12 April 2014

Acclimation, Adaptation, Practical, Impractical -Words mean more than words-

Acclimation is a process that happens over a period of time and can be applied in multiple ways. Most commonly to the weather however there are other things a person can acclimate to, but starting with the weather, cold and hot are the typical.

Winter takes some time to acclimate to and some do not do so for the duration of the season, which means they're miserable every time the go out the door. In late fall and early winter when the mercury is plunging we add layers and the reverse is true for spring. However, when our temps hit 28F to 32F in March it is absolute t-shirt weather and I'm usually running too warm. Realize that 28F is a near 30 degree swing from the average.

How do you feel when the temps are 30 degrees warmer than what you're used to?  In the fall when we're acclimated to temps in the 60s for example, and the first cold snap drops us into the 20s, of course it feels cold! Yet 20 odd degrees was near comfortable at the end of the prior winter provided we acclimated.

Over time and exposure the body acclimates provided it is amply exposed to the swings. The key part of this statement is 'amply exposed', no exposure means no acclimation.

That's my interpretation of acclimation.

Adaptation is different, in its typical use it is associated with a species adapting over time but can also be used in the short term, particularly with humans, where adaptation happens very quickly. This is usually associated with conditioning in the short term to adapt to a situation hence the phrase 'Adapt & Overcome'.

It has been my experience that the human in general is a lazy being and willingly a victim to a perverse type of homeostasis, meaning humans will rarely willingly physically adapt or acclimate unless either forced to do so, or internally perceive either a benefit or valid reason for adapting.

Most humans fall into a creature comfort whiny state that prevents them from doing or being something more, prevents them from seeing any path other than the easiest at the time and will willingly forgo a path that might at the moment be more arduous than that of a slinky on the stairs. Never mind the fact that there may indeed be reason and fulfillment and enjoyment beyond the base. In short, most humans want the easiest path through everything in life. Shortsighted and lazy minds and bodies and spirits.

Any thing worth doing is never going to be easy when started.  

Who defines 'impractical'?

Usually the person who cannot do something, or is overly uncomfortable doing it, I don't think I've ever heard someone comfortable and cable defining their activity or choice as 'impractical'.

In life I have personally found that there is nourishment beyond the food I eat or the water I drink. That is nourishment for the body, but there is also nourishment for the mind and the spirit, and sometimes that nourishment does not come from the path of least resistance or the smallest weight or the fastest course.

And so we come to the Why of a thing, realizing the How is not everything.

An example related to woods bumming is in order.

I could take a 1500 calorie lunch with me that weighs less than 10 ounces and yet feels more like a chore to eat than a meal worth eating. Why? Well some would say weight and ease and it's impractical to do something else. I would say bacon wrapped backstraps from the deer I killed last year is far more nourishing to me than mere calorie count. Such a meal is more than physical nourishment.

For the mind in this case, is nourished by recalling where the hunt was, the circumstances of it, what led to success, and how to repeat it.

For the spirit in this case, is nourished by recalling the pounding of heart when prey is near, for the acuteness of hearing and smelling and seeing that comes with roaring adrenaline, of fulfillment and the twinge of sorrow that death has come for another.

The very definition of practical to me includes the ingredients to not merely go from A to B, but also the reasons for why and what they do for me across the gamut of Mind, Body, Spirit. 

I often find effort of body to be rewarding and were I to do everything with ease being the foremost requirement I wouldn't get from the effort near as much. The idea that everything a body does should be with the least effort is a mirror to the body and mind rotting mindset of a consumerism driven society. A culture of convenience has permeated society to the point that society is rotting from the inside out.

Look at where the human was and now is, physically first, are humans more physically hale and capable now than they were even fifty years ago? Most would answer no, and living longer does not necessarily translate to better if that living is in a depressed state filled with mental anguish and a feeling of nothingness. The typical age expectancy study does not usually factor in all of the variables of the time and even then there are a multitude of examples that do not fit the norm. Every generation for as far back as you want to go has had death within all age groups and many examples of living longer than the average.

Look at where the human spirit was and is now, would you say we're spiritually healthier now? I do not mean religion, I mean from a centered and happy individual vs. a depressed and sad individual? I look around at the people I meet and know and I wonder, with all of the 'modern' conveniences and 'improvements in health' and I have to wonder, spiritually, are we a better society?

Look at the human mind, is it better or worse? I've seen the destruction of critical thinking, of logic, of the spoken and written word, of mathematics, the evidence of this destruction is all around us if we but look objectively. Compare the educational testing requirements from 1900 and 2000, most college grads would flunk an 8th grade exam from 1900.

Somewhere along the way, and I'm moderately convinced it's the result of the lazy nature of man, humans prioritized easy first benefit second. Does something that is easier to do mean it's better? Of course not, so why is it that ease is the first on the list of something that must be?

'I would not do that because it isn't easy enough' is the same thing as 'it isn't practical', when the end goal is not simply to do something in the easiest manner possible, but to also actually get something from it that is beneficial to the body and the mind and the spirit.

What we do, we do for a multitude of reasons both internal and external. In self examination I review my doings with an eye for benefit to body, mind & spirit, and while a 'way' may be easier physically, it doesn't necessarily translate to better.

I sometimes feel sympathy for people who cannot understand this. It is the equivalent of buying a Chinese knock of something, created in a filthy child labor environment, because it costs $5 instead of $25, or the soulless creature who never sees the forest for the trees along the trail and never knows that to the left and right of the common path is a world alive.

