Monday, December 24, 2012

My Homemade Hammock Setup

Hello Everyone,
I thought I’d take a few minutes and write up a quick post about my hammock setup I use when I’m out in the woods. It’s a pretty basic setup, just a hammock, tarp and bug netting. The hammock is four yards of rip-stop nylon with an overhand knot tied on each end. It attaches to the trees with two 1“ thick tie downs with the hooks removed from the ends.  That way I can run the tie down around the tree, through the loop and pull it tight. I then just tie it off to the hammock. Tied properly, it has never slipped or fallen.
The tarp is a homemade 10‘x10‘ tarp made out of some sort of nylon material I bought on clearance. It gets strung up above the hammock on a ridge line and staked down on the sides.  The bug netting is just a military surplus cot net that is tied off to the ridge line and around the tie downs loosely.  this allows easy access into the hammock and closes it up around you when your in. That’s it, it takes about fifteen minutes to setup, add a blanket and an inflatable pillow and you have an very comfortable place to sleep. Sleeping in a hammock is great but it does require some practice to get it setup to your liking. As always, before you're in the woods try your setup at home and get all the bugs worked out of it, it will make for a much more pleasant experience in camp. If anyone has any questions...let me know!
Thanks for reading and I hope our paths will someday cross in the woods,
Chris (N.E.V.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Some Thoughts on Emergency Blankets

I was talking to my brother the other day and the subject of emergency blankets came up. I have always encouraged people to have one or two inexpensive space blankets tucked away in their kit.
I also encouraged people to test their kit before they head out to the woods. The inexpensive space blankets that you can buy almost anywhere for just a dollar or two are a good thing to have for emergencies but they do have their limitations.
Their first limitation is their size, if you've ever unfolded one and tried it out you'll find they are not really made for anyone larger than a hobbit. Their second limitation is how noisy they are. I ran into a situation a couple of years ago when we were camping at a canoe in only campsite in the Adirondacks. It was the middle of the night and one of my daughters threw up in her sleeping bag. After getting her cleaned up and the soiled bag hung up, I gave her my sleeping bag and grabbed the emergency space blanket I always have in my kit, unfolded it and attempted to wrap up in it. It was a chilly north woods September night and I proceeded to choose between a warm upper body or a warm lower body. My wife who was sharing the tent with me said it sounded like I was sleeping in a potato chip bag. A much different outcome from when I tested one at home. I was finally able to get a warm nights sleep after my wife helped cover me with the space blanket, a couple of beach towels, a jacket and my tarp. It was not fun.
My wife, being the absolute most wonderful wife in the world, surprised me on Christmas morning that year with the SOL brand 2 Person Emergency Blanket and the SOL brand Emergency Bivy. They are more expensive but are both exceptional products and well worth the cost. after checking them both out I added the bivy to my woods kit and the blanket to my car kit.
I still carry an inexpensive space blanket in my kit because even though they have limitations they do work and they have other uses such as heat reflectors, signaling devices, etc. But I now carry the emergency bivy also. If you choose to carry just the cheaper space blankets, I'd suggest carrying two and enough duct tape to connect them for use as a blanket.
Let me know in the comments if you have any other thoughts or ideas.
Thanks for reading,
Chris (N.E.V.)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Pennsylvania Elk Country

A couple of weeks ago we took a trip to Elk Country in Pennsylvania. Living in the Northeast doesn't give us a lot of opportunity to see Elk in their natural habitat. Luckily there's a 127 mile drive through some of Pennsylvania's most beautiful country that has numerous viewing stations where they were reintroduced to the state back in the early 1900's. They now have a pretty sizable Elk population and chances are good that when you take this route, you'll see some of these impressive animals.  Our first stop at a viewing area was a bust, the second one we were able to watch a huge bull elk in the distance with binoculars, but too far away to get good pictures.  While riding down to the Elk Visitor's Center we came pretty much face to face with another very big bull elk who was on the side of the road only a few yards from us, just a little intimidating when you're on a motorcycle. It goes without saying to use caution and pay attention when driving this route. Unfortunately we were not able to get the camera out in time to get a picture and when we turned around and returned to the spot, he was already gone. Although we didn't get any Elk pictures, Here's a few pics are from our travels that day. Hope you enjoy them. We'll be returning to this area soon to do some camping and exploring on foot. It is beautiful country.
Chris (N.E.V.)

