Conquests of Tankbird


Camping Outdoor Leadership Training
May 21, 2009, 6:31 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Man, I keep postponing writing this entry, because I know there’ll be so much to it.

This past weekend I did the four day Camping Outdoor Leadership Training with the Appalachian Mountain Club. It was wonderful, but very intense! They kept us going from the time we got up (usually before 7) until we went to bed (usually after 11). I’ll walk you through the whole thing here.

We started at 5 Joy St. in Boston at 9am on Thursday. It had been a really early morning for me and a long drive. I only hit a little traffic, though, and arrived in plenty of time. Once everyone got there, we loaded all our gear into the van and headed out.

Here’s the back of everyone’s head in the van:
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And here’s a picture of me, looking sleepy and less than glamorous:
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It was a 2 1/2 hour drive to Cardigan Lodge in the Lakes region of New Hampshire. Cardigan Lodge itself is beautiful, though, inside and out. Beautiful and HUGE. Here’s a picture of the outside:
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And here’s part of the second floor. We’re sitting in the recreation area looking toward the eating area.
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You can come here when it’s full-service and they’ll cook for you, or you can come during self-serve season and use their kitchen. We had the fabulous Volunteer Logistics Crew (VLC) to cook for us that first night. Here we are all sitting around the table, filled with delicious dinner and dessert (the brownies and apple crisp in front of us were amazing!)
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Clockwise around the table, starting from the lower left corner: Jesse, Diana, Leslie (one of our instructors), Kim, Ricky, Mikey, Me, James (our other instructor), and Terrence.

After dinner, we settled in a little to our bunk rooms, home sweet home for Thursday night only. Here’s the girls’ room:
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We actually had a lot of workshops that day, learning knots and tents and tarps and leave no trace and all that stuff, and also some “getting to know you” games that were silly and fun in all the right ways. We learned the concept of “leaders of the day,” when we took turns in partnerships leading the group through the various logistics. Since there were only 7 of us (and 5 after Friday), it meant we were leaders a LOT. But that’s good, because we got to experience leadership in different situations. What did I learn? I learned that when I’m being observed, I micromanage like crazy.

The next morning, it was time to pack all of our gear, food and supplies and trek out to our camp site. First we had to load everything up.
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Then people got fitted for their packs.
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Then there was a lot of waiting to get going, during which time we lounged around. Here we are, lounging:
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At last, time to head to camp! Here’s a lovely group shot before we go.
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Left to right: Me, Terrence, Kim, Mikey, Jesse, Ricky, and Diana. Terrence wore that towel a lot as defense against the black flies. Not sure how well it worked, but man, black fly season in New Hampshire is FIERCE. I used enough Deet to kill a cow.

Once in camp, it was time to test our knot-tying skills to set up tarps. Here we are setting up some sexy, sexy tarps. We are knot MASTERS.
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Once camp was all set up, it was time for a hike. It was at this point that Ricky and Mikey had to leave, which saddened all of us. We hated to see them go. But there was a hike planned, and so we hiked to Welton Falls, a lovely destination spot. Before we got to the falls, though, we had to cross a river.
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Terrence crosses first…
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Then Diana…
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Then Kim (unphotographed)…
Then me..
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Then Jesse and Leslie.
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Welton Falls was beautiful! Here are some pictures looking down over the edge into the river.
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And here’s the falls itself, at least part of it.
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And here we are, lounging around and snacking after the first half of our journey.
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Then it was back to camp in time for dinner and more workshops. We got to bed after 11. That night was our first night in tents, and man, I was super uncomfortable. Those 1″ ground pads are terrible! Plus I had to use the bathroom not once, but TWICE, and it was a long, cold walk in the dark to the outhouse. I think I got about 3 hours of sleep, so I was pretty run-down by the morning.

The next day, Saturday, it was time to hike Mt. Cardigan. No time to complain about lost sleep; there was a mountain ahead. This is Mt. Cardigan as viewed from the lodge.
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Here we all are, lined up on the bridge at the start of our hike.
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PJ’s Ledge was our first pre-summit “destination” spot, where we lounged and took pictures.
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Somehow, on this trip, I got the nickname “mom,” checking in on everyone all the time. But hey, when people aren’t eating or drinking, you gotta check in on them! I make no apologies. 🙂

It wouldn’t be a group outing if we didn’t horse around a little bit…
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We are at this point sporting our orange bandanas. We became “Team Orange” somewhere around this point.

Clark Trail: less than a mile to the summit!
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Here’s a group of us at the summit: left to right Jesse, Kim, Me, Diana. If I’d have known that blue was the required raincoat color, I would have planned differently.
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Ahh, the view from the summit is always beautiful. Even if the clouds are threatening…
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It was so windy! Really loud and just intense. You could lean against the wind and it would hold you up. Don’t do it at the edge, though.

This fire tower is at the top, and in the summer, you can climb it. It’s not technically summer, so it’s not open.
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We headed back to camp, then. There was a bet about what time we’d actually get back to camp. Kim won with her bet of 4:40pm. We arrived at 4:42, so she was the undisputed winner. James, however, voted on 6:37, and tried to introduce us to some scenic detours to make the prediction come true. We hiked for about 8 hours in total, and after very little sleep, I was emotionally raw and pretty exhausted. But I was on dinner duty with James and Terrence, so no time to feel sorry for myself! Dinner was indeed delicious (chicken burritos, yum) and we ate almost all of it.

It threatened rain all afternoon, but we lucked out: it didn’t start to rain until late that night, right before bed. The rain made nice sleeping white noise, and I slept wonderfully, with only one 2:30am bathroom break in the rain. The rain stopped by the time we had to take down camp the next morning, though. We made waffles and sausage for breakfast. I’m quite proud of the fact that we had crispy waffles. Less proud that they took an hour… but who cares, great breakfast!

