Building our Campsite / Overland Destination – Evening of Day 1

We accomplished a lot on Day 1. Most of the stumps were removed. The brush and logs that were left from the last trip were cut up and pushed into piles on the side of the property. I also was able to start cutting some of the unhealthy trees on the perimeter.

The brush piles are good for the wildlife. They provide shelter for birds like grouse. They also provide places for a momma deer to stash a young fawn while she feeds else where. My wife was pulling brush into a pile (on the previous trip) and suddenly realized the was a fawn tucked away just a few feet from where she was working. We had been working in the area all day and the fawn had been there. We didn’t realize it until Connie saw it.

Tommy (with Bluff Mountain Nursery) started pulling stumps at the bottom and worked his way up the hill
Tommy is working his way up the hill.
Some of the stumps were easier to get out than others. There are 58 stumps to remove
The apple tree in the middle of the property had a bunch of apples on it

The apple tree in the middle of the campsite has been a subject of much discussion. The tree has struggled to survive under a canopy of faster growing Ash and Poplar trees. We cleared the trees that shaded the apple tree earlier in the year. The apple tree has put on a bunch of new growth with the extra sunlight hitting it.

The challenge is that the apple tree is in a spot that it is exposed to vehicular damage so we had to adjust the plans for the driveway to protect the apple tree. When we discussed the tree as a family, the consensus was to cut it down. I was the lone hold out to keep the tree. We’ll need to top the tree next year to keep it healthy and trim away growth that isn’t good for the tree long term.

It is important to note that those green apples are sooooo sour that the deer are even reluctant to eat them. You’ll see an apple on the ground with a couple of bites missing, like the deer tried it and walked away. They are cooking apples, just way too sour to do anything else with.

The saga of the apple tree continues, well see how it goes.

Building our Campsite / Overland Destination – Morning of Day 1

We’re working on the campground. Join us to see how it looks before the heavy equipment arrives.

Where we started. Thanks John Burwell for mowing the grass and cleaning the shoots off the stumps so we could see where they were. That made things to quicker.
Lot of stumps to remove before the new water lines can go in.
The teardrop is so handy for trips like this.
Cool picnic table provided by John Burwell!

Carvers Gap to Roan High Knob

The trails around Carver’s Gap and Roan Mountain are extremely popular and with good reason. It is an easy hike to the Knob and the view is outstanding. Just be prepared to have to work hard to find a place to park. You can also check off your bucket list item of walking on the Appalachian Trail as you are walking to the knob.

The trail is an easy hike and fairly gradual to the top. The trail is not technical.

Pictures tell the tale.

Parking is a mess, just give yourself time to find a spot

Read Family Camping Book for Free

2020 has been a crazy year. Despite the Covid-19 stuff, Connie and I have still managed to safely go camping and 4wheeling. If you want to find out more about how to go camping (and take your family) then you can read my first book on camping for free at http://montie.com/book/. Many of the topics in the book also apply to overlanding and glamping.

If you just want something to remind you of better days to come, then maybe a free book about fun stuff will be just the ticket. If you want a Kindle or paperback version, then please visit here.

When we go camping, we take measures to be socially distant and avoid exposure to the Covid-19 virus. If you want ideas on how to do that, then visit an earlier blog post.

Fred Behrend Trail at Roan Mountain State Park, TN

Roan Mountain State Park and the surrounding area has great hiking. The hike along the Appalachian Trail where it passes through Carver’s Gap is a must do hike. It is an easy hike and the views are spectacular.

This year we camped at the Roan Mountain State Park with friends. The whole Covid-19 mess meant that we had to practice social distancing, even with our friends.

On Saturday, my wife wanted to take a nap so I had a hour or so to go for a quick hike. The trail head for the Fred Behrend Trail was only about a 5 minute walk from my campsite, so I decided to do a quick hike. Click Here for the trail map.

