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Monday, June 11, 2012


Hello All,

So I went out for a little geocaching this past weekend and had a pretty good time.  We didn't have much time to spend because it was so hot outside, but at least we were outside.

I have to admit, I am not the best hunter in the world when it comes to geocaching, but I do find it fun.  I felt a bit like Mantracker at times looking more for smashed leaves where other people may have been looking for the same thing and found it.  Oddly enough, in doing this I found a ladies wallet that had obviously been stolen and tossed off to the side.  I could tell it hadn't been there too long as it wasn't waterlogged and there were only 2 roly polys living in the pocket.  There was no money in it (shocker), but there were ID cards and all sorts of other stuff you would hate to lose.  So I plopped it in my pocket and decided to drop it off at the police station on the way home.  More on that in a minute.

Back to the caching.  After striking out on our first one because you had to cross a creek to get to it and then getting distracted by the wallet, we found a good one.  It was in a graveyard which normally would be weird, but it was more like a scavenger hunt than a cache.

After finding and logging that one on my newly downloaded free app (which stunk I might add), we were on to the next one.  As the sun began to melt our skin off on our way to this cache it was growing obvious that this would be the last one of the day.  It was nowhere near any shade and by the time we walked to it (only a half mile) I could tell my caching partner was pretty much done.  So we didn't look too hard and started back to the truck and some air conditioning.

On the way home, we stopped by the police station to drop off the wallet and were told by the officer that he thought it was probably the wallet stolen by the guy who was involved in a homicide a day or two prior.  Creepy.  But we were alive and on the way to grab a cold beverage and watch a Duck Dynasty marathon in the cool confines of the casa.

Now, here are some notes I have learned on just my third trip geocaching.  First, make sure your GPS is charged and is one that works pretty well under trees.  I have an old model that works great in the open, but under any sort of shade it is as lost as a duck in the ocean (see the tick fiasco blog).

My second tip would be to actually know how to use whatever gear you are taking on your adventure.  I had downloaded several GPS and geocaching apps to try.  The only problem was that we stood in the parking lot trying to figure out how to get them to work.  Whether it was registering them by logging on with Facebook, figuring out how to switch from map to compass, or just the frustrating part of having to key in the points you want to find it was something that was better done at home on the couch.

My third tip is to take some gloves (gardening gloves would do the trick), a flashlight, and some bite / sting treatment.  Luckily I was not bit or stung on this trip, but blindly sticking my hand under foot bridges or in stumps I have resigned myself to the fact that at some point I will.  This is also where the gloves would have come in handy.  I am not a huge fan of sticking my hands anywhere they can't be seen.  This is probably some sort of survival mechanism built in to help me keep the other 9.75 digits attached.  So gloves are a must.  A flashlight will also help put some light in areas so you may not even have to put your hand in them.  This could also be handy since many of the caches are black 35mm canisters or something covered in duct tape, which collects leaves like a ghillie suit.

Maybe in the next few weeks it will cool off a bit to where I can do some more caching and will be able to give more tips.

Does anyone have any tips for me on geocaching?  Favorite sites, gear to take, apps to use, etc.

Until next time...

The Shepherd.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Cover your wood

Hello all,

I just spent the night camping with some good friends for anight and thought I would share a valuable lesson learned.

We took a trip to Mammoth Cave National Park for some fun times not just for us, but also for their 5 year old son.  We did not do any hiking, instead we spent most of out time at the Kentucky Action Park for some bumper cars, bumper boats, alpine slide, mini golf, and video games.

Fun times for sure.

Back at the camp site we got the fire going...after some coercing.  As it turns out, the wood we bought was a bit on the green side.  Here is a side note.  We were going to bring our own wood, but since the park is having some issues with non indigenous bugs invading, they have instituted a ban on all firewood not cut within 10 miles of the park.  So like good little scouts we bought ours from the store located in the park.  For only $4 a bundle, it is the least we could do to support our national parks.