View from one of the wildlife watching areas.

Elk Tracks in the Dirt

Typical Pennsylvania Elk habitat

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Into The Woods - available for Kindle and Nook!

Hello everyone,
I've published another bushcraft themed short story for both Kindle and Nook.  It's called "Into The Woods".  It's available for purchase for $0.99 from the links on the upper right corner of this page.  Here's a short excerpt...I hope you enjoy it.
Chris (N.E.V.)

Into The Woods (Excerpt)
Copyright 2012 Christopher M. Charlier

       It didn't end like he expected, in fact, life for most everyone else went on as it always had. There was no meteor strike or power grid failure. No rioting in the streets. Life just went on without him. It wasn't the end of the world as we know it, it was the end of the world as he knew it. It happened so fast, it was almost unbelievable, he had moved to a new town a few months ago, he had a good job, a decent apartment and some money in the bank. And all at once it was gone. His job, his apartment, all gone in a matter of days.

      It started with the flood, it rained for three days straight, not just rained but poured rain. After the second day, while Daniel was at work, the river overflowed and filled his apartment with thick muddy water. He didn't even know there was a problem until the power went out. They sent everyone home, Daniel didn't have a car, he always took the bus to and from work but because of the flooding, no buses were running. A coworker dropped him off as close as he could get him to home. Daniel could see his apartment building, the water was up to the middle of the second floor, his apartment was on the first.  

Friday, July 6, 2012

Views of The Pennsylvania Grand Canyon

A week or so ago, my wife and I decided to combine two of our favorite past times, the outdoors and motorcycling.  We took a ride down to Leonard Harrison State Park just outside of Wellsboro, PA.

The Pennsylvania Grand Canyon is actually the Pine Creek Gorge, and some of the best views are from Leonard Harrison.

It's also nearby where George Washington Sears (Better known as "Nessmuk") lived.  There's a sign in the parking area about him.

Here's a few other pictures my wife took, click on any of them to see them full size...

Google will you all the information you need if you want to learn more about the PA Grand Canyon, It's a beautiful area with a whole lot to do.
Thanks for reading!
Chris (N.E.V.)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Video - Super Cheap Cookset

Hello all,
Here's a video I shot on one of my recent trips to the woods on a day hike. It features what I call my Super Cheap Cook set. The sound is a little bit off but I have recently purchased a new camera and hope to post more videos in the near future.
Thanks for watching,
Chris (N.E.V.)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Guest Post - The MAlice Pack

Hello all,
Here's a guest post from my good friend Tim.. I hope you enjoy it.
Chris (N.E.V.)

ALICE.  Even the name sounds comfortable.  Like ordering your usual at the hometown diner on a Tuesday morning in November.   ALICE.  All purpose Lightweight Individual Carry Equipment.  Some say she was named Alice so the troops could call her unsavory things.  I disagree.
The Alice pack was designed in 1967 and is still in limited use with the US military today.  The Molle pack has definitely stolen Alice's thunder in recent years.  I am still a huge fan of ALICE gear.  It can be had for a fairly small investment.  It can be upgraded and modified cheaply.  Best of all, if you ruin your Alice, there are plenty of surplus outlets that are happy to send you another.  In other words, they're everywhere.
I purchased a large Alice pack with frame, kidney pad, and straps recently.  I bought this system with the naive expectation that I would be using it in it's stock form forever.  Not true.  I don't believe I have ever left anything that I have purchased in Its stock form- even my 1996 Geo Tracker - but that is a different, and much more embarrassing, post altogether.
I took my first trip with Alice and N.E.V. in August of last year.  She was good to me.  Not great, just good.
 I am a six foot four inch guy who doesn't mind weight on my shoulders.  I definitely felt Alice.  She felt top heavy and not so good on the shoulders even though i had a kidney pad and tried to pack her so the load would be felt on my lower back.  Having used other non-military backpacks before, all I wanted was a sternum strap.  This was not an option.  (ok, sure, EVERYTHING's an option when you have paracord, but it wasn't a pre-installed option.)  The kidney pad was quite inadequate for a guy of my size.  I knew the kidney pad was the first place to look for a comfort upgrade so I went  go out on a limb and ordered a much larger Molle kidney pad for Alice.
 Ok.  Again, it's honesty time.  I ordered this off eBay from a good seller with a badly described Molle kidney pad.  His description made it sound more like a patrol belt.  The pictures did not clearly show me, and the price was great.  I bought it with that intention.  Turns out it was a backpack kidney pad.  It was serendipity.  I installed it on my large Alice and loved it.  It was so much more supportive than the original.  All I had to do was remove the original, use the 2 straps per side on the Molle unit, and strap them to the Alice frame, as seen here in this picture.
 Piece of cake right?
I then started looking into Molle shoulder straps, as I found the smaller Alice units to allow the frame to dig into my back at the top.  I ordered a set of Molle straps from eBay, on purpose this time.  I figured there has to be a way to make them work.  They're only straps.  Besides, they are one unit where the Alice is two small pads.  The Molle unit allows sufficient coverage over the metal frame on the Alice.
After receiving them I removed the old straps from my frame and put these on like so:

The MAlice pack is born.  It's like giving a piggy back ride to a unicorn. yes. It's that much better.  I will need to modify the straps for the main flap so it's a quick release..  I don't like the stock design.
There's nothing new under the sun.  I am definitely not saying I'm the first guy to do this.  I know I am not.  This is just a quick description of how I went about modifying my Alice to work for me.  I hope this write up helps you if you are so inclined to go out into the woods with some ex-enlisted equipment.

Happy trails!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Campfire Stories - Now Available for Kindle and Nook!

Hello all,
Since I've been on rest and relaxation, I have finished up my second eBook. It's called "Campfire Stories". It's Six spooky short stories for everyone to enjoy! Especially good around the Campfire! It's available for $0.99 from Amazon for Kindle and Barnes and Noble for Nook. Just click the links on the upper right side of the main page or the following links.
Chris (N.E.V.)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Happy to be Here

Hello All,
I just wanted to post a quick note and let everybody know what's happening here at Northeast Voyageur. This is a bit difficult for me to talk about so please bear with me. A couple of weeks ago, while at work, I experienced some chest, shoulder and arm pain. Less than an hour later I was having a severe heart attack and getting a helicopter ride to the closest cardiac care facility.
One of my arteries was 100% blocked. During the procedure to clear the artery I went into cardiac arrest and had to be resuscitated. It was a close call and I owe my life to the medical professionals who treated me.
One thing the experience has made me realize is that it can happen to anyone. I am 41 years old, in good shape and have been exercising regularly and eating healthy for months. I had quit smoking, junk food and soda last year and had lost over 20 lbs. In short, I was doing everything possible to prevent this sort of thing from happening.
Through the miracle of modern medicine, a healthy diet and a cardiac rehab program I should be as good as new in a short while. Until then, I am limited in the amount of time I can spend in the outdoors. For now I am spending time with my family and finishing up some writing which I will hopefully publish soon. Until I get back out and about, I have asked a few friends to do guests posts for me. I hope you enjoy them.
As soon as I am recovered, both my wife and I have plans to take a wilderness first aid course and update our CPR certifications. I encourage everyone to do the same.
Thank you all, I'll see you soon and I hope that someday our paths will cross in the woods.
Chris (N.E.V.)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A few of my favorite Trail Food Recipes

Here's some of my favorite trail food recipes. They are all easy to make and portable. No refrigeration is needed but I keep all my food in a cool place and out of the hot sun. We'll start with some homemade energy bars.

Homemade Energy Bars

Peanut Butter

Put equal parts Peanut Butter and Honey in a bowl and microwave for a minute until they easily mix together. (Please be careful as this mixture can become extremely hot) mix them together adding Oatmeal until it becomes very hard to stir. Press into a cake pan lined with wax paper and refrigerate for an hour or more. Once it has setup in the fridge, cut into bars and individually package in zip close bags.
I like them plain but you can also add a handful of peanuts or trail mix, sprinkle them with some coconut. Dropping some chocolate chips over top of them and pressing them in the bars before cooling them works really well.


Bannock is a traditional camp bread, because it uses no yeast it can be a bit heavy but I really like it that way. Here's the ingredients I use.

