The collection of log cabins goes way back to 1885.
The Monument encompasses 87,500-acres of mountains, rivers, and forests abutting the eastern edge of Baxter State Park, land donated by Roxanne Quimby, whose company, Bert’s Bees, sold to Clorox for $925,000,000 in 2007. Through President Obama’s executive action, the unit was added to the National Park Service in September as a national monument, bypassing the need for Congress to authorize it a national park.
Despite media portrayal of this Monument as an unfair land grab by the Feds, it’s 87,000 acres represents less than 1 percent of the total forested lands of Maine. According to the North Maine Woods website, there are 3.5 million acres that are considered North Maine Woods. That’s a whopping 0.236% of those privately held lands.
The move to make the land public was a long, protracted battle that is still being waged by a local faction that strongly resists any government encroachment on their traditional uses of the land, be it hunting, snowmobiling, or riding ATVs . There are still prominent National Park-NO! signs greeting the approaching tourist who exits I-95 in Medway to reach the Monument. Unless the citizens of Millinocket decide to upgrade unimproved gravel roads leading out of town into the area, this won’t be much of an issue for them, because both the South and Northern entrances to KLWWMN completely avoid traffic into Millinocket or even East Millinocket.
I stopped into the new storefront office of KWWNM on Maine Street, Millinocket, just a few doors down from one of my favorite eating establishments, The Appalachian Trail Cafe. The ranger there informed me that entrance, lean-tos, campsites, and even some cabins are free right now on a first-come, first-serve basis but campfire permits are still required from the Maine Forest Service (207-435-7963).
In my case, I was pleased to finally walk it, although it was a brief visit. Make no mistake about it, these is not 87,000 acres of pristine forest. This lower portion of the Monument is made up of recently cut-over land and it still shows. Critics point this out, but my review of Governor Baxter’ initial purchases of what is now Baxter State Park was largely made up of land that had been burned or denuded. Here’s an example of Baxter land pre Baxter State Park.
Pretty bleak, I’d say. Regrowth will also happen here, but it may take 50 years or more. I have walked thousands of miles of trails in the past 10 years, and cut over and/ or burned forests show up, but then they tend to grow back to be enjoyed by future generations. Same here.
Today, my hiking partner Ivan and I decided to walk up as far as the first new lean-to and then meander our way back to KLWC. There were exactly 9 cars sitting in the parking lot leading from the gravel Loop Road. Others were in there, on overnights, or day trips. The lean-to was a mile from where the Baxter side trail came into the Monument. The path was still a logging road, and damn straight as well.
The lean-to was built in 2012, of standard log construction with a new outhouse nearby. There was water flowing close for drinking ( purify!).
We sat and ate lunch and then headed back.
We decided to try and walk back one of the old logging roads that went in just below Rocky Pond, east of the outlet of Katahdin Lake. The road looked relatively new, and was probably upgraded ten years ago for timber. A half mile in, it dead ended. I fired up my GPS and saw that if we went directly south through the woods, it would take a quarter of a mile to intersect he mid-point of the same trail we took from KL camps to get to the Monument.
Ivan was totally up for it and led the way, bushwhacking through fairly thin saplings and dodging several unruly blow downs.
It didn’t take very long for us to reach the KL trail back to the camps. In fact, we came out within 50 feet of the northernmost section of that trail, a very fortuitous happening. I have done a bit of bushwhacking, where results are generally more elusive.
I plan to get further into the Monument, for canoeing and backpacking. I might even pack my fly rod. I hope to get away for a couple nights during deer hunting season here in November, as the largest western parcel bordering Baxter is free from hunting. Four additional parcels east of the East Branch are established for traditional hunting ( minus bait and dogs on bear).
I have enjoyed walking most of the trails in Maine’s Acadia National Park, which is just 90 minutes drive along the Maine Coast from my house. I think it is time for me to explore my share of the Maine woods.
Desperate Steps is the late 2015 book release from the Appalachian Mountain Club. The subtitle is “Life, Death, and Choices made in the Mountains of the Northeast”. I just finished my second close reading.
The book is a sobering account of twenty hiker, swimmer, canoeist, and camper tragedies. The earliest dates to 1963, when the first of 22 known fatalities was recorded in Baxter State Park.
