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Road Trip - Page 2
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Thread: Road Trip

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Golden, Co. USA
    Posts
    4,161

    Default Re: Road Trip

    INTERLUDE TWO: Perhaps I should attempt to define my concept of “Rambling”. I first used the term in an article I published in the late 1970’s in an article entitled Notes From a Solitary Mountain Rambler. The magazine which published the article is defunct…I can’t even recall the name of the company.
    Recently, friend and fellow Rambler Paul Vertrees (Sawtooth on our message board) asked me to define rambling for an article he is writing. From the Word document I used to draft my reply to Paul here is what I wrote to him:


    Rambling

    Paul, in answer to your questions:

    1) Perhaps I did coin the word—the term—as a way to aptly describe “Rambling”. Here is what Rambling means to me…let’s see if the word is appropriate:
    It means multi-day foot travel through mostly trail-less wilderness. There is an element of exploration…just poking around the area to see what’s there. All equipment, including shelter, is carried on one’s back. Much provisioning (if not all) is from the land—procured with gun and fishing tackle. The firearm also supplies protection—from both animals and errant humans—and is assumed to be of sufficient power to take on the area’s most challenging would-be predators. Rambling is living and living well—not just surviving—whilst exploring wild country. Self-reliantly. Alone, usually, but possibly with a kindred spirit or two. The goal is wielding the skill and fitness to enjoy magnificent country.

    2) Speaking for myself, because such a lifestyle is in my DNA. And I suspect it lurks in the souls of other men; it’s simply covered up by overmuch civilization. Practicing the ancient arts of self-reliance in non-civilized country, on your own, gives a bone-deep satisfaction of manliness expressed well and truly. You are in the company of men like Lewis and Clark, and especially are reveling in the sheer and certain freedom prized above all else by the Mountain Men who rambled the same country I do.

    3) The freedom I cite above is EARNED. Rambling is not for novices. As the rambling man is usually alone he is the sole decision maker of every action—or inaction—whilst on the ground. He is responsible for the placement of every footstep and accepts the consequences if it is faulty. His gear has been winnowed to what is really needed and is the best available for the goal of living well in the middle of nowhere. It will serve any eventuality of the location and the season. The discussion of appropriate gear is the subject of a complete essay…almost a course in itself. The most salient answer to your question is to advise the apprentice Rambler to get field experience. Get it safely in the beginning. Some car camps to practice fire building and try out backpack-grade shelters, sleep systems and so forth. Then begin close-in backpack trips with that gear. Go with an experienced mentor if you can; if not go alone. Just do it. Invest in serious gear upgrades as finances allow. The goal is to acquire the gear and the backcountry skills—and the subsequent confidence--to handle anything that can happen. When you do you can experience the backcountry wholly. It will have become your second home. And that is an abundant blessing. (Note: Re gear I can and should say that my invention of man-carryable wood stove heated shelters is right up there with comfortable backpacks and footgear as a boon to Rambling.)

    4) Tough question, Paul. The self-sufficiency displayed by the Long Hunters and the Mountain Men was long term. Months and years! Hunting then was a means to the end of exploration and/or fur trading. Hunting, and angling, has changed. It is now a mission-in-itself, whether for trophy or meat. And for most of my long hunting life the general hunting public has not ventured into the backcountry with a pack on their back—intent on spending multiple days and nights up among their prey. I had hoped to help change that when I established Kifaru in 1997, building Hunting Packs and gear based on my Mountaineering pack building expertise at my first Company—Mountainsmith. I can report now that I am witnessing great growth in on-foot remote hunting. And, based on the experiences you and I have in rambling to remote fishing holes I see backpack fishing coming on strong as well. While backpack hunting and fishing is not exactly the same thing as Rambling—the longer-term staying capacity of living off the land is not a requirement as such—I can say it is at least implied. The folks who do it are at least capable of multi-day disconnecting from the Grid. And they ARE in possession of equipment to sustain provisions over longer term: fishing tackle and/or firearm or bow. There are more and more of such folk. As for men of my personal acquaintance who I am certain can truly “ramble” self-sufficiently over the long term I can cite: Paul Vertrees, Aron Snyder, Eric Lynn. There may be more, but I have SEEN that these men possess the combination of fieldcraft, fishing prowess and straight shooting to sustain themselves no matter what.

