Sunday, February 18, 2024

My Five Priorities When Setting Up A Winter Camp



Winter camping and hiking is always a fun challenge, but it can very uncomfortable if you are not careful.

Here are my top 5 tips to making winter camping fun and comfortable.

  1. SET UP CAMP: Setting up camp is more then just putting up your tent or making a shelter. It is making the area that you are deciding to stay in safe and comfortable. The very first step in setting up camp is getting your tent or shelter established. During the winter, daylight does not last, and the last thing you want to do is set up your shelter in the dark.

    As soon as the shelter is completed, you want to gather firewood for the fire. Which will be your friend for the cold dark hours of the night. Collect several dead standing trees and process it into logs for the fire. Meanwhile be collecting Tinder and Kindling, enough to start a fire at least 3 seperate times. Once for the first fire, one for the middle of the night, and one for the morning.

    Keep in mind of this one simple rule, If you think you have enough tinder and kindling, get double what you have. Once you have the wood processed, get your fire started.

  2. GET DRY: Setting up camp can be fairly labor intensive, and is a great way to generate heat. Most times, to much causing you to sweat. With the camp set up, and the fire going, take the next 15 minutes to get yourself dry, change out damp clothes, use the fire to dry out your damp items. Damp clothes in the winter can lead to serious complications and all levels of misery. Get dry clothes next to your skin as soon as your work load is starting to settle down.

  3. ORGANIZE THE CAMP: Now that you are in the process of being dried out, start setting up your camp while you still have light. Get your sleep pads out, sleeping bags out, cookware ready, start making your shelter your home.

    Remember that in the winter time, daylight is a luxury and it is always easier to do with out the need for a headlamp. This is also a good time to fill up the pot or kettle and start boiling water.

  4. GET COOKING: With the camp setup, fire going, clothes drying, and water boiling. This is the time you want to start cooking. Once the cooking is done and your belly warm from all the food you just ate, take this time to clean up and get things ready to use for the next meal.

  5. GET READY FOR THE LONG DARK: Its usually dark at this point, so with the fire going, Take this time to get enough wood ready for the next fire you are going to start. Place the splits and logs near the already buring fire to help everything dry out, take your tinder and ensure its in a dry safe place, easy to use for the next morning.

    I also found, that this is a good time way of getting your body warm and ready for bed, by processing a few logs. Be careful not to sweat. Take your time and get what you need. The nights are long and this is a great way to keep busy until you are ready to climb into the bunk for the night. 
And here you go, my top five priorities to setting up a winter camp.

Monday, May 9, 2022

Locke Outdoors: Letters from the Wilderness Week 4


Good Day everyone!! 

Been doing some work down at the new camp in preparation for the new fishing season. So been working on my fish smoker. Check out the video, and drop a like if you want!

Music by Amy King  (

Friday, March 4, 2022

Locke Outdoors: Letters from the Wilderness, Week 1

Locke Outdoors: Letters from the wilderness.

I am getting back to creating content of my outdoor side of life. This is just a test video to see how it all works out. Music by: Amy King - Don't Walk Away Used with permission.

The Firestarter: Witness the Spark


Its been a very long time since I have had the ability to the capability to even entertain the thought of keeping my outdoor blog active.

Since my accident, it has taken me a very long time and has been a very slow journey to getting myself back into a place where I am able to enjoy and do the things I love. With the onset of Covid back in 2020. My life changed totally, my health went down hill, I lost my livelihood, I lost my marriage of 20 years.  Everything fell apart for me. 

I reached the bottom, and I felt like I could not go any further, other then sideways. Then back in October of 2021 I managed to get the opportunity to reconnect with a friend from my long past, 26 years past in fact. 

I wont bore everyone with the details, but it was this chance encounter where I learned something about who I was, and the things I am good at, and the things I enjoyed, and that is the Outdoors, and just how much I love it.

I can honestly say, since October past I have walked and hiked almost everyday with out fail since. Enjoying my time outside to the fullest. It has been great few months for me as I rebuild my life again. 

So, to share my appreciation for what my friend taught me (who also enjoys the outdoors, maybe even more then me!) I wanted to returned the favor by sending her a small Christmas present. A Ferro Rod and a Tinder Wick. Something she can use to enjoy those outdoors pleasures of making a good camp fire with. 

My friend, being a person who loves to have camp fires and outdoor coffee, it seemed like a great idea so I sent her the gifts, to thank her for helping me find myself again, for letting me know that I can still do good things in life. So a few days after the gifts arrived, I got a short video. And I can say, this video made my year, in fact... could be considered the best thank you I ever could have received from a friend. 

This video response solidified my desire to get back into doing the things I love. I asked if I could share with everyone this video, and she agreed.

I now present to you.. The Firestarter. 

If this image of the Firestarter is not the epitome of a "Woodsman" or "Outdoorsman" Then I will be a Monkeys Uncle.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

For Me to Climb, I had to Fall.

Its been awhile since I was able to do any climbing, but that desire for me to be able to come back after my soul crushing injury Sept 12, 2016 finally peaked last week.

Knowing full well that if I did not start trying, I probably never would!

For those people who climb, they each have a personal reason as to why they do it. I am no different. My biggest regret in life, is not starting the sport till my late 30s.

But my reason, is not tangible nor clearly defined. But there is something in it that makes me feel good, maybe complete? I am not sure. But since my accident, I suffered with more then just the injury, but my confidence was low, I got totally engulfed with depression, I gained a lot of weight! So much in fact it was effecting my health in a very bad way.