When I was a young man, and an active member of the University of Massachusetts Outing Club during 1967-1971, I faithfully read accounts and critiques about the latest mountaineering and caving tragedies in the pages of Appalachia, a twice-yearly magazine published by the AMC. The magazine continues a regular feature – “Accidents: Analysis of Incidents in the White Mountains”. In the Accidents section, experts dissect the actual sequence of events that led to rescues, and frequent death. I read those stories in order to learn from the mistakes of others in the hope that I would not become an updated statistic.
This book follows that same successful format. The first part of each story includes photos and annotated maps of the actual events. Each account concludes with an Aftermath, where the author, Peter W. Kick, deconstructs, analyzes, and examines the details. Most of the individuals that survived their ordeals were willing to be interviewed for the book.
Being from Maine, I paid particular attention the four reports of deaths in Baxter State Park.
The publication of this book was timely for me. In the depths of winter, sitting by the wood stove, I like to read adventure stories that outdoor folks post online. In fact, it is often difficult to read between the lines and see who is smart, and who is just spouting dumb.
For example, this past winter, I was on a quest to put together the perfectly outfitted day pack. I wanted be ready for most any accident or emergency, even the possibility of having to spend the night outdoors. This book’s Appendix features an updated list of the Ten Essentials, the proven, must-have items for safe back country travel. My own day pack’s final contents were guided by this list. However, not everyone who ventures into the outdoor world of mysteries and pitfalls believes in carrying a well-stocked day pack.
There is a subset of wilderness adventurers who have taken the concept of going fast and light to extremes. Andrew Skurka came out with the term “stupid light” to describe the practice of sacrificing crucial survival items and comfort levels to shave some weight. Skurka has been named “Adventurer of the Year” by both Outside and National Geographic Adventure, as well as “Person of the Year” by Backpacker. Here’s Skurka’s original article: Stupid Light.
I was stunned to read some of the reader comments that I encountered in my research about a proper winter day pack. Here’s one of the most misguided statements, ” I know a lot of people who go out to travel in the wilderness. Not one of them has even had any serious problem. You don’t need all that stuff if you know what your are doing out there.”
History permeates the book. The earliest fatalities occurred before many of modern supports were in place, before there were any organized search and rescue (SAR) organizations, when hurricane forecasting was just starting, and when communications were much more limited than today.
One story from 2003 was about the first private person in the USA to buy and activate a personal locator beacon (PLB). Despite his good intentions, the protagonist ended up requiring not one, but two helicopter rescues out of Adirondack Park in November, while deer hunting out of a canoe. He ended up spending $10,000 after his arrest and imprisonment for two counts of falsely reporting an incident.
The book is grouped into 4 chapters: Unprepared, Know the Route, Taking Risks, and Unexpected. The final chapter is about Inchworm’s mysterious death 3,000 feet off the AT near Sugarloaf Mountain. An editor’s note from Oct. 15, 2015 brings the reader to date on locating her skeletal remains, found in a tent within 100 yards of where cadaver scent-trained dogs searched previously.
What’s the take from this book?
Fatigue reigns high. Baxter’s records indicate that most exhaustion cases occur while descending, with the majority of fatalities resulting from medical emergencies. The age group most requiring Search and Rescue is 60 and above.
The book was required reading for this Maine Guide, and should be studied by any person who puts a pack on their back or in their canoe and ventures out into the wilds of the Northeastern USA.
Another Polak in his 60’s pushing himself. Polish souls are both cursed and blessed with the polish suffering gene. God loves this man. His last name is so close to the polish word dobra, which translates to good.
The 2013 edition of the Snow Walkers’ Rendezvous in Fairlee, VT was a superb. Many tents were set up with wood smoke puffing out of 4″ stovepipes. Over 100 people attended the sold out weekend.
We opted for a heated bunk room, took in the displays at the vendor tables, and scored up front row seats in the big room for Friday night’s program.
Willem Lange kicked off the program with a reading of a couple of his highly entertaining Vermont- based stories. Will’s vitae includes 8 books, numerous careers, and founding the Geriatric Adventure Society.
