Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cutting Off The World For A While

It was time.  In fact it was past time and overdue.  Getting out of the city, away from WiFi and people texting and driving, away from the normal daily grind that saps our will and drains our soul and reduces us to flotsam on a sea of disaster….  You get the idea, a break was needed.

One of my favorite getaways is a state park in West Virginia.  The cabins have flush toilets, running water, heat and a fireplace. 

Of course, there’s hiking and deer-watching if playing dominoes, cooking with your friends and good conversations aren't enough.  I had hoped for a dusting of snow to cover the ground to hide the wear and tear we humans inflict on nature, but I didn’t get it.  Still it was nice enough. 

As a scientist I know that increasing the surface area while decreasing the volume will make the wood burn better and what’s a fireplace without a fire?  So I split the wood the park provides.  I came prepared with a ¾-length axe and a hatchet.  The first day left me with sore shoulders.  While I expected some soreness, this was medication-level soreness.  Only one thing to do: sharpen my axe!

I typically take my Spyderco Sharpmaker and an EZE-Fold sharpener when I travel.  One side of the EZE-Fold is a coarse diamond.  Flip it over and it’s a fine diamond.  It didn’t take much work to true up my axe edge.  The next day, lots of wood but no soreness.

The trails are marked, but still it doesn’t take much to wander off the path, so it’s prudent to take a few things with you.  The yuppie canteen or water bottle works nice as do a small flashlight, knife and personal space blanket.  Matches or a lighter is also suggested. Most of that stuff fits in a coat pocket, so you don’t look like you’re the last member of the forgotten survival squadron.

The two knives I like (yes two, check the archives for why one is none and two is one) for these adventures are the Buck Nighthawk and DPx H-E-S-T.

The black bladed Nighthawk is on the left and HEST is on the right.  It snowed as I repacked the car for the trip home.

The Nighthawk has the mass and edge I needed to free up a sapling or tackle a big knife job like quartering wood.  It doesn’t work too good for cutting fir sticks.  The blade is too thick, but if I ever needed a big knife, the Buck Nighthawk is a great starting place.

DPx H-E-S-T is a collaboration between Robert Pelton and RAT Cutlery.  H-E-S-T stands for Hostile Environment Survival Tool.  DPx suggests a prescription for Dangerous Places.  I met Pelton several years ago.  He wanted a knife to carry in some of the world's most dangerous places, like Beirut, Sierra Leone or Detroit.  Not too big or expensive that it can’t be conveniently lost or given away and still big enough to attend to survival chores or make hesitation cuts in people. 

My only complaint is the sheath has only a makeshift lashing for belt carry.  Who knows, maybe that’s an advantage in dangerous places.  For me it drops into an outer pocket on my winter coat and stays there until I need it.

It was a good weekend and I’m back to work.  Let’s see how long the recharge works.

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