So you want to get outdoors and have fun. So many places to go and visit. Planning that amazing vacation or trekking out into the Wilderness for some long over due quiet time. But sometimes in planning the fun stuff, we forget to have a PLAN for real stuff. What do we mean by “real stuff”? The stuff that you don’t think of until that moment of “what do I do now” happens.
Real Stuff like being prepared for some circumstances that happens ALL the time. We call it a “safety plan” Let’s take a look at some of the common issues people have while enjoying the outdoors.
FALLS – Falls while hiking in mountainous terrain typically account for more fatalities than any other direct cause. A fall can result in a few scrapes minutes from the trailhead or life-threatening injuries miles – and hours – from help. This is why it’s especially important to never hike alone.
HEAT: Overexertion on hot summer days can lead to heat-related injuries.
COLD & HYPOTHERMIA: The lowering of your body’s core temperature below normal can lead to poor judgement and confusion, loss of consciousness and death – even in summer! We have seen this first hand when temps are in the 90’s and people get wet from a cold rain. Wind starts howling, clouds block the sun, and the next thing you know, you start shivering.
No matter if you are day hiking, backpacking, kayaking, having the right safety plan is the best thing you can do for you and your family.
According to the Journal of Travel Medicine, From 2003 to 2006, there were 12,337 SAR operations involving 15,537 visitors. The total operational costs were US$16,552,053. The operations ended with 522 fatalities, 4,860 ill or injured visitors, and 2,855 saves. Almost half (40%) of the operations occurred on Saturday and Sunday, and visitors aged 20 to 29 years were involved in 23% of the incidents. Males accounted for 66.3% of the visitors requiring SAR assistance. Day hiking, motorized boating, swimming, overnight hiking, and nonmotorized boating were the participant activities resulting in the most SAR operations. But here is the most important point:
An error in judgment, fatigue and physical conditions, and insufficient equipment, clothing, and experience were the most common contributing factors.
So what do you do? ALWAYS HAVE A PLAN. What’s a PLAN?
Finally. Understand the acronym STOP-A This is the biggest asset to you if your plan has to do with being lost. The number one question we get when taking new people out backpacking is “what if I get lost”.
If there is no immediate threat, like a wildfire or a bear breathing down your neck, then stop and sit down. The goal is to prevent any irrational thinking due to fear or an adrenaline dump.
let’s break out the best survival tool we have, our brain.
Countless books and stories attest to the fact that a positive mental attitude can pull people through even the most dire of circumstances.
Understand the difference between real threats and fears.
Take a look at your surroundings and identify threats. Are there widow makers? How much time until it gets dark? Do you hear vehicles in the distance? Can you smell a campfire?
After thinking about your priorities and observing your surroundings and gear, it is time to make some choices. Like prioritizing, planning is dependent on your situation. Generally, staying put and waiting for rescue is a good plan, but what if you didn’t tell anyone you were headed out and no one will know you are missing for days?
The best plan in the world will not do you any good until it is put in to action. Once you have a plan, start using your skills and execute the plan.
For those who want to leave trusted friends or family your itinerary. Go to hikeralert.com this is an excellent web based platform that alerts through text message when you do not return
In operation since 2012, HikerAlert is a Web-based service that will automatically send an alert text message and email to your emergency contacts (your friends and family) if you don’t check in from an outdoor trip or other event by your scheduled return time.
Remember, your outdoor experience is your responsibility. Make sure you’re stay safe out there. Mother Nature doesn’t care about your weekend plans.
Compression, compression, compression. That is what I think about when looking at new lightweight backpacks. How do can they compress, and is the way they compress going to benefit my overall gear system. When I tried on the Granite Gear Crown VC 60 ultralight backpack, I have to say I was impressed. It’s overall design and durability puts this pack high on my favorite pack list. At 2.2 lbs this is a pack you have to consider on a long distance hike.
With it’s 60 liters of capacity I would find it hard pressed to fill the bag all the way. This pack can carry a full load of gear that is for sure. With it’s roll top feature, you will be able to use this pack in Winter and still keep it as a lightweight system since your layer 4 winter jacket would nicely fit on the top. Since it compresses down, I can utilize unusable space. Again, compression!
