“Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
and he will establish your plans.”
Just wanted to share a video that Shug did featuring one of our Loco Libre Gear quilts while on a hike in Finland, Minnesota
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
and he will establish your plans.”
Just wanted to share a video that Shug did featuring one of our Loco Libre Gear quilts while on a hike in Finland, Minnesota
“Oh, it’s love so undeniable
I, I can hardly speak
Peace so unexplainable
I, I can hardly think”
Here we are, another Christmas upon us. And once again, as many christians do, I reflect on “the reason for the season”. This year I guess I dug a little deeper than other years past, and what I was confronted with was a simple truth. Yes, Jesus was born the Saviour King, because as Romans 3:23-24 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus”. So Jesus was sent to be a redeeming sacrifice, but why would a just and righteous God care to be bothered with all my nonsense? LOVE! John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Furthermore, John 3:17 says, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”. We are redeemed because we are LOVED! This is not a new truth to me, but rather one that I had to be reminded of amid the hustle and bustle. I pray that you too know how much God loves you.
As you fight the mall traffic and the short tempers and anger that the commercialized christmas season lays upon those around you, remember, it’s not just Christmas, but the day Love was born!
God Bless You All and a very Merry Christmas from Walking With The Son!
For your viewing pleasure here is my favorite Christmas song this season:
“Like cold water to a thirsty soul,so is good news from a far country.”
The High Falls Loop in the northwest corner of New York’s Adirondack Park has been on my to do list for about 4 years, and I finally decided to check it out in the beginning of November this year. As I pulled out of my driveway for some reason I though my gps said it was a 298 mile drive. As I went through Syracuse I new something was amiss. A quick check of google maps revealed that it was actually a 410 mile drive! For an overnighter! Yikes! Oh well, only two hours to go sooooo, onward weary soldier.
Actually I’ve driven much further for an overnighter. I don’t mind when the trip promises to be a good one. It was a weekday trip, and even though this loop is popular, I hoped for a bit of solitude.
The loop itself is only about 16 miles, and either starts or ends with a short .4 mile road walk. I opted to start on the Eastern Leg with the road walk, just to be done with it. Just as I saddled up a couple came out of the woods; it was Levi Tate and his wife from Hammock Forums. It’s always great to meet other forum members. We talked for a bit and I got the 411 on the trail conditions. The forecast was for wet feet. It’s not like I haven’t dealt with that before, so after some pleasant conversation off I went.
The eastern leg of the loop starts on an old railroad grade from years gone by that used to haul lumber in the area. It didn’t take long before I came to the first wet spot. The plank bridges on the trail were floating and I was going to get my feet wet. Fortunately there were some state workers there diligently working on the beaver dam to try and drain the trail.
Honestly, wet feet don’t bother me, and I knew they would dry soon enough. Views of Cranberry Lake teased me through the trees, and by the time I reached Janacks Landing my feet were dry. I stopped for a quick snack break and took in the forest around me. The most memorable thing was the smell. The entire trip I enjoyed the scent of the pines trees – I don’t remember if they were spruce or fir, but the smell reminded me of the New Jersey Pine Barrens, near my home.
The miles flew by and when I reached the junction to Cat Mountain I was slightly surprised that I had covered 3.6 miles in 45 minutes. Yes, it’s easy walking, but still, the only shape I’m in right now is round. As I moved along there weren’t any views, just the occasional beaver pond, so I was kind of in auto pilot, not really paying attention. Suddenly I realized I was off trail and thought,” I don’t remember seeing a turn”. I backtracked about 50 feet and sure enough, there was a turn – right onto a tree about 50 feet long that crossed a beaver pond. There was a piece of cord tied from one bank to the other to hold onto, but if you put any kind of pressure on the cord it stretched to the point that you were going swimming! I have to say, for the first 15-20 feet I was not happy. At about the half way point the tree was hewn a little flatter, and finally I was across and glad I was doing a loop. In all honesty, if it were wet and rainy I probably would have slipped and fallen. Whew!
When I finally came to the side trail leading to High Falls I was pleasantly surprised to find that instead of the rocky path following a creek to the falls, it was a nice railroad grade in the woods. It was only .5 mile to the falls but the woods were dead silent. I passed an old piece of machinery used to maintain the railroad, and marveled at all the abandoned equipment I have passed in the Adirondacks over the years.
