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The Great Outdoors

While I'm no Ray Mears, Bear Grylls or Dave Canterbury I'm a big proponent of homesteading and the outdoors in general.

In this thread I'll talk a bit about my past adventures and developments on my mountain land in the Rocky Mountains.

The story starts in the summer of 2012...

Going through all the ‘Gatekeeper’ areas of airports on both sides of the Atlantic was a bit of an ordeal. But nothing to worry anyone who has traveled about a bit and doesn’t get intimidated easily.
I had the paperwork for temporarily exporting my trusty Benelli shotgun.
The customs folk at the British Airport were most intrigued!
I had all the necessary paperwork, yet a few questions were asked.
On arriving at the first airport I had to pass through the auspices of the DHS!
They didn’t like my passport as it was quite rough and tumble in appearance.
After asking me a barrage of questions I made my answers back. I’d wrongly assumed that as other country’s were ok with my passport’s condition that the USA would too. How wrong I was
I was sent into ‘secondary inspections’ with a red flagged folder!
Was I now in Team America’s bad books?

The secondary inspections area had a sign outside it that assured being treated with respect and courtesy etc. That looked good, although the somewhat shabby waiting room, manned by another 3 DHS guys, had an edge of oppression, even fear to it.
Sat down were a few roguish characters, Black, Mexican and of course TD who now was in their midst…
I walked right to the front.
Nobody said anything to me, not even the DHS dudes who were wordlessly tapping away at computer screens. They were almost in another world the concentration they had.
As I looked around for some ticket machine like some banks have I saw nothing.
Then a fourth DHS guy came in through a side door and, without a word, snatched the red folder containing my passport and other papers from my hands.
He walked around the counter, threw it in an ‘in-tray’ then told me to take a seat.
I asked him was it ok to go get my bags from the baggage area.
“Nope, wait here until you’re called forward. Don’t worry about your bags, they’ll be kicked off to the side when it’s done moving.’
Rough and tumble indeed!
After watching a Mexican sounding lady get the third degree it was my turn to be assayed before the gatekeepers of the USA.

He asked me similar questions to what I’d been asked earlier. I answered again, honestly, in my chirpy, happy go lucky manner. Or at least as best I could given the long flight over the Atlantic!
‘Ok go get your bags.’ He said neutrally after the barrage was over.
I did so, noting the sniffer dogs being brought out nearby.
The DHS certainly isn’t for show that’s for sure!
As I walked back in the door with my Bergen on my back and jumbo-bag trundling in the young DHS dude’s eye’s were astounded at my set-up.
The guy wondered, after marveling at 120 liter capacity Bergen, short haircut and style if I was going to join a militia! LOL.
I told him I was ex-military doing some adventure travel around the US, which is the truth of course. This seemed to set him at ease.
Is there some kind of a hidden-license having a military background with government / federal types I wonder??
Just prior to starting on my bags I told him the jumbo one had my shotgun inside with all the trimmings, tags etc.
Before he had chance to grill me I showed him my approval paperwork from the ATF gatekeepers.
<The ATF they did a rapid 1 week processing of this when I‘d applied for my shotgun to be temporarily exported. They also do this for free too!>
He looked at it briefly and seemed ok with it but asked some of his companions for a second opinion.
They were talking about getting the ATF to come and look at it, but in the end he did his own check, comparing the serial numbers on the paperwork to that of the Beneli.
One of his companion’s amusingly said they’d seized 2 firearms yesterday.
If I hadn’t of gotten the approval papers from the ATF I’m sure mine would of made a third!
After the first few items of specialist equipment bags being searched I reminded him of my ex-military background, otherwise he really would of reckoned me to be a rebel militia dude. He chilled out a bit then and one of the DHS was an ex-marine chirped up a few friendly comments (as I was Army not Marines).
After pulling all my stuff from my Bergen and jumbo-bag I had to put it back in. He did apologize for having to search my stuff and as I put my stuff back in the bags he went back to the computer counter and began tapping away at the keys.

I was told to sit down again, after a few more minutes he called me forward again.
‘You’re good, have a nice trip.’ He said, slamming a stamp into my battered passport giving it the mark of approval for a few months of travel.


I got up at 0500hrs to get this once in a lifetime footage.

I had the tripod deployed in the wrong position initially (a tree was blocking the shot), so had to redeploy and get the telephoto function MAXXED OUT!

By about 0530 hrs I was nearly out of time.

Then I hit record *Just* as the sun began to clear the mountain horizon...


Enjoy the moment folks, I know I did, although you can here me rubbing my freezing hands together from time to time!

These are two of the most recent projects I've done:

DIY Passive Solar Fan

Mike's solar set-up was great for getting the job done.

