Showing posts with label winter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label winter. Show all posts

Monday, January 4, 2016

All Time #1 Winter Driving Tip

Today I am going to share with you the #1 tip for driving safely in winter (snow/ ice/ etc) conditions. SLOW DOWN!!!

This weekend I had the displeasure of driving through Portland Oregon when it was in cold, snowy, icy conditions. Vehicles were wrecked all over the place. Most were minor one vehicle slides off the road and or bumps the barrier but there were a couple of not good looking roll overs. Interestingly about half the wrecked vehicles were really good winter rigs like Subaru wagons and Toyota 4x4 trucks. The issue was that while increased traction via AWB/4WD does help you go it does not help you turn or stop. So these folks got overconfident and wrecked. Another good example that all the hardware in the world will not fix a lack of skill.

Slow down on bad winter roads. Either leave in enough time or tell folks you will make it when you make it. If the roads are really bad and beyond your comfort zone consider if you even have to make the trip at all. Better to miss an event or even lose a days wages then wreck your vehicle or God forbid get someone hurt.


Monday, February 23, 2015

Ice Storm and Max Velociity Talks M855 Alternatives

Down here in Louisiana we are finally getting a shot of winter. It is cold (35 when I got  home) and there is an 80% chance of rain. School was canceled today and is also for tomorrow. We had a late call today and have a later one tomorrow. Paw Paw shared a picture that pretty much sums up the situation.

 Max Velocity talks alternatives to M855.  Putting my money where my mouth is that case of 55gr M193 5.56 I just ordered showed up today. I need to get a 50 cal ammo can to store it in. Also need one for that case of 7.62x39 I bought when the Ukraine really kicked off. I probably need to order about 4 ammo cans.

500 rounds of Remington 110gr SJHP for $250. Fifty cents a round for any .357 mag ammo is a good deal. For Remington hollow points it is a darn good deal.

500 rounds of Independence 55gr M193 for $164.99 (.33 a rd). With the nature of 5.56 right now this is a good deal. If you are short, or just want a few months of training ammo this is a good way to get squared away.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Different Considerations for Preparedness

Peter's Advice to a Missouri Correspondent stuck in my head. I shared my thoughts then but there was something that didn't quite fit but was still meaningful. Peter mentioned warm clothes in terms of jackets and such.

What popped into my head was that for hanging out at home most people like comfortable clothes. In a cold house what you really want are warm comfortable clothes. Stuff like fleece pajama's, bathrobes, throw blankets (Peter mentioned these), hats and such. Thankfully as I noted in a recent post on Winter Clothing the cost of fleece has come down considerably in recent years. Something to think about if you are worried about having a colder than usual house in the near future.

Another consideration is carrying a weapon in your home. Of course if you wear the same pants from morning to when you go to bed it's not an issue but I like the option of  nice comfortable set of clothes at the end of the day. A nice light gun like a 642 or a little polymer .380 that can ride via a clip (or thin/ light holster) in your dress down clothes is a good option. Another option is a shoulder holster like the Galco Miami Classic which has the advantages of being a much more substantial gun and on board reload(s).

Do you have the clothes to be comfortable at home in temperatures above freezing but below comfortable?

Do you have a way to carry a gun at home that is comfortable enough you will actually use it consistently instead of disarming when you dress down for the evening?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Arctic Death Wind Lessons Learned

Did you learn anything from the recent unseasonably cold temperatures?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Winter Gear

It seems Afghanistan has a very hot summer (110+ is common) and a cold winter (averages below freezing) with about 4-6 weeks of nice pleasant weather in between where fall and spring should be.

Today winter seems to have come to my current little piece of this miserable country. That means it was time to pull out cold weather gear from my pile of junk and get them ready to conveniently grab. I am going to tell you what I dug out and briefly discuss a few items. The list is as follows:

-Fleece (This is the piece of outer clothing that gets the most use in the cold, dry or snowy winters I have been in recently. I keep a pair of light gloves and a fleece cap in the pockets so I always have them.)

-Fleece watchcap (Get two, one of mine is always in the laundry or MIA. They are cheap anyway.)
-Insulated puffy jacket (I didn’t use this at all last winter but just pulled it out because I was digging and saw it. These are however a good thing to have if it gets real cold, or if you will be outside and sedentary.)

