And now for something completely different…First Aid!

I was thinking ..it’s time for an update, but there isn’t that much to tell right now…

Until this evening ūüôā a friend of mine and her husband went to Albania last week, and sadly “the man around the house” had an unfortunate encounter with a litle brick wall, earning him a serious scrape on his shin. (it was¬† a good one..realy it was ūüôā )

Normally scrapes are not considered bad injuries, as outdoors¬†people we always think about cuts from knives, sprains, breaks and bruises from tumbles and other horror scenarios¬†like that…

However, this scrape¬†turned bad, got infected and now caused the need for tetanus shots and antbiotics and lots of TLC, even though¬†I’m 100% sure the first aid he received was better than most of us would get ¬†when we are “out there”.

It was a bit of a wake up call, since I did have my own slip and slide down the entrance of a bunker several weeks ago, which earned me a nice few scrapes (not nearly as bad as “the man around the house” got, but enough to draw blood and therefore cause a risk). I slapped some alcohol gel on it right away (inventing new swearwords instantly..quietly though because there was a lady present!!!) but that is all i did.

So what im getting at is…we look at all kinds of worst case scenarios, but it is the little things that may actually get you. I could easily¬†scrape a shin out in nature and it could totally destroy my trip..so be careful out there people, use your head and when that little voice in your head says “no” listen to it! As a good friend of mine told me a while ago..”fear is a powerfull teacher” …that was after a face first tumble into the mud due to¬† “not paying attention”

So be safe out there my friends and use your brains.

grts

Hans

 

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Camp routine

Last week I spent a whole week in north east France strolling through the WW1 battlefields, as usual it was fantastic and what we had planned to see didn’t come close to what we actually got to see :)…but that’s part of the game, as is managing to slip and trip and fall over, which I seem to do at least once on all my trips there, again with no consequence bar a scratch, a bruise and a dent in my dignity. (one day I will pay attention to that liltle voice in my head when it tells me that slope could be slippery)

But that is not what this entry is about, but its about camp routine

What¬†I mean with camp routine is not just setting up your camp, that¬†I could not practice since our base camp was¬† a B&B, from which we made our trips everyday for a week deep into the woods in France looking for those forgotten traces of the war. Camp routine is also comming back to your base, taking your shoes and socks off, rincing out clothes and swapping into the “dry gear”.

And that is what I experimented with and even though i had been told what and how to do it, I was thourougly surpised on how well it worked. The weather we had was fine, not extremely hot yet, but when you are clambering up and down steep slopes, through threnches and undergrowth plenty of sweating is done (and again the first two days I learned how much water you actually loose and how not drinking enough will come back at you).

So what was the routine:

  1. Get out of the clothes you wore during the day (duh!)
  2. Rince feet with cold water (ow goodie that feels goodie)
  3. thourougly rince (and soak!) socks, T-shirt and (once every few days) shirt
  4. wring swirl and slap as much water out of your washed clothes as you can and hang it all up
  5. loiter at the bar till dinner was served (or in  a outdoor situation, cook dinner)

So what was the result?
Well very good actually, both my T-shirt and shirt would be dry or as good as dry the next morning, during the whole week I did not use any soap whatsoever, just rincing and soaking for 10 to 15 minutes did the job and the T-shirt and shirt stayed perfectly fresh.

The socks needed more time, they would not be dry the next morning and¬†I wouldnt wear slightly damp socks knowing I would have to do 15 to 20 kilometers¬†that day,¬†so 3 pairs is a must, two is cutting it to fine¬†since my feet are my main asset for 4 months in 2015¬† (in summer with warm temperatures¬† the socks probably would dry, but the added weight of one extra pair is not worth the agony ;). also¬†I noticed that just rincing and soaking on socks may not be enough (yes.. sorry ladies¬†us guys do smell our clothes just to check :P). The socks were fresh-ish but not as fresh as the T-shirt. Where I can now safely say i could use the rince/soak routine for months on a t-shirt and it will work, I’m not sure on it sockwise, a litle soap is probably better in that case…which brings me to soap..

Soap: I’ve known this for quite a while now, but a different soap for showering, and one for your hands/washing, and one for your clothes and one for shaving and one for doing the dishes etc. is just BS!..trust me it trully is. A simple block of (unperfumed) soap worth 90 cents is all you need. It wil take care of all your cleaning needs!

Last but certainly not least: washing oneself, we (western humantiy) trully  seem to have gotten realy lazy on that part, I had the luxury of a shower in in my room for sure,  but ffs whats wrong with a cloth/your hands, some soap (yes that same cheap block) and some care, 5 minutes later you are all fresh, presentable and not offending anyone!

A couple of notes:

  • My clothes are hi-tech outdoor materials, cotton or wool would certainly take longer to dry
  • If you run into a week long downpoor it’s going to be a challenge no matter what

Did I learn anything?
Of course I did! Mainly what I thought would work, actually did (isn’t that nice ūüôā ? ) and I may be switching my routine to wearing one,¬†¬†drying one, to: one wearing while hiking and one wearing in camp ( more of a jungle setup). Both systems are very close, but are different in principle.

