2014-04-06

Movies: Jeremiah Johnson

I'm not a big movie buff, generally movies are contrary to the whole point of this blog... but this is an exception.

I watched this movie once before, back in 2009 at "they mayors" (a hostel in new york) while hiking the AT. This weekend I watched it again with Jess, and being aware of such things now I was struck by the costuming and accuracy.

Jeremiah Johnson is the most physically accurate movie I'm aware of for bushcraft skills of the mountain man era. If you watch their clothing carefully it really is the furs and buckskin that it should be. The clothing also has to be at least near warm enough as apparently they had very few onsite amenities during the shoot :P. Jeremiah's clothing is even sewn in a European style while the various Indian* tribes wear clothes in Indian styles. Watch him start the fire using rocks... I don't know if he actually started it, but his technique sure looks legit to me. It's very similar to a method I learned for using star Iron Pyrite.

I don't know much about the filming of the movie, but I didn't see any gross inaccuracies in the Indian villages and such. I'm suspicious that they may have actually had the real tribes in the movie directly. I'm no Crow specialist though I admit.

Anyway, If you're into bush-craft, or just enjoy historically accurate movies about the mountain man era, I highly recommend it for a rainy day. It will make you want to get out there again as soon as you can.

After much Linux hacking I got things working so I could watch it off amazon.com (if you want tips on that, I now have too much experience, feel free to ask).

Jeremiah Johnson

(Full disclosure: I'm posting this because I think it's legitimately interesting, but I will get a tiny kickback if you use the link above)

BTW... My understanding is that Sons of Jeremiah Johnson is nothing like the original with terrible inconsistencies, "bad" people, etc.

* I try and use the term American Indian since reading 1491, where the author points out that based on his (fairly extensive) experience most tribes in the U.S. prefer this term.

2014-04-04

Biking in Vermont

It turns out that it's hard.

Here's the route I did.

I'm riding a pretty decent, though not amazing, mountain bike I got used for ~$300. It was a good deal, it's got relatively aggressive tires though not sand tires, disk brakes, and a shock fork. I probably need to replace the seat-post and seat because this one doesn't allow me to slide the seat back, but that's pretty minor.

Up until the far (northbound) segment of the loop it was on pavement and everything was fine. In fact it seemed like this bike seemed had WAY too much tire for what I was doing, something I'm okay with but it did seem a little silly. Then I hit the dirt. I've ridden a lot of dirt, often on a cyclocross bike with slicks. What I wasn't ready for was wet sand. It turns out that all the dirt roads here are packed sand. It's currently mud season so this makes everything *wet* sand. My little rid turned way more exciting than I had intended.

It was worth it though. A beautiful ride with amazing views including glimpses of the White Mountains off to the east,

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as well as a small protected set of hills off to the west.

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My biggest mistake was not bringing food. I bonked bad up on mosquitoville road and by the time I got back I had absolutely no juice left. Between that and the mud I ended up walking a number of segments.

I ran into a guy walking his dog who just said "That must be a LOT of work!" as I rode by... indeed, at the time I was on flat ground and in second gear fighting along though the wet sand.

So, next time food, and I need to get in better shape! If I do this regularly though, I think large sand-tires are in order as well.

2014-04-01

Bear Tracks

Jess is taking a WFR course over in Conway, both for the course and to get CEs so she can renew EMT.

Over the weekend they had a break and she was the only one in the class that stayed, so I went down. On Saturday we went on a hike, despite my fogetting the snowshoes and the snow being hip-deep. We only broke through that deep occasionally and were able mostly to only posthole about knee-deep which is doable.

Well, while we were hiking Jess spotted these tracks

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First let me explain what you are seeing. This bear is direct registering, so the large rear paw landed exactly over the front, the rear being larger though didn't sink in as far leaving the front still clearly visible.

Bear tracks aren't all that unusual. I've seen them a few times certainly. These tracks though are a little unusual. It's actually comparatively rare that bears put down the heals of their feet front or rear but especially rear. Usually it's just the front of the paws both front and back, as if you put the ball if your hand and fingers on the ground, but kept the heal of your hand up. It's exactly like what people usually call "walking on your toes" in humans. This track though shows the full extent of their surprisingly human hind foot, so I thought I'd share.

EDIT

I misintepreted these tracks, sorry about that! Jess caught me. The larger foot is the *front* foot. You can tell by pressure release that the smaller foot landed second. I did notice that but decided I must be mistake on my part. I also misremembered the shape of a bears hind foot (since, as they put their heal down so rarely you don't usually see it!), so I thought the heal mark was from that foot not the other one. The heal mark from the front foot is actually barely visible in real life (not really in the photo) but mostly obliterated. That front heal mark is actually in the middle of the palm of the hind foot. There should be a slight arch in the foot there, but it's missing.