in your face makes you feel alive. You’ll take the outdoors any way you can get it, whether you’re dangling from ropes, paddling a boat or speeding down the countryside on a dirt bike. You might like hobbies like spelunking, motocross, hiking, deep sea diving, white water rafting, ultimate Frisbee or other outdoor team sports.

Now what I need is a test to tell me how to find time for the hobbies I have.


Do you feel it?

July 5, 2007

Do you feel the trail tugging at you?

“Happy” at Hikeu feels it.

I’m not crazy. I have a great life off Trail. But if I could be doing anything at all right this moment, I would be hiking. I would have everything I could possibly need on my back and Badmoon would be right there with me. It’s not just about playing every day, or feeling like we are are vacation everyday. It’s not just about accomplishing something so rewarding. It’s not just about feeling amazingly healthy, strong and fit. For me the pull is in the expansion of my world; the expansion of my spirit. Long-distance hiking is about a deeper kind of freedom and connection…a deeper connection to self, to other people, to the earth, to the Universe. A freedom from my inner voice talking about all the “shoulds” in life. Long-distance hiking shifts my perspective and fills me completely full of love and peace. I am happiest when I am hiking.

Yeah. I feel it.