And that’s it for this entry, this time not a lesson from failure, but from success, which is always great:)

Regards

Hans

PS: Yes I will blog pictures from my latest trip, but that is for a later blog!

 

Food (for thought) and cooking while on the trail ..aka potcosey and macaroni

We all know this…though we like to admit it or not…. when going on a hike food is important. Not just because we simply need the calories it provides, but also the comfortfactor that comes with it.

If you go away for just a week or so nowadays it’s fairly simple since there are good (freeze) dried meals out there, with plenty of variety, and we don’t have to reach for MRE’s or tinned rations anymore¬†(they arent bad mind you, they weigh more, but you don’t need to add extra water, so netto it’s the same)¬†.

If you go out for 4 months though, easy acces to expedition type meals is not so obvious, so “real cooking” comes into play:

– Carbohydrates: Easy 2 options there, pasta and rice … Pasta provide the best calories, rice the easiest cooking option (as i found out this weekend)

– Proteins: Dried sausage of some kind, spam, canned ham, corned beef…none of them realy light, but you can’t do without and beefjerky is just not readily available in the supermarkets here in europe.

-vedgies: Tomatoes, union, beans…I’m just nog a vedgie guy, I suspect I’ll go for the “vitamins in a pill” option and grab a few apples and oranges along the way…No real challenge there.

Back to real cooking and when you are out and about with just an alcohol stove, more importantly¬† “potcosey” cooking. It’s a great¬† blast from the past. Our grandparents used it in the last century for making all kinds of stew etc .. a hay box.. The modern day hiker of course doesn’t carry around hay (although lets be honest…grab a lot of dried gras or dry mos etc and wouldnt that make a nice potcosey..or just stick that pot in you down sleeping bag!!..make sure you pot is clean though ūüėČ )¬†..so I’m sure we all have played arount with various kinds of radiatorfoil…and it works..and it’s light..so it’s great ..so far so good..

Since i’ve discovered the potcosey, I have been cooking my rice this way, even at home (Yes folks i wil get out my cooking kit when im make rice at home…it’s easy and it just works…bring the water to the boil with the rice in it, stick it in the cosey¬†and 20 minutes later its done, and it’s nicer and fluffier than I ever get it on the stove.

So where is this going you wonder? (wait for it!) ..what about pasta, macaroni in this case?! (Pasta was the better calories per weight remember, so preferred when you need 3500¬† calories a day approximately) Weellllll the package says cook for 8 minutes, the same as the rice package says, queue the stick in cosey and wait 20 minutes (I skipped over the tiny diference where the rice package says and after cooking for 8 minutes let it stand for 15 minutes and the macaroni doesn’t…I’m a MAN afterall, we don’t bother with little details like that!!) So i brought it to the boil (added some extra water because it seemed to absorp water rather quickly), stuck it in the cosey and proceeded to chop up a can of spam, half an union (damn¬†I forgot the other half is still in my backpack..*runs downstairs*) and a tomatoe and stir fry it all together in my tiny trangia messtin..any meat works with half an union and a tomato I guess and so did this.

So twenty minutes of messing about over the trangia later, I set my messtin away, and lifted the lid of the potcosey..it looked good, just like it should look! …..¬†and i stuck my folding titanium spoon in the pot..and it went clunck at the hinges…The moment I touched it, I discovered I had created something that could rival with powerglue! I managed to spoon most of it through my spam, tomatoe and union mixture and at it, it tasted OK actually, the texture wasn’t briljant…for you dutch folks out there if¬†I mention peanutbutter sticking to the top of your mouth you know what I mean …Cleaning my pot was challenging…

So what did we learn this weekend?

A: Im a horrible cook…no news there really
B: Any canned meat with half an union and a tomato works ( I smelled the tin of catfood¬†I fed to the cats today…I can make this work with half and union and a tomato…honest!!)
C: You can overcook pasta to where it becomes something ferocious!

I had a great easterweekend out though with my brother in law (lucky him he didnt need to eat what i cooked ūüėÄ ) and with any failure comes a lesson,¬† so it’s never a waste!

Greetz
Hans 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food for Thought

So far, since I decided to actually do this walk,  a lot of work has been done, fun work as I would call it

  • Trying gear, swapping gear, re-trying gear, testing gear ideas ..and failing.. rince repeat
  • Taking every opportunity to walk with my backpack(s)..even if this means an hour around the block at 10 PM at night
  • Making decissions on what to take with me and what not (that probably wont be done till the day I actually leave for the Belgian coast ūüėČ
  • Looking at food stuff, deciding what meals can be created from stuff your average supermarket could have, that won’t spoil easily¬†(I can’t take hiking food for 4 months with me, and since an average christmascard can take up to 3 months to arrive at my friends in Normandy I’m not going to trust poste restante)

But there is of course a lot of non-fun stuff that will have to be dealt with: Insurances (standard travel insurance doesn’t cover a 4 month trip abroad), what route to take in detail (though¬†I have GPS tracks), making sure bills keep being paid, financing the trip,¬†where to stay in the evenings…

It’s one thing planning a one or¬†two week trip, things seem to get a litle more complex when you start thinking about “months” …

Even though I’ve now been preparing for this for quite a few¬†months, I still have moments at night where I lie awake, wondering what the hell I’ve gotten myself into, and the next day? I feel like I’m 100 meters tall..floating on air, ready to conquer the world, ready to just say sod it!, grab my kit and just go.. It’s a true rollercoaster sometimes, and no doubt it will be till the end :), luckily lately it’s more ups than downs.