-Lightweight shell jacket (This doesn’t get a lot of use in the cold dry or snowy winters I’ve been in recently. However in a drizzly and 50 PNW sort of winter these are great.)

-Heavy gloves (my light gloves were already out)

-Silk weight long underwear (These are just so great. I wear them almost every day in the winter. Light enough that you will not roast inside but warm enough to be comfortable outside. Also great for when you will be moderately active in chilly weather or active in cold weather. Since these get worn a lot and are right on your skin getting at least 2 pair so you can have one in the laundry and another to wear or a change if you get wet is prudent.)

-Heavy long underwear. (I use the top semi regularly and rarely use the bottoms unless it is real cold and I will be sedentary. They are WARM.)

-Goretex boots (If you are going to use boots often then getting a boot drier or a second pair is important so you can have dry boots in the morning. Boots are expensive but a second set is probably not a bad thing anyway.)
Note- I did not look for or mention but regularly use a neck gator. They are great for keeping your face and neck warm and can be pulled over your head also if need be. These are good because if you warm up you can just pull it down to your neck and let it hang out.

All of this stuff is issued to us however I listed it as brand/ model nonspecific intentionally. My goal was to let you know the types of gear I use regularly in cold weather instead of getting bogged down in specifics. With a combination of the above clothing I can mix and match to stay as comfortable as possible during a variety of winter weather and activity levels.

As a civilian at home I always keep a full change of real clothes, including boots, a heavy coat, gloves and a hat as well as a sleeping bag in my vehicle during the winter. I do this because occasionally I hop into the car in slippers and pajama pants to run to the store for something Wifey needs for a recipe or whatnot.

The hard part about decent winter clothing is that it is not cheap; particularly good boots which can get pricey in a hurry. If you are regularly outside in the winter, particularly far from shelter and clean, dry clothes for long periods (vs say a construction worker who can go change clothes at lunch and dry everything out after work daily) or overnight it is pretty darn important that you have the right gear. Winter is an unforgiving beast. I do not recommend that you go into debt or put yourself in a state of financial hardship to get winter gear. If you plan in advance and shop around some relatively good deals can be had in the off season. If you ‘can’t afford’ serviceable winter clothes and footwear even at those discounts I would take a holistic look at your spending patterns. Maybe you can shave some fat, at least temporarily, from another place in your budget. For those who are disabled, in school or just barely scraping by and genuinely can’t afford to properly outfit their selves I recommend not intentionally getting into any situation your current gear can’t handle. If you go messing around in the snow in summer boots, cotton and low quality junk gloves you might lose some appendages or worse.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Equipment Soldiers Use

I was asked about this and figured it would be a slam dunk easy post. Everybody likes gear and writing about what I know is just too easy. Wrong, the thing is that when you are so used to something it is just what it is, as opposed to significant or noteworthy. If asked a very specific question about gear I can talk for a long time but looking at our whole organization is difficult because it is what I am used to. In any case I will do my best.
Slings- Almost everyone uses some form of a two point sling. Those who do not go with the generic issue two point typically purchase an adjustable two point sling. There are so many makers and models to choose from that you rarely see the same one twice. No clearly defined trends except two point adjustable. Once in a blue moon (less than 10%) are one points with a few of the two to one type floating around. Some folks who carry M16’s still use the three point but that is mostly because they are issued.

Holsters- The Blackhawk Serpa series is heavily represented and has a distinct majority, I would estimate almost 2/3rds. The rest is split between Fobbit’s with shoulder holsters, various other kydex type holsters, assorted leather and nylon jobs. Some quality products from name brand companies and some generic poorly made junk.

Knives- Almost everyone carries some form of a one hand opening type folder of some make or model on their person. Most are midsized 3-4 inch blades and made by major manufacturers such as Gerber, Spyderco, SOG, Benchmade, etc all. Whatever happens to be selling in the PX/ Clothing and Sales had a slight lead but in terms of knives we are totally all over the place. Of the remainder a few carry piece of junk one hand opening folders, a few carry big (5in+) sheath knives and there is a totally random tiny minority like me and my medium/small belt knife. You see a few more sheath knives attached to body armor or kit but not too many. However I would wager almost every soldier has a decent sized knife (often a KaBar) in a duffel bag or a tuff box.

