'Twas the Night before Bahmas (The Story of St. Mungo and Team of Beagles)

Twas the night before Bahmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Mungo soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny beagles.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Mungo.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now bah away! Bah away! Bah away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St. Mungo too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little beagle paw.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Mungo came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Bahmas to all, and to all a good-night!"
Happy Bahmas everyone and hope you have a great New Year.

Repost: My Lunar Eclipse Photos from February, 2008

Thought I'd repost this on the eve of the Winter Solstice Lunar Eclipse (which hasn't happened since something like 1650)... We get 2 lunar eclipses each year, but having it happen on the Winter Solstice is apparently rare. Anyhoooo.... have a look and a read below!


I heard about the lunar eclipse that was happening this evening, so I grabbed my digital camera, my big Nikon 12x50 5.5º binoculars and went out into the backyard.

The weather is perfect for taking pictures, with not a cloud in sight. It is cold, and clear.

In case you've forgotten (or never really knew, as in my case), a lunar eclipse takes place when the earth gets right in the way of the sun, (i.e. right exactly between the sun and the moon) such that the earth's shadow (lighter shadow is the penumbra, and the much darker umbral shadow appears later) appears across the face of the moon. The blood-red or orange colour is the result of the final bits of sunlight that are able to refract around the earth's atmosphere - the earth's atmosphere blocks the blue light and allows through predominantly the red portion of the spectrum which we see. Here in Toronto, the eclipse starts at 8:43 PM and will end just around midnight. The dark umbral Earth shadow will start to change the moon's colour around 9:00 PM and total eclipse will occur at 10:01 PM. Again, the moon will slip out of the dark umbral shadow and sit in the penumbral shadow until about 10:50 PM.

I used a lawn chair as a camera rest on this very cold night (about 15 degrees below Centigrade) and huddled in my pajamas, wrapped in a scarf, hat, 2 sweaters and a coat and shot off a few pictures. At first, most were pretty blurred as it was hard to control holding the binoculars in one hand, resting as firmly as possible on a lawn chair that was unstable on ice coating the bricks out back - and then with my other hand carefully holding the digital lens into one of the binocular lenses... Anyway, it seems to have worked pretty well and I got the hang of it after a while - necessity is the mother of invention so they say.

Here is the clearest shot I could take at 7:20 PM - the moon looks rather yellow - it was still about 30 degrees from the horizon and so I think the atmosphere was lending a deeper colour to it. The colour is not related to the eclipse.

This next one is really clear - I took this and the next three shots at 8:20 PM - the colour had whitened up as the moon had climbed the sky more to about 40º.

8:20 PM again. A branch from the neighbour's tree got in the way of this picture - but the combination of the camera lens and binocular really picks up great details of the moon's surface.

8:20 PM again. There is a blueish glow at the top of the moon - caused by the distortions of the lenses, not due to the moon's inhabitants hosting a late night baseball game and using high-powered sodium lamps to light up the stadium. The cold air has made me quite hilarious, you see. I am all a-twitter. I run inside for a moment to tell Spring. Spring is bundled up in bed, and promises to look at the photographs. That means she's not going outside. For a second I see myself as a deranged fool dressed in pajamas with an overcoat looking like Dr. Who. And then the insight goes away as I fumble my way out the back door again.

9:10 PM. The eclipse has begun! For some reason, perhaps because I had to move the lawn chair to a less stable area on the snow, the images are not as clear. Here though you clearly see the umbral shadow cloaking the brightness of the moon. Watching it through binoculars is magical really - quite amazing to observe. It's as though someone is drawing a dark, heavy cloth across the luminous surface of the moon.

9:15 PM. This one is taken without benefit of the binoculars - straight through the digital camera lense. Not great. But shiny.

9:26 PM. The umbral shadow has occluded about 50% of the moon's surface. I can hear the clattering of doors around the neighbourhood as people duck out into the cold night to see it. Planes occasionally track through the sky - I wonder if the pilots and passengers are looking, or if they are too caught up in the in-flight showing of Die Hard, and gin and tonics.

9:45 PM. Sixteen minutes until full eclipse - it's getting close. My fingers are beginning to freeze off. The pain has receded, only to be replaced with a slightly frightening numbness. My fingers don't work very well, hard to click the shutter button. It was Captain Lawrence Oates on the ill fated Scott Expedition to the South Pole who said "I am just going outside and may be some time" and deliberately left his tent and went out into a blizzard in an effort to save the rest of his compatriots by leaving them with more food. I am not at that stage yet, but it is sure is chilly.

9:47 PM. This one taken without binoculars. Kneeling on mitts in the snow. Knees cold. Monty is now outside running around in the snowy paths that I made for him the other day. He has located his stick and is galloping full bore around the backyard, proud as a peacock. Now he is peeing. Sorry, back to the moon.

9:55 PM. Shadow almost taking up all of the moon - it is looking a lot more dim in the sky, and the stars around it are beginning to show brightly. A dirty orange glow - soothing and a bit scary in a way.

10:00 PM. If you look at these photos, you can really see the 'man in the moon'. Just a slice of brightness remains. Amazing.

Well, that was fun. I'm inside now, my fingers have warmed up, and I'm getting tired. Time to go to sleep and hope that the moon returns from its eclipsed state and that the sun rises in the morning and that everything goes back to the way it is supposed to be.

We shall see.



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My Warm Military Arctic Gloves, Licorice Allsorts, a Ferret and a bag of Jelly Tots

This is a re-post from a couple of years ago, but I wanted to share it again. The first snow of the year fell on Toronto today, and it is beginning to get cold. I pulled out my shearling hat, and was happy to remember that I had put my arctic gloves in my car trunk. Next time I go for a hike, and it is VERY cold, I'll have them handy.

