I don’t believe in Doomsday…butFlint and Steel green willow fire

OK so I’m saying I don’t believe in the big doomsday, is that what I really mean? I think there are a couple of things to clarify first. I’ll just question myself.

Do I think there will be some kind of catastrophe?

Yes, I do.

Would that not be considered Doomsday?

There have always been very tragic occurrences, there will be more. Doomsday engenders the thought of a final day when everything everywhere falls apart. It carries a very negative connotation.

Could there be civil unrest?

Absolutely.  Some of the worst events recorded have been social in nature.

How about some sort of natural occurrence?

Certainly I also believe in terrible events in and on the earth such as floods, mudslides, earthquakes, hailstorms, droughts, and the like.

Does my religious view include such events as “end-times” ?Pot Suspension Zebra Pot

Yes I do believe in an, end of this world event, as well as other events called signs of the times.

It sounds like I believe in Doomsday.

Well, although I do believe in tough times, and I do think there is an, end-times, I do not subscribe to the philosophy of a doomsday, i.e. that there is some almost mystical day when pretty much every good thing ceases and only death and destruction remain. Doomsday seems to signify a time when it is every man for himself, in a battle for survival.

My view is of  a grand and glorious end of the world as we know it, a time when evil is replaced by good. It is a time not to be feared, but hoped for.

Do I think then that there is no need to prepare for  tough times of all types?

On the contrary it is my belief that I am obligated to do the best I can to ready myself against any and all possible circumstances. There will be famines, drought, terrible storms, floods, tornadoes, the seas heaving themselves beyond their bounds, earthquakes, fires, hail and every conceivable natural event. There will continue to be war, pestilence, civil unrest, societal decay, murders, horrifying debauchery, and every kind of evil man can discover.

How in the world is that not “Doomsday”?

Super Shelter

Looking onto SuperShelter

It is in the attitude, Doomsday is more like the day it all ends, I believe in the day of victory, of new beginnings, that the end is good, not of doom.

Does that change how I  would prepare?

It does, however in the physical sense things are much the same. As I noted earlier in my list of terrible events that will likely occur, there is much to prepare for. The beauty is I know essentially what lies ahead, this gives me not only signs, but specific information that allows me to prepare well.

Still it seems like the same thing as Doomsday, what really is different?

I am preparing my way through it all. It is like “battening down the hatches” to get through the storm, to the sun and clear sky on the other side. I do not think of it at all as me against everything else. I think our success in making it through lies in working together, neighbors, friends and families helping each other, I sincerely believe in the saying, “united we stand, divided we fall.” A person cannot possibly make himself an island and expect to make it through such times. Sure it may be a tough romanticism to envision such a thing, but it is not practical. We need each other, we are meant to be a society. A good community can get through much more than an individual. The old pioneering adage, “many hands make light work” does not expire just because tough times come upon us, rather its truth is magnified.

But even by my own admission, that which lay ahead can be frightening, is my view something seen through “rose colored glasses?”Ben in Brown Fleece

I am not looking to soften the scene, nor to suggest that most of the preparations people are doing are not needed. The thrust of my view is of working together, helping each other, both now and especially during hard times. My eyes should be on the victory at the end, not on the storms of life. Of course we must be careful and cautious, yes there are deceiving  and dangerous people who will need to be dealt with. Additionally there will be some, perhaps many thousands who may have to flee their current homes and cities for safety elsewhere.

So how do I prepare, and how do I help those around me?

A few years ago I started working on an article to show what we need to do and why. it still needs some cleaning up, but the concept is there and worth reading. Here is a link to that article, Circles of Priority. The real key to prepping is to do a little at a time, don’t try to do it all at once. It is amazing what can be accomplished when a person makes a list and does a little on it each week or month, before you know it you have quite a collection of goods stored up. Be sure to get reliable items, there will not be a way to replace faulty items in the time of need.

To break things down we can divide up necessary items, knowledge, and skills into six elements as follows.

Six Elements Essential to Survival – not in any order none can be left out

  • Shelter
    • this is to include clothing and anything to protect the bodyPSSL Hi Vis
  • Fire
    • fire represents heat in all its forms to include stoves, solar, etc.
  • Water
    • water is needed not only for drinking but food preparation, washing and cleaning
  • Medical
    • not only first aid, but vitamins, needed medications and anything else for wellness
  • Food
    • storing of food is only one part of this, there is also planting, caring for, harvesting, utilizing with practical recipes geared for times of ease as well as trying times
  • Social/Rescue
    • rescue is often needed in order to survive, we are better able to cope when a group can put together their skills and resources. This area also includes, group management and organizationPerry in Black silnylon PSSL

I will cover this items in more detail in upcoming prepper blogs, for now be thinking of where you are at currently and start making plans to improve.

Until next time this is Perry Peacock for “Simplifying Survival”



Why do I do what I do? What is ruining the outdoor experience?2013-10-11 17.14.13

What is happening to our outdoor activities that is changing them from traditional ways? Are these new ways taking enjoyment away from camping for example? Have we complicated things?

Unfortunately I think the world of the outdoors; bushcraft, survival, camping, fishing, hiking, whatever you want to call it has become polluted. It seems some of the enjoyment of the outdoors has become dirtied. Sharing with others what you like to do is commonly mocked by those who think everything exists to be sensationalized. It’s sad how the “progress” of our culture has at the same time robbed us of the fun and enjoyment that used to be. Oh, and it’s not just the bushcraft part of things that’s changed, even words that used to mean harmless fun things are now thought of as crass, or depraved, or demeaning. Songs that used to be thought of as pleasant are now considered lame and idiotic. The whole of our society has changed. What has happeGOPR0458ned to us?

Must we be critics of all that is? Can we not enjoy something just for the sake of it? Have we become so dependent on the drug of entertainment served up in our lives that everything before us must constantly be more and more spectacular? Have we lost ourselves? Can we not simply enjoy our daily lives, the little ordinary things?

At times it is almost sickening how much of the culture of survival and bushcraft seems to be absolutely filled with “experts” who know everything. People who cannot even just watch what is presented without feeling the need to say, “it should have been done this way, the way you did it was stupid,” or “you have no business being in the woods.” There are many ways to make shelter or start a fire, there are quite a variety of knots that can be used. Appreciate the variety, one day one of them may save your life.

