Falling Man Petroglyph Site, Whitney Pocket, NV

Falling Man Petroglyph Site, Whitney Pocket, NV

Rock art “is abstract, and made by prehistoric hunter-gatherers some 1200 years ago. The images are symbolic, and even though archaeologists can’t interpret most of them, they still had meaning for the migratory people who once lived here.” The images may have functioned as territorial markers, as ways of telling stories and documenting events such as the falling man.
Once this area was covered with archeological features such as agave roasting pits and a prehistoric campsites although now only the petroglyph’s remain.

Falling Man Rock Art Site

Falling Man Trail head     Latitude 36.51166       Longitude  114.18454
Published in: on October 18, 2010 at 2:51 AM  Comments Off on Falling Man Petroglyph Site, Whitney Pocket, NV  
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How to Search a Creek Bed for Indian Arrowheads

Dry Creek Bed
Authentic fragments of history, Indian arrowheads fascinate the young and old alike. Finding them isn’t difficult if you know where to look. In areas where Native Americans settled, you will find spearheads and arrowheads in and around rivers and creek beds. With a few hunting techniques, you’ll be well on your way to attaining a piece of the past.
Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
Metal garden trowel
Sieve, at least 8 inches wide
Plastic zip-type bags
Step 1
Research for the location of former Indian settlements at your public library or by talking to friends. Indians camped near water whenever possible so locating old riverbeds in areas where they lived is a good idea. Be sure to get permission if you want to explore on private property.
Step 2
Determine the time of year when the water in the creeks and rivers is the lowest. Some creeks are seasonal and can be completely dry for months. These make excellent arrowhead-hunting grounds.
Step 3
Dress for the occasion by wearing rubber fishing boots if water will be an issue. Don a multi-pocket vest to hold your “finds” and the implements you will use to locate them. A backpack is a good idea for bringing search items and snacks.
Step 4
Study the creek bed to determine which way the water flows when it is running. Not only did Indians camp by the water, it was a favorite spot to hunt animals as they came to drink. When an arrowhead was lost, it would sink, but due to the flat shape it often swept downstream when the water was rapid.
Step 5
Locate the front side of a bend in the creek. This is the most likely area for an Indian arrowhead to settle. These bends are easy to find because they usually have an additional accumulation of old branches and debris. Remove as much of the debris as you can, but if it is too heavy, don’t worry, you can search around it.
Step 6
Use your metal garden spade to scoop out small amounts of sand from the deposit. Use your sieve to sift the sand from rocks and arrowheads. Alternately, you may slice downward through the sand, listening for the sound of a rock surface hitting your metal spade. Search only the sand; arrowheads are rarely located in the clay sediment layer beneath.
Step 7
Scrape your spade between the exposed roots of trees that grow at the edge of the creek. This is another good place because these roots will often trap small arrowheads and hold them. Again, listen for the sound of metal hitting rock.

Explore, Be Patient and have fun

Published in: on June 13, 2010 at 5:09 PM  Comments Off on How to Search a Creek Bed for Indian Arrowheads  
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How to keep ice COLD in the desert.