Multi Tools- Everybody has one (if just because they are issued) and they are usually Gerber’s because that is what sells at the PX and is issued. Some live on belts, others on kit and most in rooms or rucksacks.

Boots- Not as many Danners as a few years back. Maybe it is that we are spending more time in hot climates or maybe that the Army is finally issuing some decent kit to us so folks don’t need to go out and buy that. Lots of light boots with soft soles are worn by Infantry and SOF guys. I wear Altima ExoSpeeds though I have heard the new Nike’s are nice and some folks like Rockies or Oackley boots.

Socks- Some folks wear various commercial hiking type socks but more just use the issue ones.

Bags- The Army really got it right with the new small framed molle ruck. It is an awesome 72 hour type bag. This saves young soldiers a $150+ purchase that was almost a requirement to function and I am happy for that. You still see the odd Blackhawk or Camelback or Tactical Tailor type 72 hour bag carried by someone who has been around more than a couple years though.

Belts- People either wear the standard issue tan belt or go out and purchase a riggers belt from somebody or another. All the ones that are not Chinese junk are functionally equivalent as far as I can tell. For those carrying a holster a stiff riggers belt is very helpful.

Cold Weather Gear- Thankfully again this is an area where the Army has gotten their act together. Soldiers do not need to go out and spend hundreds of dollars any more for the cold weather stuff they need. We are issued lots of fleece, gore tex and thermal clothing to stay as comfortable as possible.

Water carrying- Most folks have a camelback, generally issued but you see an aftermarket pouch (typically the better more molle compatible one) occasionally.

As a disclaimer I should note that products sold in our clothing and sales/ PX get a huge boost in purchases and thus use. Young soldiers often do their shopping within walking distance and because of our busy work hours (and laziness) many folks just get what is convenient. This accounts at least in part for the trend towards Serpa holsters and a Gerber multi tools.

To be honest I can’t really think of anything else but if you have a specific question I can probably go into a lot more detail.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Winter Carry

FerFal wrote about winter carry recently. I have some thoughts and since work today could turn out to be completely rediculous I am writing this in advance.

I have spent a lot of time living in places with pretty cold winters. Not like -700 Minnesota kind of winters but lots of time between 5 and 20F not including wind chill with snow that stayed around for long periods. I also habitually carry a gun. Naturally for 3-4 months of the year the two sort of collide.

I find winter carry easier than summer carry. Concealing anything less than a pistol grip pump shotgun or a folding stock AK-47 is easy. For access it should go without saying that a pistol under a zipped and buttoned coat is about useless. Not as useless as say, a pistol in your nightstand but it's still not going to be a factor in a fight. I find that under most circumstances just keeping your jacket open works really well. It usually necessitates at least a mid weight type shirt or sweater under your coat if the temp is below about 30 degrees. Nothing crazy just something more than a t shirt.

The real decision point to me is if you are going to keep your coat on or take it off. If you are going to keep it on then an outside the waistband holster combined with an open coat is a super fast draw. A shoulder holster would work also. YMMV but I have found this good for when you will spend the majority of your time outside or are just going to one place and not staying that long. Great for a walk or a trip to the grocery store. The other situation is that you are going to be taking your coat off and then the 1911 on your hip might be an issue. In this case it is another layer which slows things.

Carrying in a coat pocket is a hotly debated issue. Revolvers are best with hammerless being most ideal. You really want to have a holster so you don't go to draw and come out with the barrel in your hand. Without a holster I have found one technique that seems to work. Just keep your hand on the grip. Assuming you have a pocket with a good opening (not one of those weird ones where the pocket is bigger than the opening and the edges are awkward) and your hand is already on the gun that is as FerFal says a very fast draw. Nobody notices a guy with his hand casually in a coat pocket. This is also convenient because you just stick a wheelgun in your pocket and go grab a quart of milk. However the downside is that while you could take your coat off you can't really leave it, or at least I wouldn't want to in almost every setting. So you might as well IMO just keep it on and carry under the coat.

I am interested in your thoughts and experiences on winter carry.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Be Advised

If someone ever wants you to go to a remote camp in the Arctic or extreme northern Canada to investigate what happened to the people that were working and or scientifically experimenting there and subsequently died/ vanished you should not go. Can't say exactly what will happen. Maybe there are ghosts or aliens, strange scientific phenomena or foreign soldiers or just some psycho with serious cabin fever.  I can however say with a high level of confidence that it never ends well. There is also a very realistic chance that you will die.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week?