What does anything mean when the primary concern is that is doesn't make a person uncomfortable, never mind the fact that comfort is a relative term nor is the 'un-comfort' lasting. Some people are comfortable in 100 degree heat where a winter acclimated person would near faint from it, or a south of the equator denizen transported to the arctic circle. It's a matter of acclimation and perspective.

 'What one man can do, so can another' has an opposite, usually espoused by the incapable or incompetent or closed minded, 'what I cannot do you cannot do'. When in the end it is simply a matter of comfort.

Acclimation and adaptation are key ingredients within the human condition and neither of them are being exercised by our modern culture of convenience. Like a muscle not exercised it will atrophy, the end result is a culture of can't and won't and 'it's too hard'.

I equate a human with a knife in this way; life, experience, effort, these are the stones upon which we  hone ourselves. Sloth, ease, laziness, these are the things that dull us. The body, nor the mind, nor the spirit get stronger without use, the things that make us who we are do not happen on the easy path.

The most unhappy, disgruntled, persnickety people I have ever met in my lifetime all have something in common, they were all in search of the easiest way for everything.

The happiest most well balanced people I've ever met in my lifetime we're all self driven, self challenging people, who more often than not chose the road less traveled regardless of the difficulty.

Nothing is ever found on the easy path, not for the body, not for the mind, and not for the spirit.

07 April 2014

Chaga Hunt and Rotten Snow

Got into the low 40s today! T-shirt weather even if we do still have a couple feet of snow on the ground.

I wanted to do some chaga hunting and grab some fresh air so with the snowshoes strapped on, sled in tow and Ace in front of me we set out for a area where I usually find some.







While this old monarch had a couple chaga growths they were small and nearly out of reach so I passed on them.



Deeper in the wood I found what I was after. Spot it in the distance? Since so few things are pitch black in the woods and chaga is only found on Birch trees it makes it a little easier.



It was a sizable chunk, and yielded nearly three pounds.




Once back to the sled I figured lunch was in order.



What ya call waitin' on the bacon!


Post lunch I had a smoke and Ace enjoyed the sun and the bacon euphoria.



The trudge back was uneventful. Snow is rotten, slushy mess.

I hung the chaga I'd collected to dry and broke out a batch that had been drying for close or slightly more than a year now.

Using the saw in the Huntsman I reduce the chunks to smaller and smaller pieces, sometimes carving out slices, then grinding in the mortar to a moderately fine powder.


In this case I slipped a waxed paper bag into a leather pouch, this package is going to a friend. 


I packed the the pouch full, using the pestle to compress the chaga.


With another pouch to fill I cut and ground some more.



Even after filling the bigger final pouch I still had quite a bit left for storage. Chaga is one of those things that I've found very useful and very enjoyable. As a woodsman's tea goes I've found nothing better.

Thanks for taking a look.

31 March 2014

Relative Calm Before the Storm - A Cedar Bottom Walk

Once again we're expecting another winter storm, snow and ice and the usual quintessential winter mix.

On radar the storm looks its about to close its jaws around the North country, though I think this particular storm is a little over hyped locally. Guess we'll see.



Having some small amount of time to kill I took a walk through a Cedar bottom to see what I could see. This area has often provided cover for deer in the past and I was hoping to spot a few.


We've had moderate temperatures for the past few days, often getting into the high 30s so we're beginning to experience some melt finally. Snow loads are down in places holding deer, a far sight easier to walk here than the open woods.

As usual, a couple stills for those who don't watch videos, though there is some fair deer footage in this one.






















Hopefully the storm we're supposed to get over the next two days isn't as bad as we're being told, we sure could use a break.

29 March 2014

Frost River Isle Royale Jr. on ALICE Frame

One of the most common complaints I hear about canvas packs is the lack of frame or general discomfort to carry. While much of the discomfort can be eliminated by packing it correctly, you can also add a basket or frame or both for that matter.

Most of the time I just use a ash pack basket in mine and it's plenty comfortable for me. However there are times when carrying a extra heavy load or needing to, could be done in a more comfortable fashion with the addition of a frame.

It's very simple to match them up and you don't need to mod or change anything on the frame or the pack. You will need the ALICE frame shelf and two 1" webbing straps and two strap adjusters, though this is optional.

You're also going to want either a 18" pack basket or similarly sized wastebasket.

In my case I have a pack basket, a 18" basket fits fairly snugly, you can do this with the wastebasket as well. The weight of the loaded pack while on the frame should be primarily on the ALICE shelf and thus the waist. Having a rigid interior will help accomplish this. It will also provide the rigidity at the top so that you can use the leather compression straps to pull the pack in tight and secure to the upper part of the frame at the bend point.


In the image below you can see where the upper leather compression strap goes around the frame to the buckles on the front. By having either the pack basket or the wastebasket inside the pack you can torque down on this strap, pulling the frame tight to the pack.



Obviously do the same thing on both sides.


In the below image you can see where I used the webbing to go through the tab and back to the frame shelf. This probably isn't completely necessary but  I did it to further secure the pack to the frame.





Attaching the pack in this way allows you to use the great Frost River straps.


I've had this pack off and on the frame for over a year and have seen no adverse affects to the pack at all.

The waist pad and belt are original to this frame but there are upgrades available that would add comfort and more support. I may eventually try that upgrade but for my purposes the original pad and belt work just fine.

That's it, nothing else to do or add or change. Makes for a nice set up with a frame, and gives you all of the benefits of a ALICE frame pack with the great durability and functionality of the Isle Royale Jr.