Posts made in June 2018

Gila Wilderness (Jerry, a Rancher I came across on my Expedition)

Backpacking with a Firearm (Florida State Statute)

THE AMERICAN BACKPACKER

Backpacking with a firearm is a personal choice that all wilderness backpacker’s make.  I carry a firearm when I am in a wilderness area for personal protection.  I have been asked on many occasions if it is legal to backpack with a firearm openly in the state of Florida and this article will discuss the Florida State Statute allowing me to legally do so.

I am allowed to do so because of Florida State Statute 790.25(H).   It is important to note that Florida is not an open carry state when it comes to carrying a firearm.

Florida statute (790.25(H), states that an individual is legally allowed to openly carry a firearm when they are actively Fishing, Hunting, or Camping.   As a Wilderness Backpacker I always spend at least one night in a Wilderness area.  Staying overnight in a wilderness area fulfills the requirement of this statute that you are camping. If I were to just go for a day hike and not stay the night in a basecamp then this statute would not apply.

It is important that you look up this statute and educate yourself on the specifics.  It is important to understand that this statute applies to individual’s that are legally and lawfully able to have in their possession a firearm.  So if you are a convicted felon, have some type of domestic injunction against you, or have been mentally judged incompetent by the courts, and or other restrictions, this statute will not apply to you and you cannot legally and lawfully carry a firearm.

You have seen me backpacking in other states, and I have thoroughly researched those states statutes and I was able to legally carry a firearm into those wilderness areas.  This statute also does not allow you to carry a firearm concealed. 

If I were to cover my firearm with a towel as I backpacked in Florida then that means it is concealed and I need to have a concealed weapons permit (CCW).  This also means that if I were to put my firearm in my backpack then it is also considered concealed and not legal under this statute unless I have a CCW.

If you choose to carry a firearm under this statute then make sure that you are properly trained in using the firearm you choose to carry.   Make sure that you have been to the range and fired the weapon that you will use. Do not use it in a reckless manner. 

Going into a Wilderness area in Florida does not mean that you can automatically discharge your weapon. If you start target shooting in a wilderness area without a legally valid reason then it is reckless and you will be held criminally or civilly liable or both.

Lastly, if you are stopped by law enforcement, please cooperate with them.  Being confrontational only makes your adventure difficult and law enforcement officers want to make sure that your experience and those around you are safe.  Lawfully carrying a firearm in today’s society has been a hot topic. Understanding your rights and cooperating makes the process of legally carrying a firearm a safe and enjoyable experience.

Always practice safe deployment of a firearm and thoroughly research the states firearm statutes before carrying any firearm.


 

 

Basecamp Perimeter Alarm System

Basecamp Perimeter Security System

THE AMERICAN BACKPACKER

Having a basecamp perimeter alarm system on your wilderness adventures will  give you some piece of mind that unwanted animals or people will not wander into your evening basecamp. I am hearing of more incidents involving animals coming into wilderness backpackers basecamps especially for food. The animals I am talking about are not raccoons, squirrels, or possums, but larger species such as bears, mountain lions and unwanted human visitors.

When I go into the Wilderness for my overnight adventures I always carry a trip wire alarm system. Trip wire alarm systems are not new, but they are portable and easy to set up depending on the terrain you are in. I usually set up a trip wire alarm system in my basecamps but there are times that it is not possible due to terrain.

Remember my acronym before setting up your basecamp, (W.E.S.S.).  Look for the following when determining where to place your basecamp:

  • Water
  • Elevation
  • Safety
  • Security

Using this acronym will help you situate your basecamp in a safe and secure area. Once your basecamp is set up you can add a trip wire alarm system to add more security to your evening basecamp.

A tripwire alarm system in very portable, lightweight, and easy to set up. I have used this system and it has worked to scare off animals that have wandered into my basecamp in the early morning hours. The main point for having this system is to scare off animals or other unwanted people with a high-pitched audible sound. The system consists of the following:

  • An audible alert device, (BASU E-Alarm) there are other manufacturers in the market.
  • A Bungee cord to secure the device to an object such as a tree
  • Fishing line, (I use 100 pound test), to connect your device to an adjoining tree or other object.

I take my device and I bungee cord it to a tree using a clip at the end of the bungee cord. You can use other object such as a rock if a tree is not available. I then connect my fishing line to the device and then run it to an opposing tree/object. I will place the system no higher than 2 feet from the ground, terrain dictating. I usually set up a minimum of three alarms in a triangular formation.

Below is a quick video on how to set up and deploy a trip wire alarm system. You can modify it to meet your specific needs.


Ocala National Forest

My Overnight Ocala Wilderness Adventure (June 2018)

THE AMERICAN BACKPACKER

I recently returned from another overnight adventure into the Juniper Prairie Wilderness located in the Ocala National Forest (ONF).  The Ocala Wilderness offers backpackers a different experience from other Wilderness Areas in North America.  The Juniper Prairie Wilderness is one of 4 Wilderness areas in the Ocala National Forest.  The terrain in the Juniper Prairie Wilderness is flat with a white sandy beach soil.  The temperatures during my trip exceeded 100 degrees during the afternoon and it dropped into the upper 70’s in the evening which was a welcome relief.

If you decide to do some Wilderness Backpacking in Ocala during the Summer be prepared for a-lot of heat and humidity.  Make sure you keep yourself hydrated and use electrolyte packets to replenish those lost minerals and salts that your body will lose in the heat and humidity.  The Juniper Prairie Wilderness has seen an increase in bear activity. Make sure you carry bear spray and have it readily available.