I am just not sure when it comes to precious metals these days. I see definite shades of 1980 in the charts and buying at the top of the market is bad. On the other hand it may be different because of our insane monetary policy and other factors. Prices could continue to climb and stay high for many years so I may start getting priced out of the market entirely. Right now I see the up side for silver being better than gold. I am still buying but am not going to increase my contributions any. This week silver dipped some and I was able to pick up a roll of 90% quarters and another of dimes. It was money from last year so I guess I was a bit closer to last years PM goal then I thought. Or we could say this year is getting off to a great start.

We also picked up a snow shovel to keep in our vehicle. Wifey got a lightly used Helly Hansen waterproof shell type coat at the used stuff store for like 18 bucks. She needed a waterproof coat with a hood and even if she had 3 that was too good of a deal to pass up.

I also got started using my Kindle. Downloaded a bunch of public domain books. Got the Gibbons I plan to read as well as some Shirlock Holmes and The Count of Monte Cristo. Next I am going to get military manuals and survival type PDF's. A solar charger would greatly aid in its prep utility and is worth at least looking into.

It has been a pretty crazy week here with getting back home from the holidays and me jumping back into work. We are probably still feeling the after effects of jet lag and all that. I cooked dinner yesterday and incorporated a bunch of cans of stuff we have had lying around. There were some substitutions but it turned out well.

Next week I am going to try and get through more of The Bear Went Over The Mountain. It is very interesting if dry at times. Also I am going to get some more stuff to put on the Kindle.

Got emergency seeds? If you don't you probably should.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Snow Shoes and Cross Country Ski's

Bro Brandon B inspired today's post with his comment yesterday. I can honestly say I do not know a whole lot about field expedient methods for making snow shoes. I read about it in a miltiary survival manual once. Basically you take a pine branch and then bend in back around on itself (thinning the part that bends or heating it up a bit helps) tying it together and then tying the thing to your foot is the jist of it. I don't think they work very well though they are better than post holing/ wading through the snow.

[A bit of background. I grew up doing a lot of cross country skiing and have done enough snow shoeing to know my way around it.]

Basically the whole point of ski's and snow shoes is to spread out your weight and keep you on top of the snow instead of sinking into it. They both help you move, relatively unimpeeded through snow when it is otherwise difficult or impossible to do so on foot. They are traditionally used in places that have significant amounts of snow throughout the winter. These traditions are especially strong in Northern Europe. I will discuss the characteristics of both then briefly discuss their pro's and con's.

Snow shoes are basically just a big thing that attaches to your foot to spread your weight out over a larger area. The old ones look like a big tennis racket and the more modern ones are made out of metal and or plastic. They vary in size based upon technology and the conditions and weight they are designed to handle. When you look at boyancy snow shoes are sort of like life jackets, they need to be purchased for an individual and their intended use. A set that works for a 90 pound kid will not work for a 200 pound man with a 50 pound pack.

The biggest advantage of snow shoes is that they are relatively easy to use. You need to walk a bit wide (think of the steriotypical bow legged cowboy from the old movies) and be very careful not to get the snowshoes crossed over eachother but fundamentally you are just walking. Most people can get comfortable on snow shoes by taking a short walk in them. Also snow shoes do well in varried/ uneven terrain (particularly in the woods where the holes around the bottom of trees, the snow doesn't accumulate under a pine tree so there is a big hole, can make skiing impossible, and lack of space for relatively long ski's is a real issue) and really deep powder. The disadvantage of snow shoes is that they are a lot slower to use than cross country ski's.

Cross country ski's are how people who live in really snowy places get around. Since you can glide on top of the snow (like water skiing or skating) you can move much faster and burn less energy than on snow shoes. Also on ski's you can go down a hill in two or three minutes that will take a half hour on snow shoes. I find that it is a lot easier to get into a rhythm and really cover ground on ski's than snow shows. However ski's do have some downsides also. First they are, while not too difficult to learn to use, certainly more difficult than snow shoes. In particular the less than ideal slopes (not a nice even cleared downhill style ski slope) inherant of cross country conditions and flexible bindings make it difficult to safely move downhill without a decent amount of skill. If I was keeping a spare set of something around to equip a random friend that came to my beautiful mountain cabin (I wish!) it would be snowshoes. Also some situations are better for snow shoes. Deep powder and moving through the woods are areas where show shoes beat out ski's.

