Sunday, October 30, 2011

Radnor's Fall Colors

We normally make it a point to get out to Radnor Lake each autumn and take in the fall colors. This year was no exception, and for the first time, C and E got to try out some new Camelbak packs I found on clearance. The Mini-Mules are made for little frames but still feature Camelbak's excellent reservoirs and bite valves. Backpack and all, E managed our 3+ mile loop around the lake almost entirely on her own. On the side of the lake nearest Otter Creek Road, we saw a gaggle of geese, and we stopped on the dam end of the lake for granola bars and hot chocolate. On the east side of the lake, C and E spotted sunning turtles, collected hiking sticks, and enjoyed watching four does graze near the end of our loop. It was a great day outside and a fun hike.

Fall Loop at Radnor

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fall Hike and Fish on Percy Priest

This afternoon, I hit Long Hunter State Park's Bryant Grove Trail. My main mission? To find a nice spot and fish. I made good time to the half-way mark about two miles in and then angled over to a point on the adjacent cove. Since the lake bottom there slopes gently away from the bank, as it does around so much of Percy Priest, I flung a quarter-ounce spoon as far out as possible. I only caught three, but each was different—a largemouth bass, a freshwater drum, and a catfish. I tried hard to land a smallmouth and complete a personal quad-fecta on Priest, but had no such luck.

Also today, I tested out a new hot-drink kit consisting of a Snow Peak ti mug, a Gram Weenie alcohol stove, and a homemade windscreen and cook lid. As the days are starting to cool down, it's nice to partake of a hot drink on the trail, and the compact size of this kit will make it easy to stow in pack or pocket.

All told, I covered nearly five miles, but that was chump change compared to the people I met who were finishing a convoluted 26-mile day hike around Long Hunter. With some car shuttling here and there, the participants covered all but three miles of the Long Hunter trails. They "cheated" a bit on the Volunteer Trail—turning around midway since it's a six-mile, one-way, dead-end hike. But still, twenty-six miles in a day ain't bad.

Hike & Fish on Priest

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Weekend at Ethan's II

This past weekend, Ethan Becker again hosted a get-together for users of his BK&T brand of outdoor knives and gear. People came from as far away as Iowa, New York, and New Hampshire to attend the event, which began taking shape on Thursday, October 13th, and ran through Sunday, the 16th. For this gathering, Ethan stepped up his game with the aid of part-time event coordinator, Moose. At the hilltop camp site on Half Moon Ridge, Ethan built a large covered pavilion as well as a giant fire pit. Also, Ka-Bar, the manufacturer of Becker knives, paid to have some excellent Wagyu beef and tasty jerky flown in from Johnson-family-owned (including Steve Johnson of Johnson Adventure Blades) Nebraska Star ranch. Invited attendees included none other than knifemaker extraordinaire Jerry Fisk, who has been named a National Living Treasure by the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and whose work has received all manner of accolades over the years. Jerry provided expert advice on knife sharpening and also conducted a “knife rodeo,” a popular knife testing and cutting event often held in conjunction with bladesmith meets.

On Saturday, I arrived at Ethan's in time to have a bite of breakfast that included Jerry's tasty crabapple butter. I also had the pleasure of meeting and talking with James Gibson, a practitioner of numerous outdoor skills and a journeyman knifemaker. Soon thereafter, I participated in the knife rodeo—failing miserably at most of the challenges but having a great time nonetheless. James, a veteran of quite a few such competitions, eventually took first place, with a borrowed knife no less. Later that evening, John Becker and his girlfriend Megan proffered some excellent table fare, including the Nebraska Star steaks, alongside camp dishes created by other attendees (thanks Kay, Derek, and Zach!). After a giant communal gorging fit for royalty, fireside conversation ran late into the night. The next morning, John and Megan delivered biscuits in a basket along with apple butter, and folks enjoyed breakfast before breaking camp. My conclusion? Ethan is the host with the most, and a giant thanks goes out to him, Moose, John, Megan, Ka-Bar, and Jerry Fisk for making this camp meet a great success.

I was talking, watching, participating, and having too much fun to take many pictures. But Iowa surgeon, averageiowaguy, documented the entire event. His six-part series of YouTube videos shows off the gathering in fine fashion. Enjoy.