The compression of this pack is what I truly like however. The two crisscross of of Linloc compression straps on the side of the pack provides and excellent compression system. The pack design of the Linloc straps can be utilized to attach a rolled up sleeping pad, a tent, or tent poles. Also, there two compression straps that run over the top of the main compartment and provide additional carrying capacity.
Make it even lighter! The frame itself is removable so the pack can be used for ultralight loads without the frame. This takes the pack weight itself to almost a 13 oz pack.
What’s the VC stand for? Vapor Current. At first glance, you’ll notice the ventilation channels molded into the cushy back pad. These channels allow air to circulate from bottom to top, taking advantage of convection to aid in evaporative cooling. This facilitates circulation without shifting the pack’s center of gravity away from your back. Beneath the molded foam, the VC frame has a full length (all the way up to the load lifters), HDPE die-cut sheet that supports loads up to 35 lbs.
Will this pack handle a Long Distance Trek?
I say YES! As more and more ultra lightweight packs hit the market, it will be the durability and stitching that will ultimately stand the test of time. I like the VC Crown because of it’s CORDURA® fabric. If you are like me, you are hard on your packs. Ultimately, a strong fabric will make the difference.
TIP: Ultra lightweight packs means you should have lightweight gear. The maximum weight for this pack is 35lbs. I would subtract 5 lbs to that. Light weight packs maximize their performance when you pack your gear correctly AND carry other light weight gear.
You would be surprised at how many people get sick on the Appalachian Trail due to the spreading of germs. In fact, Appalachian Trail hikers had a 45 percent diarrhea rate, implying that poor hygiene is a major contributing factor. How to prevent getting sick is to make sure your First Aid Kit has the some basic medications and ALCOHOL WIPES to keep your hands clean.
Ariane has gotten the Flu while backpacking and she explains how hard it is to hike out when you get sick. Some basic medications, like benadryl, tylenol, Mucinex, and Diarrhea tablets can help you when you feel like you maybe getting sick on the Trail.
In a article written by Blissful Hiking:
The chief complaint on the Appalachian Trail is the Norovirus, which seems to strike every hiking season. Noroviruses are found in the stool or vomit of infected people and on infected surfaces that have been touched by ill people. Outbreaks occur more often where there are more people in a small area like hostels, shelters and privies contaminated by sick hikers.
The best way to prevent getting sick is to make sure your hands are always clean. Bear cables are filled with germs, wipe your hands off after using them. Prevention is the key. Make sure you keep clear of sharing food or area’s where you see other hikers being sick. Again, using alcohol type hand sanitizer and trying not to share food, it going to go a long way.
If you do get sick on the trail, you are going to have to REST. Drink plenty of fluids and replenish your electrolytes. Chicken Soup and Lemon Tea is a great way to start your rebound. But rest and a day off is probably going to get you back on the trail.
We have big news! Our new subfloor went in this weekend and it’s pretty damn exciting. It wasn’t as hard as we expected, but it was still kind of hard. If that makes any sense.
We started the weekend on Friday with priming all of our plywood with Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer™. We had already measured (re measured) and cut the pieces we needed. We initially used cardboard to make a template of the front cornered piece. The cardboard was a good idea because we could measure and trace around the C-Channel and get a good measurement for the curves. We made sure to put a heavy coat of Epoxy Sealer on the cut edges. It’ s edges that are most vulnerable of course.
We first placed the cardboard template (front corner) where it needed to be. Of course, installing a piece of cardboard is much easier than a piece of plywood. The cardboard looked like it was where it was suppose to go and we were happy with our measurements. Maybe a “good nervous anxiety” is a better expression.
TIP: Double check, and re-check, that all of the tiny wood screws that get drilled in at the top of the C-Channel are OUT. This will save you from pulling your hair out and having a break down in front of loved ones.
Saturday was spent on the front Belly Pan. We wanted to make sure that before putting in the Subfloor, we could see the new rivets going in to secure the Belly Pan. With my new Central Pneumatic 3/16 in. Air Hydraulic Riveter we were ready to tackle our Belly Pan. We drilled out all old rivets that the belly pan had dropped through. Surprising, our Belly Pan is in pretty good shape. We did drill new holes in the bottom frame using a 3/16 drill bit and popped in 3/16? Large Flange Rivets. Some places in the Belly Pan the holes were just too big. So we used large Fender Washers with the Large Flange rivets to secure and cover the holes. We also cleaned and prepped the frame once again, along with touching up any spots we may have missed with POR 15. By late Saturday we were exhausted. Sleeping in a 1998 Ford Expedition with 2 dogs on a Air Matress can be cozy, but we were so tired on Saturday Night, both dogs and humans were fast asleep by 9:30 PM.