There is it seems also an insatiable desire for light weight in everything; shoes, bikes, backpacks, containers, shelters, cooking gear, food, etc. At times this is warranted, since every pound that must be carried is that much more work. But it’s hard to believe that everyone is always going camping 20 miles back in somewhere; nothing wrong with that, but surely most are just a few miles in. I have had so many wonderful camps where I just pull off the road somewhere, and hike in a mile, or even just half a mile. Is there some directive that says camping will not be fun if a great distance is not covered? Is camping by car demeaning? I love the book by David Wescott, “Camping in the Old Style” which seeks to bring back some of the joy of camping when it was classic. Canvas tents, iron cookware, oil lanterns, sleeping on a tick not a $120 air mattress, it’s a great book, I haven’t got his new one yet, but I will. Someone asked the question recently, and I can’t recall who it was, “has backpacking ruined camping?” It is an interesting thing to ponder. Who says that camping is backpacking? A person can camp while backpacking, but backpacking is not camping. There are so many ways and places to camp, why limit yourself to freeze dried meals and risky shelter when you can really enjoy yourself. I really like to bring in steak for a dinner meal, or even a few vegetables to cut up and cook for a stew, there is nothing like a stew cooking over a campfire.1-2014-08-08 14.58.25

Does every hike, every bike ride, does every walk really have to be faster than the last one? Is there no time anymore to listen to the bubbling of the creek, can we not linger long enough to see the fawn peek out from her grazing? Can a person actually sit on the edge of mountain ridge for an hour, or hey, maybe half a day, absorbing all that is? Speed kills, yes it does, it blurs all the beauty of the world in which we live.

Now personally I don’t really care what someone says about me because I’m doing what I want to do, I choose what I do, no one tells me. What is unfortunate is that which many of these folks are missing out on, being either very limited in their scope of acceptable experience, or simply and tragically, “couch potatoes.” I love sharing things I do outdoors, some are funny, some are flops and failures, some are valuable. I’m out camping nearly every week all year long in whatever weather is going on, and I love all of it. To me it’s an experience in reality, there is always something to learn, something to appreciate, and most of all something to think about.1-Rendezvous Shelter view out-001

Finally, the reason I started writing this little essay, to those of you who comment on my postings or videos saying to me, “BS, prove it, you’re a nutcase, what an idiot you are,” and on and on. You are missing the whole point of all I do. I constantly encourage everyone to get outside and enjoy the nature we have around us, I am trying to lead others to stretch a little, try some things, have a little adventure, that’s what I do, and I love it. What happened to people with gusto, with courage, with some self esteem, the proving of things is up to you, I have already done what I have done. You try it, go ahead make your own adventure. It doesn’t have to be on some deserted island, you can do a lot of it in your own backyard. What point is there for me to do what you think is acceptable, yes I’m different than you are, I may be interested in trying something you may not want to do, perhaps because it’s too cold for you, perhaps you don’t want to get off your couch and venture even a little bit into the outside world. Actually I just want to help people love the world around them and to really do it, you have to do it yourself. You see it’s the experience that counts, that’s where the memories are. No excursion is a failure because each one is a learning exercise, if you choose to make it so.

Until next time, this is Perry Peacock for “Simplifying Survival” –Get out there and do it–

1-1906 Byron Charles Peacock Wagon Freight

When I was a kid I used to go camping with my grandpa out on the central deserts of Utah, mostly the San Rafel Swell area. Grandpa had grown up in that place, in the little town of Emery. He herded cattle out in that range. At just thirteen years old he was a teamster, the original type of teamster, hauling freight in a wagon pulled by a team of horses. His dad and some of the family had community department stores in several towns on the frontier. The freight he hauled was to supply those stores. Growing up I heard many a story of adventures on the wagon roads through that territory.  A teamster in those days was fully exposed to the elements, those plains were hot as an oven in the summer, blistering sun. Hard driving winds, with no trees to stop them, assaulted the driver like a giant sand blaster. At over 6200′ elevation the area could get pretty cold in the winter too, heavy snow and high winds just added to the excitement. Still the freight must roll.

He knew the area like the back of his hand. A new story was told around every bend. When he was growing up that place was not only dangerous due to the harshness of the elements if you weren’t prepared, but it was also a popular place for outlaws to hide out. Folks like Butch Cassidy and many others much less well known and far more dangerous.1-Media-San-Rafael-Swell-419655850407

Grandpa used to take me out in “the swell” or the the San Rafel as they would call it, hunting for twisted narly cedars to make lamps and tables out of. Or we might go looking for interesting rocks to bring back. Grandpa learned camping while working; herding cattle, working in the desert, and hauling wagon freight. For grandpa campfire cooking meant cooking up whatever you might eat at home. His cookware was old kitchen utensils, the grill for the pans was a couple of irons across the fire.

One time when I was young I was out with him and we had set up camp. We were in his old Ford, “three on the tree” pickup with a shell on the bed. He made a camper out of it by taking and old iron bed frame with the metal springs and a thin mattress on top, it just fit in the bed of the truck. That was our bed, pretty comfortable actually. The space under the bed frame he used for storing all the camping supplies. He made a fire by the side of the truck, our chairs were the old folding lawn chairs popular in those days.

I wore Levis jeans, cowboy boots and hat, and a plaid western shirt. Grandpa wore what he always wore, khaki pants and a matching long sleeved shirt, on his feet leather boots with gum rubber soles and to top it off a hat similar to what I wear now.Peacock Cash Store

I’ve always been inquisitive and at the time was telling him all about how I had read that you could eat Prickly Pear Cactus, and he was giving me the old, “ya can huh?” And watching to see what I’d do. So I went and got a pad off a nearby cactus, then went over to the fire and explained to him how I had to singe off the prickly needles over the fire so I could peel it and eat it. Grandpa watched me, intrigued to see what I was doing. I got a stick off a Juniper tree, sharpened the end with my pocket knife and stuck it into the cactus pad. I felt so proud showing grandpa my skills, roasting the cactus over the fire. When it looked like I had burnt the needles off I cut into it and peeled off the outside. My mouth was watering as I imagined biting into this delectable treat nature provided us. It sure looked good. “See grandpa, I’ve got a prickly pear, fruit on the desert!” Grandpa smiled at me with a crooked grin. I popped a chunk into my mouth and bit down. Well to my surprise not only did it not taste at all like a pear, it was more like a cucumber, a cucumber filled with Elmer’s Glue. And that wasn’t the only thing wrong with my treat, apparently I had not singed off all the needles or had got them onto the part I was eating, my tongue and gums had an odd sensation, as if I had bitten down on a porcupine, to me at tha15235033-Goblin_Valley-Headt moment, it was a terrible feeling. Grandpa about died laughing at my adventure. I suppose I was quite the sight to see.

