Bronze's Expedition Log

Archive for March, 2009

Mule Packing Trial

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

It’s been a pretty productive week for ol’ Bronze.  I attended a equine handling clinic taught by Dee Howe last weekend, which gave me more hands-on practice at recognizing and easing pain.  She also let me practice loading some uncooperative horses into her trailer, which will no doubt be a valuable training for when Bootsie and I come across a ford or rickety bridge. (more…)

Equipment Weight and Volume

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

I just finished weighing the majority of my gear.  Below is a spreadsheet of my projected PCT Equipment List.  Right now it’s coming in at just under 170 lbs.  This is encouraging since I’ve been told to limit Bootsie’s load to 150-175 lbs.  This is squarely in that range, and will decline at about 8 or 9 lbs per day, meaning in 3 days we’re well below the 150 lb limit.


Storage Thoughts

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

I picked up my panniers, as well as a sawbuck saddle, hobbles, manty, rope, scale and pack pad from Western Feed yesterday.  I was very pleased to see that the oversize panniers were indeed quite large and my previous concerns about volume have been allayed.  (more…)

Dried Beef Supplier

Friday, March 13th, 2009

I am extremely pleased to announce that I have just received a shipment of 60 lbs of jerky from Tillamook Country Smoker!!! (more…)

Bedroll Field Test

Monday, March 9th, 2009

I accomplished much this weekend, oddly enough, since most of my time was spent playing poker out at the Whitehorse Ranch. I stopped by the Hide House in San Dimas on my way out to the ranch, where I picked up some leather. I bought a small odd-lot commercial braintan deer hide for a very good price. I figure it’s a good idea to have all the leather scrap I can get for repairs and improvisation along the way. I bought a long thick latigo and buckle, which I made into a belt at the ranch.

I also bought a nice thick, stiff cowhide scrap. I want to make a sheath for my tomahawk and the veg-tan that I was originally going to use just seemed too flimsy. It was useful for a template however. Unfortunately I got distracted while cutting it and messed up my original plan. I had intended to leave a pair of long straps attached to the top to fold over for belt loops, but now I suppose I’ll have to just lash the loops on as separate pieces…

Further down the road in Yucaipa I stopped in at Western Feed and Livestock Supplies to order my pack saddle from Ken. I got a sawbuck saddle and 2 over-sized panniers, a manty, rope and a scale. It will arrive this week and then I can begin getting Bootsie accustomed to having all this stuff slung on her back.

Spending the night out at the ranch gave me a great chance to test the warmth of my bedroll, and it performed admirably. Currently I have two sheepskins inside what is essentially a long oiled canvas sack. Seeing as how each pelt amounts to a 4 inch thick wool blank with plenty of loft I would expect this to keep me warm well below freezing. It got down to at least 37°, and I was warm as can be.

Of course this set up is quite bulky and heavy. I believe the bedroll weighs around 20 lbs, which might be excessive. I’ll need to play around with it–possibly trim the edges of the pelts to their absolute minimum width to cover me. (This would be good as I’ve been considering lining the insoles of my moccasins with a piece of the sheep pelt for cushioning.) I might even shear once of the pelts down considerably to save weight, using the light one on top for warm nights and the thick one for cold nights.

I’m willing to carry the extra weight and bulk of a good bedroll for the sake of a comfortable night sleep. A passage in Galton’s “The Art of Travel” really struck me a seasoned and sound advice:

Indeed, the oldest travellers are ever those who go the most systematically to work, in making their sleeping-places dry and warm. Unless a traveller makes himself at home and comfortable in the bush, he will never be quite content with his lot; but will fall into the bad habit of looking forwards to the end of his journey, and to his return to civilisation, instead of complacently interesting himself in its continuance. This is a frame of mind in which few great journeys have been successfully accomplished…”

On Sunday I payed a visit to Bootsie and we had a nice little walk around the neighborhood. She is leading very calmly and obediently. There is a storm drain up the street of which she is scared to death, and I’m glad to have the opportunity to practice on working her past her fear of a specific object. This will no doubt be useful practice for fording streams or crossing bridges and the like.

Halfway There

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

Well, I baked 8 more days worth of hardtack this weekend, bringing me half way past my projected need. It’s definitely satisfying to see that my tedious labor with rolling pin and mixer is yielding some results. The rations almost exactly fill a box that recently contained 5000 sheets of 8.5×11 copier paper. Now I just need to fill another!hardtack-box

I returned to work solo with Bootsie on Sunday. I pleased to say that it went a good as I could have hoped and I ended the day with a good deal of satisfaction and excitement. The training from Dee has already made a drastic difference in her responsiveness. It’s amazing how clearly the change can be perceived in even her body language. Whereas before she would walk alongside me–head up, ears perked–she now trails me with her head down, calm and surrendered to her role as the follower. She was very responsive to my speed and movement. Very impressive!

Now I have renewed desire to get out there and play with her! It was starting to feel like a chore just doing the body work around the yard. Of course that must continue too, but I’m eagerly awaiting the chance to take her out past her comfort zone and start working on her trust in me!