Friday, November 30, 2012

BLOG 31. Camping Quiz

BLOG 31. How Much Do You Know About Camping?
Cliff Jacobson
Little Missouri River, North Dakota. Jim Mandle (L); Cliff (R)
Can you rig a tent so it will withstand an all night storm? Do you know what to do if a bear visits your camp?  Are there ways to keep mosquitoes and black flies from honing in on you?  Can you make accurate weather predictions without the aid of tools or TV?  Take this tough little quiz and see how much you really know about the wild outdoors. 
Hint: Some questions have more than one right answer, and some answers are “open to interpretation”.

1.  You are camping at a popular site.  Your freeze-dried and canned foods have no odors to attract bears.  Still, you are concerned that a hungry bruin might find your camp.  Best plan is to:

            a)  attach a rope to your food pack and hoist the pack into a tree.  The pack should be at least 15 feet off the ground.  Rope marks on a large limb suggest that other campers have “treed their packs” here.
            b)  Set your food pack inside your tent or car.
            c)  Place your food pack under an overturned canoe or fishing boat.  Set metal pots on top of the canoe or boat to function as an “alarm system” if a  bear comes while you’re sleeping.
            d) Take your food pack out of the campsite and hide it in the bushes, well away from animal trails.

            1. ANSWER:  d) is the best plan.   Habituated bears know that food comes in cans, packs and boxes. They quickly learn that food grows on certain trees!  Why? Because there are usually just a few trees in a typical campsite with limbs that are high enough to discourage a bear.  Campers all put their food in these trees.  Bears are excellent climbers!  Indeed, they are so adept at getting treed food packs, that campers in western parks call the treed packs “bear piƱata’s”.
Black bears are excellent climbers.  This bear is high in a tree, in an eagle's nest.  It's after the eaglets or tasty eggs.
2.  The best way to keep water out of your tent when it rains is to:

            a) Dig a trench around the perimeter of your tent and slope the trench so rain water drains away.
            b) Place a plastic ground cloth under the floor of your tent.           
            c) Place a plastic ground cloth inside your tent.
            d) Pitch your tent on a slight incline so that flowing ground water will drain away from your tent.

            2.  ANSWER: “C” is correct.  Groundwater commonly enters a tent through ground level seams or worn fabric.   An interior ground cloth keeps accumulated water away from your sleeping gear.  NOTE: It is unethical and illegal to “ditch” a tent!    
Note interior plastic groundcloth.  Tent is a NEMO 2P
3.  Which is the best way to sharpen a knife?  Raise the blade about 15 degrees to the stone and:

            a) cut firmly into the stone with a long sweeping motion.
            b) draw the edge away from the stone with a long sweeping motion;
            c) hold the stone steady and rotate the blade in small circles.
            d) hold the knife steady and rotate the stone in small circles.

            3.  ANSWER: (a) will best provide a uniform sharp edge.  Use “C” if you have a very small whetstone: however, this procedure will not produce a uniform sharp edge. “d” is ineffective and possibly dangerous.
Cut INTO the stone, like you're taking a slice out of it
4.  True or False:  Modern polyester-filled sleeping bags should be drycleaned or washed by hand: they should never be washed in a washing machine.

            4.  ANSWER: False!  Never dryclean synthetic sleeping bags or fleece garments.  The drycleaning solution may dissolve the fibers!  Machine washing with gentle detergents is the best plan. 
5.  Which of these would make the best tinder for starting a campfire on a rainy day?
            a) newspaper, b) finely split cedar wood, c) dry splittings taken from the stump of a dead pine tree, d) dead leaves
            5.  ANSWER: conifers concentrate highly flammable resin (pitch) in their roots.  Splittings taken from this “fat wood” (c) burn brightly for many minutes, even in rain.  Finely split cedar wood (b) also makes great tinder.  Dead leaves work only when bone dry and when not in the advanced stages of decomposition.  Newspaper is “hydrophilic”--it absorbs moisture from the air--and the poorest tinder of all. Count your answer correct if you said “b” or “c”.
6.  Your tent is pitched on an incline.  Best plan is to pitch the tent with the:
            a) head end facing uphill, b) head end facing downhill.
            c) head end perpendicular to the incline (one side of the tent is higher than the other);
            d) it doesn’t matter.           