Here we are, engaged in the “camp take-down” process.
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After packing everything up and practicing our “leave no trace” ethics, we headed back to the lodge for some debriefing. We also got cool T-shirts (like the one Jesse’s modeling). And, of course, another group picture! We all look pretty good despite four days of not washing.
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Then it was back to civilization (Boston), and we all slept like the dead on the way back. What a weekend!

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My tent arrived, OR, “How to Completely Destroy Your Living Room in Under Twenty Minutes”
May 5, 2009, 8:56 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

“Excuse me…”

“Yes?”

“Well, I couldn’t help but notice, but isn’t that…”

“Yes, yes it is. A tent. In my living room.”

“Ah. I see.”

“Anything else I can do for you?”

“Um, no. No, that’ll be all.”

The mailman came today and delivered my tent from Moontrail. It’s a Sierra Designs Reverse Combi 2-person tent. It fits all in this little bag, to start.

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When I lay it out on the floor of the living room, it looks like this.

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Note: it’s at this point where I first said, “You know, this is shaping up to be a really bad idea.” It’s a pretty small living room. It turns out that it’s about the size of the tent. And look at all the stuff piled around. And it was, of course, 9:00 at night when I started this project, and the Sox were up 4-3 against the Yankees.

Then I stood it up. I was worried about putting a tent pole through the TV or the glass doors, but luckily, no incidents. This is also the point where Chris said, “Ah. The baseball game seems to have been replaced by your ass. And… a tent.”

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I put the rainfly on it next, but didn’t snap all the little corner buckles. That’s way too much work. Here are two shots from different angles, in case blue domes are exciting to you or something.

Notice how in the picture right below, the little black webbing bits and the white triangular window make a cool smiley face.  Happy tent!

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At this point, I pulled the rainfly off. How is it that the fly weighs more than the tent? It definitely does. And it doesn’t fold up as neatly. I hate when the tent doesn’t fold up exactly right. But why quibble? This is a sweet-ass tent. It has two doors!

This zoomed-out shot is merely to show you what a disaster the living room turned into.

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And here is me, sitting in the tent! This is the first picture of me in this blog. Very exciting. I of course had Chris come sit in the tent with me, but he wasn’t as excited for some reason. Something about it being, you know, in the living room.

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So I took it all down and stuck it back in its bag. Then I cleaned up the living room.



Gear, gear, gear!
May 3, 2009, 3:42 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Yesterday I went to EMS and, with much ado, purchased (almost) all my gear for my summer expeditions. I have all of yesterday’s purchases out on the living room floor and photographed the lot so I can walk you item-by-item through my list. This may be more exciting for me than for you, but there are other blogs you could be reading, aren’t there?

Gear

A: My new Osprey Luna 70 pack. 4100 cubic inch capacity, fitted to me.
B: The Osprey waterproof cover for my pack, all tucked into its little pouch. So tiny, so portable, and so necessary.
C: EMS Boreal 20° sleeping bag. Primaloft synthetic fill, mummy-style, comfortable and warm (I hope).
D: Therm-A-Rest Prolite sleeping pad. Fast-and-Light series, regular length, self-inflating.
E: Therm-A-Rest stuff sack for the sleeping pad. I had to buy this separately.
F: Therm-A-Rest repair kit, in case my self-inflating pad starts to not be.
G: Leatherman “Fuse” multi-tool, with more tools than I need, just as I like it. Shoulda bought it online and saved $10, but oh well.
H: EMS Socks and Sock-liners. I got 3 pairs of socks and 1 pair of sock liners. Buy 3, get 1 free!
I: Petzl e+Lite Headlamp. Light and waterproof with five settings, including red for night vision and strobe for emergencies.
J: Camelbak 3-Liter Water Bladder, to replace my 2-Liter that’s too small for all my adventures. Chris is hoping to steal my current 2-Liter.
K: Sea-to-Summit Stuff Sacks. There are 2 of them, the black one and a gray one below it that sort of blends in. How big are they? They are approximately cat-sized.

Mojo Stuff Sack

L: Guyot Squishy Bowls. I’m very excited for these! They’re silicone and squishable. I can shove them in my pack for storage, and turn them inside out for easy cleaning. Tres fab.
M: Cat, Maine Coon variety. Named Mojo. Fits well inside a Sea-to-Summit stuff sack.
N: Sea-to-Summit Spork, anodized aluminum? Who cares; it’s a spork and sporks are cool.
O: AMC White Mountain Guide with full-color maps. Very excited to go through this!
P: EMS Women’s Thunderhead SYNC Rain Jacket. I’m in such desperate need of a raincoat that this thing makes my day. And I like green.
Q: EMS Men’s Thunderhead Rain Pants, Full-zip. The Men’s are baggy, and I have to sinch up the waist a lot, but that’s better than having them be too snug and unable to layer. Plus, the men’s are full zip and the women’s are only 3/4 zip. Whose bright idea was THAT?
R: Techwick Essentials shirt. Again, it’s green, and I like green. I have so much Techwick, it’s like an addiction. But this stuff is amazing, really.
S: Men’s zip-off pants. I have a pair of these already, but I’ve used them for painting (a lot) so they’re very paint-splattered. I wanted some nicer looking ones so they could be, um, mud-splattered instead. Again, I find that the Men’s are roomier and more comfy, plus the shorts are almost knee-length instead of mid-thigh like the women’s. I do not find short ride-up to be comfortable when hiking.
T: Nomad adventure journal. This thing is so cool: waterproof paper! I’ll need that. I wonder if I should get a special type of pen or pencil for it?
U: Techwick base layers: Lightweight shirt and Midweight pants. Base layers are awesome.

So that’s the run-down. There’s more not pictured, but that’s the majority of it. More to come!