Saturday, February 28, 2015

Dual Survival Improved

Although I really liked Cody and Dave's first season of Dual Survival, I felt I learned a lot more today watching back to back episodes of Matt and Joe's adventures.
Matt seems to excel in building things from nature, like blow guns, shelters, fire pits and stalking, while Joe really knows how to  make a fire happen.

Plus I liked their attitudes and karma. Neither seemed dismissive of the other and both were certainly buff and beautiful.

Ok, that's not necessary for survival, but if I was out there starving, a little eye candy would help.

A little head knowledge can be dangerous and make one feel as if they could handle anything. But take a look at folks gearing up for long hikes. They've got money, phones, credit cards and maps and still the mind plays tricks, saying you can't do it anymore.
In a survival situation, you can't give in  no matter how tough it gets. So, I enjoy watching these shows.
One of my new favorites deals with the Brown Family up in Alaska. -alaskan-bush-people-season-1-episode-5-wild-life/
Seven kids ranging from 30 to 12, and their parents lost it all, spent a winter in Ketchikan and could not wait to escape the city.
I hear that!
Cities are places to visit, places to get what you need and head out. Head home to the mountains.
I guess we all aren't so  lucky as to call the hills home.
Some of us have to wait to retire first.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Call for Third Season Casting

Apparently I've made the grade. So far I have received three separate invitations for the next round of casting. I am very pleased and honored with this attention. JLHolden Casting also said if I knew anyone who wanted to try out, spread the word. So here is the message. If you are interested in the link, email me and I'll forward it to you.

The following was copied and pasted from the email:

Hello Survivalists! I am so stoked to once again cast a survival show. I had a blast last time working with all of you and I hope this time you'll join me again on this fun and rewarding journey. This is my first season on the show but it will be the third season the show has aired. They said, this season will be tougher than ever, so we need the real deal. I smiled knowing that I had some of the most extreme survivalist's out there! So don't let me down! Let's show them you have what it takes.

Water is the most important element a human body needs to survive so finding a safe source of water fast is a must in survival situation. Therefore, knowing how to find & purify water is the most important survival skill. Share your thoughts with me by applying for the show below. 

Apply Now!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Rant: Cash No Longer King

I spent too many hours, feet on the ground, shopping for a new car.

Why new? They come with a sizable warranty these days. Check it out. The first, original owner of a brand new Hyundai or Kia gets 5 years/ 60,000 mile bumper to bumper all inclusive coverage, plus road assistance, plus 10 year/100,000 mile power train parts and labor coverage.

Go to the Nissan dealer, and the warranty is  3/36,000 and 5/60,000. A serious difference sense the reason I'm getting rid (forgive me baby) of the time, all in good time. It still runs.

Back to the rant. While wheeling and dealing, come to find out, if you will finance through the dealership, they will cut you a deal. Nope, no discounts for cash. They really don't want cash, who cares that you've been saving for years knowing this time would come.
Listen bud, I don't want car payments. I'm not paying even 3% interest when savings are barely getting 1%. Oh, they replied, just pay the first months interest then pay the rest all at once. No penalties.
I'm starting to dread the fine print.
But I drove three cars and picked one out. If my baby dies, I can even Walk there!
Just to be thorough, I called a competitor and asked the lowest price on said dream car. Its amazing how many times you have to tell a dealer you plan to keep the brand new car you're buying for its entire life, hopefully 12-15 years.

When I mentioned cash, this competitor told me it would  be an extra $1,000. Thinking my hearing was going out, I asked, "So, its 1,000 discount for cash?"
"No, actually, its an extra $1,000 cash. Instead of $13,988, it would be $14,988."
I didn't hang up. Might as well pump the guy for any other ideas. seems its all about the banks these days milking you for fees, interest and liquidity.
And, seems no other brand has Kia or Hyndai warranties. Sure, you can drop another couple thousand at another dealership for extended warranties, but why?

