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Off Grid by Ol’ Remus; “Uniforms issued at birth will almost certainly become the ruling default.”

This week the Sage of the Woodpile, Ol’ Remus, has a few choice words on the way of the wilderness:

“People from deep metropolitan America see woodlands in a peculiar way. Other than a day trip to some attraction, or a weekend at a cabin on the lake, their experience is commonly at a managed reserve such as a state park or other public accommodation where involvement with the Great Outdoors is bounded and wholly optional.

“They’ll typically stay in earnestly rustic cabins fitted out with utilities and amenities not materially different from an efficiency apartment, presented in an improbable mix of decors suggesting a mining camp of the old west imagined by a designer of Swiss chalets, or if severely downscale, something resembling the shotgun houses of Louisiana’s unfashionable wards.

“When hiking the over-designated “wilderness trails” they’ll caution each other in grave tones against getting separated and lost, as if an unspeakable fate awaits just off-trail. This, where a minor walk in any direction except up would get them to discount gas, snacks, lottery tickets and a cartoony map commending vendors of crafts and local honey.

“Tersely worded signs along scenic routes and jogging trails feature low level bullying concerning the disposition of trash offset with the promise of personal redemption by recycling, or the care to be exercised when building a fire in the meteor-proof facilities provided, all of which reassures them their welfare, perhaps nature itself, is being actively managed by competent and watchful professionals.

“This is the woodlands on terms they’ll accept, those of a valued guest in a picturesque but alien land. Park managers well know what underlies their expectation of convenience and reassurance. Fear. Places like the Ozarks or Alleghenies are their equivalent of East Saint Louis or Baltimore, menacing by day, potentially lethal by night. It’s why they gather ’round in the evening and build Dresden-like campfires and laugh a lot.

“It’s not possible to overstate the disorienting effect night has on them in the woods. Perhaps it’s the first occasion their eyes have had reason to become dark-adjusted, conceivably an unsettling experience. The resolutely unadventurous pack a flashlight of such power there’s a felt recoil when switched on, in case they’ll need to attract a rescue helicopter from afar or signal a distant township, I assume.

“But it’s not just the dark they fear. It took me a long while to understand why they talk so much. It’s the quiet. Thinking back, the nighttime stillness is often remarked upon by visitors, admiringly, but tentatively so. Their aimless chatter is as if the Great Outdoors had whispered “your move” and they’re struggling to excuse themselves gracefully. It’s understandable, they live a life of obligatory blather, it’s their go-to survival skill.

“On the other side, we have the people who live in the hills, often for generations past. They know the woods as a familiar part of their neighborhood. Night holds no fear for them, they rambled and camped at night even as youngsters. They find the urban pilgrim’s anxiety puzzling. In a catastrophic collapse, the street mavens who “head for the hills” with intent of armed aggression will be surprised by their own incompetence and fears.

“Moving quietly and efficiently through rugged, heavily wooded country is a skill learned over time. There are no prodigies. Even in daytime, lack of woodcraft or foul weather will see the urban intruder make blunder after blunder until he’s totally ineffective, perhaps incapacitated, almost certainly lost. Discreet night travel at a useful pace is at another level yet, mastered only with practice and an irrational fondness for the idea.

“Some city-dwellers work in occupations providing a basic woodland experience: surveyors, wildlife biologists, gas and oil field workers, and so forth, but they’re not likely to be dangerous. They’re more likely to have a provisioned bugout location of their own than rely on marauding, or if not, be an asset to an existing survival community.

“Street mobs from the inner city could be a significant threat to “flatland” rural areas near the cities for as long as there are working vehicles and passable roads—the infrastructure is held together with patches and promises as it is—and enough fuel for the return trip. Should they venture into the hills, narrow roads winding through steep woodlands present more places suitable for ambush than not.

“However, it’s their long history of creating enemies with ultimatums and violence, their lack of cohesion and disinclination to plan a step ahead that will work decisively against them. To their cost, the word “minority” has a specific meaning older than the rhetoric that’s grown up around it. It’s unlikely they’ll keep their legions of peripheral supporters when gunfire replaces theatre. Uniforms issued at birth will almost certainly become the ruling default.

“More dangerous to hill country are immigrant gangs from Mexico and points south, consisting mainly of untrained thrill-killers but mixed with some experienced enforcers of narco territories, smugglers, veterans of jungle-based cocaine operations and freelance criminals from the interior. Here again, their Einsatzgruppen-like violence will work against them, look for repayment in kind, indiscriminate and without hesitation.

