The Newbies Guide to be a Fire God

2:17 p.m. on February 6, 2013 (EST)
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Ok... I'm sure people have touched on this subject a few times. But, being new to Trailspace (killer site by the way) I have not seen much on the topic of fire making. Depending on where you live, you may or may not have much of an option when it comes making a fire. But, it is a skill that everyone set to venture into the wilds should have knowledge of. And it is a skill too often taken for granted. Anyone that has spent time in the outdoors can agree with me on that. It's one thing to fire up your grill, your fireplace, or even a little camp fire in the backyard for the kids to roast hotdogs. But, depending on the conditions you may find yourself in while on a trip into the woods; it may not be as easy as you thought.

Alot of people today lug a camp stove along on their trips. Some may decide to build a fire, some may not. But, its a skill that we all should have as a backup. After all, what if your fuel source is low for your stove (no cooking or boiling water), or the temp drops at night and your bag is not keeping you warm (the weather guy does get it wrong from time to time). Maybe you took a spill in a near by creek and a simple day hike turns nasty cause your looking in the face of Hypothermia. All it takes is your core temp dropping a couple of degrees and you will literally be chillin with the biggest killer of the outdoors. Fire making skills can save your life in far more ways than one. I'm not gonna go into the whole "rub two sticks together dude". Trust me, that shit is much harder than they make it look on TV. What I will get into, is having yourself a small fire kit. It will not take up any room in your pack, or put a few more onces on you than anyone could handle.

My fire kit consists of just a few items (most of which you have laying around the house as you read this) that can all be held in one hand. 

A fire striker (firesteel gobspark, I keep attached to my knife sheath)

A metal sucrets can filled with cotton balls rubbed in petroleum jelly

And a ziplock stuffed with dryer lent and a handful of saw dust

(the little black band is just a strip of bicycle tire I use to keep the can good and tight, and I keep a wire saw in the can to prevent rust... neither of which is a must have)

The FireSteel really does the job of throwing a big hot spark. 5,500 degrees to be honest. And the company says you can get about 3,000 strikes off of it. Way more than a bic right? Between that kicking out a good bit of heat onto the cotton balls of vasoline... you'll get yourself around 2 to 3 minutes of burn time from each ball. Thats plenty of time to nurse a flame into fire. As far as the bag of dryer lent and saw dust, thats just a little extra fuel for your tinder bundle. Now, with any fire... you dont just get a flame and start chunking on sticks and logs. Always prep for your fire before you ever have a flame. Make you a birds nets of small tinder. Dry grass, crushed dead leaves, and very small twigs, anything like that will do (but always dry, the dryer the better, and if everything is wet, look for the driest stuff at hand). You can work in the dryer lent with all that till you get something that resembles a small birds nest. Once you have that, toss your cotton ball in the nest and light it. Then slowly wrap the nest around the flame. If it needs more oxygen... help it along by blowing on it. Have more of those smaller items on the side to add to your flame in order to feed it. Keep doing that and as your flame turns in to fire, add the larger stuff. Never take for granted that "ok, we got a fire... lets do something else". Stay with it till your sure its not gonna die out once you turn your back. This kit, if used right... will always grant you a fire.

With all that said, stay dry and warm out there this time of year. And of course.... BE COOL.


Fire-Kit.png

12:59 a.m. on February 7, 2013 (EST)
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The problem with this kit is you won’t be able to use it if you are more than mildly hypothermic.  When hypothermia diverts blood from your extremities you lose coordination and strength in your fingers and arms.  You will not be capable of grasping the fire steel firmly enough to use it, and your uncoordinated shivering and flailing arms stand little chance of delivering effective strikes on the steel or throw the sparks effectively at such a small target.  Take my word on this; been there, done that.  This thread has a good discussion on emergency fire starting strategies, and along with this thread will help convey what shape you might be in under an actual emergency.

Ed

12:48 p.m. on February 7, 2013 (EST)
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Whome,

Good post.

1:02 p.m. on February 7, 2013 (EST)
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Indeed whomeworry,

I've seen it first hand myself. Your dexterity goes right out the window. Its like your hands feel swollen up to the size of Shreks. But, the key to it for me is always prevention. Unless something happens that was unforseen and you find yourself with the luck of a drunk girl sitting at the bar when it closes.... You take care of your fire before hand. I've found this kit serves me well in always accomplishing the goal of fire. I do however keep 2 back ups for flame. An unused Bic lighter, and a waterproof tube of waterproof matches. I did forget to put that in the thread. Sorry. When it comes to fire, you should always have at least 3 ways of creating it. The cotton balls and dryer lent are a sure bet though. I've used them to even dry out damp tinder for a fire.

Great points though man. Maybe starting a post on the issue of hypothermia would be a great starting point. This time of year especially. Seeing alot of newbies to the trail, I thought getting this post up would help make people aware of how dangerous the subject is. Maybe going into more of the details would push the issue. Though you can go hypothermic in even warm temps, Mississippi is in the 70's this week. But I know other parts of the US are getting slammed with the nasty stuff right now. Hope people play it safe this week.

Be Cool Man

2:06 p.m. on February 7, 2013 (EST)
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Beyond the dexterity issue that can take place in some circumstances, it is crucial to have a method to ignite even moderately wet materials. Cotton balls with pj work ok, but are still a bit limited. They do make a good fire starter but not under very adverse conditions. For example if they get wet they are pretty much useless, and even if they don't get wet they only burn for a few minutes at most and in the grand scheme of things don't get very hot. These limitations in my experimentation have at least for me made them no longer part of my kit. They just don't have enough heat or burn time to ignite truly wet tinder in an emergency.

In a true you fell through the ice or into a creek in the winter and its 0F out with a windchill of like -10 and you and all of your gear is soaked only leaves you with a very small window of time to get into dry clothes, into a sleeping bag, and or get a fire going.

I found for me the best item to be a piece of a fire works sparkler(i have 3 3in pieces in my kit) and glued to the sparkler piece with superglue is a waterproof strike anywhere storm match. This is small, compact, light weight and burns in excess of 4,500F(the ones with thermite do at least, regular sparklers are still hot at aroung 2-2,500F). They will burn for about 1 minute at this high temperature which is plenty long enough to ignite even soaked ice covered wood/tinder. They can not be extinguished easily, even submersed in water they will continue to burn. They are strong and durable and are hard to break, and even if they do break can still be ignited. By super gluing a storm match onto each end of the sparkler piece i have essentially a very strong match so i am not worried about the possibility of breaking the match when attempting to light it as it is reinforced by the sparkler.

A common flaw with matches is they are usually easy to break, especially when your shivering violenty on the verge of hypothermia. I found that this method of reinforcing the match gives me a relatively fool proof way of getting a very powerful fire source.

There are other items that one could use, such as road flares etc. But I did alot of experimentation last year and came back to this sparklers, but the gluing the match to it is a new modification.

In my fire kit I also carry shredded birch bark,waxed jute twine, a bic, and regular matches. In the winter I also carry about 6 thumb sized 5in long kiln dried pieces of wood. Between the sparkler and the wood I can get a strong fire base going in about 45 seconds after getting it out of my pouch.

My little sparkler creations weigh 1.5oz each.

