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Thread: Road Trip

  1. #101
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    Dec 2007
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    Colorado
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    Default Re: Road Trip

    Can't wait to keep reading, love the old tales, be they short or tall! Happy New Year, spent a few hours today butchering elk, 2/4 left, got a heart marinating and can't wait to try Hank Shaw's recipe! Heart and Peppers! Sounds like a Beatles Album, I'll raise a glass to all tomorrow and wish everyone a good night!

  2. #102
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    Jun 2002
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    Default Re: Road Trip

    Shelter. We humans need it. Not blessed with fur, fat or any of the other animal protective designs we are on our own; it's up to that big brain of ours to figure out how to deal with the elements. Or else we die. Our opposable thumbs certainly help.
    My remarks are intended to cover the history of movable shelters. Not the stationary caves of prehistory, nor the permanent houses of people who had settled into an agricultural and husbandry sedentariness. Think hunter-gatherers such as mastodon hunters or our more recent bison hunters, who had to follow the herds. Or consider nomadic herders of the more recent domesticated livestock, who had to keep moving as grazing was depleted.
    Then there were the Traders, who travelled between far flung tribes long before hotels and inns came to be. Armies on the move had to carry their shelters. More recently explorers needed portable shelter. More recently still recreationists had to transport means of shelter-—think Henry Thoreau's canoe trips a century and a half ago.
    We have examples in post-literate times of nomadic shelters. The Yurt and the Tipi come to mind. Both were movable living quarters for whole families Yurts were transported in wheeled carts by horses. North American Indians, lacking the wheel, transported their tipis originally by dogs pulling the hide canopies on the supporting “lodge poles“ in Travois pulled along on the ground. (Tipis, and life itself, got far bigger with the advent of the European’s horses as they became available to the Indians-—a horse could pull a much bigger Lodge) Africans could build family sized dome shaped dwellings quickly from branches covered by boughs to shed rain. All such shelters featured open fire pits inside, with holes in the tops to evacuate smoke. While they could be assembled/built relatively quickly it was assumed the location of their placement was temporary-—until the grass gave out or the herds moved on.
    One can assume these methods of sheltering extend back into prehistory. While movable, they usually stayed put for a while-—days or weeks. But some folks needed to move their location daily. Traders, or multi-day hunters ranging from a settled Encampment comprised of the shelters cited above. What did these men do for shelter. We can only guess, as the materials haven't survived. But my experience doing exactly the same thing draws forth some speculation. I'm betting on a carried-with-you Tarp, most likely of light-as-possible animal skin material. Pitched using sinew cordage. Fire out front. Far faster to deploy than bending saplings and covering with boughs. More waterproof. More wind proof. And can be used even where there aren't any handy saplings, boughs, and etc. The skin tarp would have been scraped very thin. It would be carefully, thinly, coated with cured fat for waterproofing, and to keep it from becoming moisture saturated. Or perhaps the tarp was constructed of tightly woven reeds. This tarp would be lighter weight and quicker drying (I would have designed it to hinge midway so that it could be more compact when carried vertically or horizontally on my skin or reed constructed backpack.)
    My point is this: people were smart back then. Brain size was the same as now. We modern folks enjoy the incremental increase in technological advancement, especially regarding synthetic materials. Then, folks had to be very clever with the “naturally” available materials around them. Muscle power moved these shelters. Weight mattered, so earth was the floor. And fire out front was essential, for both warmth and cooking.
    Earth was the floor of the encampment shelters too. Perhaps some skin rugs or reed mats were deployed-—depending on livestock availability for transport. Otherwise no. Furthermore, fire inside full size encampment shelters prohibited complete flooring. Shelters with earthen floors endured for millennia. Same for the early permanent houses. As recently as our own pioneer days the Soddy house was common Soddy houses were dirt floored All these people thrived anyway. Or we wouldn't be here.

