Friday, July 4, 2014

Blood Reds, White, and Faded Blues

Dry be thy name
And Dry be thy manner
Life's fine balance tips slightly
On a thorn's brutal point

As the sun rides low on the horizon
It fills our eyes with brilliant fire
Before dipping to rest
Behind hills now standing in the way

This Heat
This oppression of flow
Rubs hearts and hands raw
Removing layers down to deep blood reds

Revealing runs of quartz in the veins
And ant catacombs within
Fissures deepening under pressure
Returning again to the cracks on the surface

We feel it in our bones
Brooding across the plains
Rising up to cleave rock from its hold
To remnants and discards left behind

We sit and wait
For shade and dusk
Bound up and tethered down
With a wrapped up frown upon it all

Then sunset drips into night
As the night drips into dew
Again and again and on
To bring a little hope each morn
For this season to turn anew

But we're shown this is just the beginning
As the dew dries whitewashed in the faded blues
Of mornings in June and denim worn through

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tracker Action

I finally sat down this weekend and figured out how to make a movie.

So I made two ;)

Thanks for the tunes A.C.!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

MRC Custom Leather Belt Pouch Review

Backpacking in the High Sierra is one of the overpowering joys in life. Luckily I get a chance to do it now and then. My trips mostly include hiking in a little ways and setting up camp for a few days. Usually I’m only gone for up to three nights at a time, so traveling deep into the wilderness is out of range. Also, as you travel higher up the hill, campfire restrictions begin to come into play. Mostly with no fires at all allowed above 9,000 or 10,000 feet. And I sure do enjoy a camp with a fire to raise the spirits.

So what I do is head in and set up a base camp from where day trips are set out from. This is a good way to get a feel for and explore an area. Really immerse yourself in the place to let the mountains soak in and flush out whatever ails you.

Usually these day trips are fine and I am able to return to camp by dark to enjoy the campfire life and everything it entails. But what if something were to happen where I couldn’t make it back to camp that night. I don’t know, say a slip and fall, broken limb, severe rainstorm, chupacabra attack! Whatever. I would surely like to be able to carry enough gear on these day hikes to ensure my returning home.

Summer in the Sierra is usually still fairly hot. Even at elevation if you’re not in the shade. So sweaty backs are the standard, especially with a daypack to hold in the heat. So I’ve been leaning more towards a belt pouch setup that might keep me cooler, thus reducing the water loss from my body due to perspiration.

I’ve also found that at the end of the day, my shoulders are in some amount of pain from the burden of the initial hike in with a full backpack. And I know the modern packs have hip belts that are supposed to take some of the burden off the shoulders and transfer the weight to the hips. But I have just not found that system to my liking. Another reason to go to a belt pouch system is to ensure more weight on the hips, allowing a smaller, lighter load in the backpack, and keeping the items in my pants pockets to a minimum with only a map and compass.

And as my time in the woods has progressed, I’ve found I like to carry my Canon Eos Rebel in a pouch on the hip. That allows for a quick draw and shot if I see something that lights the scene. Then back in its protective pouch, and onward up the trail. It’s near impossible to have that camera on my hip with any kind of backpack with a hip belt. This, combo’d with a canteen or water bottle on the other hip for easy access, helps balance things out rater nicely.

As I ponder these questions in life, as I often do, I came across an elk hide Longhunter pouch that Mike at MRC Custom Leather had for sale at a really good price. It is made of a combo of soft elk hide, and stiffer leather on the backside to keep its form. Top quality indeed. After receiving the pouch and being satisfied with Mike’s craftsmanship, I checked out his website and the other gear he has listed there.

He also talks about the stuff he creates along with some very nice info on leatherworking on his You Tube channel
Or search for Agile Woodsman on You Tube

He makes very nice custom leather gear like the Longhunter Pouch, but he also has a series of belt pouches which he calls the Bushcraft Budget Series. He explains the concepts and design of these pouches on his You Tube channel, so I won’t go into depth here on that. Their titles fit them well though as they are high quality leather belt pouches at very reasonable prices. I ordered two of the larger Wanderer pouches to round out my belt pouch combo idea I’ve been playing with.