Mojave Desert
One of the challenges of camping in the desert is keeping your ice cold and thus keeping your food and beverages cold and edible. How can you preserve your ice so it doesn’t melt so quickly? How can you keep your food from getting soggy from the melted ice? How can you keep a cooler cold for 5 to 10 days if ice is not available for purchase nearby? These are some of the most common questions asked by campers.
What type of cooler should you use?
There are many types of coolers to choose from, including metal, plastic, Styrofoam, soft-sided nylon and hard-sided plastic. The soft-sided nylon coolers and Styrofoam coolers are suitable for day trips. If you are camping overnight or going on a longer trip, it is very important to get a durable cooler that can keep your food and beverages cold over a period of time. Metal coolers hold heat longer when left in the sun, so plastic coolers are the most popular choice for campers.
One brand of plastic cooler mentioned numerous times in reviews, in blogs, and in articles, is the Coleman Xtreme Cooler. The Xtreme can keep ice frozen for up to five days in 90 degree F heat. It’s available in a variety of sizes including 52-, 62-, 70-, and 100-quart, and can be purchased with or without wheels. Another thermal-efficient cooler is the Max Cool Series made by Igloo.
When selecting a plastic or hard-sided cooler, make sure to choose a cooler that has an insulated lid with a tight seal. Make sure your cooler has a plug on the bottom for water drainage.
Pre-chill your drinks and food before placing the items in the cooler. You’ll extend the life of your ice by pre-chilling all items. You can also pre-chill your cooler by filling it with ice to chill the interior, prior to packing it with food and beverages.
Freeze plastic bottles of water or canned drinks that are not carbonated, such as  fruit juices. The frozen drinks will act as ice and will keep the other items in your cooler colder. You can also freeze water or other non-carbonated beverages in gallon milk or juice jugs. They can be consumed when the liquid inside melts.
Freeze meat, and any other food that can be frozen, to help keep the food cold and fresh. Freeze bread and other food items that don’t require refrigeration, and store these items in a dry cooler without ice to keep food fresh and dry.
Line your cooler with Reflectix (aluminized bubble wrap). You can find it at most home improvement stores. It was invented to insulate homes and buildings. Smart campers came up with the idea to use Reflectix to keep the heat out and the cold air in coolers. Cut the Reflectix into pieces that fit, lining the inside of your cooler, including the top/lid. You can even throw a sheet of Reflectix over the outside of your cooler to further insulate it.
Packing your cooler
Pack items in your cooler in chronological order based on when you plan to use or consume the items. Put the items you will use last on the bottom of the cooler, and those you will need access to first, on top. Cold air travels down, so pack the items in the cooler first and then pack either crushed ice or block ice on top. Make sure you pack your cooler tight as air pockets can increase the temperature inside.
Pack perishables such as meat or dairy products directly on the ice. Put food in zip-lock plastic bags or in plastic containers to keep it dry as the ice melts.
For longer trips it’s a good idea to keep your beverages in a separate cooler that can be opened more frequently. Put all of your food in another cooler and open it less often.
The Ice
What type of ice should you use? Crushed ice cools items faster, but ice blocks last longer. Block ice is recommended for trips that are more than one or two days. Dry ice will last the longest and keep your food dry, but requires some special handling.
You can freeze water in quart-sized zip-lock bags. They will work just like ice packs, but won’t leak water as they melt. In addition, the bags of water, once melted, can be refrozen and used again. As noted above, frozen water bottles, milk or juice jugs filled with water or juice can be used in place of, or with ice cubes or blocks. Frozen blue ice packs also work well in place of ice.
If you are going on a trip where you will not be able to purchase ice or where you need your cooler to stay cold for several days or weeks, consider dry ice. Dry ice comes in blocks wrapped in paper. Keep the paper on the dry ice or wrap it in newspaper or craft paper. Don’t pick up the dry ice with your bare hands. Use gloves or some sort of barrier between your skin and the dry ice as it will burn your skin.
Dry ice will crack a plastic cooler if it is sitting directly on the bottom of the cooler or touching the sides. The dry ice needs to be wrapped in paper (NOT plastic), and placed on a rack or barrier so it doesn’t crack your cooler. You can cut down a cheap Styrofoam cooler, place the dry ice in the bottom of the cut down portion, and then place that inside of the plastic cooler. This creates a barrier between the dry ice and the plastic sides and bottom of the cooler. You might also try putting a stainless steel dish rack with legs in the bottom of the cooler and then placing the dry ice on the rack. Stainless steel dish racks can be found in most stores that sell kitchenware.
Anything stored right next to dry ice will freeze. Keep this in mind when packing fruit, dairy products or other items that you don’t want to freeze. Dry ice does not melt, it sublimates and keeps items cold or frozen, and dry.
Another idea is to pack the dry ice in a separate cooler and surround it with frozen blue ice packs. Don’t put any food or beverages in this cooler, just the dry ice with frozen blue ice packs. Once the blue ice packs in your food or beverage cooler are used up, switch the blue ice packs with fresh ones out of the dry ice cooler. It’s a great way to refreeze your blue ice packs and avoid damage to your food by freezing it too much with dry ice.
Does Salt Keep Your Ice Colder?
Fact or fiction . . . does salt keep your ice colder? Well, kind of. Salt melts ice. When salt is mixed with water and ice together, it can bring the freezing temperature of the water to a lower degree, making the water colder without freezing it. What this means is that the combination of salt, ice and water creates really cold water. The down side is that salt also causes the ice to melt, and the goal of keeping your ice cold for a long period of time is to keep the ice from melting.
The ice/water/salt combo is s a great trick if you are having a party, run out of cold drinks and need to chill something quickly. Put some water in a big bucket or pot, put the canned beverages or bottled beverages into the container, add ice and salt to the water and stir the mixture. Put the container with the salt water mixture and the drinks in the freezer and those beverages will be chilled in a matter of minutes. Or keep the mixture out and spin the drinks in the fluid – that will also speed up the chilling process. If you don’t spin the beverages or put the mixture in the freezer it will still chill the drinks faster than ice alone or your refrigerator would without the ice/water/salt mixture.
During your trip . . .
Once you arrive at your camping location be sure to keep your coolers in the shade and out of the sun. You can put an old sleeping bag over them for further insulation. You can also use a tarp or Reflectix to keep the sun off the cooler. Ice will last twice as long when your cooler is placed in the shade.
Only open your coolers when necessary and when you do open the cooler, close it right away. Don’t drain the cold water from freshly melted ice out of the cooler, as the cold water helps keeps the items in the cooler cold. Drain the water only when necessary to create more space in the cooler or when adding more ice.
Published in: on June 12, 2010 at 6:19 PM  Comments Off on How to keep ice COLD in the desert.  

John G Clark Memorial Cross, NV

John G Clark Memorial Cross, NV

Clark Memorial Cross – Overton, NV

N 36° 25.523 W 114° 28.143
11S E 726899 N 4034108
Quick Description: This Memorial is located on the south side of State Road 169 in the Valley of Fire State Park in Overton, Nevada, USA.
Location: Nevada, United States
Date Posted: 4/9/2008 7:04:13 PM
Waymark Code: WM3J03

John G Clark Memorial Cross, NV

This Memorials was erected as a monument honoring John G. Clark, a pioneer traveler. This Memorial was erected June 1949 by the citizens of Overton, Nevada. It is about 150 feet off the road, on state route #169. According to information at the Valley of Fire State Park, Captain John J. Clark, retired, 46 New York Infantry, died June 1915, age 67. he was driving a buckboard through the desert on the Arrowhead Trail (early trail to the Muddy). He stopped, tied his horse to the back of the buckboard, laid down and died of thirst at that point in the Valley of Fire.”

John G Clark Memorial Cross, NV

To facilitate visiting the monument, there is a turnout on the south side of State Road 169 that can accommodate several cars.

From the Valley of Fire State Park website: “Valley of Fire State Park is located only six miles from Lake Mead and 55 miles northeast of Las Vegas via Interstate 15 and on exit 75. Valley of Fire is Nevada’s oldest and largest state park, dedicated 1935. The valley derives its name from the red sandstone formations and the stark beauty of the Mojave Desert. Ancient trees and early man are represented throughout the park by areas of petrified wood and 3,000 year-old Indian petroglyph. Popular activities include camping, hiking, picnicking and photography. The park offers a full-scale visitor center with extensive interpretive displays. Several group use areas are also available. The park is open all year.”

