Friday, August 5, 2022

Trek's Coming, Ye Brave and Hearty!


 Sonoma Valley Muzzle Loaders

2022 Fall Rendezvous and Trek

Thursday, October 27-Sunday, October 30

More to follow...


Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Shelter For The Backcountry

Photo source: Click here.

Shelter can be an important aspect of trekking on the frontier. Two favorite bloggers, Jon Townsend and Fandabi Dozi, have posts on how to have shelter with a minimum of weight and bulk.

For the minimalist trekker, simply "hunkering down" during a rain shower may get you through the night. A good woolen blanket drawn tightly around the face may keep you warm and dry in a drizzle, but if it's raining and you have gear you need to protect, you might want to carry a simple shelter to keep the moister out and your body heat in. I know that a simple fabric shelter isn't waterproof, but for our purposes, being able to assemble a simple shelter from a piece of fabric and some rope is sufficient. 

For the record, those of you that know me will tell you that I am not a tent camper, a back-packer, or a car camper. However, I embrace the entire trekker mindset of surviving in the outdoors using only equipage available to the eighteenth century outdoorsman.


A shelter made in this manner would be sufficient for two trekkers, or one with a lot of gear. The fabric used measured 8' x 8'.

Fandabi Dozi has been featured in a number of our posts, and his highlander interpretation gives some insights into trekking in colder weather. He used a wool blanked for his shelter, which provides better insulation for those cold  highland nights.


Making Oilcloth: Mr. Townsend discusses how to make oil cloth, a waterproof fabric used to protect items from moisture, or for making portable shelters. Now the finished product is highly flammable, so waterproofing your canvas in an authentic fashion is a bit risky. It is also quite fragile and does not survive constant folding or rough handling For our purposes, there is no real need to treat your shelter fabric in this manner, but you should know that it was done in this manner back in the day.

Order yours here.
Where To Start: The simplest way to get you shelter going is to buy a canvas drop cloth from your local hardware store. I found this one on Amazon. It is 9' x 12', and weighs 6.36 pounds. That's pretty heavy, but if you bind it up and carry it with a tumpline you'll probably minimize the discomfort.

To simplifying carrying, you might want to make a tumpline and carry it as a bundle. When carried in this manner, you have the option of easily changing shoulders as the day gets longer. Alternately, some trekkers might cover their blanket before rolling it up, making it waterproof, assuming you waterproofed it first. If you're traveling by canoe, you definitely need to adopt this strategy.

Order yours here.

Cordage: You can also order, from Amazon, some hemp rope that is about 1/2" in diameter. This will probably do for stringing up your new temporary home, among other things. I suggest this because it is probably more than adequate for securing your shelter, the 3-strands can be unraveled to produce a thinning cord for other purposes. If I were starting from scratch, I'd just order this rope from Amazon.

This will probably do for the time being. I'll research some common useful knots that will help you tie everything together.

I'm going to search the net to see if I can find some instructions on knot tying and rope lore. Not having much experience in all matters outdoors, I'll check my favorite resource - the Boy Scouts Manual. If you don't already have one, find one, particularly one that was printed at a time when outdoor resources were plentiful and there was enough wood to actually make a decent campfire.