I suppose the trip that really taught me a lesson about weight and extraneous gear was the trip I took last September with my dad. The backcountry lake we were intending to canoe into has 9 permits available, and it was a busy weekend and we were just too late - I felt very stupid. The ranger told us if we portaged a bit we'd reach a lake with few campers if any at all. A bit. Because of the amount of gear my Dad and I brought with us, and the fact that we'd rented a 2-person canoe with the intention of only canoeing - we had a great deal of weight. It turns out we ended up portaging 19-kilometers just to get to the next lake, all of it with either a canoe strapped to my head and shoulders or carrying an awkard canoe-bag, certainly not amenable to hiking. A canoe bag is a thick, sturdy canvas sack designed to safely carry gear in a fairly waterproof housing, with thick leather straps attached for securing it.
And so I have spent considerable time, imagination and effort to reduce my load for trips. I have left my camp shovel (the folding variety) behind - I can use a sharpened stick for digging, etc... etc... Weight in a back-pack adds up by the grams, and lightness is gained from gradually overall reduction. But some items are indispensable: I have a camping axe, which is useful for many things - primarily for felling deadwood and splitting logs for firewood - but once you have a long tree laying on the ground, the best way to cut it is with a saw.
And this brings me to the reason I started writing this post: I want a Buck Saw. Bucking wood is the act of cutting boughs and logs into manageable pieces. I want item 'A' in the image below this quote - Lee Valley's web site describes it thusly:
"Buck saws are ideal for cutting firewood or for felling and bucking trees (up to 6" in diameter), but are not usually portable. These well-made modern versions are.
Available in two sizes – 18" and 24", the saws pack up into a compact 1-3/8" dia. by 19" and 1-3/8" dia. by 25" size respectively for easy transport or storage. The open A-frames have 6-1/4" throats and are made of lightweight anodized aluminum. The Swedish steel blades have an aggressive cutting action that is both fast and easy to control. Both saws assemble in under a minute and pack up neatly in the largest handle part.
The highly portable 18" version is an ideal accompaniment for camping, backpacking, etc. The 24" model, with its longer, more comfortable stroke and greater speed, is best suited for trips to the wood lot."
*Wouldn't you know it - 12 hours after I posted this, I get an e-mail from Ray Mears' company stating they have just added a new item to their online store - a folding buck saw. But of course I don't know what it looks like and I want to see an image first begore I decide this is better than the one posted above. The description begins with -
"As salt is to pepper, this saw is to the axe. They complement each other perfectly."
Anyway, by the time we reached the end of the portage I was pumped full of endorphins, and felt wonderfully drugged up and happy and like I could walk for hours. We canoed the last kilometer as daylight rapidly vanished (it was mid September) and we clamboured onto shore as the sun spent its last 10 minutes in the sky. We immediately directed our efforts to making camp - Dad was terrific at putting up the tent and arranging the gear and I drank a beer while lighting the fire. That or the next beer were maybe the nicest beers I remember drinking: