A Month’s Worth of Trail Bars

Thanks mainly to the generosity of several vendors, I have assembled a wide variety of meal replacement/ snack bars to try out [until they’re gone].

Leslie Hupp from HuppyBar, Carrie Forbes from Gutsey Bars, and Elizabeth Hooks of Kate’s Real Food were quite kind to take me [and the Moosenut Falls blog] seriously enough to send out selections of each of the flavors in their full line of offerings. All of these are non-GMO, organic and, basically “responsible” eating alternatives to some of the more widely available trail food bars. I will be doing a feature on each of the lines down the road. As well, these ones at least, will be going with me to a large, group hammock hang down outside Boston next weekend… we are going to have a Trail Bar Sampling Buffet! …and that is in addition to the traditionally enormous quantities of other food we will be cooking and consuming. My man Snagglepuss will once again be bringing his full, double-door gas smoker, so the food should be truly outrageous! 

The rest of the stash shown above came from REI’s outdoor goodies rack, and the snack and breakfast bar section down at my big-box grocery. I wanted to sample some of the varieties that I have seen or heard mentioned but haven’t tried out yet, so I actually let some of the moths escape my wallet and spent money. Just for fun I am also tossing in a “HooAh” bar from my MREs and the [similar] Mocha snack bar out of an USDoD First Strike package in to the review process.

The result is that I have enough snacks to nibble one every day for nearly a month. Out of consideration for the donations from the vendors, I will be hitting up [ie: wolfing down!] their offerings ASAP, and then doing the others in a more hit-and-miss style.

Right now my real job is to keep my hands off these until I get to the hang!

[Additionally, through the willingness and generosity of some other outdoors vendors, I will also be able to contribute a “Bug Juice Buffet” to try out insect repellant offerings, and a Food-Coma-Recovery Area of “day hangers” featuring some smaller hammocks than those the majority of us use for our actual sleeping. More to come… if I survive.]

Post-Hang Edit: Unfortunately, but predictably, we ate only a few of the trail bars. There was so much food coming off the grill and out of the smoker that no-one had room to spare. I kept offering and people would look at me with that, “You’ve GOT to be kidding”, look on their faces.  It IS hard to compete with 5lb of venison roast, smoked beef short ribs, sausages and Moinks[don’t ask], cast-iron cooked brisket, and BACON.

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Let Us Now Praise “Forums”

 

If you want to find out the most information, in the least time,  yourself a favor and add the word “forums” to your search… as in “blah-de-blah forums”.

A couple of years ago, I sold a yard tractor that I had owned for 15 years. A quick search using the phrase “Wheelhouse/Toro forum” provided me with lots of eager advice from other people and lead to a sale right there off the forum for far more than I had hop ed.

Last weekend, I purchased a Bowie knife off of eBay. Prior to making my purchase I did a lot of research in knife and blade forums. A little bit of research allowed me to not make mistakes in my purchase, and find myself one that I believe is a real value.

I am going to be moving. This presents me with the tedious chore of disposing of several generations of XXX These internet forums are my source of information to aid me in determining reasonable prices and values.

I am currently selling some old 19th Century muzzle-loader guns, a samurai sword and a collection of Civil War letters-home. In each case, a quick check for the appropriate forums gave me some sound guidance to make the most of my offerings. I learned that the gun was an 18th century “Pennsylvania” style cap-and-ball farm gun that had been converted from a flintlock. It sold to a collector on there who was thrilled to get, it at a price I could live with to just “make it go away!” The letters went to a reseller in Boston after I learned they were certainly of interest to collectors of Civil War ephemera… again at a better and more fair price than I would have taken if offered

Try it for yourself. Even if you just want a new set of headphones, “headphone/stereo forums” will give better advice than just searching for something like “headphone reviews”.

Turkey Season

My friend Charlotte, who is a Certified Maine Guide, and spends an enviable amount of time in the woods, grabbed this nice shot with her phone over the weekend.

A fine bunch of “Turkey Tail” fungus [trametes versicolor].