The other week I went to the local army surplus store and poked around the racks and stacks of the stale smelling offerings. It's quite nice there, if you can get past the awkward people who examine you as you browse the products they sell. I came across a wire basket containing wool socks and grabbed a couple of pairs to leave in my car trunk for an emergency. As I lifted up the package, I saw beneath it a pair of military arctic gloves. Now these gloves are (as far as I can figure) the ultimate in gloves for cold weather. They are issued by both the Canadian and the U.S. military to be used in the arctic bases (North West Territories, Alaska etc...) so I figure they've had some extensive testing. Currently it is -18° Centigrade, or -30° Centigrade with the wind chill. That's -1° Fahrenheit, or -22° Fahrenheit with the wind chill.

They are big. I have big hands - my piano teacher even said so back in grade 10 - and this pair reads 'Medium' and I can fit my hand plus a live ferret, a half pound of licorice allsorts and an unopened bag of Jelly Tots into just one glove.

They have detachable liners that can be dried out in case they get soaked with perspiration, or just mucky.

The leather palms are made of horsehide. Horsehide is known for its rugged durability. Most of those WWII US Air Force leather jackets were made of horsehide leather for this reason.

Canvas draw-tabs and straps allow you to pull the wide gauntlets over your thick winter jacket's sleeves and then pull them tight. Small canvas loops are there to attach to a lanyard so that you won't drop them in the deep snow - I am going to use some 550 paracord to make some nice decorative and tough lanyards.

Finally, the back of the glove is covered with thick woolen fleece. This allows the user in extremely cold weather to wipe frost from their faces and beards without running the risk of scratching numbed, unfeeling facial flesh with cold-hardened plastic or rough edges. It is also useful just to hold against cold cheeks and noses etc... to warm them up quickly in case of impending frost nip.

I wore them down into the valley recently (second picture, hanging from the tree), and while it was very cold outside, my hands felt warm as though they were inside my coat pockets while standing in my living room at home. The wool liner insulates, and the layering effect traps air inside.

My only complaint was that they were so loose, I found myself trudging through the snow, holding my hands up and out like a surgeon who has just scrubbed up and is ready to examine the appendicitis in room 327, as soon as the nurse slips on his latex gloves. That was tiring after a while. Adding the lanyards would help that, and so would wearing a very light cotton or wool mix pair of gloves inside the gloves for a bit of friction. I'd recommend that anyway, so that if you need to be dexterous, you are still at least protected from the extreme cold if you have to slip the big gloves off.

I keep them in my car trunk, just in case an avalanche catches me unawares and I need to camp in the forest for a few days.



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Lest We Forget - Patrick Joseph Doyle - Rifle Brigade, Eighth Army, North Africa and Italy

My Granddad fought in World War II. I take some of the following words from my Mum (Joan) - who included some letters my Granddad sent home.

Patrick Joseph Doyle - Rifle Brigade, Eighth Army, North Africa and Italy .

He "was apart from Gran from 1940 to 1947, and was home on leave just a handful of times. I particularly recall two of those occasions, one was when Anne [my Mum's sister] was born in 1943 and he came home to Dublin on compassionate leave as Gran was desperately ill and not expected to live, and the second was when I made my First Holy Communion. On one of those occasions I remember him saying goodbye to Gran, and to Anne and me, early in the morning when the frost was still on the windows, and Gran cried and cried as he left the room with his kitbag over his shoulder. Later I understood that as they said goodbye, there was no guarantee that they would ever see each other again."

"He would have been 27 when he joined the army, and at the height of fighting in 1943, 1944 and 1945 he was 30, 31, and 32."

"Grandad was in the Rifle Brigade with the 8th Army which was headed by Montgomery, and he was present at the Battle of Monte Casino."

"Addressed to:
Mrs. P.J. Doyle
18 Shelbourne Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin, Eire.

Sender’s Address: 6920752 Pte Doyle, P.J. R.S.Z.A. DET. G.SC. RAOC 5SOD B.NAF.

North Africa Monday, 29th November, 1943

My Dearest Anne,

Arrived safe and sound somewhere in North Africa. Everything is strange and interesting so far. Weather warm. Have written some ordinary letters which are on their way. I probably will not get any from you for some time. I am quite well, and so, if everything is right your end there is no reason to worry, so please don’t. Mail will not be as often as before, but will be as regular as my duties allow. At the moment I am working all night 7 Days a week. The oranges are plentiful. Have become separated from my mate Fred again. I shall probably be moving on from here in due course. My French is improving already. But Arabic except for a couple of phrases is still a closed book. Will write a long letter at weekend, which should reach you around Paddy’s Day – if you are lucky! Give my love to friends and relations, especially Mum, and Dad. You are constantly in my thoughts, and our three stars, which are very brilliant here, is a common bond. I keep praying that you, Joan and Baby Anne are all well. Keep your heart up Sweetheart, like I’m doing, it can’t go on for ever. God Bless you and give you strength and happiness.
Always your ever loving Pat x x x x x x x
Joan x x Anne x x"
"Airmail Letter – 3d. stamp – with an official stamp on the outside saying ‘Released by Censor’.

On the back of the letter, in Paddy Joe’s handwriting he says to the Censor:

I certify on my honour that the contents of this letter refers only to private and family matters.

Addressed to: Miss Joan P. Doyle
18 Shelbourne Road
Ballsbridge, Dublin, Eire

Italy, 28th November 1944.

My Own Darling Mummy, Joan & Anne,

Here comes another Xmas, the fourth that we have missed together. The only one when we were all together, except Baby Anne of course, you were too small to remember, but I remember for you.