I actually had to use one for real last winter when I had a situation develop with a ruptured camelbak. During this situation i broke quite a few matches trying to get my sparkler piece lit, i did eventually get it but it was VERY hard. This is what led me to glue the storm matches to it, and this i have really tested and put through the ringer this year and i am very confident in its ability.

Here is my thread about my situation last January.

http://www.trailspace.com/forums/gear-selection/topics/114180.html

 

8:32 a.m. on February 8, 2013 (EST)
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I do something similar with my matches. I use two diff kinds of matches, I take one strike anywhere and glue three regular safety matches around it. This gives me more ignition options and keeps them from breaking. I make the strike anywhere stick up just a little. I also carry some nato approved waterproof storm matches. They are hard to find and I try not to use them unless I must, but they will burn anywhere. There is a post I started about them but I dont have the comp skills to find and link it here, sorry. I always carry two bic lighters, one in my pocket and one in a waterproof case in my bag, plus a firesteel and several tinder options. I sometimes use an alchy stove too, denatured alcohol will always start a fire, imho.

4:41 p.m. on February 8, 2013 (EST)
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The dryer lint always works well.

7:21 p.m. on February 8, 2013 (EST)
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Except for when its wet

11:12 p.m. on February 8, 2013 (EST)
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That's why I keep it dry in a ziplock and take it out at the last minute.

3:41 a.m. on February 9, 2013 (EST)
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Dryer lint does not work in a high wind; it will get blown away.  And it may be dry in the bag, but try keeping it dry in certain situations in a driving rain.  You can claim you can over come these liabilities; I assert such a claim amounts to stating you can over come nature.  Unless you tinder is waterproof your system is not foolproof.

Ed

8:59 p.m. on February 9, 2013 (EST)
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We can all go over one anothers fire kits and gear with a fine tooth comb. It all comes down to preferance guys. I'm sure that each of us have gone through enough homemade kits to fill up 20 posts. This one just happens to be mine. Yours may have things about it others dont dig. The truth is nothing is full proof. There is a situation out there in which we all may find ourselves that really put our minds and our gear to the test. I'm comfortable with my set up and the fact I carry multiple ignition sources. The number one thing to do in any situation is act. And do so before you find yourself in a spot that is worse. I've been out and about on many occasions where the weather went to hell. But, the key is doing something about it before it gets bad. I've never worried about my items being wet. I store them for that purpose. The shavings in the bag with my dryer lent are from lighted pine. So they've never failed me. While on the trail I always find a good bit of it around. And I never pass up the chance of splitting some off a stump in passing. I do the same when I come across cattails or dryed moss. I've yet to be in a spot where all my tools fail. I'm not saying that cant happen. It just hasn't happened yet. I spend alot of times in trekking along marsh and swamps. And there is always an abundance of nature to lend a hand even in the most wet of ares.

The only points I see in your statements is the harsher cold and windy areas. We don't get much of that here. But, we do get alot of rain, and alot of thunderstorms. I mean we've been in the 70's for most of the week. I would love to experience some of the times that you guys talk about though. But, for my buddies and I... we normally stay Tn and below.

BeCool

 

12:19 a.m. on February 10, 2013 (EST)
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Henry:

Let me first start by stating I liked your presence in this forum from the very first post you authored.  Your love for life and the people and world about you is obvious  You embody the Pride of the South.  Thus my disagreeing with you is meant with the best of intentions, sorry if I come across as some punk know-it-all.  

I might agree with you about fire kits being a matter of personal preference, if the conversation was prefaced with a heading like: fun with fire kits, and had a tone that the suggestions herein were never intended to be relied upon in true emergency situations.  But since everyone including you appear to state their kit are for just that, I feel it would be irresponsible for me to just sit back and nod my head, while someone with lesser experience goes trekking off somewhere and finds themselves unlucky enough to encounter situations where the kits mentioned herein fall considerably short of dealing with the task at hand.  Even the region you sight as your stomping ground can mock your fire kit; the fact you have done well so far indicates either the odds have not caught up with you, or you have the smarts to stay home when the weather is just starting to interest some that get a thrill out of camping in really bad weather.  Even your home territory can pack rains and wind that make starting fires with sparks, PJ cotton balls, dryer lint and wood shavings a sketchy possibility. Anyway, is it not prudent if we are taking about survival fire kits that we endeavor to identify kits and elements thereof that are the most dependable possible, meanwhile identify the limitations of certain solutions, regardless where we camp?

You observe perhaps some of our suggestion aren’t necessary in milder, less “cold and windy” areas. The thing is hypothermia can happen in Mississippi too, and when it does you will not be able to grasp and strike a fire steel effectively.  Ergo our comments apply to mild climates too. 

Your point about avoiding circumstances that can escalate to a dire circumstance is well taken, and wise.  By the same token there are three thoroughly experienced outdoorsmen on this site who shared their personal encounter with hypothermia.  If it happened to these guys it can happen to any of us.  Their point is sometimes the best intentions are not sufficient to keep you out of trouble; that is why we carry emergency gear and learn survival skills – because shit happens!

Lastly there may be situations where the kit I suggested (in the link previously provided) and a few of the kits others described may not work, like when a tree crashes on the camper’s and leaves them paralyzed – ok, so I am being flippant – but conditions so extreme that these kits are insufficient you are only likely to encounter in open life boats on the deep sea, or really foul polar storms.  And the folks likely to encounter these conditions probably understand this limitation, and probably don’t need advice from any of us anyway!  But otherwise the conditions me and others have in mind can be found anywhere in the 48 states and most sub polar regions of the planet.  It is just a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  In any case your opening statement to this thread expressed a desire to share your knowledge about fire skills; I thought I would chime in with my experiences too.

Ed

6:16 p.m. on February 10, 2013 (EST)
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Well said dude. I didn't take anything as said being an attack or a disagreement just to do so. As my first topic to post I didn't want to run on and be long winded. In doing so, I felt I might not have clerified my points very well. In my experience, the kit listed has held up good. I look forward to hearing someone elses take all the time. In fact I view it as a contribution to what knowlegde I do have. I'm always willing to take anothers view point on any number of subjects.

And your right about not taking a chance on foul weather conditions. My friends and I have all called off trips before due to just that. In Mississippi we have wild as hell thunderstorms. In fact we are under a tornado warning as I speak. But, it's so common here, its just a part of everyday life. I've been to every state in the lower 48's and Canada as well. And aside from TX and OK, we have some of the worst storms I've seen. My wife is from RI, and I have friends and family in NC, NV, CA, AL, CT, and a few others. All which get really tripped out when we go through an average storm. During summer, a simple rainstorm here can turn pretty bad in minutes. And out terrain here is seldom an open area. Unless your on farm land. It's mostly thick grown hardwoods and pine forrest. The threat of widow makes and deadfall in general is always a threat. So, we seldom chance a storm that could turn ugly.

I cant say much about winter conditions you guys may experience. I'd love to trekk through snow on a weekend hike through the bush. I'm sure without a doubt your belt notches in those conditions far exceed any I may accumilate. The areas in North Cali, WY, and CO. where i've had the pleasure of hitting the dirt were always in the summer. Not much of a threat from hypothermia. Though I do understand that she could always be peeking around the next bend. I look forward to hearing more from everyone on Trailspace. It seems to be a great community. And just so you know whomeworry, I always enjoy your posts. You seem to be one of the veterans with alot to share. And I look forward to more of it.

