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#205251 - 07/29/10 03:35 AM I survived my camping trip!
Phaedrus Online   content
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2841
Loc: Big Sky Country
Sad to say, my overnighter yesterday into today was the first time I've been out this summer! Although it didn't go as smoothly as it could have, overall I had a good time. I don't usually see my work schedule til Thurs or Fri, so short of requesting a specific time off I can't plan too far ahead. But there's a state park about 20 miles away that I really like. Not remote and unspoiled, but it's a pretty area and close enough for impromptu trips. I decided to take an overnight trip just to get out of the city for awhile.

First off, I didn't realize how hot it was- about 90 degrees with 90% humidity! And I wore a black T-shirt, carrying a black long sleeve in my pack in case it got cold at night. Luckily I had a white T from a liquor rep in the back seat of my car. Dressed a bit more appropriately for the weather, I sat up camp and started to get my fire ready.

Recently I traded a Knives of Alaska Elk Hunter to my Dad for an Ontario SP8 machette. I sharpened it up before the trip, keeping the edge pretty thick but getting it shaving sharp. I was eager to see how well it would baton wood. Not having been in the woods for awhile I foolishly tried to split a slender peice by swinging instead of hammering- big mistake! The razor edge cleaved deeply into my index finger with a spray of blood! It was a real gusher.

Luckily one area I never skimp on is the FAK. To me that's good weight, and I'll gladly hump that if I have to. There was so much blood spurting that I couldn't really tell just how big the cut was. It was then that I was glad that I'd chosen a Maxpedition F.I.G.H.T. bag for my kit; it was easy to rip it off (my brand new Maxpedition Kodiak) bag one handed. I wasn't really panicked at all, but I was a bit...concerned. Using a plastic bottle that had a small pinhole in the bottom I squeezed it hard and used the stream to irrigate the cut. Funny thing is I was p.o.'d that the bottle leaked and almost threw it away! Good thing I didn't. At any rate I ripped open a 4" x 4" Hemcon to patch up the cut. Yeah, they're pretty danged spendy but at that moment I wasn't in the mood to consider the price! I cut it into a few chunks and slapped one on. Even though I've used Hemcons before it's alway astonishing just how quickly they stop bleeding cold.

At any rate, suitably patched up I went back to my firewood. No matter how much I bled on it, it ain't gonna baton itself! After my initial miscue the rest of the job went smoothly. I'll say the Ontario is an awesome chopper! I think it would be a bit less work if it had a full flat grind, though. The thickness of the bevel made it stick a bit more than necessary. But on the other hand that thickness helped it baton pretty effectively.

With three nice piles of wood (1 large, 1 split to about 2" x 3" and 1 split into fine kindling) I was ready to get some fire up and running. Having played with my toys from Firesteel.com I was pretty confident I wouldn't need matches, but at the last minute I chicked out and tucked one box of matches and lighter into my pack. As it turns out they weren't needed- my GobSpark Armegeddon & a cotton ball had my fire going on the first strike.

Unfortunately, just as the fire really started cranking the sky began to darken. The rumbling of thunder was getting closer. It became obvious I was gonna get wet, and soon. It wasn't much but I did have one of those $.99 disposable ponchos with me. It was pretty thin but unlike a can liner it did have a hood. With a hunk of paracord as a belt I stayed pretty dry. And with a ripping fire already going I tossed a few big chunks on as a roof and the deluge didn't hurt my fire. There was enough notice to cover my wood piles with 55 gal drum liners. And I almost didn't bring them, lucky for me I threw 'em in.

Overall I had a good time. I was unlucky to get a bad cut & get drenched but fortunate to be pretty well prepared for it. And some of those preparations are things I'd have never thought of if not for sites like ST, ETS, etc. The paracord was very handy: I made a clothesline to dry a few things by the fire, I used it to make a shoulder strap for my water bottles and FAK as I headed down to get water to clean my cut, and it made a decent belt to keep my cheapo poncho from blowing off. If not for ZombieSquad I'd have probably not have the Maxpedition gear, and if not for EMT Life I wouldn't have had the Hemcon bandages.

Aside from having a good time I also got some good ideas on how to better rearrange the items in my FAK to make it easier to find just what I need quickly. For instance, if the Celox granules had been in the flap I'd have used a package of that instead of breaking out the "big gun" Hemcons. Also I should have filled all my water containers before I started fire prep- if I'd have done so I would have irrigated the cut 15 minutes sooner. Still, it was a good experience and I had a good time.
“I'd rather have questions that cannot be answered than answers that can't be questioned.” —Richard Feynman

#205252 - 07/29/10 04:54 AM Re: I survived my camping trip! [Re: Phaedrus]
leemann Offline
Soylent Green

Registered: 02/08/04
Posts: 623
Loc: At the soylent green plant.
Awsome glad you had a good time.

It's the year 2022...People are still the same
They'll do anything to get what they need.
And they need Soylent Green.

#205256 - 07/29/10 11:34 AM Re: I survived my camping trip! [Re: leemann]
pezhead Offline

Registered: 05/18/10
Posts: 76
Loc: Minnesota
Wow good thing you had the necessary resources. It's rained(stormed) a lot around here when we've been camping this year.