Things have changed a lot since those days when I’d go out with grandpa, and with dad too at times. We even used to camp right in the midst of Goblin Valley, now it’s all fenced off and restricted, probably a good idea I suppose with all the people that go there these days. Camping was simple then, and it was inexpensive for the most part. You got there however you could, you used whatever you had, and you ate pretty much the same food as at home. I look back now and in some ways yearn for that simplicity again. Not that I’m a complicated guy, I still am pretty simple with things, make most of my own gear, and make it multipurpose when I can. The important thing to me is…to get out there. An evening around the campfire is heaven. The crackling sounds, the faint whistling of gasses rushing out of the hot logs, the white, blue and red flames, the aroma of cedar and sage burning in the cool night air. It doesn’t take much to make me happy, just being out there will do it for me, a bonus is to share it with someone else.

Until next time this is Perry Peacock for, “Simplifying Survival”

In early January the sun goes down by 5:30 pm, by the time I park my truck at the bottom

Snowshoeing at night

Snowshoeing at night

of the canyon it’s already getting dark. Snow

is lightly falling. After clipping into my snowshoes my small day pack goes on loaded with the few supplies I’m taking with me for my camp. No blanket, no sleeping bag and of course no tent, no stove. Food is simple with sourdough rolls and chili for dinner, grits and eggs for breakfast, some jerky to snack on, the ever present sunflower seeds and plenty of Mocha mix for drinking. I’m taking my own made gear for shelter, my Polartech Fleece Poncho Liner goes on next, followed by an HD Poncho in snow camo. For my hands, finger-less mittens, 100% wool, crocheted by my wife, Shauna, with yarn we bought a couple years ago on a visit to the Woodward’s in North Carolina. The last item, essential now, my Fenix headlamp with wide angle flood light to penetrate the dark woods that lie ahead.

I follow the road, closed now for a couple of months other than to snowmobiles, for just a bit before stepping off to follow a clearing till I meet up with the trail I located last spring. My destination is the end of the trail up the canyon in a small stand of various sizes of pine trees positioned at the edge of a bend in Spring Creek. An area inhabited by Indians for centuries before the white man came along. Here they hunted for the abundant deer and elk.
Looking onto SuperShelter

Looking onto SuperShelter

My eyes are occasionally blinded as the intense light from my head lamp reflects off the intricate ice crystals that form the silver dollar sized snowflakes. The snow on the ground is deep and soft, not a track anywhere now, I’m breaking trail, headed where no one has been this winter. The narrow trail winds first through Juniper and Gamble Oak, then as I move higher, into Maple and Pine. In the winter Maples seem an odd tree, their leaves turn a golden brown in the fall, but most do not fall off, as if hanging angrily to their branches. In the light from my lamp they look like leaves cut out of thin leather. Up up I go, snow deepening further, I look back at my trail I’m leaving, and unlike hiking in the summer, I get satisfaction in visibly seeing the trail I’m making and knowing going out will be easier.

Arriving at last I search around for the best spot for my shelter, seeing a large pine and a small Juniper about twelve feet apart it looks perfect. For this camp I’m using my Ultralite silnylon poncho as a tarp for a lean to shelter, over that I’m throwing a very thin painters plastic to form a clear window for the Super Shelter that will result. Very light, and very warm.

Inside Super Shelter

Inside Super Shelter

The Super Shelter is nine feet long, four feet wide and a little over four feet tall. The invention an idea of Mors Kochanski a now elderly Canadian survival guru, it is a merging of modern materials and Inuit (Eskimo) ways. In effect it makes a greenhouse to capture radiant heat from a fire.

A few arm loads of soft pine boughs make for a pleasant aromatic mattress on the snow. With my poncho off, my Fleece liner will be like a sheet on the boughs.

Big pines usually have lots of dead branches near the bottom and I’m not disappointed to find plenty of them here. I gather a few along with a bundle of small twigs to start the fire with. The little fire soon lights my camp, I add some wrist size wood to it and head back for more wood to make a pile to last the night. I put my chili in a small pot by the fire and a mug of water also to heat while I gather the rest of the wood.
With the woodpile stocked and dinner hot I sit on my bough mattress to eat. I’ve left the plastic window up for now, till I eat and get ready for bed.
I really love it up here, especially in the winter and even more with the snow falling. The quiet is almost breathtaking, no one is anywhere in the canyon, and other than the fire the only sound is me. Even the nearby creek now frozen is silent till spring. As I dip my sourdough bread in my chili I gaze at the branches of the big pine trees, some of the lower ones spanning out nearly twenty feet and those left undisturbed have as much as two feet of snow piled on them ready to crash on any unsuspecting snowshoer who happens to brush by them.
Shoeshoeing in HD Poncho

Shoeshoeing in HD Poncho

I like being with people, but I have learned to be alone too. Many people can’t go more than a day in the woods alone, even men who imagine they can go months alone often can’t make 24 to 48 hours. For some it is fear, fear of being all alone, fear of the woods; for others it is simply a lack of companionship, no one to talk to drives them insane. I have talked to some survival instructors who have seen many experienced manly outdoorsmen literally cry when left alone for a day or two.

I don’t know what it is, but it doesn’t bother me. I have plenty to do, whether just camp chores or something I want to make or do. There are times when it would be nice to say something to someone, like talk about a beautiful sunset. Probably the hardest time is around the campfire at night, that’s the time when folks like to talk, but I keep busy cooking, or experimenting or making something and the time passes nicely. Mostly I miss someone to share the beauty I find in the outdoors, it seems there is not much use raving about it to myself, I suppose that gives a reason to come back, for the enjoyment of telling about the time in the wilderness.

