Posts Tagged ‘path’

By Cam The Cuddler

Watch this HD video, and try meditating with Survival Bros at the McMinnville COOP’s Labyrinth and Gardens.  Presented by Parkview Community Center.  Here’s the address: 325 NE Burnett Rd McMinnville, OR 97128  

A labyrinth is reflective space where you can notice changes in your thinking.  Perhaps you can look at a situation, and see it in a new light.  Find a labyrinth using this locator website.  Tell #SurvivalBros what you think about these amazing works of Art.  Combining both the best of Philosophy and Nature.  

cam-walks-labyrinth-in-or

Cameron McKirdy takes another selfie

deer-in-oregon

A deer eats and apple under a tree in the park

Please comment, like, share, and SUBSCRIBE!  Thanks for watching our HD video productions.  Have a peaceful day.  More on http://www.CameronMcKirdy.com

By Chris Miller

 

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Backpacking Gear for the Florida Trail

Usually I try to keep my pack weight down, though I don’t really consider myself an ultra light hiker. I can live comfortably out of a pack weighing no more than 20 pounds for months at a time. And that is including food and water. My base weight, the weight of my gear not including food and water, usually hovers around the ten pound mark, though I have a tendency to carry multiple paperbacks at a time which can push that weight up a bit.

So what’s in my pack?  Let’s start with what I consider the essentials, sleeping gear and clothing.
I sleep in a cheap Walmart $30 40 degree sleeping bag made by Ozark Trails. It is one of the smallest sleeping bags around which means it packs up into a very tight space. This is one of those occasions when you don’t need to spend a ton of money on a top of the line sleeping bag.  Is it warm enough? Probably not for a lot of winter activities, and even in Florida it can get cold in January. But the sleeping bag is always slipped inside my REI Minimalist Bivy. This adds a few degrees as well as allowing me to easily stealth camp. I also usually sleep in my Under Armour base layer.  My base layer is one of my most trusted pieces of survival equipment. I probably wouldn’t have survived the week of 20 degree nights stealth camping in Austin Texas that I went through a few years ago if it wasn’t for them and my winter hat and gloves. Also something which is always in my pack.
Other than that, a change of socks and underwear, my Petzl headlamp, a 5×7 tarp, a Thermarest Prolite sleeping pad, a Nike Storm Fit rain jacket, an REI Revelcloud packable jacket, a Sawyer mini water filter and a pair of what I call sleeping socks, socks which only get worn at night when I’m in my sleeping bag rounds out most of the rest of my gear.

Sure there are a few other things, random assorted things clipped inside my pack or stuffed in Ziploc bags near the top where they are easy to get to. The toilet paper and first aid kit, the mini Bic lighter and fire starter cubes. I also have a clip with several safety pins, a GSI plastic spoon, some rubber bands, a small set of nail clippers and a P-51 can opener.  You’ll notice that I didn’t mention a knife of any kind.  Airlines are pretty picky about letting you bring knives on board and I have found that when you are stealth camping in urban environments it is very likely that you will at some point be stopped by the police. Usually when I’m hiking I’ll carry a small Swiss Army knife. I’ve never needed anything more serious no matter the situation but have recently added a Buck Paklite Caper to my gear. Mostly for batoning wood for fires.  But for the Florida Trail I wasn’t able to pack a knife and in the rush before leaving I had failed to mail them ahead to myself. So I was without a knife in the swamps and back country of Florida.

Backpack Gear List

REI Lookout 40 backpack 53 oz
With 3 Liter Camelback water bladder and insulated drinking hose
Ozark Trail 40 degree synthetic mummy bag 32 oz
REI Minamalist Bivy 15 oz
Thermarest Prolite Small Sleeping pad 11 oz
Blue patched Silnylon 5×7 tarp with ropes 11 oz
Nike Storm Fit Rain Jacket 16 oz
Winter hat and gloves 3 oz
Underarmour bottoms lg 6 oz
Underarmour top xl 8 oz
REI Revelcloud Jacket md 12.5 oz
2 Extra Pair socks 6 oz
Petzl Headlamp w/batteries 3 oz
4 tent stakes w/stuff sack 2 oz
Sawyer Mini Water filter 2 oz
32oz Gatorade bottle 1 oz
Toiletries, First Aid Kit 8 oz
Notebook, Guidebook, Pens 32 oz
Swing Trek Umbrella 7 oz
Tent – Freestanding cheap Ebay tent 31 oz

259.5 oz or 16.2 Pounds

Much heavier than I’m normally used to and this is mostly because it is a new, heavier pack with the ability to not only carry more food but which also has a larger water carrying capacity. Florida is notorious for having bad tasting water which no amount of filtering or flavoring would cover and I wanted to be able to camel up when I found clear water.  Also, the cheap tent was a last minute add on. I wasn’t sure how I felt about sleeping in a bivy on the levees in Florida knowing that alligators were so close. As it was one of the hikers ahead of me woke up to the sound of one snoring next to their tent.  So how did the gear hold up?  Most of the gear are old standards that I’ve lived with for years so I knew what to expect. But there were a few newer items that hadn’t been extensively tested before.

