Saturday, June 26, 2010

Now Some Practical Stuff

I made this short video this morning. It shows the trail tools I like to carry in my pocket.

A watch, with the band removed and on the same key ring as my retractable knife, a red LED light, a bright white solar powered LED light, and a tiny can opener.

Now I realize some folks might have philosophical reasons to ditch the watch all together. But, years and many miles of experience in the wilderness has taught me to value it greatly.

For instance, in easy to moderate terrain, I can cover about 2.5 miles per hour. If my trail guide or map says the next available water is 6 miles away, I will look at my watch and realize that it will be a little over 2 hours before I will get there. No panic, no second guessing if I have already missed it.

Or, if I need to arrive at the post office before it closes, I can estimate if it is doable, or I decide if I should spend an extra day on the trail, and hit it the next morning.

How many hours left of daylight, how long til sunrise, or how long until the next bus arrives can all be useful bits of information when planning the day.

Sometimes, it seems like I have been hiking forever. After glancing at my watch I see its only been half an hour. A trail watch, put away in the pocket is a handy tool, accessible without reminding me of the hustle and bustle of life like one on my wrist would.

Watches can be used as compasses if one points the 12 o'clock towards north. Three o'clock would be due east, six o'clock is south, and 9 is due west. These skills can be practiced in nonemergency situations. A real compass is handy to have, too. I'm not advocating one eliminates a true compass with a simple trail watch.

As a general all around tool, a watch can not be beat.

More tomorrow on trail tools.

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