Rural Lifestyle

Life in Rural America

Category: Hiking and Camping

Hiking and Camping

Cinder Block Grill At a Remote Cabin

Cinder block grill

Looking for a quick, easy and low cost grill for a remote cabin (bug out location)? Look no further than a cinder block grill.

After looking through various pictures and videos about cinder block grills, I decided to build one here at the farm. Long story short, am very happy with how well the grill worked and how easy it was to build.

Over the years a number of cinder blocks built up around the farm. Some were in the chicken yard with traps connected to them for opossums and raccoons. Other blocks were here and there spread across multiple projects. A wheelbarrow was used to round up six blocks where they were brought to a spot under a nice pine and oak tree. The blocks were arranged two high with a design similar of a horseshoe.

Several years ago a smoker was built out of a 250 gallon, and a 150 gallon tank propane tank. One of the grills was taken from the 150 gallon vertical smoker and placed on the cinder block grill.

One cinder block was placed on top of the expanded metal grill taken from the smoker. Then a commercial grill was placed on top of the cinder blocks. This gave us two grills. One close to the fire and another grill higher up.

Tips For Planning a Safe Hiking Trip

Hiking in Southeast Texas

Let’s take a few minutes and talk about tips for planning a hiking trip. Someone posted a comment on one of my YouTube asking for some hiking and or camping tips. So I thought, “Sure, why not?”

One of the things I talk about in my videos is my age and how long I have been doing certain things. When my brother were maybe 4 or 5 years old our dad started taking us squirrel hunting and walking through the woods. As of when this article was written I am 50 1/2 years old. So I have been doing stuff in the woods for around 45 years or so.

In the past 45 years I have developed various things I do when planning a hiking trip. Before I head out on the hiking trip there are several questions that should be answered.

For example, what is the purpose of the trip? How long is the trip going to be? Water sources. Last but not least is letting someone know your route.

Purpose of the Hiking Trip

Igloo 25 Qt Marine Contour Review

Igloo Marine Contour Cooler Review

Review of the Igloo 25 Quart Marine Contour ice chest. A few weeks ago my favorite Igloo ice chest was stolen from Mill Creek Park, Brookeland, Texas. It was a 36 quart Igloo Marine ice chest that was close to a decade old. I was cooking for a fishing tournament, went home to take a nap, went back, and someone had stolen the ice chest. Not only did someone steal the ice chest, it was loaded with uncooked meat.

I got online and started looking at various Igloo Marine ice chest. The 36 quart was a little large for a day trip, so I decided one something just a tad smaller.

Some of the things I was looking for:

  1. Large enough for several bottles of water, and soft drinks.
  2. Big enough for one bag of ice.

The 36 quart would take two bags of ice to cover the drinks. Rather than going larger, I wanted something that was just big enough for one bag of ice.

Eventually the Igloo 25 Quart Marine Contour ice chest was picked.

Igloo Marine Contour First Impressions

Camping Near Bogs, Bayous, and Sloughs

Mud bog

Let’s take a few minutes and talk about camping near bogs, bayous, and sloughs. From the early 1980s until the late 1990s, I primarily camped around the bogs, bayous and sloughs in Southeast Texas.

Sometimes my buddies and I would hike to the camp location, sometimes we would take a boat. We had several places we would go camping. Most of them either near a marsh, or along a bayou and a bog.

There was one place in particular we visited on a semi-regular basis, The camp site was on a cut off the main bayou and near a bog. While camping there, we were just a dozen feet from the waters edge.

It was not uncommon to step off the boat, walk ten feet, and see a Cottonmouth Water Moccasin. One time, I walked right up on a cottonmouth and it struck at my boot. It was a warning strike and it did not bite. Just ten feet from that water moccasin was another one.

For close to two decades, I had somewhat regular run-ins with the Cottonmouth Water Moccasin and various other snakes.

I wish I had taken more pictures in the 1980s and 1990s of my camping trips, but alas I did not.

Camping Near Bogs, Bayous, and Sloughs

Watch Out For Snakes in the Early Spring

Texas Water Snake in bushes

Watch out for snakes in the early spring. April 19, 2018 the dogs and I were walking around the farm when we came upon a snake. I was carrying a rather old camera which takes good pictures and just wanted to get some stock snake pictures.

Rather than finding a CottonMouth Water Moccasin, the dogs and I found a Water Snake. The Water Snake (Genus Nerodia) is non-venomous and poses no real danger to humans. Chances are the worst thing that could possibly happen is for the snake bite to get infected. Which is why we should not handle even non-venomous snakes.

The dogs and I walked through a low area where there is usually standing water. Wherever there is standing water, chances are frogs will be in the area. What eats frogs? Snakes. It is a typical predator-prey situation.

I spotted a snake tail sticking out from under a clump of grass. One of the dogs almost stepped on the snake, and the snake did not move. This told me chances are it was a Water Snake. If a Water Moccasin feels threatened, it will coil up and get ready to strike. This snake did not move when the dog almost stepped on it.

Snake Camouflage

Using A Pocket Compass While Hiking With The Dogs

Dogs on a hiking trip

Awhile back we talked about a 50 cent pocket compass I ordered off Ebay. Rather than buying the compass from an online store, just go straight to the source and cut out the middle man.

Paracord zipper pulls were added to my packs, and then the compass was attached to the paracord. Is the pocket compass a primary land navigation aid? Of course not. The pocket compass is used in conjunction with other navigation aids.

For example, while on a recent hiking trip with the dogs we stopped next to a nice pool of water to take a break. While the dogs were playing, I looked at the pocket compass to make sure we were headed in the right direction.

I know the area and there was no way we could have become lost. A pipeline passes through the forest just a few hundred yards from where the dogs and I stopped. Then there is a dirt road that bisects the pipeline. No matter which way we headed, we would hit either the road or the pipeline, as long as we traveled in a straight line.

Using a Pocket Compass

Stockpiling Mountain House Freeze Dried Pouches

Mountain House freeze dried pouches

A question to the reader, “Are you stockpiling Mountain House freeze dried pouches?” Let’s be honest, there are a number of reasons that can be debated for and against stockpiling Mountain House freeze dried pouches.

One of my main issues with the pouches is the sodium content. When I eat a meal, a few minutes later I can feel the sodium hitting my system. Sometimes the sodium is so bad I feel sick all over.

Some people may say Mountain House freeze dried pouches are too expensive, and they are. There is no denying the freeze dried pouches cost a pretty penny.

Let’s talk about sodium content first. A couple of pouches were picked from my personal stockpile so we could look at the sodium content.

Sodium Content

ThruNite Neutron 2C Flashlight Review

ThruNite Neutron 2C

The ThruNite Neutron flashlight is probably the most flexible flashlight in my collection. Not flexible as being able to bend, but flexible as in offering the greatest number of lumen options.

Unlike other flashlights on the market, the ThruNite Neutron flashlight, does not have preset brightness settings. Holding the on/off button fades, or increases the brightness. This allows the user to adjust the ThruNite Neutron to exactly the lumens needed for a certain job.

Specifications

From the ThruNite Neutron Amazon store page.

  • Item Weight: 3.04 ounces
  • Product Dimensions: 4.9 x 1 inches
  • Batteries: 1 Lithium ion batteries required. (included)
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Type of Bulb: led
  • Included Components: Holster, Spare O-rings, Lanyard, Pocket Clip, 18650 3400mAh Battery, USB Charging Cord
  • Batteries Included: Yes
  • Batteries Required: Yes

Video: Packing For A Day Hike

Three Day Assault pack

This is a video I put together for All Outdoor, and covers the basics of setting up a backpack for a day hike.

In short, keep the most used items within easy access. This usually means an outside pouch of the backpack. This is where I keep the maps, compass and water filter.

Least used items go in the main compartment. This is where I keep stuff like food, stove, cook pot… etc.

The pack in the video is a three day assault pack. Read my first impressions of the pack here – Three Day Assault Pack First Impressions.

Military Surplus Three Day Assault Pack

Three Day Assault pack

The Three Day Assault pack is a military surplus backpack that was designed for excursions lasting more than one day. It has a capacity of around of 1,850 cubic inches, which is enough room for the essentials.

The Three Day Assault pack has three compartments, large main compartment and an outer compartment. The outer compartment has a small storage pouch inside, and outside of it.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the United States military phased out the ALICE pack in favor of the MOLLE.

