Map, Compass & GPS

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

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Snake Bite

A very interesting article about a potential break through in dealing with snake bites.

Nice work by the University of California at Irvine.

snake bite

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Why Every Hiking Trip Needs a Hammock

Why Every Hiking Trip Needs a Hammock

When you think about packing up your hiking gear, you might think about bringing along your first aid kit, your water bottle and a few other necessities. Although these things are obviously important, you might be missing one thing that can make hiking way more fun: a hammock. These are a few reasons why every hiking trip needs a hammock.

They're Easy to Carry Around

When you're packing for your hiking trips, you might like to do what you can to keep your pack light. This makes a lot of sense, since a heavier backpack can make a big difference in how difficult your hike is. Plus, you probably want to save room for necessities. This means that you might not add in many items that you don't consider must-haves.

Luckily, though, a hammock can still fit in nicely. If you purchase a hammock that is designed for hiking and camping, you might be surprised by how easy it is to fit into your backpack without adding a lot of extra weight. It's a great way to bring something fun without getting in the way of your weight limit, and it should fold up easily enough that it does not take up a whole lot of extra space, either.

They Can Be Used Almost Anywhere

One great thing about hammocks is that they are so versatile that you can use them just about anywhere if you are creative enough. If you are going to be staying in a camp site, you should be able to use stakes or posts as a means of putting up your hammock. If you're going to be hiking in the woods, you should have no problem finding two trees that you can string your hammock in-between. You can always bring along posts that you can use to put up your hammock, but depending on where you are hiking, this should not be necessary. In general, hammocks are pretty versatile and can be used in a variety of places.

They Provide the Perfect Relaxation Spot

Hiking is hard work. Sure, you might be planning on going on a hiking trip so that you can achieve your fitness goals, but you deserve to relax a little bit as well. Plus, if you are able to relax well during your rest times, you'll be able to achieve even more goals when you get back to hiking again.

Even though a plain old camping chair might provide you with a place to sit and rest, you probably aren't going to find it to be as cool or comfortable as a hammock. Few things can actually be as enjoyable as kicking back in a hammock in a beautiful spot in nature, particularly after a long day of hiking. You can even create a campfire and break out your e cigarette starter kit and start vaping to make things even more relaxing.

The truth is that once you try relaxing in a hammock on one of your long hikes, you'll probably never want to relax in a regular camping chair again, since you probably won't find it to be quite as comfortable or relaxing. Plus, there's a good chance that other hikers on the trail will find themselves to be quite jealous and will wonder why they didn't think to bring a hammock along themselves!

If you are into hiking but don't yet have a hammock, you may want to consider investing in one. You can find them at many outdoors stores, and once you have one, you're sure to wonder how you ever went hiking without one in the past.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Fire Starter

Last week my friend and fellow blogger Leon  Pantenburg came to my wilderness survival class and held a presentation on fire starters.  Fire starters are a combination of equipment and process to start fire in an emergency situation.

The highlight was when Leon used flint, steel and char cloth.  Flint, steel and char cloth were the tools to create a spark.  The char cloth captured the tiny spark and began to ignite a very small section of the char cloth.

Char cloth is made from all cotton material (e.g., blue jeans) that is placed in a small container and is essentially cooked for 5-10 minutes.

Take a look at Leon's video or visit his blog at

Leon calls char cloth a miracle material for making a fire.

When I head out into Oregon's backcountry I have a small pack that contains the basics of the 10 essentials.

Among the many components in my pack is a small (sandwich size) zip lock plastic bag containing my fire starter.

For fire starting I carry a water tight container filled with Storm Proof matches, a "metal match", cotton balls saturated with petrolatum jelly, Bic lighter and flint, steel and char cloth (about six or seven pieces.)

From Left to Right - Steel striker, two pieces of char cloth, and a quarter
 give perspective to char cloth size.  Outdoor Quest/Blake Miller image. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Snakes In The Backcountry

Are you ready for rattlesnakes?  The following post is from a site that I just found a few years back.  This is great info as you head into the backcountry.

Be Rattlesnake Safe

05/22/13 -- As warm weather returns, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is reminding the public to be rattlesnake safe. All of California is snake country. Much like bats, rattlesnakes are often misunderstood. They play an important role in the ecosystem by keeping rodent populations under control.

California has six venomous snakes, all of which are various species of rattlesnake. They are heavy-bodied, blunt-tailed with triangular-shaped heads. A rattle may not always be present, as they are often lost through breakage and not developed on the young. Additional species information can be found here.

Rattlesnakes are generally not aggressive and usually strike when threatened or provoked. Given room, they will retreat and want to be left alone. They are not confined to rural areas and have been found in urban environments, lakeside parks and golf courses.
The best protection against unwelcome rattlesnakes in the yard is to have a “rattlesnake-proof” fence. The fence should either be solid or with mesh no larger than one-quarter inch. It should be at least 3 feet high with the bottom buried a few inches in the ground.
Keep the fence clear of vegetation and debris. Encourage and protect kingsnakes, which prey on rattlesnakes, and other natural competitors like gopher snakes and racers.

On rare occasions, rattlesnakes can cause serious injury to humans. Most bites occur between the months of April and October when humans are most active outdoors. The California Poison Control Center notes that rattlesnakes account for more than 800 bites each year in the U.S. with one to two deaths. 
CDFW recommends the following outdoor safety precautions:
  • Wear hiking boots and loose-fitting long pants.
  • Never go barefoot or wear sandals when walking through wild areas.
  • When hiking, stick to well-used trails.
  • Avoid tall grass, weeds and heavy underbrush where snakes may hide during the day.
  • Do not step or put your hands where you cannot see, and avoid wandering around in the dark.
  • Step ON logs and rocks, never over them, and be especially careful when climbing rocks or gathering firewood.
  • Remember, rattlesnakes can swim so never grab “sticks” or “branches” while swimming in lakes and rivers.
  • Teach children to respect snakes and to leave them alone.

What to do in the event of a snake bite:
  • Stay calm and wash the bite area gently with soap and water.
  • Remove watches, rings, etc, which may constrict swelling.
  • Immobilize the affected area and go to the nearest medical facility.
What you should NOT do after a rattlesnake bite:

  • DON’T apply a tourniquet.
  • DON’T pack the bite area in ice.
  • DON’T cut the wound with a knife or razor.
  • DON’T use your mouth to suck out the venom.
  • DON’T let the victim drink alcohol.