“The future takes no notice of our expectations. Gangs in post-apocalyptic America may amount to no more than the highwaymen and horse thieves of our past. And it may prove that “an armed society is a polite society”. Don’t bet your life on it. Consider the truth in the classic caution, “if you’re not preparing for the worst, what are you preparing for?”

Read this and all the rest at this week’s Woodpile Report

Alert the Authorities!

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  • Mike Anderson January 28, 2018, 3:02 PM

    “But it’s not just the dark they fear. It took me a long while to understand why they talk so much. It’s the quiet….. Their aimless chatter is as if the Great Outdoors had whispered “your move” and they’re struggling to excuse themselves gracefully. It’s understandable, they live a life of obligatory blather…”

    Clearly I never got over a rural upbringing. The easiest way to flummox a city slicker of any generation is to put him in a situation of absolute silence. Which I think is pure Heaven. Ol’ Remus hits another one out of the park.

  • Snakepit Kansas January 28, 2018, 3:43 PM

    Poncho, knife and a can of tamales. Basically all you need to go camping if you know your surroundings. If you are out a ways, a compass and a topographical map will help. Pace counting to know where you are if not on a beaten trail. No normal need to travel at night unless some sort of emergency. I always have a compass in my truck and jacket pocket.

  • Casey Klahn January 28, 2018, 8:43 PM

    I well remember the kid from the inner city (was it Philly?) in basic training. He was as black as a bean, and as large as a house, and not much overweight. Football physique, but emphasis on the big part. Size 17 boots or something; took 2 cows to yield his boots. Scary kid.

    First night on bivouac, he was crying for the drill sergeant like a baby. Literally crying out loud for fear.

    I grew up with a woods background, with pioneers on my dad’s side, and hillbillies on my mom’s. I specialized in high country travel, and Ol’ Remus is right, very few can follow. However, I am always miffed at the bullshit I see “sportsmen” come to the woods with. Fucking blue jeans! Blue jeans will kill you as dead as a cougar will, and far more likely that they would.

    Travel at night? Why not? Great way to outwit others. No lights needed.

  • Casey Klahn January 28, 2018, 10:17 PM

    “…and far more likely that that would.” My grammar is better than “they,” when I know it is “that.”

  • John A. Fleming January 28, 2018, 11:10 PM

    After the Scouts are in their tents and settled down, it’s my time. I will often go walkabout, calming the day’s energies and letting Nature’s quiet peace recharge me. I try to minimize using an artificial light, and open up all my senses to feel and hear my way through the quiet woods and trails. Using my eyes to discriminate shadows. Been lucky so far, fell over a big log once in the too-dark, dang, never even saw it before I was going over. That coulda been very bad, walked away with a scratch. The Scouts never knew. Somebody was watching out for me that night.

    In the early days, we would often have to bushwhack in the dark back from the cliffs to the car after the day’s rock climb. It was a game then, who could go the fastest, break-neck through the cactus and boulders and cliffs and thorny bushes. For some reason I was always just a half-step slower than my mates, they seemed to have just slightly better night vision. I guess God gave me more of other gifts, and seems to have skimped a little in the vision department. It gives me great peace to know that I can still walk in the dark as in the hot-blooded days of my youth. I’m not done yet.

    I’ve done it a few times with the Scouts, walking in the dark for miles to the campsite. They’re all just city boys. I try and pick nights where there’s a moon out. The moon is fickle, there’s really only three days each month when it might as well be daylight. I teach ’em about starlight and alpenglow and city glow. About averting and scanning your eyes to see something clearer. About walking quiet and feeling your way with your feet, recognizing the difference underfoot between the trail and open country. I reckon they feel they have done something special and grown into manhood a bit once they get it and turn off the flashlights.

    And yes, I remember as an 11 year old city boy cowering in my tent in the dark in the woods. The ghost stories got to me. So I figure I have to get them out and show them how not to fear the night, but make it their friend. We are told from above that ghost stories have gone out of fashion and we ought not to re-tell the old favorites to our tender young charges. But I don’t know, it didn’t kill me, and I think it was part of the process of growing into manhood. So instead, I tell them the dramatic stories of mountain climbing and polar exploration. Some of those are as scary as any ghost.