The Fred Behrend Trail is 2.35 miles. Instead of looping back to the campsite on the Fred Behrend trail, I picked up the Riverside Trail (.35 miles plus the .35 mile hike back through the facility). The Fred Behrend Trail, has one main climb and a couple of short climbs. The trail is wooded and there are a lot of opportunities to see wild life. It was a nice hike and workout.

One note, is that the trail has several areas look like they will stay wet a lot of the year. This leads to some surprisingly slick rocks in a few spots. Just something to keep in mind. This is a nice trail for a quick hike. Because of the climbs, there is a moderate amount of effort, but the trail would still be fine for an active family.

The Roan Mountain State Park facility has a lot to offer. We had a great time.

Powering a Propane Shower Using Your Car Battery

Thanks for following our outdoor adventures!

We just got back from a great week long trip to the Western North Carolina mountains. We camped up at 4000 feet of elevation near Hot Springs, NC. Because we were going to be gone for a week, we took our big tent. That was a lot more comfortable for an extended period, especially with the dog. She takes up a lot of space in the teardrop.

Having a big tent gives room to relax and come in out of the rain

Since we wouldn’t have the teardrop, we had to use an alternate way to power the 12 Vdc pump for the shower. So we used the battery on the 4Runner, which works great. The 4Runner battery has plenty of capacity to run the 10 amp shower pump for the short amount of time needed to take a shower.

Taking a shower in the evenings is a great way to feel refreshed before going to bed. Its really not an option when backpacking, but a nice perk when car camping / glamping or overlanding.

I’ll also show you a simple DIY sink and countertop setup and storage box that works great if you have the room to haul it around or have a place where you can leave it permanently. We leave it at our permanent camping location and use it again and again. You could use this type of sink setup for a glamping trip as well, but you would have to haul it to your camp site. It might work well for a large gathering where you need a good way to wash dishes for a larger group.

Using a water jug like this makes it super easy for everyone to wash hands. That is very handy!

Our storage box setup is great for extra supplies and for storing higher value items when you leave the campsite.

Our 4Runner battery worked great for powering our portable shower

Reminder, always be aware of wildlife around you. I was standing near some tall grass and this guy slithered right by me and set up to sun himself on that log.

We found out that we had a leak in our tent roof, after many years of reliable service. Or quick fix was to use tarps to cover the top of the tent and make it through the week without any more leaks.

As usual, my wife cooked some great meals! Makes the whole trip better.

Staying safe from Covid-19 While Camping

Thinking about going camping soon? The video below shows how we tried to stay safe last weekend and avoid the Covid virus while we were camping at Grandfather Campground in Banner Elk, NC.

The goal was to not enter the shower or bathhouse. Instead we used our pop up shower tent and portable, propane hot water heater to shower at our campsite. We used our portable poop bucket for those needs.

Stay safe out there!

Pimping the Teardrop Trailer

The teardrop trailer has been a work in process. We’ve wanted to add more capability and storage, but I didn’t want to have a big impact on ground clearance or break over angle. Moving water, propane and the spare tire to the trailer means more space in the tow rig (either or Wrangler TJ or 4Runner).

Another challenge is the 200 lb tongue weight limit on the Wrangler. Once we get everything loaded on the trailer, I can check the tongue weight. I had relocated the battery to the rear of the trailer and that will help off set some of the additional tongue weight that we are about to add.

Items for this round of upgrades:

  • propane tank for use with the oven and especially the shower water heater (which can use a good bit of propane)
  • 2 jerry cans for water or gasoline
  • winch for the spare tire – wanted to tuck the spare tire between the structure so it didn’t have a big impact on the ground clearance and breakover angle
  • go to a larger jack on the tongue so i could use a two wheel roller (this part didn’t turn out like I hoped)

First step was to trip check that the bumper on the tow vehicle wouldn’t hit the jerry cans at the minimum turning circle. That also required a Bojangle biscuit since I was already in the Bojangles parking lot. This was just before the virus hit.

Last check of the clearance when the tow vehicle steering is at the maximum travel
Removing the old jack alignment plate
Ready to start the fabrication process after touching up paint that wouldn’t be affected by welding or grinding

Once we had the lower guide plate for the jack removed we could start verifying the layout of the can holder, tongue jack, propane tank and spare jack.