Sawyer Mini Water Filter

The first was the Sawyer Mini water filter. Coming in at 2 oz I had used this on only one other two month long backpacking trip along the Oregon coast and it had held up well under the minimal water filtering I had done.  It comes with a squeeze bag for forcing water through the filter as well as a back flush syringe for cleaning out the filter when it becomes clogged. It has a 0.1-micron filter which means I never really have to worry about Giardia, e. coli or salmonella. And the best feature, at least for me, is the threaded end which can be screwed onto most soda and water bottles. This lets you fill your bottle from any source, screw on the filter and squirt the water directly into your mouth.

The biggest drawback, at least on hiking in the Florida swamps, was that the water often had enough silt suspended in it that I had to back flush the filter on an almost daily basis. I’ve heard this complaint from other hikers as well and they say for the slight difference in weight they carry the full Sawyer water filter which doesn’t seem to clog as easily.  This year the swamp was little on the dry side and at least one long stretch had very little in the way of drinkable water. Another hiker had gotten so low that he decided to drink his own urine. He turned around, filled up his Smartwater bottle, screwed on his Sawyer filter and shot a good healthy stream into his mouth.  “Hmm, still salty,” was his only response.  That’s because the Sawyer filters were not meant to filter the salt out of water. Just an FYI if you are thinking about drinking your own urine anytime soon.

Cheap Ebay Tent

I liked this tent mostly because it was freestanding and cost about $20 shipped directly from China.
The problem was that those also seemed to be the only good things about it.  The tent was listed by a few different Chinese Ebayer’s under titles like “Camping Tent Single Layer Waterproof Outdoor Portable UV-resistant Army green” or “Portable Camp Camping Tent Single Layer Waterproof Outdoor UV-resistant 1 Person.”  It was a one person tent that weighed just under two pounds and it could easily be stuffed in a side pouch or rolled up and strapped to the bottom of my pack. I wanted to make a few modifications to it to make it more camouflaged and perhaps add a rain flap over the zipper on the door but there wasn’t time before the trip.  It help up fine in decent weather and even light rain. That’s when I noticed that the floor wasn’t waterproof. This wasn’t a big deal until some of the heavier thunderstorms rolled in. Even though they lasted less than half an hour the wind would force the rain through the walls of the tent and I would end up sleeping in puddles for a while. Thankfully I had my bivy.  The storms also brought out another drawback of this tent. That the poles were weak. In the mornings I would notice that section after section of the poles were splitting and had to be repaired with Gorilla Tape.  But I was glad to have even this cheap tent to keep the hoardes of mosquitos at bay. Even then, sometimes just after sunset, the cloud of them would be so thick outside the tent that I thought they might be able to collectively break the flimsy tent and suck me dry.  Walmart used to sell a Junior Dome freestanding tent for about the same price that was only slightly heavier. It was meant for kids but I used that thing for years before passing it on to someone else. An act I sometimes regret as Walmart has discontinued their production.  Let’s just say that the cheap Chinese tent didn’t make it back from Florida.

No Cook

This hike I decided to go No Cook, meaning that I wouldn’t be packing my pot and stove and that I’d be eating everything cold.  For me this works out really well though I can understand how some people would prefer hot meals.  It meant that I’d never have to resupply fuel and I would have more room in my pack for food.  So what did I eat?  Bagels, cream cheese and sliced salami were most of my big meals. Protein shakes and Multi-Grain breakfast bars were usually my breakfasts and Snickers, Chia seeds and Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies were my snacks throughout the day.

Drinks, besides the protein drinks, were powdered Gatorade for the electrolytes and Crystal Light packets to flavor the water.  The big comfort food for me was the protein shakes. They have become a standard backpacking food for me. I carry about a pound of vanilla whey protein along with roughly the same amount of either non fat dry milk or Nido which is powdered whole milk. I prefer the Nido not only for the extra calories but because it doesn’t foam up as much when shaking the shake.  I make the shakes in my 32 oz Gatorade bottle, great because of its wide mouth. Usually I’ll drink some of the water off the top to make room for the powders. Personally I don’t measure what goes into the bottle. I’ll simply add a roughly equal amount of spoonfuls of powder, mixing it in gently at first to make room for more powder. When I think its ready I’ll just put the cap on and shake violently for a while.  The whey protein is great for repairing the damage to my muscles caused by hiking and generally this is just a tasty shake that I never seem to get sick of, which is pretty important in any foods you carry.  The only drawback was going through airport security. I was pulled aside for a security check and they emptied the contents of my food bag. When the TSA agent pushed everything aside he picked up the ziplock bags of what looked like kilos of cocaine. Luckily he laughed.  That doesn’t mean he didn’t swab down everything I owned looking for traces of drugs though.

All in all the gear held up well.  The tent though was left in a dumpster somewhere in Florida.  I’ll stick with the Sawyer Mini and I may start going No Cook on more of my travels.  The pack was a bit heavy for my tastes. Leaving the southern terminus of the Florida Trail I was carrying four liters of water, roughly 8 ½ pounds, more than I’ve ever carried before, and way too much food. I’ll probably go back to the 30 liter pack I usually use for the next adventure, which will probably be hitchhiking across the US.  And next time I go hiking in Florida I’ll probably pack some bug spray.