    I submit that “sealed” tents with sewn in floors have their origin in the Big Mountain and Arctic/Antarctic Expeditions that swept European and American adventurers a century or so ago These endeavors take place above timberline, and copious snow is a constant reality. Likewise high winds. Spindrift (wind blown snow) is a nuisance, a hazard in fact. Spindrift penetrates all but the most purpose-built shelters, covering and gumming up everything inside. Because of the spindrift menace carefully “sealed” tents, of necessity including a sewn-in floor, were created to combat it. A gradual physical decline was assumed on the part of participants. Much like a military campaign, one “survived” till it was over. No external heat, cramped quarters, etc. were accepted for the greater goal of accomplishing the mission. Participants learned to attempt to stay warm by eating lots of calories (internal heat production) and huddling in Expedition grade clothing inside Expedition grade sleeping bags inside expedition grade shelters. I admire and salute these tough, brave adventurers.
    As with many gear items in the early days of official Backpacking-—such as Expedition boots-—Expedition-style tents were thought of as required kit. Meaning floored, sealed tents. The boots gave way to much lighter versions. But while tents for us backpackers got lighter the floored and sealed features stuck. This, despite the fact that the vast majority of Backpacking took place below timberline. And mostly in summer. Those folks who winter camped persisted in using these tents even when an open front shelter with a fire out front would have been safer and much more comfortable I've always called it Cold Camping. And it is.

    Speaking of sheltering in winter, let's discuss Camping in Snow. In general, that is, not necessarily Expedition, terms. I once owned a Survival School. It was known as the Colorado School of Outdoor Living (CSOL). Being a Colorado entity, it specialized in cold weather survival. I taught hundreds of folks how to build snow caves, and snow trenches; the idea being to teach methods of survival in the event you find yourself in snow country without any artificial shelter. For example, you're on a simple day trip, without real camp stuff in your day pack, and get stuck in snow country, for whatever reason.
    A properly built snow cave will maintain an internal temperature slightly above freezing no matter what the outside temperature is. (Note: I remember discovering that the “paper” experts recommendation to poke a hole in the top of the cave was flat wrong when I awoke with snow all over my sleeping bag. Instead, the vent hole should be poked through the FRONT of the cave.) As an Instructor and Guide I've built a bunch of the things. The biggest was in ten feet of snow in Yellowstone Park. It was huge. Four of us lived in it for several days, as we toured much of the Park on cross country skis.

    Note: I'm about to head into the hills for some of that winter camping goodness. So let's resume this session when I return....

  3. #103
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    Mar 2015
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    Castle Rock
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    Default Re: Road Trip

    I got to have dinner in a Bedouin style tent when I was visiting Israel. Super cool. Those guys invented glamping

  4. #104
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    Jun 2002
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    Default Re: Road Trip

    Snow caves are neither fast nor easy to build. They are by no means the preferred snow-based shelter solution for daily travel, or even for stranded, emergency shelter. The builder must have a shovel-—preferably a large one-—and be equipped with basically waterproof clothing, especially pants, as he will spend a great deal of time kneeling and sitting in snow while constructing the cave A snow cave’s only merits are protection from wind, and relatively, from extreme cold. Properly built, it will maintain an internal temperature slightly above freezing no matter the outside temperature. This, from occupant body heat, perhaps aided by a candle or petro stove. If such artificial heat sources are used the interior of the cave must be absolutely smooth along its interior ceiling or else drips from any bumps above will soon wet out everything inside.
    Every snow cave I've built saw extended use time-wise. Otherwise they are not worth the trouble and the preparation beforehand to construct. I eventually developed better alternatives, which we will discuss later.