For me, the highlight of the evening was Tim Smith‘s talk- “Nature as Wallpaper” . Tim is a nationally known bushcraft and survival skills instructor, with his Jack Mountain Bushcraft School running courses out of Marsadis, Maine. He posted an entry about his talk on his blog.
Tim told attendees that his talk would be on the web, soon. Here is the podcast of that presentation- it’s short, but drives right to the point. Tim is an authentic voice connecting people to the natural world. I hope to take a course with him.
FSTPKR: BLC to the Bering Sea.—-< Click. Now!
You absolutely have to check out what Krudmeister is up to this season. It is practically inconceivable to me that someone has both the interest and the skills to undertake a solo excursion that combines bicycling to Alaska from Reno, then backpacking the Chilkoot Trail out of Skagway, then assembling a kayak and following traversing the length of the Yukon River, all the way to the Bering Sea! What is even more inconceivable is that in this day and age, there will probably be no one who will read about Krud’s adventure in the sport section of a newspaper, where we are exposed to the daily whining of multimillion dollar base and basketball stars.
Krud is one of my virtual friends. He figured into a couple of my gear acquisitions. I came to know him when he and Scott Williamson broke the Pacific Crest Trail Speed record, I think in 2006. I went to my local Patagonia outlet and showed them his blog. He was and maybe still is a Patagonia customer service employee. He was trumping up their Houdini jacket, and one of the employees gave me one, that I used on my PCT and Long Trail thru hikes. It is still as good as new.
Then he posted a picture of some wildly garish New Balance shoes that I tracked down through my brother Roy, who works for the company. They are a product that is sold in Japan.
I though of Krudmeister yesterday when I was aglow with the shoes on my birthday.
Krud, want a pair to wear when you get back?
Reposting a most excellent entry from our brethren in the kayaking school of adventure. The content is Labrador-related and references “the book” that got me and Alan MacKinnon into Labrador way back when.
Here’s the teaser: “Their story has lessons for all of us who venture into the unknown, whether it be taking a back road to cut across town, guessing left at a fork in a hiking trail, or guessing right at a confluence of two rivers. Their refusal to turn back, despite mounting evidence that they had taken a “wrong turn” followed stages many of us are familiar with.”
Joe was the native guide on a 200 mile canoe trip I took on the Grand River in Labrador several years ago. He was the kindest, most humble, and most knowledgeable outdoors man I have ever met. Joe, and especially his brother Horace, are probably the last of the line to possess the encyclopedia of skills that encompass trapping, bush survival skills, hunting, and survival in the harshest environment I have ever traversed. For a glimpse of this life, read Rugge and Davidson’ Great Heart, now back in print. I consider Great Heart a treasure of a read, one that I have enjoyed several times. The book inspired my own motorcycle trip to Labrador in 1993, when my friend Alan MacKinnon and I were the among the first motorcyclists to traverse the newly constructed gravel-and-sand Trans Labrador Highway. The mosquitoes there were so bad that nothing I have encountered since seems too bad, including a month in Alaska and 6 months on the PCT.
I have been a hiker and backpacker all my life, ever since Boy Scouts. Growing up, my mom generally refused to let us ever play inside the house, even in winter. “So what if it’s cold, put on some mittens and your winter boots and go outside and play!” and I vividly recall games the neighborhood boys would play in the woods around our house or on the nearby golf course. Usually some variation of Capture The Flag.
As a youthful prank, my friend Kenny Paul and I once threw some firecrackers at the house of a neighbor boy. (Yes, it was us – the Statute of Limitations has run out, and besides, I think I was eleven years old.) The boy’s mom called the police. Ken was the star of the crosscountry team, and when the cruiser pulled up with blue lights blinking, I was surprised that I could keep up with him. Two cruisers spent some time in our neighborhood while Kenny and I spent the next three hours eluding them in an apple orchard. hmmmmm……. Later this inspired me to join the cross country team. I ran the the half mile in spring track. (2:14 was my personal best, if you really must know).
Kenny recently retired from his position as an officer in the United States Marine Corps, and he still is a runner. My older brother finally rediscovered his whereabouts after thirty years. Ken was also an excellent baseball pitcher. Once while on a training run though the neighborhood, a dog came out to chase. Kenny picked up a rock and beaned the dog from fifty feet away, knocking it unconscious. What coordination. I laughed when he told me his USMC specialty was artillery. He spent his adult life throwing stuff at people…..