I feel for you and Mum, more than I do for myself, cos soldiers must be brave and not care about anything – at least not too much. But while you are enjoying Xmas, as I want you to very much, maybe you would like to know how the little girls and boys here in Italy will spend theirs. Of course they will go to Mass, as they are all very good Catholics, but most of them will go bare footed, or at the best in wooden shoes. But they won’t come home to a nice breakfast and a fire like you will, for you see, laughing eyes, there aren’t any fireplaces in Italian houses, and there is not too much food either. Also there will be a lot of snow, or at least rain to make things worse.

Now in North Africa where I spent last Xmas things will be different. First of all there will be lots of sun – but very little Xmas, as Arabs do not hold Xmas. But ask Mummy to tell you stories, and maybe she will tell you how she and I used to spend Xmas Eve. How I would go out singing hymns to get money for poor children, and when I was finished would visit Mummy in her house and then we would go for walk down the Fort Road (Pigeon Fort Road) and watch the big moon and stars on the water. Or the first present I gave you, Mummy, remember? The manicure set. How bashfully I gave it to you, afraid you would not like it and so proud when you did.

Darling Joan, when you grow older, which won’t be for a long time, I hope you have as much fun and joy as we have had. Anne, the radio is playing, “Together”, followed by “Mean to me”. Can you guess what it’s doing to me? And Baby Anne, sure I scarcely know you, but love you, not more, because in the Magic Four we all love equally. Our first Xmas together I promise you lots of fun and now, my lovely, loved, and loving people, don’t think I shall be far from you at Xmas. Mummy knows I shall walk and talk beside you in spirit.

God Bless you all. Lots of fun and happiness is the wish of your loving Daddy, x x x"


Tuesday, 18th Sept. 1945

Darling Little Laughing Eyes,

When you receive this letter you will be six years of age, P.G. It doesn’t seem such a long time since you were so tiny as to fit comfortably into a small drawer. Many happy returns of your birthday little sweetheart and may all your dreams come through. I am enclosing a little “Ricordo da Roma”, hope you like it.

The country where I am is very beautiful, we are surrounded by forests. Sometimes I go there to sit and think of all the nice times we are all going to have together. If I remain very quiet the little squirrels come chattering down the trees in search of nuts. They are very industrious in laying by a stock of food for the winter and then when the snow comes (it remains on the ground for three to four months, and is higher than your head if you stood on your tip toes), they retire to their little house and sleep all the winter, only waking to have some food and then off to sleep again. Would you like to do that? I know you would love them. They have soft coats of reddish brown fur and a long fluffy tail bigger than themselves, golden bronze in colour. Also there are flocks of birds flying in a wonderful style all through the day. Already I am training some of them to come to my window for crumbs so that when the cruel frost and snow comes they will know where to come for food. The weather is glorious and I am tanned like an Arab (not to be confused with street arabs!).

What new subjects are you learning at school, and are you doing well at them. Are you still with the same nice kind teacher. Have you taught Baby Anne any of the prayers you have been taught. Sometimes I get so lonely for you all that I feel very sad, but then soldiers, just like soldiers daughters, must never get sad over things which can’t be helped.

My hand is still sore so it’s time I gave it a rest. Give my love to your Grand-Dad and Grand-ma, uncles, aunts and cousins. Give Mummy an extra special hug and kiss on your birthday as it’s a big day in her memory too. Tell Anne some nice stories, until I can get home to tell you both some.

God Bless you my little Daughter-Pal.

Heaps of love and kisses from your own
Loving Daddy x x x x x x x x x"

IN FLANDERS' FIELDS the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders' fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders' fields.
By: Major John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

The poppy is the recognized symbol of remembrance for war dead in Canada, the countries of the British Commonwealth, and the United States. The flower owes its significance to the poem In Flanders' Fields, written by Major (later Lieutenant-Colonel) John McCrae, a doctor with the Canadian Army Medical Corps, in the midst of the Second Battle of Ypres, in Belgium, in May 1915.

Lest We Forget.

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Algonquin Provincial Park Access Points Map

I came across an Algonquin Provincial Park Access Points map created by Algonquin Outfitters. You can read details posted by Randy on their blog, and here is the map below. This is a terrific resource, folks!

View Algonquin Provincial Park Access Points in a larger map



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Inspiring New Bushcraft Blog

I've just come across Andy's Belfast Bushcraft Blog - and if I could make the time between my busy schedule these days, I'd be fitting in a lot more of what he is demonstrating - trying out and making figure-4 deadfall traps, fishing floats, harpoon points, water-bottle filter, and making primitive arrow heads.

Reading his posts has inspired me. I think my next project will be to make a fish seine net or gill net from string - I made half of one with some flimsy cotton string a few months back, but I want to make a serious one which I can use for some primitive fishing.



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Old Books on Camping & Tents from Google Books

Google Books is a very interesting research resource, and a great one simply to explore through. I was browsing through it tonight and came across several interesting books which I have embedded below. They are all 'Full Preview' versions, so you can see every page of the books. Click on the 'More about this book' link at the bottom of each display window to see it in larger format. Enjoy!

Practical hints on camping By Howard Henderson - 1882

Hunting, Fishing and Camping By Leon Leonwood Bean - 1942

Camp life in the woods and the tricks of trapping and trap making By William Hamilton Gibson - 1882

Tents and tent-life from the earliest ages to the present time By Godfrey Rhodes - 1859



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The Hunt: Harvesting, Cooking and Eating a Giant Puffball (Calvatia gigantea) Mushroom

The other day I went on a hunt in a local conservation area. I harvested, cooked and ate some of a Giant Puffball Calvatia gigantea. These are choice mushrooms, and considered highly edible when still white and firm.

Giant Puffball (Calvatia gigantea) Mushroom
Giant Puffball, with characteristically cratered surface.

This Giant Puffball shows the characteristically cratered surface, along with an almost bi-lobed body.

I pulled a Giant Puffball out of the ground, and you can see the very small 'root' that provides nutrition to it. This was about as thick as a graphite pencil.

