I’ve received numerous comments from my post about the arrest of Christopher Knight, now dubbed “The North Pond Hermit”. Here’s an update on his continued resistance to connecting to a society he walked away from decades ago.The link brings you to additional new stories about this most unusual situation.
Four Dog Stove is the major sponsor for my upcoming ( April 17, 2013) attempt to thru-hike the Continental Divide Trail, AKA “ King of Trails”.
I will be using Four Dog’s Bushcooker LT1 multi-fuel stove kit. In addition, Four Dog Stove has provided financial support for purchase of maps, solid fuel tablets, and 55 days of Mountainhouse freeze-dried meals for the remote sections requiring food drops.
My connection with Don Kevilus and Four Dog Stove goes back 15 years, when I purchased one of his 11 x 11 x 22 titanium Ultralight tent stoves. I still use it to heat my 9 x 12 Egyptian cotton wall tent in the winter and fall on toboggan/snowshoe and canoeing trips.
Since then, I’ve purchased saws, books, titanium pots, as well as the only titanium tent stakes made in the USA.
I first met Don in Vermont at the Snow Walkers’ Rendezvous. He gave a couple of stove and fire building workshops and tended a vendor table, where he sold his handcrafted stoves, as well as a variety of survival and outdoor skills-related tools, strikers, books, videos, and knives.
I was intrigued by his newest creation, a small titanium backpacker’s model. I inquired about a purchase and Don encouraged me to make my own, and try it rather than purchase his $100+ creation. I liked him immediately.
I enrolled in his half-day workshop, where I had fun and successfully built my own twin-walled, secondary-burn multi-fuel stove. At the time I was backpacking with a highly modified ultra-light Sierra Zip stove, where the electrical components were the Achille’s Heel of the unit, and Don’s lure of lure of simplicity and efficiency appealed to me. After I built the stove, I made more of them at home. I was worked up about the little firepots, and gave them to my friends and family for Christmas gifts. I used that stove on my 2007 Appalachian Trail thru-hike.
In 2010 I completed a thru-hike of the 2,700 mile Pacific Crest Trail. This time, Don provided me with a Bushcooker LT 1, a 2.5 ounce single-person alcohol, solid-fuel, and wood/charcoal burning titanium unit that that nested in a Snow Peak Trek 600 ml cook pot/mug. An alcohol fuel cup, a windscreen, and my MSR coffee filter also fit in the mug, capped by a custom titanium lid. Don recommended welding two titanium tabs to the top of the cup that secured a wired bail handle to the pot, for moving it in and out of campfires as well as on and off the stove itself. The stove performed flawlessly, boiling up two to three times a day for 156 days. What convinced me that I had the best unit out there was when my traveling companions used mine whenever they ran out of fuel and were unable to locate isobutane canisters for their Pocket Rockets or Jetboils.
Five years ago, Don presented at Snow Walker’s again. This time, he asked me if I would serve as an assistant in his build-your-own Bushcooker class. I agreed, and learned a lot, mostly what-not-to-do, and how things can go wrong. I also became more skilled at explaining the details of the stove, and learned additional assembly tricks and tips. As part of the course, Don has also expanded what he calls his “Potology 101” talk, a working presentation of facts and table-top examples on the current use of biofuel for cooking on the planet ( over 2.4 billion people), with practical physics of heat values of the fuel types, and the science of heat transfer and efficiency, when the flame meets the pot.
In 2011, I assisted in sales and stove demonstrations at the Four Dog Stove booth at Appalachian Trail Days in Damascus, VA.
I now have 3,000 trail miles on my present Bushcooker LT1 and I’m planning another to use it on my upcoming CDT hike of 2,800 miles. Readers can follow
my daily Trailjournal .
Since then Don, has encouraged me to offer these build-your-own stove workshops here in Maine, where I have sold-out two of the adult-education programs in the past 6 months. I Don continues to provide me with a custom fabricated, titanium base plate that we use in assembling these units.
Simpler is better.
In Maine’s Sunday Telegram.
Dateline: Spring Brook, Camden Hills State Park, Camden, ME
The normally staid water bottle, AKA Tiki- Man, barely survived a harrowing fall into the rushing, frigid Class V rapids along Spring Brook on March 16, 2013, in Midcoast Maine.
When Tenzing was getting refills for multiple water bottles near the bloated culvert containing Spring Brook, Tiki-man leapt from his hand into the raging torrent.
While Tiki-man remained collected, Tenzing became gravely distraught about the situation.Tiki-man was engulfed by the torrent that quickly propelled him under the multi-purpose road above. In panic mode, Tenzing scrambled up the embankment, only to become further frantic as he realized that the revered, purple, and ( at times) luminescent head was no where to be seen.