Powder snow

Powder snow

There are times I briefly worry about things, perhaps a fall, or a bad cut, a tree falling on me or a boulder, an earthquake or fire, perhaps a bear after tracks are seen on the trail nearby, a mountain lion, a wolf or a pack of coyotes the next night after seeing their tracks all over in my camp this morning.  But what can a person do really, I just say my prayers and go to bed.
I’m reminded of the words of one of my favorite true outdoorsmen, not a fake TV star, but a real man, who did real things, himself, in the great Alaskan wilderness, Richard Proenneke, in the book “One Man’s Wilderness”
“I have often thought about what I would do out here if I were stricken with a serious illness, if I broke a leg, cut myself badly, or had an attack of appendicitis. Almost as quickly as the thought came, I dismissed it. Why worry about something that isn’t? Worrying about something that might happen is not a healthy pastime…I have thought briefly about getting caught in rock slides or falling from a rock face. If that happened, I would probably perish on the mountain in much the same way many of the big animals do. I would be gone long before anyone found me. My only wish would be that folks wouldn’t spend a lot of time searching. When the time comes for a man to look his Maker in the eye, where better could the meeting be held than in the wilderness?”
Dinner done, now for dessert, my Mormon Mocha. I love to keep it in a metal mug at the edge of the fire so it stays just the right temperature to sip. I’ve altered the recipe some since a year ago, I use half the chocolate and about twice the Pero now. It’s a stronger drink and less sweet, but I find I like it better, especially if I have a long evening ahead of me and I want to drink two or three cups. If it were summer I would treasure a tea made of the leaves of the ever abundant Stinging Nettle that grows along the creek.
Peeking out of SuperShelter

Peeking out of SuperShelter

Well my woodpile is well stocked nearby, had my dinner and drink. My eyes are stinging a bit telling me they’ve had enough of the fire and that they are ready for a good rest. I pull my plastic window down, take off my boots and place them at the corners to hold it down. Since my socks are a little wet I drape them over my boot tops to dry while I sleep. My pack is my pillow.
Laying here resting at last a certain euphoria seems to come over me, I feel so warm and cozy, heat from the fire warms my side while radiant heat also bounces off the Mylar reflector sheet above me, warming my chest, even my bare feet are warm. I consider what may seem my odd circumstance, the temperature outside is in the teens plus a light canyon breeze from off the 11,000 foot peaks above and I’m laying here now, no blanket or sleeping bag over me,  in my street clothes, barefooted, not even long johns on and I’m totally comfortable. Seriously, I can’t possibly keep from smiling.
Showshoeing in fresh powder snow

Showshoeing in fresh powder snow

During the night I charge the fire a few times putting usually at most a half dozen small logs on. This the only real drawback to a Super Shelter, sleep a couple hours, then five minutes to stoke the fire and sleep another two hours.  I think the comfort and the tremendously smaller load to pack is well worth it. It’s easy for me to fall asleep anyway so not that big a deal. If I had bigger wood I could go longer between charges. But my fire tonight is only one foot back by three feet long, being parallel to my shelter.

Morning finally breaks and the early light exposes my camp and the area around it allowing me to really see it for the first time, having come in during the dark evening and only my head lamp to illuminate things. I find the view at first light simply stunning, fresh snow everywhere, the pines fully flocked, my tracks coming in nearly covered. I see a couple sets of rabbit tracks in the soft snow. I bring my head back inside, closing the plastic again. The warmth from the glowing fire is so inviting while inside my shelter I scarcely can muster the desire to go out in the frigid morning air until I have to. I lay back down to ponder my situation. Sleep catches me and I doze for an hour, till a little chill awakens me and alerts me that the fire needs another charge of wood.

Dressed in HD Poncho w Fleece Liner

Dressed in HD Poncho w Fleece Liner

While out I not only charge the fire but heat some water for grits, toss a couple eggs in a tiny skillet I brought along. With breakfast ready I get back in my shelter to eat in the warmth. I thank the Lord for a good nights sleep and for my food and especially for this beautiful new day.
Until next time this is Perry Peacock for “Simplifying Survival”

If you are cold outside it’s your fault-

Maybe not always. but likely most of the time. In this podcast I explore why this is true and how to correct the situation.

  • Do I blame others?
    cold outside

    You don’t have to be cold outside, dress for the conditions

  • Do I know what I should do?
  • Is it simple to be warm?
  • Do I make sure I am prepared?
  • Am I careless at times?

There are many shelter options available, we have a few that are multipurpose

For Simplifying Survival, this is Perry Peacock

The true story  “Ada Blackjack- Survival in the Arctic”  is interesting in itself, but what we can learn from a young woman stranded on aAda Blackjack pic desolate Arctic island for two years is perhaps more important. I have loved to read these types of stories all my life and it’s been a while since I last reviewed a book I had read. I really got into this one and wanted to share something about the story and some thoughts I have about it.

From the inside jacket we read the following introduction to the book.

Ada Blackjack was an unlikely hero – an unskilled 23 year old Inuit woman with no knowledge of the world outside Nome, Alaska. Divorced, impoverished, and despondent, she had one focus in her life – to care for her sickly son. In September 1921, in search of money and a husband, she signed on as a seamstress for a top-secret expedition into the unknown Arctic”


Vilhjalmur Stefansson

A little background will help to understand the tragic events that unfolded. The expedition Ada became part of was the brainchild of famous Arctic explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson, a Canadian who after years in the Arctic sought to claim Wrangel Island in the Arctic Ocean above Russia for Canada. He felt the island could be developed into a stop over point in the newly forming Airline industry. Stefansson was so confident of the ability to live in the Arctic that he commissioned a crew of relatively inexperienced men to explore and begin to settle the island. Adding to potential problems, they were to live there a year, but were only provisioned with six months of food, which he felt would be plenty as they should easily be able to provide most of their needs by hunting.

It seems Stefansson’s confidence due to his experience may have clouded his vision of what he felt others could do. A couple of his statements about life in the Arctic make it seem almost like child’s play to live continuously in the high Arctic.

“I think that anyone with good eyesight and a rifle can live anywhere in the Polar regions indefinitely”

“Given a healthy body and a cheerful disposition, a family can now live at the North Pole as comfortably as it can in Hawaii”

“It’s just as easy to live up here as it is down home if you know how”

Stefansson, who was able to disappear into the Arctic for a couple years at at time, had become so comfortable with that region, that to him it was no difficulty. This overconfidence would soon prove the doom of his plans on Wrangel Island. From the start there were problems funding the project, and unbelievably to him, Canada nor Britain wanted any part of claiming an island off the Arctic coast of Russia. nor of funding it. Eventually through persistence he got the money together to get his crew to Nome, Alaska, where they began the process of outfitting, getting supplies etc. They were supposed to get an Umiak or seal skin boat to hunt from, also they were supposed to take along an Eskimo family to help with hunting, making things and repairing clothing and such,
which unfortunately they were unable to satisfactorily obtain. Ada went along very reluctantly as a seamstress due to pressure from the town Sheriff. It was even difficult to get a ship to take them to the island and drop them off, no one wanted to get frozen into the ice. The place was foreboding and remote.

