Map, Compass & GPS

Map, Compass & GPS
Wild flowers along Fall Creek on the way to the Green Lakes - Oregon

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Search and Rescue Works To Save Two Horses Mired in Mud

Oregon's Deschutes County SAR team responds to save two horses mired in belly deep thick mud. Participating were the teams mountain rescue  and horse units, Sister's Fire Department and a Vet from Bend Equine.  By the time it was all over the two horses were extremly hypothermic but they survived.

Everyone loves a happy ending, which is often dependent on people who volunteer their time, skills and strength to rescue someone from misfortune.
 I carefully planned my horse ride on April 19, picking a trail that was safe. I had a new puppy and horses without shoes. The Windigo Trail north of USFS Road 1514 was just right, a favorite trail that I've been riding for over 30 years. 

To read the rest of the story go here.

Duct Tape For Emergency Repairs

Duct Tape is an important component of every pack and part of my ten essential systems.

As a Search and Rescue (SAR) team member I am required to carry a small amount ofduct tape in my SAR pack.  Duct tape is a remarkable tool for the hiker and is an important addition to the repair kit.  Duct tape can temporarily repair a torn pack bag and bind a damaged  hiking boot.
The list of what it can do is lengthy.

That said, I wasn't sure which brand to choose.

I checked one of my favorite equipment references, John McCann's book Build the Perfect Survival Kit.   McCann provides many reviews of equipment that the SAR member and hiker might use. One of the many "take away"' is the discussion and review of duct tape.

For example, I learned that the product "Duck" tape (commonly sold at
WalMart) is fine for work at home: a benign environment. It comes in many colors and patterns. Duck tape is fine for crafts and for projects where strength is not an issue.

Better are the duct tape products by Scotch and 3M. The holding power seems superior. For several years now I have kept roughly ten feet of this tape as a part of my in the field repair kit.

Newer is "Gorilla" tape. It is as strong as the silver 3M product, maybe better.

After a quick Internet search I found an interesting article in Popular Mechanics . Visit their site at for their review.  In Popular Mechanics evaluation Gorilla tape is reported to be the best of the bunch.

Of course I don't carry a roll of tape in my pack.  I carry tape that I have cut into short lengths and then rolled end over end, keeping the tape flat.  The tape is kept to a small rectangular section.

Another option is to wrap the tape around the base of a plastic water bottle.

Duct tape is a remarkable tool for the hiker and is an import addition to the repair kit. 

Knife Review

A Review of Bark River Knives: Bushcrafter

When it comes to bushcraft/survival knives, how much is enough? How do you make sure your knife will be up to the task? Here’s a product from Bark River Knives that might be what you need.

In the past decade or so, my bushcraft and utility knife needs have pretty much been taken care of  by a standard trio. I carry a Swiss Army Classic everywhere, usually include a Mora to handle utility duties, and then include a specialty knife for hunting and/or fishing.

The Bark River Liten Bror, top, is a Scandinavian-design bushcraft knife. It is very similar to my long-used, sometimes abused Mora 860.
The Bark River Liten Bror, top, is a Scandinavian-design bushcraft knife. It is similar to my long-used, sometimes abused Mora 860.

Mora is a brand. With a Mora, you can get a quality fixed blade, comfortable handle and reasonable price, all in the same package. Generally speaking, I define a Mora-style as a knife with a  rigid, three-to-four-inch blade, a Scandinavian grind and overall length of about eight inches. The handle typically doesn’t have a guard, and the knife is intended to be an all-purpose, general-use cutting tool.

The Mora I carry most often, a model 860, cost $15 about 10 years ago. My C.T. Fischer custom four-inch bushcraft knife goes for about $250. In both cases, I consider the money well-spent.

To read the rest of Leon's review go here.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Emergency Preparedness - Bugging Out

My friend Leon has an intriguing post on why "heading for the hills" might not be the best idea.
 by Leon Pantenburg
Five reasons why heading for the hills during an emergency is a bad idea:

 At virtually any preparedness event I go to, someone proclaims stockpiling food is a waste of money, and that when everything goes down, he/she will light out for the wilderness.  The topic is one for debate on Facebook and a multitude of prepper/survivalist websites.

The idea is that when (fill in the appropriate acronym) happens, society will collapse and everyone will have to fend for themselves. But some survivalists will head for the wilderness and live off the land, apart from everyone else until the situation resolves itself.

Here’s the reality check: “Heading for the hills,”  or whatever you want to call it, is impractical and probably foolhardy.

Here’s five reasons why you shouldn’t head for the wilderness:

To read the rest of Leon's post go here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

GPS Setup - Using the Right Coordinates

A good friend has given you the coordinates to his favorite fishing spot at Elk Lake.  He was genuinely excited and pleased to give you this treasured location.  Now you can enter this information into you GPS and you will be all set.
Well maybe not.
A GPS is a very versatile backcountry computer and satellite receiver.  Today’s receiver can be taken anywhere around the world and when setup properly will provide accurate position information.  Coordinate information can be uploaded/downloaded to a PC and edited.
It is the setup process that our fisherman needs to be aware of.
There are two setup features that I’d recommend the user become familiar with.  These two features are the coordinate system  and map datum.
To read the rest of this post go here.

To read the follow-on post to set up your GPS go here.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Magnetic Compass - Sighting/Taking a Bearing

Sighting with a compass is an important skill that can determine direction to an object or help the hiker locate and identify his position in the backcountry.

A compass is an important part of the backcountry navigator’s kit.  The use of Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers has simplified navigation to an extent but the knowledge of how to use a compass is still important; do not underestimate this skill.  

To learn how to use a magnetic compass go here.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Monitoring the Weather - Part II

Last June SeattleBackPackersMagazine posted a short article on tracking barometric pressure with a GPS; barometric pressure.  Recently my son reminded me of a little known theorem that helps the hiker’s situational awareness.  This theorem is called Buys-Ballot’s Law.

In 1857 Dutch professor Christopher Buys Ballot postulated that there was a relationship between wind direction and air pressure. Buys-Ballot’s law provides a rough approximation of the location and direction of the low pressure system as it tracks through a region.

Simply put in the northern hemisphere, if one faces the wind, the center of a low pressure system will be to the right and slightly behind the observer.  High pressure will be to the left and slightly ahead of the observer.   Further, weather systems in the northern hemisphere track from west to east.  

Importantly for the hiker, a low pressure system is associated with rain, snow and bad weather in general.  A high pressure system is associated with improving weather conditions.

So, if the hiker determines that high pressure is to the west of the present location, and because the system will move from west to east, the weather may be improving.

The YouTube video by meteorologist Vince Condella presents this nicely; video

Buys-Ballots Law coupled with a GPS are both useful tools to improve the hiker’s ability to monitor and anticipate the weather in the backcountry.