Glancing straight down the side of the road to the surface of the maelstrom below, Tiki-man was sighted, in an immobilized state within the backwaters of an eddy, but beyond human reach. Tenzing leaped into rescue mode, and quickly fashioned a three-pronged branch, that he used to dislodge and release Tiki man, only to realize that the valiant water bottle was facing yet another harrowing scoot down the icy water.
Tiki-man courageously traversed at a diagonal across the channel, where he eventually struggled to maintain a tentative hold on the far-side shore.
At this point, Tiki-man was clearly up against very thin ice.
The three-pronged stick guided Tiki-man past this last challenge into a still pool, where he was airlifted to safety by the selfsame stick.
Most importantly, Tiki-Man lived to tell the tale. He described his dunking as the most harrowing experience that he has ever been through.
Tiki-man is a seasoned, 6 year old water bottle. Tiki-Man has recently become increasingly despondent at his persistent failure to lose enough weight to qualify him as an ultralight backpacking accessory. He occasionally mumbles about being teased as “a bloated relic” by Platypi and even the young upstart plastic soda bottles.
The colorful character has risen through the ranks of backpacking water bottles through his persistent dedication to thru-hiker hydration.
A veteran of three National Scenic Trails, Tiki man has endured unparalleled adventures on the Appalachian, Pacific Crest, and Vermont’s Long Trails.
The closest the battered water bottle had come to the slag heap of also-ran hiker gear was in 2007, when he was dropped from a day pack on the AT and left for dead in a crevice between a rock and a hard place. Extracted from his impending tomb by a hiker named Big Sky, the revived Tiki-Man survived a dark passage through the US Postal Service, adorned with a mere one dollar and thirty-two cent stamp and a tattered Uncle Tom address label.
Undaunted by his early morning sub-freezing soak today, Tiki- man bucked up, and settled into place in the backpack, where the wizened vessel supplied his human partner, Uncle Tom, with hydration on a long winter day hike in the Camden Hills.
[Additional info added 3/13/13, after writing the review. The following sidebar info (by Meaghen Brown) was published in the April 2013 issue of Outside magazine, page 76 in an article by Brent Rose entitled Play It By Ear. It's noted on their current magazine web page, but with no hotlink ( you gotta buy the mag):
Fatigue- music reduces perception of fatigue by 8%.
Time Flies- perception of time speeds up to 12%.
Get the Rhythm- as a beat generator, tempos of 120 to 140 offer the greatest benefit.]
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Quite useful, but repetitive, yet already dated (2012). Two medical doctors ( and a MBA) cite neuroscience backing up the practice of listening to music in order to moderate consciousness. The practice of ramping up and damping down via acoustic input has been a part of human existence for many thousands of years. Vibratory effects of sound have been well known, primarily in religious contexts. For example, Vedic tradition of mantra use for specific physiological effects.
Listening to my iPod while backpacking, bicycling, and walking has clearly resulted in elevated energy, increased happiness, surprising releases of emotion ( like crying), and help from boredom.
On my 2,700 mile Pacific Crest Trail, I used my iPod sparingly, due to battery life. It was engaged in late afternoons, when I was fatigued after 20+ miles, and had the effect of increasing my flagging pace. It is also effective on uphill climbs. In some instances the perceived effect was equivalent to the energy increase from eating a 200 calorie energy or candy bar.
“Uncle Tom, why are you wearing boots? “ – One of the Kiwis, at Third Gate on the PCT (2010)
“I’m curious about your choice of shoes. Comment please…”- Dennis on tjamrog.wordpress.com (3/2/2013)
You’ll see a fairly regular number of hikers wearing boots on the Appalachian Trail. You won’t see many boots worn by long-distance hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail. I bet I’ll be the only long-distance hiker wearing boots on the Continental Divide Trail this season.
Here are some of the reasons from today’s Google about boot shunning, mostly from hikers on Whiteblaze.com:
Boots are considered so old-school as to be relegated to the slag heap of slide rulers and hand-held calculators that cost $50. They are considered unnecessary, and so heavy that they are a sysiphean drag on the energy required to lift each foot. They don’t dry out as fast as lighter, fabric trail runners. They supposedly “reduce blood circulation” (therefore your feet won’t be as warm than if they were in trail runners). Boots, ”increase the chance of ankle injury by masking features in the terrain that would turn an ankle”. Boots cost too much to replace when your feet grow on a thru-hike ( compared to trail runners). Gore-tex and other membrane boots don’t stay waterproof for long (Thru hiking “abuses the membrane” through dirt, sweat, and body oil….in as little as 45 days.)