    5) Tenkara is simply the lightest (which always matters when one carries “home” on one’s back) and most effective fishing system for high country Rambling. It works where no other system will in more cases than I would have thought. It provides supper from tiny “pockets” not accessible any other way. It deploys rapidly as well, an important factor when one is travelling and fetching dinner opportunistically along the way. The Tenkara system is so light and so effective it is ALWAYS worth having with you. One can never tell when unexpected pocket waters will yield Tenkara-fetched protein. It is decidedly Rambling-worthy gear.

    6) One of my more memorable Rambles was many days on the North Slope of the Brooks Range in Alaska. September. The bugs were gone, and the landscape was a gloriously russet carpet of undulating low ridges. Staying atop the ridges was the way to travel as the low places were filled with wobbly hammocks of tundra. To the south was the beautiful Brooks Range itself. The short nights revealed dancing Northern Lights. I dined on grayling, ptarmigan and arctic hare for days and days. I shot the caribou I liked best and put the boned-out meat into one of the many deep sink-holes of frigid water dotting the landscape. There it remained while I enjoyed eating the above fare plus pounds of Alaskan blueberries. Eventually I packed camp and caribou rack and meat out. What a Ramble!
    I recall many Rambles down the length of several of Colorado’s mountain ranges, contouring timberline. The practice of rambling along right at timberline puts one above the established trails—for the solitude as well as the route-finding satisfaction that goes along with true Rambling. Fishing in waters with no trails to them is a treat, and very productive. Small game abounds at this “edge” terrain too—from grouse and snowshoe hares to squirrels to ptarmigan. You’ll also find marmots, which comprise the best source of fat in the high country. And of course the views are spectacular.
    I fondly remember many high country winter Rambles on skis. Pulling a pulk means many comforts and special treats can be taken. Other winter trips at lower elevations can be done afoot; one of my favorite versions is wandering across great swaths of high sagebrush/juniper country out in Western Colorado. Such country is filled with black tail jackrabbits (very large and very meaty), cottontail rabbits and mule deer. And usually no water sources; ergo, winter is THE time to go…there will always be enough snow patches behind the north side of sagebrush that can be melted for all the water one can possibly need. This is truly a treat—rambling where one puts the season to excellent use. And I stay warm in my wood-stove heated shelter. Everything I need is all around me!
    And I suppose that last sentence is a powerful reason why I love Rambling so. Possessing the skill to recognize and use the resources to live and travel so well in the finest places on earth for those of us who love solitude and self-reliance is what Rambling is about.

    Next: Rolling down to Roswell….

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Colorado Springs
    Posts
    157

    Default Re: Road Trip

    Patrick:
    The Sabinoso Wilderness area is a new area, east of Las Vegas NM, that came about when Obama signed the Wilderness Area Act during the 1st or 2nd year of office. It was taken as a joke to most NM residents, as it did not have any public access. I heard some foundation purchased a ranch adjoining the area, and was going to donate it to the gov't for access. My last info was that BLM had not completed their studies on the ranch, so they had not opened a public access. Most of the land in that area consists of sagebrush, oak brush, and pinion trees, very little change in elevation, except is does have small canyons. It is very dry with small amounts of water, but not much snow cover except right after a snow storm. Most winters are mild, if the wind is not blowing.
    To ramble in NM, close to Golden, I would suggest Valle Vidal, north of Cimarron and Taos NM. To access the area, go to Costilla NM, from San Luis CO on Hiway 159. It is comprised of 100k+ acres and is comprised of flats in the 7'K to 12.5'K mountains with lots of running streams and small ponds. This land was given to the gov't by Pennzoil Corp, in lieu of tax payments and a wonderful area. It does have campgrounds, but you can find parking areas and Ramble. In the summer, the Boy Scouts from Philmont use some of area for backpacking. Big Jon or Eric L may have been there. The largest elk herd used to be from this area, but not sure that is still the case, since the latest owner, Ted Turner, changed most of the remaining ranch of 600K acres from cattle to Bison. To avoid summer crowds, I would suggest shoulder seasons or winter. The large ranch used to be known as Vermejo Park Ranch, and to locals it was the WS Ranch, which was their cattle brand. Hope this helps. Tell the family and employees hello for me.
    Rex
    PS: Shot my first deer on the big ranch when I was in the 3rd grade.