Here’s my setup. Camera case, MRC leather pouches, canteen kit, and belt knife. Just under 14 pounds when all loaded up. Again, this kit will most likely enable me to stay alive until I can make it out on my own, or sit and wait until Search and Rescue can find me. I attached these to a Condor tactical belt that has a little bit of extra padding compared to a regular leather belt. Maybe someday I’ll round it out with a leather camera case and leather or canvas canteen pouch, but for now, this works comfortably. The oil stain on the elk hide is my fault for leaving it on the kitchen counter where cooking oil gets tossed about ;)

One of the Wanderer pouches contains lunch for the day, tea, extra water bottle, and tins with various accoutrements. Sharpening kit, fishing kit, tool kit, tin with three candles for warmth and light, whistle, random tinders and MRC tinder pouch. 

The other Wanderer pouch contains a fire steel, 3 hanks of 80 lb bank line for shelter building mostly, head lamp, bug head net, buff , tp, bug spray, reflective blanket, 2 mil 55 gallon trash bag, and a saw with detachable blades. This blade is small, but other larger attachable blades will be back at base camp. 

And the Longhunter pouch is just the right size for a synthetic fill insulated jacket.

Canteen kit with iodine tablets. Camera case with Sawyer Squeeze water filter, poncho, 5x7 BCUSA mest, and first aid kit in the front pocket round out the rest of the kit. 

I must say I am very pleased with the comfort of this setup, and the quality and function of the MRC pouches. High grade, top notch leather gear for those who wander the wilds. Thanks again Mike.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

AC Myles Musical Intermission II

Alright blues fans. AC's new album Reconsider Me has dropped!! If you like the blues, you won't be disappointed!

You can pick it up here:

Nice promo video too! Enjoy

Friday, May 16, 2014

Green in the Shade

We ride off towards the hills
As so often inclined to do
Their draw sweeps over us
Like the breakers upon the sands of time

Unlike the heat wave mirage in the distance
They are real
They are present
They play no tricks upon our retinas
Held in place by the pressures of grace

As the foot of these hills soon spread out before us
My daughter asks "When did God make us?"
I reply "Well, God made this Earth over 4 billion years ago
And we came along long after that"

Perhaps a better answer would have been
"Whenever he durned well pleased!"

But I am glad to see
That these cathedrals in the wilderness
Bring far off distant thoughts
Of time and space
And humbled life upon the rock

For we are merely scratches upon the surface
Imperfections raised in the rough hewn grain
Waiting to be smoothed over with the grace offered us
By the fine honed blade within His hand

For want of polish to shine
Like the green grass in the shadows
Alive and sheltered from the mid-spring sun
That beams down among the rolling clouds overhead

Too often have we wandered among them
And once again the rattlers have told us
That these places are best viewed from a distance
Do not come here until the cold sets in

Yet surrounding these shadows of illusion
Wind the paths of truth now easily seen
Along broken steps weighed down wearily
Under the burden of the countless masses

Here boulders are woven with heavy laden lacings
Of grass and gravels blooming sprigs of live oak
Trying hard to hold it all together
As the fibers dry clean through in the sun

For let's get one thing straight here
This is drought upon the land
There's no two ways around it
This is the raw deal in the cards

This was not brought on by some scornful wrath
Nor by the coyote as he leaves his hillside den
This is the nature of things
Unwritten tidings in the ebb and flow

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Land of the Ahwahnechee

Why journey to the meadows
Why gather in the groves
Why commune along the water's edge
Why read the etchings in the rock

Why study the ways of old
And teach the younger ones of times gone by
Why listen to the voices on the wind
Why bushcraft

Why do these elements call to us
Why draw us nearer with each passing snowmelt
Why spark the embers within our hearts
And stoke the fires within their rings

Brother winds and Sister waters
Blow across the rock of their Mother
Tiny droplets gather together
With grains of dust and alluvium
To form the soils of generations

Reeds and grasses sink deep roots here
Congregate and grow together
Twist and twine their way around
Interwoven in their very being
Vessels of life to hold the future

Their seeds spread with the wind's breath
And without going down certain trails
Nor following paths of oils encasing
But rather flowing with waters
In stony stream bed courses
They bury themselves in the banks
That the currents have undercut

Above them the distant thunder rumbles
And the mountains quake and give way
Peeling back layers to the core
Of truths being exposed to the light

As the lightening calls to them
To let their voices join the thunder
Reverberating off the walls that surround
To stir the waters and quicken the pulse

So that given time
They may wash over and smooth
The past's jagged edges
Of freshly fallen boulders in the stream beds