Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Disabled Hiker, ep-3, LIFE IS CHANGE pt 10


A few weeks before heading out to film the narrative part of episode three, my mother was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer. Although I had threatened to postpone my trip, my mother herself had urged me not to change my plans. Needless to say and although I tried to keep it hidden from the camera. It overshadowed everything I did.
Sadly, my mother lost her battle two weeks after I returned.

I don't know if she ever understood exactly what I was doing with the blog and hiking and the dogs and so forth. But if nothing else I somehow get the feeling she knew the peace I felt when I was out in the woods. And that even as a small boy she knew that that's where she would find me as that is where I belong.

From my mother, I received my musical talents. Just as from my father I received my love of engineering and invention. But as for where I got my love for the wilderness and living on the trail? ... 

I must admit, I think I left both my parents scratching their heads on that one. Why I would rather hike a wilderness trail and sleep on the ground over going to a fancy hotel on my vacations was always baffling to them. Even though it made perfect sense to me.

However if I've learned anything from my mother, it is to follow my own path. Even if that path is a lonely mountain trail.

And so I have dedicated this episode of The Disabled Hiker, Life Is Change, in honor of my mother, 
Elissa M. Craig.
Gods speed Mom.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Disabled Hiker, ep-3, LIFE IS CHANGE pt-9


After debuting my first hanging pack system late in episode two, I had planned to create a video specifically about this idea. Sadly however, only a month after releasing episode two of The Disabled Hiker, my best friend and hiking partner, S'iyo (She-yo), fell gravely ill. For the next year our cameras would set idle while I nursed my friend in hopes of his recovery.

Surprisingly, this idea continued to evolve despite my absence from the field. Particularly after seeing one item for sale online that seem to bring the whole idea together.

Has this idea stopped evolving? I don't know. But from my observation, I'm not sure that anything ever stops evolving until it becomes obsolete. So until they invent the antigravity-backpack I'm sure I'll keep working on this one.

In the meantime, take a look at how the idea has changed over the last two years. And oh yeah, don't be afraid to send me your suggestions to make it even better.


The Disabled Hiker, ep-3, LIFE IS CHANGE pt-8


It's usually around 12 hours before I have to start packing to go home that I really start savoring every moment. As the reality of returning to civilization starts to sink in, I start to realize that for the next few hours anyway, I have nowhere to be, and no rush to get there.

More often than not, I have no idea when the next time will be that I'll be able to slip away to the wilderness. It's usually during these last few hours I start to recall how at one time, I insisted on going on a backpacking expedition at least once a month and how I would so love to turn back the hands of time.

But that is not our destiny. Our destiny is to move ever forward.
And so for now I enjoy my last 12 hours on Indian time.


Monday, December 22, 2014

The Disabled Hiker, ep-3, LIFE IS CHANGE pt-7


Once I had decided that I was not going to let my physical challenges get in the way of getting back out on the trail, I began to make a list of things I would have to change in order to keep hiking. Logic seem to suggest to me to start with the most painful aspects and work my way down. You know, the scary stuff. Like where to sit my butt down without sitting on the ground or stacking 50 lb rocks to a comfortable height. Neither of these seemed to be a viable solution.

Strange as it may sound, where I was going to sit became quite a big deal. When you're young and flexible the whole world seems a good place to sit. But it was obvious I needed something that would potentially lower pain levels, not increase them.

So began my search for the perfect pack stool.


The Disabled Hiker, ep-3, LIFE IS CHANGE, pt-6


As I mentioned before, many a Through Hiker can be seen working their way up this side of the gap in August and September. By this point in their journey many have that glazed over look as if all they can see is the trail ahead of them. As they pray for the smoother trails they've all heard about in the states to the South, they seem to have little patience.

So often when I try to talk to Through Hikers about the gear they have been using, they can sometimes be cold and even rude. It's all good though. They are a little tired by this point on the trail, whether heading north or south.

However this is not always true. As is in the case of a bright young man I met on the trail named Thor.

Thor (Kirby THOR Timoney) had taken some time off of work to hike the length of the Appalachian Trail with his father. Thor was kind enough to take the time to answer some questions about the hiking gear he and other hikers on the trail were using this year. Which included some very good Intel on the Sawyer Mini water filter I was using.

As in most relationships, the time you spend together is just as important as the time you spend apart. Especially when doing something as intense as hiking the entire Appalachian Trail together.

As only fate would have it, our chance meeting in itself was full of strange coincidences. I was hiking without my son who was very much on my mind on this journey. While Thor had found himself separating from his father when the elder felt the need to go into town to get coffee a day or so back. We both got a good chuckle out of how even though he thought he needed time alone, he had inevitably found himself hanging out with someone his father's age, while I in turn found myself hanging out with someone who was the same age as my son. We got an even bigger laugh when I told him, that I too would have gone into town for the coffee.


Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Disabled Hiker, ep-3, LIFE IS CHANGE, pt-5


At first glance it would be perceived that this segment is about poison ivy. But in fact it is about relationships. The yen and yang that exists all around us, yet in such subtle ways that we as modern human beings often miss it. A modern blindness, if you will.
As a student of nature, I've been taught to recognize a beautiful irony in the plant world where cause and cure live side-by-side. And to understand this relationship is to understand how it all fit into the natural world. Everything has a reason to exist, even if we cannot instantly perceive it.
Our ancestors called this medicine. Yet today these teachings and remedies are relegated to the back pages of some obscure herb book and generally overlooked as New Age medicine, rendering them little more than magic tricks in the public's eyes.
But make no mistake. There is nothing New Age or magical about herbal medicine. In fact most pharmaceutical medications are based on an attempt to mimic the effects that already exist in nature itself. In an attempt to create a uniform dosage, often some of the healing properties that existed within the herbal plant medication is not transferred to the pharmaceutical application, often lessening its overall effectiveness.

The Disabled Hiker, ep-3, LIFE IS CHANGE, part-4


After vowing to eliminate the aluminum in my Cook set, I went out looking for a set of stainless steel cups to switch out the old ones. But when I saw the Stanley Adventure Camp Cook Set, I decided to take a chance on something a little different.

As a person camping with physical challenges, I try to keep it simple when cooking in the field. So I'm always looking for "simply add water" kinds of food to bring with me should I feel the need for a hot meal. However, in the summertime I'm usually happy to eat "as is" foods such as beef sticks, crackers, and so on. So in these warmer months I find little need to do more than heat water for coffee.

Although I was a little skeptical at the time I purchased this cook set. I must admit, I am very pleased with the Stanley Adventure Cook Set.


Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Disabled Hiker, ep-3, LIFE IS CHANGE, pt-3.


After only a short time in camp, heavy rains forced us to take cover for the night. Fortunately I had brought along the perfect device to help with the muggy and hot conditions inside the tent. 

As TaSunka peacefully slept on, the sound of the rain hitting the tent soon lulled me to sleep as well.

Waking the following day to the sunshine and the birds singing, TaSunka and I could hardly wait to begin our day of playing together in the woods.


TRYING OUT THE SAWYER MINI. The Disabled Hiker, ep3, Life Is Change, pt-2



(Gear review)

Just as in the old days when I hiked here at Lehigh Gap, Outerbridge shelter along the Appalachian Trail overlooking the Lehigh River is a very busy place. Besides the constant flow of day-hikers and weekenders like myself, In June and July, northbound through-hikers with dreams of reaching New York City before the Fourth of July fireworks can be seen intently working their way up the east side of Lehigh Gap. In August and September, it's scores of southbound through-hikers that can be found scrambling over the rocky terrain, hoping to reach the next dependable water source before it dries up for the season.

Regardless of which direction they were going, I found many of them using Sawyer water filters this year.

Considering Sawyer's extraordinarily low price, I was not surprised by the amount of people I found using both the Sawyer Mini filtration system and its big brother, the Sawyer Squeeze Water Filtration System.

Based on the same technology that kidney dialysis machines used to filter blood, Sawyer water filters exceed EPA standards by effectively remove 99.9999% of bacteria and protozoa without using chemicals




Friday, December 19, 2014

The Disabled Hiker, ep-3, LIFE IS CHANGE, pt-1


A New Friend.


~ After more than a year, it's great to be back on the trail again.
Together with my new hiking buddy and trail dog TaSunka, I am determined to make up for some lost time.

Episode 3 was filmed over the course of two hikes covering the same territory. This was done in the hopes of bringing even more of my experiences into each episode than I had ever done previously.

The first trip took place in early September and is the basis for the narrative of this episode. However, the second hiking trip that I had scheduled with my good friend and cameraman Larry Deitch, was postponed for several weeks after my mother lost her battle with cancer.  By the time Larry and I were able to get out on the trail again, a month had passed. Putting us well into the October hunting season here in Pa.

Although my mothers passing was devastating, this seemed to only further solidify in my mind what was to become the working title while I continued working on this episode.  As indeed, all had once again proven to me that life is eternal change.

When filming past episodes, I was limited to what I was able to film on my own out in the wilderness. Even setting up the simplest of shots while on the move was an incredible burden. This method requires me to literally cover the same territory three times just to show you a single 20 second clip of us walking by with our packs on. As I'm sure you can imagine, there are times when I just could not pull this off on my own.

So when professional artist and photographer Larry Deitch offered to join the team and come along on one of my expeditions as a cameraman, I was a little self-conscious at first. I've always worked alone and as a naturally self-conscious amateur filmmaker and individual in general. I've always found a calmness when I am alone in the wilderness and interacting with an unmanned camera. I was afraid I would lose my nerve once somebody was standing behind that same camera.

Although I am still getting used to that feeling to some degree, it wasn't quite as bad as the butterflies in my stomach had made it out to be. And what Larry has brought to this project is priceless and proved to be a major contribution to this work.
Many thanks to my brother-friend Larry Deitch for his many contributions to episode 3.

And now, without further delay I give you part 1 of Life Is Change, entitled,  
A New Friend.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

TaSunka's Trail

Hiking During Pa Hunting Season