    PS:

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    226

    Default Re: Road Trip

    Patrick, you mentioned blueberries in Alaska, do you make much use of the local plant fare in the lower 48 particularly Colorado?

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Golden, Co. USA
    Posts
    4,161

    Default Re: Road Trip

    Well Rex, that Sabiniso deal sounds like a Government Joke to me too. A Wilderness Area for we citizens...and no public access? Oh my.

    But the Valle Vidal tip is very much appreciated! I'll get down there and check it out.

    We missed you at the Winter Rondy. Jackie too.

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Golden, Co. USA
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    4,161

    Default Re: Road Trip

    Live2Hunt, nothing re edible plants here in Colorado can compare to the bonanza of the blueberries in northern latitudes. Not even close. Not worth the effort, and even less so at timberline where I roam. So I've been dehydrating nutritive veggies for years and carrying them along. I emphasize nutritive meaning the caloric content is nil for active hiking--it's the vitamins and etc. that are needful over the long haul. A pound of my dry veggies lasts a very long time and gives me all the vitamins for sustainment. (I should try to remember to get my dehydrated Vegetable Medley recipe posted.) Pemmican had fruit in it for the same reasons...but the fruit was gathered in season and at lower elevations for processing into the pemmican.

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    226

    Default Re: Road Trip

    I've been taking dehydrated veggies as well. I was just curious if there was any plentiful native substitutes to lighten the load. I guess I'll have to just stick to packing it in.

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Colorado Springs
    Posts
    157

    Default Re: Road Trip

    Patrick:
    You are welcome. We missed going to the Winter Rondy also.
    Last fall, we came across some rose hips, which we picked and then cut up and dehydrated. Intended use was tea, etc for the vitamins etc. We have not tried them yet, but expect to try soon. Looking forward to your Veg recipe.
    Rex

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Near Canon City, CO
    Posts
    6,708

    Default Re: Road Trip

    live2hunt,

    Here in Colorado, the prevalence of berries depends greatly on the amount of moisture in any given year. This past summer of 2015 we enjoyed massive snowpack and plenty of alpine precipitation. One particular day, my good friends Ori and Shawn, and I spent a long time one day picking strawberries and grapes at over 10K feet. We filled many cups full. In drier years, it won't happen that way.
    "Me got no house; me all time moving; light fire, make tent, sleep; all time go hunt, how have house?"

    --Dersu Uzala
    Sihote'-Alin Range, Ussuria, 1902



    www.tenkaratracks.com

  9. #19
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Golden, Co. USA
    Posts
    4,161