Carrying the Giant Puffball was surprisingly tricky. I didn't want to dent it, and at the same time, the weight of it began to make my arm sore. I mean, it wasn't probably more than 5 pounds, but it was bulky.

I put it on the cutting board, took out the frying pan and stared at the rounded beast before me for a few moments.

I started by removing the base. You can see the base interior beginning to turn brown - the eventual state of this Giant Puffball is a big powdery, dry, dark brown crusty ball, emitting spores into the wind as it crumbles into pieces.

I pared away some of the skin and harvested out the white, firm flesh.

Here is a closeup of the marshmallow-like texture. It was cool to the touch, because of the moisture contained within the tissue.

I skinned the beast.

I cut it up into bread slice thickness.

I noticed quickly that I had way too much to consume by myself, and ended up giving some to my neighbour.

I dredged it in flour, salt and black pepper.

I shook off the dredging powder and laid the pieces aside. I was wondering what it would taste like, but soldiered on.

Soon a rich scent filled the kitchen - and the mushroom began to resemble chicken strips.

It smelled glorious. It didn't smell like normal button mushrooms, more like - well, more like chicken and zucchini.

Into the frying pan, I put a little bit of olive oil, and butter. Once it was hot, I laid the strips of the Giant Puffball onto the pan. It sizzled.

I put it onto a plate, and gobbled it all down. It was amazing. I am going to do this again soon, and highly recommend that every single person reading this post, who lives near Giant Puffball mushrooms, immediately go out, harvest, cook and eat some.



