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Monday, January 9, 2017

A Hike In The Woods

It was high time to head to the woods, try out some new gear in the cool weather and test a portable HF transceiver. The local national forests still offer many places to escape to, especially in cold weather that causes others to stay home. I like the forests even more when there is snow afoot.

The roads were deserted so no issues with parking where I wanted to go.

There are lots of deep canyons with dense forests.

Let's hit the trail!

Sometimes I would cut cross-country based on what I saw on my map or GPS.

Lots of steep terrain with untouched snow

Old forestry roads made for quick traverses of some areas

I found a small clearing with some fallen trees and limbs that would allow me to try out some edged tools and then set up the radio.


This is a Bahco Laplander folding saw and can be purchased for a little over $20.  It weighs less than 7 ounces, measures 9" when closed and 16" when open. The 7" blade is coated to minimize rusting and has 7 teeth per inch. The handle has a safety lock for engaging the blade in a closed or open position.

Let's try it out on this handy log.

It was surprisingly easy to use and provided a clean cut without the dangers of wielding an axe.

I found that a military pouch designed for pop flares made a perfect carrying case for the saw and can be found for $3 to $6

The temperature had come up about 10 degrees at my test location making it much more comfortable. Not quite at 8,000 feet of elevation but close enough!

This next tool is a bit different from the Kbar knives or folding knife that I have carried before. The ESEE-6 is more of a bushcraft tool and not designed as a combat knife. This 11.75" ESEE has been the subject of many reviews on the internet and has both detractors and fanboys. It has a full tang, 1095 high carbon steel blade measuring 6.5" long and 3/16" thick with a black powder coated surface. The handles or "scales" are made of a grey linen Micarta and are quite robust. Never pay full price for one as they frequently go on sale when retailers try to slash inventory.

It is not designed to be wielded as a "chopper" as that is the role of a good axe or a specialty blade. But if you don't have an axe handy you'll have to know how to work with what you have whether chopping or batoning wood. If you need to process wood for a survival fire you cannot be picky about the exact method so it pays to practice various techniques and have a good idea of how to get the job done.

I did not need to chop all the way through but the stout blade easily took chunks out of the log.

It would be much slower than using the Laplander saw but if you had only the knife you could chop your way through this log. I like this knife a lot and have carried it quite a bit. I plan to keep subjecting it to more testing and seek better familiarization with its capabilities.

Now on to the radio test. HF radios allow you to communicate vast distances without the assistance of any sort of infrastructure between you and the other radio operator. Operating one does require some technical skills but modern radios have made that so much easier. The radio I packed along for this hike is the KX3 from Elecraft. It features internal batteries, antenna tuner and a host of smart features that enable it to achieve high regard for it's performance.

It measures 7.5" x 3.5"x 3" and weighs about 1.5 pounds. All that is needed is the appropriate antenna for the frequencies that you wish to talk on. In the past an equivalent portable radio would have weighed twice as much, had less than half the transmit power and not had the same receiver performance.

I used a very lightweight longwire antenna fed at one end by a small matching transformer. It was very easy to set up and allowed me to easily talk to another person in New Mexico. That was a distance of 775 miles on just 10 watts of transmit power from a radio I can easily carry in my pack.

Each end of the antenna was anchored with lengths of lightweight paracord and the radio has an internal tuner that can automatically optimize the transfer of the transmitted signal to the antenna.

 As the shadows lengthened and the temperature dropped again it was time to pack up the gear and head out.

I hope that you enjoyed our hike together and thank you for visiting my blog. If you like what you see please share it with your friends who also enjoy the outdoors.

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