            6. ANSWER:  Pitch your tent across the incline (c) and level your bed by placing spare clothes under the down hill side of your sleeping pad. This will produce a level sleeping platform.   

7.  You’ll be the master of any camping and boating situation if you know these three important knots:
            a) bowline, square knot, tautline hitch;
            b) bowline, crown knot, fisherman’s knot; 
            c) diamond hitch, square knot, two half hitches;
            d) two half hitches, sheetbend, power-cinch (trucker’s knot).

            7.  ANSWER: (D) will “do it all
8.  Whenever you pitch a tent or rain tarp, or rig a clothes line in camp, you should always end your knots with:
            a) a double half-hitch around the bite;
            b) a slippery or quick-release loop; c) a bow;
            d) a monkey fist or crown.

            8.  ANSWER: End your knots with a “slippery” loop (b) and  they’ll come apart instantly when you pull the bitter end of the rope. 

9.  You are boating on a large lake and are “mightily confused”.  Fortunately, you have a simple map and a battery operated GPS (global positioning system). The map in your GPS is very basic, with little detail. Your paper map is better; it shows the structure of the shoreline and the major islands, but there are no contour lines or latitude/longitude marks.  The direction of true north is given, but the magnetic declination for the area, is not.  You planned to stay near shore so you didn’t  program the GPS with your starting position.  
            To find your way “home”:
            a) turn on the GPS and obtain a coordinate fix.  Follow the bearing provided by your GPS to your starting point..
            b) Your paper map does not have a coordinate system so the numbers provided by your GPS are useless.  Use your compass and try to backtrack.
            c) You must know the area magnetic declination to program your GPS.
            d) Your map does not have contour lines so both your GPS and compass are useless!
            9.  ANSWER: Your GPS is useless (b)!  You must program your starting position to  get a  “bread crumb trail” home. 
You must program your starting point if you plan to return to it.

10.  Your map shows a small fishing pond deep in the woods, about two miles due south (true bearing equals 180 degrees) of your location.   The magnetic compass declination (as given on the map) is 10 degrees west.  What magnetic compass heading must you follow to reach the lake?

            10.  ANSWER: a) 190 degrees
11.  A storm is brewing as you are setting up your tent.  You should pitch your tent:
            a) with the entry-way facing the wind;
            b) back-end facing the wind;
            c) on a quartering angle to the wind;
            d) the direction makes no difference.
            11.  ANSWER: Back-end (b) or quartering (c) to the wind is usually  best.  This keeps door zippers and seams in the lee of wind-driven rain.   This is more important with A-frame style tents than with domes.  Some A-frame tents have one end higher than the other.  It’s best to pitch them with the low end facing the wind.

12.  You cook your meals on a gasoline trail stove.  Which of these is a bad practice?
            a) Dump out the gas after each trip and burn the stove dry.  Fuel up with fresh gas just before each trip;
            b) Never refuel a hot stove;
            c) Don’t set over-size pots on the burner of a small trail stove.  
            d) Use unleaded automotive gasoline in “multifuel” stoves.
            12.  ANSWER:   (d) Automotive fuels are much dirtier--and may be more volatile--than refined naphtha (Coleman and Blazo fuels).  Regular use of auto gas will clog valves and put your stove out of commission.  Best to burn naphtha (white gas) in your multifuel stove. Gasoline left in stoves for long periods turns to varnish.  If you must keep fuel in approved cans or bottles over the winter, keep the containers nearly full to reduce oxidation. 
13.  Which of these clothing combinations would be bad to wear in cold, rainy weather where hypothermia is a concern?  Clothing layers are listed from the skin out.
            a) wool long underwear, wool shirt, rain coat;
            b) polypropylene long underwear, polyester fleece sweater, rain coat;
            c) polyester long underwear, wool shirt, rain coat;
            d) cotton long underwear, polyester fleece sweater, rain coat;
            e) wool long underwear, cotton shirt, rain coat.