Sunday: (The big day). Woke up early to a blue sky and the Rooster crowing. After mayhem with the dogs and few cups of coffee and a brief visit with Tulip the Goat, we were ready to get that floor in. We opted (after long debate and discussion) NOT to have any insulation between the Belly Pan and the Subfloor. But we did opt to using a Self Adhesive Waterproof Rubberized Asphalt Roll Flashing. This protects the Frame and the Plywood from moisture that could get in between. The Flashing also protects the Outriggers that are most vulnerable to the elements. After taping the top of the frame, we were ready.
The funny thing about putting in the first piece of your new subfloor was; “Are we really here”? We were almost in denial looking for other things to do before we actually put this in. With some trepidation, we brought in the front corner piece. We had cut some 2×4’s that we placed on the frame so we could beat the 2×4’s instead of the plywood. We brought in laying it down on the frame but on a slant. The “idea” here, was to push the out one side of the C-Channel and then to beat the front piece using the 2×4’s. Once we got both ends in the C-Channel it was then a matter of just beating it forward all the way in the “front C-Channel”. To our amazement, it worked. However, the rubber mallet was quickly replaced with a sledge hammer. (*Side Note: When something goes right on our Airstream restoration, we ask ourselves, “is this real or a dream”?)
TIP: Be prepared to beat one side of your Airstream to move the “cut” from right to left. Use a 2×4 for this also. Remember, you are pushing out one side of your C-Channel to get both ends in the C-Channel.If your cut is correct, the one side that you pushed out, will come back in.
The next section was only 2 feet wide to sit on the frame correctly and get bolted into the Outriggers correctly. That piece went in fairly smoothly.
The 3rd piece, (the biggest piece) was 4 feet wide went in by lifting the “cut” up over our heads, tucking the far end (opposite of the door) into the C-Channel, then bringing it down and tucking in the other end. This also involved major beating on the side of the Airstream.
So, the first 3 pieces are in. 4 more to go…
I must admit, never did I think the words; “she’s an amazing stripper” would ever utter out of my mouth when describing my significant other. Yet that is simply the truth! Oh sure, I can strip with the best of them. But let’s face it: I rush it. I tend to go fast and just want it off far too quickly. She, on the other hand, focuses on the details.
I’m speaking of stripping the paint off of our Argosy, of course. What did you think I was talking about? In our recent blog post about Stripping, we explained HOW we were doing it, but the devil is in the details right? Surviving it, might be a different post altogether.
Stripping the paint off outside in 97 degree heat in the Georgia sun, well, isn’t fun. In fact, I would describe it as…not at all in any way enjoyable! Our Lucy is pointed North South, so the sides of her are East, West. Which means if we want the shade, we are either working on the East side at 6:00 AM or working on the West side after 6:00 PM.
Stripping Lucy this week taught me a few things that I must share. One, I suck at stripping. Two, my partner, my intended, the one I love, is an amazing stripper! She’s virtually a machine. She actually said at one time; “Not interested in taking a break right now, I’m in a zone”. Though I actually said at one time: “Let me die so the Vultures can take me”. It was a blistering 98 degrees out on the Farm. While every living animal on the farm was seeking shade (and for our spoiled dogs, air conditioning), there was Ariane, stripping 40 years of paint off our Lucy. At one point she looked like Leonardo Da Vinci with her pallet of paint artistically looking for every nook and cranny of to highlight. In reality it was just a gunk full of scrapped paint on cardboard. But when you are hallucinating because of heat exhaustion, I would like to think of her that way.
In the end, we have Lucy almost all stripped and bare. Our hands tired, blistered, and swollen. Ariane’s hands took most of the blow, looking aged and peeling from the abrasive material. For me however it was just my ego that took most of the blow as I watched in admiration.
TIP: If you have to work in the blistering sun of hell. Listen to Disco Music. Believe me, listening to KC and the Sunshine Band and “Shake, shake, shake”, offers a mild relief from heatstroke. And at the end of the day when you tell your girlfriend. “You are an amazing stripper”, it becomes worth it.