Finally, I heard the beautiful roar of High Falls. The trail broke out of the woods near the top of the falls. There are the remains of an old, long gone bridge that led to High Falls lean-to #2, now inaccessible except by paddlers, and High Falls #1 sits back from about 100 feet in the woods.
It was a beautiful location, with a privy and multiple campsites, and I can see how this area could get overwhelmed by visitors at certain times of the year.
When I get to camp I like to get all my camp chores done, mostly because I run out of steam at the end of a day of hiking. Today was different in that I wasn’t tired from the walk; the hike only took 2 hours. I was tired from the drive up, but still had a bit energy left.
First order of business was to get my shelter up. This hike would be my first time sleeping in a bridge hammock. I was trying out a Warbonnet Ridge Runner, and I was hoping the extra weight would be worth it. I didn’t have a proper bridge underquilt, so I decided to improvise with a Loco Libre Gear LongHot underquilt. I had brought an old DIY topquilt, since I had loaned all my quilts out, and a HG cuben fiber tarp rounded out the package.
What a great spot! Just far enough from the falls to slightly mute the roar, but close enough to be lulled to sleep. It was everything one could hope for, and best of all I had it to myself.
Next on the agenda was dry clean clothes, and dinner. Since the place was deserted I got changed right at the lean-to while I waited for water boil. I mulled over the idea of starting a fire while my Packit Gourmet Texas State Fair Chili rehydrated, but decided against it. Most of the down wood in the area was pretty damp and I didn’t really feeling like ducking smoke. What I neglected to take into account was the fact that it would be dark around 6 pm and I’d be really bored.
The forecasters on the radio on the way up said the Northern Lights would be visible tonight, and I was excited because I had never seen them. When I hit the hammock around 5 pm I consoled myself with the idea that I would wake in the middle of the night to a glorious light display. I was only half right – I woke many times during the night, but no lights. At about 11:30 pm I awoke and my back was chilled. I tried to ignore it (you’d think by now I’d know better), and finally got up with the excuse that I had to”commune” with mother nature anyway. I keep my camp shoes on my pack while I’m hiking with a piece of shock cord with a mitten hook on either end, and after retrieving that and attaching it to the center D rings on the underquilt and over the ridgeline it was like someone turned on the heat. Next time I use the WBRR I’ll have a proper bridge underquilt.
As a side note, this was the stillest, quietest night I have ever spent in any forest.
Other than waking about 100 times I had a great night’s sleep (and I won’t mention the dream I had of a serial killer attacking me in my hammock, brrrr). No Aurora Borealis either – double bummer. No matter, I still arose feeling refreshed, and broke down camp before heating water for my breakfast; Mountain House Scrambled Eggs and Ham on a burrito with cheese and Chick Fil A Jalapeno Salsa.
After I was finally packed up and prayed for safe travel I hit the trail around 8:30 am. One last look at the falls and I was off to the races. Most of the todays hike was on another old railroad grade, and it would be an easy day of hiking.
The trail is mostly dry, but there would be much more flooding due to beaver activity. Here’s a hint: if you go somewhere called The Five Ponds Wilderness, you’re gonna get wet feet Jack. In reality even though there was more flooding, there were also more beaver dams to cross on.
After a bit of flooding the trail ran along the Oswegatchie River, and as I walked along I heard a dull roar – High Falls. I got to listen to the roar of the falls for a few more minutes until the trail dove back into the cover of the forest and I instantly missed it. The trail and river both meander along, occasionally bumping into each other until the Oswegatchie finally decides to part ways for a while, leaving you to be swallowed up by the silence of the forest.
The interesting (or not) thing about this part of the hike is that you can see far ahead on long corridors of trail. The trail is smooth, so you can actually look ahead instead of looking at your feet. I passed the junction to Big Shallow, vowing to one day visit that part of the Five Ponds, and before I knew it I was at the junction to High Rock.
It’s a short .1 mile side trip, and the view is a classic. There are campsites and a privy, but surprisingly no lean-to. It’s a beautiful spot, but only 3.6 easy miles from the trailhead. If you want an easy hike, or don’t mind company this is a nice overnight destination. Me, I’m just passin’ thru.
The rest of the trail from here on out is what I would classify as boring. At one point I was trying to judge distance by comparing the trail to how many blocks that would be in my neighborhood. Maybe I’m better off not being able to see ahead, lol.