Listen up banks. You're killing us. Savers get nothing. Spenders get screwed.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Pet Peeves

My newest pet peeve involves shopping in a thrift store. Don't get me wrong, I'm all in favor of thrift stores. It means people are donating their stuff instead of throwing it in landfills. It means folks are not regifting the knickknacks to family members who'd just as soon as burn it that put said item in their homes.
Sometimes, solid, well made items can be found in thrift stores. Even brand name gear, worth spending a little more on. I found out the hard way, it does last longer than wally world Chinese junk.
Here is the greater Nampa-Boise metropolis, we had dozens of said shops and I check them out.
I watch for the sales, like when everything (except household, that's a whole 'ball of wax) with a Red tag, or perhaps blue tag is 50 % off. That means I get it around the same price as if I found it at a good garages sale. Problem is, this time of year, few and far between garage sales and my Motorhome needs stuff. I need stuff.

So the peeve revolves around finally finding something decent that is not overpriced (meaning its actually LESS than a similar product at Walmart) and going to pay for it, drag out the wallet and pay with cash--they do this on credit cards as well, I've witnessed such---and they ask : would you like to round this up to help pay for......? Insert any one of numerous store related causes.

All during the holidays, with Christmas music pumping in overhead, I'd generally say sure. But today, I bought something for $2.11. Round it up to $3 ? Why am I shopping in a  thrift store then?

Listen, people. Stop asking us to round up. Set out a tip jar with the cause emblazoned on it. If we feel like putting our change or adding a few bucks we will. After all, the stuff I'm buying was donated and I do know you pay your people minimum wage to put it on the shelf, but give us survivalists on a budget a break.
I hate feeling cheap. Today, I'd had enough and said, "Nope."

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Of Moose and Men

One would think being unemployed that I would have my new book published by now. For some reason, things have come in the way. But good news! The final proof reading of the final draft shall begin next week.
This nonfictional compilation of stories details last summer's job Ridge Running in the Hundred Mile Wilderness. Most of the names will be changed to protect the good, bad and ugly. However, some names deserve to be mentioned. You know who you are. Don't sue me. I'm broke. 
I'll talk about gear, both found and created, long distance hikers, backpackers not staying at site, thru hikers (south bounders and north bounders), day hikers, day hikers with kids, day hikers with dogs. I kept "body counts" as part of my job.
There are stories about wild animals, seen and unseen, things that went bump in the night, things I wanted to exterminate by day.
Billed as the Perfect Job by yours truly, I came to grips with several extenuating circumstances, mainly that hiking the same 8 mountains over and over while basically living as a hermit got old.
But, I had a blast! Met a ton of marvelous people. Wrote an AT Horror Story. Almost killed my
beloved Geo.
All is well.
The book will be released digitally and print on demand. There will be promotional days where the download is free.
I hope you will enjoy it, possibly learn some backpacking or survival tips and fall in love with the Appalachian Trail and its roving community as I did, again.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Soldier Mountain Boot Camp

Without personal photos, I'm hard pressed to share the full scope of agony we newbies endured at Avalanche Training. I thought I could use backcountry skis to get on location. Wrong. Snowshoes were the ticket for anyone not used to 30 degree slopes iced over like Lake Michigan.
Ok. Got it now.
The first night, Friday, we assembled at a country church camp to spread out our winter gear and sleep. We reassessed our heavy 24 hour packs, knowing shovels, snow probes and snow travel gear, along with high tec beacons would add to the weight we must carry up the mountain.
Thank goodness I've been working out. Thighs were burning as we did maneuvers Saturday and Sunday in waist deep snow, post holing at times. I can only blame it on the 30 pounds of food, water and gear that maxed out our systems.