            13.  ANSWER:  “d” is unacceptable, “e” is a poor choice.  Cotton wicks moisture and heat from the skin and should never be worn in cold, rainy weather.  If you must wear cotton, wear it over wool or synthetics.  Polypropylene, polyesters and wool can be worn with confidence in cold rains. 
14.  You have spotted a black bear around your campsite.  Fortunately, you have a can of cayenne pepper spray which will deter bears about 75 percent of the time.  Which of the following should you never do?
            a) spray your food pack and tent entrance with pepper to keep the bear away;
            b) spray the bear when it comes into camp;
            c) spray the bear only if it attacks you.
            14.  ANSWER:  (a) will get you into real trouble!  Bears don’t like to be sprayed in the face with pepper, but they do like the taste of it.  When rafters in Alaska sprayed their rubber rafts with pepper to keep bears away, the bears ate the rafts. Don’t test-fire a can of pepper spray around camp.  The residual pepper (on the can) might bring a bear to you!  Spraying after the bear attacks you may be too late!
Spray aggressive bears with pepper.  DON'T spray "things"!
15.  You’re pulling away from the dock for a day’s fishing on the big lake.  The sky is deep blue, but overhead, there are wispy cirrus clouds which resemble mare’s tails. 

            a) You’d better cancel your trip--a bad storm is brewing;
            b) A gentle rain will begin in an hour or so.  The rain won’t last long;
            c) Don’t worry; it won’t rain today, but it will tomorrow.
            d) These are fair weather clouds--you can count on at least two days of good weather.
            15.  ANSWER:  (c) is correct.  Cirrus clouds are composed of ice crystals, thrown skyward by an approaching warm front.  Nimbostratus clouds (dark gray rain clouds that cover the entire sky) are 24-48 hours behind.  It will rain tomorrow, or the next day--probably a slow, long rain. 

14-15:   Expert camper:  Your friends shouldn’t go camping without you.
12-13:   Guide in training:  You are the envy of your friends.
10-11:   Faithful follower:  Keep learning--you’ll be a pro in a few years.
Below 11: Wishful thinker: You may want to read some good camping books before your next outing!


Free Shipping at the Boundary Waters Catalog

Use Code FREEX12 for Free Standard Shipping through Christmas Eve. Oversized item charges still apply. Lower 48 states only. Can be used multiple times with no purchase limit or minimum.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

New Guided Boundary Waters Trip for 2013

Stargazing in the BWCA Canoe Trip

Trip Dates: September 7 – 13

Call Drew Brockett or Adam Macht 1-800-223-6565

Trip Cost: $1195 + tax

6 days paddling, 5 nights camping
First and last night hotel room in Ely

Please Note: Final payment for our guided group trips is due 30 days before the trip begins.

No where else can you see the stars and Northern Lights so clear at night than the wide open wild spaces of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Our backyard is void of man-made lights and it is far from the plumes of industry that cloud and obscure the natural beauty of night's canvas. There is something ethereal, surreal about the constellations when you view them in solitude. Join us for a magical time as we track the power of the great bear and map the path of Orion's belt accompanied by the haunting backdrops of the calls of the common loon and howls of the elusive timber wolf. Imagine lying on your back on a comfortable therm-a-rest gazing at the limitless vaulted inky black ceilings brimming with stars.

Discover Cassiopeia, the Twins, Andomeda, Orion, Taurus and more. Learn how to mark Alpha Stars such as Betelgeuse and Polaris to find their different mythological shapes in the sky.

Would you like to…
- View the night sky uninhibited by light pollution?
- Learn about constellations, both where they are located in the sky and the stories behind them?
- View the Milky Way in all of its splendor?
- Have a chance to see the Northern Lights?
- Explore and fish the BWCA?
- Learn canoe camping techniques from our expert guide?
- Relax and unwind in a beautiful wilderness setting?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, our Stargazing in the BWCA trip is right for you.

Since the beginning of time, humans have been drawn to the night sky. The vastness of the universe holds instinctive intrigue. Join our 6 day 5 night Boundary Waters canoe trip to gaze upon the heavens like never before.