Finally I could tell I was at a low point; the ridge on the right disappeared and the Oswegatchie River appeared in a marsh on my left. One last flooded spot to squish through (thank you very much Mr. Beaver) and that was all she wrote. The time was 11:30 am and when all was totalled I would drive about 13 hours to hike for 5. In my opinion it was very worth it.
All in all it was a nice, easy, peaceful trip. I didn’t pass anyone on the trail in two days, and although some of the walk can be a little monotonous, I’d like to come back. If I can find the time I’d like to dust off the pulk and snowshoe to Cat Pond this winter (as well as climb Cat Mountain) and I’d also like to do a 4-5 day trip traversing the entire Five Ponds Wilderness. As always, so many trips, so little time.
“A song of ascents. I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from?My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber”
Due to injuries in the early part of 2015 (a strained shoulder, then a full distal tear of the left bicep) I hadn’t been on the trail since last December . Happily, my recovery has progressed to the point that I can once again cruise the piney woods and make up for lost time.
Matt and I discussed a number of options and settled on the Catskills, since neither of us had ever backpacked there before. We wanted a loop hike, and settled on the Burroughs Range. We would start from Woodland Valley, cross Whittenberg, Cornell, and Slide Mountains, finally returning via the Phonecia-Eastbranch Trail. It looked like a nice tidy little loop of about 14 or so miles.
We arrived at the parking area at the Woodland Valley Campground around 9:30 am and paid the $6 parking fee at the campground office. The nice lady at the window informed us that the trail we were taking was rated extremely difficult. Undeterred, we thanked her and saddled up for our adventure.
Three things became evident right out of the gate; 1) whoever mapped this trail was in a hurry to gain altitude, 2) he obviously never heard the term switchback, and 3) this old man is out of shape (correction, my shape after 9 months of no exercise is round). No matter, I was just happy to be in the mountains.
While the climb was steep, it was nice to gain some altitude for a change. We came to a nice level spot with a sorta view, and decided to break for an early lunch.
While it wasn’t the sweeping panorama that one dreams of when in the mountains, it certainly was encouraging to see just how much we had already climbed.
Back into the fray, we continued on our upward journey until, finally, we hit a fairly level stretch. Not the kind of level that says “we made it”, but that kind that says “get ready sucker, cause it’s gonna end soon”. We passed a spring that was flowing good, and took that as a sign that they all were flowing as well. We took a break at the junction of the trail to Terrace Mountain Lean-to, since my map indicated the next 1.3 miles to the summit of Whittenberg would be steep.
In places the climb was steep and unrelenting. There were ledges to scramble over, and if I were in better shape it would have been a blast. As it was, we just met each climb head on and claimed our victory one battle at a time.
Finally, a little past noon, we reached the summit of Whittenberg Mountain, with it’s fantastic views over Ashokan Reservoir. Sitting in the breeze, taking it all in, the struggles of the morning seemed to vanish.
We finally pried ourselves away, and started the trek toward the summit of Cornell. Cornell summit really doesn’t offer anything in the way of views, and was more of an obstacle to our ultimate destination for the day; the col between Cornell and Slide. Someone told us the climb up Cornell was a cakewalk, but we found there was more ledges and scrambles, and at one point we had to take our packs off, and hand them up a small chimney like ledge.
After what seemed like an eternity of downward scrambles the trail leveled out in the col between Slide and Cornell. We reached the first designated campsite and it really looked kind of dismal. We were pressing on to the spring anyway, so we decided to go to the next campsite near the base of Slide. As we moved on we passed a hiker who informed us that the spring was dry. I was down to my last few swallows and because of the exertion and my water rationing I started to feel nauseous. As I sat and attempted to recover, Matt went ahead and looked for the next campsite. A nice couple out for a day hike offered me an extra bottle of water they had and I gladly accepted. It wouldn’t be enough to get me past my malaise, but it was a welcome help. They also offered that there was a flowing spring 1/2 mile and 500 vertical feet up Slide. I thanked them and plodded on, finally catching up with Matt at the campsite.