Stefansson chose four young men for the expedition, two of them Fred Maurer and Loren Knight he would later compare to the famous Robert Scott and Ernest Shackleton, though they were certainly not anywhere near them in experience or stature. The other two men were Allan Crawford, an academic, and Milton Galle who worked for Stefansson on his speaking tours running a projector. Maurer and Knight at least had some experience in the Polar regions. Ada though an Eskimo, had little experience in traditional ways, certainly nothing that would be lifesaving.

Wrangel island crew pic

The crew dressed for the occasion

One of the first things the party found out once set up on the island, the game was not always plentiful and much of the time nearly non-existent, consequently they used much of the food they brought with them feeding the sled dogs. They did not seem to worry too much about the food as they figured they could get by till the one year mark when a resupply ship would arrive. Conditions at times were grim. They explored the island looking for game and other resources. The summer came and went with no ship arriving, the ice had hardly melted before it came back again. No ship could get to them. Stefansson unrealistically did not show much concern, as he figured they were thriving. Not making contact that summer however put the group in dire circumstances as they had little remaining of their food supplies, certainly not enough to make it another year. Game seemed to be scarce. Finally during the dead of winter an attempt was made to send two men with a dog sled and supplies to try to reach the mainland across the ice, a trek experienced men said was difficult in the best of times and they could not imagine doing it in January. The first attempt failed mostly due to Knight suffering from the onset of scurvy and he and Crawford returned to camp after nearly three weeks on the ice. Another was put forth with Crawford, Maurer and Galle going, leaving Ada to care for the declining Knight and herself.

With the other men gone now, Ada had to do nearly everything as Knights bad health soon kept him in bed. He needed fresh meat, a lot of it, to get over the scurvy. Ada was having trouble getting much of anything. A turn in her character soon manifested itself, when she began to determine to live, to do whatever she needed to. She began running the traps the men had been taking care of before, but she began to keep track of what was more successful, she made changes as needed to try to obtain more food. She even started to observe the habits of what animals were around and soon devised methods of trapping them.One of the more important things she did, and which enabled her to survive was to overcome her terrible fear of the rifle. She finally decided she needed to use it if they were going to stay alive. At first it was just overcoming the fear of shooting it, the loud noise and the recoil, however, she determined to spend a certain amount of time practicing. Once she began hunting with it, she was able to bring in seals and some birds, which if she could have gotten enough of soon enough may have saved the life of her only companion, Knight. She knew she would need to be more accurate in shooting, in order to get enough food, so she practiced more.

Amazon books Ada Blackjack A True Story of Survival in the Arctic

When seals moved too far offshore and she was unable to get to them, she made her own sealskin boat. After using it only twice, a wind caught it and it was gone forever, though disheartened she cut up some tent canvas and sewed it onto a frame made of driftwood, making another boat, though not as good as the prior one. Ada did not let failure stop her, but tried again and again. She practiced laying low, being stealthy, getting close for a good shot. In many ways she began to thrive, sadly the continually diminishing health of Knight scared her because even though he was of no help, and was very verbally abusive to her as he faced death, still he was a person, any any person was better than none. She did not know if she could face things alone on this desolate island. The winter passed, spring passed and summer came, it was not until August 20 that a rescue boat finally came, two years had passed since she landed on Wrangel island. Now this part of her life had finally ended and a new though not necessarily better life began. Greed and strivings for notoriety propelled those who should have helped her after this ordeal to use her fame against her, stirring up all kinds of tales that made the news, and gained them popularity. Much of the balance of the book details these things.

The points I want to make here relating to survival in one of the most inhospitable regions of the world, is that Ada though young, inexperienced, full of all kinds of fears was able to do in six months what the more able bodied men were less successful in. Not to blame them, they were not that much better off than her, and perhaps they did not fear as much initially since they expected a rescue and may not have tried as desperately as Ada, who did not know what the future held, but wanted to live as long as she could. She tried new things, she was observant and made adjustments in order to be more effective, she overcame her fears. She did gain much internal strength by reading daily from Knight’s Bible, it seemed to give her hope when things seemed hopeless, it gave her someone to turn to, someone she felt connected to, she trusted that God could help her.

In each of us there are times we must survive, it may not be alone on a desolate Arctic island, but we all have our Wrangel islands in our lives, the example of Ada can help us to push forward, and to help us hope for a better day.

Until next time, this is Perry Peacock, “Simplifying Survival”

All pictures courtesy of the book, Ada Blackjack – A True Story of Survival in the Arctic, Author Jennifer Niven DD 915.7


Campfire Cookin Sticks give you a platform to cook on over a campfire, nearly any campfire.1-2015-09-26 16.52.06

For me a campfire is part of camping, I have one any time I can. If I’ve got a campfire I’m going to use it to cook on too. Over the years I have cooked on a campfire many different ways, whether it’s a pan straddling two rocks over a fire, or a pot resting on two logs with a fire between. There are lots of ways to use a campfire for cooking. Now campfire cooking just got easier.

What are Campfire Cookin Sticks?

Quite simply Campfire Cookin Sticks are rods with bends formed in one end that allows them to be connected, to form a “V” shape, which becomes a stable platform for a pot or pan. Campfire Cookin Sticks can be placed between rocks at a fire pit, so that flames from a fire or coals can easily be used to cook on. The “V” shape is stable since it uses three points of contact.

What is a Build-A-Grill Kit?1-2015-09-15 09.56.31

We take two or more sets of Campfire Cookin Sticks, add some connectors, and put them in a handy roll up bag. By combining more than one set of Campfire Cookin Sticks you can do much more than put a pot on a fire, you can build a custom grilling surface tailored exactly to your needs, enabling you to cook in up to six pots at a time over a regular campfire. There are two ready made sizes, or you can create your own.