In Chinese traditional medicine it is referred to as yun zhi, and, predictably, it is reputed to do amazing things! Anti-inflammatory, fights viral infections and diseases, reduces the growth of tumors, [and of course] increases stamina and energy… all unproven unfortunately. Also unfortunately, since it is wickud common in the woods, it is inedible.

[That is unfortunate and unlike the other clustering polyphore, “Hen-of-the-Woods” , which is much harder to find in the wild, but is highly edible and delicious, even though it looks kind of like the dog’s roundtrip lunch….[also found cultivated as Maitaki in Japanese cuisine]

“Gone In 60 Seconds”

I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to get around to doing a post on foraging. I regularly go out for fiddleheads in the spring, as well as young poke and watercress. I grew up on Euell  Gibbons classic books  “Stalking the Wild Asparagus” and “Stalking the Wild Scallop”, both of which taught me a lot about the things that you can eat from the wild… and what you can’t.

One of the most popular things to forage for are of course wild mushrooms. The taste of morels and chanterelles puts anything from the grocery store to shame.

Anyway, the other day I looked up my side window and saw a large white ball in the grass alongside my driveway. I don’t live where kids can knock a softball up into my yard. Puzzled, I went out to look. What it turned out to be was a giant puffball mushroom. This is one of the few mushrooms that you can find that falls under the category “hard to mistake”. I grabbed it up, and scurried inside in excitement.

 

IMPORTANT FAQ AND DISCLAIMER:

THERE IS RISK THOUGH! [Don’t try this at home, kiddies] Many edible mushrooms can be very, very hard to differentiate from those that are less than edible, and might be fatally poisonous! Don’t eat it unless you are hundred percent sure!

From the net: “Calvatia [species] are fairly easy to identify as long as you know these mushrooms are in a specific class which have no gills inside, they are just fluff all throughout which later turns itself into its own spores, which then are released with the help of an animal, or human who can’t resist smushing or kicking it, and are dispersed by the wind….. Most Calvatia species are edible as long as the inside is pure white; I am not aware of any that aren’t.”

OK. You’ve been warned. Do your own research and assume your own risk.

At this point I will reveal that I DID survive eating the previous slices the other night. This one was indeed a real “puffball”. [Don’t eat it unless you are hundred percent sure!]

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It is shown here already cut in half thru the top, but with several of the larger slices already removed [and consumed!] You can see the soft white flesh that resembles marshmallow both in color and feel. Very delicate and slightly spongy… much more delicate than store bought ones.  This is one of the characteristics that make these relatively easy to identify [againDon’t eat it unless you are hundred percent sure!]

    

For mine I just dredged the slices in a thin flour wash with a little cornmeal added, and pan-fried them for a couple of minutes on each side until they had browned lightly.

Done this way, I find the taste to be that of a fine, delicate mushroom-cheese omelet… just all-in-one. And, Yes… it was “Gone In 60 Seconds”.

If this interests you, get someone knowledgeable to take you out foraging. There are “mycological societies” [mushroom clubs] all over. They are surprisingly easy to find, and the people are happy to share their expertise. Here in southern Maine, we have people who are actually making a living foraging mushrooms, wild herbs, and exotic greens for the up-and-coming, frou-frou, locally-sourced restaurants. And we are just going into prime mushrooming season here from Aug-Oct. BUT…Don’t eat it unless you are hundred percent sure!

 

Pillow Talk

Stuff: new 9.7oz down jacket [faux GhostWhisperer… seen/reviewed in post below…scroll down] and an old [very soft/ single side-seam/ round bottom] OT250* compression sack … use scissors… 40 seconds.
Yield: 12″x 5″dia/ 10.3oz downy-soft pillow… basically free.
[I]I left one strap long pending inspiration/determination of attachment for hammock.[/I]
It will stuff down further into the jacket’s own stuff sack…. just bigger than a soda can, and I’d carry the jacket anyway.