The funny thing is, I’m not doing this with somekind of to-do list or planning software, I do have an extensive gearlist which helps to focus my thoughts (Thanks Johan!), but that’s about it. The rest of it is all buzzing inside my head like some giant 3-D puzzle, chaotic at times, extremely focussed the next time.

And when I’m working on that puzzle, there is always that little voice in the back of my head telling me its allright, it will all come together. It makes me think of an article¬†I read not to long ago on the bbc.com website, about Jamie McDonald, who actually ran across Canada (so what am I worried about??)¬† and about an interview he gave:

Q: “I was asked how I’d prepare for the more than 5,000 miles that lay ahead of me”
A: “I answered truthfully and said that I wouldn’t – no amount of training or planning could have prepared me for this journey”

I guess that is the next hill I need to climb..letting go of trying to prepare for every little detail that I can think of and enjoy the journey, because in the end that is what it is all about … who knows maybe I’m further up that hill than I realise I am.

grts

Hans

PS: Since a few days there is also a Facebook page up about the 14-18 walk, but you will find various other WW1 related articles there , as well. You can find it at : https://www.facebook.com/WW1Walk

 

 

 

 

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 ūüėČ

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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 ūüėČ

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 ūüôā 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!

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So that’s where we are at cooking wise ūüôā 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 ūüėČ

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 ? ūüėČ

Cheers

H

 

 

 

 

Packlists

When going on an extended hike, it all boils down to packlists, here is mine for now, still designed around 1 small week solo without support (with water for 1 to 2 days depending on conditions, and food for a week), it still needs some work since it totals at 21,5 kilograms and a bit which is quite a lot!

The food is just a random selection of what one could have around, the redlines are areas where i’ve just made guestimates for weights (so im probably a little below 21,5 kilo’s, but it will do for now.

Areas where there can be improvements are Tool/ict,packing and shelter (I have some ideas for that). Also¬†I can loose some weight in the cooking category by swapping out all nalgene’s by platypus’s

Yes most of it is in ductch, but where it’s not obvious…google is your friend ūüėČ

Kooking
1 firesteel
2 aansteker
1 schuursponsje
1 trangia brandstoffles vol
1 waterfilter inc boek+hoes
1 titanium 500ml pot
1 Ultralight Titanium DX Stand (EBY-257
1 microfgripper
1 trangia brander
1 folding cup
1 folding fork
1 folding spoon
1 platypus
1 Nalgene standaard
1 nalgene folding bottle 1L
1 zelfbouw snijplankje
1 opvouwbord
1 grote zakdoek KL
1 trangia koekenpan + greep van de set hierboven
Shelter
1 hammock
1 treehuggers
1 hoes van tarp
1 Tarp groen
1 slaapzak
1 slaapmat
1 Zak + patch van matje
8 tentharing alu
1 plastic voor op de grond
1 kussen
1 zitmatje
Clothing
1 Reflectiv hesje
1 sea2summit poncho
1 haglof tshirt
1 haglof tshirt
1 overhemd lange mouwen
2 onderboek odlo
1 onderboek odlo
1 outdoorbroek
1 outdoorbroek
1 wandelsokken
2 wandelsokken
1 Wandelschoenen
1 paar slippers
1 zonnebril
1 tropenhoed
1 buff col
1 microfleece
regenjas
Tools/ICT
1 rugged phone
4 aa batterijen
1 trekking poles per paar
1 hoofdlamp
1 Fenix e1
1 roll ducktape
1 ipad mini
1 goal zero leeg
1 Nomad 7
1 usb kabel
1 stekker USB uitgangs spanning
1 Mora compagnion
1 Victorinox
2 10m paracord
1 GPS + hoes
landkaarten
1 iphone
1 DC4
1 Rugzak
1 8L sea2summit drybag
1 35L sea2summit drybag
1 20l sea2summit drybag
1 casio PRW-5000T-7ER
1 kompas
1 schepje
Hygiene/ehbo
1 Tandenborstel
1 microfiber handdoek
1 Scheermes
1 rol wc papier
1 blok zeep
1 potje vaseline
1 EHBO Klein
1 Kneebrace
1 rescue blanket
1 talkpoeder
camfor spray
1 antimug
Various
1 bankpas
1 randomreader
1 creditcard
1 plastic fluitje
1 Velden van weleer
1 zorgverzekeringspas
1 reisverzekeringspas/info
Food
1 Pak zilvervlies rijst
1 blik ravioli
1 pak gedroogde tortelini
3 water per liter
10 Hero n between
8 hardkeks
1 unox hamburgers

 

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