Be Cool

7:18 p.m. on February 10, 2013 (EST)
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You have an open invitation to come up to nh, anytime. I grew up in the south, but love it up here. Ive got a big old farm house, you can make it your base camp. Lots of good dayhikes and short trips within a couple of hrs of me. Mt mndk is 15 mins away, I could see it but for the trees. I love campin in winter storms, not so much in big rainstorms. I lived a third of my life on an island off the nc coast, so ive been thru some hurricanes. No fun at all, snow over rain everytime. Your right about whomeworry, hes one of the veterans, climbed a lot of sick mnts. Hes one of the guys im lookin ti when I ask my questions. His bio on his profile is great, go check it out.

10:39 a.m. on February 14, 2013 (EST)
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Might have to take you up on that one day dude. I've been up that way a few times. Just passing through from work... but really beautiful country there.

9:50 p.m. on February 14, 2013 (EST)
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Its pretty awesome here, I have a thousand foot hill in my backyard, 120,000 acres of undeveloped land across the street and if I walk half a mile down the road I can see mt mndk. I live in a 150 yr old farmhouse with 16 rooms, always room for a couole of friends. No bs, come anytime.

2:29 p.m. on February 27, 2013 (EST)
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Lots of valuable info,Ty all. Dare I say it? Tampons - wrapped in plastic, great fire starter material, small ( o.b. brand). Fire starting is a skill that takes practice! That's why I try to make a fire every time I go out. I do consider myself a beginner compared to 90% of the posters here ( and probably will be for all time). Though I won't be in as extreme conditions as you all, I learn something valuable from your posts.

4:54 p.m. on March 2, 2013 (EST)
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Hotdogman, I was hoping someone would mention the firesteel. if trembling rest it on a flat rock or peice of wood to help steady things as much as is possible.

000 steel wool but watch the fumes, an altoids tin full of good fat lighter splinters.

 

earl

7:52 p.m. on March 2, 2013 (EST)
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Ed i read both linked posts and ran the video with a head set on because my hearing is poor. Just wanting you to know that.

Shenora, I am in NH too and you got another invite.

I do 18th century flint and steel and bow drill.

I was interested reading on the 'gobspark' because usually i consider this type of item a toy not worth their weight.

This time i believe a man told me a different truth, and there is a real tool worth having.

Being that I live in NH water proof tinder grows everywhere :-)

Silver, yellow and paper birch are just plain everywhere in the woods.

A term I don't use is fire starter, for meaning tinders, like lint, charcloth and assorted wax and candle trick tinders.

The way i see things is,  a fire starter is a means of creating heat to transfer to a tinder.

In some ways your job will be to bring me back to speed in a modern sense. From 1972 I forgot about things like modern brass cartridge guns, and by 1987 I was fully into flintlocks.

That type of gun is a tool set in and of itself, and while it is loaded, with a few tricks you can use it to start fires and not fire the gun and or use any powder at all. After all it is a flint and steel, just mounted on a long stick and it'a tad heavy for a match stick :-)

I am sure between the Hotdogman and me we can see you are served properly chilled too! LOL

 

As to Ed,  well he is well spoken, some what overly complicated I'ld have to say, but i see no animosity or hate in a word he says.

What I find confusing about Ed is that he claims he suffered hypothermia 2 times. That may be but still I have no idea how he got there, and or how he got out of it.

People say i have been there once, but i swear i was just drunk and if I was (hypo) peanut M&M's got me out of it. I was on my way back down from the summit of Mt Washington just past midnight on a cold new years eve, and stopped in the Alpine Garden to see the stars. Sum wicked rare that is up there that time of year too.

Like you,  I stop and eat, to power up, and I don't let myself get cold. Of course i don't go swimming in low temps if i can help it, but mostly because i find screaming like a little girl is a bit more embarrassing than my weak ego can stand.

I avoid wet like it was Death, because wet is Death here, and that can be at 40 degrees and far colder. My wife claims I am part cat.

I am always drying out mid hike, and changing socks and anything else damp. I carry dry extra inside longies as i simply can't stand to hop in the truck and take chill because my Henly Duofold wooly shirt is a little sweaty.

I am allergic to poly pro longies not being a wool snob, but I do love my wool which is getting harder to find.

With this long winded bit i will go back and re-read everything you said.

I had some ideas about a few things I do, but am not sure if you can because i don't know your locations woods. A good bit of what can help me, and mostly other cold people is a candy tin loaded with pre charred shelf fungus. The more air tight the tin the better. I end up loosing the tins, but it has saved lives. Things like this would work anywhere that there is trees with shelf fungus.

Other fungus will catch and take spark, but i think only northern tree types are effected with that type of fungus.

 

Off to read

8:06 p.m. on March 2, 2013 (EST)
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whomeworry said:

The problem with this kit is you won’t be able to use it if you are more than mildly hypothermic.  When hypothermia diverts blood from your extremities you lose coordination and strength in your fingers and arms.  You will not be capable of grasping the fire steel firmly enough to use it, and your uncoordinated shivering and flailing arms stand little chance of delivering effective strikes on the steel or throw the sparks effectively at such a small target.  Take my word on this; been there, done that.  This thread has a good discussion on emergency fire starting strategies, and along with this thread will help convey what shape you might be in under an actual emergency.

Ed

 That is typical of any fire starting kit, in that one needs both hands usually, and should have tinder, more fuel and be in a sheltered place.

One way or another for fire someone has to have at least one working hand. The area must be sheltered enough to sustain a bunch of sticks in a place that won't blow the sticks away or plain blow the fire out.

My way is food, and moving, in a modern setting, in part because fire is frowned upon harshly in my area.

Of course there are places where camp fire is no problem, but on the more remote back country any more it has past carry out what you carried in to the point of leave no trace.

Reading i see there are torch tools that a mere press of a button lights a small torch, but I am not familiar with that tool.

8:21 p.m. on March 2, 2013 (EST)
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whomeworry said:

Lastly there may be situations where the kit I suggested (in the link previously provided) and a few of the kits others described may not work, like when a tree crashes on the camper’s and leaves them paralyzed – ok, so I am being flippant – but conditions so extreme that these kits are insufficient you are only likely to encounter in open life boats on the deep sea, or really foul polar storms.  And the folks likely to encounter these conditions probably understand this limitation, and probably don’t need advice from any of us anyway!  But otherwise the conditions me and others have in mind can be found anywhere in the 48 states and most sub polar regions of the planet.  It is just a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  In any case your opening statement to this thread expressed a desire to share your knowledge about fire skills; I thought I would chime in with my experiences too.

Ed

 Ed, Please note, that if a bolder rolls over my left arm in the rain, I am not going to bother lighting a fire right handed,  to chew my own arm off for either escape or sustenance period.

With any luck i will have a gun.... If not,  i will scream and cry like a little girl, until I get too tired and meet my maker.

I don't mind these wild instances, but when you tell it, tell how to get out of it. 