Being able to move over snow under human power is a skill that has become a lower priority in a world of snow mobiles, snow plows and vehicles of all types. However if there wasn't fuel and the snow plows stopped moving it would, for folks in heavy snow areas, be the difference between utter isolation and being able to travel freely. Also cross country skiing and snoe shoeing are great cardiovascular exercise.

Some of my readers might be interested in how these winter travel skills have been employed by guerilla and partisan forces in the past. Some folks, if memory serves me correctly the Norwegians and the Finn's in particular capitalized on the mobility of their skiing skills to mount daring actions against much stronger but less agile and mobile enemies during WWII. In heavy snow areas a person who is a natural on ski's and a decent shot with a rifle could raise hell with a bunch of soldiers on foot.

If you live in an area with heavy snowfall then I urge you to learn to ski and snow shoe this winter.

Friday, December 10, 2010

I'm Baaack!

It was cold, snowy and just plain nasty. Average temperature was around 20f or so. It snowed a lot and there was a biting wind. The foot or so of unpacked snow played hell with walking, let alone running and other more vigerous activities. However it wasn't too bad. We do have pretty good gear which makes a huge difference. Also I had a warm dry place to go in my off hours and generally got decent sleep which helps a lot.

I did write every day (just no net to post) so next time this happens there will be posts which is good. Been thinking and fiddling with slings a lot lately. Decided I need to just throw down the cash for a purpose built two point adjustable sling. Will announce the winner of our awesome contest as soon as I can.

Got home pretty late tonight. Wifey made a nice dinner and I got to spend some time with Walker which was cool.  He smiles and sort of tries to play now which is cool. Makes him a bit more interesting to hang out with. I am looking forward to a calm weekend at home. Anyway I have nothing else huge to say so I will talk to you tomorrow.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It's Getting Cold

In the PNW and Germany winter seems to finally be upon us. This is a good time to dig out your coat, boots and gloves. We don't really travel outside of our immediate area so we don't worry much about a winter survival kit. If you do then adding a sleeping bag, etc to your car kit is probably a good call. In any case tossing an old coat, a hat, gloves and boots into your vehicle is too easy not to do. I find in your winter coat it is a good practice to put a pair of gloves and a warm hat into the pockets. They go unnoticed until you need them and then you've got them.

Personally I wear a lot of fleece. A fleece hat, gloves and jacket are standard during this season. If you are hard up for cash then surplus wool is a darn good way to go. Its only real drawback (aside from aesthetics) is that it is bulky and HEAVY. Not however an issue for most people unless they are doing something really active outside or trying to live out of a bag.

I like winter or definitely appreciate parts of it. One thing I like is that it is perfect for all those warm feel good staple meals. Lets fact it people don't really want stew or chili or chicken and dumplings in August when it is 100 degrees outside. Also I like quiet winter evenings. Instead of feeling lazy when I am doing nothing at 1900 on a weekday I am happy that I am warm and inside. Sometimes having a warm drink and just looking at the horrible weather outside is a pretty good passtime.

I think when PM's drop a little bit I am going to buy some silver. Almost bought on the last dip below $25 and likely will the next time it goes there. I kinda wanted to see if it would dip into the low $24 range but maybe I just need to get adjusted to the new reality.

As a final though after spending so much time freezing out in horrible winter weather my favorite winter passtime is probably looking at the horrible weather outside from my warm residence. A nice drink and slippers help.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Question Of The Day

Dear TOR:

What is a wooby? What is a bivy? Thanks.
-Saddle Tramp

Saddle Tramo, Thank you very much for the questions. I am consistently suprised about how rarely I get questions. I think part of it is that there is a very macho streak in many survivalists so that unless they will actually die (Excuse me but where do you keep the Israeli bandages? I have a bit of a gunshot wound and could really use one.) I like questions because they show me that someone is TRYING TO LEARN. Any time one person has the guts to actually ask a question there are surely 5 folks who didn't know what was being talked about and were embarassed to ask.