Misery in the Great Outdoors
Camping with the Boy Scouts included a lot of miserable experiences amidst the fun. I never cooked for myself at home before going camping and trying it there. Baking my first potato in a campfire was half-burnt/half-raw, for example, and one memorable hike during a winter weekend, our patrol ploughed our way through thighdeep snow for three miles on a hike to nowhere. Ultimately I got Eagle Scout. why? mainly because my older brother had done it, and I looked up to him ( still do!).
To answer the specific question, It’s hard for me to separate hiking from Boy Scouts, in terms of what I learned. Don’t disrespect the Boy Scouts – I have some philosophical differences with their current leadership, over the ir policy toward gay persons and atheists (each of which are just fine with me) but overall the Boy Scouts fill an important need. Paul Theroux summed it up for me when he described his experience with the Boy Scouts.
Taking a side trail
During the time I was in Maine I did all the outdoorsy stuff – cross country ski, canoe ( the Allagash and Upper West Branch of the Penobscot) , hike, telemark, etc. I climbed Mt Washington and Katahdin in wintertime more than once…. but by comparison, the last few years in Hawaii I went through a period of not doing nearly much adventure-type stuff in the outdoors. Oh well, yeah, I was spending every summer time in rural Nepal teaching with Christian Medical Missionaries and taking day hikes, doing the Asian Travel thing (no, I did not climb Everest at any time…….that’s the usual Nepal question I get from fellow backpackers…) and here in Hawaii I was going to the beach (Sandy’s) and day hiking… but .. it wasn’t the Real Thing. And the weather here is so nice that it’s missing an element …….
Passing it on
I always took my kids on outdoorsy adventures. Glad to have two daughters because then the pressure was off and I knew I would never have to be an adult scout leader. I was saved from having to spend any more weekends with bunches of eleven-year-old boys. (thank you God!) but taught both my girls all the skills anyway. Yes, both my kids learned to make a fire, paddle a canoe, predict the weather by looking at the clouds, and read a topo map. When they were six and eight, we took them on a week long canoe camping trip, retracing Thoreau’s path on the Upper West Branch of the Penobscot River in Maine. When the younger one announced her intention to do a through-hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2010, I was reminded of long-ago solemn promise made at a campfire, that I would join her on that quest, should the day ever come.
My 2010 hike
When the summons to hike long-distance came, I was old. And fat. But this served as a personal challenge to get into enough shape to be a respectable hiking buddy. And that’s where the learning began again. In order to keep up with Whoopie Pie, I decided I would do my own solo hike for a few hundred miles and get in shape before hand. And besides, she didn’t want to do the whole thing with me, she was going to hike her own hike. So in May I started off in the hundred or so miles that traverse Massachusetts, averaging eight miles a day through the Berkshires. A few days to recuperate and restarted in Vermont, about two hundred miles through the Green Mountains and into New Hampshire, by this time averaging eleven miles a day. Another hundred through Shenandoah National Park, and finally co-hiked with Whoopie Pie. By the end of the summer I was not so fat; and I learned that I was not so old, either. I hiked 475 miles in that summer.
I think most writers focus on the physical challenge of doing this, but most of the highlights for me were a bit of the meditative variety, and a good hike serves as a daydream for a long time afterwards. A variety of mountaintops in seven states. Hearing loons on a pond on Vermont, for the first time in five years. The night at the Tom Leonard Lean-to listening to nesting hoot owls. Cleaning the dead leaves from a mountain spring, and the wonderment of finding a fist-sized jellylike clump of frog’s eggs. The evening Julie and lay in our bunks in a cabin in Vermont listening to the soft conversations of other hikers during six days of cold rain in the Green Mountains. The “problem bear” at Shenandoah when I was the only person in the lean-to that night. Having heatstroke on two occasions. The bedazzlement of thousands of butterflies, a cloud of butterflies, in a dewy meadow of wildflowers in Shenandoah National Park. Being sick with bronchitis and experiencing SVT overnight after taking cough medicine, wondering how I would get evacuated from such a remote place. Walking out on my own the next morning.