Important to test fit the location of everything before welding

Next step is to fabricate simple brackets to attach the tank holder. Then the brackets were attached to the tank holder and squared up before welding the brackets to the trailer frame.

Test fitting and aligning the mounting bars for the jerry can racks

One of the challenges was attaching some sort of frame to the front rail of the trailer frame without getting the weld bead too close to the blue skin and causing heat damage to the skin finish.

We also found a structural weld that was not adequate and could have caused a failure on the trail. The tire winch mount is bolted along the top and welded along the bottom. The weld pattern also addressed the frame weld issue and fixed the weak spot with the bad weld.

Support for propane tank is in place and the support for the jack
Propane tank rack in place. It took a little work fit everything in limited space and allow for the motion of the tank closure
Jerry can mounts tacked in place prior to final weld
Now we just need to add the tire winch mount and paint
Winch mount in place and painted. Need to grind and add final welds.
Welds and final paint almost complete
Painted and ready for final assembly
Next step is to add the tank, racks and spare tire

It was a lot of work. It would not have happened without Maverick Metal Works

Once we have the trailer out and outfitted, we’ll take some pictures and show off the new gear.

2019 Uwharrie Jeep Jamboree

We spent two awesome days on the trail. The first day was in Big Creek. Big Creek is tight and technical with lots of rocks and several great hill climbs. We made it up Winch Hill with no problems and lots of smiles from my wife and co pilot. We also finally made it up Perimeter Hill without having to winch. We had tried getting up this hill for 3 years before we made it up without winching. So that was a nice victory.

The second day was doing the D’s in Uwharrie. The D’s are Daniel, Dickie Bell and Dutch John.

Correcting the line created a little drama
Off camber but in a good line
Nice and slow through the second obstacle on Daniel

Hiking the Black Mountain Crest Trail / Mount Mitchell

One of the a whole bunch of amazing views from the trail

Hiking the Black Mountain Crest Trail was awesome. We made it from Bowlens Creek to the summit of Mount Mitchell in a little under 10 hours. Make no doubt, this is a tough hike but the views and the terrain are amazing to see. The hike began at Bowlens Creek. The first 3 hours were 95% climbing. You’ll gain about 3500 feet and come out of the woods on the crest of the ridge at Celo Knob. Celo Knob is where the really beautiful part of the hike begins. At this point you can see the peaks that you will cross over before connecting with the Deep Gap Trail and coming out at the parking lot at the top of Mount Mitchell. During the day you’ll gain almost a vertical mile! This is one of my favorite trails.

Always come prepared, the weather on Mount Mitchell is very unpredictable. Previous time we hiked Mount Mitchell, we faced 40 degrees and rain and high winds on the top after hiking up a warm sunny trail.

Camping Skills – Book 2 of the Montie’s Guide to Camping Series

I’m excited to announce that book 2 of the series is now available. You can get your copy at:

Montie Gear Website

Amazon.com

Written for beginner to semi-seasoned outdoor-enthusiasts, this book delves into how to select gear, effective ways to set up your campsite, safe drinking water, shower options, and more. The word “camping” inspires smiles in many people. Learn how to escape your daily life and create memorable family experiences in the woods.

ISBN # 978-1733596947 

More about the book

The word “camping” inspires smiles in many people. My goal is to show you how to create memorable family experiences in the woods. First off, I’d like to thank you for buying this book. If you’re about to embark on your first camping trip then forge ahead and let me share what I’ve learned over the years. On the other hand, if you’ve camped a few times and are looking for tips on how to be more efficient and accomplished in your future trips, then read on. I always say knowledge weighs nothing. My hope is that you’ll find yourself better informed after reading this book.

This book ships for free to the Continental US only.

About the author:


Allow me to share a little about myself. As a graduate of North Carolina State University, my day job is mechanical engineering specializing in new product development. I was raised in Asheville, NC, where I earned my Eagle Scout award. Growing up, our home was located only a few miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway, so I had many blessed opportunities to spend time outside. My childhood was an exceptional gateway to outdoor adventure for an inquisitive kid with tons of time and a vivid imagination.

