A Year Ago in Cold January on Mungo Says Bah!

I haven't been posting as often as I would like so here is a taste of what was happening about a year ago on Mungo Says Bah! until I get my posting-mojo back. Give me a day or two...

Thursday, January 01, 2009
A Tutorial on How To Build a Coke Can Stove for Hiking and Camping

Okay, following up on a recent post about emergency preparedness, picture this: your power has just gone out. It is the middle of winter, and the battery-powered radio reports that a major substation has suffered an outage due to iced-over power cables. You are told to expect that power will return in no less than 7 days. So you get out all the blankets in the house, and warm up the bed. You find your 72 hour kit, first aid kit, candles, flashlights, your food supplies (some freeze-dried entrees and cans of food), water, radio and more. After all that fussing around, you decide you want a nice cup of coffee and a hot meal. You have a camping stove that runs on naptha but you'd rather use that outside so the fuel doesn't smell so strongly. You need a quick stove for in the house. A good option for this is an alcohol stove.

Sunday, January 04, 2009
Monty and the Well-Fed Squirrels

In fewer than 3 weeks we get a new arrival in the family. Spring is tired out and has decided that sooner is better than later. Suits me fine - all the sooner for a mini camping companion in Algonquin Park.

Monday, January 05, 2009
An Evening Before A New Boy Arrives

This is the evening before his arrival. It is a little boy.

Friday, January 09, 2009
James Ozan Peacock

Hello world,

I am James Ozan Peacock. My Mummy went through a long labour and after some consultation with the doctors, I made the decision to emerge in the operating room instead on Tuesday January 6th, 1 minute before midnight.

I've been told that I am looking forward to my first camping trip soon. I will have my own canoe paddle and wool blanket. I'll be popping in from time to time to make an appearance here. But first I am going back to sleep.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Farley Mowat's "No Man's River"

In the moments between learning about James, our new baby and making sure that we all eat and sleep, I have been reading Farley Mowat's No Man's River.

Friday, January 16, 2009
My Warm Military Arctic Gloves, Licorice Allsorts, a Ferret and a bag of Jelly Tots

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.

Sunday, January 18, 2009
Good Curly Feather Sticks

Basically, in places where you can't find dry tinder easily, shaving a stick of wood until you have fine feathery shavings will allow you to create the conditions for a fire to catch and grow.

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49 Things For Your Emergency Car Kit

In case I need to drive somewhere north (and this did happen 1 year ago in the middle of the worst storm of the year), I need to be prepared in my car with equipment to last me a night or two. About 17 years ago I went camping in Algonquin Park in the middle of February. It was good and cold and full of snow. On my way back my timing belt broke while I was in a fairly remote stretch of road off of a highway. Luckily I got picked up by a young couple who drove me 45 minutes out into the country and gave me a bed for the night. One time about 20 years ago I was in a car accident in the mountains in Quebec, and the car my friend and I was in launched off of a mountain highway, and dropped about 30 feet into a snow-filled culvert. We did a full spin and landed right-side-up (Dukes of Hazard style). Folks saw us, a towing crew got us out and everything worked out okay.

But consider what could have happened if it had been late at night in a far more remote area. A thorough risk-assessement would dictate that you be prepared for the worst, especially in these unpredictable Canadian winters.

Here's what I carry in the trunk of my car:
  1. Alcohol Trangia Stove with 1 gallon of Methyl Hydrate fuel
  2. Cooking pot and mugs
  3. Cutlery
  4. Kettle
  5. 4 Nalgene Bottles (which can be used as hot water bottles at night)
  6. 5 litres of water
  7. Gransfors-Bruks Small Forest Axe
  8. Mora knife and Buck drop point hunting knife
  9. 8 wool blankets
  10. 2 down sleeping bags
  11. 4 MRE meal packs
  12. 2 packs beef jerky
  13. 1 Pepperoni - large
  14. 4 Mountain House Freeze Dried Entrees
  15. 4 tins Spam
  16. 6 boxes of Pop Tarts
  17. 6 large chocolate protein bars
  18. 4 large bags of plain and peanut M&Ms
  19. 4 tins corned beef
  20. Instant Rice
  21. Baby cereal, instant formula
  22. Instant soup mixes
  23. Tea bags
  24. Instant coffee
  25. 2 lbs sugar
  26. Hot chocolate packages
  27. Powdered milk
  28. Heavy Tarpaulin
  29. Light Guide Tarp
  30. 2 man tent
  31. Sleeping pads
  32. Firestarting kit - matches in a matchcase, ferrocerium rods (2), fatwood slivers, cotton wool with vaseline, lighters
  33. First-Aid Kit including sutures, needles, painkillers, ointments etc...
  34. Toiletries kit
  35. Knapsacks
  36. Wool pants
  37. Wool sweater
  38. Wool socks
  39. Winter jacket
  40. Winter gloves
  41. Wool hat
  42. Books
  43. AM / FM Radio with extra batteries
  44. Headlamp with extra batteries
  45. Utility Flashlight with large 6V battery (x2)
  46. Road flares
  47. Bag of salt
  48. Rope, cord
  49. Paper and pencils and pens
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A Walk in the Valley in -18c Weather

Our little fellow woke up at about 4:25 this morning, and wouldn't go back to sleep, despite Spring and my best efforts.

So by 5:30 I was feeding him breakfast. Shortly after that we played in the playroom for a bit while I worked my eyebrows up and down to get my face working for the day.

He eventually fell back asleep and slept for about an hour or so.

When he woke up Spring took James out for a few chores and some shopping around 9:00 into the -18 Celcius windy winter weather.