Yet the intense heat during the day was getting the temperature to near max operating temperatures.

Luckily I'd bought some gizmo's that should help alleviate the heat somewhat.
With that I got busy making a passive cooling system for the solar-array set-up.
Before I could get started though MMM wanted a hand moving some glass doors from the battlebus. It was difficult putting them inside the truck yesterday and even harder getting them out again.

We managed though and had them safely stacked under cover.

Mike eventually wants both of them on his cabin which will be up a steep mountain side. I reckon we’d probably end up maimed or injured carrying them up. So I suggest a sled-system with come-alongs and ropes etc. This is for much later in the season though.

After 30 minutes of rest from that ordeal I get my mind back to the passive cooling system.

I got the ‘projects’ box open and took out the gizmo’s and my tools…

A PC cooling fan which had a DC brushless motor and wiring.
A 25 Watt soldering iron
Some Solder
Speaker Wire
Quick-connect crimps (male and female).
Insulation tape.
Gaffer Tape
Small solar panel.
See-through plastic sleeve with attachment hole.
Jute Twine

About an hour later I had it done and dusted. It worked first time too!
Direct sunlight hits the dinky little solar panel, which is suspended from a tree. This then triggers the cooling fan. Not a great blast of air comes from it but it’s something at least, when it’s shady it doesn’t work but that’s ok, I only want it spinning when the heat is on anyway.

Fresh Water Spring


An early project at getting water to my tent area. It partially worked except the spring dried up about two week's after the video was taken.

It'll refill in winter though hopefully.

More Water Works

Another project that was much more important and long-lasting....

Mikes water system for replenishing the drinking water was ok, but it was a balancing act and tricky to fill the container with. Also the water flow was mediocre at best.
So I spent a couple of hours on making a new one.
Steve had an effective triple-pipe tapering effect at the height of MMM’s land but unfortunately the distance was so great none of the hoses would reach it.
So I had to work off from the mid-point down the mountain land.

First I tracked down some old garden hoses.
One length of these was pinned under a fallen tree!
Not easy to remove as I had to use a levering bar to lift the tree, then yank the hose through.
A nearby pvc pipe, further up the spring-stream, was how I got the water flow running quickly. I stuffed the hose about one third into the pvc pipe and the pressure increased dramatically at the other end.
Then at a fairly close distance from the cooking area and at where the stream flowed through I made a small platform.
Just a concrete cinder block with a flat stone to level it and I had something the 6 gallon container could be put on.
A wooden ‘L’ piece at hang the hose off instead of it trailing in the stream made it that bit easier to replenish the container.
This was not only much closer than the older one, but it was on the dry trail and not amid the swampy undergrowth.

I made a second water hose pipe in water not far from my tent. That one would be for washing clothes in via a bowel and hand-wash detergent. Some folks may reckon you don’t need a hose pipe of water when you have a stream but that’s not always the case. The water level from the stream may be too low for scooping water etc.

The next thing I did that day was build a sawing platform.
For this I just got six cinder blocks in two pairs of three stacked up.
A piece of thick wood (6 x 8) to bridge them in a pair and it looked ready. Except it needed levelling.
Which I did with stones and masonry.
Now I can start sawing up stuff for other projects :)

Some other stuff I did was to use a couple of wooden lengths and some battening to make wooden platforms to cross the streams easily with. In other places I just found some thick decent tiles to use as stepping stones.
Mike reckoned that a simple board would do but I went further and got most of the main trailways to have dry stepping stones where it was soggy.
Over time it would speed up passage to and fro areas etc.

Building a Solar Shower Area


Using my previous experience I managed to throw together a decent shower, complete with camouflage privacy surround.

It wasn’t that easy, as the area I chose was on a fairly sharp gradient and was rocky as hell.

But with some western innovation I soon had it level.

Then it was just a case of getting support uprights into the ground and wrapped with camo poncho’s


I added a shelf and some spikes for clambering up and about to hang a solar shower from.

I’d have to time the moment right during the day though, too early and the shower wouldn’t warm up in time, too late and the mosquito’s would be out and about you!

Mike set up his new solar power generator.

I gave him a bit of hand when I wasn’t to-ing and fro-ing getting gear to set up the shower. It works really well, allowing our 21st century gadgets to co-exist and keep powered up amid old-school surroundings.
15 June 2012​

Well, today was setting up my Mountain Cabin Tent.

It took nearly 2 hours to erect but before that the site had to be levelled, and that wasn’t easy!

It took nearly 4 hours to get it level!

There were cinder blocks, boards, timbers, bricks, stones and even wooden wedges to get things flat enough.
A lot of work but worth it in the long run.

To top it all off a 180 pound rock was in the way, so that had to be shifted!

