Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Events: Maine Canoe Symposium

Want to learn to paddle a canoe? Want to further your paddling skills?  If the answer is yes, then register for the 2012 Maine Canoe Symposium.  This year it’ll be June 8th through the 10th.  As always it’ll be at Camp Winona on Moose Pond in Bridgton, ME.  Register early because it’s cheaper and it’s limited to 150 participants.  The workshop list for 2012 hasn’t been set yet but there are many workshops on land and on water.  From the skill of building a canoe to various paddling types and strokes.  Even the most experienced paddler will have fun.  I encourage you to visit their website and check out the pictures and videos as well as workshops from previous years.  


Friday, February 17, 2012

Old Town Pack Canoe

I recently sold my kayak so I was looking for a replacement.  I wanted to come back into the world of canoes but wanted a solo boat that was light.  There are many many decisions ranging from $500 all the way up to $3,000.  What I ended up deciding on is the Old Town Pack.  I think we all know the Old Town Canoe company.  They have been dominating the canoe market since 1898.  Unfortunately in 2004 Old Town was purchased by a large outdoor company called Johnson Outdoors, but thankfully they left the company in Maine.  It would have been a great loss to Maine and consumers if they ended up like the Mad River canoe company.  Unfortunately in this kayak dominated market it’s tough to find a good high end or middle of the road canoe locally.  I can find 80lb polyethylene boats at any mom and pop sporting good store.  I wanted something better though.  After many attempts locally to find one I decided to purchase it from LL Bean.  LL Bean had a 15% off sale and the freight shipping was only $60.  That’s a bargain in my book.  I ordered it on Tuesday (2/14) and it arrived today (2/17).  That’s some fast freight shipping!  

The packaging was very well done.  It was wrapped in multi layers of plastic and bubble wrap.  All in all there were 3 layers of plastic covering and 2 layers of bubble wrap.  The packaging was so good I now have to sharpen my Buck knife again.  As I unwrapped it I found the bow and stern handles had Scotty mount holders attached to them.  AMAZING!!! This essentially solves so many problems that canoeists have.  There are 4 total.  Two at the bow and two at the stern.  I now don’t have to worry about mounting any anchor setup or rod holder on the gunwales due to Old Town’s great idea.  This is why Old Town has dominated the canoe market for years.  I’ve already made a mental note of using my Scotty anchor mount on the farthest hole and my Scotty triple mount on the closest one.  After I cleaned up the drool I looked over the rest of the canoe and it’s exactly how I figured it would be.  Some popular modifications are to lower the seat to gain some stability but I’ll paddle it first and find out if I need it.  More often than not I’ll be paddling from my knees anyway.  I plan to get out in the next couple days so we’ll see how it goes. 





Thursday, February 16, 2012

News: MA Hiker Falls Off Trail

From WWLP.com:

Rescue crews from Amherst and South Hadley have rescued a man who fell 25 feet off a trail at Mount Holyoke Range State Park. It happened at around 11:30 P.M. Wednesday at the M&M Trail, one of the highest and steepest points at Mount Holyoke Range State Park. According to Amherst Fire Chief Tim Nelson, 22 year-old Scott Merrick of South Hadley, and a female companion were there together when Merrick suddenly fell. The woman called police and a rescue was launched. Rescue personnel set up a command center at the visitors center building. Around 12:30 A.M., Merrick was located. Rescuers lifted him free using a system of ropes and pulleys, freeing him around 4:00. They were not able to talk to him, but he was alert and awake, though he appeared to have several cuts and bruises. He was taken to Baystate Medical Center, where he is listed in “good” condition.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Review: Silky Pocketboy 130mm

The search has ended for the perfect hand saw.  The Silky Pocketboy 130mm is FANTASTIC.  Words can’t describe how great this saw is.  It’s a folding style saw with 2 locking positions.  The first position is for regular top cutting and the second position is for cutting from underneath.  The Pocketboy pictured below has a 5” blade (130mm), is 11.42” when opened, and is 6.70” when closed.  The metal is an SK4 High Carbon Steel which makes the saw weigh in at .35lbs without the plastic sheath and .50lbs with the sheath.  It’s available in 4 blade configurations, which is shown by the color of the handle.  The red handle has large teeth, black handle has medium teeth, yellow has fine teeth, and purple has extra fine teeth.  An added bonus is that it has a lifetime warranty.  I love lifetime warranties!!

Now that everyone is aware of the specs let’s get to the good stuff, which is how it performed.  I have a lot of trees and branches down in my yard from the recent storms and used this saw, and only this saw, to cut them up to make a burning pile.  I cut anything from a twig all the way up to a 5” thick branch with no issues at all.  The saw didn’t care what size or type of wood I put it through, it cut it all.  It’s a back pull saw, meaning that it only cuts on the backstroke.  You’d think it would be a little slower but it only took seconds to cut through the larger branches.  After using this for an afternoon it’s in my top 5 tools that I need to have when I go out in the woods.  If you spend anytime outdoors you should buy this saw.  If you want to purchase the saw you can find it on Amazon or www.silkysaws.com





Friday, February 3, 2012

Events: Berkshire Highlands Pentathlon

The first annual Berkshire Highlands Pentathlon is scheduled for March 31st.  The Pentathlon will benefit local land preservation efforts and local education.  It sounds like it should be a lot of fun.  If I could remove running and replace it with something else I would enter, but I'm no distance runner.