#205259 - 07/29/10 01:18 PM Re: I survived my camping trip! [Re: Phaedrus]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7411
Loc: southern Cal
For the life of me, I just don't "get" batoning. I am glad you were able to apply satisfactory first aid - that is useful experience.

I have lit hundreds of fires using natural materials, in varying conditions ranging from dire to benign, and I have never had to "baton" anything. Most of this was some time ago, when a campfire was the only realistic source for heat and cooking. Nowadays I carry either an alcohol or canister stove - no more weight than a machete
Geezer in Chief

#205262 - 07/29/10 02:17 PM Re: I survived my camping trip! [Re: Phaedrus]
unimogbert Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/10/06
Posts: 869
Loc: Colorado
Experience is what you get when you were expecting something else.

You had some experience and survived.
Now go get some more :-)

#205263 - 07/29/10 02:31 PM Re: I survived my camping trip! [Re: unimogbert]
KenK Offline
"Be Prepared"

Registered: 06/26/04
Posts: 2141
Loc: NE Wisconsin
If your plan was to test survival gear, then it sounds like you may need to rethink your gear. A machete is too big (and dangerous) a blade for a survival kit, and a 99 cent plastic poncho is simply not a sufficient shelter - I'd rather use the 55 gallon liners. I do think shelter is the most overlooked aspect of a survival kit. Fishing is the most overlooked aspect (some humor intended here).

You may want to reread the recommendations in Doug's ETS Gear section.

Unless you've had days and days of rain and everything is soaking wet, you really shouldn't need to be splitting wood - at least not in U.S. forests. They have plenty of tiny wood to start and maintain fires, especially if you're not at a heavily used campground, where the woods are already picked over.

That cut on your finger could have cost you your life if you'd been in a real emergency.

If you plan was to camp - for fun, well, then you were seriously SERIOUSLY under-geared.

#205269 - 07/29/10 06:53 PM Re: I survived my camping trip! [Re: KenK]
Phaedrus Online   content
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2841
Loc: Big Sky Country
Okay, my brief writeup was just that- a quick overview, not the whole of my experience! First off I had full blown shelter, I just didn't describe that. The poncho was just a luxury (on that day, that is). Without it I'd have stayed inside where it was dry. I fully agree that poncho isn't what you'd want on a 2 week hike in the boonies. While I probably neglected to mention it, I also had a 9' x 12' x .8 mil dropclothe in my pack and 8 55 gal contractor garbage bags (recall, I used two to cover my wood). So my primary shelter would have had to fail or burn down, then my dropclothe would have to be lost, then a half dozen bags would have had to fail, and I'd have had to have my car stolen- if all those things would have occured I'd have been completely without shelter! grin

Next, I had several knives on me: my Ontario SP8 machette, a Knives of Alaska Alpha Wolf, a KOA Bear Cub, an SOG Twitch II and my Kershaw Scallion. I also have a small gardening shovel. I mentioned the SP8 mostly because I just got it from my Dad and wanted to try it out. For the love of God, NO- it wouldn't ever be my only survival knife. With it's totally flat end it has little other purpose than to chop.

As to the chopping- yeah, one instant of carelessness can have serious consequences. Having used razor sharp blades for 20+ years as a chef I know better. But accidents happen usually when you're doing someting routine. The actual batonning part is relatively safe; the knife isn't being swung at all, and you carefully place the edge on the log. What ever possessed me to swing at that little peice of kindling like I was splitting a stalk of celery I'll never know! blush Again, I know better, or at least I better know better! Luckily I've had a lot of experience dealing with very bad cuts and I had good supplies.

Batonning...I realize that's pretty controversial to some. Could I have managed a fire without it? Yeah. You can't gather wood legally in the park, you have to bring it or buy it there. At the entrance to the park they sell nice dried wood cut to length and randomly split. Never an ideal mix of sizes but usuable to be sure. Processing the wood certainly made it easier to get a good fire, at the expense of lots of preparation. If I'd have been out in the deep woods where the wood may not be completely dry I might have to split it to get to the center. In this case I wanted to test the performance of the knife.

In no way was this a test of survival gear; it was just a recreational outing in a park. True, had I amputated a digit it could have quickly turned into a survival situation, though!
“I'd rather have questions that cannot be answered than answers that can't be questioned.” —Richard Feynman

#205279 - 07/29/10 09:38 PM Re: I survived my camping trip! [Re: Phaedrus]
KenK Offline
"Be Prepared"

Registered: 06/26/04
Posts: 2141
Loc: NE Wisconsin
Glad you were equipped. Its good to get experience so long as one isn't in above their head.

Botonning is fine if you realize that most of it is just for fun and gaining the experience. Many do see it as a last resort if wood is really soaked, so from that viewpoint it is a useful skill ... and you might agree its safer than chopping.

Sounds like you had lots of fun and even more of an experience - more than you planned on :-)

#205282 - 07/30/10 02:58 AM Re: I survived my camping trip! [Re: KenK]

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 1852
sounds like you worked your way thru all the problems and stuck with it rather than hopping in the car and heading home!!..great!!
the willingness to keep going thru the hassles is mark of a good camper,that's the only way to find out how things,and you, work in a pinch.

#205284 - 07/30/10 03:02 AM Re: I survived my camping trip! [Re: Phaedrus]
chickenlittle Offline

Registered: 06/06/10
Posts: 102
Loc: Canada
Sorry, can't help it, gotta say it.

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