A bivy is a water resistant/ proof bag that goes over your sleeping bag to keep you warmer and dry in inclimental weather. Here is an example of one. They vary in size and exact patterns. Some are just a waterproof sack which goes over your sleeping bag and zips all the way up. Some have a small pole or two to kind of get the bag off of your head. Personally I can say the waterproof sack style bivy takes a little bit of getting used to; though the first time it really raint it is amazing how quickly you will pull the top cover all the way over your head. Unless you are truly clostrophobic (sp) I would say the ones with the poles aren't necessary. The advantage of a bivy sack instead of a tent is that it is much lighter. A bivy weights a couple pounds which is a heck of a lot less than most tents. Also they are a lot more compact.

A wooby is properly called a poncho liner. Here is a picture of them. They are a light quilted nylon/ poly blanket which is quite warm for it's weight and rolls up pretty compact (about the size of the big family sized Campbells soup can) They can in theory be attached by the little strings on the side on the inside of a poncho but I don't recall ever actually seeing anyone do that but I think it was a big thing back in Vietnam. In the last decade or so people just use them as blankets.

As the story goes they are called woobies because you would be cold without it. I bring one to every Army overnight trip I go on. They are great for slipping into your sleeping bag's stuff sack to make it a bit warmer or to put into an assault pack for a mission. In cold weather (below 35ish) a woobie alone will not keep you comfortable but it will be the difference between being somewhat cold and tossing and turning all night and slipping into the danger zone.

Also you have just until early Saturday morning to enter our Awesome Ammo Giveaway Contest. Seriously you can get a whole bunch of free ammo for no money and a very modest investment of a few minutes of your time so hurry up and enter. Even if you don't have a good use for ammo cans you can just get a whole bunch of buddies to vote for you and win that way. Seriously enter already.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

3 Components To Being Truly And Utterly Miserable

Recently I have been spending a lot of time standing around in the cold chatting with folks and waiting to do this training or that training.

One co worker said something interesting. He said the first Platoon Sergeant he ever had said you needed 3 things to be truly and utterly miserable. The first is to be cold. The second is to be hungry. The third is to be wet.

While things can be bad with just one or two of those all three are definitely a trifecta of  misery.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Some Preparadness Is Darn Boring

This evening we had planned to go to dinner in a nearby town. It snowed about 6 inches this morning and kicked up again this afternoon. About the time we were planning to leave the snow was still sticking and the temp had slipped well below freezing. We decided that driving almost an hour one way was not smart. Instead we got some inexpensive take out from a local place and stayed in. Most likely nothing would have happened. Then again we could have gotten stuck and not been able to find a motel room or even gotten into a wreck and been hurt. This is boring and sort of lame but it is the prudent thing to do. The best way to stay out of bad situations is to not be in them in the first place.

The same could be said about a lot of financial stuff. Putting off a purchase for a couple pay periods until you can 'really afford it' is not cool or interesting. Shelving an idea entirely because it will put you in a less than ideal spot is downright boring. However this stuff matters.

Seriously it sounds a bit stupid, after all your vehicle is equipped to be the envy of every Road Warrior and you have a nice emergency fund set aside (you do have an emergency fund, right?). The thing is that if you don't leave home for non essential trips when the weather is real bad or buy things you can't totally afford you are far less likely to need the supplies and gear in your vehicle or the emergency fund in the first place. By making these choices you are AVOIDING PROBLEMS. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Winter Does Not Forgive

People talk about harsh environments and I think a cold snowy winter beats pretty much anything out. It at least ties with the desert. One could think long and hard about the pro's and cons of each but I don't feel like doing that. In any case simply put a cold snowy winter leaves little to no margin for error or bad luck.

Last night during land navigation a young man almost died.

We were supposed to be back by 8 o'clock. The young man in question has not back by 9:00 so a search party went out. At 10:00 higher ups started getting alerted. At 11:00 everybody lined up so we could walk the entire course at double arm intervals with white lights. Exactly like you see in the movies and on TV. Some folks found this guy at about 11:30.

What happened was that he got a bit wet. Somehow or another he got into some water that was moving and thus not frozen. At this point he started going into shock. I believe he failed to realize the severity of the situation he was in and went to get his last point before heading back. Personally I would have ran back to the start point. The course is roughly 4000m X 4000M and bordered on all sides by two lane hardball roads. You could not cross one by accident.

