It's A Dam Disaster!

Have you been following the California dam that might be failing?  The largest, tallest dam in the country is leaking and might have a catestrophic failue.  They have evacuated around 200,000 people down river.  Several entire cities, one with a population of 65,000, and vast areas of farmland.  They are now saying it could be several weeks before people are allowed back in.

How could you prepare for something like that?  Obviously the basics... having go bags for family members, essential papers copied on thumb drives and stored with a family member out of town, enough cash on hand or available in an emergency fund account to stay in a hotel, but I think this particular case goes much deeper.

Everyone these people know and deal with on a regular basis are also being displaced.  Their jobs are ceasing to exist for the duration of the evacuation... or permenantly if the dam fails.  Any livestock will likely die is unattended for two or three weeks of the evacuation.  If the dam fails, everything they own and everything around them will be gone.

Most of us will never have to face such an extreme event.  A tornado might wipe out part of a town, but the rest of the town could be unscathed.  A hurricane can wipe out a city, but the evacuation will only be for a few days before you know for sure whether you'll be able to go home or not.  Same thing with a wild fire or chemical spill... it is a short term situation and then you know whether you can go home or start recovery.  This thing has people in limbo.  Stuck with no answers.  The psychology of it must be as tough as the financial and logistical impacts on families.

If you are downstream of a dam, do some research and check on it's condition and any evacuation plans.  Your local emergency managment office will likely have that information available.  The Army Corps of Engineers has a great interactive website for the National Inventory of Dams.  Here in Virginia, we have just over 2900 dams, and 468 of them are of a "high" hazard potential.

Keep those folks affected by the California situation in your thoughts and prayers.  They are going to have a tough time of it for a while, even if the dam is stabilized.


I got a speaking gig coming up...

I got word this week that I've been accepted to be a speaker at the Virginia state Search and Rescue Conference in April.  I'll be presenting on the 10Cs of Wilderness Survival Adapted for Search and Rescue.  I'm taking the 10Cs that Dave Canterbury teaches and adapting them and adding 3 more Cs.  Cool thing is I got Dave's permission to use his ideas.

As I put it in my proposal, I don't have any SAR experience, but I've camped in all weather conditions, studied the principles under Dave, and I once spent 2 1/2 months never setting foot in a building.  So I have that going for me.

This looks like it should be a really interesting conference.  I'm looking forward to speaking and to learning from the other presenters.

If you are interested, the website is www.VaSARConf.org.

They haven't got me listed yet, but I'll be on Saturday, Apr. 22.

On a side note, I got my 72 Jeep Commando running today.  It sat in the garage tent all winter, so I had to charge the battery and use some starter fluid.

I also worked on polishing up an old Colt Trooper III that I swapped for a few years ago.  The finish was awful and it had some rust, but a really nice trigger pull and tight lock up.  Over Christmas, I soaked it in a rust eating acid bath that got it down to bare metal.  It also ate the springs, so I have some new ones that I need to put in it.  Anyway, it has a little light pitting, so I'm working on polishing and smoothing it.  The end goal is to get it nickel plated and make it my Sunday-Go-To-Meeting gun.  The grips were completely shot, and my wife gave me some old school Pachmayrs for it.  Eventually I'll give a full report on the end product.


Building an Axe Mask/Sheath/Cover

I was pretty productive around the old homestead today.  I got my Cold Steel Trail Boss axe on Friday.  First thing, I sharpened it up with a two-sided stone, and got it pretty good.  Next up, I needed a cover for it so I could carry it safely attached to my pack, and to protect the head.  I decided on a basic mask, inspired by the one Dave Canterbury shows in his book, Bushcraft 101.  I made it a little more snazzy with an antler button and used red 550 cord for the lacing.  Check out my video of it here: Making a Mask for an Axe.


Ever heard of BushFit?  Dave Canterbury (seeing a trend here?) started the idea about a couple weeks ago of the 5x5 BushFit Challenge.  That's hiking 5K with a 50 lb. pack, in under 50 minutes, followed by 50 pushups and 50 situps.  I'm starting way behind the 8 ball on this, but I am going to get there.  I'm tracking my goals and progress at www.BushFit.blogspot.com if you are interested in following along or working toward it yourself.  But I digress...  Today I cleared the old logging trail on the back part of my property today.  It's part of my hiking path.  I have a short video giving a tour of the trail and talking about the BushFit challenge here: Clearing my BushFit trail.

To wrap up the day, how about a Sunday Funny?  You've probably seen the internet meme of the special bacon and 00 Buck ISIS hunting load.  If you look close, you'll notice that the round shown is not 00 Buck, and it is using what looks like polishing media instead of bacon as the buffer.  I made my own bacon and 00 Buck load today and have the video of it here: ISIS Ammo.

Have a great week!


Product Review: 120 Lumens LED Headlamp

It's simple... I am super impressed with this headlamp.  I can't believe the quality for the price.

I needed a couple extra headlamps for some car bags and my hiking pack.  I found this one on Amazon and it had good reviews.  It also had a great price: $9.99.

I went ahead and ordered four of them.  I've been messing around with one for a few days, and it is fantastic.  It has four modes: very bright, less bright, red solid, and flashing red.  It comes with three AAA batteries.  It is bright as all get out.  Twice I've been fiddling with it and turned it on when I was looking right at it.  Try to avoid that.  In pitch blackness, I can easily identify a person by my garage tent, about 100 feet from the back door of the house.  I used it when I cooked on the grill last night in the dark, and it was comfortable, lightweight, and made it easy to complete the task.

Turned on very bright, I left the light on for about 20 hours.  It was still showing a little light - enough to read a map by.  And these were the cheapo batteries it came with.

It is a bright green color, making it easy to find in a pack or something.  It's LED, so no bulbs to burn out and they don't use much power.  And, it's water proof (although I don't know to how deep).

I highly recommend this headlamp for your home, car, and pack.