A trip down memory lane aka Just some pics of various other WW1 excursions

Even though this blog is about my hike along the western front in 2015 and the preparation for it, I have spent already quite a few days walking around the Westen Front. Of course like any “tourist” I shot 100’s and 100’s of pics. I’ve been on wellknown sites but also several less wellknown and quite a few that are rarely seen by anyone and where time seems frozen.

It was visiting those out of the way places that kindled my interest in bushcraft (at first because i was venturing into places where help is not 1 phonecall away and I realised  I wasn’t equiped for it) and what tought me that camping without a ton of stuff to pack and unpack is infinitely more comfortable than going “luxury” camping.  In the end it provided a perfect combination of two hobbies for me..So just for you, some impressions.

A side note on the ammunition you see on 2 of the pictures, for those who happen to wander into the frontline (and most of you will have without knowing, if you have travelled to France or the south east of Belgium), it is still abundant everywhere, if you go off the beaten path you trip over the damn stuff, but just passing a freshly plowed field in flanders or north France, can be enough to see it lying around

…Please! if you ever come across it do not touch, after 100 years it is still as dangerous as it was back than and even something small (like the fuse in the 1st of the 2 pictures  containing amo) will take of your hand (and probably more) off. This stuff can still explode and it will, it actually still injures people to this day and still destroys (farmers) equipment…btw lets not mention what happens to you if you happen to pick a corroded through gas of phosphourous shell 😉

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

 

 

Image

DSC03563

DSC02657

US begraafpl romagne

 

Last but not least: Don’t ask me where some of these locations are, I wont tell you, unless I know you well, and if you happen to be truly interested in the more remote, non-tourist locations, you can probably hazard a guess of the general area anyway 😉

Cooking Equipment (and some gear in general)

Last weekend I spend a night outdoors, with 2 good friends, it was just a “hangabout” but since I’ve been swapping so much gear around, for me it was also a gear test.

The main thing I’m always fooling around with is cooking gear, most importantly “burners” (pots and pans are easy. I’m moving to titanium nowadays, but aluminium is easy to get to and all you need to do is figure out what size pot(s) you need)

I do strugle with the combo burner>>windshield>>potstand though. Years ago I started with the wellknown Trangia, it’s a great alcohol stove, cheap as chips, and works consistantly everytime, but it’s quite heavy. Also it needs a separate windshield and potstand, which adds weight and packing volume. I started out with the UL 27 set and o be honest there isnt anything wrong wih it but I want it lighter and a LOT smaller.

So for some years I have been experimenting..penny stoves, cutting two aluminium strips to create a potstand, using big nails as a potstand….combining a honeystove with a trangia (good combo actualy but finicky putting it together) etc etc etc.

It all kinda worked, some worked better than others, but it wasnt the “next great thing” and common sense told me..trangia won again.

On my quest for the next cookkit I bought the Evernew Apelachian trail set. It’s a nice compact light titanium set, which is multifuel (alcohol, wood, esbit) and it all pakcs away in the 500 ml pot…great!!! It comes with it’s own alcohol burner ( a trangia type model) and a base/windscreen which doubles and a hobo stove and esbit burner (I never tried the esbit bit, because cooking on esbit for me is kind of a last resort thing)..so how did it perform?

Well the actual hobostove/windscreen bit I really like, it’s small not to hard to assemble, it seems sturdy enough and does what it needs to do…kinda. How about the alcohol burner you probably ask? The evernew titanium stove works..no doubt about it, and at 35 grams compared to the 100 grams trangia, we’re in bussines you’d think. It lights quick, it blooms like a monster and pours out heat..aaaaand that were it looses from the trangia…big flames everywhere lots of nice warmth, but that also means it takes over 30 ml of “spiritus” to heat a simple pot of 450 ml of water, add to that the fact you cannot use a simmerring, or the fact there is no decent way to blow it out (no you cant trust me) and poor the leftover alcohol back into your fuel bottle and even the most diehard gear freak (like me) once again has to admit…the good old 1960’s trangia wins again!! ( to the guys of Evernew..redesign you titanium burner with a screwlid top so I can save on fuel I’m  not using and can pack the thing topped off in my pack..add a simmerring if you like, but there are ways around that..please..pretty please)..so the evernew titanium alcohol burner was out, sadly..