    Snow trenches, on the other hand, are quick to create and don't pose such a hazard of getting soaked while building. If the snow cover is deep enough they can even be “kicked out”. As I always carried an avalanche shovel on backcountry ski trips I could always make more sculpted trenches; I could create a good deep trench in relatively shallow snow simply by shoveling snow onto the sides of the trench, increasing its depth that way. Once the desired depth is achieved a tarp “roof” can be placed over the otherwise open top, securing it on the sides of the trench with packed snow over branches, skis, etc. (I typically used a featherweight Space Blanket for the roof; the weight was so minimal the thing could be justified as always-in-the-pack. Sitting up height was always a good gage for depth of the trench. A single man trench would be about thirty inches wide and about seven feet long. The foot end could be blocked with snow, just not completely. It's a good idea to build the trench slightly downhill and dig a sump hole at the foot so that cold air won't pool as much in the living area. A good trench is not as warm as a snow cave but it’s a lot warmer than “outside”. I've even built trenches for two occupants.
    One such occasion was in about 1971 or 1972. The location was Colorado, and the month was early May. The snow pack was deep. The weather was balmy; my friend Mike and I were running klister as ski wax...it was that warm. The snow was easy to shovel and so my friend and I decided to build a double wide trench Nice and deep. We covered it crosswise with both our Space Blankets, packed snow onto our skis holding the Blankets securely (we thought) along the edges of our Super Trench and settled in for a nice supper and libations. Then off to sleep. It was so nice weather wise we were turned into our bags in our skivvies.
    I awoke in pitch dark with a clammy weight against my face. What?! Mike woke up about the same time, and freaked out. He thrashed at the pressing weight, and tore away the Space Blanket roof-—which was now right on top of us-—thus allowing hundreds of pounds of deep deep snow to engulf us. It engulfed us, and every speck of our gear. Heavy snow was everywhere. (An epic three foot spring blizzard had hit our location, a total surprise, and collapsed the roof of our Trench, despite the packed snow and skis we had used to secure it. There was just too much of the stuff.)
    And so we had to exit our bags, while at the bottom of this pile of snow, getting thoroughly wet in the process, and dig around for our flashlights and most important of all-— a fire starting kit! Otherwise, we were dead men. (It was plenty cold now as well.) Shaking like aspen leaves we did manage to find a light and a fire start kit, as well as a few snowpacked garments and our boots (!!!) and sloshed over to a rock outcrop above the snow and managed to get a fire going. And that dear readers saved our lives. We fed that blaze the rest of the night, eventually getting warm enough to go over to our wrecked Trench and dig out our gear. Then dry it out. By noon the next day we were bone weary but relatively solid-—situation-wise. So we started out for the trailhead Along the way we found a couple in much worse shape than we were The young woman was suffering from hypothermia. Full blown case. We weren't done with this ordeal after all. Mike was co-owner of our survival school and we both knew what to do. We took turns huddled with the poor girl in sleeping bags till we could begin to get hot liquids down her. And we got another fire going. (The couple had no way of building a fire, having ignored winter adventuring Rule One.). We saved another life, not just our own.

    So. Snow trenches have their limitations too. They are warmer than tents though, and eventually I solved the cold tent problem. But not yet, as our story of winter sheltering continues....

    I want to direct attention back to my disastrous sleeping bag collapse while traversing Yellowstone Park on skis. By the third night of performing isometrics in my flat bag with temperatures of forty below in the cold tent I was just about done for. So we got creative the next night. We got busy with our avalanche shovels and dug clear to ground level in a largish circle. We dubbed our creation a Snow Kiva. And we built a big old fire smack dab in the middle. Then commenced building “benches” a couple of feet off the ground around the fire. Rigged the tent as a kind of awning over the fire, for reflectivity and as protection from falling snow. And got thoroughly saturated with warmth, Warmth such as only FIRE can produce. We slept on the benches. We lounged on them We relished our situation We were at last off Expedition and actually Living!
    I've been building snow kivas ever since. Attendees at our Colorado winter rendezvous will often experience one; we don't have to resort to one since I “brought the fire inside the tent” so to speak, but kivas are still a treat-—seeing the stars, experiencing the fire’s warmth, the relative protection from wind. And if conditions get too bad we can always head back over to that gloriously warm tipi Next time let's explore the history of my developing man carryable heated shelters. The advent of Kifaru Tipis and Stoves.

  5. #105
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    Jun 2002
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    Default Re: Road Trip

    Shawn30, please describe that Bedouin tent for us. Sounds interesting.

  6. #106
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    Mar 2015
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    Castle Rock
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    Default Re: Road Trip

    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick View Post
    Shawn30, please describe that Bedouin tent for us. Sounds interesting.
    Name:  Bed tent.jpg
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    That's not the actual tent, but it looked a lot like the picture. The ground was covered with rugs, and there were pillows to lie on. The tables were low to the ground, and we ate with our hands (no germophobes allowed). I'm guessing they use your SST pins to anchor the tents in place.

    I'm trying to figure out a place to polk into, Tipi camp and Ice fish, here in Colo. Do you have any suggestions? I was thinking about turquoise lake, but I swear there isn't a dead tree to be seen in that area (lack of firewood). Healthiest trees in the state .

  7. #107
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    Jun 2002
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    Golden, Co. USA
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    4,175

    Default Re: Road Trip

    Pretty large tarp shelter there Shawn. Looks luxurious.

    I’m not an ice fisherman, but it seems to me you could ski or snowshoe in to whatever lake you enjoy fishing in summer.

  8. #108
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    Jun 2002
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    Default Re: Road Trip

    Before we look at my journey in developing heated shelters for man carry let's pause for a discussion on hunting in winter.