The people who comprise the subculture of the Trail are always a highlight, and I learn a lot from them. One day’s hike sticks out. I got to the Fire Warden’s cabin at Smart’s Mountain New Hampshire at the end of a fourteen mile day, knowing for the last five miles that I needed to beat an oncoming thunderstorm. The approach from the south is very steep, with iron rungs forming a sort of ladder over the steepest sections. The rain pelted down, forming a waterfall on the trail as I ascended. At one point my heart sank when the clouds parted and I realized I was nowhere as close as I thought I was, darkness was approaching and I needed to skedaddle. Lightning was hitting less than a half mile away as I got above timberline, dashing the last half mile like a frenzied animal.
To get there I had elected to hop past the Trapper John leanto, but to my surprise I was passed from behind at the last minute by Roaring Lion and Snow White, two through-hikers who had hopped past two leantos, and come from six miles even further south than me that day. One other guy was already there. The cabin smelled of dead porcupine but the roof was intact. RL, SW, and I each got out of our clothes and did what all long distance hikers do – get into the dry sleeping bag, eat something, and regain some strength. As we lay there we agreed that the lightning was – exciting.
Everything I learned in Boy Scouts told me not to do what I just did.
Then we had dinner, and the usual bull session as we got to know each other. We shared that special comraderie of people who know that what they just did, (hiking uphill into a lightning storm,) was crazy; and yet, who know they are also in the company of others equally crazy.
Best summed in a saying
A friend is somebody who will bail you out of jail. A best friend is somebody who in handcuffed on the bench next to you saying “man, that was awesome”
Nov. 13-15 in Fairlee, Vermont on the grounds of the Hulbert Outdoor Center, a decades old historic camp on the shore of Lake Morey. It sold out, as usual, with 100 winter campers and a few snow walker wanna bees in attendance.
Last year at this time I made an entry about the Snow Walker’s Rendezvous, where the big event was Alan Brown “torching some tents” , generating over a thousand of hits on my YouTube channel. The Snow Walkers’ Rendezvous (SWR) is a November weekend focused on old-school human winter travel, be it assisted by snowshoes, cross country skis, dogsleds, or rubber boots.
We had a never ending ride over there from Lincolnville, ME taking a full 7 hours due to a wrong turn that put us in Portland, where we made the best of it by decimating the lunchtime Italian extravaganza at Ricetta’s which has a huge pizza/ salad/ smorgasboard of delights.
We got to Vermont in time to indulge in libations and snacks and then settled into supper and the evening program.
The folks who are regulars at this event continue to amaze me. Marcia and I ate our dinners next to Joel and Bev Hollis from MA, a normal looking couple who have no problem taking off for a couple of months each summer and canoeing some arduous boreal rivers that have killed a number of lesser folk.
“Hey, Joel, where did you go this summer, ” I asked, not even considering the possibility that they do normal things, like remodel their kitchen?
“Northwest Territories,” he replied.
“And kayaked some river? ”
“Yep, the Yukon” , he replied.
“How much of it”, I asked ?
“All of it.” So that would be about 2,000 miles, which took them some 70 days. Unsupported. Yep. The Hollis’s are the real deal.
Then I turned to my friend Dick Hampton, and asked him what he was up to. He talked about heading up to do a 35 mile loop off the St. John River this winter. We’ve done a couple of winter trips together, and when I asked him to give me a call if he wanted company, he sheepishly replied, “Every once in a while I do crazy things, like walk over frozen rivers alone. I am thinking I will do the trip solo.”
So a small sample of what this crowd is up to.
The program ran from 7:30- 9 PM.
The talks were started up by three readings from Willem Lange, who also opened up last year. He even asked one of my friends what he had read last year, and then proceeded to read the same three stories. Didn’t matter, I have one of his books, with those stories, and still enjoyed the surprise endings.
Next was Sayward Chartrand’s commuter assisted presentation about the past three years she had spent teaching in a tiny high school Kangiqsujuaq, Quebec.
Zabe McEachern wrapped up the evening with a photo presentation and stories of a recent winter skiing trip she made to Norway, with close commentary of the snowshoeing and skiing cultures.
The Saturday program looked to be one of the best I’ve experienced there. Insert a bunch of sleep relted-images here and then catch Saturday’s entry.