Bummer..now what..google, google, browse browse, youtube youtube and hey! up popped the vargo triad!. Tiny , has its own potstand, lightweight at 26 grams, alcohol you don’t use just poor back into your bottle (yeh right!..see where this is going?)..so H hit that “buy now” button, paying was easy enough, as it always is 🙂 and two weeks later everything arrived (2 weeks because in that order was also my ULA Ohm 2 which wasn’t in stock..great backpack)

Happy happy happy, it all arrived about 45 minutes before i was scheduled to leave the house for the “hangabout”, about as perfect as can be. Initial tests on a picknick table were promissing during lunch , though I way overfilled it, but it bloomed, it cooked..it flaired.. it spit..it growled and spewed (did i mention some people warned me about this damned thing?). Pooring fuel back was like hit and miss but hey! 50% saved is 50% right (I still blamed myself for over filling it..JOHAN STOP LAUGHING!!!). Later that night I filled it more carefully, remembering the instructions and the youtube vids, and the result was? YUP, 30 minutes to cook 400 ml of water, it took 15 minutes to bloom pooring back was still a b*&ch..but at least it didnt spit, growl and spew at me. Back home I did some carefull tests, basically to cook on this thing you have to balance intricatly between filling and overfilling, results may vary, but when it blooms like it is supposed to, it works and works well, and don’t bother with the “pooring back”, just toss it. The manufacturer talks about 44ml to fill and prime, forget it, its like 70ml to fill and prime! Shame on you vargo!

So now what? Well the apalachian set but with the old trangia burner is a good combo! So if you want to spend the money by all means spend the money on the DX set as they call it, don’t bother with the burner, but what aboout the Hobo stove bit of it? To be honest it’s tiny and that worried me and I was right, but I dont want to burn that litle set down (pun intented). The smaller the stove the harder it is to get a hobo stove to work and the the DX stand is no exeception. It does it’s job and has enough air for it’s size judging by the ammount of soot on my pot, but it trully cannot handle anything above 2x pencil size (and that’s pushing it), it cooked my 400ml of water, it took 20 minutes, but it worked as you should expect from something that small (but to be honest do we really need a hobo stove?).

So the end result is? DX stand, with a trangia combo, yep that works. with the rest don’t bother and save yourself some money.

Is there any light on the horizon for us diehard alcohol cookers? wel actually there is, yesterday I finally got around to building a “Fancy feast wick stove” and this looks promising, about 15 ml of alcohol to cook 450 ml of water in about 10 minutes, it has it’s own postand and it’s light! Slap a cheap ass windscreeen around it and you are good to go. It’s simple, not sure if it would last 4 months on the trail, but initial tests (see pic below) does seem to indicate it works..I will be testing this one some more!

Image

 

So that’s where we are at cooking wise 🙂 but what about the rest of the gear test? Well that was about shelter.

My dd Hammock has double layer that could fit a insulation mat, but i was “hangabout ” with my ticket to the moon. Why you want to know? well because it’s smaller and lighter and a mat in the hammock is the same as a mat in between two layers right? ..no it bloddy well isnt! Within 5 minutes my hammock tossed me out with my sleeping bag, and neolite mat and I landed on the (soft) forest floor..it was vey gentle landing I must admit 😉

Luckily Alex handed me a thin light radiator foil type insulation to try out earlier and yes it worked, but it wasnt quite enough for an early march night, the night was doable but cold (definitely a lil very much cold..JOHAN STOP LAUGHING!) 

And that ladies and gentlemen was weekend “hangabout” with quite a lot of failure and therefore succesfull..better find out now that next year right ? 😉

Cheers

H