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Chris Miller Backpacker

By Cameron McKirdy I sling a day pack on my back nearly every day.  I’ve mentioned the types of things I have in it before, like gear, food, and a warm change of clothes.  So when I discovered the Ribz Front Pack, I was stoked.  This innovative, steroid injected version of a fanny pack solves many of the challenges I face when backpacking.  Here I am with it on the Hummocks Trailhead near Mount St. Helens in Washington State. Ribz Front Pack One issue I have with a regular backpack is I’m constantly taking it off to grab water, my cell phone, or something else that isn’t handy.  With Ribz Wear, it’s all right in front of me, so I can continue trail blazing.  I also mention in the video how backpacks catch on trees when I have to duck under them.  It usually happens a few times each hike, and I practically have to crawl under the obstacle.  With my gear in front, navigating through heavy brush is considerably easier.  The best part of this system is the pack is easy to adjust.  My Dad’s chest and waist are smaller than mine, so after he used it, a quick tug on the straps in back and in front made it comfortable again for me.  Plus, Ribz have long, padded shoulder straps, so it feels like a natural extension of your body.   Mount St. Helens Adventures Map Check out the map of different Mount St. Helens Adventures.  Back to the Ribz Front Pack review, I must mention the Large version I tested can hold absurd amounts, with an 11 liter capacity.  Even with it packed full, I was able to swing my arms freely.  My dad wore it, and noted that you could still use hiking poles with it on.  Ribz makes smaller Front Packs with 8 liters of room too.  Internally, there are separate pouches to keep smaller items organized.  These elastic lined compartments will hold all your tools close to your ribs, and prevent them from rattling around.  We both ran with it, and the pack remained snug, not bouncing around, or swaying side to side.Mount St. Helens View In conclusion, the Ribz Front Pack is an excellent tool itself.  The quality is unbelievable, and far superior to what I expected.  It’s lightweight, at only 11 ounces, so it beats a backpack there too.  However, I think it would be best suited for use with a rear pack, so the weight of your supplies can be evenly distributed forward and back, thus giving you better posture than wearing one or the other.  But if you’re into ultralight backpacking, Ribz might be a dream come true.  You can’t machine wash Ribz, but it cleans up nicely with a wet rag.  I love the Cordura brand water resistant, ripstop material it’s fabricated with.  I will be sporting my Ribz for a long time.  I like it so much I want the smaller 8 liter pack too for shorter trips, and cross country running.  I just don’t know which color to get next.  Check out http://www.ribzwear.com to grab yours.

Cam makes instant coffee with an emergency water packet at Loowit Lookout near Mt. St. Helens in Washington State.  Subscribe to Survival Bros on Youtube for more!  Thanks for watching!  Feel free to comment.

Mt. St. Helens SelfieCam snaps a selfie with his dad on the trail

Yesterday Dad and I backpacked out of Pamelia Lake and headed towards the World Famous McKenzie River Trail. I’ve hiked part of it before, and have wanted to bike it ever since. That’s what I did the last two days. I lost a lot of sweat, and a fair amount of blood on the way.

We biked from the trailhead down to Clear Lake. It’s an easy ride higher on the river. Anybody can bike that section. However, on the way back to the truck I mobbed around Clear Lake. It was brutal. I had to peddle through lava fields in the summer heat. I carried my bike a good part of the way. There’s lots of loose lava rocks, and roots to mess with you. I made it around the beautiful lake, but I was exhausted. Next time I’m asking around about the trail, or hiking it before I ride. Do your homework. It took a lot longer than expected, but I loved it.

Biking on the McKenzie is not for beginners. It’s very challenging. It’s both rocky, and steep. I got caught going downhill when I hit a rock and flew over my handlebars. I hand planted on lava rock and rolled. I thought I broke my leg for a second, but its just swollen. I was wearing a helmet, but I have scratches everywhere. Dropping an F Bomb in the silent forest made me feel better. My hands were sticking to the rubber bike grips from the blood. Right after falling, my chain fell off. I finally got it free, and back on, but ended up greasing my wounds. I washed up in the river, and got back on.

You know it’s been a good trip when you’re as beat as I am now. It’s all sore. Time to rest, and regenerate. I’m going to the Belnap hot springs tonight. My dad is running there now on the trail, and I’m meeting him for dinner. I’ve never been to Belnap. I will have a review for you later.

Go prepared if you ever bike the McKenzie River Trail. Wear protective gloves, and a helmet. I carried a Camelbak hydration pack with a filter, so I could dip into the blue water. I took more photos today, but you should see it for yourself. I plan to raft the river next.

Now I have to attend to all my wounds. Cleaning dirty scratches and scrapes sucks. These are going to be a pain for awhile, but I’m glad I biked here. I’m more experienced. I went solo, but it’s smarter to go with a buddy or a group. Enjoy the pictures!

Cameron McKirdy

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