Then on getting the tent pack opened and set-up I suspected it's Far-East origin's weren't excercising any quality control when this item arrived on US shores...

Here's some interior pics.

This is the entry / foyer room. I get it tidier later. I use this for storing all my project's gear, a table and chair. Outside a mosquito burner is usually going by nightfall.

Sleeping area, need to get this area filled with more stuff!

The only issue with it? It’s nearby the big shed-complex and when the wind blows the nearby structure creeks and groans like an olde sailing boat!

Some nights I can hear the resident porcupine gnawing away inside too!

I've had something fairly big 'brush' past my tent at night!
Should anything be daft enough to cut and slash it's way into my domain after nightfall while I sleep then....
A 'bang, boom, a bang boom bang' should discourage them

I only part joke on this, a couple were eaten by a bear a few years back and up in Montana a Russian guy got slain (by a two-legged meth animal) then robbed while in his tent
Survivalist Water Resupply!


There's plenty of ways to get fresh water in the wilderness.

Yet if you need plenty of water at one time there's few better ways than a pick-up truck and a large 500 gallon capacity water tank.

The only thing that remains is to get the water from the spring into the tank....

The smiling survivalist you see in this video sure does it with style...

What you see here is just one way, but there's plenty of more ways to ensure survival in the wilderness.
The Other Cabin Folk

MMM is not completely alone in the area. There are other folks, mostly pretty good and decent people too.
While there are some ideological swings and differences, all pretty much like the idea that they are away from the city and all it’s machinations.
I’d say most are hospitable, indeed good food is always on the table and conversations are interesting and varied!

Mike's Rock of the Ages

This thing is big, at least 1500 pounds but likely more to be 2000 pounds.
We’d spoken often about how to tackle this beast and various ideas were thrown around.


After that we had discussed:
Black Powder
Extreme fracture scalding
Pounding it into submission / breaking it into several pieces with hammer and chisel.

By the end of day one of attacking it with pick, shovel and hoe we’d dug a fair bit around it:


A lot of earth and small stones were being produced and these went into two buckets that went into landscaping around the shelter area.

Mike was a champ on this, he insisting on bearing the burden of carrying the heavy buckets, as the way down from the rock to the bunker was uneven.


Even the Oregon Kid was persuaded to lend a hand. It was his first time doing manual labour with spade and pick. I think he was burnt out a bit though as he wouldn’t pace himself and used a bad technique for spading out the dirt from among the rocks etc.

We then took a break from that for a while, as MMM had other more urgent stuff to take care of.
My back was aching too, never a good thing to push a sore back

When we get back we might have another crack at it with some inventive means.
Yet with the restrictions in place our options are very limited...
June 22nd 2012
‘The Outhouse Spurned Incident’​

The Oregon Kid nearly felt the direct wrath of the Mountain Man one morning when I woke up and was outside my tent.

I saw MMM walking past, his face like thunder, with one of the spades we’d used for digging out the rock hole.

I caught some angry words from him then MMM suddenly turned to the mountain side and hurled the spade in the air towards the mountain side.
He loped off in it’s direction.

I caught up with Mike at the earthworks area of the bunker and tried to ascertain what had happened…

I soon learned that The Oregon Kid was not interested in using the Outhouse we’d put all that effort into and was still digging ‘holes’ instead. This annoyed MMM.

This time in particular he’d taken one of the good shovels (instead of the ‘natures use’ shovel) and went walking up the mountain land. This annoyed MMM even further, who followed in hot pursuit!

Then when the Kid started moving into the fresh water springs area Mountain Mike’s understandable fear was that the Rookie lad would ‘drop trousers’ and pollute our water supply!

He followed the Kid at a distance and thankfully the OK suddenly decided to turn left and move away into the national forest area. At this point he gave Mike the slip.
A short while later the shovel showed up back at the camp area with no sign of the elusive Oregon Kid.
After hearing Mike’s account I thought it wise to intercept the Kid before MMM did and make some peacemaker moves.

I asked the OK what he was playing at not using the Outhouse.
The Kid’s answer to that was he didn’t like the Outhouse as he was afraid his squatting ‘aim’ was off, also he didn’t like the smell.

Very fishy, but then again he is straight out of a state capitol city.
I told him that Mike feared he was going to ‘dump’ at the springs area.

At this he gave a strange arm’s-aside ‘gangsta’ type response which I thought looked foolish given the wilderness we were in and not some ghetto.
He said he’d never do such a thing to Mike though and I believed his intention.

