Tuesday, March 27, 2012

First of all, I'd like to let you all know that "shiznay"  is me and Tom's code word for "stuff," or "gear."  It comes from a code language that we made up.  Basically we took a bunch of ebonics words, and mixed them with a bunch of made up, crazy words that we thought sounded cool.  "Shiznay" is the result... anyway....

My flight was relatively uneventful.  I didn't get stuck at the airport for 11 hours, none of my flights were cancelled, and security wasn't too terrible.  The most exciting thing that happened was the man who went through the security with his pants sagging, and what looked to be some sort of leaves in a plastic bag hanging from his back pocket.  He kept repeating the words "dag, dis be like goinz to dat county jail.  I hatez to fly dawg" to me.  I just nodded and smiled.  He bad a grip.  

Colorado from outside my plane window.  
Once I arrived in Arizona the fun began.  Matt and Tom picked me up at the airport with Matt's 96' Nissan pickup named "La Tortuga."  The drive was filled with views of mountain ranges, and Tom was quick to point out plants along the road that we will be using once we hit the mountains.  

Once we got to town Matt dropped me off at the Sierra Vista Motel 6, and Tom came along to show me around the town.  Tom handed me an army sleeping bag, hammock, and army poncho for the trip, and after a quick trip to K-mart to pick up extra food we had the privilege of running into what became my next picture...
Looks like someone has a little too much fun behind the Mexican restaurant.  
This town is definitely one of a kind, and I respect that about it. 
I then said goodbye to Tom for the day.  Matt will pick us up tomorrow and drop us in the mountains.  Until then I get to enjoy the Motel 6 to it's fullest extent.  First, I took the instructed security actions stated on my door.
Second, I took some time to call my girlfriend Sydney, and let her know about the day.  I'm currently listening to a fight going on outside of my room.  It sounds like some sort of domestic violence but I can't be sure.  If the police show up I would describe it as a mix between Cops, a junior high hallway, and the last 25 minutes of every episode of Jersey Shore.  

As soon as the violence dies down I'll get me some food, and go to bed.  Thanks for reading!

Monday, March 26, 2012

I spent part of this morning getting the rest of my gear together.  Packing always gets me excited for the trip to come, especially in this case.  Here's some of the gear I'll be packing.  Other than what's pictured I'll also be bringing a couple of books, Tom's hammock that i'll pick up once I arrive, and a small first aid kit.

Gear List:
Tarp 8'x10'
Sleeping bag (30F)
Backpack
Rope (hand spun last summer in Maine)
Hiking boots
Paracord
Cooking pot (modified Zebra Pot)
Insulated mug
Water Bottle
1 pair hiking pants
1 pair zip-off pants
1 pair sweat pants
2-T shirts
1 set of thermal underwear
1 fleece jacket
1 long sleeve shirt
Rain gear
3 pairs wool socks
Boonie cap
Stocking cap
Extra batteries
2 pairs underwear
Small fishing kit
Small solar panel (I've got to charge my camera somehow!)
Green knife
Folding knife
Sharpening stone
Camp soap
Flipcam (w/ tripod)
Headlamp
Sunglasses

Sunday, March 25, 2012

About two weeks ago I got an ingrown toe nail.  This isn't a bad injury or anything like that.  The only bad part was that it became infected, and took longer to recover from than I thought initially.  In the picture below I'm sporting my duct tape and gauze first aid style.  The bad part about this small setback is that I've been unable to run for the past 3 weeks or so.  I'm in terrible shape, and I've put on a few pounds, but there's no way that's going to stop me from having a GREAT time in the mountains!  I can't wait to head down there and I'm looking forward to every bit of the trip (other than the flight of course).  I'll give you some info on my gear in my next post.  Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

I think that today is as good of a time as any to do my first gear review.  I honestly think that there are WAY too many "gear reviews" on the web.  Most are made by inexperienced campers who get gear in the mail and do a review the day they receive it, often right after they open the package.  To those people i would ask, is your first impression of your new gear an accurate analysis of how it will perform in the field through rain storms, snow storms, mud, rocks, and anything else you may encounter in the wilderness?  Absolutely not!  This is why all of the gear reviews I'll be doing on this site will only be carried out after I have used the gear for a minimum of 30 days.  I guarantee that almost anything you buy for use in the outdoors will perform exceptionally in a back yard or kitchen, but how will it perform when exposed to the elements?  That is what I want to communicate to you all!

Anyway... sorry about the little rant.  I just wanted to get that out of the way.  Here's a review on a tent that I purchased last summer before my trip to Maine.

REI Clipper Tent
Total nights of use: 34
Area(s) of use: North Maine Woods (30), Local Recreational Areas (4)

As usual there was a lot of rain this summer in Maine.  Unlike Spain, the rain in Maine does not fall mainly in the plain.  It falls everywhere!  This tent did an outstanding job of keeping it off of me, and my gear.  The Clipper weighs just over 5lbs, which is good for a tent as durable as this one. The poles are aluminum, and easily slide into place while pitching the tent.

My favorite thing about this tent is that the entrance is at the long end of the tent.  This leads to easier moisture management.  I constantly went in and out of the tent during heavy rain, and none of the gear got wet.  The vestibule also works great as a barrier between the rain and the inside of the tent, and provides extra space for gear.

This tent can be set up quite easily, and quickly.  Also, due to the size, it is easily fit into small camp spots (as seen in the picture).  The tent fit easily into its bag, which allowed me to break camp easily and quickly.
Sadly, this tent is discontinued... However, it is still available for purchase at rei.com.
If you have any other questions about the REI Clipper please feel free to contact me.
Thanks for reading!