Here’s an answer (whiteblaze.com) that begs critical analysis – “I thru hiked with boots. I had no issues with ankle support. ..Boots kept me from spraining or injuring my ankle”. This answer illustrates the generalization fallacy, illustrated by substituting one word to change the statement to, “ I thru hiked with sandals. I had no issues with ankle support. Sandals kept me from spraining or injuring my ankles”.
People do complete thru hikes in minimalist footwear. In fact, I saw a barefoot thru hiker on September 13 this year on the summit of Katahdin. It was this guy:
He swears in this most interesting blog entry, “I will never wear hiking boots again.”
Few plusses are found for boots: Boots provide “ankle support”, “keep feet cleaner”, protect if something heavy falls or whacks against your foot, and are, “more durable”. Here’s a durablility dreamer, “Do I want a pair that will see me through this hike and others in the years ahead?” Obviously from someone who is still contemplating a thru-hike.
So why buck the current trend?
History–> I started the AT in boots that were highly recommended to me from experienced staff up at Winterport Boot shop. They sold me a pair of Merrill Phaser Peaks
In 2007, I began to get blisters within a week of hiking in Georgia, and some of the people I was hiking with encouraged me switch to ventilated trail runners, so I went to a pair of New Balance, and the blisters stopped. I then switched to Inov-8’s in Virginia with Superfeet insoles that took me all the way to Maine. Unfortunately that combo left me with nerve damage and low-grade left forefoot pain. Despite physical therapy, occupational therapy, acupuncture, medication, custom orthotics, and consulting the best sports podiatrist in Maine, I’m still affected. It hasn’t gotten any better, but is no worse, even after two more thru hikes.
I was ready to start the PCT in April of 2010 in Asics Gel Trabucos when my brother Roy, who works as a costing manager for New Balance, told me that NB had just acquired a Vermont company, On the Beach, that manufactures military and tactical footwear.
“You are going to hiking in the desert, right? These are the exact boots worn by Navy Seals in Afghanistan and Iraq. I can get you a pair to try out.”
Long story short, I received free New Balance Tactical 802 boots for whole 2,700 miles, where I encountered NO blisters.
I did jump up to a size 14, with PLENTY of room in the forefoot, that ensured my toes were not able to rub when I walked.
That, plus 2 pair of thin merino wool micro-crew Cushion Darn Tough socks that survived the whole trip. There is no finer hiker deal than Darn Tough. There is NO other manufacturer whose hiking socks last like Darn Tough, and even better, the $20 that you spend on a pair is a lifetime deal. Made in Vermont. “If you wear these socks out, we’ll replace them. Free of charge. No questions asked.” It’s true, I have 2 new pair of replaced Darn Tough socks for the CDT.
People get blisters on the PCT, even General Lee, who is usually blister free, but whose feet succumbed to the volcanic grit that was present in Northern California and Oregon.
I now hike three seasons in the Bushmasters, now renamed the NB Tactical 802, which also allowed me a blister free completion of Vermont’s Long Trail (2011).
I like being free of blisters. The boots ventilate exceedingly well, and this trip starts in the Chihuahuan desert in New Mexico. After they are soaked from rain or stream crossings, they dry our very quickly. The specialized Vibram soles wear and grip nicely. The laces don’t wear. They are fairly light, and don’t have any metal in them, which is a military consideration. They weigh 1.5 pounds each, where my Inov-8’s with Superfeet insoles weigh 1 pound each. No big deal.
My beef with the boots continues to be the exposed stitching on the toe and heel cups. I went through 4 pair on the PCT and in each case, the stitching rubbed through, and made a hole between the plastic cup and and fabric where debris entered, and the separations increased, primarily on the toe cups. I communicated my concerns back to NB. The primary manager for these particular boots assured me that there would be a design modification in future factory runs of the boot that would recess and then cover these areas, but it hasn’t happened yet.
My brother Roy has helped me to secure five new pairs of Tactical 802′s for this trip. One pair was free, and the other four were sold to me for 60% discount, with free shipping.
This time, I’m coating the toe and heel stitching with a sealant, probably more than one thin coat. Auntie Mame will send them to me when I need them.
That’s why I wear boots. These boots work for me, but as Auntie Mame so perceptively put, “You could also call them ankle height trail runners.” Enough already.
Soon it will time to “Stop Talking, Start Walking”
I don’t mind taking a few more people if folks still want to come down and build your stove. It’s going to be fun. I have extra materials I can use, I’ll contact Adult Ed on Monday to let them know. Worst case–> just contact me and then show up. I don’t want big surprises.
