2016-08-07

Bedroll Backpack

Angie and I are hanging out in the Adirondaks, and decided to play with bushcraft. So, we went on a little backpacking trip. To make it interesting I decided to try a really minimal kit.

Here's all the gear I carried: It's a linen sheet underneath (mostly because I'm allergic to wool) and a sheet of wool felt on top (left over from the wool coat I made a while back). The stuff off the blanket was all carried seperately, mostly on my belt. The pot/water-bottle was carried on a string slung over my shoulder.

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The only plastic here is my fly-fishing kit, my drugs, my flashlight, my poncho, and food packaging... pretty cool!. I wore a pair of pants which are part nylon as well, and leather shoes with rubber soles. I also used to nylon straps as shoulder straps (because I didn't happen to have leather straps lying around at the time).

Here's what it looks like packed up (with a saw tucked in as well, we thought we might try and build a shelter, rather than using the poncho).

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The trip didn't work out so well, it was solid boggy swamp, perfect moose habitat (as demonstrated by the moose dung and moose prints virtually everywhere). We got pretty wet and gave up when we realized we had to ford chest deep mud to continue...

BUT, back and camp, I slept out with this gear anyway. To make it a bit warmer I slept next to the fire, and since the fire was in a car-camping camp-site the ground was solid, so I used a foam pad. It was neat using a fire to stay warm overnight, and worked surprisingly well. I had tried it before, and have a hole in my backpacking quilt to prove it, but using wool I could actually be close enough to really stay warm without worrying about that problem.

I think I'm going to try this setup again. It's getting really close to an ultralight backpacking kit that I could actually use. It's not warm enough to handle cold nights without a fire, but it definitely opens some new possabilities

Arrow Fletching

Long ago I wrote this post on Arrow Fletching
http://www.blog.smalladventures.net/2013/09/archery-building-arrows.html

Getting that type of fletching is kind of expensive, and I'm a cheapskate. It's also a slow and laborious way to fletch. Matt Graham at Wintercount, and later another Matt at Rivercane Rondezvous taught me a different fletching technique that's faster to do, and only uses 2 feathers, yet gets the stability and helical spin of a 3 feather fletch. I was refletching arrows recently and running low on commercial split fletch, so I decided to try this more traditional method on commercial type aluminum arrows.

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One really neat thing about this method is that it works with tail feathers, not just wing feathers, while at rivercane this last time I traded a backpack for some mushrooms, tinctures, and a turkey-tail, so I had some lying around already.

Here's an image up-close.

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Sorry I didn't get any in process. Here's a quick rundown of the process. You can cut feather with a sharp knife on a cutting board, or scissors (I used a knife). Select two similar feathers. cut them approximately to size, leaving a some of the shaft of the feather at the top. Partway down your feather (say 1/3'rd of the way) cut halfway through the shaft, then split your feather from there down to the tip. removing one half. Do this in both feathers the same.

This part is a bit harder to explain. That bit of shaft that sticks out past the top end of the feather, you want to bind that bit to the shaft of the arrow, next to the knock, but pointing the wrong way, then you fold the feather over and bind it again (after binding the tip of the feather down).

To do the binding traditionally you use sinew in hide glue. Since these are not traditional arrows anyway I used cotton jeans thread and elmers... it worked surprisingly well. You'll want to make sure to wrap it all of the way down the tip and on to the shaft, so that no part of the feather tip sticks out. This is particularly important if you shoot off your hand, so you don't stick a feather shaft through your hand.

Once I have both ends of the feather bound down I wrap another length of thread all the way down the shaft, spaced maybe an inch apart.

Lastly take glue and smear it over all your bindings, this will help make it smooth and ensure it's solid.

I actually *really* like how these arrows fly. Notice how when you do this you naturally end up with a slight twist to the feather (since the flat side of the feather is against the arrow shaft at one end, and the split side of the feather shaft is against the shaft on the other). This is like a perfect helical fletch, except with no work needed to align it. I also noticed that the arrows I fletched this way are quieter during flight.  Lastly, I suspect that when you accidentally skip the arrow off the side of a tree or similar this fletch is less likely to strip off than the normal archery glue fletch.

2016-07-25

Stone tool in the Whites

While I was doing the presidential traverse, I also found this stone:

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You can see about 5 prismatic blades have been knocked off this stone. This pattern, broken one next to the other in exactly the manner you would use to make a sharp edge, as I understand it, is very unlikely to occur "naturally" meaning, without a deliberate attempt to make a tool by an animal. Given the location (the white mountains) Chimpanzees or similar are pretty unlikely, so I'm going to assume it's Human made.

I'm by no means an expert in this, but it's fun to consider what it might be given what I do know.  The stone is maybe 10" long, so a largish cobble. You can see from the picture that it's a bit granular. The first question is whether the stone or the flakes (the pieces broken off this stone) were what the person was making, or the cobble with a sharp edge was the goal.

It's hard to know. If it's a blade core it's monfacial, and apparently wasn't that great because they stopped before using up much of the stone. I'm more tempted to think that it's actually a hand-axe. It seems large/heavy for that, but it is in the range I'd want to use to cut down a tree.

I just thought it was a neat find, and wanted to share. If anyone has better guesses as to what this artifact is, I'd love to hear.

UPDATE:
I've been reading books on archaeology (as I do occasionally). I hadn't realized how often natural breaks have historically been misidentified as human made even by experienced/trained Archaeologists. That doesn't mean I'm wrong, but it does lower the chances this is actually a human made tool..