 

Maybe like : In the instance of a 110 metric ton space rock falling on yer head, you need a super hero MC helmet made by Nolan on yer noggin, the one with the trick flame thrower and laser rock spliter, and a case of Excedrin for headache number 999..... this way there is a way out...

 

other wise it ends up like : back in 1826 up in the musselshell the Crow had me and Ol' Jigger's packed in the end of a box canyon and we fought and shot til after dark.. Next day thar wuz 378 of em all shooting arris down at us from above while 6 75 more drove up the the canyon from the other end.

Why me and Ol' Jigger's loaded and fired till the blisters on our thumbs rubbed clean off and we ended up with no thumbs a'tall!

And What? You say Oh how did you and Ol' Jigger's get out of that one? 

Well, why Hell, we didn't we both gut scalped! :-)

8:32 p.m. on March 2, 2013 (EST)
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hotdogman said:

You have an open invitation to come up to nh, anytime. I grew up in the south, but love it up here. Ive got a big old farm house, you can make it your base camp. Lots of good dayhikes and short trips within a couple of hrs of me. Mt mndk is 15 mins away, I could see it but for the trees. I love campin in winter storms, not so much in big rainstorms. I lived a third of my life on an island off the nc coast, so ive been thru some hurricanes. No fun at all, snow over rain everytime. Your right about whomeworry, hes one of the veterans, climbed a lot of sick mnts. Hes one of the guys im lookin ti when I ask my questions. His bio on his profile is great, go check it out.

 Yup me too. I had a bad day wanting to go out but it's not cold enough ................ to be dry.... On days like this I just can't get motivated. The NH cold damp raw in the low 40's or high 30's is a big problem for me.

+ 10 and colder is my sort of weather.

I was born not able to breath very well, so real high places are kinda off limits, but Mt Washington isn't that high. I know that mt is a bump, but it is a bump that should be respected or it will take your body and your body parts.

Oh that is Mt Monadnock NH. Deep Southern Guys won't understand that abbreviation, any more than we would know what bubba gator meat was like... he's got it in his head that it's a miracle we can tawk  ;-)

8:35 p.m. on March 2, 2013 (EST)
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Im kinda a north/south hybrid. I was born and raised in nc, but from northern parents. Ive lived in nh for 11 years now. I have a southern accent, but not a real thick one.

8:38 p.m. on March 2, 2013 (EST)
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If one hill wasnt here, I would be able to see mt monadnock from my bedroom windows. I can be hikin on it in 15 mins, not the biggest mtn, but it has some cool trails and sights.

8:42 p.m. on March 2, 2013 (EST)
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francescal said:

Lots of valuable info,Ty all. Dare I say it? Tampons - wrapped in plastic, great fire starter material, small ( o.b. brand). Fire starting is a skill that takes practice! That's why I try to make a fire every time I go out. I do consider myself a beginner compared to 90% of the posters here ( and probably will be for all time). Though I won't be in as extreme conditions as you all, I learn something valuable from your posts.

 Would these just happen to be 100% cotton?

My wife is past menopause, and had female problems long before that.

At times i consider buying these in case I get shot. It never occurred to me these might be a trick for fire.

8:47 p.m. on March 2, 2013 (EST)
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smithcreek said:

Hotdogman, I was hoping someone would mention the firesteel. if trembling rest it on a flat rock or peice of wood to help steady things as much as is possible.

000 steel wool but watch the fumes, an altoids tin full of good fat lighter splinters.

 

earl

 Is this a modern tool too?

If you click http://www.jas-townsend.com/ and search fire steel you will find what i think of that tool as.

This is a surprise, as i didn't think I had 'permissions' to add a link.

11:29 p.m. on March 2, 2013 (EST)
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Lodge pole, actually, if you want 100% cotton, go to a health food store or the like. This exactly what you need if you get shot.. Useful devices ..try the fire trick.. I saw it on some survival type video and gave it a go. You only need one.

9:46 a.m. on March 3, 2013 (EST)
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Lodge Pole said:

What I find confusing about Ed is that he claims he suffered hypothermia 2 times. That may be but still I have no idea how he got there, and or how he got out of it.

In fact I posted these experiences recently on another thread.  In case you haven’t stumbled upon them, I shall relate them here:

The first experience was stupidity.  I was young, and freshly raging from a bad romantic break up.  I cool my heels in these situations, by heading off into the mountains, and walking the bad spirits off.  This incident happened in mid October in the high Sierra.  I took off on a day hike from my base camp, inadequately equipped.  I headed for the Sierra crest from the east side.  When I got near the top, a big black wall of storm screaming in from the northwest caught me out in the open without adequate layers or rain gear.  It was three hours before I was back to camp, drenched and cold beyond shivering, numb up past the second joint of all limbs.  I stood outside the tent for perhaps another thirty minutes, celebrating I made it back, but too stupefied to summon the common sense and motivation to actually get IN the tent. When I eventually went to open the flap, my fingers lacked the strength to grasp the zipper fob.  I remember laughing out loud, thinking well you are in deep sh_ _  now.  I guess fear doesn’t register when you begin to resemble an ice cold beer with a frothy head.  Somehow it occurred to me to use my teeth to grab the fob.  This got me in the tent but chipped two teeth in the process.  Woke up the middle of next day after a monstrous slumber, packed up and made it home a day late.. 

The second incident wasn’t actually hypothermia – it was severe prolonged exposure.  The incident was attributable to extraordinary weather.  I was on a climb in Peru.  We were advancing our camp up the mountain, when a storm caught the group at the higher camp.  The original plan was to retreat back down the next morning and bring more kit and provisions up over the next few days, thus our first portage had only a few days food supply for the entire group.  We were doing this trip on the safe side, just before the shoulder season, but this storm was a freak.  We exhausted our provisions, and were forced into evacuating mid storm, after ten days, when some of us started getting frost bite.  It was a very frightening experience, given the climbing conditions and our compromised vitalities.  The mental struggle was worse; apathy tugged at us individually almost causing one or another at various points to curl up and give up where we stood.  A strange experience it was to catch one self actually weighing the options - I can continue on down, but it takes less effort to just stay here...  The group prevailed, watching out for each other, and we all made it down.  Those able were commissioned into the efforts involved extricating four other parties that were also on our side of the mountain at the time the storm struck.  This was a true evacuation; I personally ended up leaving several thousand dollars of gear behind.  The event left me shaken; I ended up falling into a bad depression lasting several months, such was its impact on my psyche.  This event and an Alaskan winter mountaineering attempt eventually motivated me to withdraw from extreme mountaineering challenges, though I still enjoy less risky winter mountain treks.  The Alaskan trip was severe – lots of frost nipped skin coincidental to face coverings parting, and removing gloves momentarily, otherwise it was largely uneventful.  Just lots of bad weather, basic suffering, and the obvious potential for things to go really wrong at any moment.  We ended up far short of our objective, turning back due to calendar considerations.  But with these two events I figured I pressed my luck far enough.  

Ed

10:27 a.m. on March 3, 2013 (EST)
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Tampons do make great fire starters under "normal" conditions, and can also serve as pretty decent make shift bandages etc. However, make no mistake, they are by no means a foolprood method of starting a fire under truly adverse conditions(be it hypothermia, or even a pouring rain storm.) You also need to make sure they stay dry in order to work effectively. They are easy to light, but do not burn for a prolonged time, and do not burn very hot in relation to other items.