Here is a picture of what the stove will look like:
Further details about the stove itself are in this updated blog post from 2012.
The evening will include an introductory talk about some of the science and history of these stoves, which address the question of getting the most efficiency out of the unit. This is a true multi-fuel stove, suitable for also burning denatured alcohol and solid fuel tablets when wood is not available or is wet. Because of the hands- on nature of the class it will be limited to 8 people. Sign up!
Did I forget anything?Comments, please. All comments answered.
1. Pack Group:
1 Backpack – HMG Porter………………… 31.0 ounces
Total…………………………………………….. 31. ounces = 1.9 lbs.
2. Shelter Group:
rain wrap 4.4 oz
rain jacket 8.0 oz
1 Tarptent -Moment —– 32 oz.
Total……………………………………………. 44.4 ounces = 2.75 lbs
3. Sleeping Group:
1 down bag, Western Mountaineering/stuff sack, 20F 40.0 oz.
1 Ibex wool long sleeve zip T 5.8 oz.
1 Ibex long tights 5.4 oz
1 socks wool 2.6 oz.
1 headlamp w/ batteries ( Princeton Byte) 2.1 oz.
1 stuff sack sil-nylon……………………… 1.3 oz.
1 Exped Down mat 31.0 oz.
1 Exped Comfort pillow 8. oz
Total…………………………………………… 96.2 ounces = 6.0 lbs.
4. Clothing :
1 pr. wool socks 2.6 oz.
1 pr. Manzilla Windstopper gloves 2.2 0z.
1 Ibex wool hat 2.1 oz.
1 pr. Patagonia mid weight stretch tights 8.6 oz.
1 Pat. wool midweight long sleeve hoodie 9.4 oz.
1 Western Mountaineering Hooded Flash Down jacket 9 oz.
1 pr. New Balance Minimus shoes 10.7 oz.
Total…………………………………………… 44.6 ounces= 2.8 lbs.
5. Kitchen Group:
1 Steripen Adventurer 4.4 oz.
1 “Four Dog” Bushcooker LT1 multifuel stove,
W/ titanium windscreen,
W/ Titanium cook pot 700 ml modified w/ lid 10 oz.
2 lighters……………………………………………. 1.2 oz.
1 water bottle – used Gatorade bottle… 1.7 oz.
1 qt. water bottle ( Tiki Mon) 5.4 0z.
1 Ursak Minor – food bag…………. 2.7 oz.
abrasive scrub pad, Bronner’s soap 1.0 oz.
1 spork…………………………………… 0.3 oz.
1 cup, bowl=Orikaso 4.2 oz.
1 MSR coffee filter 0.6 oz.
2 bandannas……………………………………….. 2.0 oz.
1 length cord – 50′…………………………….. 2.5 oz.
Total…………………………………………. 36. ounces = 2.25 lbs.
6. Hygiene Group:
1 small pack towel…………………………….. 1.3 oz.
1 bottle hand cleaner ………… 1.3 oz.
1 small zip lock…………………………………. 1.3 oz
w/ floss, vitamins, ointment, emery boards
1 partial roll toilet paper…………………….. 2.0 oz.
1 Baby wipes 2.0 oz.
1 chap stick 0.2 oz.
1 disposable razor 0.1 oz.
1 small child toothbrush…………………….. 0.5 oz
1 small tube tooth paste……………………. 0.7 oz.
Total…………………………………………….. 9.4 ounces = 0.6 lbs
1 iPhone with headphones, wall charger and connector 6.6 oz.
1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX-07 Digital Camera w/ charger 14.5 oz
1 Solio solar charger w/ wall charger 8.8 oz.
Total……………………………………………..29.9 ounces = 1.9 lbs
Maps, pages, pencil
1 pr. sunglasses
1 Ibex wool zip-t
1 pr. synthetic underwear
1 pr. Patagonia shorts
1 pr. socks
1 pr. On the Beach/ boots
1 pr. gaiters
1 pr. Leki poles
total packed weight, dry, without food, maps 17.8 pounds
I have superb black shell Mountain Hardware Ventigators (gaiters) that I have become most fond of, but that are now a disappointment.
I have used the gaiters, off and on, since I purchased them Virginia when thru hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2007. Maybe I should not be complaining?
I have no problem with the gaiters. I especially like them because they have a zip away meshed ventilating quarter panel that is excellent for dumping heat in the warm weather. They have held up very well, no tears, no fraying.However, the waterproof coating is now peeling off the inside of the gaiters in sheets . Out of the clothes washer after a recent hike, I saw that hunks of the coating are now jamming up the Velcro on the front closure. From the outside, the gaiters look new. I sent the following picture to Customer Service at Mountain Hardware:
As instructed, I sent them in after I receiving email instructions and an RA number.
