May 4, 2012

First Week

I've hiked 6 days in the desert and today half desert half forest. I've learned that taking care of my feet is super important. I take my shoes off every 10 mi and let them breathe a few minutes. I wash and change my socks at least once a day, often twice.

PCT Start

I started hiking the 28/04/12 at 6:30 after getting a ride with Cristina and Honey Batter to the border from The Kick Off at Lake Morena. I hiked ~20 mi to Kick off and then 9 mi more that evening.

Apr 16, 2012

Preparation

I'm finally organizing the topographic maps (halfmile), elevation profiles, data book, and water reports

Pacific Crest Trail start

In 10 days I'll fly to San Diego to begin my journey on the Pacific Crest Trail :P


Apr 11, 2012

Fire



Fire, our constant companion, is as widespread as humans. It is one of the oldest technologies that remain important in our society. Fire, when tamed, functions as a versatile tool that we have learned to manipulate (Pyne 119). Throughout history, this phenomenon has played an important role in almost every human activity, from agriculture to transportation. Our unique ability to kindle fire bears a responsibility, for fire is as constructive as it is destructive (Pyne XV). Fire is a crucial companion; it provides the reassurance, support, comfort, and utility needed in the outdoors (Shanks 54). Everyone that spends time in the wilderness regularly should know how to kindle fire and its importance. Fire is a useful element that provides leverage in the wilderness.
            Combustion is a chemical reaction undergone by fuel and oxygen that releases heat and light. Organic fuels burn releasing their energy to stabilize themselves as water and carbon dioxide. However, a proportional amount of heat is needed to start the ignition; with fuel and oxygen supplies, the process can continue indefinitely (Rossotti 4). In order to have an efficient fire, fuel, heat, and oxygen, the fire essentials, need to be in equilibrium (Shanks 55).
            The ability to start a fire gives a sense of confidence. A disposable butane lighter, a Bic, is the best method to light one. It is capable of starting 2000 fires; it is not affected by water, and its flint can be used to ignite one even when the lighter is empty (McDougall 15). There are many other complex ignition methods, but butane lighters are the most reliable and simple. Fire can make the difference between life and death; in cold climates where starting a fire could reverse hypothermia, lighters must be carried to start a fire quickly and easily. I have been saved from miserably cold nights by fire numerous times.
            Gathering 10 times the amount of fuel needed to start a single fire will ensure one lasts and will allow for an efficient ignition using only external heat once (Munro 119). For example, it is very important to conserve matches if the only available water source is melted snow or ice. Tinder, kindling, and heavy fuel are the 3 types of fuel in order of importance that should be grouped by size before attempting to light the flames (Shockley, Fox 61).
Tinder is composed of fine, dry material like the one found in a bird’s nest. Its importance lies on its smallness, which makes it ignitable with less heat (Shanks 56-57). It’s gathered firstly to dry it with body heat or to prevent environmental moisture from accumulating on it, for dryness is essential (The Survival Handbook 118).
Kindling is made up of dry, small twigs no wider than a finger; it nurtures the fire until it is mature enough to consume heavy fuel. Large branches and logs can also be used when wet; they prolong the adult fire’s life (Shanks 56-57). Making a fire is a process that requires attention and care; when focused on nurturing a fire, the mind is calm.
            The ideal site for a fire is sheltered from wind and reflects fire’s comforting, warming radiation inwards. Rock or earth can act as reflective barriers, yet the site must be free of overhanging branches, open to the sky (Shanks 57). The ground should be clear of vegetation, trees, and logs that can burn and leave a scar. When the ground is wet or covered in snow, place a platform of wet or green fuel. If the fire might be used for emergency signaling, choose a place with clear view toward aircraft and vehicles. The fire should be at an appropriate distance from flammable shelter; on the other hand it might be strategically situated to heat or dry a shelter (The Survival Handbook 119).
            With the ignition method of choice, light the base of a tinder bundle the size of a fist. Gently blow the tinder until flames rise (Shanks 58). Patiently nurture the fire to avoid wasting resources and energy in failed attempts. Fire is very valuable, for it can nurture the mind and the body (Shanks 54). Heat small twigs with the rising flames by placing them on top (Shanks 58). Continue adding kindling gradually while keeping a balance of oxygen, fuel, and heat. The infant flame most not be overfed and suffocated with large fuel; it must be nurtured carefully with kindling sized proportionately to the heat’s intensity. Fuel smolders when the fire cries for oxygen (Shanks 58). To use this quality, place green vegetation on top of a ventilated fire to produce a large amount of smoke detectable from a distance; Signal fires attract rescuers effectively (The Survival Handbook 238).
After the adolescent fire is capable of sustaining itself for 5 minutes it reaches a healthy maturity; thus larger fuel can be gradually placed to form a nucleus of coal making it a relatively independent fire (The Survival Handbook 121). Strong adult fires can deal with any kind of fuel, including wet fuel. Once the fire is well established, clothes and sleeping bags can be dried safely at a distance as close to the heat as a naked hand tolerates.
            Indians built small fires and crouched near them, for small fires provide more efficient warmth than large fires do for individuals sitting far away (The Survival Handbook 124). Place two long logs on top or surrounding a fire so it continues warming throughout the night (The Survival Handbook 124, 125). Large logs can be cut placing their middle point in a fire. Improvise and arrange the fuel in different ways for cooking or snow melting. Cooking fires are used to preserve food and to enhance food taste through various cooking methods like grilling, smoking, boiling, and drying (Shanks 55).  Stone-lined fires can support a pot to boil and purify water instead of hanging the pot from an improvised tripod. Teepee fires illuminate well the surroundings to give a sense of security, giving a psychological edge in the outdoors (Shanks 54).
            The psychological effects of fire are strongly beneficial (The Survival Handbook 113). The mind remains sharp and calm with the aid of fire, our supporting companion. For the Andaman Islanders, fire is their main source of well-being. Fire is the center of their society; it symbolizes a protective power (Pyne 47). Through cooking, fire provides us control over nature (Wrangham 11). More than any other benefit, having fire’s power in our hands brings us courage, comfort, and power to our spirit and mind.  With fire at our side, nature feels more like home.