    One thing though, both good and bad. The cougars are coming back and out there. Bears are rarer, wolves rarer still, though the coyotes will mostly always let us know they are about. I almost walked into a buffalo once, just a deeper shadow on the trail. I like it that they are all out there and we can yet share the world with them. They are our neighbors and we are the guests and we should be kind if we can. But. I tell the Scouts to stick together, especially in the dark. Don’t make of yourself a cougar’s breakfast or dinner. If some night it’s my turn to be on the menu, I’ll fight like hell, but there are worse ways to go. But it won’t stop me from going out there.

  • ghostsniper January 29, 2018, 4:41 AM

    When there is snow and a moon but no leaves on the trees I can see forever in the woods, and sound is magnified many times over. Remus recommended awhile back the Fenix EO1 AAA flashlight awhile back so I bought 2 and indeed it is more than ample light for the conditions, too much really. I hold it in my closed fist and only allow a sliver to escape, and full open is like a spotlight.

    I do wear jeans in the woods and if it’s cold a pair of thermals underneath. Hi-Tech hikers. In my Lands End down vest pockets are all I need. A rolled up poncho if it rains, a water bottle, the Fenix, a knife, a BIC lighter, Baretta Bobcat, no food. The moon is the compass. The folded up poncho keeps my ass dry. It is scary quiet out here. Terrifying to city folk. They don’t come out here alone, only in groups, their incessant banter broadcasting their fear. Of the unknown.

    Snow is noisy, even the powder. The deeper the noisier. It takes awhile to get your night eyes, and ears. Deers have green eyes, raccoons orange, rabbits red. Owls have no eyes in the dark, their eyes are sucking all available light in, none out. Their raspy call is captivating. We live out here.

    Breathe deep the gathering gloom,
    Watch lights fade from every room.
    Bedsitter people look back and lament,
    Another day’s useless energy spent.
    Impassioned lovers wrestle as one,
    Lonely man cries for love and has none.
    New mother picks up and suckles her son,
    Senior citizens wish they were young.
    Cold hearted orb that rules the night,
    Removes the colours from our sight.
    Red is grey and yellow white.
    But we decide which is right.
    And which is an illusion…

  • Ann K January 29, 2018, 6:38 AM

    Why will blue jeans kill you, Casey Klahn?

  • Derak January 29, 2018, 7:07 AM

    Ann: cotton kills. Quickest route to hypothermia in a cool/cold wet environment.
    Cotten retains moisture next to your skin, reducing core body temps. Never wear cotton in any outdoor endeavor. Even in summer in my neck of the woods, as vigorous activity makes you sweat, cotton holds the moisture next to your core, you get lost, night falls, temps plunge and voila. Dead.

    The new synthetics wick the moisture away from the body core and dry out quickly. The layering method enhances the effect, as each layer wicks outward to the next layer.

    Saudi Arabia might be an exception. Perhaps.

  • Wildman January 29, 2018, 7:19 AM

    Nothing like being in the woods or on the river. Been taking overnight river camping trips for 30 years and they are my foundest memories. I feel sorry for anyone who hasnt looked up on a dark night and never seen the milky way in all its glory. Something the city folks will never experience

  • Jim in Alaska January 29, 2018, 11:08 AM

    Actually I’ve been quite comfortable wearing cotton denim in the Florida glades, the Alaskan arctic and a lot of back woods in between. Of course I change my attire depending on the weather, I dress quite differently for minus fifty degrees than I do for plus eighty and for the dry cold here round Fairbanks in interior Alaska than I do in the wet south east, for example in Ketchikan, which gets around thirteen feet of rain a year.

  • Casey Klahn January 29, 2018, 11:18 AM

    Thanks, Derak.
    Add wool to the list of good clothes to wear if damp or wet.

    Ghost, I hate to say it, but with all respect you flunk your outdoorsmanship. I do wear cotton clothing if I am a walk or a crawl away from the car, but never if the car is over an hour away. Keep in mind that I live in the wettest, shittiest environment God created. A book author once Goobled: where is the worst weather and most treacherous landscape, and it came back: where Casey lives. She wrote the Twilight series there, although she’d, brilliantly, never been there. People get wet and die here. Loggers don’t die from the wet as often, but that’s because they maintain a 5,000 plus calorie diet and burn like a wood stove all day.