Backcountry Equipment Checklist

Grand Canyon Backcountry Equipment Checklist

Backpacking the backcountry in Grand Canyon enjoyably and safely for longer than day or overnight hikes requires significant amounts of planning and preparation in addition to equipment, food and water. Everything you need and want along must condense and pack into three cubic feet or so of space inside your pack or strap to the exterior of it. Good organization is very important so that you can readily locate and extract needed items and then replace them to a consistent location. A place for everything and everything in its place… You should be familiar enough with the inventory and location of items in your pack that you can readily locate and identify them even in the dark.

I subpack related items in separate mesh and ripstop nylon stuff bags of varying sizes; quart and gallon size heavy duty Hefty brand ‘OneZip Slider®’ baggies, and smaller 3×4 inch ZipLoc baggies. Use of baggies within baggies has proven to provide reliable waterproofing for moisture sensitive items like film, camera equipment, dehydrated foods, lighters and so on.

Numerous essential items must be assembled and efficiently packed prior to each trip. I’ve found the only way to insure I’m not forgetting critical items or details while preparing and packing is to employ the following equipment and supplies checklist. While this list covers the fundamentals for longer hikes, each trip and hike has it’s own particular requirements depending on route, destination, duration, season, particular activities planned, and the interests and needs of the individual hiker(s). If you are less experienced and haven’t developed your own backcountry checklist yet, here’s my own with typical weights for your consideration and reference.

Expedition Pack
Dana K2 Loadmaster (Long Bed) 6100 cubic inch 3.40 kilograms
There’s just no way around it – it takes a big, heavy, robust pack to haul all the equipment, food and water required for week long treks in the Grand Canyon, especially if your route is a dry one. I like my external frame Dana K2 Loadmaster very much for extended Canyoneering. It provides a cavernous capacity; thick, comfortable hip and shoulder pads; handy external pockets and pouches; and customizable fit and shoulder/hip load distribution adjustments. I wish it was a little lighter, but on the overall I figure it’s well worth carrying an additional pound or two of pack for the capacity and comfort of a premium, heavy duty, external frame backpack and the manageability imparted to large, heavy loads. BTW, I also use this pack for shorter hikes, as it is very comfortable when loaded in the sub-40 pound range.
Cache Stuff Bag with Trash Bag Liner and Baggies
12 x 24 inch Waterproof Stuff Bag .15 kilograms
I like to do multiple hikes per visit to the Grand Canyon, ranging from day hikes to hikes of a week’s duration or more. I inevitably bring along or accumulate items that won’t be used on a particular hike, such as excess food or clothing, books, water bottles, exposed film, keys, change, postage stamps, bus tickets, and what not. Backpackers using public transportation to visit Grand Canyon (such as myself) won’t have a parked car there in which to store these things while off hiking. To keep my working load and bulk to a minimum on each hike, I temporarily cache such items in a stuff bag that I hang and conceal in a tree on the rim, and recover later upon my return. Storing moisture sensitive items in ZipLoc baggies and lining the cache bag with a plastic trash bag closed with a twist tie insures its contents will stay dry regardless of the weather.
Day Pack
‘Student Style’ with Shoulder Straps .29 kilograms
I pack a light day pack to carry water, trail mix, camera gear, maps, first aid kit and so forth when I want to drop my expedition pack with most of my gear and supplies for brief exploratory hikes for route, campsite and water finding, or to gain a vantage point for sight seeing and photography. My day pack doubles as a dirty clothes bag/pillow by night.
On My Person (Mild to Hot Weather)
One Pair Socks, Underwear, Shorts, Shirt 800-1200 grams
Hiking Boots 1400-2000 grams
Belt 155 grams
Shady Hat with Chin Strap 180 grams
Sun Glasses with Neck Band 30 grams
Billfold with Emergency Info, Credit and Business Cards, Money 100 grams
Small Swiss Army Knife 35 grams
Lighter 15 grams
Notebook with Pen 100 grams
Watch with Alarm, Night Light 30 grams
Subtotal: 3.35 kilograms
You won’t have much need or opportunity to use money below the rim unless your itinerary includes Phantom Ranch. However, the plastic and folding variety doesn’t weigh very much, and I just feel better with mine on my person rather than stashed on the rim. So I carry a light canvas/Velcro billfold which also contains my personal ID and an emergency contact and information card. Upon returning from a hike to the rim, I traditionally reward myself with an ice cream cone at the first opportunity, which is soon followed up with a hearty meal including fresh vegetables and potatoes and burnt cow. Of course that takes money, so it is convenient to have some on my person when I hike out, rather than having to travel back to a trailhead rim cache first, which might be many miles from my exit location and the nearest ice cream…
Camp and Fording Shoes
Sandals/Tennis Shoes for Fording, Wading, Camp Wear .80-1.00 kilograms
I have seen hikers fording streams and creeks in their regular hiking boots, but I think this is a very poor idea and endeavor to keep mine as dry as possible. I’ve been carrying a pair of lace-up tennis shoes for fording and wading, as I find doing so in my bare feet both painful and dangerous. The rubber soles provide some traction on slick rocks and protection from sharp travertines and gravels. Once settled for the evening I also like to remove my hiking boots to give them and my feet time to air and dry out, and switch over to fresh socks and the tennis shoes for around camp wear. You may prefer “sports sandals” for the same purposes. I’ve begun eyeing rubber soled, slip-on neoprene surfboarder’s booties to replace the tennis shoes as they are significantly lighter and should also dry faster.Some hikers actually wear and swear by sandals for hiking in Grand Canyon. I’m rather dubious regarding the safety of doing this on all but the corridor and rim trails. Those who advocate wearing sandals for primary footwear in the backcountry must be a lot better at avoiding the cacti and scrub than I am… It only takes one misplaced step, or an unexpected slip to really whack your foot on an unforgiving rock, or equally unforgiving cactus. I had a rather memorable close encounter with a whopper of a pink rattlesnake near camp in Lonetree Canyon in fading light on May 28, 2000 while I was wearing shorts and tennis shoes. The pink rattler’s camouflage is perfectly adapted to their domain and I was first alerted to his close proximity from his rattle… I think he had just ventured out to feed on rodents, lizards, frogs or other abundant small prey attracted to small pools of water in the slick rock below a seep there, something at which he was obviously successful judging by his size. He could have certainly hit me in a bad way but fortunately he didn’t strike at me, the happy outcome due more so to his discretion than mine.