He was found about a mile out of the course. They found him face down in a snowy field. He was conscious but not verbally responsive. They got him to a hospital and there will be no effects which last more than a few days.

He was wearing the right gear. People knew he was out and when he should return. We had a pretty good idea of where he should be. He knew how to land nav. Heck a guy who could run decently wasn't 15 minutes from a gas station or a fast food joint.

If nobody knew when he was supposed to be back or in what area he was he would be dead. If there hadn't been a whole bunch of people right there to look for him he would be dead. Tonight it is a lot colder than last night. Had it been low 20's instead of 28-32 he would likely be dead.

The winter does not forgive.

This was a

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Couple Pieces Of Cold Weather Kit I Believe In

I have been spending a lot of time outside recently. There is several inches of snow on the ground and temps have clung in the 20's and occasionally gotten to 30-33ish Fahrenheit. Sometimes we are physically active but others (in typical military fashion) we stand around waiting. These temps are not 'that cold' and for someone going from the house to the car to the office a simple coat will suffice. Being outside for hours that does not work.

Gore Tex and Thinsulate boots have pretty much worked their way through the outdoor/ hunting community and are ever present in the military. These are about the best as you can get without serious Sorel style felt pack type winter boots.

In terms of long underwear I could not possibly give as glowing of a review as Polartec Power Dry (silkweight) deserves. I have used all sorts of long underwear from the generic cotton to miscellaneous synthetic stuff to polypro (both commerical and military) and have a hard time imagining why I would buy anything except this stuff. The only reason I could possibly think of is if I had a manual labor (construction type) job where stuff regularly got ripped up and I knew I would be home in a few hours and if need be I could go to my vehicle and get into spare dry cothes. Then maybe some cheap cotton type stuff would be OK.

However for military, outdoors and dare I say preparedness this stuff is the bees knees. It rolls up so a top or bottom is about the size of a rolled up pair of socks. Also it is darn warm and breathes/ wicks amazingly. Also it doesn't hold a smell like poly pro does. The only downside is that it is not cheap. The commercial stuff seems to be about $30 for a piece or $60 a set. One of the perks of my work is that I have a shelf full of the stuff. Probably enough to last me a lifetime, certainly a decade. Anyway I know that price is not cheap but in my opinion the stuff is totally worth it. I can attest to its durability. The first set of this stuff I got is 6 years old and while it has needed a seem sown here or there it is still going strong. I wear this stuff almost daily during the winter and can not say enough good things about it.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

My Brain Is Fried

It has been one of those weeks. A combination of being cold and bored and doing very specific tasks for a long time have just fried my brain. I've just got nothing today. There is always stuff in my head but nothing is forming into meaningful phrases let alone turning into a post, let alone a decent one. I do however realize that me barely watching the US news is having positive effects on my overall stress and irritation levels with political stuff. Occasionally I watch a bit of Fox News and I usually get a bit of BBC every day.

The BBC isn't perfect and they have a somewhat leftist perspective. I sort of listen to them from a Joe Friday "Just the facts Ma'am" perspective. They give a better snapshot of world events than any other news channel I have ever seen. 

I get enough of the news to know what is actually happening but not the constant worrying about everything some vaguely prominent liberal Democratic talking head says. In retrospect listening to conservative and Republican talking heads theorize and discuss the stuff the liberal talking heads are trying to do doesn't help either. I do not know what the right level of news/ information is but being able to stay more or less abreast of current events without getting yourself all stressed out is a nice idea.

I have two day off which is nice. No huge plans here. Going to pick up some extra food at the store tomorrow to help in building up the alternate pantry. Plan to fiddle with the shortwave radio some. Also going to fiddle around on the net to find some stations to listen to. Got some various stuff to organize. Also need to give my winter boots the water proofing treatment. They are Gore Tex so my feet don't get wet unless I submerge them fully or stand in water for a long time. However the leather is soaking up water which means my toes freeze.

Got to organize some stuff and try and crank out a few more posts to schedule for the FTX. Also I need to sweep the whole house and do some other mundane but essential tasks.

Got a couple of thoughts about how I am going to fill the weekends posts. Think I am going to bed pretty soon.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Winter Weather

Lots of folks have been writing about the cold weather. It is freezing in the South and Europe, in particular Central Europe have been a mess for awhile now. Rio calls it the Al Gore winter which I find amusing. Suppose this is my obligatory cold weather post.