    I well remember falling in snow in the Rockies while skiing, and coming up not wet. That was a revelation. You can fall in snow and not get wet? What a rube! Only in the Pacific Northwet do you get wet just thinking about the woods. However, when you finally do get wet in these fake outdoors areas, you are at risk and need to go to ground, build a fire, and get dry. You will not know you’re going out, either. Your brain clouds over and everything slows down. If wearing cotton, your timers are all cut by 90%. The triple whammy is: you’re wet, the wet cotton convects heat from your skin and deep tissues, and it takes more effort to dry it.

    The fools way is to put technical underwear under jeans. Do I need to even explain that?

    Once I was working in Seattle and a sudden 12 inches of snow fell, totally snarling traffic and fast-freezing the city. Survival situation; urban. The REI store closed, and I hustled down to rentals and grabbed some wool socks from the try-on bin, and made use of my free rental perc to grab cross country skis.

    I made my way to the bus stop on Capitol Hill, boarded a metro and it git stuck after about 10 blocks. I skied into the University District, and stopped at a hole in the wall to tea up. I drank a whole pot of herbal lemon tea, while the commies leered at me with that “I’m going to fucking kill you if you don’t get out of here” look they’re famous for in shit dives. Out the door, and I made my way to the Burke Gilman Trail to forge my way North – I had 17 miles to go to get home. I climbed over 3 downed conifers and skied like a madman home. Skiing 17 miles is not generally hard or time-consuming. What made me think of this story was that I wore corduroy pants to work that day, which are cotton. Luckily, the air temperature was below 32 degrees, and the snow froze to the loose fitting trousers. I wasn’t getting wet, but if I had…

    Survival is a matter of attitude. death is a matter of shit-out-of-luck. Tip the balance in your favor, and wear the right clothes, FFS. I could care less what knife is in your pocket.

  • ghostsniper January 29, 2018, 11:52 AM

    I wonder why I ain’t dead yet?
    11 years in Gettysburg with snow up to here and bluejeans all around.
    3 winters in germany with COTTON fatigues.
    40 screemin hot summers in cape coral fl., cotton anybody?
    And now 12 winters in Bean Blossom, Carhartt blue jeans are the rule.
    Cotton’s been worn for millennia’s and winter has been going longer than that, maybe some died, but a lot didn’t. Maybe rumors kill…..

  • ghostsniper January 29, 2018, 12:13 PM

    Remember this part?: “A rolled up poncho if it rains,…”
    First rule of survival isn’t what you wear but rather what you have in your head, and I don’t get wet.
    If below freezing my Cabella’s $80/set thermals do the wicking, my boots are regularly slathered with mink oil, and my Gerber Quick Draw is clipped inside my right front pocket. We got snow today and now, and I’m going out again tonight, late, maybe 2am or so.

  • David Cole January 29, 2018, 12:51 PM

    It is my theory that this is where so much of the anti-hunting sentiment of urban and suburban America is rooted. And it is only sentiment…feeling…rather than intellect. Nature is something to be observed from the outside. It is something you visit, only a display to look at. A museum, a zoo…albeit without walls. Look, but do not touch. Leave everything as you found it. You are a guest, and do not belong here.

    Human beings are viewed as apart from nature, rather that a part of nature. Sadly, this seems to be more the norm today. Humans have divorced themselves emotionally from their place in the natural cycle, making it impossible to view themselves as righteous predators. There is no longer the understanding of a participant, no sense of belonging in the natural world. A lion killing an impala is natural, but a human killing an impala is “mean.”

  • Gordon January 29, 2018, 1:26 PM

    Is anyone familiar with the “quick-dry” pants from Duluth Trading? I love the fire hose pants, even though they don’t fit me quite right. They’ve replaced denim for me, but they’re cotton. They have some waterproof pants also. Their stuff isn’t cheap, but man, it lasts and lasts, and the winter coat I bought is the first one to fit me perfectly ever.

    The catalog is pretty good, but you want to go online and check out the clearance specials often to save good money. But the stores–there aren’t that many of them yet. You go in, get greeted at the door, and then they relentlessly leave you alone, unless you look for help. Their advisor team for men is working guys. They have women’s stuff too, and my wife swears by the tank tops. But their girls’ advisory team is all skinny girls from southwest Wisconsin.

  • Rob De Witt January 29, 2018, 3:02 PM

    Casey,

    I worked in a hospital in Chicago as an aide. I was astonished to find during a staff training cycle that some of the native black kids were petrified at the prospect of a proposed “retreat” for the trainees, to be held in an area forested park. The dark, animals, boogiemen, silence – too much, and I mean they freaked.