While unfashionably low-tech and heavy, that incident together with painfully thorn-pierced shins on more than one occasion has since had me envious of those awesome knee-high, heavy duty lace-up leather backcountry rock kickers that are often seen adorning early explorers and prospectors in historic Grand Canyon pictures.

Sleeping Bag
Goose Down Mummy with Stuff Bag 2.10 kilograms
My faithful, patched up, goose down bag is over twenty years old and it’s still serviceable in spite of lots of use and abuse and a grungy appearance. It was a sub-zero bag when it was new, but it has lost enough down and loft that I would rate it at about a 30 degree bag now (when sleeping in underwear). You need a bag or blanket on the rim, even during the summer. You don’t need a bag for warmth below rim in the backcountry during the summer, but then one can provide some additional cushion and insulation from baking hot bedrock that continues to radiate stored heat during the night. I have straps on my pack to carry my sleeping bag externally when it is displaced internally at the beginning of a long hike with food and water.
Ground Pad
Coleman 24 x 72 x .75 inch Convoluted Foam .42 kilograms
I pack a closed cell foam type for a ground pad under my sleeping bag, which I attach to the exterior of my pack with straps. The upside to this type of pad is it is relatively cheap (twenty bucks), light, and pretty much indestructible. Mine’s been punched clear through by sharp rocks and thorns and severely abraded without functional impairment. The downside is that it feels like you’re sleeping on rocks when you are – there’s only so much padding provided by three quarters of an inch of foam, which averages something more like half an inch overall with the convoluted style, especially after compressing down some with several weeks wear. I’ve actually gotten in a fair night’s sleep on this pad when it is lying over soil or sand.
Hydration and Water Containers
2-Liter Hydration Unit 150 grams
In-Line Water Filter 100 grams
Five 2-Liter Pop Bottles (Empty) 275 grams
Twelve Liters Water 12000 grams
Subtotal (Dry): .53 kilograms
Subtotal (with 12 Liters Water): 12.53 kilograms
I’ve incorporated a ‘Camelbak’ 2-liter hydration unit in my gear, which is essentially a canvas covered, collapsible plastic bag, connected to a silicon mouthpiece with a hose. The hydration unit just happens to be a perfect fit inside a long, narrow slip-in pocket on my expedition pack, the hip pads and belt of which prevent me from simultaneously carrying belt hung canteens or water bottles. I’ve come to appreciate it’s just plain nice to yourself to have water on demand a few inches from your mouth when hiking the Grand Canyon!I’ve installed a ‘Safe Water Anywhere’ water purifier inline between the hydration bag and the mouthpiece as a last line of defense, which filters fine suspended particulate matter, microorganisms and dissolved organic and inorganic contaminants, as well as removing the taste from iodine treated water. If you ever have to tank up at a soupy, dying tadpole and bug infested water pocket, you will especially appreciate a good water filter in addition to iodine. If the life sustaining water you have to drink also makes you sick, you’re going to be in big trouble in the backcountry.

I’ve been using ordinary, plastic 2-liter soft drink bottles for containment and bulk transport of water inside my pack. They are cheap and easy to come by, light (55 grams each) and amazingly tough. As soon as one begins to look crumpled or worse for the wear, I replace it for my own peace of mind, even though they have proven to be serviceable across multiple outings. A drawback to carrying a number of 2-liter bottles is they are not as efficient volumetrically as larger containers and take up more space in my pack than I’d like. I sometimes study larger containers in the gear and sporting goods stores, but have yet to find anything that likes me. One consideration regarding carrying a number of smaller bottles versus a single or smaller number of larger containers is that in the event of a catastrophic accident or container failure, you will not be hurting as bad. I may switch to the magnum sized 3-liter soft drink bottles after some further field testing.

Water is the limiting factor for the duration of hikes into dry areas, which constitute about 99.9 percent of Grand Canyon. I’ve found that twelve liters (3 gallons) of water, which weighs 12 kilograms (26.4 pounds) is my own absolute limit of what I can carry on top of a seven day pack (while negotiating relatively moderate terrain with frequent rests). When the going is steep, up or down, my limit drops to eight liters or less. Your rate of consumption will vary considerably, depending on the season and temperature. During the winter, 3 gallons could sustain you for a week inside the canyon. During the summer, you can easily consume 3 gallons in less than two days and still be on the losing side of the water in/water out equation, due to tremendous loss through perspiration when your body has to cope with ambient temperatures well over 100 degrees on top of the work heat hiking generates. During the summer it is also harder to carry water, as your metabolic efficiency is significantly reduced by heat and water/electrolyte losses, so there is somewhat of a vicious circle operating then, where the more water you carry, the faster you consume it.

The majority of the springs and seeps in the backcountry are unreliable and only flow during wet years, or seasonally go dry, flowing only during cooler months when surface evaporation is at a minimum and rainfall/snowmelt is at a maximum. A Park Service publication lists only 28 reliable perennial water sources, including the Colorado River, throughout Grand Canyon. Thus, water availability becomes a principle strategic consideration when planning backcountry hikes and is an especially critical issue during the summer.