Fire steels: They are great also under normal conditions, and make lighting any light, fluffy tinder type of material very easy. However, they are near impossible to effectively use under very adverse conditions, many things will affect your ability to use them, numb/trembling hands is only one of them. Bracing the steel against something does help, but this would not work in a hypothermia situation or near hypothermia situation.

Birch bark is also a very good fire starting/tinder material, it lights easy, burns hot, but also burns fast. This is my primary means of starting fires under most circumstances.

There are plenty of fire starting materials and tricks out there. The distinction one needs to make, is between "normal" conditions, adverse weather conditions, and emergency situations. Most all, if not all fire starters work perfectly fine for starting that camp fire under normal to mild conditions. Even if things are a little damp or wet many of these works great. Change things to stronger winds, and saturated and truly soaked materials it is still doable with a little forethought and preperation, but is no where near as easy with some materials.

Where the true distinction comes in, is in emergency situations. These can take many forms. A common one this time of year is falling through the ice, falling into a stream/river etc, heavy rains, combined with low temperatures. IF one is a relatively short distance away from some type of aid, it is a viable option to just keep moving to keep your body warm. There are other circumstances where it may not be feasible to just walk out for any number of reasons. In these cases is where having a truly foolproof , reliable fire starting method becomes paramount.

Imagine this kind of scenario:

You are hiking around this winter and its say 10F outside, you are out on a weekend trip, and its your 2nd day of the trip and you are over 20 miles from the nearest road/help over fairly rough terrain. You have a small stream crossing and your plan is to cross and then make camp a little ways past, its getting close to sunset say 1630 or so. You for whatever reason slip and fall in the stream, and you fall in. You just so happen to catch your pack on a tangle of down tree branches or whatever and rip a big gash in the side of your pack, and now the entire contents of your pack are either soaked or at least damp. You manage to get back to your feet and out of the stream. The sun is starting to set, its 10F,all of the clothing you are wearing is soaked, the contents of the pack are also soaked. You begin to shiver. It progresses rapidly into violent trembling, then into complete numbness, your judgement and ability to think logically become severely impaired, you get very sleepy, then you slip into unconsciousness, and eventually death will claim you.

You need dry clothes, you need shelter, and you need above all else to get warm. You NEED a fire. It takes time to gather dry material, time you do not have. Everything around you is buried in a foot of snow and ice. Your only immediately available wood is the tree branches in the stream that ripped your pack open. So you need something that will light this damp to wet ice crusted wood. I can tell you right now that  a few pieces of birch bark, a tampon, or other similar tinder items will be hard pressed to get them lit and allow them to ignite the we wood. Now, i can gurantee you that you will not be able to use a lighter. I can also pretty much gurantee you that you will not have a long time window where using even a match is an option. You can also be guranteed that using a fire steel is not an option. So what do you do? You need something that will light without the need for much dexterity, that burns incredibly hot, and or for a long period of time. You will not have the time to go running around for 5 minutes, let alone 10-15 minutes to gather nice dry fire wood or tinder, because by the time you get to the 10 or 15 minute mark, you will be on the verge on unconsciousness if not already.

Bad things happen. This is only a quick glimpse into this kind of danger. What if you lost your pack entirely? What if you broke your leg? You may not physically have the ability to walk out, or you might not have any warm or dry clothing to put on. All you have is what is on your person. You do carry your fire kit on your person, especially in the winter right?

Consider these types of what if scenarios. They can and do happen. I had a mild version of this kind of thing happen to me(see thread linked in above posts). Change the circumstances or conditions even a little bit and a not so bad of an accident and turn into a life and death situation in a hurry.

If you do not believe me, and insist that you would be able to use a firesteel or what have you, then do this. Get a bucket and fill it with ice water. Stick your hands in it for say 5 minutes. Then dump the bucket of water over your head to soak most or all of what you are wearing. Then try to retrieve and use a firesteel and start a fire with it, with zero advance preperation. Good luck. If its really cold out, and or windy you will begin to enter the beginning hypothermia stages rather quickly.

Even without soaking your clothing, and only with the numb hands, it is still a true challenge to use a firesteel in such circumstances.

10:55 a.m. on March 3, 2013 (EST)
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Rambler, Ty. Much appreciated.

2:11 p.m. on March 3, 2013 (EST)
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Dang Ken, you're freaking me out about my stream crossings. lol, seriously though, good words to share and well said...

4:29 p.m. on March 3, 2013 (EST)
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Patman said:

Dang Ken, you're freaking me out about my stream crossings. lol, seriously though, good words to share and well said...

Heck, you can always add a broken arm to Ken's stream crossing slip and fall.  That happened to me getting water a few years back.  Fortunately it was summer. 

You should be freaking, especially if soloing.  Streams and running water account for a significant number of wilderness emergencies.  One comment I would add if you had an emersion incident when cold: if you cannot get a source of heat almost instantly, at least put a hard shell over whatever you are wearing, to reduce the effects of wind chill.

Ed

4:33 p.m. on March 3, 2013 (EST)
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Rambler, You pulled an Ed... Came up with a fail situation almost no one is going to survive and ended it that way... No way out.

I checked you out yesterday, and see you are from Ct. That means you just about have to have experience in NH. It made me wonder too if you ever knew William Wombel, but probably not as you are young enough to be one of his sons. He was a winter climber/ hiker Ct St Pd, and lost his life jumping out of a perfectly fine airplane.

My point on the tampons was being a Buck Skinner i do things like char 100% cotton, 100% linen for rondee voo, and for living history. Worst case for these events is a bad T storm, maybe a hurricane or tornado.

The charring of these cloth materials must not have synthetics because the plastic fibers melt. So old items as 100% cotton towel socks and etc are handy to have charred.

Next i have serous doubts Mountain man and or Colonial peoples charred cloth since cloth was a lot harder to come by for them than it is us, and so other items were charred such as shelf fungus, which then later could catch and hold/take spark.

Certain fungus can take a spark as is just dry and that one has several names and I call touch wood.

In any of the situtations you and Ed have called for so far, i would be a dead man, unless i had 1 gallon of gasoline and a flare.

I have had some wicked cold hands mista' too. Don't take that wrong i am not calling you a name it's just yhenguies (yankee)

For New Years Eve's thru February Full Moon in the Whites I created mittens for me, and anyone willing that do not come off, but by manipulating the 3 basic components you (at the time could run a 35 mm camera to load film) can open thew screw driver blade of a Swiss Army Knife, and or pick up and dime to make a call on a pay phone. BTW in that neck of the woods if you want to make a call you still will need a pay phone. There is no cell service period.

My questions to you and Ed are if indeed one is in that much trouble, and can't use his hands, and I assume can't use his teeth to start fire, what is anyone going to do, except pray?

It appears to me that the only thing left anyone can do is eat as high a carbs foods as you still have and get moving no matter how bad it hurts. The other option is death.

As a part time RMC care taker for Gray Knob, the Craig Camp, the log cabin and the Perch, and before that the AMC emergency quonset hut now removed from Edmond's Call ( don't bother searching that place it is pre PC by far) I have seen some very cold people suffer and i have seen some colder ones at eternal peace.