  • The Camper-this Kit gives you a set of small and a set of medium Campfire Cookin Sticks, 2 Connectors, and a handy roll up pouch.
  • The Group-with this kit you get all three sizes of Campfire Cookin Sticks, 3 Connectors, and a nice roll up pouch.

What do the Connectors do?1-2015-09-26 17.02.18

Sometimes on a fire ring or fire pit you need a Campfire Cookin Stick to be longer, since the sets of sticks can be disconnected from each other a Connector can be used to make a long stick out of a set, you can even mix sizes to really customize your set up.

What sizes do the Campfire Cookin Sticks come in?

They come in three different lengths to meet any need, large or small and as mentioned above can be combined in a Build-A-Grill Kit.

  • Small or hiker size-at 8″ long this set will accommodate two mug sized pots for easily cooking food in one and a hot drink in the other all at the same time, over the fire.
  • Medium or camper size-this set is 12″ long and will allow combinations of pots and pans such as, a 2 quart pot and two mugs, two 2 quart pots, or a pan and a 2 quart pot, you get the idea.
  • Large or chef size-an 18″ set of Campfire Cookin Sticks is great for bigger chores, like when you’ve got a group and you are Cookin’ up a steamy pot of crab boil in a 10 quart pot, or you are making pancakes, bacon, and eggs, cook them all ot once, over the fire.

What material are the Campfire Cookin Sticks made out of?1-2015-10-24 18.42.54

We offer three different metals and a special Ultralite version, here is a listing and some tips to help you choose which is best for you.

  • Aluminum for the ultimate in light weight and economy
  • Good
  • Though they are not adequate to hold large pots or heavy pans they are great for backpacking cookware.
  • Work well for cooking meals, not recommended for cooking for a long time on a very hot fire
  • Value priced
  • Stainless Steel still light in weight for the robust use they offer
  • Better
  • Overall best value for price and function1-2015-10-16 21.50.07
  • Can support even cast iron pans
  • You can cook all day long on the fire with these
  • Titanium offers the robust use of Stainless Steel at nearly half the weight
  • Best
  • Choose these when you want light weight and the ability to do any cooking task
  • Backpacker routinely choose Titanium for durable light weight gear
  • Well suited for serious users
  • UL Titanium is for a special niche of users who want super light weight and the ability to cook in more than one pot at a time
  • The medium size will support a 2 quart pot and a mug at the same time
  • Super light weight cooking platform, practically weightless
  • When you want to cook on the trail with the least weight these are the choice
  • Affordable priced for the value they offer

So if you like campfires like I do, now that it’s this easy, why not cook on the fire while enjoying it too? Campfire Cookin Sticks and Build-A-Grill Kits make cooking even multi pot complex meals easy over an ordinary campfire, get yours and get started today.

Till next time, This is Perry Peacock, “Simplifying Survival” and making things easier in the woods.

There is always Fire Starting Gear of some kind to be had, whether it is made of naturally occurring elements or it is purchased, made by someone else. In ancient historic writings we read of “smiting two stones together” to make fire, we know of the Romans and on up into our times using flint and steel. There are the natives of the South Pacific using compression in a fire piston. Using bamboo in a fire saw is popular in many places. All over the world are found various drill methods of creating a fire. All of these and more have been used through the centuries by man to kindle fire.

In the more modern era came matches, fluid lighters, butane lighters, mish metal and Ferro rods, magnesium bars and rods, various sparkers and prepared tinder’s, magnifiers, and numerous combinations of the above. The gear for fire starting is seemingly endless when you consider the items for initializing the fire process, an exothermic reaction really, combined with the tinder and kindling items.

With the myriad gear items available to assist in creating fire what is the very best to have?1-2015-08-20 20.46.44

I don’t think there is actually a best answer here as there are many other questions to consider relating to a person’s skill, preferences, locale, available resources, and a person’s physical condition. Offhand I would say for reliability, easiness of use, and cost, it is hard to beat a quality butane lighter. Many would curse at that being the choice however since a butane lighter has no manly gritty romanticism inherent with it. As with many things in bushcraft, survival, and preparedness there seems to be no end to the reasoning of one fire starting method over another, it seems a case can be made in some way for any one of them. The question really comes down to, what do you want to do? What you want to do then has to be qualified by what can you do? Or rather what can you do reliably?

I like to look at the whole survival picture by dividing things into three parts: Knowledge, Skills, and Gear.

Knowledge-this is the brain learning or book work part of the equation. Discovering the how, why, where, when of each subject, in this case fire starting. This takes us to how fire works. What are the natural rules or laws governing fire? Then knowing these taking of our resources and manipulating them to create fire. This is how so many methods have been developed. Now knowledge is only a portion of the equation and it alone will not give success in starting fire.
Skills-fire cannot be created without a certain amount of skill, there is needed a degree of dexterity, the ability manipulate various items properly. Included with skills is stamina, as some methods require more lengthy periods of time to produce results. With some of the ways listed to produce fire certain tools need to be fashioned, which involves combining knowledge of materials needed with the ability to manufacture the tool. Finesse is developed with practice that eases and hones the technique into a smooth simple looking process. When a given method is refined to a point that it happens with ease, it can then be said, a new skill has been acquired.
Gear-this is what the beginner starts with, then wonders why he is not successful. Without knowledge and skills, it is only pure luck that a person produces and maintains fire. Having gained knowledge about fire and the choices available in how to create it a person can then choose the method they would like to pursue, they then obtain the gear needed, and work on developing the skill necessary to reliably succeed.

Perhaps it would be helpful to group fire starting methods into categories

Easiest for anyone

  • Butane Lighter
  • Fluid lighter
  • Matches
  • Sparklite striker w tinder


  • Doan Magnesium
  • Ferro Rod
  • Mish metal Rod
  • Flint and steel
  • Magnifying lens/Fresnel Lens
  • Steel Wool

More difficult

  • Bow drill
  • Hand drill
  • Fire plow
  • Fire saw
  • Fire Piston

We could also sort the methods into levels of reliability, assuming a person has the skill for each method

Most reliable

  • Doan Magnesium
  • Ferro rod
  • Mish metal rod

Usually reliable

  • Butane lighter (Bic)
  • Fluid lighter
  • Flint and steel
  • Steel wool

Difficult at times

  • Magnifiers
  • Bow drill
  • Hand drill
  • Fire saw
  • Fire plow
  • Fire piston

The above lists are quite general, and depending on the person, the arrangement could vary tremendously, my effort is to list them as might be common in the population. For reliability part of the consideration is tendency to breakage, the need to manufacture with proper materials the tools needed, and the level of skill needed. One thing not covered in this post, that is every bit as significant, is the ability to start a fire that endures with the above methods. Most can get a flame from a lighter, but far fewer are effective at starting a fire in challenging conditions.


