Survival Story in the Pacific

Towards the end of November, fisherman Ron Ingraham, and his sailboat, the Malia, encountered rough waters as he tried to enter Kaumalapau Harbor after sunset. Strong winds took him 200 miles from South Point, and his boat was taking in water after nearly capsizing. Radio comm was knocked out, but he managed to improvise a means to call-in a mayday on the 27th. This was followed by a rather dreadful 12 days of silence on the radio, and the Coast Guard gave up a 4 day search effort, covering a massive 12,000 square miles.

On Tuesday the 9th of December, Ron managed to send another distress call…fortunately for him, the signal was picked up by a nearby US Navy destroyer vessel, the USS Paul Hamilton, leading to his rescue. During the ordeal he ran out of his limited fresh water supply, but he says he survived by catching fish for nourishment and to stave-off dehydration.

In Ron’s words, “I thought I was going to die. I hung in there and it took mental discipline, but these guys are the real heroes and they save people’s lives and I owe it to them all.”

More on his survival account from KITV Hawaii.

New Snowshoes, Wildcamping Along the Ives’ Trail

Hope everyone had an enjoyable holiday break :). I know I sure did, Santa brought me a pair of LL Bean snowshoes :D.

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They are a welcome addition to my kit and will be replacing my older pair, a cheap set made by Alps, which have worn out. Unfortunately, Santa didn’t bring any snow, only rain and unseasonably high temperatures.

Still, the holidays allowed me to get out for a bit and explore some spots that I hadn’t yet been to. A section of the Ives’ Trail caught my eye, and so I packed my rucksack and headed out for an overnighter. The entire trail is about 20 miles long, connecting around 3000 acres of open space and undeveloped land in the towns of Bethel, Ridgefield, Danbury, and Redding. Now, I’m not one to post often about my trips in detail, because most of my camps are stealth, and I prefer to keep my locations private. Perhaps in a later post I can give some information and useful tips I’ve picked up from my experiences stealth camping.

The site I chose to set up was about 200 yards away from the trail, along the shoreline of a beautiful, quiet pond, with a chattering stream running below, and in the midst of graceful Canada Hemlocks.

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The soft, mossy ground was dotted with Partridgeberries…the small, red fruits are edible and have a mild flavour reminiscent of bubblegum. They ripen during the autumn and remain on the plant through winter and into spring.

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This is my shelter setup, a 3×3 meter DD tarp configured into a laavu. There is enough room inside for 2 people and their kit…for one person, there is ample space.

The night was quite windy and sharp. I stayed relatively warm except for some cool spots inside my sleeping bag. I’m not sure exactly how chilly it got, but when I awoke the next morning, I found a few specks of frost on the outside of my tarp.

Here’s the view of the morning sun…

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This is definitely a place to come back to, secluded et sanctum :). Hopefully there will be snow on the ground when I return.

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As always, Leave No Trace ;).

A Package of Flint

Earlier last week, I received a box by post from a friend of mine in the UK. It felt like Yule had come to my doorstep, especially since I knew what would be inside…flint :). Flint and other cherts are very hard to find in the northeastern US, except for spotted locations on the map such as Revolutionary war battlefields and encampments, where it was used to provide the sparks that fires a musket. Of course, this flint was imported.

The Native Americans here did not have access to flint or cherts except through trade, which is why most stone tool artifacts in this region were made from rocks such as quartz and quartzite. Quartz usually fractures much easier than quartzite, which can be tough-as-wrought-nails to bust, but oftentimes the nodules tend to be weakened slightly through erosion, and thus they will not always fracture the way you want them to. Quartzite is more dense, sometimes resilient enough to break your hammerstone, but it makes for exceptionally strong tools. It also seems to produce better sparks against a steel for fire lighting compared to quartz.

Flint, on the other hand, isn’t overly tough nor too brittle, and fracturing tends to be much more predictable. Flint’s rarity, combined with these qualities, makes it valuable and highly sought-after in this part of the US.

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These bits were collected from chalk cliffs along the sea. Very good pieces, and even some decent flakes as well :).

It is definitely a wonderful material to work with – I made myself a few points, some fine flakes, and a couple fragments that would be ideal additions to my fire kit.

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The remaining chunks of flint will keep me quite happy for awhile. Thank you, John :D.

LK-35 Rucksack Modifications

When it comes to affordable pack options, most folks favour surplus military rucksacks because they are usually good quality and relatively inexpensive, though this often comes at the cost of comfort and weight. The medium ALICE pack, though popular here in the States, weighs in at around 6 pounds 8 ounces/ 3 kilograms (with the frame). My Swedish army LK-35 isn’t much better at 4 pounds 12 ounces /2.15 kilograms, and most of that is from the steel frame. The shoulder straps have hardly any padding, and even though they are wide, they do cut into the ribs after awhile. There is also no waist strap. Because of these flaws, a long trek with a full pack will quickly become a wearisome experience. Some modding is in order, so let’s get started :).

For this project, I will be ditching the shoulder straps and frame on my LK-35, and replacing them with salvaged parts from my brother’s godfather’s old rucksack (on right in below photo). The fabric is worn out after years of use, and rodents have gnawed little holes inside during the time the pack was stored in the garage, but the frame, shoulder straps, and waist strap are still in good condition.

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It’s a much lighter frame (made out of hollow aluminum tubing), and measures 14.5 inches/37 cm wide by 27 inches/68.5 cm long, a bit larger than the one on the LK-35 . The shoulder straps are padded half an inch/1.3 cm thick and should make things much more comfortable. I found that the brown waist strap is little too large for my skinny body, but it can be taken off and saved.

And we’re finished! Getting the two smaller loops at the top of the LK-35 onto the frame took some coaxing with needle nose pliers, but it fits. I also saved one of the LK-35’s frame webbings and attached it to the bottom portion to protect my lower back.

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For a waist strap, I didn’t have much on hand other than this 2 inch/5 cm webbing belt. It will do just fine for now until I find something better. I can also remove it when I’m carrying a light load.

Out for a 7.5 mile hike with a 20 pound/9 kilogram load-out…the modified rucksack performed very well :). No aching muscles or back strain thanks to the padded shoulder straps, waist strap, and back support webbings.

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So how much weight did I save?…according to my scale, 1 pound 8 ounces/.7 kilograms (including the waist strap), so the new overall weight is 3 pounds 4 ounces/1.5 kilograms. You could probably save a few more ounces by building a PVC frame, which won’t cost more than a couple $.

I know some people may ask why I bothered shaving-off a pound and a half – a few might say that I’m a “sissy”. Well, the reason I made this adjustment is because I want to maximise my comfort. It’s all too easy to become burdened with excess kit or to not figure the weight of the gear you take along, and end up feeling like a miserable pack mule a few miles in, when a lighter outfit would make for a much more enjoyable time outdoors. I want to enjoy myself as much as possible…otherwise, what’s the point of going out?