Big List of Bushcraft, Outdoors, Hiking & Nature related sites

Please keep an eye out for great posts on the following outdoors sites. If you are not included in this list, my apologies - I will try to create a newer list with those links on my blogroll which are not included below!
  • 18th Century Historical Trekking,1700-1760 Period of interest 1680-1760. Historical trekking, living history, experimental archaeology, period living skills, primitive wilderness survival skills and much more.
  • A Passion for Nature WinterWoman is Jennifer Schlick, a teacher-naturalist living and working in Western New York and program director at an Audubon Center.
  • AktoMan Going back to my routes to find new experiences in the wild places. This photographer supreme is based in Scotland.
  • Alan Sloman's Big Walk Fifty something beardy bloke with a problem belly meeting the length of Britain over four months. Hiking stories and photographs of Great Britain.
  • Algonquin Adventures Barry Bridgeford's stories, trip-logs, canoeing stories and photographs from Algonquin Park in Ontario, Canada.
  • American Bushman Excellent bushcraft, outdoors skills, knives, hunting, tutorials and equipment reviews.
  • As The Crow Flies Hiking stories, and life in a mountain cabin, kit reviews and much more.
  • Bens Backwoods Bushcraft , Survival, Homesteading, and simple living articles and information - the blog of Ben, who owns the store from which I bought some of my bushcraft equipment.
  • Berserker's Bushcraft Berserker likes to read, write, hunt, hike, backpack, listen to music, worship God, and sit under trees. He loves good gear, things that go BANG, things that are sharp, good tobacco, good beer (think Guinness) and good coffee/tea.
  • Berserker's Gearpage Berserker focuses on gear reviews in his second blog.
  • Billco's Outdoors Billco and his wife love the outdoors. They fish, hunt arrowheads, hike, and garden. They live on a small lake in Alabama and have a couple thousand acres out our back door to hike. Since moving back here from the Alabama coast, they have gotten very interested in hunting Indian relics. They showcase some amazing arrowhead finds.
  • Bushcraft and life Ferrol has kit reviews, outdoors and bushcraft tutorials and describes some of his adventures in detailed ways.
  • Bushcraft in the UK Brilliant collection of video tutorials, covering everything from basketry to bushcraft tutorials.
  • Campfires and the arts of bushcraft Collection of Campfire and camping related discussions and images hosted on Flickr.
  • Chris Townsend Outdoors Chris is a writer and photographer with a passion for wilderness and mountains. I have several of his brilliant books, and I keep them on my top shelf, beside my Kochanski books etc... Highly recommended!
  • Decado Bushcraft Decado is a true student of bushcraft. He has learned from Mors Kochanski, and recently bought a 70 acre wooded plot of land in Ontario, Canada. He presents bushcraft tutorials, and talks about homesteading on a small farm with his family.
  • Dynamite Skills Sassmouth took the standard class at Tom Brown Jr.'s Tracker School and since then has tried to spend as much of his free time as possible learning and practicing wilderness survival skills.
  • Fred's Hunting and Fishing Blog Fred was raised by his grandparents from the age of 7 until the age of 18 in a small little village in northern Ontario, just along the Moose River - a place called Moose Factory from 1952 to 1963. He started fishing at the age of 7 and hunting at the age of 10 and writes about hs experiences as a hunter, fisherman and wildlife afficianado.
  • Gallimaufree Noddy (as his friends call him) has been involved in survivalism for more than 30 years and has honed a number of survival skills. He has helped with search and rescue teams, but his desire to learn all he could about surviving didn’t crystallize until the Murrah Bombing in Oklahoma City. He was there that day, on the north side of the building away from the blast. He wasn’t hurt in it - just slightly damaged hearing that didn’t become evident until weeks later.
  • Gear Talk with Jason Klass Jason's thought journal on backpacking gear design and homemade gear projects. It documents his ongoing discoveries and ideas about all things backpacking.
  • GearFlogger Outdoors gear reviews galore.
  • Going Prepared Going Prepared is about having fun in the outdoors, without the “I need to escape from this place immediately” mentality. This site is not about survival. This site is about always being prepared enough to never make it to the survival stage.
  • Guide Spot Shawn's blog discusses guide trips, bushcraft, and outdoors adventures.
  • Hiking Nature Hiking and Nature photography.
  • Hunter Angler Gardener Cook The writer is especially interested in those meats and veggies that people don’t eat much any more, like venison or cardoons. He has nothing against good grass-fed beef or a head of lettuce, it’s just that others are doing just fine writing about those foods.
  • Jim Brandenburg Jim Brandenburg traveled the globe as a photographer with National Geographic Magazine for over 30 years. His photographs have won a multitude of national and international awards.
  • Jon's Bushcraft Jon has lived in the countryside all his life with acres of land to roam free in. His site contains terrific tutorials on bushcraft and woodcraft, illustrated with effective photography.
  • Jon's Exmoor Bushcraft Blog Jon writes about his life on Exmoor as he start a tracking, bushcraft and survival school. He has had a life long interest in wildlife and spent many years working in conservation and now is starting up a tracking and bushcraft school on Exmoor.
  • Les Stroud's Blog ~ Survivorman Best known as star of the three time Gemini nominated hit TV series Survivorman, Les Stroud continues to forge new pathways as a prolific, creative force. In 2000 Stroud took a few small cameras out into the wilderness of Northern Ontario, Canada and spent a week surviving alone without food, water, equipment or camera crew.
  • LightBackpacking.com Bruce is a a 58-year-old public relations consultant living on the rugged north coast of California, not far from the Lost Coast. He is in his 11th year of backpacking and try to get in the wilderness four to five times each year from March to November, and has hiked in most of the major wilderness areas in California.
  • Living Primitively Torjus is now finally living primitively to an ever increasing degree in the wilds of Norway. His equipment isn’t yet 100% primitive and his diet is more or less paleodiet (making exceptions in certain social situations), but isn’t all provided by himself just yet. His story is fascinating.
  • markinthepark.com Mark's blog site is designed to give readers of the main website, “Mark’s Algonquin Park Sampler”, up-to date information on the progression of trip-log writing, quick photo galleries and slideshows of recent trips in Algonquin Park, in Ontario, Canada.
  • Marvelous in nature Seabrooke is a writer, illustrator, photographer, and generally a wearer of many hats. She can be found wandering the woods of the Frontenac Axis north of Kingston in eastern Ontario, Canada.
  • Midwest Bushcraft Norseman is an outdoor educator and natural resource manager located in the Loess Hills of Iowa. He teaches bushcraft/woodcraft skills to people of all ages and walks of life. He provides bushcraft tutorials and more.
  • Modern Hiker Modern Hiker highlights the best trails of all difficulty levels around Southern California, with in-depth reviews, photos, GPS tracks, videos, and all the information you could possibly want. It also strives to keep on top of the latest outdoor gear and gadget news, software and web programs, local politics and developments, and the latest murmurings from the Hiking Blogosphere.
  • Moose Hill Journal Outdoors thoughts and observations from, on, about, around or inspired by a small town in Massachusetts, USA.
  • Mungo Says Bah! Mungo began writing and showing my photographs on Mungo Says Bah! a few years ago and very soon began to focus on writing about camping, bushcraft, flora, nature and primitive skills. His camera has faithfully captured many of these plants and landscapes around him - and his memory has packed in so many more scenes and reflections and thoughts.
  • Nehawka Primitive Skills Mark has been interested in primitive skills ever since he read Larry Dean Olsen's book, Outdoor Survival Skills, decades ago. The past 10 years, or so, he has been striving to learn the skills... flintkapping, hide working, friction fires, edible & medicinal plants, etc. Having gained some proficiency, he has been demonstrating and teaching at historical events and gatherings. It is a never ending journey.
  • Northview Diary Life on a family dairy farm in the wilds of Upstate New York, USA.
  • Old Jimbo Survival Old Jimbo's brilliant predjudiced and opinionated ideas on survival stuff. Tons of very inspiring tutorials and great photographs.
  • Outdoor Bloggers Summit The Outdoor Bloggers Summit has a mission to support conservation efforts and positively portray the value of outdoor pursuits, and encourage and support the efforts of existing outdoor bloggers.
  • Owen's Ancestral Skills and Primitive Tech. Blog Owen has been doing ancestral skills for about 5 or so years now in the state of Virginia, in the USA. He enjoys flint knapping, brain tanning, using stone tools, friction firemaking, scout skills, tracking, mud, woodsmoke, and many other primitive/ancestral skills.
  • Pablo's Woodlife: Wildlife, Tracking and Bushcraft This site follows Pablo's excellent adventures into nature, tracking and bushcraft as he tries to get as close to the natural environment as he can without being unduly uncomfortable. He is an enthusiast willing to share his adventures of trying to be at home in the British woodland.
  • Paddle Making (and other canoe stuff) Murat's well-researched blog documents his hobby of making custom canoe & kayak paddles. Still a work in progress, he hopes to document various construction techniques, styles, and artwork.
  • Pike fishing in Scotland. Gordon lives in North East Scotland, and his brilliant blog is about pike/trout fishing in Scotland, gardening in Scotland, and general stuff about Scotland.
  • Poems along the path Michael's collection of haiku (poems about Nature), senryu (poems about human nature) and free verse chronicling my life in all its imperfect, idealistic, egotistical, selfless, boring, compelling, agonizing, ecstatic, messy glory. He passed away last year of a chronic bone disease.
  • Primitivepoint This blog is all about ancient and tribal smithing - with ancient wisdom fueling modern fires.
  • Ravenlore Bushcraft and Wilderness Skills Wayland's bushcraft, photography, living history blog has information on food, travel, bushcraft and ancient projecs, and a lot of other excellent information.
  • Robin Wood Robin is an internationally respected turner, using a foot-powered lathe to make traditional bowls and plates. He also makes wooden spoons and teach the craft of carving with axes and knives. In addition he makes sculptural countryside furniture; benches, picnic tables, fences and bridges, from green oak.
  • Ron's Primitive Skills Ron's site is all about bushcraft, wilderness survival and primitive skills such as basketry, flint knapping, trapping, working with wood, bone, antler & stone, leather, wild plants, hunting & fishing, tools and more.
  • Rowangarth Farm Decado and Fiona's family homesteading blog invites you in with the question "Ever dreamed of moving to the country to live a simpler, more sustainable life? Well, my family and I did it. This is our story."
  • Southern Rockies Nature Blog Nature, culture, dogs, environmental news, and writing with a Southern Rockies perspective.
  • Stealth Survival Stealth Survival contains tons of information about survivalism, shelter, protection, food, supplies, equipment and more.
  • Stuart's bushcraft blog Stuart's site has bushcraft information and musings on teaching.
  • Tales from the Wood - The Diary of a Badger Watching Man The badger watching man lives with his wife and three chickens, in a small village about 50 miles north of London - a few houses, lots of fields, and a fair amount of mature woodland. He is fascinated by the wildlife that surrounds us all, even in this relatively crowded country. There’s a whole rich world out there that most people don’t even suspect exists. He feels privileged that he has managed to get a little closer to it.
  • The Backyard Bushman Brian is a 33 year old husband and father of two. One of his main missions in life is to teach his kids to love nature and the earth. He believes that one day their generation may be called upon to save the earth. He tries to achieve this by hauling them as far away from civilization every chance he gets.
  • The Badger Hole Il Bruche likes to collect, modify and make knives. He prefers custom knives that are functional and beautiful. He does custom rehandling on a limited basis as well as custom sheathes and prefers a natural rustic look that is solidly constructed and compliments the knife it carries.
  • The House & other Arctic musings Clare recently retired from the RCMP after 24 years of service in Manitoba, Quebec, Saskatchewan, The Northwest Territories and Nunavut. He moved to Arctic Bay in 1999 and met hi wife Leah here. They married in August 2001, adopted Travis in 2002 and Hilary in 2006 and built built Kiggavik Bed and Breakfast and began operations in April of 2006. He has some terrific stories about living in the great Canadian north.
  • The Moose Dung Gazette Tim has been called "America's greatest naturalist" and is one of North America's most experienced survival, bushcraft and outdoor living instructors. A full-time guide and survival instructor since founding Jack Mountain Bushcraft in 1999, he and his family split their time between Wolfeboro, New Hampshire and Masardis, Maine. As of fall, 2008, Tim has led 12 field-based, semester-length, college level, residential bushcraft and outdoor living courses.
  • The Ohio Nature Blog Tom works as an ecologist and is fortunate to travel throughout Ohio in search of plants and animals. At home, their house is only a two minute walk from the Olentangy River which is rich in both flora and fauna. On his blog you will find his photographs, pictures, and artwork of Ohio's nature and wildlife.
  • The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles Albert describes his blog as chronicling one of the last bastions of sporting men. The kind of men that drink, swear, and occasionaly settle their differences with their fists. It is also the tales of the last outpost of chivalry, civil behavior, and honor.
  • The Suburban Bushwacker The Suburban Bushwacker loves to be outdoors, cooking and eating wild food. Terrific photos and bushcraft and knife tutorials and discussions.
  • Two-Heel Drive Two-Heel Drive is a blog for hikers, campers, backpackers and nature cravers in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • UpNorthica The many contributor's of the site are passionate about the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA), Minnesota’s northwoods, Lake Superior’s North Shore, hiking, camping, and all things outdoorsy.
  • whitespider1066.com Darren's site is about the outdoors, bushcraft, gear and adventures.
  • Wild Tracking Pathfinder served in the British Army for 22 years... and was taught some of his Survival Skills at The International Long Range and Reconnaissance Patrol School" in Germany. While working for Raleigh International in Belize he gained experience in Jungle Survival from Winston a renowned survival expert and has trained with Thomas Schorr-kon from Trackways and Tom Brown Jr at the Tracker School. He received a British Empire Medal from the Queen for establishing a Nature Reserve in Germany called the Zachariassee.
  • Woods Walker NW Woods Walker NW contains photo essays of outdoors pursuits.


