Montrose Book Signing

November 15th, 2009
Randy & Kay at Hastings book signing

On Saturday, Nov. 14th  Hastings books and music in Montrose, Colorado sponsored a book signing for us.  Kay and I had a wonderful experience meeting long time friends, and renewing old acquaintances.  We especially enjoyed making new friends at the event.  Cheryl and Stacie with Hastings were very helpful in organizing and promoting the event.  The support and feedback from the community was very much felt and appreciated.

Sales of the book were excellent with the store selling several copies of the book before the book signing actually began.  By the end of the two hour event the store had sold out of the book and received orders for many more.  Needless to say, this is exiting news for us.

Although my tendency is to find a quiet place and hide, it’s good to get out and meet and talk with people from time to time.  I’m a bit apprehensive to admit this because it only fuels the undying hope within Kay that I can eventually be reformed into a more social creature.  Hope is good to have even if it’s directed toward hopeless causes.

My next social interaction with the public will be on Saturday December 5th from 2:00-4:00PM  at the Barnes and Noble bookstore in Grand Junction Colorado.  The Celebrate Colorado Authors event is an opportunity to meet a few of Colorado’s writers.  Kay and I will be there along with Anne Gulliksen, John Lichty, Patricia Martin, DeAnn Smallwood, Lucinda Stein and Debby Arthur Warner.  Please join us there for this special event.

Randy Gerke

Starting fires in windy, damp conditions

November 1st, 2009

fireA couple of days ago Louise asked a question about starting fires in windy, damp conditions.  Well Louise, you’re not alone, these are the most difficult conditions under which to start a fire and challenging to even the most experienced pyro pros.

Preparation is key here.  I suggest that anyone traveling in the outdoors, assemble a fire starting kit.  This should be a component of a more complete survival kit, which I’ll be discussing in a separate post.  The kit should contain the following items.

  1. Three reliable ignition sources.  These items may include waterproof matches in a waterproof container, wind and waterproof matches, metal sparking tools, and lighters.  Redundancy is important because it provides a backup method in the event that a particular method fails.  Your life may depend on these backups.
  2. Dry tinder is vital in your efforts to create any fire, but is especially critical when staring a fire in difficult conditions.  Always carry a small amount of dry tinder in your fire kit.  Tinder should be completely dry and ready for use.  Materials that make good tinder are barks, dry grasses, weed tops, and plant fibers.  Animal nests can even be used when available.  Inner bark of aspen, cottonwood, juniper, cedar, sagebrush, down from milkweed and cattail and other similar materials make high quality tinder.  Lint from clothing also works.  Transform these raw materials into premium tinder by twisting and rubbing the material against itself until it becomes light and feathery.  Place the prepared tinder in a waterproof bag or container. A great high tech tinder to carry is steel wool.  The thickness of steel wool is listed in zeros.  The more zeros the finer the material.  The range that works best for fires is 000 – 00000.
  3. Fire starting aids should be a part of the kit as well.  These items are easy to ignite and will burn longer.  They help to ignite other natural materials that may be damp. Damp materials need longer exposure to heat before they will ignite.  The heat must drive the moisture from the material before it is able to ignite and burn.  Items that can help accomplish this are old candle stubs, cotton balls saturated with petroleum jelly, or wax impregnated cardboard.  Several commercial products are also available for this at outdoor stores.

If you don’t have dry tinder in your fire kit, look for dry materials under logs, on the underside of leaning trees, at the base of large clumps of grass and brush, beneath the lower branches of conifer trees, and any location that is naturally protected from the elements.  Search for materials that are small in diameter (about the thickness of a sewing needle.  Drying of damp materials can be hastened by placing them between layers of clothing.

Build the fire in a location that is protected from wind and weather.  Watch out for snow that may fall from overhead branches and bows.  Shake the branches free of snow before you start the fire.  You may need to build a small windbreak from logs, dirt, snow, or rocks on the windward side of the fire location.  Collect plenty of tinder, kindling and firewood before you begin.  Arrange small kindling in a loose tipi framework and place more material on the frame until loosely covered.  Leave an opening at the base for the ignited tinder.  The kindling should be arranged very low to the ground so that the flames from the ignited tinder make contact with the kindling.  Place yourself between the fire and the wind and begin lighting the fire

My final advice in the fire building process is to never give up.  Sometimes, even with proper preparation and experience, fires are difficult to build.  Continue the attempt, making adjustments where necessary until you are successful.

Welcome to the new Outdoor Survival Guide blog

October 29th, 2009

After toiling for more than 1500 hours during the past two and a half years writing Outdoor Survival Guide, I’m happy beyond my ability to midnight_sundescribe in words that the book is finally completed, printed and mostly distributed to booksellers nationwide.  This project has been a unique adventure for me.  When I was invited by Human Kinetics to write the book, I knew it would require a large time commitment, but as most adventures go there were many things that couldn’t be accurately calculated.  The inability to plan, calculate and foresee every possibility is the key component of adventure.   I must say that I am a master at not foreseeing some of these possibilities and outcomes.  This is the politically correct way of defining irresponsibility.  So in other words, irresponsibility leads to adventure.  Let me just say up front, that I’ve experienced a lot of adventure during my life.  Which brings me to the reason I decided to write Outdoor Survival Guide.

I have a passion for the natural world and the adventure it offers.  Personally, I’ve received tremendous growth from my experiences in the wilds.  I love reasonable adventure and seek every opportunity for it.  There’s something very life affirming about being too hot, too cold, too hungry or thirsty.  Many of the survival experiences I’ve had were preplanned as a means of learning and honing skills.  Others developed as a result of poor planning and irresponsibility (after all, I am a guy).  But in the end we each seek a reprieve from the challenge, an end to the adventure at hand, and long to return home for rest and companionship.  It’s good to feel familiar terrain beneath your feet from time to time.

Knowing how to survive in a variety of environments is essential to one’s ability to return again and again from work or travels in wild and remote places.  To this end I have written Outdoor Survival Guide and offer it up as a guide to the most important and practical survival skills.  It is written from my perspective as one who has spent over thirty years teaching people wilderness skills and techniques in a variety of seasons and environments.  Outdoor Survival Guide provides a solid foundation of techniques and skills for the novice as well as the seasoned outdoor traveler.

This blog is created as an information exchange.  I hope visitors will feel free to share their experiences and ask questions.  I’ll post survival related information and news, product reviews, articles about survival skills and techniques, and survival experiences.  Visitors and friends are invited and encouraged to respond.