Green Willow shavings fire by flint and steel

In the end the gear chosen for starting a fire should meet whatever goals you have set. If you are looking to sock something away for use should things come crashing down that is one thing, if you want to master a primitive skill or some other alternative method then that is something different. As I’ve said in many blogs before, you must define your purpose before you can really know the direction to move in. All the various methods have merit in some way. Personally I like to have a Doan Magnesium in my possession, to me it’s easy to use and will start a fire if one is possible, it’s practically indestructible, and is very inexpensive. A good lighter is also nice to have, I prefer the BIC mini’s in bright colors. We use them in our business cleaning up threads and ends as needed, never has one not work till it ran out of fuel. The important thing is to have several methods that you are skilled at, carry a couple backups. Perhaps the most important thing is NEVER be afraid to use a simple modern method to start a fire when needed. Some people are too proud, and think someone may think less of them. When times are tough and a fire is needed, use whatever you can. Finally if you can start a fire with a split paper match, or the equivalent, you have mastered it.

Choose the methods you like and become proficient at them, then add others as you can. Learning is lots of fun and provides a great confidence booster when you become successful. Until next time this is Perry Peacock, for Simplifying Survival.



In order to be properly prepared for cold/cool wet weather an outdoorsman should be able to live in it with no external assets. In other words ideally no need for fire to warm you or dry things, perhaps that’s a bit idealistic but a worthy goal that is somewhat attainable with simple gear like what we offer. Reputable survival instructors’ stress that the most important asset a person carries with them is the clothing they have. Certainly we can train to do without much of anything, reality though is very tough, unpredictable, and unforgiving. Not that the world itself is against man, nature just is, and man is not naturally equipped to survive in it, but man is a thinking reasoning being and very capable of adapting by ingenuity. The fault in depending on being able to make it in difficult circumstances without proper clothing is the unknown nature of situations, perhaps you may be injured, or there may be some with you unable to adapt and persevere. That being the case, if a person is at least minimally prepared with proper clothing and/or shelter, it will take much less effort to make up the difference it takes to get to the point of survivability.


As I have mentioned before, I have collected survival news stories and books for decades, it is sometimes astounding how easily people can die, even healthy folks. The temperature does not need to be freezing to be dangerous, in fact I contend that to the average person, 50° – 60° F, rainy and breezy are more likely to be more life threatening than cold and snow. Part of that reason is the perception that not much protective clothing is needed, and so they start out in a deficit in survivability score.


To me it is a thrill to get myself prepared in a way that rain, cold and wind are not factors to my comfort. From when I was a young man, I always wanted to be like the animals, able to be out in most any condition and be fine. To go about your camp in a most normal manner, all the while the rain is pouring down, the wind blowing, and perhaps some occasional snowflakes, is quite a good feeling to have. An example from a camp this spring, temperatures in the 30° F range and rain mixed with snow, no tent and no heating fire, windy at times.


Here is what I was wearing

  • Poly cotton pants
  • Long sleeved 100% poly T shirt
  • Fingerless wool gloves
  • Wool socks
  • Water repellent boots
  • Fleece Poncho Liner with hood, full length
  • Poncho, full length (PSSL)

In that set up I was self-sustaining, I kept dry enough and warm enough that I was not cold while working about camp and while sitting in my camp chair relaxing.1-2015-04-16 08.01.05

There are three key factors to safely living in those conditions on a continual basis.

  1. Damp tolerable insulation
  2. Rain and moisture protection
  3. Wind protection

Our bodies can tolerate less than ten degrees differential internal temperature, before getting into fatally dangerous territory of heat or cold. We have to adapt ourselves to hot weather or cold wet weather by means mostly of clothing. I first started studying the subject of Hypothermia (cold body core temperature) in the mid 1980’s, starting with the book by Dr William Forgey Hypothermia: Death by Exposure. A great modern book that is very well detailed and easy to read is Cody Lundin’s “98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive” So deadly is the combination of cold, wet and windy, that a person can be dead in less than an hour in certain circumstances, far more deadly than most of the other things we worry about in the outdoors. Dressing improperly can kill you so fast it is stunning, a sudden rain and wind can catch an unprepared person so quickly they don’t even realize what is happening to them, till it’s too late.


So that’s enough bad news, I’m not usually one to harp on the “XX” will kill you line, but I needed to at least get it out there, if for no other reason than to emphasize the serious nature of this subject, it cannot be trifled with. The great news is that it doesn’t have to be that way, it is very possible to virtually eliminate the threat these conditions present. One of the books of real life experience I read early on was of Ernest Shackleton’s voyage of The Endurance, stranded near Antarctica in sea ice, the ship was crushed and the crew spent the next 18 months crossing the ice in bitter cold, rigging a boat to sail the icy seas, traversing a desolate mountain range. Remarkably not one of the crew perished.


Let me return to the list I posted above and detail it out for you, showing how you can easily prepare yourself against most of the hazards of cold, wet, windy conditions.



Of all the insulations known to man probably one of the foremost is wool, it kept Shackleton’s crew alive, and also the crew of the Grafton who were marooned on Auckland Island located between New Zealand and Antarctica for nearly two years, as detailed in the book “Island of the Lost” For centuries woolen clothing was not only durable, but extremely protective of the people who wore it. Wool is unique in its ability to be warm even when wet.


One of the modern materials that is truly remarkable is Fleece. It is warm when damp, easy to dry, durable, compressible, soft and drapeable. There is wide variation in fleece quality, in our products we sell only authentic Polartec® is used. It is the highest quality product of its kind available anywhere in the world, and it is made in the U.S.A. It makes a nice blanket in both cool and warmer weather, we use it under our poncho as a liner, making essentially a long winter coat. I am constantly amazed at how well it works. I have stood in a light rain for hours without the poncho on, and have been amazed at how warm I stayed. Water does not like to stay in this fabric, but runs out the bottom.


