April 20, 2011
Most disasters will not require you to get out of town, as romantic as the notion may be. In fact, in the bay area, most disasters will completely strand you as bridges, tunnels and overpasses are shut down for inspections or reconstruction. Not only will this keep you in, it will keep essential services out. In the event of a major quake, you can expect to be on your own for three days to six months depending on the severity of the incident. Truth be told, the following advice will help you even if the tremors you experience are a layoff, an earthquake or the proverbial zombie apocalypse. This is what you need.
April 12, 2011
As much as we all want to leave civilization behind, the need for electricity is perpetual and often aggravating. In 2005, I invested in a few small sheets of Powerfilm flexible photovoltaic sheets. Using a cheap battery pack and diode from Radio Shack, I built two simple solar chargers capable of keeping our lights, FRS radios and other electronics working. The whole set up weighed .8 ounces and produced 7-8 volts, enough to charge four AA batteries over the course of the day as we walked through sun and shade.
Unfortunately, the first version of the panels lasted through our field testing, but not through an actual trek. Twenty miles from town, and fifty from the nearest electronics store, the wear and tear of the road ripped the positive wire from my panel, leaving us with only one charger. After the second day of trekking through train tunnels with dim headlamps, I’d had enough and decided to make a field repair.
That evening, after finishing heating water for dinner, I took an old nail I had found along the side of the railroad tracks we were hiking and placed it on the burner of our stove. While the nail was heated to red hot, I laid out the panel on the ground and held the wire in place with a few small stones. I put the maulie clips I used for my map packet onto the panel as an impromptu heat sink to keep from burning it up with the heat from soldering
It took a minute or two for the nail to get red hot. Once it did, I pulled it from the stove with my multi-tool and pressed the wire against the panel in a series of light taps to keep heat low. The solder melted just enough to complete the circuit. I used a small piece of duct tape to add a bit more stability to the junction, and hoped for the best.
The next evening, I pulled the batteries from the charger and was quite pleased to have a bright headlamp to complete my evening’s journals.
Since then, I learned another trick. Creating two jumpers, using alligator clips on both ends of short lengths of wire allows you to clip the panels directly to cell phone batteries, which can be problematic to charge on the road.
Living nomadically does not only rely on your hiking and outdoors skills, it is a perpetual test of your resourcefulness and creativity, and you will frequently find odd applications for many seemingly unrelated life skills.
April 12, 2011
So, I certainly owe everyone an update.
We moved off the hill in December of 2009. It was a long story, but worked out for the best; three months later, we discovered we were becoming parents! So now there is a little BabyPacker learning to stomp around.
Before he was even born the family gave us one of those terrific baby backpacks by Kelty, complete with brush guard! I can’t wait to get out there with him once it warms up! I guess I’ll have to start going ultra-light now, if I’m going to have the little bush-rat in my pack.
As I mentioned last week, the original Guerrilla Camping blogs have been gradually refined and expanded over the last four years, and are presently going through a lengthy proofreading process before heading to layout. I’m hoping to get it all done before the end of spring, but everyone laughs when I suggest it’s possible.
I think I’m going to put out a first edition with less layout than I would like, and sell it cheap to guage the reaction.
Meanwhile, the lost chapters are finished. These were chapters I felt were quite important, but at the time I was unable to post them, or complete them to my satisfaction. I spent my family leave finishing these up as I completed the expanded Guerrilla Camping book, and will be posting excerpts here once the proofing process is finished.
The most important new chapter is on staying out of trouble when stealth camping or guerrilla traveling. Another involves the use of supply boxes to move seasonal or sensitive gear without having to lug is or risk it on your back every day.
I will be migrating the original GNN Guerrilla Camping 101 Blogs here this evening, so if you’ve been looking for them, here they come! If it is your first time reading them, please keep in mind that these were furiously written in the limited time I had in front of a computer at that time; forgive the terrible formatting and wretched typos. I’d also like to throw an immense amount of thanks to Floyd Anderson who’s work at the GNN Archive prevented an immense amount of information from going down the memory hole, including Guerrilla Camping!
April 6, 2011
There is so much to say. Guerrilla Camping is currently going through the proofing process with two very amazing editors. Patiently patiently waiting. We might yet see a book!