    Default Re: Road Trip

    ROAD TRIP---ROLLING DOWN TO ROSWELL AND ON TO BIG BEND

    We left off our narrative just on the New Mexico side of Raton Pass to insert an INTERLUDE explaining the dual purpose of the trip—to see the Big Bend and Gila, etc. as well as investigate winter Rambling country sans skis or snowshoes.
    Sheeba and I shifted off I-25 onto Hwy. 84 just south of Las Vegas NM. I just love the north central New Mexico high juniper country, but the journey down highway 84 was even more special. Perhaps because it’s a simple two-lane the rolling loveliness of the country was more intimate, more appealing. A jog to the southwest at Pastura NM on Hwy. 54 took me over to Hwy. 285 which would head down to Roswell, which I figured would be enough travelling for the day.
    This was different country. By the time I was traversing Lincoln County (if memory serves, home of the famous encounter between Billy The Kid and Sheriff Pat Garret) the land was a sere tablet of beige and pale, pale green very sparse vegetation, as flat as a billiard table. Not a tree in sight. I can’t imagine sneaking up on anyone in Lincoln County New Mexico…they can see you coming clear to the horizon.
    I eventually pulled in to Roswell and set up camp in a location I’ve never tried before—the parking lot of the local Walmart store. I’ve heard of travelers doing it many times. So I was going to give it a shot. I parked Sheeba in the far northwest corner of the lot, proceeded to cook supper, and prepared myself for whatever might happen next. Nothing did. It worked! I spent the night snuggled on the couch in Sheeba with no interruptions at all. The stories were true…at least at the Roswell Walmart. (I usually park Sheeba on BLM roads throughout the West but I didn’t see any enroute…so the Walmart experience was the ticket that night. Good for the Walmart folks!).
    Because of the eye situation I was resolved to travel only in daylight hours. Meaning from first light to last light. The morning was quite cold—in the twenties—when I pulled out at shooting light. Headed for Texas and Big Bend. Down through Calsbad (whose Caverns I had visited as a lad back in the 1950’s) and on to Pecos, Texas—home of Judge Roy Bean, whose famous Court represented “the Law West of the Pecos” in the otherwise lawless west Texas frontier of the 1800’s. There is a museum to Bean’s Courthouse in Pecos. Pecos also hosts the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame. Both were not open yet, so I clicked some photos of the establishments and kept rolling for BB. (I’ll post some photos at the end of this travelogue…when I get some help on how to do it. For the present I’m simply registering the verbal content of the journey.)
    The route down to the Persimmon Gap entrance to Big Bend National Park passed through the historic town of Marathon on Hwy. 385. As I approached the entrance the terrain became wilder and wilder, the road twisting through desert ridges and crossing numerous washes where desert thunderstorms send torrents across the road. Depth poles indicated the possibility of several feet of water sluicing away any unwary motorists.
    I stopped at the Visitors Center and put myself in the capable hands of a charming couple of Rangers—husband and wife—regarding where to camp, hike and backpack. They told me sites had to be specified in advance. I asked them to lay out the most remote, and private, sites—both for foot travel and truck camping. The route those two laid out for me was spectacular. I set out for my first campsite—McKinney Spring-- on a genuine 4WD road called the Old Ore Road. I stopped on the way to hike out an arroyo hoping to overlook a huge basin. The day happened to be my Grandson Kam’s Birthday and I wished I could phone the lad to wish him Happy Birthday. But there was no cell service, and hadn’t been for many hours of travel. As I arrived at the end of the picturesque gully and overlooked the gigantic basin (absolutely beautiful) my cell phone suddenly rang. It was our own Aron Snyder, wanting to discuss with me a post we agreed he needed to make on the Message Board regarding future products. Readers there were concerned about what was happening to a couple of long-time Kifaru Packs that seemed to be dropping from the line. I stayed put at the lip of that basin while Aron and I completed our discussion and I phoned Kam. Nice hike!
    The McKinney Spring campsite was exquisite. Designed as a solo site it was wonderfully remote and I had the whole landscape to myself for miles and miles in any direction. (I had seen no other vehicles, and wouldn’t for the duration of the slow drive down Old Ore Road.)

    Daylight was fading when I arrived at my campsite so I threw on my trusty old Spike Camp and headed out for a hike, headlamp in my Possibles Pouch as always. I immediately jumped a couple of jackrabbits and a fabulously fast roadrunner. As I wandered out from camp I mused about the future of Kifaru….

    Next: Outlining that future.

  10. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Golden, Co. USA
    Posts
    4,161