In any Airstream you are going to rehab, you quickly learn that the Sub-flloor isn’t just laying on the frame itself. The camper body is bolted to the frame, and in between the camper body and the frame is the edge of your sub-floor. Simply put, you are going to have to remove the sub-floor by removing the camper bolts first.
In our case, we were somewhat lucky. Our sub-floor was so rotted that we were able to break away the sub-floor without removing the camper bolts. In some cases it did take a while to pull the sub-floor out around the bolts. There was some cutting involved. We actually used a wood chisel for some of the harder parts.
TIP: Consider the Full Monty (pulling the entire camper off the frame) This is something that we wish we would have done. We just didn’t have the resources do it. It’s not has hard as you think it might be, But in the end will make things much easier.
TIP: If you can’t do the Full Monty, take the banana wrap off first before you start taking out the sub-floor. You will have direct access to the camper bolts and the outriggers. (see photo).
Most of the sub-floor in a vintage airstream is going to be rotted. We have a center bath which means the bathroom was on top of the wheel wells. We were surprised to find that this was the section that the sub-floor was in good shape. Most sub-floors that the bath sits on are rotted, since most bathrooms are in the back. AND the double whammy is that the back of most airstreams leak.
The sub-floor is attached with large head screws that sink into the sub-floor. Most likey they are NOT coming out easily. The best way to remove the sub-floor is to cut around the screw bolts first. We used a Saw Zaw, but some use a cirrcular saw. Once we cut around the bolts the floor was just preyed up. You will have to chisel around the screw bolts to get the rest of the floor out. We then took a “Lock Wrench” and unscrewed the floor screws.
In any case, always check the condition of your sub-floor. When we bought ours, the previous owners said they had “repaired” the floor. All they did was put another level of sub-floor on. So we had the privilege of removing 2 sub-floors.
Lucy has secrets! When we purchased her we knew there had been another inhabits. She’s 40 years of for gods sake. How naive would it be for us to think, she’s been waiting for us? But Whoaaaa! She had some major secrets.
Secret #1 You have had other animals living with you
Secret #2 Others have taken out your rivets
Secret #3 Who stripped all your Phillips screw heads?
Secret #4 You leak
Secret #5 You are a dirty girl…seriously, how did all that dirt get in the bell pan?
After the sub-floor camp up we really started seeing some major issues with the frame. In some areas, no rust, in other parts, lots’ of rust. The back end of Lucy was completely rotted, along with the front end. Her 30 gallon fresh water tank was cracked. The wiring had been jumpered for some reason to another system. (still trying to figure that out). A previous owner desperately tried to rehab Lucy but probably found out very early, they were way over their heads so they stopped.
HINT: When you have a water leak, and your sub-floor is getting wet. Putting another sub-floor on top does NOT FIX the problem. We took up 2 sub-floors and 3 sets of sticky tile.
At this point we have started to remove inner panels and insulation. The panels are inter-connected. Our Aistream seemed to have been built by putting on the center ceiling first. Everything then was underneath and connected. Not just a simple take the panel off you choose. Probably more like, take the side panel off, but first you have take the top panel off. The panels are at least 22 feet long. Better that 2 people do the job.
The middle ceiling panel is the hardest to take off. You had better choose to keep it, or discard it. If you choose to keep it, it’s gonna be hard to take off without bending it or ripping it.
We learned that rivets are behind other panels that we needed to take off. We also learned…this is going to take a while.
It seemed easy enough. Just take out the old stuff, and put in new stuff. How hard could that be…? Pretty hard actually. We quickly learned that the old stuff (including walls, sinks, and closets) really are all part of the way Lucy is built. Everything is interconnected with each other.
The rehab project is really a lesson in Airstream Engineering. We felt like we were old school detectives looking at each piece of panel, or plumbing, or wiring. Thinking, “ok what were they thinking”? But not only did we put on our Airstream detective hats, but Lucy had secrets. Oh did the secrets come out with each piece of sub-floor.
We have to say however, that the first few days, we felt like we had made great progress. We littered the front area of where we parked her quite diligently with debris, insulation, and the bleeping closet that made us utter curse words we didn’t even know existed. We may have even said “this is easy”. We are sure at that point, Lucy laughed.