    One girl had lived on the West Side her entire 20-some years and had never seen Lake Michigan, less than 5 miles from her house on public transit. Inconceivable.

  • John A. Fleming January 29, 2018, 5:31 PM

    I might comment on denim in cold weather.
    When cotton gets wet, the water fill all the space between the fibers. You have a layer of sticky water next to your skin. Fondly remember the wet t-shirt contests you attended as a hot-blooded youth. The heat transfer coefficient from your skin to that sticky water layer is very high, especially if there is any wind. Those kilocalories get sucked out of you in a big hurry, sometimes too fast for you to keep up.

    Wool and synthetics get wet too, but they retain air pockets in the fabric. The water beads on the fabric, but doesn’t wet them. That water still has to be evaporated, but it’s the amount touching your skin that modulates the heat transfer. And percentage-wise, cotton absorbs more water per unit of mass than wool or synthetics.

    Denim gets stiff when wet, and if it is baggy, doesn’t stick as well. It’s the chicks with their shapely stretch jeans (and today’s man-bunned pajama boys) that are at the most risk. Working-man’s pants built for comfort, toughness and flexibility, not so much risk. Denim can soak up a lot of water, takes a long time to dry. Hopefully before it’s sopping wet, you made it home.

    The Inuit people, experts at these kinds of things, have the habits to always stay dry. Start doffing clothes so as to never break a sweat. And put them back on the moment you’re done. You’re wearing denim, fine. Manage yourself. Dress in layers. And don’t fall in the water. If you do, well, you deserve what happens to you, and we’ll have another tale to tell around the campfire as we toss down a drink to your memory.

  • ghostsniper January 29, 2018, 6:03 PM

    Brown County State Park is over here and city folk come from across the country to partake, especially in the fall. The marketing company’s have done a fair job at attracting ninnies to see the pretty leaves in the fall, and rape their wallets in the process. You can always tell when a horde has been here, drink cups and candy wrappers everywhere and the line at the drive thru of the only fast food joint in the county is all the way down the road. City folx lubz them sum fructose laden fare, can’t go 2 hours without it. Ray Kroc set that hook deep.

    Every fall there is an “incident” where the keyboard survivalists come over here and get way down in the sticks and can’t get out. They find em in a couple days, dehydrated, starved, scared to death, and then they never come back. Last fall a few of us had to go locally and yank an Escalade out of a pond with come-a-longs that some city slickers slid down in there rather nicely. One of them had trodded out and came up to my friend Bruce’s place at 6am as he was sitting their downing some mud and listening to the radio. Knocked on his door and was stunned when Bruce snatched the door open with a Glock in his hand and told him to lay down. It was a Sunday morning and nobody knocks on doors around here at 6am unless they’re checking to see if nobody’s at home. While holding the guy at gunpoint Bruce called the law who showed up in about half an hour and checked the dood out. Bruce thumbed the mic on his Beofeng and me and 3 other people showed up in about 15 mins and dragged that spensive ride out of there. Yeah, comms. See, out here in the hills cells don’t always work so we have various radios and repeaters. The whole road, 2 miles worth, is covered.

    Those slickers won’t be back, it’s too expensive here, in real money because of their lack of education. Things are different out here. Because stores and such are rare you have to look way ahead, weeks and months ahead, and in the long run you have to see seasonally as well. We live in years not seconds and that is just too dam slow for many folks. Every now and then, maybe a couple times a year, I see young folk walking down the road but I have never seen any walking with a cell in their hand. The steep hills and dense forest are enemies of technology. From the deck on the 2nd floor roof on the back of our house I can see a cell tower about 8 miles away, the red flashing light. My wife has spent many an hour there talking to her mother on the cell. We have never had a landline here. February ice will kill the lines anyway so whats the point?

    It all seems charming in the storybooks, the rural lifestyle, the chopping of wood, the tilling of soil, tending to the animals, traversing the forests, etc. But the stories never mention the blisters, the long sweaty days, the freezing winters, gutting a fish or a pheasant, where simply turning a page makes them go away. Everybody wants to try it out on their terms then Saturday afternoon load up the SUV and head to the house on Maple Street after all tomorrow is a school day.

    I guess you really have to want to be out here in order to appreciate it. I’m not one of Barbara Streisand’s people. I don’t need people every minute of every day. I can easily scale a week or more without seeing another human being. When February ice gets here we’ll go 2-3 weeks with no human interaction other than a blip or 3 on the radio. There’s a year of grub in the larders, both freezers are slammed and covered in snow on the back porch, 400 gallons of potable water, and 400 gallons of propane, both 4×4’s are topped off, loaded and ready to go wherever. All firearms are clean and loaded and all blades are razor and 4 cords of red oak are split in dry storage. We’re here for the long haul.