Once i gave a Boy Scout MY Mittens, which really put me in a jam. I found him at age 12 sitting on a rock in Feb about 1.25 miles west of Gray Knob, wearing green rubber boots, and he wore K-Mart mittens, and has assorted other city dweller so called outdoor clothing on.

I force marched him at the threat of being kicked with 12 point spikes on my hard koflach boots to MOVE, and that kid did not want to move a bit, but he did. I was worse than the grim reaper was so far as that kid was concerned. As a care taker that was the first and only fire i ever started in the Gray Knob Camp stove. Then at that time the care taker had his own room, and with bunk beds and i stuffed that kid in 4 down bags on the top bunk and went to the Perch and ranted the Scout Leaders out until I was hoarse.

I am still not at peace with giving MY mitts up yet.. I hate that pain.

Now best i can tell is Ed survived his 1st bad hair day by managing to get into his dry bag..... I will guess he ate high carb food.

That is what i would do.... Any times i wish I was warmer I eat high carb foods and i get moving. When I can use my hands again then I will make a fire if possible and if it is with in reason legal.

There are times I can not make fire no matter what, even if i desire one, but planning usually prevents that need.

Getting long i know.

Once i walked off the trail in a February of the year because i could tell the trail from a water bar. The whole mt was in hydraulics and water was pumping out from every opening in the ice packed trail there was and running up threw roots and coming out from under boulders as if the fire dept were there pumping streams 50 feet +.

It was +55' and raining... When I discovered i was off the trail I had no idea how far, or where I made the error. It was getting on to dusk hard, and I wasn't to happy about that or being out in a bivey in all this water a bit.

I knew at any time the temp could drop to well below 0 and everything would flash freeze.. I wasn't wet other than my 60/40 was, and my wool was sort of damp, but my pack was fine.

With no choice I happened on a larger slightly off level boulder and set up camp on top of that in the rain.... Oh Well I had a gortex bivey sack and with in reason that worked. I wasn't going anywhere in gray out fog in that rain after dark by head lamp either.

So the point is How do you get out of these things if you can't create fire?

4:38 p.m. on March 3, 2013 (EST)
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Patman said:

Dang Ken, you're freaking me out about my stream crossings. lol, seriously though, good words to share and well said...

 Me too, as I fell today jumping one stream wearing snow shoes... 40 degrees air temp, water temp I don't know but it snowed last night, and there is ice on the banks... of course had I gone in the water which I did not, I would have hoofed it home double time....

6:17 p.m. on March 3, 2013 (EST)
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There are ways to start a fire, just not with basic methods such as a fire steel. Main point being you have to have a plan and the means to do so ahead of time. Prevention is the other side to this of course. Plan ahead, use a pack liner and waterproof dry sacks for the critical insulation items etc.

My personal emergency fire starter of choice is the sparkler pieces previously mentioned. Road flares are also another good option. Something that burns extremely hot, can be lit with limited dexterity, and will burn long enough to ignite wet materials. I always carry some kiln dried pieces of wood and some fat wood in my winter fire kit as well to get things started well, and my kit is always on my person.

6:42 p.m. on March 3, 2013 (EST)
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whomeworry said:

Heck, you can always add a broken arm to Ken's stream crossing slip and fall.  That happened to me getting water a few years back.  Fortunately it was summer. 

You should be freaking, especially if soloing.  Streams and running water account for a significant number of wilderness emergencies.  One comment I would add if you had an emersion incident when cold: if you cannot get a source of heat almost instantly, at least put a hard shell over whatever you are wearing, to reduce the effects of wind chill.

Ed

 

Ed,

I was having fun with Ken with a nod to his convincing post and evocative imagery. I’m of course well aware of the dangers of water crossings as I can hardly plan a route here where I live without multiple crossings.  As I pointed out, it’s a good reminder.

I disagree that I should be freaking out; that never helps anyone. J

8:35 p.m. on March 3, 2013 (EST)
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If you haven't read this, or read it lately, maybe now's the time?

To Build a Fire

That's the complete 1908 'adult' version of the story. Around here, it's taught in grade school (because culturally appropriate and environmentally applicable, I guess?). An effective bit of my education, for sure.

It always looks shorter on the page than it is in my memory, but I think that's because every time I read it I end up holding my breath. :)

9:06 p.m. on March 3, 2013 (EST)
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TheRambler said:

There are ways to start a fire, just not with basic methods such as a fire steel. Main point being you have to have a plan and the means to do so ahead of time. Prevention is the other side to this of course. Plan ahead, use a pack liner and waterproof dry sacks for the critical insulation items etc.

My personal emergency fire starter of choice is the sparkler pieces previously mentioned. Road flares are also another good option. Something that burns extremely hot, can be lit with limited dexterity, and will burn long enough to ignite wet materials. I always carry some kiln dried pieces of wood and some fat wood in my winter fire kit as well to get things started well, and my kit is always on my person.

 Yeah well my supply of white phosphorus is a little light these days, but I understand you might be of help? ;-)

You guys (Ed) need to know I am a equal opportunity wiseguy. Don't take anything I say personal.

It's just I like to see the way out if, there is a way in.

Me: I am like a fine thoroughbred horse. If there is a way to get into trouble, I don't need a bit of help finding it. :-)

My mantra is Stay dry.

9:36 p.m. on March 3, 2013 (EST)
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Islandess said:

If you haven't read this, or read it lately, maybe now's the time?

To Build a Fire

That's the complete 1908 'adult' version of the story. Around here, it's taught in grade school (because culturally appropriate and environmentally applicable, I guess?). An effective bit of my education, for sure.

It always looks shorter on the page than it is in my memory, but I think that's because every time I read it I end up holding my breath. :)

 That is a great book.

Being a winter camper in my other world, that of the old ways, where matches, lighters and modern strike a lites, are forbidden, BECAUSE they didn't exist pre 1840, AND fire was key to living if the plan was to be living. one learns a few tricks.

These don't count tampons, waxed saw dust, cotton balls with some chemical agent, and assorted other modern things because ALL of these items are forbidden.

Those who play this game call it Frozen Toe. There are very few of us left. Evidently we either all froze to death ;-) or we are getting up in age where modern creature comforts may mean more than swapping lies around a camp fire wearing mocs on your feet.

Granted we don't go swimming with any snow on the ground on purpose.

Fire starting that is allowed is 18th century flint and steel sets, with real carbon steel, usually hand made and forged from a file, with real flint, or chert. These kits tend to be in very tight, very close to water proof candy tins, and we tend to have assorted other items in the tins, which would be char cloth, bits of touch wood, maybe pre charred tree fungus, possible a coil of linen line, maybe a few hand made fish hooks and a looking glass, which today is called a magnifying glass.

We tend to have a main kit and then another one in every other bag or pack (shooting bag / haversack and grub bag) we have. And so many knives.... Since these knives can't be stainless then they can only be high carbon steel, and so if these happen to be heat treated a bit hard on the spine, these to could be struck with real flint/chert and create white hot sparks.

Make no mistake, the only rocks that burn are coal. When real flint/chert is struck on hard carbon tool  steel the white hot sparks are burning steel not rock.