The wind had picked up and it looked like rain, even though the Weather Channel had assured me otherwise. Matt had a 1.5 liter Nalgene of water, so we decided to call it a day. First order of business, before I ran out of steam or it rained, was to make camp. We got set up in record time, but I had my concerns about my tarp choice for this trip. Since I thought it was going to be nice I had brought a paltry little Asym tarp. Now it didn’t look like much coverage, but I’d have to make do. Maybe it won’t actually rain !!??!! Saving that 3 ounces over my cuben full coverage tarp wasn’t so smart after all!
I still wasn’t feeling too hot, so I sat and ate some crackers as Matt cooked his dinner; a big, fat, 15 ounce steak. He kindly shared some with me, and I finished off my dinner with a blueberry Odwalla bar. I was disappointed not to eat my Pakit Gourmet Texas Fair Chili, but that wouldn’t have been very wise given my condition.
We settled in a little before dark and I drifted in and out of a light slumber, until I awoke to the sound of large raindrops hitting my tarp at 12:45 am. The wind was howling, and with every gust my silly little piece of silnylon lofted like a hot air balloon, letting the rain pelt me directly. I knew I didn’t have a choice, so I threw my rain jacket on, lowered the tarp as much as possible, and generally tried to batten down the hatches. To add insult to injury, I went to sit in my hammock and missed, landing flat on my back. Well, at lease there weren’t any rocks. Grumble, grumble, dust myself off and back to bed. Feel around – everything isn’t perfect, but it’s much drier. Finally, back to sleep.
By the time morning rolled around the rain was done. I wasn’t quite feeling normal, but forced myself to eat breakfast anyway. Matt and I talked as we broke down camp, and we decided to cut the trip a little short. Instead of hiking the Phonecia-Eastbranch Trail we would cross Slide and hike down to the parking area at the base of the mountain and try to get a ride back to my truck. As we headed out, the trail decided to get steep again, but we were ready this time. After a few more dicey ledges we finally reached the spring. We tanked up and filled our bottles, taking a few minutes to rest.
While this climb was steep, including some ladders, we were in much better spirits.
Slide is the highest mountain in the Catskills at 4190 feet, but the climb to the summit wasn’t all that bad. We had fought the hard battle the day before, and before we knew it we were at the summit rock. Sadly, there were no views due to cloud cover.
The trail down the west side of Slide Mountain was a cakewalk compared to everything else we had endured on the Burroughs Range. The trail used to be an old carriage road to bring wealthy tourists to the summit.
The hardest part of the walk out was the constant rocky downhill the whole way. As we hiked lower toward the valley, quads screaming the whole way, Matt said,” Well, I can check the Catskills off my bucket list” to which I replied with a chuckle, “Next week we’ll be talking about how great this trip was!”.
When we finally made it to the parking area we saw a couple of fellows we had talked to the day before. Thankfully they agreed to take us back to my truck. Some people call that “trail magic”, but I know a blessing when I see one.
I saw Matt at church last Sunday.
Matt: How you feeling?
Me: Pretty good
Matt: That was a good trip.
Me: Yeah it was.
It Is Well With My Soul – Horatio Spafford
“When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.”
“Been a little quiet over that WWTS these days George.” You betcha! Haven’t been on a hike since December 2014, and the prospects of one before September of this year are glum, as evidenced by the above photo. It’s been a rough 2015 so far, but oh boo hoo. These things have been a blessing of sorts. This is the first time in my life I’ve been able to slow down, and I can truly say it is well with my soul. I have a few new things that are now coming to the forefront, and I believe everything that has happened is a part of God’s greater plan. Maybe I could live vicariously through one of you. Tell me about how you’ve been walking with the Son!
“I’m an American soldier, an American
Beside my brothers and my sisters I will proudly take a stand
When Liberty’s in jeopardy, I will always do what’s right
I’m out here on the front line
Sleep in peace tonight
American soldier, I’m an American soldier”
Staff Sergeant Thomas William Logan Sr. December 8, 1942 – March 27, 2009
A few days ago I decided I didn’t want to do the same old Memorial Day post. I wanted to memorialize an individual who represents the heart of Memorial Day. I see posts that say “Happy Memorial Day”, but the reality for anyone who has or had a loved one who served, it can be a very somber day.
I decided to write about Staff Sergeant Thomas William Logan Sr, or Uncle Tom as I knew him. My first recollection of Uncle Tom was when I was very young – maybe 5 years old. You see I was born in 1964, and my Uncle Tom did 3 tours in Vietnam, so when this soldier showed up at the house and was hugging my mom I was wondering who this guy was. Tommy, as my mom called him, was her twin, and he was on leave, and had to shovel through 18 inches of snow to visit.