Cooking Utensils Bag
Replacement Lighter 15 grams
Plastic Funnel 15 grams
Unbreakable Plastic Spoon 10 grams
Unbreakable Plastic Fork 10 grams
Plastic Coffee/Tea Brewer 15 grams
Two-Cup (16 fluid ounce) Aluminum Pot/Cup 70 grams
Snow Peak GS-100 Gigapower Stove with Case 115 grams
Tinfoil (12 inch x 20 inch unfolded) 5 grams
14 Days One-A-Day and C Vitamins 25 grams
Salt & Pepper (35 mm film canister full) 40 grams
Scrub Pad (2 inch x 3 inch) 5 grams
Subtotal with Mesh Stuff Bag/Baggie: .35 kilograms
In accord with the Prime Directive Leave No Trace, it is illegal to collect fuel or build a campfire anywhere in the backcountry within Grand Canyon National Park borders. So if your idea of the quintessential wilderness experience entails hot meals and coffee, you have no choice but to pack a backpacker’s stove and fuel. Some fundamentalist backpackers eliminate the weight of a stove and cooking utensils completely and eat only cold food, which is not as unappealing as it sounds during hot weather. However, I am personally from the progressive camp that embraces technology and the general improvement of the human condition that resulted from the domestication of fire and cooked food. For me, the preparation of food marks the beginning and end of each day on the trail. It is a time for relaxation, reflection and planning, an integral part of the fundamental rhythm and ritual of my backcountry treks. And I do like my coffee.

While white gas (Coleman fuel) is commonly available and relatively inexpensive, the stoves that burn it tend to be heavy and can be notoriously cranky to operate.

Rave reviews in Backpacker Magazine convinced me to try out Snow Peak’s ultralight, blended gas (Isobutane/Propane) burning “Gigapower” stove, the stainless steel version of which weighs a scant 115 grams including its compact case. Its operation could not be simpler – you just screw the burner together with a fuel canister, which also serves as the base, unfold four wire pot support arms, open the fuel valve and ignite. No muss, no fuss, instant heat. Run full blast this stove will boil a quart of water in about 4 minutes, with a total full blast duration of about 45 minutes per GP-110 canister.

The simplicity, small size, light weight and efficiency of my Gigapower stove amazes other backpackers to whom I’ve demonstrated it, and I am a very happy camper with mine. Being a poor person, I invested in the no frills stainless steel version, the least expensive of four related models at fifty bucks. Affluent backpackers with more money to burn may prefer the titanium version that weighs an ounce less, or the piezo auto igniter option. I considered the auto igniter prior to purchasing mine, but decided against it after a company sales person told me that some Gigapower users had melted their auto igniters when using their stoves with a wind shield. It is often very windy in the Grand Canyon backcountry, and strong winds reduce the heating efficiency of camp stoves. I employ an unfolded piece of tinfoil formed in a partial cylinder around the stove to provide a wind shield when needed. I’ve read that reflected heat from the use of too-tight wind shields can cause dangerous overheating of fuel canisters, so if you deploy a wind shield like this, be sure to leave adequate air gaps and periodically check the temperature of the canister while operating the stove.

One downside to the Gigapower stove is it wouldn’t be that stable under larger pots due to it’s small footprint, but I have yet to dump a meal out of the one pint aluminum pot that I double duty for cooking meals and as a coffee cup.

Fuel Bag
Two Snow Peak GP-110 Isobutane/Propane Fuel Canisters 400 grams
Each GP-110 canister provides 110 grams of mixed gas fuel, providing 45 minutes duration at full blast. Snow Peak also makes a larger canister with double the fuel of the GP-110 (90 minute duration) which should have a little lower net weight than two GP-110s and also make a more stable base.

I don’t usually run my Gigapower stove full blast, but my daily consumption of fuel works out to about 22 grams, or about 8-10 full blast minutes. Your own consumption may vary considerably depending on the cooking time of the food you prepare.