  • Casey Klahn January 29, 2018, 7:33 PM

    John Fleming, I’m raising a toast to you just now.
    Rob, you make my case. As the post says, we’ll be safe from the zombie-hordes if we must take to the woods to avoid them. They’ll be too frightened to follow. We’ll be safe from them, but how about safe from our own stupidity?
    Recall this you cotton-wearers. We would climb the volcanos in the NW, which are highly glaciated, wet as sin, and “require” ropes to ascend. As we ascended, in columns roped and carrying ice axes that we knew how to use seven ways to Sunday, along would come some rube from Seattle. Such rubes (this happened more than a few times, of course) would saunter by in blue jeans, in solo style, unroped, unfettered, and calling our bluff as the idiots we apparently were. One would ask to borrow an extra pair of sunglasses, as he was going quickly snow-blind without protection from the high altitude glare-ice. Another would beg for a sip of water, because he was too cool to be found buying a plastic water bottle like the normies on the ropes who carried ice axes and a shit ton of equipment up the mountain. No doubt, the story would follow the next weekend, about how they’d climbed Rainier, and without all the stuff. We came to the conclusion that if we tried that kind of stunt, we’d get killed for sure. But the ignorant carry with them the same provision as the drunkard: God’s grace and sweet luck.
    I doff my hat, and salute you all with a drink.

  • soapweed January 29, 2018, 7:36 PM

    Sir: Wear denim 365 a year. Not involved in Arctic Circle activities, but out here on the Plains, layering and sweat management are the game all day long, through sun and snow, as the wind is the kicker. Fire resistant denim with multiple shirts. Cover that with pleated large fitting shirts, then bibs and outer wear over that if needed. Closing the thermal chimney and retaining cabeza heat or venting the same is the master key. Masks or helmet liners are handy with cover if needed. All day long. Just stay dry. This ain’t for recreation….. that’s a different game.

  • John A. Fleming January 29, 2018, 9:33 PM

    Hey Casey, I got pix. In the early years, all my multi-day rock climbs, I’m wearing levis. Ok, they’ve got holes in the knees, but there was nothing better. Maybe 60/40 cloth (remember that?), but I couldn’t afford it, and it tore easy. For the snowy mountain climbs, it was wool pants, mostly knickerbockers with knee socks and gaiters, as that gave the best layering flexibility. Still got ’em. I can cut a very retro figure.

    These days, the fabric choices are much improved. A week long wilderness backpack is done in synthetic fabric mountain pants. Those same pants saw me in a windy snowstorm on Mexico’s Ixtaccihuatl last year. But oh yeah, as soon as the car is reached, off they come and on with the oh-so-comfy clean denim and cotton tee. Feels like … luxury.

    We’re supposed to tell the Scouts “cotton kills”, etc. Instead I give them the story as above, let them decide for themselves. If they show up in blue jeans, most of the time I pay no never mind. Good judgement comes from experience, experience comes from bad judgement. Only if we’re doing a snow backpack do I get fussy.

  • John A. Fleming January 29, 2018, 9:58 PM

    Hi Casey, I remain conflicted about the gumbys climbing the high peaks in their blue jeans. I feel I owe ’em a measure of respect just for being there. Muir is my guide: “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.” I won’t be the one to turn anyone away. Likewise I saw some of the locals on Orizaba and Chimborazo. Go with what you got, rather than forego it because you don’t have the approved mountain gear. Enthusiasm and confidence will take you a long way.

  • Casey Klahn January 29, 2018, 10:32 PM

    John: certainly the “freedom of the hills” is the rule. I wore cotton on rock climbs, because I knew the climate and anticipated no rain. Alpine climbing is a whole ‘nother ball game.
    Workers, and army men wear togs of cotton. You know I’m with you on that, but the washing machine and dryer are nearby. I depart when the army men go up into alpine terrain with the cotton fatigues, and do not know any better. That is one of my life peeves. The general in charge of that is guilty of premeditated manslaughter. Carry on, and do as you see fit.

  • ghostsniper January 30, 2018, 4:57 AM

    The army came through with the “permanent press” fatigues about late 1976 and I resisted them, I was already too heavily invested in the old stuff. I accepted their standard 6 set issue and tried them a couple times but just didn’t like their “plastic” feel.