    I've practiced the skill and art of living off the land in the backcountry my entire career, filling the pot with whatever is in season, small game-wise. Since I ramble all year round-—traditionally on XC skis in snow conditions-—this has meant I collect squirrels and snowshoe rabbits (technically hares) in winter. And somehow the delights of providing food for ones camp from the land itself is amplified in the cold and snowy months. The additional challenge is quite satisfying.
    I collect small game with the very same rifles I use for large game. Since I hand load my ammunition, and have for decades, I've developed small game loads for all the center fire rifles I own. Typically the small game recipe is concocted of faster burning powders, a magnum primer, and inexpensive bullets. The idea is to reduce muzzle velocity to the point where ,say, a rabbit or squirrel is anchored but not blown apart. The ideal speed is around fifteen hundred feet per second. With an expanding bullet this results in the bullet just beginning its expansion as it exits the critter; the result is similar to a standard velocity .22 caliber wound, small entrance hole and a nickel size exit hole. Little to no meat damage.
    For example, the recipe for small game loads in my mountain rifle chambered for .300 Weatherby is 18 grains of IMR 4227, any magnum primer, and a 150 grain Hornady spire point bullet. (Note that H 110 and W 296 powders work just as well and burn cleaner; I simply have plenty of 4227 and continue to use it.)
    This practice of using the same rifle for both small game and big game means that when big game season rolls around you will have become much more lethal with your big game accuracy. This is especially true in off hand mode, as virtually all your many shots at small game will be offhand. Being capable of reliable hits at some distance off hand is priceless when the big game animal of your dreams can only be downed in this manner. It will require experimentation to get your big game/small game loads compatible if you want to leave the sites the same for both-—thus allowing for collecting small game for the tipi while on a big game hunt-—which is a real treat.
    Hunting off skis or snowshoes is extremely satisfying to your humble correspondent I recall a late season elk hunt on skis. There were sixteen inches of fresh snow (on top of about a foot of older accumulation), and the temperature was stuck at minus 16F. Hunting afoot was so exhausting, and slow, that I resorted to my skis. Far faster at getting around and far less tiring as well. When I encountered my elk I sat back on the skis and made the longish shot from sitting. (The processing was done with a warming fire at hand. Much needed and appreciated!). There are other examples of hunting in deep snow and serious cold to cite. A thirty five below caribou kill in Labrador comes to mind.
    And etc. Suffice to say that winter big game hunting provides an extra satisfaction to the whole adventure. A very useful side benefit is the meat can be removed from the field at complete leisure. No spoilage concerns at all. One can linger in the tipi and eat a good portion of the kill with confidence it will stay fresh. When I've hunted in warmer conditions I've always taken note of where the creeks are and have resorted to stowing my meat in them while ferrying out the meat, camp and etc. No need for that if you hunt late enough. And you will encounter far fewer fellow hunters. I have had the entire area wholly to myself on many occasions.

    So there is a brief account of the joys of hunting in winter. I must say that the practice got much more enjoyable after I invented my tipis and stoves! And we will get to that story next time....

  9. #109
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    NM
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    189

    Default Re: Road Trip

    Patrick,
    Thanks for sharing the small game load particulars. I've never tried it, but think I will now.

    Curious to know if you 'sling up' when shooting? Particularly when sitting or off-hand?

    thanks,
    zane

  10. #110
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    Jun 2002
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    Default Re: Road Trip

    Hello Zane. I have small game recipes for just about every caliber, so feel free to ask me for one here. Remember to always use a magnum primer. You’re igniting small amounts of powder in a relatively large case and need that robust spark for complete combustion.

    I don’t sling up. The technique is for target shooting and is not appropriate for field game shooting, at least not in my experience. It changes POI, and therefore must be used exclusively for consistent accuracy. Field shots often don’t allow for getting “set” in the sling. They just don’t. And I want the POI to be the same whether I’m shooting offhand, from sit, or from prone off my pack. My proven personal technique from offhand as well as sitting is to shoulder the rifle elevated above the target, begin to apply pressure to the trigger as I lower the crosshairs onto the target; the very first instant the crosshairs intersect the correct location I “release” the shot. This is very fast and also very accurate. It recognizes that the sight picture doesn’t get any better the second (or third or fourth, etc.) time and you’re better off getting the shot on its way. Especially as this is hunting not target shooting, and your target can move at any moment.

    Make sense?

    Lastly, small game hunting is the perfect practice prelude.

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