Since the beginning of this year I started to focus on my health and my weight. In order for me to be able to climb, I knew I had to shed my extra weight. So my finger boards and chin up bars were put back into position over my bedroom door, much to the chagrin of my loving wife who is not to fussy of the ugly green hang board in the bedroom. And after several months I went from 230(ish) down to the weight I was when I fell which was 200. Mind you, its not muscle mass, so although I am the same weight as then I am a little softer then before. But I will get there.

Early last week it was warm, and it was sunny. I was bored and I was down in the basement cleaning up when I opened up my storage bin containing my climbing gear. It was all sitting there.. not touched in a few years. It was in that moment that I decided to get back out there and do it.

I have been avoiding going to the local climbing gym, I feel judged every time I go there cause of my injury. People looking at you, the "staff" hovering over you, watching you thinking that you need to be policed cause you could get hurt. So I said screw that. I will do it on my own.

I like climbing rope solo, I actually find it calming. I am on my own, with no distractions. No "Staff" telling me how to hold a rope, or giving me unsolicited meta and suggestions on where to place anchors.  Its just me.. So off I went.

I dropped down to Flatrock, a local climbing hotspot near where I live and I went right to a place locals call Blood Bath. And I started to set up my anchors and my ropes. Although I was rusty and took 4 times as long to set things up, I found that I was feeling something I have not felt in a while. Anticipation of the climb!

So I started to climb. It was NOT a resounding success that I for. I got 4 or 5 feet off the ground and froze up. Afraid to make another move. Afraid I would fall! And prior to my injury I never had a fear of falling at all, ever! But this time was different.

You see, when I broke my ankle, I didn't fall a large distance, in fact it was far from dramatic or exciting. I started my fall, and before my rope was able to arrest my fall, my ankle got hooked in a crevice and snapped it off. Literally I fell maybe 2 or 3 feet in distance, but my foot stayed right where  it was at when I first slipped. 99% of the time nothing would have happened.. I was a lucky man that day I guess. :(

So here I am, a few feet of the ground afraid of the "what if .." feeling. So I bailed.. back down to the ground I went. I sat down and wondered if I could still do this, and doubt started to set in.

My mood I guess was a reflection of the weather, as a cold fog rolled in, sucking any heat and enjoyment from my attempt of climbing again. Looking at my rope, I decided to give it a shot one more time. But I let my fear get the best of me, I set up another rope with another grab to ensure that if I did fall, I would only fall a few inches before stuff was engaged.

Like a total newb, I pounded my way up the face. And then the rain struck.. so.. halfway up, in the rain, cold and wet I had to rap back down as it was not a good idea of climb on wet rock. I packed up my gear and trudged home in the rain. Soaked!

I was defeated and while walking back to the car I punished my self for not being able to make a short easy climb. I felt good about getting back out and trying it, but not being able to make the climb on something I climbed a hundred times before was really killing me. And if anyone knows me, if someone tells me something can not be done, well I go and do my best to prove them wrong. And that natural reaction to lifes problems started to kick in on autopilot. 

The whole night home, this bittersweet feeling of my attempt was just chipping away at me. So much in fact, that next morning it was sunny and clear. I got up and went back to do it again.

This time, I was able to do it. But the whole time I was nearly crippled with fear of falling. And I knew that for me to be able to climb again, I needed to fall. I needed to face this fear that has kept me from getting back into the sport and I needed to kick its ass.

So I did what any sane person would do. I contacted my climbing buddy *not knowing if he would still climb with me anymore as I technically stopped hanging with them after my fall* I told him what I was doing, and that I needed help if I wanted to return to it again. And Greg never hesitated! We set up a time to go to the local gym again, which was another fear I had to deal with (see above statement), and there he made me climb. I was able to totally crush 5.5 and 5.6 climbs, and I manged to (not) gracefully send a 5.7. And in fact, the lack of mobility in my foot actually helps me out on doing dropped knee moves, as my foot just locks into position and doesn't move! A pleasant discovery!

But then the time came when I completed a climb, Greg payed out some slack in the line and told me to fall. I had to face it, and Greg was not going to let me come back down unless I let go of the hold. I froze again and the anxiety set in like a freight train and my grip got tight and rigid. I could not do it, my brain would not allow me to let go!

I actually hung suspended with my own grip for roughly a minute. There was slack and Greg was not going to "Take" the line. Images of my accident came rushing back again, I could see myself hanging there with a foot at a 90 degree bend and the two white bones protruding out through where my foot should have been. I could see the exposed torn tendons, like grizzle on a raw steak before going on a grill, spasm'ing as it tried to pull my dislocated ankle bones back into place.

I wanted to climb, I was going to climb, but to climb I had to fall.

I am going to climb again.

I am going to climb again.

I am going to climb again.

Then let go. Let go and climb!

With a calm deep breath and my arms pumped from hanging for so long. I let go.

And I fell.

I fell maybe a 12 inches.. I felt my harness take the load as the rope started to stretch and then everything was still. I was hanging, I looked at my foot and it was till there, attached.. I cheered!

I got back on the wall and I told Greg one word. Again!!

This time he payed out more slack, and I got into position and I just dropped. I was falling, and I controlled my landing as I hit the wall several feet further down, I was able to do it!! The fear was beaten! I had could finally say I made it back to climbing again.

I got back down on the ground, I disconnected my rope and my emotions got the best of me. Almost 3 years of fear, anxiety and not knowing if I could actually do this all just got expelled from my body. I felt lighter, I felt like I could stand up straight and feel good again. It was an amazing rush of emotions and feelings.

It was a good day to fall.