That looking glass if there is any sun (this is NH USA there is never any sun) could make a fire in the usually way with glass and or with a ice lens if you are into a good time for grins.

My back up to ALL is the bow drill. In general I can spin up a coal in 120 seconds any time i want, and that counts a rest time.

If i lost everything in 3 seasons I would be able to make the tools and have fire in a few hours. In dead winter +10 all wet i would just lay down and die.

However if my tin was saved and I had nothing but wet and plenty of TIME, with no char and bad bow drill materials i can combine tech, and spin up char and still use the flint and steel even if the char won't become that all important first coal for that first fire.

However by certain standards set by the laws of nature one might not get that far.

This is one reason in the 18th century brigades and parties traveled as groups.

Of course anyone into this world will have no less than one flintlock gun, and having a decent flintlock is just another fire starter with or with out using powder.

 In this circumstance the gun powder would be key in a real cold and wet emergency, and about 1 pounds worth if it came to that.

Still TIME is critical, because where you are and where i am there is tons of wet snow and every burning thing not made dry is soaking wet.

When I want fire in winter doing frozen toe I first find fuel as dry as i can. In the doing i build a log raft on top of the snow. The logs are wet and what ever i can find and i could care a less these logs are wet. In fact i like them wet. That way they don't become fuel.

With any dead standing I can get i do and of i can find dead standing sapling hemlocks i will take up to around 10 of them just as first fire tinder. That dead fine type of twigs will burn up hot and fast. Add in any birch tinder and things get hot real fast.

In 20 minutes you can have coals on the raft and be driving out moisture in a reflector made of wood that will be fuel next.

As Jack London  warned us, I do look up.... There is no sense building a fire under a snow loaded limb, to think you just saved yourself in the nick of TIME and get the fire doused with a heap of wet snow.

Reading that book and learning some of the old ways never can hurt.

9:52 p.m. on March 3, 2013 (EST)
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Patman said:

whomeworry said:

Heck, you can always add a broken arm to Ken's stream crossing slip and fall.  That happened to me getting water a few years back.  Fortunately it was summer. 

You should be freaking, especially if soloing.  Streams and running water account for a significant number of wilderness emergencies.  One comment I would add if you had an emersion incident when cold: if you cannot get a source of heat almost instantly, at least put a hard shell over whatever you are wearing, to reduce the effects of wind chill.

Ed

 

Ed,

I was having fun with Ken with a nod to his convincing post and evocative imagery. I’m of course well aware of the dangers of water crossings as I can hardly plan a route here where I live without multiple crossings.  As I pointed out, it’s a good reminder.

I disagree that I should be freaking out; that never helps anyone. J

 Oh I freak out ..... Long after what ever disaster has been dealt with as best it can be. last time was a mc crash on Pine Ridge. Bruised my wife's right hip hard, cut her right elbow to the bone. Bruised my own right hip harder, and broke my 3 lower right ribs... again :-)

Got up, switch off the ignition. I had just filled up gas too :-( and that was pouring out the key hole.

The mc trailer was wedged between the rear fender and the hard bags, and 6 men couldn't pull it out.

The EMT folks wanted me but my TIMER was On.. I had to free that trailer and get the bike up. But right after the key i set to my wife's arm with cold water, a clean white towel and washed and scraped gravel and sand from her wound. She took it with out a whimper.

The EMT folks showed up and I got them to deal with her, for TIME.

Once the bike was up they I allowed them to look at me. A few pokes and it was confirmed 3 broken ribs... They asked if i wanted to go to a hospital I said No.. They asked if there was anything else they could do and i said yeah Blood Pressure.... passed wasn't low it was high, I like high that time. Got my trailer hooked to a pick up, got my wife a rode in a car and i rode that bike off that gravel road myself and just before i ran out of TIME.

When we got to a place we could sleep, I needed help to get off the bike. Once i was off the bike I freaked out.

That didn't end the trip either. I was 1/2 way across the US and the whole point was getting all the way across. We did, and before my ribs were healed we were in Fla, but my ribs didn't heal till we were back in Oklahoma. It would appear i made a wrong turn leaving Fla  :-O

That was where we were on day 4 after the crash when at night a tornado slipped by on the rolling plains.. I freaked out then to because i knew that sound, but had no idea which way was safe or which was was certain death...... Missed the bunk house by around 250 yards.... In the day light the grass was mashed in wild looking figure 8's..

9:41 a.m. on March 5, 2013 (EST)
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Patman said:

whomeworry said:

You should be freaking, especially if soloing... 

 

..I disagree that I should be freaking out; that never helps anyone.

I assumed you were freaking from the comfort of a wing back chair in front of a nice fire.  Freaking out while reading a post will motivate one to consider and plan in advance, so they don't freak if they end up in a fix.  In any case I assumed you already know the topic, Pat, but I also assume others, who my have less experience, are listening in too.

Ed

9:57 a.m. on March 5, 2013 (EST)
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Lodge Pole said:

..Now best i can tell is Ed survived his 1st bad hair day by managing to get into his dry bag..... I will guess he ate high carb food...

 

Eating would have helped speed my recovery, but I was too frozen to recall that tip at the time.  As it was my chill was not an issue of calorie reserves and I could still walk so I wasn’t too far gone; rather it was just a matter of escaping the cold, wet, and wind, so I would re-warm.

Ed

10:21 a.m. on March 5, 2013 (EST)
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Bill (Lodge Pole):

It occurs to me I have fallen short of providing a reply that satisfies your query: how did I get out of these situations I described?  I provided the description how they occurred, and what steps I took that allowed me to get out and be here to relate my experiences.  Yet it seems you ask for more.  I think the only thing I can add is one has to take a grim set, and somehow not let the suffering over power the will to keep pushing on.  It is pretty amazing our capacity for suffering when pitted against our will to live.  You know you are close to your limits, though, when every single step becomes an intermediate objective, or when the cold of fording a creek passes through you, not into you.  So I guess will power plays a part in getting out of really stupid situations.

Ed

1:56 p.m. on March 5, 2013 (EST)
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@Ed

Oh I see, gotcha....

This discussion turn has been a really good one for me exactly because I do solo so much and cross so many streams. I'm guilty of over confidence from time to time which, when mixed with over ambition on a trip can lead to a potentially  bad occurrence. A considerable factor in my wife being OK with all my solo trips is what I call “safety cred” and sometimes "trust equity". For the last 7 years or so I’ve averaged roughly 24 solo weekend backpacking trips per year and have never been seriously injured (although I did leave the trail for an ER once to get stitches for a bad cut) or had any really close calls other than getting hammered by a storm.

The stories you and Ken relate are sobering and quite useful.

No matter the experience level, all it takes is one misstep to wind up in a life threatening situation and it’s a damn good thing for me to remember!

4:40 p.m. on March 5, 2013 (EST)
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@ Ed, Yeah the power of mind has a lot to do with how things end.

I have been scared and cold before, but early on I learned to not get very cold. 

I learned wet is a real bad idea in well below 0 temps and with fairly high winds which are normal about tree line in the Whites here in NH. These mts are no more than bumps but have world records of pure nasty weather, and I have been out in it many times. 