I told him that MMM actually saw him trapsing about the springs area with the shovel which is why he got worried.
“Wow that’s creepy dude, I actually wondered if he was following me and I was moving around so he wouldn’t see me ‘doing my thing’!” The Kid answered.
I told him that Mike feared he was going to [email protected] in the Springs area, which was why he was following him to make sure he wouldn’t!
The Kid was worried now that there would be Mountain Rage from Mike and I assured him not to worry.
I wondered if MMM had rattled him into scuttling up to the springs area having taken the shovel. Also not all folks know that you shouldn’t ‘dump’ within 100 feet of a water source also, so maybe it was just his inexperience showing.

I passed on the account to MMM. He’d calmed down now but was not convinced the Oregon Kid was entirely innocent, he pointed out that the OK had only decided to head away from the springs area after he’d been spotted. Or so it appeared anyway.

Still the matter seemed to be closed until we were digging at the big rock later that day.
I noticed that the Kid was pushing himself too hard and told him to go easy, there was no rush.
He responded that he didn’t want to keep Mike waiting for dirt to be filled to which I said he wouldn’t mind.
The OK said he feared upsetting Mike and triggering his ‘Mountain Rage’.

Later that night I decided to sleep in the ‘Wolverine’ as it had been getting cold in the tent the past few nights. Were it was parked I had a view of the private road and MMM’s Tuff Shed.
The Kid had gone on his wandering and returned much later than usual, I noticed him pick up a rock, then throw it in the direction of the Tuff Shed. The rock went just to the left of it and missed but I thought it odd, perhaps the Kid was still angry at Mike for some reason?
Farewell to the Oregon Kid…

23 June 2012

The next morning at sunrise MMM came to my window and he looked apprehensive.

“The Kid’s taken his tent down and all his stuff is packed! I think he’s leaving!” MMM said before loping off to see what he was up to.

The Oregon Kid had been on the land for about ten days now and his bus ticket wasn’t til the end of the month so this was unusual.
Not once had he mentioned he wanted to go home or was homesick.
The OK showed up looking a bit sheepish and said he wanted to go home.

His ‘reasons’ were:
Tiredness and he had blisters!
Those were the reasons he gave.
I’ve not felt tired since I’ve got to the mountain, indeed I usually feel invigorated with the mountain air up here!
I haven’t had a single blister on my feet either, and that’s with wearing rubbish Walmart ‘Chris’ Boots!

I pieced together that he’d gone to one of the liberal Cabineer’s the night previous and made clandestine arrangements to get a ride towards the greyhound terminal. He was certainly no prisoner and could of asked me or Mike for a ride at any time.

At about 0715 the liberal Cabineer who worked locally at a nearby town showed up in his big 4x4 truck.
It was time for a parting of the ways.
I shook hands with the Kid wishing him a safe journey and to be careful in the big city.
Then they were off and Mike and I took in the small void of the Kid’s unexpected departure.
And a void it was…

He’d left behind his new tent, his new sleeping bag, his new big pillow, his brand new boots, a spare sock with ‘O’ on it, three big boxes of cereal, about a dozen tin’s of food, the wooden spear he’d spent hours crafting, a partly-finished hobo stove I’d encouraged him to make, many toilet rolls, shampoo and shower gels.

All this he intentionally gifted to us, saying that the bus wouldn’t let him take the extra stuff.

Mike and I were glad of the extra supply’s but quite disappointed he’d not told us in advance of his intention to depart early.
I was planning on introducing him to firearms and the safe use of my shotgun (he’d never fired a gun before) in the following days, plus some other things too.

MMM was dismissive of the Kid in some ways, as was I.
If a man has blisters on his feet the last thing you do is go hiking every day. I was a bit annoyed he’d not mentioned the injury to his feet.
Blisters are not a major issue IF you administer first aid and keep your feet looked after. Indeed I not only could of treated the OK’s injury to his feet, but could of given him some spare footpowder to keep his feet dried out.
Indeed I’d even mentioned to keep his feet dry and change socks regularly to avoid blisters.
Yet, perhaps the blisters reason was just an excuse afterall and he didn’t want a confrontation?

I was impressed he’d made the effort to come all the way from Oregon at such a young age (18 yrs) and solo but not by his slack preparation (no knife, no firelighting kit, no first aid kit).
The OK had perhap’s misunderstood about MMM’s land.
It is not a bushcraft training ground for absolute beginners who have never camped before. You need the basic fieldcraft and experience first or it’s a struggle.

Perhap's it was also his lack of drive and eagerness for the wilderness that let him down? I guess when I was 18 I'd of struggled with the wilderness too, but dammit I'd want to overcome it!

As the pickup rumbled away up the road I hoped that should the OK ever stray into the wilderness again he’d at least be a bit wiser to the ways of the outdoors. Hopefully he’ll get his experience up in areas that have a more gradual learning curve.

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Tyler Danann
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