Hoarding and the Canned SPAM Rule

Lets take a few minutes and talk about how redefining words and can be dangerous to you and your family.

Hoarding is a term you often hear from people who refuse to prepare for the possibility of a disaster (natural or man made). Often those people think anyone who prepares for bad times is just a “hoarder”. Even saying that while state and federal government agencies encourage people to have two weeks supply of food and water.

Discernment and common sense are in short supply these days. Some people make fun who people who take steps to protect their family. Those same people often had parents who stored up food for the winter. Those people have determined that storing up food for the winter or bad times is something that rednecks and preppers do. They feel that the world is a more civilized place now and that isn’t needed. At the same time they are spending way more for groceries than they need, just because they don’t want to put effort into preserving food (and buying that food in season when it is much less expensive). Maybe they feel like its too much work. Who knows. But you at least suspect that you need to prepare for an increasingly unsure future in America because you are still reading.

Don’t let someone’s ignorance and normalcy bias dictate what you do.

Great NC Hike – Up Grandfather Mtn via Boy Scout Trail / Grandfather Mtn Trail

If you are looking for a great hike that is challenging and very, very beautiful then this might just fit the bill. This is probably one of the most technical hikes in NC, but there is view after view after view.

Connie dropped us off on the Blue Ride Parkway and picked us up at the top of Grandfather Mountain, which turned out to be a good thing. There was a lot of traffic on the Grandfather Mtn trail and it was slow going at times. The hike up was about 6 hours.

If you want to do the hike up the mountain only, then you will need to arrange for a ride or have someone pick you up at the top of Grandfather Mountain. If you want someone to pick you up on the top of Grandfather Mountain, you’ll need to buy a pass, well in advance. There are a limited number of parking spots, so they sell passes with a window of time on a specific day to enter the park with a vehicle. You can purchase the pass to Grandfather mountain here. You don’t need to purchase a pass to hike in the park, but you will need a pass to enter the park with a vehicle. Grandfather Mountain does operate a shuttle service up the mountain, but I’m not sure how that works.

Alltrails.com is a great resource for hiking in this area. Click on the image to read about the trail and the hike.

The Daniel Boone Scout Trail portion of the hike is not very technical and the climb is gradual throughout the trail. The first part of the hike is on the Tanawha Trail. The Scout Trail turns right and heads up the mountain after a short hike from the parking lot on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The only gotcha on the Daniel Boone Scout Trail is the trail markings and trail configuration just past the trailhead (leaving from the parking lot on the Parkway). The signage is a little confusing where the Scout trail turns off the Tanawha Trail.

The Grandfather Mountain portion of the trail gets very technical in spots. There are lots of spots where you have to be very careful because of the steep drop offs and slick, or even icy, rocks. There were icy spots during our hike in mid-Oct. There are ladders and very exposed climbs, but it truly is beautiful.

One option to consider is just doing the Grandfather Mountain Trail. You would start at the parking lot near the swinging bridge, and do the trail as an out and back (returning to the parking lot on the top of Grandfather Mountain).

The plane crash site is pretty neat, worth the short detour.
Lots of ladders

2020 NC Overland Challenge – Part 2

The Overland Challenge was a lot of fun! It was held in Uwharrie National Forest (between Raleigh, NC and Charlotte, NC). Portions of the event were also held in Big Creek and Grand Overland District. Outdoor events like this are a great way to minimize the risk of contracting COVID while having a great time.

Here are the rigs in our team. Amazing the Tacoma was almost bone stock! There was some carnage on the Tacoma, but it made it through.

There were a variety of events and lot of 4wheeling, often at a fast pace trying to achieve the objective. It is a great playground that we have to enjoy.

The time trials are where you do a 4wd course for time. So they are moderate speed events that can be hard on your vehicle. Even the mighty full-size Cherokee has some carnage after one of the time trials (tire destroyed and mystery transmission fluid leak). It was a pretty quick fix to change tires and double check the transmission and we were quickly headed to the next event.

There were lots of cool overlanding rigs and setups. Some amazing. Lots of cool off road trailers.

We also put the teardrop to good use. It makes events like this so much easier and comfy.

It was a great weekend. I was very happy with our team performance. We tied for second with the BFG team!

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.