    Default Re: Road Trip

    INTERLUDE THREE: KIFARU’S FUTURE

    I established Kifaru International in 1997 with the intention of its being an ongoing multi-generational family company. My girls, a grandchild and two sons-in-law work there. They have signed on to the multi-generational Plan and fully intend to carry it forward. I am now a very fit 72 year old. But, the actuary experts say that I’m more and more vulnerable to being felled by non-cardiovascular health issues. Or, by the dangers of wandering the wilderness alone, which I’ve dodged so far in a very long career of being Out There.
    None of my beloved girls, or sons-in-law, have turned out to possess the craziness to be hard-core backpackers/backpack hunters/solitary ramblers like the Old Man. Nor do they have whatever gene it is that turned the Old Man into a Designer of the gear he uses to do what he loves out-of-doors. I won’t live forever, and something may get me yet. So. What would my beloved company do without its spear-tip of field authenticity and pivotal designs? I’ve worried about that Succession problem for years.
    About four years ago a young fellow by the name of Aron Snyder contacted me about testing Kifaru packs. He was a very popular tester of backpack hunting gear, posting his test findings of company’s products across the Net. His pack testing was refreshingly hard-core. Far from being a backyard or day-trip tester the man beat hell out of his test subjects, carrying very, very heavy loads over very long distances in bad-ass terrain. He was the real-deal, and scrupulously honest in his Reports. He flat-out broke most tested packs. He told me that Kifaru loyalists on the various message boards challenged him to test Kifaru packs. Hence the contact with me. My kind of guy as a tester, and so I handed him some Kifaru sample packs and he headed out. He returned a Kifaru convert! Of all the packs he had wrung out Kifaru was THE ONE that stood above all. (We agreed on that, to be non-bragging honest.)
    And so began a relationship that bloomed, with Aron eventually joining the company. I had searched for years for a truly hard-core, field designer/marketer replacement to myself for the company. Someone who conceived gear afield and tested relentlessly till perfection before turning it over to all-important Kifaru Users. Aron does all that, and certainly knows intimately the workings of world-class gear. He gets it. So. World class designer/user/very well-known bowhunter, AND marketer; Aron wholeheartedly subscribes to his own versions of the “Dirt Clinics” method of promotion and feedback I pioneered with Mountainsmith. His Kifaru Mountain Warrior Training Camp, backpacking trips with Users, and the HUB program (teaming with non-competing industry-leader firms) testify to his marketing prowess. He is also thoroughly up to date with all aspects of Social Media as the newest method for getting the word out about our gear. He is a very capable manager too, and is functioning as our COO along with a consortium of the Kids that function as a Council that works quite well. I am very proud of Aron. He is the son I never had, sharing my outdoor passions and fully capable of replacing me in this career I love so much. He is a stake holder in the company. He is Family.
    Sarah and I have a Financial Advisor. Most successful business owners need one nowadays, what with the complexities of operating in a massive and complicated Government environment. We have had many Succession discussions with Andy, our Advisor. He counsels that the single biggest mistake passionate business founders make is holding on too tightly and for too long. I have come to realize that I do the Family Kifaru a disservice by not allowing them to get used to running the show. So I have semi-retired myself. There’s bittersweetness in that. But there is genuine sweetness in being even more foot-loose. I always devoted a great deal of nights afield, but now those outings can be much longer because I don’t have to get back to the Shop and deal with administrivia. This Road Trip is an example; expect more of the same.
    In conclusion, the company is in fine shape. Design-wise, we have Aron as well as our very fine professional designer Eric Bender, and myself. Yes, I’m still involved. We three are behind the continuing updating of my original suspension systems…the very things that brought Aron to us in the first place. A great many folks hold them as the world’s Gold Standard. Aron and Eric are bringing world-class new and /or revised bags along at a good clip. And I will continue investigating seminal new stuff…which I can’t talk about, sorry. Kifaru customers win and so do we. We have an amazingly talented sewing, assembly and customer service staff. These folks are dedicated Kifaru-ites as well; we have an extremely low staff turnover. I am very proud of our team, and would match them against any staff group on earth. We are well managed. We husband our resources and can move very quickly. The Ultimate Big Hairy Decisions are still mine.
    All of which makes me a happy aging mountain man. I’ve had a long and extremely gratifying career earning our living doing what I’d do without pay. I have a very tight and loving family and fifty two years of marriage to my high school sweetheart. God has been very, very good to me. I’m sometimes reminded of the famous refrain from the Grateful Dead’s song, Truckin’: “What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been”. But a GOOD one when it’s all said and done. And it is by no means finished.

    Next: Continuing the Big Bend exploration.

    Note: I’m heading out again after I post this, for some scouting. We will resume upon my return....

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