Bronze's Expedition Log


pemmicanI want this journey to be as authentic to the 19th Century experience as I can make it. Ever since my childhood I’ve been fascinated and enamored with the Civil War, the Old West, and frontier living. How did people live, how did they get by? What was it like before flashlights, Gore-tex, Powerbars, Thremarests, cell phones, and all the other devices and conveniences that make a wilderness experiences more comfortable and safe (or boring and easy)? When it’s pouring rain and I’m out of food there is a certain spiritual purity to just having to sit there, wet and hungry. Often these times bring me to a state of monk-like inner calm. Sometimes moments bereft of comfort or aid can for me be full of humility and peace. On my way, I hope to have a great many moments of humility and peace, and awe and reverence for the magnificent beauty of the landscapes I am blessed to live in.

With regard to period authenticity, I am striving to eschew modern conveniences in nearly all regards. It is important to me, for the reasons given above, that this expedition maintain a rustic and archaic spirit at all times. However I recognize that there is a time and place for certain modernities, and I am grappling with where to draw the line. In the interest of full disclosure, here are the ways in which I will be cheating (for any stitch-counters who might be reading):

I will bring a satellite phone to coordinate resupplies and for emergencies. I will have some form of water filtration/purification. My leggings are commercial brain tan stitched with upholstery thread. I am using a kerosene lamp and burning de-natured alcohol in a small brass stove. There may be some synthetic elements to my tack and packing material.

None of these things will detract from my experience.

If something seems incongruent with the aesthetic of the journey—a Snickers, a bed, anything plastic—I will avoid it. Things which were unknown to the 19th Century West but generally conform to the era I’ll probably be OK with—trail mix, canned soup, the alcohol stove. Basically, if it could have been produced at the time, I’d consider it.

4 Responses to “Authenticity”

  1. LYNCH says:

    Sounds like a ton of fun, I used to do Canoe trips but it was only 7 days sounds like your trip will be longer, but same thing only 19th Century experience, no phones, nothing modern. We’d have to go fishing for extra food sleep out side in the rain etc… I used to do it every summer up in Canada. Great fun. Reminds me of camp.

  2. Grannyhiker says:

    Dried food was around in the early 19th century! However, it would have been something that was dried over a fire or maybe on a wood stove. Jerky, parched corn, pre-cooked and dried beans…. Unfortunately this will mean rather monotonous meals! Of course most mountain men subsisted on the land (other than flour, salt and baking powder), and that isn’t possible today.

  3. Ally Jones says:

    I really admire you.

  4. Hans, didn’t know you were so interested in the Old West. You should try to come to the Barona Tribal Powwow (Lakesdie, CA) on Labor Day Saturday. Our family puts up a canope and we stay all day and night. The grandkids are dancing (again) this year, including Ian and Emma! My mother is a Traditional Lakota Elder and you could do some talking to her and listen to her awesome stories. You and your wife are more than welcome! Good for you doing this muleride. I admire your determination. Love, Diane

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