Manufacturer: Four Dog Stoves, 25909 Variolite St., NW, St. Francis, MN 55070
Year Released: 2009
Listed Weight: 2.5 oz.
Actual Weight: 2.3 oz.
Diameter: 3.5 “
Stove material: Titanium, made in USA
Warranty: Limited. Lifetime warranty on burnout and workmanship.
Manufacturer URL: http://www.fourdog.com/
I have been a backpacker for 45 years, completing a through hikes of the Appalachian Trail in 2007, and the PCT in 2010. I consider myself a “lightweight” backpacker. I generally hike in New England, where there is an abundance of wood fuel and kindling for fueling backpacking stoves.
I have used the Bushcooker Lt1 on a canoeing trips, day hikes, on a porch outside the kitchen, on the picnic table at our rustic Maine “camp”, and now for over 3,000 miles and over 6 months of backpacking.
Why the Bushcooker Lt I ?
I am huge a fan of wood-burning stoves. I have two stoves that have served as primary heat for my house for the past 31 years, and another at my Maine camp. I have owned and used two Sierra Zip stoves for a couple of decades. I modified one of those stoves to reduce the weight to 10 oz., by substituting titanium parts, and used the stove daily for the first 200 miles of my 2007 AT thru-hike.
I am an enthusiastic subscriber to the concept of using dry, dead wood for fuel. I have practiced building fires of all types, and have no problem with the fact that wood smoke particulates blacken the outside of a cook pot. The smell of wood smoke is actually appealing to me, and I am not repelled by the fact that cooking with wood is likely to permeate your clothing with that odor, or fragrance, as you see fit. If you are a clean freak who is bothered by black pots, and “eau-de-smoke” cologne, then you’ll be challenged by a Bushcooker relationship.
I have been using my own home-made double walled wood backpacking stove for close to a year and a half now. My blog article- The Evolving Backpacking Wood Stove, has received over 16,425 and the accompanying YouTube video has seen 30,165 hits to date.
In 2009 Don Kevilus, owner of Four Dog Stoves, supplied with two models of his US made titanium multi-fuel backpacking stoves and have been using them even since.
This review will focus on the Bushcooker Lt1. The stove is shaped like a tiny metal volcano, with 4 support stand fins protruding from the top. It is made from 7 pieces of titanium. If you look down into the center, you see a straight walled inner burn chamber, with a multiply-finned disc which serves as the bottom of the burn chamber, designed to maximize turbulence and improve combustion.
Air to fuel the burn is through a series of holes in the lower outer wall of the stove. There are additional holes at the top of the inner sleeve which channels additional air into the flame path. The whole stove fits neatly into a Snow Peak Trek 700 titanium cooker, which itself weighs 4.8 oz., with lid, a setup that protects the stove in a backpack.
Don also supplies a titanium windscreen. Notice the modification to the SnowPeak mug, which I purchased from Four Dog Stoves , consisting of two additional tabs spot welded near the top of the unit which allows for a titanium wire that serves as a bail/handle that allows me to hang the stove over existing campfires, or to easily move the unit.
The usual constraints about burning of wood apply here. It is not as easy as you think to strike a lighter to some dry looking twigs and have a boil rolling in 5 minutes. It takes practice to get good at building fires. Lots of practice is best. The secret us to use very thin wood. Start small. We are talking initial twigs the size of pencil lead. I shred dry white birch bark, get it to flame, then add a pinch of tiny branches, let that flame, then put in a pinch every 2 minutes, until critical mass is achieved.
Now comes the best part. This is not just a wood stove. It is specifically created to burn fuel sources one uses while backpacking: denatured alcohol, yellow bottles of gas-line antifreeze, solid fuel tablets (Esbits or Coghlan), and even charcoal.
To Burn Wood:
Gather dry grass, leaves, shredded birch bark, toothpick sized twigs, and small pieces of wood no thicker than a pencil. Place a small amount on the bottom of the inside, light a shred of birch bark, throw it in, and then brush the little pile in there against the burning bark and it should catch. Once the flame start to get higher, and it does very quickly with dry material, you can add more. I usually do it at two minute intervals to start.
