29 May 2014

Father and Son Time in the Mountains

There are a ton of pics in this thread and it's going to take time to load, hope you find the images worth the time to load.

We're not known for our mountains in Minnesota, we're the Land of 10,000 Lakes! Or for those 'up in da nort woods', and the North Shore folk, but we've got some rugged terrain. It isn't the Rockies for sure, but it's our mountains and when I can I love to spend time in them. Specifically the Manitou area.

So this past weekend my son and I set off for some hiking and an overnighter.

Before setting out I'd spent some time the day before reviewing some goals and which trails we wanted to explore. Some of the campsites here can be reserved and most of them were. However, some of the campsites are not and the plan was to hit those to see if they were open, if not, we would continue on the Superior Hiking Trail out of the Crosby Manitou area and into the Superior National forest where dispersed camping is permitted.

Here's the general area as seen from my mapping software.

There are 24 miles of main trails in the Manitou area, which essentially is wilderness, there are no roads, you can't drive to a campsite, it's backpack only with a lot of options for folks who want to get off the beaten path.

Allium triciccum, ramps, were fairly abundant in parts of the forest.

Many places along the trail offer views, that's Lake Superior way in the distance.

Lots of elevation changes throughout, one minute your on high just after a steep lung buster and the next you're dropping down into the Manitou River Valley below.

This was one of many deer kill sites that we found. Some of them were ripped apart, others were completely intact skeletal remains. I believe these died from starvation during our long and brutal winter.

Much of the Manitou river looks like this. A rolling thunderous mass that you can hear from the ridge tops half a mile and 1500' above. Along the river the path winds up and down, sometimes getting 'goat path' narrow with some dicey footing here and there.


We covered about seven miles in and arrived at one of the campsites that cannot be reserved, found it empty and elected to stay there for the night. The camp is close to the ridge but down slope about 300 meters, it levels out into a finger off the mountain with a drop off on three sides.

I headed down slope to fetch some water for the camp while my son started in on his tarp shelter.

I'm still rocking a MSR gravity filter, going on close to four years now. I love this thing! Lightweight and just works without any fuss or muss. Bulletproof set up. There's not a snowballs chance in hell I'd ever go back to a pump. It works for us on the move or in a base camp, simple, reliable, lightweight, not much more I could ask for. This one will handle five liters or as little as one.

Once back in camp we got a fire going.

Dinner was bacon & backstraps with mushrooms cooked up in my 10" GSI backpacking wok, I don't think they still make these. Deer meat in camp is extra good in my opinion, add bacon and mushrooms holy cow man what is not to like!

I set my shelter out on the finger about 15 feet from the drop offs. This is a relatively new shelter that I'm trying and the third or fourth night in it so far. It's a Mountainsmith Mountain Shelter LT. It sets up with two trekking poles or cut sticks or tied off to tree limbs. In this case I used one trekking pole and cut the rear to fit. On the side of the shelter down low there is a graphic that shows you how long to cut to or set your trekking poles for.

Eventually this will get used over a Titanium Goat Kestrel bivy, with my Static V pad and HPG Mountain Serape but in this instance I'm rippin my old reliable Kelty down over the Static V.

I only woke once in the night, at 0145 and promptly fell back to sleep. The pad/bag set up was plenty comfortable.

The hike out the next day was hotter but just as beautiful.

Thanks for taking a look!

26 May 2014

Heavy Cover Titainum Canteen The Follow Up

Facts: The human body is more than 60 percent water. Blood is 92 percent water, the brain and muscles are 75 percent water, and bones are about 22 percent water.To keep it all working right you've got to stay hydrated. 

I've beat the snot out of it, dropped it down the sides of mountains, froze it, immolated it, I've done everything to this canteen and it done nothing but maintain and gain character. It has also gained my respect as a truly durable yet lightweight system capable of doing pretty much everything.

From Heavy Cover;

Benefits of Titanium Cookware:
Biocompatible (BPA Free, Nontoxic to the human body)
Non-porous, non-stick material for easy clean up
Rapid heat conductor , less gas/fuel and faster boil time.
Canteen won't puncture or rip like plastic water bladders.
As strong as steel but 45% lighter.
Anti-corrosive and will not rust.

Product Specifications:

Titanium Canteen/Titanium Cap Capacity= 1.1 Liter (37 ounces)
Titanium Canteen Cup Capacity= 23.7 ounces (700 mm)

Product Weight:
Titanium Canteen/Titanium Cap= 6.041 ounces (172 grams)
Titanium Canteen Cup/Titanium Canteen Cup Lid= 4.8 ounces (132 grams)

Material Thickness:
.5 mm Titanium

Here's the system as it looked on the day I got it.

And how it looks as of my last trip to the mountains with it.

There are not that many things that I come into possession of that become 'the one' to support a need or activity. I'm not hitched to much gear but there are some pieces that just fit the bill and become a permanent fixture in my kit. This canteen/cup combo has become one of those pieces.

Why is it better than the alternatives?

Weight, size, shape, versatility and durability is the short answer.

  1. Weight, you're not going to find another cup/bottle combo with this capacity and lightness of weight.
  2. It fits in virtually any water bottle pocket thanks to its thickness but because it isn't as tall as most 40oz water bottles while it has that capacity, it sits lower in the pocket and is more secure.
  3. Because of the shape I find it easier to handle, more adaptable to pack pockets, I prefer it over the round bottles.
  4. I suppose stainless steel is nearly as robust but I have my doubts. I've dented stainless steel Kleen Kanteen bottles before, as hard as I've been on this, there are no dents. More durable than stainless and half the weight.

One of the first things that comes up is the price. Currently $143, add another $10 for the Ti cap and you're sitting at $153. That's a lot of coin for a canteen/cup combo, but then I did the math. I've been buying titanium cook sets over the past several years, in search of a set that I really liked and was comfortable packing. In fact I've spent over $350 in the past three years on various bottles, cook sets, cups etc. None of them singularly or in combination really filled the niche. The titanium canteen/cup does and as a result I don't foresee buying more of the same in the future. Had I found the combo first I'd have saved money in the longer run, now I'll just save money in the longer long run!

 At 37oz the canteen has ample capacity but it isn't enough for a full day of heavy activity. Neither would a 40oz from Kleen Kanteen. You're going to want to add to it but 37oz is a good place to start. Once the winter is over a 100oz Source WXP will always be found in my pack and I do drink from it while on the move. The canteen will suffice on short excursions and mostly around camp where I'm not wearing the pack and thus not the bladder.

Something else. Even with stainless steel I would sometimes get foul smell or tasting water. I know what causes this, but not once have I had this happen with this canteen. Non once, even after storing water over a period of days. That was the recipe for badness when it came to stainless.

I never bothered using the stock plastic cap for the canteen, didn't like it's shape, weight, or design. The Ti cap is perfect.

Cooking in the cup is a breeze, and not just cooking soups and whatnot, baking in it is possible too, thanks to the Ti lid and the ability to put coals on the top. Cleanup is easy, mostly I just wipe it out after a rinse.

The only thing this set up won't do is fry sizable proportions but it can still get by. I've fried venison medallions in oil in the cup and it worked just fine.

I'm one of those people who consistently looks for better gear, or gear that'll do to ride the river with. I don't often find gear that I can check the 'near perfect' box on. This is one of them though and I can't imagine switching from this combo to anything else.

Most assuredly Backwoods Bum Approved!!!