Works Cited
McDougall, Len. Practical Outdoor Survival: a Modern Approach. New York: Lyons & Burford, 1992. Print.
Pyne, Stephen J.. Fire: a Brief History. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2001. Print.
Rossotti, Hazel. Fire: Technology, Symbolism, Ecology, Science, Hazard.. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. Print.
Shanks, Bernard. Wilderness Survival. 2 ed. New York: Universe Books, 1987. Print.
Shockley, Robert O., and Charles K. Fox. Survival in the Wilds. Cranbury, New Jersey: A. S. Barnes and Co., 1970. Print.
The Survival Handbook: Essential Skills for Outdoor Adventure. New York: DK Publishing, 2009. Print.
Wrangham, Richard. Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human. New York: Basic Books, 2009. Print.
Work Researched
Olsen, Larry Dean. Outdoor Survival Skills. 5th ed. Chicago, Ill.: Chicago Review Press, 1990. Print.

Apr 9, 2012

Clothing System

Base Layers
selected for their lightness and drying ability


Black long-sleeved (Helly Hansen dry fit) underwear 146g
Blue MEC light synthetic long-sleeved shirt 200g 
Black Nike t-shirt (dry fit) 110g



Brown Patagonia convertible pants 373g
Black Adidas running shorts 109g
Black underwear (Helly Hansen dry fit) 128g
2 pairs grey MEC T1 classic boxer briefs 74g each 
3 pairs thin Polyester socks 55g each

Insulating and Shell layers


Blue MEC Hydrofoil 3 rain jacket (DWR) 437g
Black MEC Uplink jacket (DWR water resistant, PrimaLoft One synthetic insulation) 270g



Grey MEC Aquanator rain pants (DWR) 186g
Black OR Gaiters 99g

Head Gear



Green Brynje balaclava (excelent breathability) 67g
Green spring ring headnet (non-see-ums) 62g
2 Buff Bandanas (green/brown) 70g
Black sunglasses MEC Fondo (with cord) 32g
Black running cap MEC (+ neck cover) 77g

Footwear


3 Pairs Merrel trail shoes
Icetrekkers 312g

Gloves






MEC overlord mitts (detachable fleece mitts) 170g
Northface liner gloves 42g

Mar 6, 2012

Shelter

My shelter system consists of the following items:

Sleeping Bag

Pharaoh DF
Temperature: 25F or -7C
Material: 850 fill Down
Weight: 1285g


Tarp


Silponcho Tarp

254g, Seam sealed, doubles as a poncho.






Bivy


Snugpak Bivy

316g, Second protection against weather, I can use it by itself to see the sky on clear nights.







Sleeping Pad


Z-lite Small
264g, closed cell




Ground Sheet


Nylon 160 g


Pegs


4 MEC Millenium aluminum pegs (10g each)






Rope


550 Paracord 160g (doubles as survival/emergency rope)



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