Lotions Baggie
30 SPF Sunscreen 100 grams
Bug Repellent 60 grams
Cut Off Tooth Brush 10 grams
Toothpaste (‘Travel’ Size) 25 grams
Subtotal with Baggie: .20 kilograms
Medical/Emergency Baggie
Plastic Whistle 5 grams
Small Roll Gauze 10 grams
Several Small/Medium Gauze Pads 5 grams
Small Roll Adhesive Tape 15 grams
2 inch x 3 inch Moleskin 15 grams
Five Blister Bandages 15 grams
Four Regular Band-Aids 5 grams
Four Packages 1-Gram Dose Triple Antibiotic Salve 7 grams
30 Aspirins 15 grams
Metal Tweezers 10 grams
Subtotal with Baggie: .11 kilograms
Utility Baggie
Iodine/Neutralizer Water Purification Tablets in Pill Case/Baggies 25 grams
Duct Tape 1.5 x 18 inches 5 grams
25 feet 5mm Cord 40 grams
Several Twist Ties
Replacement/Extra Baggies 30 grams
Subtotal with Baggies: .11 kilograms
Navigation Baggie
Compass 25 grams
Garmin eTrex GPS Unit 155 grams
Topologic, Geologic and Formation Maps 305 grams
Replacement Pen and Pencil 20 grams
Replacement Lighter 25 grams
Compact Flashlight (2-AA Cell Size) 90 grams
Two Replacement AA Size Batteries for GPS/Flashlight 45 grams
Backcountry Permit(s) 5 grams
Subtotal with Baggies: .70 kilograms
Book Baggie
Geology of the Grand Canyon in 8.5 x 13 inch Bubble Wrap Envelope .89 kilograms
Camera/Optics Bag
Nikon 2000 Body with 35-75mm f3.5 Zoom Lens, Filter, Caps,
Lens Protector, Strap
1135 grams
80-200mm f4.5 Zoom Lens, Filter, Caps, Lens Protector 610 grams
Backpacker’s Tripod 115 grams
Macro Lens Set (Filter Style) and Case 95 grams
Several Paper Towels and Dust-Free Lens Cloth 20 grams
Twelve 36-exposure Rolls Kodachrome 35mm Film/Canisters 360 grams
Four Replacement AAA Alkaline Camera Batteries (One Set) 45 grams
Tasco 10 x 25 Compact Binoculars with Soft Case 300 grams
10X, 21mm Triplet Hand Loupe 40 grams
Subtotal with Stuff Bag and Baggies: 2.82 kilograms
‘Bag’ Baggie
Emergency Poncho 55 grams
Two ‘Lawn Size’ Trash Bags 100 grams
Toilet Paper/Used Paper Baggie 30 grams
Subtotal with Baggie: .19 kilograms
Warm Weather Clothing Bag
‘Night’ Clothes (Swim Trunks and Tank Top) 290 grams
Clothing – Two Days Worth
(2 pairs hiking socks, 1 pair each underwear, shorts, shirt)
800-1200 grams
16 x 16 inch Towel/Rag 85 grams
Subtotal with Stuff Bags for 7 Days: 3.70 kilograms
Food Bag
Food – Rations per Day
50 grams Jerky
150 grams Trail Mix
150 grams Noodles or Rice with Dehydrated Vegetables
100 grams Oatmeal with Dehydrated Fruit
30 grams Powdered Milk
15 grams Brown Sugar
150 grams Powdered Gatorade
20 grams Coarse Ground French Roast Coffee (Makes 5 Strong Cups)
20 grams Gravy Mix
200 grams Fresh Fruit (Orange, Apple, Mango)
885 grams
Subtotal with Stuff Bag and Baggies for 7 Days: 6.30 kilograms
Total Dry (Without Water) 7 Day Pack Weight: 23.53 kilograms (51.77 pounds)
Total 7 Day Pack Weight with 12 Liters Water: 35.53 kilograms (78.17 pounds)
Weight of Worn Clothes/Boots/Pocketed Equipment: 3.35 kilograms (7.37 pounds)
Seasonal and Optional Equipment
Solo Tent, Poles, Stakes, Rain Fly, Ground Sheet 1.60-2.00 kilograms
Fishing Gear 1.00 kilograms
Down Vest or Parka kilograms
Gloves kilograms
Hiking Staff or Pole(s) kilograms
Gators kilograms
Crampons kilograms
Climbing Rope kilograms

The Ten Essentials for Backcountry Survival

In editing the above and putting together your own checklist, be sure you do not neglect these ten essentials for backcountry survival, regardless of your plans. You should always carry the following with you, even when venturing into the backcountry for ‘just a day hike’:

  1. Extra Water and Food – Yes, it’s a dry heat… No water, you die! An often published general rule of thumb is one gallon of water per person per day. Folks, that’s for mild weather and conditions – you’ll have to consume 3 or more times that amount to prevent dehydration and combat heat exhaustion if exerting yourself in the summer heat, which can exceed 120 degrees in the shade on the Esplanade, Tonto Platform and within the Inner Gorge. No food = No fuel = No fun! Hiking the Grand Canyon backcountry is not the time to diet or loose weight… Indulge your body and appetite with double your normal intake of carbohydrates, sugars and water, and be sure you eat and drink periodically whether you feel hungry and thirsty or not.
  2. Trail and Topographic Map(s) – Without maps of the area in which you’re hiking, and knowledge of how to use them, your hike may turn into something less than enjoyable, especially if you are venturing onto and navigating the more remote, unmaintained trails or routes in the Grand Canyon backcountry. The trail maps published by the National Park Service, Grand Canyon Association and others are no substitute for 7.5 minute United States Geological Survey topos, which are essential for safe hiking on all but the Park Service maintained, heavily traveled corridor and rim trails.
  3. Compass/GPS Receiver – Used with knowhow, a GPS receiver makes navigating with those topographic maps ten times as effective. But do not neglect to pack a compass even if you are a competent GPS user! Your GPS could conk out, its batteries could become exhausted, or you may find yourself in such rugged terrain (typically, a deep canyon or wash) that your GPS may not ‘see’ enough sky (satellites) to function. Sometimes simpler is better… BTW, if your compass skills are a little rusty, or you’ve never learned how to triangulate position using a compass and topo map, waiting until you are lost in the Grand Canyon backcountry to figure it out will no doubt add to the intensity of the situation and provide for a better story later, assuming there is one.
  4. Flashlight with Spare Batteries – Besides just being very handy around camp for scaring off mountain lions, bears and giant ground sloths after dark, 😉 you may need a flashlight to hike during the night under emergency conditions to reach help for a fallen comrade, or to move your camp to higher ground if it rains. Flashlights also make good emergency signals at night.
  5. Emergency Whistle – This safety item is particularly important if you hike alone and/or venture off the beaten trail. A whistle carries further than your voice and can still be used after you’ve shouted yourself hoarse.
  6. Sunglasses – Your eyes can burn easily, and you won’t know it’s happened until the damage has already been done. A tough pair of polarized sunglasses with 100% UVA and UVB protection is mandatory canyoneering attire, with a retainer string or band that helps prevent their loss and facilitates you in conveniently hanging them from your neck when not in use. I guarantee you will not be a happy camper if you lose or break your sunglasses during an extended hike!
  7. Protective Clothing and Hat – Depending on the season and weather, protective clothing may include rain gear, a wool shirt, sweater or parka, gloves, and perhaps a Mylar space blanket. In a pinch, a lawn size trash bag can be employed as an emergency rain poncho/pack cover. If your feet perspire anything like mine, a fresh change of socks is always appreciated. A shady hat is mandatory canyoneering attire! You will encounter high, gusty winds on the rims, outcrops and in side canyons that can easily and suddenly strip your hat from your head and blow it into an inaccessible abyss, so be sure your hat incorporates a secure chin strap. I guarantee you will not be a happy camper if you lose your hat in the Grand Canyon during an extended hike!
  8. Waterproof Matches/Windproof Lighter/Emergency Fuel – Keep them in a waterproof container. Candles, fuel tabs or another long-burning fire starter is essential when trying to start a fire with damp kindling. While it is illegal to build camp or cooking fires anywhere in the Grand Canyon backcountry, in an emergency you may need to start a fire to signal for help, or for heat if you’re caught in life threatening hypothermic conditions.
  9. Pocket Knife – This is an essential tool! You won’t be skinning any elk or bear, so a small Swiss Army Knife is all you’ll really need.
  10. Personal First Aid Kit and Emergency Info – Your first aid kit need not be elaborate but should at least contain Band-Aids, rolled gauze and pads, adhesive tape, antibiotic ointment, tweezers (for removing thorns and splinters), moleskin or blister bandages, and aspirin. You might also want to include an elastic bandage to wrap a stressed knee or sprained ankle, and of course any prescription medications you may require. In the event of an accident or medical emergency you may not be conscious if and when found, so it is also a good idea to carry emergency contact and medical information on your person on a card, including your blood type and any known allergies to medications or complicating existing medical conditions.
Published in: on April 9, 2010 at 1:32 AM  Comments Off on Backcountry Equipment Checklist  
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Preparing Edible Cactus