The pot supports allow sufficient room between the top of the stove and the base of the cook pot for you to to insert more fuel without removing the pot.
To Burn Alcohol:
The stove is manufactured to accept a low profile container for alcohol use. Don initially recommended using a lid from a shoe polish container, which holds approximately 1 ounce of alcohol. Simply place the lid on a stable surface, fill it with alcohol, and light it. After about 10 seconds, the flame reaches its maximum height, and then you place the stove over the lid and watch the magic, if it is not sunny and bright out . New models of the Bushcookers can also be supplied with an alcohol stove that can be either placed inside the burn chamber, or used alone in conjunction with the supplied windscreen and 2 tent stakes. An alcohol flame is next to impossible to see if broad daylight, and caution is urged in these conditions, as many a hiker has been burned reaching in to relight their alcohol stoves, only to painfully realize that there is a vigorous flame established. Ask me how I learned about this!
To Burn Charcoal:
There is usually ample unburned charcoal present for most backpackers to utilize if they frequent campsites that have received prior use, present in fire rings. The non-uniform nature of this charcoal does complicate use, and my recommendation is to begin to experiment with charcoal fires by taking along a few commercial charcoal briquettes, until you learn the ins and outs of this system.
It takes me 4 standard briquettes to fill the LT1. The technique is then to set up burning alcohol in the tin, and then place the stove ( filled with charcoal) on the burning alcohol. Why not capture the heat that is lost to the atmosphere in igniting the charcoal by heating up a cup of water in your cook pot and enjoying a hot drink while the charcoal starts glowing ?
Some may question, “Why charcoal?” and the the answer is baking quick breads, biscuits, muffins, and even cookies. You can employ a commercial Bakepacker or the Outback Oven here, or even make your own, a topic I have addressed in my blog entry- Even More Baking on the Bushcooker.
Lt 1 Boil Times with 16 oz. of water in SnowPeak 700 Trek Ti ( with lid). No wind conditions at time of testing. You should be aware that metals vary in their ability to conduct heat in terms of boil times. For the same amount of water, aluminum pots boil the fastest, followed by anodized steel, then titanium, with stainless steel the slowest to transfer heat. Wider bases cook faster than narrow ones.
I got the quickest boil times with alcohol, employing less than 1 oz. of alcohol to reach a boil in 4 minutes and 20 seconds. It should be also noted that the LT 1 working in alcohol mode is more efficient than at least one standard cat-can type alcohol stove. The same 2 cups of water took 5 minutes 40 seconds to boil in my Etowah stove, obtaining a 30 percent reduction in burn time with the LT1r. The Bushcooker kept burning the remainder of the 1 oz. of alcohol for a full minute and 15 seconds after it reached boiling, suggesting that less alcohol would be needed to achieve a boil when compared to a standard cat-can style alcohol stove.
Using dry wood, I was able to boil 2 cups of water in 7 minutes and 20 seconds, from scratch- meaning striking the match. I generally ignite birch bark tinder and start adding wood fuel. Field conditions may add additional time, due to collecting the wood, and even prepare it for burning, if wet conditions are encountered.
One feature of the LT 1 that assists with damp wood use is to combine fuel types in the chamber. If I really want to get the fire going quickly, I dribble 3 or 4 CC’s of alcohol on top of the pile of wood inside the chamber and ignite. If fact, I recommend that the user carry a small bottle of alcohol to use as a primer in the stove. It helps with learning to get good at fire buildingy, and later may be used exclusively where wood fires are not permitted, or if it is soaking conditions out here.
Charcoal burn times would be equivalent to those obtained by alcohol, as alcohol is used to kindle the charcoal pieces. Note that may charcoal experiments have the charcoal glowing for 45 minutes, providing plenty of time for baking, or even grilling.
Boil time with 1.5 fuel tablets ( Coghlan) was 8 minutes 10 seconds ( 1.5 tablets). One Coghlan tablet weighs 0.2 oz. It should be noted that the traditional Esbit tablet weighs 0.5 oz.