Shirts and pants should be wool or poly, or poly cotton, the same goes for underclothing. Socks should be wool, or synthetic, never cotton in conditions like we are discussing. Wool or fleece gloves can help keep your hands warm, which is important in cool weather, as hands become clumsy when muscles become chilled.


I should point out one thing here, wool nor fleece nor any other fabric are as warm wet as they are dry, the cooling effect of water cannot be overcome by this clothing, if water can contact the skin, it will draw heat from the body. So while wool, fleece, poly and other fabrics can be good when damp or wet, it is still better to be dry.



Since water can move heat thirty times faster than air, getting wet or having on wet clothing can be deadly, as body temperatures can quickly plunge to dangerous levels. Although most of us do not do blacksmithing, most of us have at least seen him work the red hot metal with hammers and other implements, then thrust it into a bucket of water, in seconds it is cool enough to hold in the hands. The effect of moisture or water on our skin or clothing cannot be understated. Even if our clothing is damp tolerable, there is still a penalty for wet clothing, in cool weather it is never as warm as dry clothing. If the clothing becomes saturated, water comes in contact with the skin and body heat quickly transfers to the cooler water, over time this can decrease the core temperature of the body, inviting Hypothermia. Some kind of rain gear is best in these conditions if you are out in it working, hiking or doing camp chores. If you can wait it out, a tarp or tent may keep you dry until conditions change, many people have tried to push on through it, and risked their lives. With a good poncho a person is able to safely continue on in most situations. As an example our poncho snaps up the sides providing some venting to help prevent excessive moisture build up from body function or condensation from temperature differential. The poncho fabric prevents rain from soaking clothing, additionally I often like to add the fleece liner even if I don’t need it for temperature as it adds a tremendous amount of comfort by helping to keep internal moisture away from the body.


Water resistant boots help keep moisture out of socks, especially when walking through puddles and streams. A hat with a brim all around is useful in times when you don’t have a poncho hood on.



If you have lived in areas where it gets hot and dry, you may have used an Evaporative Air Conditioner. These devices are very effective in dramatically cooling the air temperature. Combining moisture (water) in absorbent pads and air drawn through them, the resulting air blown out can be in the 45° F temperature range while it may be 100° F outside, quite a change! The same effect can happen to you with wet clothing and a blowing wind, it could be 60 F and you getting wet, then add a wind, the chilling action can take what would otherwise be a reasonably safe situation and turn it critical in not many minutes. Even if you get wet, if you can keep the wind off of you, it can add a huge margin of safety. Many years ago I worked in electronic security and we once did a project in a large food manufacturing facility. As food came out of cooking it went into racks and into a freezer where fans blew furiously, the effect quickly froze the food items for storage. The wind from the fans made a huge difference in how fast the food froze. This is why some wind protection can be invaluable, in fact lifesaving to us. Here again for me our poncho has worked miracles, it is long so it covers most of the body. I have probably used it as much for wind protection as rain.


A few years ago a friend and I were camping in the winter at over 9000 feet, as we hiked to our camp spot we encountered winds so strong they were difficult to stand up in. We put on our ponchos (PSSL) with the snap in fleece liners, the effect was amazing, although we could feel the strength of the wind, the cold was kept at bay and we were comfortable. Whether you are out in the winter or in other times of the year, having some protection from the wind can be a lifesaver. Remember that any temperature below the 70’s combined with wind and especially moisture can lead to hypothermia, it’s not just cold winters that are dangerous.


With a little bit of preparation, and a bit willingness to take along the things we know we should, we all can be considerably safer in the outdoors. I’m amazed by how many rescues are in the news, just for an overnight encounter, and the people go to the hospital being such tough shape, so “Be Prepared” and take some clothing or shelter items with you. In spite of this I know most people won’t, they only think of a quick hike and then back home, that’s what creates survival stories.


Until next time, this is Perry Peacock, “Simplifying Survival”1-IMG_3166


So here’s the story playing all over the world Woman Survives Drinking Her Own Breast Milk – Really? I ask, are you serious? Now before you go crazy on me for being heartless, I am happy Susan O’Brien is OK, I’m glad she made it, it’s great to know she is safely back with her family. The thing I object to is the story line.

Susan was on what was stated as a grueling 12.5 mile race through the forest, when at some point she took a wrong turn and became lost. Night set in, it was cold and rainy, she feared for her life. I know that cold and rain are devastating to someone unprepared for it. She just had on her running clothing, so was not ready for any kind of stay in the forest in those conditions. The first question I asked when thinking about her life being saved by her own breast milk, “how long was she stranded?” The answer, a stunning 24 hours! Certainly I would be concerned about her situation, cold, rain and wind, but for goodness sakes she is not going to starve to death in 24 hours. I have lots more fat reserves on me than she does being an athlete, but certainly she could go a week or two.

I don’t want to take anything away from her, she tried to do all she could think of to stay alive, but all the press in the world is running the story that she was saved by her breast milk. I think she was saved by being in good physical condition, and by doing what she could to isolate herself from the effects of the elements, and by thinking positively about getting back to her family.

I guess I can’t blame the press, the story does make a great headline. I read through all the articles on her that I could find, no one seemed to bother to consider that other factors probably saved her. Readers are left with the understanding that she would have totally run out of energy and died had Susan not as she says, “had a bit of my milk.” Susan believes it helped her, and perhaps it did, mentally at least.

I think the stories that ran should at least have raised the possibility that other factors may have contributed to her survival, instead of leaving the false impression that the milk did it. We are not given much detail in what I could find, but she did say she kept covering herself in dirt (and debris I would suppose), most likely to get away from the wind.

Having followed survival stories for the better part of my life, I have heard of some amazing things. It seems to me that when I was younger, the press did this amazing thing called, “investigation” that seems to be lacking these days much of the time. It used to be a reporter would try to find a back story, find some additional detail, nowadays it’s just retyping whatever is put out.  A reader should be educated in reading a story, otherwise what is the purpose in even writing it?

A reader for example could at least be given the information that in Susan’s predicament her most important thing to do for the night at least is to shelter herself the best she could to avoid hypothermia. Wet and cold are bad enough, but add a little wind and things turn deadly in  a hurry. It could be mentioned perhaps some simple sheltering she could have done without any tools.1-IMG_3166

So anyway that’s my two bits on the story, have a great day, until next time this is Perry Peacock, “simplifying survival”

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