Edible Cactus Pads
Edible cactus is also known as nopales (no-PAH-les), nopalitos or cactus pads. This vegetable is popular in Mexico and other Central American countries, parts of Europe, the Middle East, India, North Africa and Australia. Its popularity is increasing in the United States where it can be found at Mexican grocery stores, specialty produce markets and farmer’s markets.
Edible cactus is characterized by its fleshy oval leaves (typically called pads or paddles) of the nopal (prickly pear) cactus.
With a soft but crunchy texture that also becomes a bit sticky (not unlike okra) when cooked, edible cactus tastes similar to a slightly tart green bean, asparagus, or green pepper.
Cactus pads contain beta carotene, iron, some B vitamins, and are good sources of both vitamin C and calcium.
What is the difference between cactus leaves (edible cactus or nopales) and the prickly pear?
As part of the cactus plant, the prickly pear is a fruit that is 2 to 4 inches long and shaped like an avocado. Its skin is coarse and thick, not unlike an avocados and it ranges in color from yellow or orange to magenta or red. Tubercles with small prickly spines can be found on the prickly pear’s skin. This fruit’s flesh, which ranges in color also from yellow to dark red, is sweet and juicy with crunchy seeds throughout.
The prickly pear can be diced like pineapple and used as a topping on yogurt or cereal or blended into a smoothie.
Availability, Selection, and Storage
Edible cactus is available year-round with a peak in the mid-spring and the best season from early spring through late fall. When picking them wild wear gloves our use something rather than your hands to pick these up to avoid the spines, I prefer the use of a small fire to burn the spines from the fruit. Even after this type of preparation be extremely careful for remaining spines use gloves when available.  When buying edible cactus, choose small, firm, pale green cacti with no wrinkling. Be sure to pick cacti that are not limp or dry. Very small paddles may require more cleaning because their larger proportion of prickers and eyes.
Edible cactus can be refrigerated for more than a week if wrapped tightly in plastic.
Edible cactus is also sold as:
Canned — pickled or packed in water
Acitrones — candied nopales, packed in sugar syrup and available in cans or jars.
The edible cactus you buy should be de-spined though you will need to trim the “eyes,” to remove any remaining prickers, and outside edges of the pads with a vegetable peeler. Trim off any dry or fibrous areas and rinse thoroughly to remove any stray prickers and sticky fluid.
Edible cactus can be eaten raw or cooked. To cook, steam over boiling water for just a few minutes (if cooked too long they will lose their crunchy texture). Then slice and eat! Cactus can also be cut and sautéed in butter or oil for a few minutes.
I prefer cactus to be added to scrambled eggs and omelets, or one can add to diced fresh and added to tortillas. They can also be substituted for any cooked green in most dishes.
The pads can be served as a side dish or cooled and used in salads. They taste especially good with Mexican recipes that include tomatoes, hot peppers and fresh corn.

Cactus Recipes

Published in: on March 12, 2010 at 2:53 PM  Comments Off on Preparing Edible Cactus  
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How to Make Maple Syrup at Home


What you need to start

First, you will need to obtain a sap spout from either a local farm supply store, or a sugaring supply company such as Leader Evaporator Company a sap bucket (also available at your farm or sugaring supply store), and some kind of cover to keep the rain and snow out.

Next, select a maple tree that is at least 14 inches in diameter (which would make it at least 40 years old). Drill a hole with a 7/16 drill about 1 to 1 1/2 inches deep…at about waist high. Hammer your spout into the tree and either attach a
sap bucket or a plastic bucket. .Put only one tap per tree.

Sugaring season begins around mid-February and goes until March and early April (depending on where in New England you live and how early the spring thaw arrives.)

How do you know when its time to tap? Check the outdoor temperature during the day and at night: If its gets 40 to 50 degrees F during the day and somewhat
below freezing at night, you can bet the sap is flowing.   This combination temperatures during the day and night pushes the sap up from the roots into the trunk and branches, where it freezes, and then the next day as it warms up, it drips out your spout.