If only we could have supported this poor deer.  It was friendly enough, coming right up to us almost close enough to pet, but could have used a hamburger or two.

So we get the fire going and started to make dinner.  While doing this, we also decided on taking some of the wood we were going to use in the morning for breakfast and dry it out a little next to the fire pit.  Pretty smart, right.  Sure was, but in true Shepherd fashion we put everything up when we were ready for bed but neglected to cover the wood we just dried out.

You want to guess what happened at about 3 am?  You got it.  Rain.

We thought we were smart little campers by waterproofing our tents the afternoon before and that was a great idea.  We didn't get wet sleeping, but our fire wood sure did.

Fast forward to 5 am with birds sounding off like little monsters at a Lady Gaga concert and I couldn't sleep any longer.  So I thought I would be nice and get the fire going for everyone and we could get the breakfast party started right after they got up.

No dice.  I spend the next hour whittling little shavings off the fire wood and breaking the bark off of it so I could get a mini fire hot enough to even get the bigger logs to think about burning.

While the fire never got super hot and we probably set a world record for the longest time took to make scrambled eggs, we got full and nobody got food poisoning.  Those were also the smokiest eggs I've ever had.  :)

In the end it all turned out fine.  Surprisingly I do not have another "I cut the end of my finger off" or an "I accidentally stabbed myself in the gut" story.  As much as I would love to write a post on how great my first aid kit is, I will just keep appreciating the fact I have never needed it...knock on wet wood.

'Til next time,

Happy Hiking

The Shepherd.

Friday, June 1, 2012

 Hello all,

Sheepish speaks the truth.  This is our best selling stove for a reason.

The Trangia Alcohol Stove: My Trusty Old Friend 

Spirit Burner with Screw Cap-2

We’ve recently added the venerable Trangia alcohol stoves to Sheepleg and I have to admit my heart skipped a beat seeing my old friend again. For those of you who remember geeking out to games of Zork, the Trangia stove belongs right there with your trusty lantern and your glowing, grue-killing sword. Indiana Jones would go back into the Temple of Doom if he’d accidentally left it behind warming up some noodles.  It’s the simplest, most reliable, tough as nails piece of backpacking gear ever.  It’s a brass can with a screw-top lid with a rubber o-ring to seal in the alcohol goodness. The inside rim has tiny jet holes for the burner flame to shoot from. There’s absolutely no moving parts to fail.

To use a trangia stove, you place the burner can inside the windscreen/pot support and pour methyl alcohol (Denatured alcohol, YELLOW bottle HEET, or Everclear are the best) inside and light, the stove does the rest, automagically. First you’ll see a faint blue flame (be careful during the day, you won’t see a flame in sunlight) emit from the big hole in the center, and then, once the pressure is sufficient, the flame will come through the burner jets in a ring of water-boiling, noodle-cooking goodness. The Trangia comes with a simmer ring with an adjustable cover plate that allows you to bring the burner down to a simmer for gourmet cooking or snuff the flame completely when you’re done cooking. One thing that it has over ever other alcohol stove on the market is the leak-proof screw cap: you don’t have to deal with unburned alcohol left in the stove, just put the cap on and save it for later. If you’re planning a solo weekend or overnighter, just fill up the stove and you’ll likely have enough fuel for your water-boiling and cooking needs, no need to carry extra fuel.


The best thing about Trangia burners is they are tough and durable enough to be the only stove you need for life; the other is, since you’re only burning alcohol (not fossil-fuels) and not using disposable butane fuel canisters, it’s one of the best environmentally friendly choices you can make as a backpacker or outdoors enthusiast. The Trangia stove is available in several packages, including the relatively light mini-trangia set that comes with a windscreen/pot support, a pot, a pot handler, and a lid that doubles as a nonstick frying pan. The burner is available alone as a part replacement, but keep in mind that the burner can’t be used without a pot support. If you want to make a friend for life, check out the Trangia on Sheepleg.