Our trip will take you far away from the sights and sounds of the city, into the heart of the wilderness, where our stargazing will be undisturbed by light pollution. We will leave Ely one day after a New Moon for optimum darkness. The constellations and Milky Way will pop out of the night sky like many have never seen.

Enjoy the night sky like you never have before in the quiet solitude of the BWCA. Bring the kids. This trip is sure to create memories that will last a lifetime and inspire wonder.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

New Boundary Waters Catalog Tee Shirt Ideas

We're working on some new Tee Shirt Ideas here for next Spring's Boundary Waters Catalog.  We've done some posting on Facebook and gotten some feedback, and we wanted to do the same here.

You can click on the pictures to get a bigger view.  Let us know what you think.

Tell your friends and family to get involved here and follow our Blog,

Thank you, the staff at Piragis

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

BLOG 30. Lines

 BLOG 30. Lines
Cliff Jacobson

One way to tell a novice paddler from an experienced one is to check his or her canoe for the presence of “lines”.  “Canoeists” will usually have a line (rope) attached to each end of their canoe; “canoers” never do. The ready lines come in handy when you have to work your canoe around rocks in shallow water (and possibly avoid a portage) or track the boat upstream in a current or around a downed tree.  Lines are a “must have” when the canoe sleeps overnight on land—experienced paddlers always tie up their boats before they retire for the night.  This, more than anything separates knowledgeable paddlers from those who have no clue.

Lines coiled and stuffed under a loop of shock-cord on deck.  Important: leave a few inches of the bitter end exposed so you can just grab it and pull to release the coil.
You seldom see lines on canoes in the Boundary Waters and Quetico. Evidently, lake country paddlers must think that a beached canoe is safe from high winds that may push it aloft and out to sea.  I can recall two occasions when I’ve chased canoes that had blown into the water. One was when my friend Al Todnem and I were camped together on Miles Island on Saganaga Lake.  Around 2am, in the black of night, we heard a swish and splash.  Al’s eighteen foot lightweight Grumman, which was well up on shore but not tied up, blew out into the lake.  Wearing only undershorts, Al leaped out of his tent and dove in after the rapidly disappearing canoe.  He caught it just in time, towed it “home” and tied it securely to a tree.  Afterwards he nursed a sprained toe and scraped knee.  I won’t mince words: lines are essential whether you’re going to the Boundary Waters or well beyond.

What kind of ropes and how long should they be?  I prefer brightly colored woven (not braided) polyester or polyethylene rope (that floats)—three-eights inch diameter for tandem canoes and quarter-inch for lightweight solos.  My ropes are about eight feet longer than the length of the canoe.  Thus, 25 foot lines for a 17-footer, 22 foot lines for a 14-footer, etc.  A longer than the canoe length” allows you to spin the boat completely around while standing on land. When not in use, ropes are coiled and secured under a loop of shockcord on deck. They release instantly by pulling on the end.

Lines are essential on a canoe that will be paddled in currents and rapids, but—except for tying the boat up at night—you can probably get along without them in lake country like the BWCA. After all, most (nearly all!) people do. But even here, there’s subtle value in that the lines enable you to more easily descend routes that will get you away from the crowd or possibly, eliminate a portage.  For example, my favorite BWCA route is the Frost River (details are in my book, Boundary Waters Canoe Camping, 3rd ed.). 
The Time Lake cut-off bypasses the 100 rod portage into Mora Lake
In the route description I suggest that if you want solitude, take the “Time Lake” cut-off out of Whipped Lake (heading towards Little Saganaga) rather than the routine 100 rod portage into Mora Lake which bypasses this section.  Hardly anyone goes this way.  Why? Because there are a number of small canoeable rapids and several sections where you must either line your canoe around rocks in the current or bushwhack a portage.  You can canoe the Time Lake cut-off without lines, of course, but having them makes things much easier. In a nutshell, lines on a canoe increase your security and safety and allow you to more easily access treasured places in the backcountry.
Cliff lines his 14-foot solo canoe (Pakboat®) around a dicey rapid in Norway


Monday, November 12, 2012

BLOG 29. Thanks for The Cards and Letters!