    If you can’t get out of it, get into it.

    It took a bit but I eventually started figuring out how to get into it. The army is all about looks. Everything has to be spic and span. That truck over there can be deadlined for a blown transfer case but god dam it it is will be clean enough to eat off of. On the east german border where Wildflecken is guard duty is SOP and I pulled my share. Til I got sharp. Sitting/standing in a guard tower 30′ up in the air with broken out windows in negative weather over seeing an ammo dump losing it’s mellow pretty quick and then I discovered the realm of super numero.

    See, the guard LT chooses 12 men each shift to stand guard for a 10 post position. During the pre-posting inspection he analyzes each soldiers uniform and equipment and questions each on various standard military situations. Then he chooses the 2 soldiers that stood out in excellence as super numero’s, they don’t have to stand guard. Oh happy day. I made it a habit to get one of the 2 super numeros (SN) each time. This meant immaculate uniforms, equipment, and knowledge. I “became” the army. Yep, those seams have 16 stitches per inch, all button holes are perfectly vertical, and colors can be identified in boot toes that are buffed properly. My entrenching tool was newer than new and my bayonet could cut sushi. By 1976 I was no longer pulling guard. I had a set of old skool fatigues that stayed perfect in all ways, they were custom tailored and were so starched they could stand in the corner of their own free will waiting the next chance to claim that SN. Look ahead to stay ahead. Get in front or get out of the way we’re coming through.

  • Casey Klahn January 30, 2018, 6:31 AM

    Ha ha. I like that story. I sometimes wonder if the army still starches, but we broke starch at least twice a week when I played the game for more than 2 weeks. Yes, the 50/50 fatigues – I survived that snafu, too. The Vietnam ara uniform was much better.
    Be glad the Soves never got real, and you never had to prove those clothes in battle. “Just a minute, Ivan, we’re drying our fatigues!” Ivan: “Comrade! We wear wool uniforms, and no socks! Here we come, I hope you’re bent over!!”
    The guys who survived the Bulge in 44-45 wore wool. Then, the army forgot woodscraft…

  • ghostsniper January 30, 2018, 10:32 AM

    @Casey, the first time I pulled guard duty on the border, circa winter 1974, the LT of the day told all of us that the Russians at this post had a 400X scope that they confiscated off a British WWII trawler and had it mounted on their side. With that scope, and our uniforms, they were able to identify each of us by name and rank, and through their databases were also able to know our homes of origin. I found that a little unnerving and realized that whether I liked it or not I was now into this thing fully, life and limb, no way out. That sort of thing will make a 19 year old grow right the fuck up and the magnitude of it is something most adults in this country can’t understand.

  • Casey Klahn January 30, 2018, 1:03 PM

    Ghost, forgive the second-hand nature of this story. A friend in the NG had been on the DMZ around 1960, and he patrolled frequently. They’d get into firefights; real combat. The Norks would call them out by name, and knew their files. “Hey, Joe! I hear Becky’s got a new boyfriend in Kansas! Come over here and we’ll send you home to her.”

  • ghostsniper January 30, 2018, 1:44 PM

    freeky stuff

  • Gordon January 30, 2018, 2:17 PM

    When I joined the USAF in 1980 we were issued the perma-press fatigues, except for one set of cotton. They were gradually emptying those out. But we would see some guys, with lots of stripes, with cotton fatigues washed so much they were pale pea green with a white crease line. Of course the patches were olive drab, they were newer.

  • anon January 30, 2018, 4:28 PM

    This is very true. I spent quite a bit of time walking the dogs for exercise in a large urban open area preserve near my home for several years, mostly at night after work, and got quite used to being out in nothing but moonlight, and urban night glow, which is plenty to see by. A flashlight actually gets in the way, by reducing your night sight, especially once you know the ground, and trails etc.

    It took awhile to get comfortable, then I realized it was very comforting to be out in the night, and very interesting. Once you learn to stop and listen, you learn there was a lot going on, once the bugs and animals started talking again.

    In a high desert environment, all the animals go to bed when the sun comes out. I saw all kinds of neat stuff I would never see in the day. I saw a big Great Horned Owl take out a barn owl that was poaching its territory- snapped him right off a perch in a burst of feathers and screeching, not more than 3 yards away from me.