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Matt's Solo Canoe Trip In Progress, Using a SPOT Satellite Messenger

My friend Matt is currently on a 10 day solo camping and canoeing trip in Algonquin Provincial Park, in Ontario.

Last year prior to a two week solo trip he too, we had been chatting about what he might do in case he got in trouble. Since there isn't phone service in the vast majority of the Algonquin region, he ended up buying a SPOT Satellite Messenger.

There are 4 buttons on this satellite device (which is about the size of a BlackBerry device):
  1. An OK Button.
    When you press the OK button, SPOT acquires your location from the GPS network and routes it through the SPOT satellite network. Your contacts receive either an SMS text message on their mobile phone with your message and coordinates, or an email with your message and a link to Google Maps™ showing your location.
  2. A HELP Button.
    Once activated, SPOT acquires your location from the GPS network and routes it along with the HELP message through the SPOT satellite network every five minutes for one hour or until canceled. Your contacts will receive an SMS text message including coordinates, or an email with a link to Google Maps™ showing your location.
    I guess this is one step up from 'I'm okay' but not severe enough to alert the emergency and Search and Rescue groups as described next. They say it is for a non-life-threatening incident like 'Ran out of gas' or 'Bicycle tire punctured' or 'Snowmobile stuck'.
  3. A Track Progress Button
    Matt didn't spend the extra for this option, but it would allow the user to send out 'cookie-crumb' messages every 10 minutes, so that friends and family could track the person's progress live via Google Maps. This would be great so you could do a trip log later. But even still, you can simply hit the 'OK' button every so often (unlimited allowance) and this would do the same thing. It just means you'd need to manually put together all the GPS locations later.
  4. A 911 Button.
    Once activated, SPOT will acquire its exact coordinates from the GPS network, and send that location along with a distress message to a GEOS International Emergency Response Center every five minutes until cancelled. The Emergency Response Center notifies the appropriate emergency responders based on your location and personal information – which may include local police, highway patrol, the Coast Guard, the Canadian consulate, or other emergency response or search and rescue teams – as well as notifying your emergency contact person(s) about the receipt of a distress signal. Note: not to be pressed for fun, or if you are bored and lonely in the middle of the wilderness and just want to hear the sound of someone else's voice.
Coverage is nearly world-wide:
"SPOT works around the world, including virtually all of the continental United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe and Australia, portions of South America, Northern Africa, and North-Eastern Asia and hundreds or thousands of miles offshore of these areas."