The call I received back after a week or so was disappointing, right from the start.
First, I the representative said that the product code informed him that I had the gaiters since 2002. I corrected him with the 2007 date. It didn’t make any difference.
The fellow held firm that my problem was wear and tear -no defect.
But I could tell he was proud to come back at me with a Pro Deal. Go on the website, select a new gaiter, and purchase it for half price. Sounded good to me.
Unfortunately, Mountain Hardware discontinued the Ventigaiter. They have are 6 models, three beefier unvented, solid mountaineering gaiters that are overkill, and some shorter ones that don’t cut it with me. We discussed me keeping my gaiters and recoating them with a couple of products that he recommended. I also spray them with permethrin, a month long tic repellent treatment. I like the fabric to come up just below my knee. When I walk through grasses and brush, I get far fewer tics than do my hiking partners. I believe that I’ve escaped Lyme disease by wearing my treated tall gaiters.
I wanted to choose a pair for half price, with the Pro Deal.
I changed my mind when i was told that I could not both get Pro Deal gaiters and also have my old ones sent back to me. PIck one or the other.
I’m spoiled by impeccable customer service. Patagonia honored their warranty of my Super Pluma rain jacket due to delamination in the forearms after 4 years. I’m done with these Mountain Hardware guys.
Lest the reader thinks I am a malcontent, who relishes the habit of trashing companies for poor customer services, I have experienced nothing but superb satisfaction from the following companies that have dealt with me and my gear problems, and want to give a LOUD shout out to: Leki, Tarptent, Patagonia, Steripen, ULA Equipment, Darn Tough (socks), Princeton (headlamps), Cascade Designs (Thermrest), and Ibex (wool) clothing.
It’s 2013- and Arc’teryx customer service continues to suck, just like it did back in 2010.
I wrote about my initial frustration with Arc’teryx in the fall of 2010, after I spent $325 for an Arc’Teryx Altra 65 backpack, a Backpacking Magazine’s 2010 Pack of the Year award winner. That story is a refresher course on what to do to disappoint a customer.
Backpacker didn’t talk to anyone who actually wore the pack on any backpacking trips, because the waist belt that came with the pack had a substandard material in the buckle area that caused the waist belt to slip after you cinched it up, and threw the pack’s total weight back onto one’s shoulders. You can bring yourself up to date on why I was without that pack for 5 months, while I waited for Arc’teryx to replace it. I had a second warranty issue with the pockets on the waist belt experiencing wear holes after two weeks of use, which was replaced with a new belt. I also received a new sternum strap, after the original elasticized material ripped out. I do thank them for that.
Unfortunately, I had to deal with Arc’teryx again in November, after I tore a water bottle pocket while bushwhacking around a blow down here in Maine.
Here’s the heart of the new complaint.
First, I sent them this picture of the torn pack in an email: I received a quick call from a customer service representative that informed me that I’d have to send the whole pack back to them for inspection. It was recommended that I ship the product using a carrier that can provide me with tracking information and proof of delivery (USPS = $22.50).
Within a couple of weeks, I received a call back from them informing me that the tear exceeded normal wear and tear, and that it be processed as an out-of-warranty situation. I asked what the cost would be and was told that Arc’teryx would get back to me with a quote. A couple of days later I was told the fee would be $80. I told the agent that the charge appeared excessive. I had already spent $22.50 just to get it to them. I asked to have the case reviewed, and waited a few days to learn they would now fix it for was $60. I still thought it was too much, and at this point decided that I was done with these folks. I asked them to send me back the backpack, ripped and all. I decided to either cut out the frayed material and slide an aftermarket Liberty Mountain water bottle holder onto the waist below to compensate, or I’d get some binding material and use my Speedy Stitcher to repair the torn pocket myself. A couple of weeks later I got the pack pack. (Arc’teryx warrantee/repair products go back to the mother ship in Vancouver, BC.).
At his point I came up with plan C, which was to walk the pack into Tent Repair Services, right down the street in nearby Camden, ME. In business since 1994, TRS is an authorized repair center for Moss, Walrus, Armadillo & MSR tents. I have had several tent repairs done by the facility over the years and have always been impressed with their service and quality work. Pendra was willing to tackle the job.
Pendra replaced the stretchy mesh material with a solid piece of color-matched coated Cordura, and even retained the drawstring.
Looking the pack over at home, I see that the stretchy material on the other pocket has multiple wear holes in it. At least this time I know what not to do.