Course Map

 Running leg - 4.75 miles – Starting at Berkshire East go through the frozen or thawed mud parking lot and down the paved access road turning left onto River Road and then right over the Deerfield River and right onto Main Street/ Route 2.  After a third of a mile, turn left onto Riddell Road where the paved road gets steep.  Follow Riddell Road for a little over a mile to where the course cuts left through a large field with spectacular views of the valley. Follow farm roads to the Warfield House sugarbush where the trail turns to winding singletrack for about a mile.  At the end of the singletrack, follow a jeep road downhill to Zoar Outdoor where the transition zone for the bike leg is located.

Road Bike Leg - 23 miles - Head west on Route 2 for about a mile and then right onto River Road.  Follow River Road, staying right at the fork toward Rowe.  Climb through the center of Rowe and past Pelham Lake to a left turn onto Ford Hill Road.  At the end of Ford Hill Road, go right onto Monroe Hill Road and descend the very steep hill carefully.  Cross the Deerfield River and go through the tiny center of Monroe.  Go left at the T onto River Road. Follow River Road for about 9.5 miles to the Zoar Gap Picnic Area where you'll arrive at the transition zone for the kayak leg.  

Given the season and the steep roads, the bike course is likely to be very slippery.  Use extreme caution, especially on the descents.

River Leg - 5 miles - Zoar Gap Picnic Area to Long Bridge (Route 8A) in Charlemont.  The race course is a 5-mile section of class I-II whitewater at flows up to about 2000 cfs.  The start is at the boat launch at the base of the stone stairs near the cemetery at the Zoar Gap Picnic Area.  The first 1/4 mile is a moderate class I warmup before you head into Slamdance rapid. Slamdance is a class II rapid with a large boulder in the center at the bottom of the first wave train.  Go right or left of this boulder and then pick your way through the rock garden in the bottom half of the rapid.  More class I and easy class II follows for a mile and a quarter until an island splits the river.  Take the left channel where an easy bouldery class II rapid leads to the junction of the Cold River.  This area can be very turbulent when the Cold is running high.  Below here, class I and easy class II leads to the Route 2 bridge just below Mohawk Park Campground and, below the bridge, to a large, slow-moving pool at the Shunpike rest area.  A quarter mile below the Shunpike the Chickley River enters from the right where the main river makes a sweeping lefthand turn.  After a sharper righthand turn the current slows and you can see Berkshire East Ski Area straight ahead.  In another 3/4 of a mile, you'll come to the Long Bridge in Charlemont where the finish and the transition zone to the hill climb is on the right just after the bridge.


Hill Climb Leg - 1 mile - Deerfield River edge at Route 8A bridge in Charlemont to the top of Exhibition on Berkshire East.  The hill climb starts at the south side of the Route 8A bridge and follows the South River Road east to the paved Berkshire East access road.  Continue through the frozen (or thawed muddy) parking lot changing to the gear of choice in front of the Main Lodge. Runners may switch to X-C skis, backcountry skis and skins, snow shoes, or running shoes with crampons taking any inbounds route desired to the top of Exhibition where the hand off to the skier is made.

Alpine Ski Leg – The downhill ski leg begins with an uphill trudge through snow to a start gate where skis can be donned for the descent. “Piners” should plan to ski through gates, and to stop and skate up through uphill gates and chicanes as they make their way to the base area where one last uphill gate awaits at the finish. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

News: Truro Firefighters Save Deer

From WHDH.com (with video):

TRURO, Mass. -- Crews rescued a deer stuck in a well on Sunday.

Authorities say the deer may have been caught in the Truro well for days. The deer was 12 feet down the dry well, and kicking wildly. 

“I’ve gone to many animal complaints; I’ve never seen a wild animal this upset.  She tried several times to jump out of the hole and she was just not able to clear the 12 to 14 foot hole,” said Officer Jeremiah Valli of the Truro Police Department.

They couldn’t shoot the deer with a tranquilizer because he’s a game animal. The only option was for someone to go down and rope the animal. Truro firefighter Captain Shannon Corea was up for the job.

“I just wasn’t sure how she was going to react to me being right next to her like that. But I took the chance, went slowly, she sniffed me a little bit and then when I got in there I just talked to her.  I told her we were there to help her,” said Captain Shannon Corea of the Truro Fire Department.

The captain’s deer-whispering skills did the trick. Once the rope was in place, police and fire hauled the deer up and she was off, running over a hill to open marsh land.

“We don’t plan for a lot of what we get, so improvising is part of the deal, and that’s what we did and we were able to help her out,” said Captain Corea.

Neighbors say they’ll make sure the well is sealed off for good.

“The real heroes are Shannon and Officer Valli. I mean, they came and did the right thing,” said Andy Snow, a neighbor.

Police say the deer appeared to have minor injuries and looked exhausted from the ordeal, but as soon as he was rescued, he bolted right back into the forest.

Tips: Creating A Spin/Fly Box

I've looked high and low for a spin/fly box and only found one.  It was a Flambeau and looked pretty cheap.  Since there weren't any options for me, I made my own.  I took the ageless Plano 3213 and changed it.  One side is for my spoons and spinners, while the other side is for flies.  Below is a step by step to what I did. 


  1. Plano 3213 
  2. replacement fly foam refills
  3. cardboard and paper
  4. knife or razor
  5. sandpaper
  6. papertowels




1. Open up the box and get the knife ready.


2. Carefully cut out the tray dividers with a knife or razor blade so that it’s close to flush with the bottom and sides.


3. Sand the remaining bits of tray dividers and the bottom with some sandpaper. You need to scuff it u to get the adhesive to stick well.


4. Measure and make your template with paper. Once you get the paper template you can transfer that to cardboard to fine tune it.


5. Transfer the template to the back of the foam refill. There is no going back after you cut this. Measure TWICE and cut ONCE.


6. Wash out the inside and get all the dust and plastic off then pull the adhesive and stick the foam refill in and press down.


7. Add flies and go catch some trout.