Folks have already talked about putting extra clothes, food, water and sleeping gear in the car. Other folks have talked about winter driving. I see no need to rehash that stuff. I do however have a few other observations.

Cold weather is hard on skin and lips in particular. Keeping a decent stash of whatever your preferred lip chap stuff is prudent. Yeah chapped lips won't kill you but if a tiny bit of planning and a few bucks will let you be comfortable it is foolish not to go that route.

My other thought is that in the winter you need to be more flexible about travel, running errands and the like. More than once we have had a plan to go here or there and adjusted it based on looking outside at the roads or the weather report. Even when we are talking about relatively short 30-45 minute trips it is just smart to use common sense. For example, earlier this week we had planned to go do a bit of window shopping and have dinner at a restaurant we have been wanting to check out. The weather turned nasty yesterday (and my wife is a bit sick) so we are pushing that plan to the right. We will either cook something here, order in or go someplace down town. This might seem overly cautious but I would rather err on that side than get in an avoidable wreck or get stuck somewhere.

On that note I think it is prudent to be willing to change your plans if the conditions merit, even if you are out. This might mean sleeping on the couch or floor at somebodies house or even staying in a hotel/ motel for the night. Having a sleeping bag per person in your vehicle is good but if a clean, safe room at the Holiday Inn is available to me it is an easy decision. For a hundred bucks or so to get a room for the night and some dinner you could avoid a serious wreck or even worse. My deductible is $500 so doing that 4 times to potentially avoid a wreck makes economic sense even if you do not factor in the huge hassle of an accident or getting stuck.

I recall once when winter weather socked a whole bunch of travelers in the sleepy NW town I was living in. Some of those folks got stuck for 3-4 days. This is where that savings account portion of the emergency fund comes into play. Last Christmas we got stuck in Philadelphia for a few days. Traveling long distances on a shoestring budget is never particularly advisable but in winter it is a downright bad idea. It is fine to plan to travel cheaply but having the resources to sustain yourself if something happens is the smart thing to do.  

In short be prepared to be inconvenienced in terms of time, travel plans and a bit of money.

Aside from that I find the winter weather best experienced by looking out the window from my warm living room with a glass of something warm to drink.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Mountains in Winter

It has been snowy here for a few days. The temp hasn't gotten much above freezing and the lows have been around 20. That doesn't matter except that instead of going on a long run for PT like planned I went to the gym. After hitting the weight pile I got on one of those exercise machine things and plugged the headphones in to listen to the news. I sort of like being able to do that. Anyway on the news they talking about some climbers missing on Mount Hood. At least one member of the party is dead and the other two are missing. Either they are hunkered down and waiting it out or they are dead. It seems this happens at least once a year on either Hood or Rainier.

Interestingly enough I tried climbing Mt Hood once. We woke up really early, ate some oatmeal and started walking uphill in the dark. About when it got light we got socked in with dense cloud cover and we kept walking uphill. For a couple of brief minutes the  clouds parted and we were able to see that we were just about 200 meters below the bottom of the ski lift. It is in the top 3 or 4 worst recreational outdoor activities of my life. I don't get mountain climbing at all. I like skiing down mountains and around them. I don't mind walking over a hill or whatever. Seriously an activity where the entire point is to walk uphill for hours. I am not knocking people who do it but to me it seems like the worst recreational outdoor activity ever. Anyway back to the point.

I think people underestimate both of these mountains, particularly Hood. I can see why folks might as it is easy enough to wake up (albeit early) in Portland, climb Hood and be home for a quick shower and dinner at Jake's. All and all a real nice day if you like that sort of thing. Unless something goes wrong at which point you die.

I am not saying these folks did anything wrong. That will be figured out later and it might or might not even make a difference.

My point is just that the wilderness is not a particularly forgiving place. The mountains in winter are an unforgiving place and when you get above the tree line it is sort of like hanging out with a crackhead that has a handgun. He might be a nice enough guy and you might (though I don't know why) know him fairly well but if something gets into his head one night you are dead.

I am not going to go into get into what you need to have for winter gear. Just like any other time you need water food, clothing and shelter to survive. In the winter I would say that clothing/ shelter is more important though. Anyway I am going to eat a bowl of cereal then go back to work.
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