BLOG 29. Thanks For the Cards and Letters!
Cliff Jacobson

Cliff: BWCA. Bell Yellowstone Solo Canoe
 Dear Friends:

On November 8, I suffered a heart attack, which doctors said rated about a 5 out of 10.  Fortunately, my wife Susie got me to the River Falls, WI hospital within 30 minutes of the event and that is what saved my life.  From River Falls, I was taken by ambulance to United hospital in St. Paul.  There, they discovered that one of my arteries was 95 percent clogged; another, 85 percent.  They put in two stents , plied me with pills and IV’s and kept me hospitalized for three days.  I was released on Saturday and am back home now, a bit bewildered but smiling. On a side note, I must say that I was very impressed with United.  Their care and treatment rates A+.
Cliff and Susie
 I am told that there may be some light heart muscle damage but not enough to slow me down.  My doctor said that, in a few weeks, I should have quite a bit more energy than before the attack.  More energy?  Susie already thinks I’m the “Energizer Bunny” so this may not be a good thing.

Segway tour, Minneapolis.  It's not a canoe but it sure is fun!
A nurse at the hospital was surprised to discover that there was nothing on my medical chart.  “When were you last in the hospital?” She asked.  “When I was 8,” said I. For 72 years I’ve been super-healthy so this set-back came as quite a shock. But there’s no fighting genetics—the men in my family have all died young from heart disease.

Tomorrow, I begin a re-hab program, which I will take very seriously.  My hope is to attain my once youthful high-school weight of 128. Ah…if I could just get back the good looks!  As I look back over the summer, and especially the late August BWCA Piragis canoe trip with Steve Johnson, I realize how lucky I am to have had this problem now, not then.
Cliff: age 22 and 128 pounds. U.S. Army Gold Rifle Team, National champions, Camp Perry, Ohio 1964.
Yes, this is an M14!
My plans are to canoe across the Everglades (about 130 miles) in January with my friends Larry Rice, Darrell Foss and Rob Kesselring.  I should be in good shape by then, better, afterwards.

In closing, a HUGE thank you to all of you who wished me well through emails cards and calls.  It has meant a lot. And my apologizes for missing some planned presentations during the week I was hospitalized. 

I’ve always stressed that “skills are more important than things”.  Now I’d like to add that good friends like you are much more important than either!

Best to you all and thank you again for your support and smiles.


Saturday, November 3, 2012

BLOG 28. New From Frost River

Cliff Jacobson
Cliff: Along the Frost River. Bell Yellowstone Solo canoe

Cliff: Frost River

Those who have read my book, “Boundary Waters Canoe Camping’ know that my favorite route in the Boundary Waters is the Frost River.  The river has a smattering of everything—large and small lakes, beautiful falls, winding beaver streams and high beaver dams, tough, poorly-maintained portages, canoeable rapids and adventurous options.  If you want solitude and challenge, the Frost is the route to do.  Be aware though, that you must canoe the river early in the year, mid-June at the latest.  After that, the you’ll deal with miles of shallows and matted nets of lily pads.  You’ll best enjoy the trip if you pack light and paddle a canoe (solo or tandem) that turns easily.  Equip your canoe with 20 foot lines at each end so you can line around little rapids that are too tight and shallow to paddle.
Darrell Foss: Frost River.  Bell Wildfire canoe

Beaver dams are common along the Frost River
Now, there’s new product from Frost River that combines a cribbage board with the magic of canoeing the Frost  River. The 7” x 13” cribbage board is laser-engraved with the Frost River route—from Frost Lake to Afton Lake.  The workmanship is first class; the board is beautiful and the laser-engraved map is pretty accurate—I think one could actually canoe from Frost to Afton Lake using it alone. The board comes with four stained wooden pegs (contained in a sealed compartment in back) and a toothed slot for hanging.  You’ll love how it looks on your wall when you’re not playing cribbage.  
The Frost River cribbage board is as beautiful as it is practical
This is the prettiest cribbage board I’ve ever seen. When my wife Susie unwrapped it, her first words were “Wow, it’s beautiful!”  Indeed it is.   Just looking at it will make you smile.

Cliff Jacobson