As an avid outdoor enthusiast, I’d say my happy place is being in the woods. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to camp in North Carolina, Virginia, and New Mexico. The trip to New Mexico was a ninety mile backpacking trip to Philmont, the famous Boy Scout reservation. These rich experiences have molded me into the man I am today.

My wife and I own land in the mountains near Hot Springs, NC, where we hope to build a cabin sometime over the next couple of years. Until then, Connie and I enjoy tent camping there several times a year.

During the final edit of this book, we camped near Blowing Rock, NC, and hiked the Profile Trail up Grandfather Mountain. What a glorious hike and memorable weekend enjoying tent camping just off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I have found that camping is a great way to enjoy nature while keeping your trips inexpensive. When you camp, you save money so you can spread your funds over more excursions and spend more time outdoors—which is a win-win for everybody involved! Just like everyone else who works nine-to-five, I struggle with my work life balance. Throw in family and responsibilities at home, you quickly realize you must carve out time to do what you enjoy.

This book covers a lot of skills and topics that apply to camping in your area and at different stages of life. Camping is a great experience for your family. Hopefully Family Camping (Montie’s Guide to Camping, Book One) helps you escape your daily life and enjoy the outdoors!Sign up for Montie Gear, Inc. newsEmailSubscribe

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Fun Product Design – Easy Camp Fires with Fatwood Kindling

Montie’s Note:  As product designers, we often obsess with QFD, House of Quality, Pairwise groupings, but some products are just simple and fun.  Here is a new product announcement for a Montie Gear product that we had fun with.  Here is an example of a simple and less serious outdoor sporting goods product that is very handy for the user in an outdoor environment.

In the pine trees found in Western NC, resin naturally accumulates over years of growth, creating what is locally known as Fatwood.  The resin impregnated pine wood makes a great fire starter.  One of our local outdoors experts, Bill, harvests our fatwood from the stumps of pine trees that were cut years earlier.

We all love sitting by the camp fire, but the toughest part about starting a campfire is the preparation.  Fatwood works as great kindling, as a small amount is all that is required to help you get the fire started.  Checkout out our Fatwood options at the Montie Gear store!

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Click on the image above to watch Bill’s video

.5 lb Bundle of Fatwood – Click to Order

.5 lb Bundle of Fatwood- Click to Order

1 lb Box of Fatwood- Click to Order

3/4 lb Fatwood Block- Click to Order

 

Philosophy
Our philosophy for Montie Gear products is pretty straight forward.  We provide “Heirloom Quality Products That are Troublesome Gap Tough”.  
 
Heirloom Quality
Many products in today’s world are meant to have a limited life time.  A good example is that cell phone that you need to replace every two years.  It works great, but over time technology changes and the fragile electronics have a limited lifetime.  We want to design and sell products that have a very long lifetime and may actually get passed along to your kids or grandchildren.  Many rifles get passed along from parent to children, sometimes marking a rite of passage.  Granted a shooting rest isn’t as special as your Grandfather’s rifle.  However, we work to design and sell products that are simple, elegant and high enough quality that you will want to pass them along to your kids or grandchildren.
Troublesome Gap Tough
Troublesome Gap is a place in Western North Carolina, near the peak of Hap Mountains and overlooking Spring Creek, NC.  My parents purchased the property over 40 years ago.  I grew up spending time there.  We cut firewood for heat, picked blackberries and raspberries, and spent some great weekends up there.  Troublesome Gap is remote and rugged, the prefect place to test our products.  Troublesome Gap Tough means that the products are rugged and easy-to-use.  A delicate, hard-to-use product is a liability in the field, so we avoid that by making sure all our products provide a great customer experience and are built to last, even in demanding conditions.As President of Montie Design, I am proud the fact that we are shipping high-quality, U.S. made products.  I am also proud to be an American.Sincerely,
Montie Roland
800-722-7987

montie@montie.com