Make sure that you have insect repellant with you and apply it to your clothing and skin before heading out (Permethrin and Picaridin).  The summer months bring out many biting insects that can transfer diseases such as Lyme Disease and the Zika Virus.  The best time to backpack the ONF is during the winter months.  The heat and humidity in the summer can be very tough on backpackers if they are not used to the heat.  In the winter months be prepared for very cold evenings getting into the 20’s.  During winter months hypothermia is a possibility and you need to have the proper clothing and gear with you.

Backpacking the ONF is a challenge with many scenic beauties such as the open prairie areas in the Juniper Prairie Wilderness.  The evenings are mystic especially if you go during a full moon cycle.

Ocala National Forest (Juniper Prairie Wilderness)
JUNIPER PRAIRIE WILDERNESS AREA MAP

Juniper Prairie Wilderness (Sunset)

The Sheet Bend Knot

THE AMERIICAN BACKPACKER

The Sheet Bend Knot is also called the Weaver’s Knot.  This knot is my third wilderness knot in my series of knots you need to know in a wilderness area.  The Sheet Bend Knot is used to join (2) ropes together.  The ropes joined can be of different diameter’s or the same diameter.  Caution should be used when using this knot to insure you keep tension on it.

The knot can come loose without proper tension.  This knot allows a Wilderness Adventurer to extend ropes when needed.  Many times when you are at your basecamp you may have ropes that are cut different lengths for various applications.

When you need to use a longer rope this knot will allow you to easily and quickly extend the length of that particular rope.


 

 

Gila Wilderness

Sawyer Permethrin Insect Repellant

THE AMERICAN BACKPACKER

Summer is here and so are the instects.  This year there has been a higher than normal increase in the diagnosis of Lyme disease.  Lyme Disease is an infectious bacterium that is carried by ticks.  Lyme disease can cause you to have joint pain, fever, feeling tired, heart palpitations and other symptoms.  If left untreated the long-term effects can lead to neuromuscular difficulties, fibromyalgia, depression, and other debilitating conditions.

Other insects like mosquitos carry the Zika Virus that in recent years has been a major concern for many especially pregnant women.  Prevention by using insect repellant’s, (i.e. Thermacell Backpacker), are your first line of defense.  It starts before entering any Wilderness Area.  Using a repellant called Permethrin , made by Sawyer,  will help make your battle with insects more manageable.  Permethrin is a synthetic chemical (insect repellant) that affects the central nervous system of insects.

By spraying your clothing and gear with Permethrin and letting it properly dry will deter these insects from attaching themselves onto you.  I enjoy getting off the trail and bushwhacking and that is the time when insects will attach themselves to you especially around your ankle and leg area.

Sawyer has a spray (Sawyer Permethrin), that you directly spray onto your clothing and gear.  After it has properly dried it will last for 6 weeks or 6 machine washes.  I have used this product for a couple of years now and it has helped me control disease carrying insects (Ticks, Mosquitos, Chiggers, and others) from attaching themselves to my skin.  I also use a Picaridin an insect lotion made by Sawyer that is applied directly to my skin.

Next time you head into a Wilderness area think about treating your gear and clothing with Permethrin.   Please read and follow the manufacturers directions for proper application of this product.


The American Backpacker

Wilderness Go Bag (Part 2) The items you need in your Bag

THE AMERICAN BACKPACKER

I recently posted a short article and video on having a Wilderness Go-Bag with you on your next Wilderness Adventure.  This is a follow-up post discussing the gear you should have in your Go Bag.  This post discusses the basic items/gear you should have in your Bag.  These are not necessarily the only things because everyone may have different individual needs while exploring a Wilderness Area.

Having a Wilderness Go-Bag will allow you to centralize your gear in one smaller pack that you carry in you back pack.  When you get to your basecamp all you have to do is grab your Go-Bag out of your backpack and you are ready for your daily expeditions with a lighter pack.  A Go-Bag also gives you the necessary gear to sustain you during an emergency if you need to bug out of your basecamp.

The concept of a Go-Bag is not new but it is something you should consider on your next Wilderness Adventure.  A good example of why I think you should have a Go-Bag in the Wilderness may entail the following scenario.  Yo are at your basecamp and some type of natural disaster, (e.g. Flood, Fire, Storm), hits you can grab your Go -Bag and quickly exit the area.  Minutes and seconds may be the difference between life and death.  Once you have cleared the emergency you now have the gear with you to sustain yourself until you get to safety.

A Wilderness Go-Bag also allows you to venture away from your basecamp to conduct your daily expeditions with a lighter pack.  Below are the items I discuss in my video on the basic gear that you need to have in your Wilderness Go-Bag if you decide to use one on your next Wilderness Adventure.

Go-Bag Basic Items

  • Go Bag: Small enough to fit in your Backpack
  • Cell Phone
  • Medical Kit: Antiseptic, iodine, Band Aids, Bacitracin, Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Scissors, Needles, Thread, Fish Hooks
  • GPS and Topo Map:  I use a Garmin inReach Explorer Plus that also is a satellite communicator.
  • Compass:  I use a Suunto MC-2G.
  • Whistle:  Various ones on the market.  Make sure that it works when wet.
  • Water Filtration System: I prefer a hand pump, (MSR Trailshot, Life Straw, Katadyn, etc.)
  • Headlamp or Flashlight: I use a Petzl headlamp.
  • Solar Panel with a Battery Pack: I use the battery pack to charge my electronic gear).
  • Recharging cables for electronics
  • Insect lotion, Sunscreen, lip Balm
  • Fire Starting Gear:  Lighter, Magnesium Rod, Cotton Balls dipped in Vaseline.
  • Cordage:  550 para cord
  • Knife:  I use an Esee 6 fixed blade straight edge knife.  I am looking trying the the Esee 4.
  • Military Poncho
  • Snacks