Uncle Tom earned two purple hearts in Vietnam. On one occasion he was riding in the back of a duece and a half (2 1/2 ton truck) with another soldier who was on his way home. The truck ran over a landmine and both men were throw into a rice patty. My uncle had a shoulder wound, but “commandeered” a motorcycle from a local to ride and get help. Sadly, that soldier never went home. Uncle Tom signed up for another tour in Vietnam after that, and completed 3 tours.
Sadly, my next memories of Uncle Tom were running into him when I was about 30 years old. He sometimes worked with my Uncle Jack, and I saw him on a job site. I would see him on a rare occasion, and he always would laugh and joke with me. I regret not getting to know him better.
In the above picture Uncle Tom was 66 years old. Even as the war and it’s memories followed him through life and eventually caught him, he was still proud to be an american soldier. Rest in peace Uncle Tom. God Bless the American Soldier!
“Worthy is the Lamb Who was slain,
Holy, holy is He”
Easter/Resurrection Day is the most important day of the year. Yes, even more important than Christmas, the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. You see, Christ’s birth would have no meaning if it were not for His atoning death on the cross. Jesus did not come to live here on this earth, but rather to be a sacrifice for our sins and die on a cross. Why? Through the cross we all have the opportunity of eternal life in heaven, because by dying on a cross Jesus paid the price for all of our sins, past, present, and future.
13 Behold, my servant shall act wisely;
he shall be high and lifted up,
and shall be exalted.
14 As many were astonished at you—
his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance,
and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—
15 so shall he sprinkle many nations;
kings shall shut their mouths because of him;
for that which has not been told them they see,
and that which they have not heard they understand.
53 Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation,who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
9 And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.
If you know Christ, then you already celebrate with me today. If you don’t, please don’t let this day go by without praying to God to become real in your life!
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.”
Last year Paul and I went to Harriman State Park in New York state on the weekend after Christmas in search of a winter hike. This year we decided a 2nd annual WWTS Winter Hang was in order so we returned to Harriman, only this time visiting the northern end of the park.
Bear Mountain loomed over the parking lot of the Bear Mountain Inn, and as we prepared our gear I thought, “Man, that looks like a rugged climb!”. It turns out I was wrong. We would be starting out southbound on the Appalachian Trail, and when a trail sees as much use as this section does trail maintainers have to take serious steps to minimize erosion. About half of the climb is on stone steps that climb just steep enough to let you know that you’re going to breath a little harder before you reach the top.
Not to worry, the grade relents and becomes more of a foot path, with nice views of the Bear Mountain Bridge and the Hudson River.
We paused long enough to take it all in, and with a little coaxing Paul convinced me that lunch on the summit would be so much better, although that might be hard to imagine.
We passed through a nice little stand of pines and then the trail turns onto the paved road that goes to the tower on the summit of Bear Mountain. After a short road walk, and another short pitch with some nice views, we stood at the top, looking over the southern half of the park. There was a parking lot and folks sitting on benches, and even one of those doodads that you put a quarter in and look out over the views. Paul and I decided to pull up a comfortable rock and enjoy the scenery while chowing down. It was a nice, clear, comfortable day, with a light breeze, and by the time we finished lunch we had cooled enough that we knew it was time to get moving again.
Instead of taking the bypass trail to avoid the hike on the summit we stayed on the AT, and I’m sure next time I’ll take the bypass. Not a whole lot to see, but I had to hike it once. The trail down off the mountain top was just as nice as the trail up, and soon we were in the valley again.
After crossing Seven Lakes Drive we got to talking about life and some of the things that good friends talk about, and I didn’t notice that were missed a turn on the AT. We walked along the 1777 trail, and then the Timp-Torne Trail, and finally we turned onto the Fawn Trail. About 100 yards onto the Fawn Trail I notice the white blaze with the red “F” and thought,” hmm, this doesn’t seem right”. A family was walking up from the Anthony Wayne Recreation Area parking lot and they confirmed my suspicion, I WAS in fact meandering without a clue of where I was. Well, to be fair, I had a clue, but I was meandering. Anyway, I also knew that we wanted to be on the Timp-Torne Trail, so after a short bit of backtracking we turned onto the blue blazed T-T trail.