Monday, March 19, 2012

Last summer when I traveled to Nicaragua with my church we had the privilege of spending some time with our bus driver Antonio.  Antonio is a great naturalist.  When we would stop at rural villages he would be pointing out wild edibles, and here, he demonstrates how to properly sharpen a machete.  He's also a total stud muffin.  When communism took over in Nicaragua (before the USA intervened) Antonio stood against it, and was thrown into prison for his defiance.  He was a cool guy!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I'd like to switch gears from the excitement of the Arizona trip to tell you all about an incredible expedition that is scheduled to start in October of this year.  Three British adventurers will be attempting the first ever unsupported "return journey" from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole, then back to the coast.  Basically they're recreating the Scott expedition as Alastair Humphreys describes "without the epic dying part."  The expedition is expected to take 4 months.  Here's a great video to give you some more information on what's going on with the expedition, and show some of their training.  Enjoy!


Training on Skye from Ben Saunders on Vimeo.

Monday, March 12, 2012

As many of you may know I will be traveling in Arizona with a friend of mine and I would like to give you some background info on him before the trip.  He's been living outdoors most of his life, and has become a seasoned survival guru.  Quite the bushcraft aficionado, one might say.  Here's a short interview, just to give you some info.
Wiskey Jack and I grubbin' on some fried chicken 



How did you get your start in bushcraft/survival/adventure travel? 

 When i was 9 my brother Russle gave me a pamphlet from the
international explorers club. I was hooked and knew I wanted to be an
explorer and world traveler. I attended courses like outward bound,
Montana guides school, traveled, camped, spent time alone in
wilderness areas etc.

How do you think your 16 years of military service has helped you with your wilderness skills?

 The military didn't help me with wilderness skills at all. with the
exception of perhaps learning to shoot better and camouflage /
concealment.

I know that you’ve lived and explored the deserts and mountains of Arizona for most of your lifetime.  What other wilderness areas have you experienced?

I was a hunting guide and mule packer in the Bob Marshall and
Scape goat wilderness areas of Montana for 5 years then headed to New
Mexico where I worked as a Mule packer and camp cook in the Valle
vidal wilderness. I have also explored the Jungles of Thailand and the
Philippines, The Amazon river in Peru, the Maine north woods, Alaska,
Mexico. I have hitch hiked all over north America, central America and
Europe. etc.  I was also a wilderness guide and survival instructor in
Utah for 3 years, and worked as a ranch manager and horse wrangler at
various ranches

Have you been involved in any outdoor athletics in your lifetime? (drinking whiskey in a hammock doesn’t count)

 I was involved in Ultra marathoning, Bike racing and extreme
triathlons , also several wilderness based adventure races before
they became popular.

How would you define your current “occupation”?

 I don't have a current occupation. I guess by definition I am a
wilderness wanderer.

Did you have a “real job” at some point?

Yes, I have held many wilderness and military based occupations.
most recently I was a security contractor in Afghanistan and
subsequent to that i worked as a weapons mechanic in Kuwait.

What languages do you speak? (not including Ebonics)

 I can speak English of course, and I possess a good working
knowledge of Spanish, German and Philippine Chavacano (Spanish
creole), and a little Thai and Arabic.

Do you have any plans for a big expedition in the future?

Yes, I am talking with my friend Patrick in Brazil about meeting
up in Guiana for a river expedition down one of the many unexplored
river in that country.

What are you looking forward to most on our Huachuca expedition?  

I am looking forward to seeing my friend Sam again and sharing my
knowledge, skills and experience in the Huachuca mountains. I love to
explore any and all mountain, deserts and wilderness trails.

There will be more info on the trip to come!  I'll be going over travel plans, gear, etc.  Thanks again for reading!

Saturday, March 10, 2012


On March 27th I will be boarding a plane to Tucson, Arizona for a survival expedition in the Huachuca Mountains.  During this expedition I will have a daily journal to keep track of everything that goes on, and to turn it into a day by day blog once I return.
 
I’m excited about this trip mostly because I’ve always wanted to go to an extremely testing environment to test my survival skills.  The desert of Arizona will do just that.  In the desert almost every plant wants to stick you, the arachnids (especially scorpions), the reptiles (especially rattle snakes), and mammals are all capable of killing you with little difficulty.  It’s populations of black bears, and mountain lions have recently been joined by a budding population of jaguars (yes, those jaguars).  If the predators aren’t enough, groups of troublesome javelina also roam southern Arizona.  They don’t attack humans often, unless they are accompanied by their pets. 

On top of the animals there’s the challenge of water.  It’s still early spring in the southwest so the temperatures will be very mild.  I’m expecting 60s during the day and mid to high 30s during the night, depending on the elevation.  This will help, since I won’t dehydrate as fast.  However, it will still be a challenge to find water in this arid environment. 

Another concern is definitely going to be the border.  Though Arizona isn’t seeing nearly the violence as other border states the mountains remain a highway for illegals to slip into the United States undetected.  However, I don’t see the illegals as being much of a threat.  I’ll also be able to communicate with any Spanish speaker that I may come across, since I will be accompanied by a bush bum who speaks the language fluently, and isn’t too bad for company in general. 

Tom Moore (also known as “Wiskey Jack,” and “Tomahawk”) is the reason I’m able to go to AZ in the first place.  He has lived in the state since his college days and when I sent him an email asking what the best way to go about learning some desert survival was, he responded by inviting me out for an expedition in his favorite playground, the Huachucas.  I met Tom last July while at a professional guide training school in Aroostook County, Maine.  I’ll give you more info on him a bit later. 

I’m thrilled to be going into one of America’s most amazing wild places, and I will surely be humbled when I return home.  I will post more information about the expedition, getting there, and the great adventure that it will surely hold later.  For now, I hope you’ll follow me in my journey to the Huachucas! 
 
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