How much sap do you need? It takes 40- 50 gallons of sap to make a gallon of maple syrup, so you might expect in 4 to 6 weeks to get 40 quarts of sap from a tree which would make one quart of syrup, this is why it is recommended to take advantage of several trees at once . Sap looks like water and is about 2% natural maple sugar.

Directions for making sap into syrup

Collect the sap from your bucket every day the sap drips (some days may be too cold or too warm and you won’t get much of anything) and try to boil it within 24 hours. Since you are evaporating most of the water, you will be producing lots of steam so back yard boiling works best on a gas grill. As the water is evaporated, the sap gets thicker and starts to look golden brown.

When the boiling is getting near done, and reaches 212 degrees F. the syrup will double in volume so be sure to have a large enough kettle to handle this expansion. When your product is near syrup, it might be best to take it inside and finish cooking it on your stove (be sure to have the exhaust fan going or you may loosen your wall paper with all the steam).

Maple syrup is cooked enough when its 219 degrees F. so a candy thermometer is critical. Overcooking will result in burning of the syrup and the pan. Maple syrup needs to be refrigerated once it’s done, and will keep for a couple years in
a glass jar. After all your hard work, pure maple syrup never tasted better.

Radiator Leaks in the Backcounty

Black Pepper

You’re out for a picnic driving the backcounty roads all of a sudden you hear the sound of a hiss coming from your engine block, The steam seeping from under your hood tells the rest of the story – you have a radiator leak. And now you need a radiator repair.Pull over! Many thousands of dollars are wasted on major engine repairs only because the driver “tried to make it” someplace while their car was overheating. When coolant is escaping from your radiator, your car’s ability to stay cool goes with it. If your engine’s insides get too hot, they start to distort, melt and break, leading to very costly repairs. Radiator repair is far less expensive than inner engine stuff.

If there is coolant gushing all over the place or you can see a broken or split radiator hose, you should try a radiator hose emergency repair patch or some duct tape. But if you have a pinhole leak, which usually appears in the radiator itself, you can save the day with a condiment. All you need is some pepper.

VERY IMPORTANT: Wait at least 15 minutes for your car to cool before attempting to make a roadside radiator or hose repair! Hot coolant will burn you!

Once things have cooled off, open the coolant filler cap and pour in as much pepper as you can find, up to a full shaker’s worth. Start the car and let it warm up, allowing the pepper to circulate. With a little luck, the little pepper pieces will find the pinhole and clog it right up, giving you a chance to get to the shop for a real fix.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that the pepper fix is permanent. Not only is it unlikely to last long, you need to get all of that pepper out of your car’s cooling system. It’s not supposed to be there, and while it will not likely cause any damage, it’s certainly not good for all those sensors and valves in there.

Published in: on February 25, 2010 at 5:21 PM  Comments Off on Radiator Leaks in the Backcounty  
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Cooking with Cattail

Cooking with Cattail Shoots

In early spring, cattails send up small, immature shoots that are rich and succulent and taste a bit like zucchini. These first sprigs of fresh cattail can be put into stir-fries, soups, pasta sauces, or any other recipe that calls for fresh, green vegetables. My favorite preferred use is in Asian-style stir fries. Their taste especially complements the texture and flavor of water chestnuts.

Cooking with Cattail Hearts

When cattail shoots mature in mid spring, the rich “heart” at the base of the leaf-blades becomes full of nutrients. These can be used in the same contexts as cattail shoots, but will lend a slightly stronger flavor and crunchier texture. A cattail heart’s texture is something like a cross between a bamboo shoot and an artichoke heart, and its flavor is like a cross between a rutabaga and a melon rind. They are ideal for pickling and canning.

Cooking with Cattail Heads

One of my all-time favorite foods is what I call “cat on the cob”, a delightful dish that tastes remarkably similar to sweet, white corn. Immature cattail heads that do not yet have a cotton-like texture– best harvested in early summer— are tasty and wonderful additions to any meal. They can be boiled or put into soups and stir-fries, but I prefer to cook them in a buttered skillet over medium heat and serve them in place of corn.

Cooking with Cattail Pollen

When the flowers, or heads, of the cattail plant mature in mid-summer, their pollen can be gathered and used in the same context as corn starch. The pollen gives an excellent flavor to breads and pancakes when it is added to flours, or it can be used as a thickener in gravies, soups, and
stews. Its flavor is mild and barely noticeable, but it makes a fine addition to the pantry of any foraging chef.

Cooking with Cattail Roots
The cream of the cattail crop is its rhizome, or root, which can be harvested any time between late fall and early spring. Cattails store starches in their roots over winter, similarly to potatoes and carrots, and provide a succulant, fibrous meal base when the root is properly harvested. These rhizomes can be prepared like potatoes or used along with them. Cattail roots make a great addition to mashed potatoes, greens, and root-bakes.
Regardless of the route you choose for cooking cattails, be sure that you have properly identified the plant. While there are few poisonous plants that resemble the cattail at any stage of life, it is still critical that all foragers cook wild plants only if they are certain that it has been accurately identified.
When the flowers, or heads, of the cattail plant mature in mid-summer, their pollen can be gathered and used in the same context as corn starch. The pollen gives an excellent flavor to breads and pancakes when it is added to flours, or it can be used as a thickener in gravies, soups, and
stews. Its flavor is mild and barely noticeable, but it makes a fine addition to the pantry of any foraging chef.

Valley of Fire -The Cabins, NV

The Cabins

The historic stone cabins built with native sandstone by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) in the 1930’s as a shelter for passing travelers.

Park Brochure

The Cabins

The Cabins – Anasazi Petroglyph’s

The Cabins - Anasazi Petroglyph's

The petroglyph’s depicted here can be located upon the rock wall directly behind the cabins, once entering the park the directions to these formations are provided within the park informational pamphlet provided at the entrance gate.