He is taking it a little easier this go around. Last year he changed campsites virtually every or every other night. I think this time he's making camp at three sites, and using them as bases for day trips. He's up in the north east section - in North Tea Lake, Manitou Lake and thereabouts.

I'm a little bit jealous... I'll bet he's having an amazing time!



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A Year Ago on Mungo Says Bah

Plunging deeply into the vast archive of nearly 500 posts on MungoSaysBah.com, I offer a pick of my posts from last July:
  • Yoyar's Brave Chili Dehydration Experiment
    My friend Yoyar has decided to go on a 14 day solo canoe loop through the north west corridors of Algonquin Provincial Park. It would seem that he has rediscovered the camping bug (his recent bout with a suspected cryptosporidium infection that followed our last camping trip notwithstanding). Since food is a significant portion of pack weight and volume, he thought it would be good to bring dehydrated food along with him. After watching a series of videos on YouTube by Tinny on dehydrating and camp cooking, he decided to plunge right into it.
  • Desperately Cleaning my MSR Dragonfly Stove & Then Realizing I'd Plugged It Into the Fuel Bottle Wrong To Begin With
    I put myself to the task of totally cleaning my MSR Dragonfly Stove. It had stopped working recently, and I couldn't figure out what was wrong. I would pump the cannister, light it and an orange flame would sputter and spit for a few seconds before extinguishing. Nothing I did was helping. I assumed that since I had stored white gas (Naptha) in it over the last 2 winters that the fuel had gummed up and clogged up the fine passageways within the intricate stove mechanism. So I laid it all out on a sheet in the backgarden, and set to work.
  • Chipmunks and Charcloth
    While camping in Algonquin Provincial Park recently, I needed to make some charcloth. Charcloth is what I use to catch sparks from my steel fire striker, so that I can build a campfire.
  • Weekend Bunnies, Achlorophyllous Plants and a Polypore
    On the weekend I went for a long walk with the little one. At one point I detoured through a section of the valley, and in short order came across two incredible plants. Both of them are achlorophyllous (i.e. without cholorphyll) and so cannot photosynthesize to make their own nutrients. I also came across an unusual polyporus.
Cheers, Mungo Are you subscribed to the Mungo Says Bah! RSS feed yet? If not - you know what to do... You can also follow my tweets at @MungoBah

Teaching My Little Boy About Plants and Flowers

I intend to teach my little boy about plants and flowers early. On the weekend, we went to a family gathering and we played in the park for a little while. I showed him how to pick clover flowers and he found that really exciting. He giggled and giggled and gave clover flowers to as many folks as he could.

We also found a Heal-All (Prunella vulgaris) growing low in the grass, which I later munched on so he couldn't see me eating plants from the ground. He is too young to learn the difference between plants.

Life is good.


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Chris Townsend Video, Books and Blog

I am a huge fan of Chris Townsend, hiker extraordinaire.

I have a couple of his books, which are in my top 5 outdoors books list - the ones you'd want if you were stranded after a small aircraft crash landing in the mountains somewhere north in Canada.

Here he is in a video describing which gear he would take with him on his upcoming 12,000 mile (no, that is not a typo) Pacific Northwest Trail hike.

You can preview his book "The advanced backpacker: a handbook of year-round, long-distance hiking" here:

Finally, you can follow his online column at The Great Outdoors magazine and read his blog 'Chris Townsend Outdoors' which he supplements with some terrific photography.



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Roundup of Recent @mungobah Twitter Posts

Please see below for a daily roundup of my Twitter posts from @MungoBah:
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Preparedness: Get Ready for a Power Blackout

Yesterday we experienced a blackout that affected many parts of Toronto, that started off with a transformer fire in the west end. A quarter million households lost power. In light of yesterday's blackout in many parts of Toronto (where we live), I thought I would update and share some information I posted about some time ago.

In the August 2003 black out, we lived in a condominium. My wife and I made our separate ways back home from work. The first thing I did was fill the bathtub with water to keep a supply at hand, and then I grabbed all the candles and pulled out the battery powered radio. The weather was hot, and the evening went by nicely.

We have a 72 hour emergency kit. I came across a pamphlet entitled 'Power Outages: What To Do' (PDF document 167kb) on the 'Get Prepared' Government of Canada web site. I have copied the most pertinent parts of it below.
Most power outages will be over almost as soon as they begin, but some can last much longer – up to days or even weeks. Power outages are often caused by freezing rain, sleet storms and/or high winds which damage power lines and equipment. Cold snaps or heat waves can also overload the electric power system.

During a power outage, you may be left without heating/air conditioning, lighting, hot water, or even running water. If you only have a cordless phone, you will also be left without phone service. If you do not have a battery-powered or crank radio, you may have no way of monitoring news broadcasts. In other words, you could be facing major challenges.