    I made a peace with a den of coyotes, keeping the dogs on leash when their pups were in den, year after year. Did you know that coyotes and owls work together, to flush out their prey? After awhile, they learned to work above my dogs, off leash, too.

    Those who are comfortable in the night will have a HUGE advantage over those who are not, especially if you learn how to move quietly, another skill that just takes practice.

  • Dr. Mabuse January 31, 2018, 7:12 AM

    I’m reading “Three Men in a Boat” written by Jerome K. Jerome in 1889, and came across this passage, which is very a propos:

    “We are creatures of the sun, we men and women. We love light and life.
    That is why we crowd into the towns and cities, and the country grows
    more and more deserted every year. In the sunlight – in the daytime,
    when Nature is alive and busy all around us, we like the open hill-sides
    and the deep woods well enough: but in the night, when our Mother Earth
    has gone to sleep, and left us waking, oh! the world seems so lonesome,
    and we get frightened, like children in a silent house. Then we sit and
    sob, and long for the gas-lit streets, and the sound of human voices, and
    the answering throb of human life. We feel so helpless and so little in
    the great stillness, when the dark trees rustle in the night-wind. There
    are so many ghosts about, and their silent sighs make us feel so sad.
    Let us gather together in the great cities, and light huge bonfires of a
    million gas-jets, and shout and sing together, and feel brave.”

    So it isn’t just us deracinated moderns who feel that way; even in the Victorian age, city people found it hard to cope with a sudden transfer to the country.

  • Casey Klahn January 31, 2018, 8:13 AM

    Going back to Medieval times, the woods were dark places to fear. The mountains were no less scary than the Moon or Mars would be. Meaning: extremely scary!

    Now, we ‘uns are afraid of the city.

  • ghostsniper January 31, 2018, 2:56 PM

    Maybe out west there are animals that can kill you but around here, not much. Maybe a copperhead in the summer. Other than that, what is there to fear? I’m more concerned with the ticks and fleas.

    Just remembered something, something to fear.
    Something to fear and there is no antidote.
    In the wooded acreage behind our house my wife has several of those fold-up canvas chairs in various locations, one by the stream, one on the plateau, one over there, etc. As we are both self employed as all free persons should be and our time is our own to do with as we please, each of us will frequently go down to a chair and sit, and ponder. And read, and just breath in the air, and observe.

    Last week my wife was down in the woods milling about and came upon one of her chairs that a large deadfall tree had killed. Right across the middle, destroying it. It cannot even be retreived. It is there forever more. The deadfall around here is considerable and constant. There are areas where 30 or more trees have fallen, cris crossed over each other so that passage is very difficult. And it’s not just the conifers, the hardwoods fall aplenty. And they do so without warning. If you hear the crack you are already doomed, specially in the dark.

    So yeah, it’d be a real bitch to be strolling through the forest some enchanted evening and be taken out by a 1000 lb white oak limb that has fallen 60 feet and landed on your ass and not be found til whenever. Now you city slickers got ME terrified!

  • John A. Fleming January 31, 2018, 5:22 PM

    I dunno ghost. I think you’d be surprised. With the towns emptying out and everyone crowding into the 21Cen arbeit macht frei hives, the original inhabitants are stealthily reclaiming their own. Put out one of those trail cams and see what you come up with. It’d be a sad day if it’s nothing.

  • ghostsniper January 31, 2018, 8:06 PM

    OK apparently I erred. Enjoy it, it doesn’t happen often.
    Earlier I mentioned that Remus recommended the Fenix EO1 flashlight so I went and bought 2 on amazon, being some what of a flashlight freek (I have a few hundred) but yesterday he said on his blog that he didn’t mention that one. Then he provided an amazon link to the one he was talking about.

    I already have the one Remus mentioned yesterday but it doesn’t have the stealthy “snoot”, so it is not as good as his. Mine is the Proton Freedom and it is very small, very bright, has multiple functions, fits nicely on my keyring where it has been for a few years now. It takes 2 of the small, thin batteries 2016 which I purchase in bulk on amazon. I have small piece of black tubing I’m going to glue onto the case one of these days and then it will have a snoot.

    Here’s the one I have: https://www.amazon.com/LRI-FMW-Freedom-Keychain-Micro-Light/dp/B0007D5TKQ?&tag=amazon-19-20

    Here’s the one with the snoot: https://www.amazon.com/LRI-FMWC-Freedom-Keychain-Micro-Light/dp/B000GTP6W2?&tag=amazon-19-20