 

* Ozark Trail 250 [fill weight] down sleeping bag. Retailed at $89 at WallyWorld a few years ago. Mine was on “red-tag” since someone had pulled the cardboard info sleeve off… $59, I think. An incredible value. Anyone who was able to pick one up at that point, got an amazing deal. Wally hit it outta the park on this one! Super soft, down-proof fabric/ 700+ duck down/ very light/ stuffed down small/ claimed temp range was 32°… more like 40°. Perfect 3-season bag, and very easy to turn into a TQ for hammock camping. You can find my original review under “sleeping bags” in the nav sidebar…

Drip-breaks for Hammocks

Sometimes when it rains, it pours. We have all been out in our hammocks when the rain’s come down right wickud. When it rains that hard, it’s very easy for the water to migrate down your hammock suspension and eventually start soaking the ends of your rig.

Our man Shug, Master of mirth and merriment, juggler extraordinaire, and the go-to-guy for tips and videos on everything regarding hammocking, just suggests tying an old sock around your suspension. That works… not very elegant, and your socks stay wet, but it works.

I wanted something a little bit better, and something that would remain on my suspension full-time. I have been reasonably satisfied with a simple loop of mason’s twine dangling down from my continuous loops. So I took off from there.

I had some old water skiing and tubing towline. I gutted out two, 8″ sections of some half-inch line, singed the ends on the gas burner, stuck a chopstick through one end to make a hole, and pushed my continuous loop right through.

        

You can see the partz-is-partz on the right…

What I really like about this solution is that the drip line is back under the end of my tarp, beyond the rain. Now, I haven’t tested these out and in a real toad floater yet… I just put them on this morning. But my other solutions where I’ve had my drip lines actually on the continuous loops have always served me in good stead. I’m not sure I see the point in having drip lines attached any where further out on the suspension. The edge of my tarp is where the rain is going to stop landing.

 

BONUS: Hint #2~~ The yellow stuff is a slightly larger diameter ski rope that I also gutted. The two yellow sections on the left of the photo have a section of the green line inserted inside end to end. All four segments are also flame sealed at the ends. This allows me to pass some thin Dyneema/ Zing-it type line through the entire length of the doubled sections.

Why? For the same reason we all use tree straps… To Be Responsible. If I am hanging off of trees with a thin bark like Birch or Beech, These cuffs give added protection from harm by the extremely thin line that might otherwise damage the cambium layer of the bark. If too many people use the same two trees and are careless about the way they hang, the trees can suffer.

 

Return of the Prodigal Spork

18 months ago I lost my sweet SnowPeak titanium Spork.

I broke camp in the middle of the night because of the appalling nature of the coked-up junkies in the next site. They had returned at 1 AM, started a screaming match, and were being abusive to a three-year-old child. I left to go to the police department and turn in a CHINS report.

When it came time to sort my gear out down cellar after I got home, I discovered I must’ve left my spork behind. I knew it had been sitting out on the picnic table, and I pretty much assumed that I had just overlooked it in my hurry to be gone. I wrote it off as “Oh,well…” and eventually got around to ordering another one off of Amazon when they went on sale.

I was really fond of that little sucker. So fond that I actually used it around the house on a daily basis. [I am on my own since my wife passed away, and using the spork for a lot of things made it easier to just stay caught up on my dishes]. That’s why I sprung for a second one.

For under $10, I highly recommend these. They are available from Snow Peak and several other folks in basically identical form factors. You can even get them heat-anodized into various colors. The prongs are just long enough and sharp enough actually hold food, and the”spoon” is decently sized for scooping up liquids. If your broth is really thin, you are probably better slurping it up over the edge of your cup bowl and using the spork to clean up the chunks. And it’s just long enough cannot leave your fingers completely grotty if you were dipping down into a freeze-dry bag. It’s a great choice if you want to hold your carry down to a single eating utensil. With a good knife to cut things up, It’s really all you need.

Anyway, for all those reasons, I was really delighted when I put on my hunting vest recently and found it tucked in a pocket. I hadn’t “lost” it after all.