You can greatly lessen the impact of a power outage by taking the time to prepare in advance. You and your family should be prepared to cope on your own during a power outage for at least 72 hours. This involves three basic steps:
1) Finding out on what to do before, during, and after a power outage.
2) Making a family emergency plan, so that everyone knows what to do, and where to go if you need to leave your home.
3) Getting an emergency kit, so that you and your family can be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours during a power outage.

• You can install a non-electric standby stove or heater. Choose heating units that are not dependent on an electric motor, electric fan, or some other electric device to function. It is important to adequately vent the stove or heater with the type of chimney flue specified for it. Never connect two heating units to the same chimney flue at the same time.
• If you have a wood-burning fireplace, have the chimney cleaned every fall in preparation for use and to eliminate creosote build-up which could ignite and cause a chimney fire.
• If the standby heating unit will use the normal house oil or gas supply, have it connected with shut-off valves by a certified tradesperson.
• Before considering the use of an emergency generator during a power outage, check with furnace, appliance and lighting fixture dealers or manufacturers regarding power requirements and proper operating procedures.

People with disabilities or others requiring assistance Consider how you may be affected in a power outage, including:
• Your evacuation route — without elevator service (if applicable)
• Planning for a backup power supply for essential medical equipment
• Keeping a flashlight and a cell phone handy to signal for help
• Establishing a self-help network to assist and check on you during an emergency
• Enrolling in a medical alert program that will signal for help if you are immobilized
• Keeping a list of facilities that provide life-sustaining equipment or treatment
• Keeping a list of medical conditions and treatment
• If you live in an apartment, advise the property management that you may need assistance staying in your apartment or that you must be evacuated if there is a power outage. This will allow the property manager to plan and make the necessary arrangements on your behalf.

• First, check whether the power outage is limited to your home. If your neighbours’ power is still on, check your own circuit breaker panel or fuse box. If the problem is not a breaker or a fuse, check the service wires leading to the house. If they are obviously damaged or on the ground, stay at least 10 meters back and notify your electric supply authority. Keep the number along with other emergency numbers near your telephone.
• If your neighbours’ power is also out, notify your electric supply authority.
• Turn off all tools, appliances and electronic equipment, and turn the thermostat(s) for the home heating system down to minimum to prevent damage from a power surge when power is restored. Also, power can be restored more easily when there is not a heavy load on the electrical system.
• Turn off all lights, except one inside and one outside, so that both you and hydro crews outside know that power has been restored.
• Don’t open your freezer or fridge unless it is absolutely necessary. A full freezer will keep food frozen for 24 to 36 hours if the door remains closed.
• Never use charcoal or gas barbecues, camping heating equipment, or home generators indoors. They give off carbon monoxide. Because you can’t smell or see it, carbon monoxide can cause health problems and is life-threatening.
• Use proper candle holders. Never leave lit candles unattended and keep out of reach of children. Always extinguish candles before going to bed. Listen to your battery-powered or wind-up radio for information on the outage and advice from authorities.


• Make sure your home has a working carbon monoxide detector. If it is hard-wired to the house’s electrical supply, ensure it has a battery-powered back-up.
• Protect sensitive electrical appliances such as TVs, computer, and DVD players with a surge-protecting powerbar.

Every Canadian household needs an emergency plan. It will help you and your family to know what to do in case of an emergency. Remember, your family may not be together when the power goes out.

Start by discussing what could happen and what you should do at home, at school or at work if an emergency happens. To be prepared, make a list of what needs to be done ahead of time. Store important family documents, such as birth certificates, passports, wills, financial documents, insurance policies, etc. in waterproof container(s). Identify an appropriate out-of-town contact that can act as a central point of contact in an emergency. Write down and exercise your plan with the entire family at least once a year. Make sure everybody has a copy and keeps it close at hand. For more information on making an emergency plan, call 1 800 O-Canada or visit www.GetPrepared.ca to download or complete an emergency plan online.

In an emergency you will need some basic supplies. You may need to get by without power or tap water. Be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least 72 hours.

You may have some of the items already, such as a flashlight, battery-operated radio, food, and water. The key is to make sure they are organized and easy to find. Would you be able to find your flashlight in the dark? Make sure your kit is easy to carry. Keep it in a backpack, duffel bag or suitcase with wheels, in an easy-to-reach, accessible place, such as your front hall closet. Make sure everyone in the household knows where the emergency kit is.

Basic emergency kit
• Water – at least two litres of water per person per day. Include small bottles that can be carried easily in case of an evacuation order
• Food that won’t spoil, such as canned food, energy bars and dried foods (remember to replace the food and water once a year)
• Manual can opener
• Wind-up or battery-powered flashlight (and extra batteries)
• Wind-up or battery-powered radio (and extra batteries)
• First aid kit
• Special items such as prescription medications, infant formula and equipment for people with disabilities
• Extra keys to your car and house
• Cash in smaller bills, such as $10 bills (travellers cheques are also useful) and change for payphones
• A copy of your emergency plan and contact information
Tip: You may want to ensure you have a land-line and corded phone in your home, as most cordless phones will not work during a power outage.
Recommended additional items
• Candles and matches or lighter (Do not leave candles unattended. Place candles in sturdy containers and put them out before going to sleep)
• A change of clothing and footwear for each household member
• Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each household member
• A whistle (in case you need to attract attention)
• Garbage bags for personal sanitation
• Toilet paper and other personal care supplies
• Safety gloves
• Basic tools (hammer, pliers, wrench, screwdrivers, fasteners, work gloves)
• Small fuel-driven stove and fuel (follow manufacturer’s directions and store properly)
• Two extra litres of water per person per day for cooking and cleaning.
You can also purchase a pre-packaged emergency kit from the Canadian Red Cross at www.redcross.ca, from the St. John Ambulance/ Salvation Army at www.sja.ca or from retailers across Canada. Visit www.GetPrepared.ca for a list of retailers by province and territory.

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