Up, up, up we climbed, over slabs and along some nice trail. Once again cluelessness set in as I commented to Paul that I guess we were on the section that paralleled the AT, but where were the white blazes? I swear to you folks, I’m a much more competent operator than this, or I’d at least like to think so. It turns out that we never doubled back to the AT, but got right on the blue blaze, but I guess I knew that at the time. I tell ya, it’s a wonder my brain doesn’t melt down sometimes immediately upon awaking in the morning. Oh well, no harm, no foul as we eventually linked up with the Appalachian Trail once again. What’s an adventure if everything goes as planned, eh? Soon enough we were walking up on our destination for the day – West Mountain Shelter.
West Mountain Shelter has a bit of a bad reputation due to it’s easy access and lack of water, but the view from the front is amazing, with the New York City skyline some 25 miles distant. On top of that, there had to be a hundred places to hang a hammock. Paul and I immediately set about making camp and securing firewood, and although the wood was slim pickings we did find enough to get a small fire going.
As I inhaled my dinner (Packit Gourmet State Fair Chili, and mighty tasty I will add), something told me to turn around. It was one of those magical moments in the outdoors that plays out over and over, even when no one is around to see it. The NYC skyline had suddenly become ablaze with the reflection of the fleeting sun, and in just a few short moments it was gone.
As the fire died we took in the views of civilization there below us, lights coming on one by one, and reflected on how fortunate we were to be here and now.
As always happens on winter hikes, we wind up in the rack early. Winter nights in camp are long and it’s hard to sleep that long. I was down and out somewhere around 6:30, but by 9 I had to get up to readjust my tarp. The wind had picked up substantially, and I couldn’t stand the flapping of my tarp any longer. By the time I got done resetting everything Paul was up as well, and we did the same with his rig. We went over to the shelter and took some more night shots before resettling in, and I only woke a few times during the night. Somewhere around 6 am it started to rain, and the pitter patter on my cuben tarp told me it was time to rise and shine. I made breakfast and a hot cuppa tea, and as my meal soaked I broke down my hammock.
I had brought along a camp stool I got from Jacks R Better(the same one Shug uses), and it was well worth the weight when you look at the comfort it provides. It’s funny how as the years go by I fuss over the weight of some things, and then add weight back in other places. It was nice to sit under the tarp and pack in comfort.
After packing and preparing for our walk out in the rain, Paul told me he had been thinking about our conversations of the prior day, and it led him to the days’ devotion in 2 Timothy 2:15, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” As the priest of our home we will one day give an account to God as to how we conducted ourselves in that mission field. Did we lead with the kingdom in mind, or did we compromise with the world? Put on the whole armor and be not ashamed of the gospel.
Our walk out this morning would be on the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail, and I was anxious to see the northern end, as I hope to hike the length of the park on this trail in the spring. The trail started with a few ups and downs and water was plentiful. Eventually the downhill got serious and very rocky. There were fleeting views of the Hudson, and then the trail turned into an old road as we reached Doodletown.
Doodletown was a hamlet that had been inhabited at least since 1762, and at it’s peak 300 people had lived there. The park eventually bought out the residents, and by 1965 the town was completely abandoned. As you walk along the trail/road, you can’t help but imagine how rugged life in Doodletown must have been. These were some hardy folks.
The miles flew by, and as we drew nearer to the trail head civilization became more apparent. First we passed some highway construction equipment and powerlines, then on the final downhill stretch we could hear music. It was the sound of the outdoor ice skating rink at the trail head.
And just like that, bam, we were back. It was interesting to me how close, yet how far we were from people and niceties like ice rinks, and inns, and merry go rounds. It just goes to show you don’t need to go very far to get away. Just far enough. I can’t wait until next years winter hang!
Oh Holy Night by John Sullivan Dwight
“O holy night, the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth”
As the Christmas holiday approached I found myself singing my favorite songs, especially Silent Night and Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel. As I sat down to read the account of Jesus’ birth in Luke I was suddenly taken with “Oh Holy Night” and felt the urge to seek out it’s origins. There are others who will tell the story much better, so I will leave it to the reader to do his or her own searching. All I can say is that this wasn’t what I planned to pen here on this most holy night, and so I will yield to the promptings of the Spirit. I have included Josh Groban’s version for your listening pleasure.
Merry Christmas from Walking With The Son!