I don't suffer for it because I made some of my hands gear work for me. I also eat snacks constantly and stay hydrated.

These things keep my mind as sharp as it can be.....  Not smart, but aware, the carbs give me power, and the gear keeps me from serious heat loss.

I have been in gear arguments a few times too, usually with people who don't know you can't remove your mitts long enough to accomplish any tasks. 

Way back I learned these lessons trying to do tasks that I could not do in store bought mitts and these lessons hurt with real pain. 

I have suffered other gear failures too. One came as a bad hair day surprise with bad fitting boots, but they were fine going up, just sucked the biscuit coming down. This was around the time the very first plastic winter tech boots had come out.

That set made 1 trip... Up was great, down and my shins were burned and rubbed raw and i didn't even pass the store on my way off the mountain, and in they went to be consigned. I knew i wasn't getting out of that pain free and my down north face booties were not going to cut it.

Most of the places I do in winter are fire free in the first place. It would be a real emergency for me to want a fore in that case.

Food is my heat source them and not getting wet a bit.

My gear helps there too. I will hike slightly cold to stay dry. Little tricks like have no gussets in wind pants and HAVE 18" zippers, so once I am in boots and gaitors the wind pant zippers can be open above the gaitor tops. A turn to the wind above tee line can be invigorating, and that's about the best way i can say it of a forum with mixed genders too! ;-)

 

The main reason I am drilling you and Rambler is to see if there is something I don't know that might save my butt if i screw up...

Not screwing up is the best way to stay alive... After one screws up then things get dicey. I might slip and fall into water in winter.. I might fall and break a leg... Where i go it ain't worth the weight of a cell phone because other than maybe take a few pics it's worthless.

If my number comes up, my number better have a cure, or I won't be coming home anyway.

I am as ready for that day as i can be. I just won't like it if it is because I screwed up.

Had a Skinner buddy Jay, and one morning he woke up, started his camp fire and stood up sayin' Oh What a beautiful day, and it was..... The next thing he did was just drop dead.

 

That is a different Jay than my little brother who has also past on... The red rag in my avatar pic was his, and it is a map of the Northern Presidentials made by the RMC. I still have that.

Mine was black and the same map, but i gave my black one to the new RMC winter caretake when I sent my brothers ashes to the 4 winds on Mt Jefferson. I had worn that black rag to the summit...

A tic bite killed my brother, just so no one freaks out..... It happens..

Kinda ramblin, had a bad hair day with a machine, and gotta run... Hope there is some point, but I am not sure myself..

11:05 a.m. on March 6, 2013 (EST)
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I too hike clothed on the chilled side to reduce sweat.  Just keep moving, sipping and snacking. 

I try to avoid closing up my tent, that traps moisture.  Good air circulation encourages ice to sublimate off tent contents too. 

The one weird cold tip I have that few practice is wearing house hold dish washing gloves as a base layer when you are doing a bunch of chores that require dexterity.  Warm them up inside your jacket before putting them on.  These are worn under my camp "flippers" - big old fleese lined mittens that keep the hands warm, but offer very little work utility other than grabing big objects. 

I haven't found very good hand gear for technical mountaineering.  Every glove I have tried ends up compromised after a long day.  I just end up bringing two pairs or more.  A pretty bulky and unsatisfying solution.

My super cold head wear is a couple of balaclavas, oversized ski goggles and alpaca scarves wrapped loosely around face and neck, under my hood.  This wool is super soft and the loose wrap eliminates the neck draft issue.  Wearing a helmet has been a nuisance; I can't solve the interface along the edge of the helmet, and sometimes end up with nippy ears. 

I used to have this great full faced goggle mask for northern winter treks, but lost it on the way home after a trip.  Can’t find this item for sale, it looked like a hazmat full face mask.  The snorkel masks they have nowadays for artic trekking fall short IMO. 

I always use a combination of down and synthetic/wool gear on cold trips.  The down is great for all the obvious reasons, but should it get compromised, it is good insurance to have the synthetic and wool stuff around.  Only the last warm layer is down; all the under layers are synthetic or wool.

Ed

11:52 a.m. on March 7, 2013 (EST)
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Ed we have a few similar gear tech ways but not all.... I use a large cotton print rag as a face mask in wind over my beard. It freezes and I want it too. That way I can form it in shapes.

I do use 2 balaclavas semi turned as well to tighten up the exposed areas... Will top that with a silly hat that  has ear flaps like a Bomber Helmet but has a different visor to hold my hood out of my vision, and of course goggles.

Instead of a wool scarf i use black silk from a old dress. it is 3 feet x 6 feet, and i get year round use of it.

 

My mitts are added as i dress. Getting dressed from a bivey bag is a process. At -40 below most anything is.

 I sleep in longies, and still in the bag i will change into a new set, bottoms first. Once i have on a plaid wool dress shirt over longies I put on old boot sock mitts cut out for my fingers and the worn heel hole is for my thumb. That works like your flippers if i understand you correctly.

Once these mitts are on this way they don't come off again all that day. These are up to my elbows. Next goes on a wool jack shirt, and that seals the mitts for sure. 

At any time here I can put on thin poly pro glove lines with out taking off the wool sock mitts.

Still while getting dressed, depending on weather i add a down vest or I add a down parka, and slip out of the bivey more and deal with new wool socks. Then decide what pants.... heavy wool to be slow or cargo shorts to be fast, then wind pants, and down booties which remain on til after breakfast.

After breakfast i finish dressing by removing that down parka and stuffing that in my day pack. Depending on weather I may put on or take off the down vest. So far i have never seen any weather i needed the down vest and parka on at the same time. The parka is a old North Face in rip stop on both sides. It stuffs as small as a LL Bean Down vest and is 100% top notch goose down at 10 ounces and very old. Like new in 1976 old...

Of course during breakfast all sorts of hat combos are on.. Breaking camp for a summit run on goes a old 60/40 which i only have unlined.

Over the 60/40 sleeves goes my OR brand mitt shells.

 

I still have a leather full face mask, but the elastic has seen better days. never liked it it was a last step if I must have more protection. I used it a few times, but never liked to wear it.

 

These mitts were a product for 35 mm film days. Somehow i had to have a means to load and unload film in a minolta camera body. I have these bodies still  101 's. Tanks with many lenses. I never had money for Nicon (bummer huh)

So i also had to work the camera controls, and these cameras once cold stayed cold, or at least i hoped so. Allowing them to warm up always was a problem as condensation would build inside and then the next time they got cold the film would freeze and stick, and you could not advance the film and that would just tear the strip up...

 

In my profile is a typical me in the wind.. I am sending my little brothers ashes to the 4 winds... Summit Jefferson... Next tallest in the residentail range.. ;-)  Mt Washington is too commercial to suit my moodiness for death.

 

I am not crouching in that pic because i gotta pee either LOL That wind was forcing me to stay a tad low.

 

Oh the hell with it.... I will move the pic here......


ashes.jpg

11:59 a.m. on March 7, 2013 (EST)
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430 forum posts

For grins.... In that pic in the distance is a dark line. That is the mts at the Kanc, Rt 112 and I live just over the other side to the south today.

As the crow flies I live 27.30 miles from the summit of Washington.

August 22, 2014
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