I quickly gathered a bag full of supplies, dressed in wool pants, wool socks, a cotton t-shirt, 2 sweaters, a wool scarf, my shearling wool cap, and my big huge super warm outdoors jacket (BHSWOJ).

My knapsack, which I had picked up for $8 at the Army Surplus Store nearby was a perfect size for what I needed for a morning hike.

The first thing I prepared was a wool blanket. I tied it up using what I call a butcher's knot - a jamming knot that I used to tie up roasts when I worked as a butcher, all those years ago...

Then I wrapped up the rest of it and tied off the end with a simple knot.

It's a good way to bring some cord along with you also.

The wool blanket was a $5 Value Village cheapy - great quality, all wool. It was to be the sitting mat.

I threw my Trangia Kit, a spoon, a Nalgene full of water, an army surplus Meal Ready to Eat (MRE) package, some hot chocolate powder, an MRE heater pad (water activated), a couple of Mora knives, some backup cord, a ferrocerium rod (with a homemade handle made from wood), and my trusty slingshot with heavy steel shot ammo.

I got going, and the air was cold in my lungs.

If the tops of my gloves slipped off (I used those wool gloves that have a top that flips up to allow you use of your finger tips), my fingers got painfully cold within a couple of seconds. It was cold...

By the time I was down into the valley, I took an alternate route through the valley over what is normally wetlands.

It is all frozen solid, and I was hoping to see some deer sign. I didn't, but a saw a couple of birds flap out of their ground nests, trying to distract me.

I went into the pine woods, opened up and lay down the blanket - folded over twice to give me some insulation from the cold ground. The woods gave me some protection from the super cold wind blowing.

I was warm as toast, except for my legs. I'll either go out and buy some thermal underwear, or just pick up another pair of cheap woolen pants from Value Village for a few dollars. I'd also wear two pairs of woolen socks next time to be extra warm.

I can always take off a pair. And if for some reason I find myself having to cross ice or slippery rocks in the water, I can wear a pair of wool socks over my shoes for excellent grip (that little tip was brought to you by Monty, the Beagle).

I opened up the MRE package and removed the Cherry Cobbler and formed chicken breast (formed from shredded chicken breast pieces, I guess) envelopes. After pouring about 4 tablespoons worth of water into the heater pack to activate it, slid the food envelopes into the heater envelope. I leaned it up against a tree and waited. When I tried it out last week at home, it took nearly 10 minutes for the reaction to begin.

In the end, the reaction probably took nearly 15 to 20 minutes to begin (I didn't have a watch to time it though) - and by that time I had to be on my way back home through the woods. I think more practise is needed - I want to feel confident in these heater packs. I pick 4 of them for $5 at the local army surplus store. At home when I tested it, it got too hot to hold, and heated up a bag of food to excruciatingly hot. Think I'll read up on them and see if there are any tips I can get.

Next step was to set up the stove to get the water boiling. I cast a spark using my Mora 510 which I was wearing around my neck in a sheath, on my ferrocerium rod. This got the methanol burning instantly, and in a moment I had half my Nalgene bottle emptied into the pot, the pot covered and my knapsack setup as a windbreak.

I should list what is in the MRE pack - just so you can decided if you'd like to pick some up at an Army Surplus Shop or online... This package contained:
  • Smoked chicken breast
  • Cherry cobbler
  • Whole wheat bread
  • Grape Jelly
  • A little package of Gatoraide like instant drink powder - to bring up your potassium levels
  • Package of cutlery

While everything heated up, the first thing I did was drink the remaining cup and a half of water from the Nalgene bottle.

Dehydration is a major enemy in the cold, and it is really easy to forget to drink. You always figure that summer time and sweating are the right time to drink.

But the dry winter air, combined with strenous activity and sweating - although it evaporates quickly - is a great reason to keep your water stores up. Remember the old saying - store your water in your stomach and not your bottle (i.e. don't ration your water).

I ate the bread with the grape jelly (yum!) and then the oatmeal cookie. Ingredients of the cookie begin with sugar, then hydrogenated vegetable oil, then flour etc...

Those food wonks sure know how to make tasty food last for years in plastic bags.

While I waited for my meal, I tried a couple of shots with my slingshot. I aimed for a stick about 30 feet away.

I hit it exactly where I had aimed both times (within a centimeter), and was sufficiently impressed with my skills, and sufficiently cold because I'd had to take my gloves off , that I packed up my slingshot and steel shot and put it back in my bag.

I suppose I could bag a bird or a squirrel etc... in case of emergency.

I had an appointment in the afternon, and had to leave before the MRE had heated up.

So I packed everything up, after letting the alcohol in the stove burn away, and headed out.

I'd had an amazing walk in the valley.

I had recharged my batteries for another week or so.

Hope you are enjoying your New Year - I have got to make up my list of New Year resolutions.

One of mine is to make time to do hikes like these when I can make the time.

This is a quick video I made on my return through the woods to get home.



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Mungo Says Mobile Blogging!

I can now post using my mobile device. This will come in handy when I'm out and about!

I got 3 Cohiba Havana cigars from a colleague the other day. Generally the only place that I smoke cigars is when I am camping. I might make an exception, and allow myself one in the backyard or down in the vally. The smell glorious.

Something I'd like to find is a park or some woodland near work so I can drive there at lunch, and make a meal over my new Trangia stove, etc... Think I'll browse Google Maps and see what I can see. I can't wait until James is old enough for a little walk about the woods... soon soon.

Well. Hope you've enjoyed your first day of the new decade - I'm working on my list of resolutions now...



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