Just as an after note; when I attended church last night what was the first song the worship team sang? Oh Holy Night! God is good. 🙂
“Paul lived and worked with them, for they were tentmakers just as he was.” NLT
I’m a bit of a tinkerer. In fact I made and sold thousands of alcohol stoves over the years while operating End2End Trail Supply. Wood burning sheet metal stoves, no problem. Anything metal was my forte. Even so, I always admired anyone who could create something from fabric.I never thought I would be able to sew projects like the folks at Hammock Forums and Backpackinglight. I decided to give it a go and bought myself the above pictured Brother xl2600i for my birthday a few years ago, and then it sat, probably mostly due to my lack of confidence. I visited my good friend John Donewar back in March and saw his projects and sewing space and finally decided to give it a go this past July. Now I’m bitten by the DIY bug and I’m here to say if I can do it so can you.
I started out making stuff sacks and small (pin cushion size) pillows, and there’s a good reason why folks start out with these simple projects – you get familiar with the machine and how to sew a straight stitch. In fact, 90% of the DIY projects out there just call for the ability to sew in a straight line. In my opinion learning the functions of the machine and why it might not sew properly were tougher than actually sewing (hint: most of the problems I came across were from improper top tension and improperly wound bobbins). Once I got the hang of it, sewing became quite cathartic. I become absorbed by the hum of the machine and the flow of the fabric.
I will outline some of my projects to date, and include any links I think are applicable. My first project of any real size was a bug net affectionately know as the Fronkey Bug Net, named after it’s creator Fronkey, of course!
I bought the no see um from DIY Gear Supply, and the design is basically a hem at the bottom for a length of shock cord, and a couple of hems up the side. Best of all, I finished it in about a half an hour! Final weight came in at 7.3 ounces, including stuff sack.
By now I had become obsessed with a camo hammock setup, and decided to knock off a camo Asym style tarp made from some 1.1 silnylon I purchased from Ripstop By The Roll. Using a pattern found at DIY Gear Supply this project was a breeze!
With stuff sack, ridgeline, and guylines with self tensioners the tarp setup weighs 6.8 ounces. Throw in a couple of MSR groundhog stakes and the kit weighs 7.8 ounces.
Well, what good is a camo tarp without a camo hammock, so I tapped Dutch over at Dutchware for some Argon 1.6 fabric. Once again, just a few straight seams and the hammock body was done. The ridgeline and whoopie sling suspension was made from 7/64″ Amsteel from Redden Marine, the toggles were cut from aluminum arrow shafts, and the camo 1″ webbing for the tree huggers came from Dutchware as well. I whipped up a bishop bag (basically a stuff sack with openings on both ends) from some Momentum 90 I had laying around and viola, she is fini. Or so I thought.
That’s when I decided to sew up a ridgeline organizer, ala Dream Hammock.
I like the idea that I can slide a water bottle in the middle so I don’t have to fumble in the dark. The weight of my whole hammock rig including hammock, ridgeline, whoopies, toggles, tree straps, ridgeline organizer and bishop bag comes in at 15.7 ounces.
By now my skills were improving and I took on a project that I must admit I was quite nervous about – a down under quilt. I love my Hammock Gear under quilts, and was going to pay for a custom super ultra light summer UQ to go with my 50° top quilt, but I thought, “why not give it a try”. I found a very detailed description of an under quilt someone had made at hammock forums, and decided it didn’t look all that bad. Once again I tapped Dutch for some Argon 67 in Coyote Brown for the inner shell, and Argon 90 in camo for the outer.
I went with 1″ baffles and 3 ounces of down, and according to Catsplat’s UQ Calculator my under quilt should be good down to 51°. I slept in it shortly after finishing, and it got down to 52°, which kept me plenty warm sleeping in only sweat pants and a tee shirt. Best of all it only weighs 8.5 ounces!
Here’s the whole rig:
Shortly after finishing my UQ my buddy Matt asked if I would make him a full length 20° UQ in the same colors as mine. I challenged myself and was able to make it in one day! Whew! I made it from Argon 90 inside and out and filled it with 11.5 ounces of 850 fp down.
It weighed in at 20.6 ounces and should be good to 19°. So far Matt’s tests have given a big thumbs up! Now if I can get Paul’s UQ done I can get on to making my silnylon rain gear, heh heh.