It has taken two weeks to get the sub-floor out. Most of it as rotted as it can be. We decided early (due to cost, and resources) we were not going to be able to lift her off the frame. So it was important to for us to be really diligent in removing the floor. We found out that the sub-floor is actually built first in the Airstream world, and the camper itself is bolted through the camper down into the sub-floor. So just “taking up” the sub-floor without lifting the camper off the frame is by any stretch of the imagination…NOT EASY. It almost felt as if we were reliving a “Christmas Story” where the Dad was just making up curse words that made no sense. Yep, we are pretty sure one of us said “BADDAFINGA”.
We knew from the beginning we were planning to remodeling our vintage Airstream named Lucille. Not just a short paint job and new fixtures either, full blown rehab. We also knew there would be challenges unseen, leading to a much longer completion than anticipated. In attempting to keep this rehab entirely DIY, we needed time without restraints. We needed space and needed the ability to keep her stationary for a long time. Urban style living doesn’t exactly accommodate parking a 28ft trailer in front of your apartment. So when you buy something this large, just where do you consider operating on her?
We had to utilize our resources. We couldn’t really afford a rent a garage or borrow a closed in structure. We had been offered a place to keep her with an abundant supply of tools. So going with the “lot’s of tools” offer, we chose to renovate Lucy on my moms farm. With all her many goats chickens roosters dogs and cats. Equally it was the perfect opportunity for our dogs to gain the exercise and stimulation needed while our attention was temporary elsewhere. It was a win win.
Of course you must know that living on a farm, everything moves at a much slower pace, thus slowing us down simultaneously! We take a lot more breaks than we ought to, that’s for sure. It becomes irreconcilably inevitable. All ‘because a heard of goats surround the trailer to feed, or a five month baby goat (Tulip) jumps inside to investigate. Perhaps the roosters are squawking about because the dogs are chasing after them, or my mom comes to bring us lunch and wants to see our progress, or unexpectedly we become part of completing a chore. And of course the loud screams to our dogs to “STOP EATING GOAT POOP”. What progress!!For just about every hour of work there’s likely fifteen minutes of downtime. We stop and take a hundred photos, pet the animals and well really just enjoy our surroundings. The farm life intrigues us and it’s impossible to work when taken by it’s lure.
The best thing about rehabbing Lucy however, has to be camping next to her under the starts and moon. Seeing Lucy’s glow as the moon shines on her is a reminder of why we are embarking on this journey to begin with. We try and imagine us being somewhere off the grid, and relishing in all that we had accomplished….NOW, back to work.
Being newbies in the whole “pulling the camper trailer gig”, we never even heard of the word “sway”. All we could think of was “is the 40 year old Argosy even pull-able”? I mean, tire rot, rust, not to mention brake lights didn’t work. All those things that make you walk away from the deal. But after 7 long hours of negotiating back and forth, fixing stuff, and having Walmart (of all places) come to the rescue on the tire replacement, we thought “all is good in the Airstream Argosy world”.
The Airstream gods are funny. They mock at the notion when people think, Oh, it’s just gonna be a few quick and easy repairs. We’ll just puller down the street and fix her. We knew it wasn’t going to be that easy, and we really did try our best at due diligence before we made that 12 hour drive decision. Once we got everything in check. I mean brake lights, new tires, hitched the 4 pin, it seemed as if we could easily pull her the 400 miles home.
Definition of SWAY: Move or cause to move slowly or rhythmically backwards or forwards or from side to side.
We finally got her on the highway. Excited, nervous, blood pumping with adrenaline. 40 mph, then up to 50 mph. Wow, she was goin’ home. Whoo Hoo! WAIT!….We hit 58 mph when she decided to sway. Although, it didn’t feel very “slow or rhythmically” to me. Felt like we were gonna crash in a fiery ball of hell. I could feel the back end just push my SUV really hard and it was difficult to stay in control. I could look out my review mirror and see how bad she was going left to right. So after a mild stroke, I obviously slowed down to 50 mph. Little did I know that was going to be top speed for the next 12 hours. Not to mention that every time a Semi would pass us, the vortex sucked us into another kind of sway, and I don’t mean a slow dance. Ever grip on to something so tight your hands hurt? Then you know my pain.
After 12 hours and a lot of rest stops we arrived safely. What did we learn in that 12 hours of driving hell? We learned new words like: stabilizer bar. We learned that Cracker Barrel can fit a 28 foot trailer in the parking lot. We learned that Semi Trucks don’t care what your pulling. We learned that Lucille was gonna be a stubborn lady.