Monday, 20 June 2011

Spring Melt Overnight

The weather has been shaping up here nicely and the small river I had my first paddle in has once again rose so I decided to seize the opportunity and go for a quick overnight trip mainly to test my newest additions.

I headed down to the river late in the evening on a friday.  It was a beautiful spring evening, the temperature was warm enough to get by with a light long sleeve shirt and pants.  I launched about 1.5 hours before sunset and spent some time paddling around in the now fast moving "creek".  Usually the water level sits at about 1-2 feet, currently the depth is just over 6 feet!

After my paddling fill I pulled the raft along the bank of the river and packed the gear into a nice grassy clearing that I had camped out at during the winter (video).  By this time the sun had set far enough that pictures would have to wait until morning.  I pulled out my small wood stove to act as my campfire and spent the next hour or so brewing up a cup of hot chocolate and gazing at the thousands upon thousands of stars.

DIY titanium wood stove
Before I turned in for the night I let quite a bit of air out from my raft knowing that it would expand with the morning sun and with a belly full of nice hot chocolate I crawled under my kifaru paratarp, changed my socks over to a thick pair of smart wool socks to keep my feet toasty and threw the quilt over me.  When I turned in there was ice formed over the hull of my raft so I'd suspect the temperature was anywhere from -5C to 0C that night.  This was my first time sleeping with the go-lite 3 season quilt and it preformed decent at this temperature.  There were a few points in the night that I was awoken from cold but nothing a small readjustment wouldn't fix.  I was very surprised on how well the quilt stayed wrapped around my all night there was never a point where I wished it was wider.  It seemed just perfect.

As the sun rose the temperatures quickly climbed back above freezing and by the time I rolled out of bed the little paratarp was turning into quite the greenhouse (even for having once side wide open).  As you can see in the above photos I decided to pitch the tarp with 1 section from my paddle and used a stick for the rear.  Normally the front should be pitched 2-3" higher then I do but it still gives me enough room to sit up and organize my gear.

Home sweet home
Even tho I let approximately 1 or 2 "bag fulls" of air out of the raft during the evening I still needed to bleed a bit more off once I got up.  I'm sure it wasn't nessary to deflate it a bit more the 2nd time but its better to be safe then sorry (the black bottom really soaks up the sun).  I once again pulled out the little titanium stove and boiled up some water for a bowl of oatmeal and a morning drink.

I lay 2 green branches as a base for the small stove before I light it to aid in airflow.  The bottom of the stove is stainless screen which really helps the small fire box burn hot.

While it does take my wood stove a longer time to boil 2 cups of water compared to my brunton all-fuel it also is significantly lighter and requires no additional fuel to be hauled in.  Most of the time keeping to a strict schedule is not required while I am outdoors and I have no problem spending a few extra minutes tending to the fire while I wait...its all part of the relaxing atmosphere.
The absolute most important part of my camping gear I always back with me (even in my every day carry) is my medical kit.  I have tried to build my kit to curtail more towards injuries that are serious.  I do carry small bandages and various ointments but my major concern is being able to stop severe bleeding while I am out in the bush.  While I dont plan on severely injuring myself (who does) its a good thing to be prepared for it.  To patch up any major wounds I carry a large amount of gauze and one emergency bandage.  The bandage is used over seas by NATO forces and many militaries to treat large battle field injuries quickly.  For the light weight penalty it is a great life saving item to add to anyones kit.  The rest of my kit is pictured below which should be self explanatory.

The other 2 items worth their weight in gold is the razor sharp pair of tweezers I carry as well.  They are electronic tweezers used to aid in placement of SOIC components but they work miracles for removing slivers.  I used a small section of silicone fuel line over the tips to keep from being stabbed by the sharp points while I root around my kit...also protects them from being snagged while packed.
The last being my 4sevens AA light.  I've had this light for about 1/2 a year now and I cant say enough good things about it.  It puts out an astonishing 109 lumens off a single AA and can be throttle back to "moonlight" mode where it puts out a mere 0.2 lumens suitable for looking thru your bag at night without destroying your night vision.  I like this light so much I carry it everyday and use it regularly.  The price is a little high but the quality is unreal, I highly suggest 4sevens for anyone looking for a quality rugged all weather light.

While I go on this simple quick overnight trips I can pack very very light.  I usually only use my maxpedition bag and a couple liters of water.   When I am paddling with my smaller packs I am able to place them between my legs and somewhat lock the pack in place with my knees.  I spent the rest of the afternoon making the kilometer or so paddle back to the main highway bridge while the rain clouds slowly made their way closer and closer to me.  Thankfully I made the few kilometer stretch home without any downpours, packed up, and headed back into the busy city to plan the next outing.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Its Been a Long Time...

I am still here!  Summer is finally here and as such I have been spending nearly all my time outdoors playing with all my new toys and very very little time blogging.  I can however say I have been taking many pictures and archiving them for later blog posts.  I cannot bring myself to sit down infront of the computer and edit photos and write post while the weather is beautiful outside.  Over the last month or so I have:

-Taken my kifaru tarp and golite quilt out for a overnight trip.
-Paddled my raft around our raging creek.
-Purchased a new road bike to commute to work on.
-Picked up a GSI coffee press pot.
-Tried out my new travel sized coffee burr grinder.
-Pushed my body thru my polyphasic sleep experiments
-Converted on of my gopro HD's lenses over to a less fisheye version (I had scratched the internal lens and was finally able to find a company that built a screw on glass lens with the proper focal length that would retain the ultra sharp picture).

I will be posting about all these little additions and adventures in the future but for right now my focus is on getting the absolute most from our relatively short summer season.  Hopefully I will have a slower weekend in the near future to post some updates but for now I need to get packing for my weekend biking trip to the mountains!