Bronze's Expedition Log

Expedition Log


April 22nd, 2009

My water gourds being deemed too fragile and canteens deemed too bulky, I decided some form of waterskin as the most effective means of transporting liquid.  Thusly equipped I would be carrying only a few extra ounces of gear, and said gear would collapse or expand to take up exactly the amount of volume required to complete its assignment. Read the rest of this entry »

Sutter’s Fort Mountain Man Traders Faire

April 19th, 2009

I spent the weekend in Sacramento where I attended the above event to acquire some missing elements of my equipage.  Purchased were the following items: Read the rest of this entry »

Evaluating Preparations

April 15th, 2009

Only 6 weeks remain until I pack my panniers for Oregon, where my expedition will begin.  I’ve been grappling lately with my level of preparation–at times I feel pretty on top of things, other times woefully unprepared.  It is generally difficult to assess my preparedness since what I am attempting is largely unexplored territory to me.  I imagine the first week on the trail will reveal the extent of my readiness.  Until then I can only lie in bed rehearsing a day on the trail ad nauseum. Read the rest of this entry »

Mule Packing Trial

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. Read the rest of this entry »

Equipment Weight and Volume

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Storage Thoughts

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.  Read the rest of this entry »

Bedroll Field Test

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.


February 21st, 2009

macrame-1I spent about 2.5 hours this evening making slings for my water gourds using 1/8″ jute rope. The method I used is macrame, which is essentially just a series of square knots.

I started with six lengths of cordage, about 6′ long. I started with one big square knot, and then radiated out wmacrame-2it smaller ones. It looks a little like a flower.

From there, you just alternate square knots to form a basket.

Eventually you can slip the gourd into the basket and start to tighten up the knots for a nice fit.water-gourd-1a

I gave myself a lot of extra cord so I could braid it into a rope. Hopefully I can lash it onto the pack saddle and it will always be within reach.

Once I got into the swing of it, it went pretty fast. Though somewhat tedious, I tried not to rush my work and to ensure that every knot was true and the braiding tight. Were my handiwork to fail it could result in my gourd falling and splitting open; my precious water supplies compromised.

water-gourd-1dwater-gourd-1cPondering this served to remind me that throughout most of our history a man lived and died by the quality of the tools he crafted, the care he gave to his possessions, the forethought and planning he gave to his actions. The world I live in today is blessed with such abundance and ease (generally at the expense of Chinese peasant labor, sadly). If the sole of my shoe wears out, I can replace the whole pair for dollars. If a kitchen knife breaks, another can be had in 20 minutes. Part of the appeal of this expedition will lie in knowing that I have absolutely no one other than myself to rely upon. I’ll have to stitch the sole back together myself. The knife cannot be allowed to break.