Three Day Assault Pack

The Three Day Assault pack is one of four backpacks in use by the United States Army:

  • Patrol Pack – Suited for day hikes, or lightweight overnight camping trips. No frame.
  • Three Day Assault pack – Large enough for a couple of days in warm weather camping. No frame.
  • Medium MOLLE – Slightly larger than the three day pack and has a frame.
  • Large MOLLE – Largest of the four packs. Suited for excursions lasting several days and has a frame.

Going Through My Backpacks

Kevin Felts on a hiking trip

Got several backpacks out of the storage room and went through them. The issue with having a collection of packs is the gear gets spread through them. Depending on the length of the hike, and what I am doing, certain gear may be brought along. After awhile, gear is spread through all the packs. There might be a stove here and a stove there, and a knife here and a knife there.

Things get so disorganized the packs have to be pulled out, emptied, and everything rounded up.

For example, I have been using the Sawyer PointOne on a couple of outages. However, I still like to bring the Katadyn Vario from time to time. This means the Sawyer Pointone is in one pack, and the Katadyn Vario is in another pack. The problem starts when I forget which filter is in which pack. then I have to go digging through the packs until I find the gear I am looking for.

My Childhood Playground

When I was a kid growing up in Bridge City, Texas, my buddies and I would hang out in a section of woods that borders a marsh. We would build trails through the woods, tree houses, go camping, just do what kids did.

As my buddies and I got older, we stopped hanging out in the woods and started socializing more. After we stopped maintaining the trails, they were slowly reclaimed by nature. Within just a few years the trails were almost impassible.

Two decades later, Hurricane Rita pushed through the area and uprooted a lot of the old oak trees.

While visiting with my mom and dad for Thanksgiving, I took a camera and headed off into the old trails.

Military Surplus Patrol Pack First Impressions

Patrol Pack

Overall, I found the patrol pack to be a well rounded and perfect addition to my backpack collection.

Call me old fashioned, if I like something, then I hang onto it. For the longest time ,one of my go-to packs for day hikes and even warm weather overnight trips was a Jansport black book bag. That pack was retired when I migrated to a Maxpedition.

For several years my go-to pack was a Maxpedition Condor II. The Condor II is a great pack that is perfect for day long excursions.

As with everything else, after using the Condor II for several years, I decided it was time to try something new. So where did I go to find a new pack? I went to Ebay and looked through various military surplus packs.

After shopping and doing my research for a couple of weeks, I found a military surplus patrol pack for $29.95 + $9.19 shipping.

ThruNite C2 Mini 3400 Charger Review

ThruNite C2 Mini 3400 Charger

If there is one thing Thrunite does, they manufacturer a quality product. So far I have reviewed four Thrunite flashlights and all of them are top notch. Thrunite continues their reputation for quality with the ThruNite C2 mini-charger.

Full Disclosure: I received the charger at no cost to myself. This will not influence my opinion and hopefully will not influence your opinion either.

Specs from Amazon:

  • Weight 5 ounces
  • Dimensions 3.6 x 0.9 x 1 inches
  • Item model number C2
  • Batteries 1 Lithium ion batteries required. (included)
  • Item Package Quantity 1
  • Batteries Included? Yes
  • Battery Cell Type Lithium Ion

Why Review A Phone Charger

Dangers Of Hot Weather Hiking

Overgrown logging road

On a hot weather hiking trip in July of 2016 I experienced some of the first signs of heat exhaustion, which were dry skin, rapid heartbeat, fatigue and muscle cramps. This was the same trip where I found the abandoned hunting camp.

I knew that I was getting too hot, daytime highs were near 100 degrees in the shade. My heart was beating so hard I could hear the beats. While walking up a hill my leg muscles started to cramp; I knew I was in trouble. There just happened to be a small tree that provided a nice shady spot. The backpack was dropped, I laid down, took my bandana off and laid it over my shirtless chest.

My cell phone just happened to have one – two bars of service. I pulled up google earth, took a screen shot of my location and sent it to my fiancee through facebook chat. My location was only about 1 1/2 miles from home, but it might as been 100 miles with my legs cramping. In case things went from bad to real bad, at least someone had my location.

Kevin Felts © 2008 - 2018