A ten dollar pass on Saturday morning got us a one way lift up to the second mountain. Three learning stations were established. John taught us how to dig out a body, hopefully in time and with enough finesse to prevent fatality. The v shaped conveyor system of extracting thick snow pack was both effective and wet when shovelfuls of snow landed smack in my face as I kept up with the guy in front. We had several opportunities to quickly assemble shovels from sections strapped to our packs. The brand that could convert to both "hoe" and "shovel" was best.
Brad taught us beacon specifics, how to flag a first victim before scurrying on in concentric circles to locate a second. This is when beacons really proved their weight in gold. If a buried victim has a beacon, and has it turned on, the chance of recovery rises dramatically. Bottom line, it's an acceptable expense for back country skiers. Note, you should never ski alone if you're in avalanche country.
Greg taught the third station, which dealt with organized probing of buried victims. We used poles that were ten feet tall and activated from a two foot package with the flip of a wrist. Again, I was impressed by the technology.
The afternoon was spent in scenarios where we buried two canvas bags with beacons, then called on our competitors to find them. The double black diamond ski run was chosen for the descent. 
Exhausted, we returned to the parking lot, either by skiing or walking. Much of the descent I carried my backcountry skis which were way under equipped for such dangerous travel.

The cat track shown here looks benign, but steeply climbs to a ski patrol hut, then onward  to Playland.
Sunday, I tested snowshoes and realized that was the proper gear for that type of work.
Secured footing helped me stay above ground as I held the probe line after two scenarios provided training in both beacons and slow, steady 50 cm. search. After a row of probers followed succinct direction from the Location Commander, my compatriot (stationed twenty yards across the debris field) and I crawled uphill 50 cm. to reposition the line, straight up the steep slope. Much of the time I had to squat and hold firm, realizing if a person was indeed buried, our emotions would be rising. Time is of the essence.
I'm thankful to be on the Idaho Mountain Search and Rescue Unit whose dedicated leaders provide such excellent training. I practiced real time self arrest with my ice ax, not part of the regular programming.
Smiling and bonded, my fellow trainees bid goodbye at the parking lot, heading home for a hot shower and some TLC.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Challenging Winter Weather at Survival Camp

As a Idaho Mountain Search and Rescue member, winter certification requires spending the night out and avalanche training. Because I've already dug and spent a night in a snow cave in previous adventures, I was allowed to construct a shelter of choice.

Below you see the 9x5 tarp pitched steeply beneath a very healthy pine tree. The link for the Youtube video is posted below.
I chose to shore up the tarp and provide insulation by shoveling snow on 3.5 sides. I slept quite warm. My sleeping bag is inside this bivy sack. Plus, I had 12 hour hand warmers. I slept in one layer of fleece, wool socks and beanie.

Others built snow trenches outside, but near pine trees laden with snow. Their roofs were flat tarps. During the night, after receiving an additional two inches of snow, it began to rain.

Suddenly a loud crash rose the dead. I listened for the cause. Bear are hibernating. I hadn't seen cougar or wolf tracks all day Saturday as I inspected 8 snow caves built by boy scouts.
Another avalanche descended nearby. Yet, the landscape was rolling. What could it be.
Then, much to my consternation, a monstrous slush ball hit my shelter and slid to the foot end.
Then I knew. The trees were giving up their snow.
By daybreak, the Crisco candle had been doused, but I was warm and dry. I eased outside and into the rain, immediately donning rain suit and boots.
It was then I learned the snow trenches were bombarded and failed. All the bedding wet.
Flat roofs proved too weak to withstand this weather.
Those in the caves fared better, though the makeshift plastic bag doors had collapsed.
The boy scouts hung sleeping bags to dry inside the huge dining lodge beside the fire. But, all were smiling. 
Lesson learned: a good tarp with plenty of anchoring loops is worth its weight in gold. 
One scout leader showed me his marvelous fire pit built from the inside drum of an old washing machine.

This is Sasha, one of our K-9 dogs in training. She gets purple booties to protect her paws from the sharp snow crystals.
Food abounded in camp. I ate home made chili with Troop 181. The boys had been divided into teams of two and built their snow caves. When I arrived for inspection, each team proudly showed me the inside. Some needed to install vents, some needed to reposition vents, some needed to clear out previously installed vents that had clogged with snow. I was quite impressed with them all.
See the video at: Winter Survival Camp