Saturday, July 26, 2014

First S24O - Paddle style

For father's day this year, my family bought be a really sweet vintage canoe. I say vintage but I think it's probably from the eighties, so really,  not that old. But it had only been used 4 times since new, and was in incredible condition.

This was awesome for me. I've always wanted a canoe, and with the boys getting more into fishing and are coming of age to handle longer stints outdoors, this opens up all new doors and options to squeeze the most out of our summer months.

Over the past few years we've been slowly accumulating gear for camping and hiking. The end goal is back country camping. Just find a parking lot in Kananaskis, and spend the next several days in the bush. It's incredible  country only a few hours from home and it seems a shame to just enjoy it once or twice a year on day trips.

After a year or two of looking for deals, slowly acquiring once piece of gear after another, I think we're pretty much set up to be self reliant in the woods. But, with the higher stakes of driving for a several hours and being further from home, I figured a nice little S24O would be the perfect way to test out our gear and see if we really are ready.

My father-in-laws farm is only 10 minutes from our house, and he has a lake, trees and some nice pasture areas that are a little more exciting than the bald prairies that make up my part of the world. A little pocket of vegetation that makes you feel like you've traveled much further than you actually have. A great spot for a little S24O canoe trip.

After our tradition of pizza friday as a family, the boys and I headed off on our little adventure. We learned a bit, and found a few things out. But for the most part, we are fairly well set up for ultra-light/stealth camping. The biggest thing I would like to better sort out is our tent. There are lots of options for ultra compact 1 or 2 man tents, but when you get up into 3 person tents, the ultra-light options seem to die off. With my pack, and the boys each having their own pack, we can carry everything we need for at least 3 days. Everything except a tent. We might have to give tarp-tenting a try, but I'm not sure the boys (or myself) will enjoy being completely exposed to all the bugs that rush to live their lives during the few summer months we have. We'll see about that one.

Another thing I'd wanted to do this trip was test a knife I made. I'm happy with the way it turned out and have spent the last most of a year simply enjoying the knife. But I've been a little hesitant to actually use it. I think part of that is due to the amount of work that I've put into this knife. Working without belt grinders or some of the other tools that are usually associated with handmade knives, I did all the work on this knife with a hand file. It saw me spending hours and hours filing in the evenings, one after another, to make a decent cutting bevel. But, I'm now over the starring at it and need to know if I've actually made a decent usable tool that will last long enough for my sons to use. Or have I made something that simply looks nice? Time to put it through it's bush-crafting paces. I'll make my mind up after a year or so of hard use, but so far the edge retention is doing really well.

We were home by 11 the next morning, and we had a blast. After reading so much for so many years of the S24O experience, I now understand the draw these things. Being able to squeeze a bit of awesome living into what would have been a typical start to the weekend is pretty awesome. Somehow you feel as though you've gotten away with something. I call that a win!

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