ADVANTAGES: Weight: At 2.3 ounces , the titanium Lt 1 blows any other backpacking wood stove in terms of weight. It even trumps the weight of some commercially obtained alcohol stoves, and is way ahead in weight you put it up against stoves with fuel canisters, or need to carry around a 12 oz. bottle of alcohol. Adaptability: The LT 1 stove fits into several commercially obtained pots: the Snow Peak Trek 700ml , the Tibetan Titanium 700ml, the Evernew 640ml , and the Evernew Pasta Pot Small, thus adding no additional space in a backpack. There are also no restrictions in taking it on an airplane. Use in wood-burning mode should greatly expand one’s ability to extend the stay in wilderness situations that can be cut short by lack of fuel resupply opportunities, as is the case for hikers using fuel canisters, liquid fuels, or relying solely on alcohol. Baking Ability: Enabled via the use of charcoal or even solid fuel tablets, with the addition of 2 lightweight aluminum cans and a handmade cozy. What could be better than ramping up to occasionally indulge in fresh-baked carbos on an extended trip ?
Grilling Ability: Grilled Spam anyone?
I recently engaged in yet another use of the new Bushcooker Lt 1 stove: the grilling option. Skewering a 1/2-inch thick slab with my Mora knife I was delighted to discover that the width of the slice allowed me to fit it between the pot mounts.
Heat/Comfort Source: People have been congregating around fires for millenniums. The proximity to controlled fire is calming and pleasing. After boiling in cold or wet conditions, you can continue to add wood and build up a bed or coals that can heat you, particularly if you use a poncho for rain gear. Simply sit over the stove, drape the poncho around your outstretched legs, and make a gas escape hole around the back of your neck. This set-up will allow one to raise the temperature inside the poncho several degrees, which is sometimes all you need to start to feel comfortable.
Bug Repellant: A traditional technique used to ward off mosquitoes is the smudge fire. Using this stove in wood mode allows one to add wet organic material such as pine needles, or forest floor duff to generate clouds of smoke. On a recent canoe trip to northern Maine with particularly bad mosquitoes, we ran the stove straight out for several hours on a daily basis, moving it around on the picnic table to suit the wind conditions. Lifetime use: What’s to wear out with titanium? The ability to nest the stove in a lidded pot protects the pot support fins, which might be damaged if they were to snag an article of clothing in the pack. Quiet: No whirring motor, or jet engine whooshing here, just the occasional pop of cracking wood.
DRAWBACKS: Compromised use: You have to know how to build wood fires to enjoy this stove, even if you just need to get a couple of ounces of wood to burn. The more you practice building fires, the better you will get at using this stove in wood mode. Wood mode is not the fastest way to cook, and you must take the time to gather up wood before you sit down and fire up the stove in wood mode. One practice I’ve used that help me out is to pocket some dry birch or such while hiking during the day. You will be challenged to burn wood in wet conditions, and it takes experience to do so. It Billows Smoke: In wood mode, you will encounter clouds of smoke. Some people object to this. Black Deposits on Cooking Pot: Going to happen. Some people go to extremes like rubbing soap on the bottom of their pot and washing it off send they get home. I let my pot blacken, and store the pot/stove in a small black Cordura roll top bag I had made for my unit, to keep the pot from blackening my gear in the backpack. The bag is big enough to store dry kindling, fire starters in the bottom. I occasionally scrape off the built-up creosote with the back side of my knife, or a sharp edged rock. Restrictions on Use: In some protected areas of National Forests, “fires” are not permitted. Switch to alcohol/tabs in those situations. Need to remember to bring vessel to burn alcohol: Remember to add the lid from a shoe polish can, or Four Dog’s alcohol unit when using alcohol mode. Burns Holes on Wooden Base: Be sure to put a flat rock, or metal cover of some type under the unit if you are placing it on a wooden structure, such as a picnic table. Initial Cost: Titanium is expensive, although one has to consider the true lifetime cost of any alternative stove that requires repeated purchases of fuel cannisters and such.
This stove should satisfy the requirements of resourceful backpackers who are interested in adapting their fuel conditions to varying backpacking environments. I am recently a convert to combining fuels depending on the field conditions, what have in my pack, and what I can garner while hiking.
The big drawback to using wood stoves out on the trail is what to do when there is no decent wood to burn or if there has been rain for days. The ability to carry alcohol or fuel tablets to burn within the LT 1 helps one deal with that.