1 cup of Flour
1/4 teaspoon of baking powder
A pinch of salt

Mix all the dry ingredients together and add water as needed I keep it in a plastic peanut butter jar and mix it up with water when needed in a small plastic bowl or sandwich bag. It can be pan fried with a small amount of oil or butter or if mixed very stiff, cooked over an open fire on a couple of green maple sticks. Adding sugar a teaspoon at a time sweetens it up. You can add some extra flavor by mixing in a package instant cup of soup or some powdered bullion. It can also be used as a breading for freshly caught fish. A handful of fresh blueberries or raspberries picked along the trail and mixed in make an excellent breakfast. I like cutting up an apple and adding it for breakfast in camp.


Hardtack has been around a long time. It is basically a very hard, very dry, very simple bread. You too can enjoy the same kind of meal our forefathers cursed at. Here's the simple recipe.

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt

Mix that together with very little water and knead into a thick dough. Roll out the dough about a half and inch thick and cut into 2x4 inch squares. Poke each square four or five times all the way through with a fork and place on a dry cookie sheet. I then bake mine at around 350 degrees or until the edges start to brown. The important thing is to be sure all the moisture is baked out and they are completely dry. When you're done you should have something that resembles a warm, flat rock. Now  I know that doesn't sound all that appealing but try dropping one or two into a pot of soup or camp stew and letting it soften up for a few minutes and "Taa Daa!" instant gourmet pot pie. Ok... Maybe not gourmet but certainly good. You can always do as our civil war soldier ancestors did and soak it for a few minutes in your morning coffee to soften it up.

There you have it. Three of my favorite trail and camp foods. I hope you give them a try. Until next time, enjoy your time outdoors.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Six Days - A Short Story

Hello all,
     I'm happy to announce my first short story available for sale in eBook form for both Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Nobles Nook. It's called Six Days, and is part one of what will be a fictional series of stories based on Bushcraft and the Outdoors. Here's the description and the introduction to preview.

"One man, alone in the woods. Follow Johnny Mac as he tests himself and his outdoor skills on a six day trip."

"It was an unexpected rain. The sky decided to change it's mind from sunny and bright to dark and wet without much warning. Johnny Mac had noticed the change in the air and had just enough time to grab some rope and the cheap plastic tarp from his pack and throw up a quick lean-to. He was dry for now but it looked like the rain wasn't planning on stopping anytime soon.

"Crap" he said out loud to no one but himself, "Looks like it's gonna be awhile”.

He'd made a point of talking to himself at least once or twice a day. He hadn't seen or heard another person for six days and talking out loud to no one in particular seemed to break up the subtle but constant noise around him.

He had often read of people finding solitude and silence in the forest but to Johnny it was far from silent. The woods around him were constantly in motion, the paper like sound of wind blowing through the trees, bird songs, small creatures scurrying about unseen, the rhythmic crunch of the forest floor underneath his boots. It was as full of sounds as any town or city he had ever been in, but softer and without the unpleasantness of those places.

Six days ago he had a friend drop him off on the side of the road that ran through a six thousand acre state forest. His intention was to test himself, he had been studying and practicing for almost a year now. Almost a year of building fires in his backyard fireplace, setting up tarps in the pouring rain and trying out every bushcraft and woodcraft skill he could find. He spent his weekends hanging between two trees in a home made hammock trying to find the perfect combination of comfort and portability. He tested equipment for both durability and multi-functionality. His pack had everything he needed to spend days out by himself and weighed just a bit over ten pounds. He had decided it was time, time to test himself, his skills and his equipment. He had been planning this trip all summer. Six days alone in the woods, no campsites, no trails. He would take his pack and just enough food to get him through.

He knew he was ready."

It's priced at $.99 and available worldwide at the following links. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy it.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Become a Local Adventurer

Here in the Northeast were in the middle of winter and so far it has been very mild. Unfortunately, things have been very busy for me at work and I haven't been able to get outdoors or post on here as often as I would like to. But just the other day I was visiting the website of a rather famous TV Survival guy and saw he was a member of an explorers club. I checked out the clubs website and thought it was pretty cool. There was information on visiting exotic, far away places that looked very exciting. I realized that there were many places around me that I still haven't explored. It got me thinking about how we are all explorers and adventurers to a certain extent and that we all should all start locally. We should start with our own backyards, especially in the current economic climate. How many of us have driven hundreds of miles to go hiking or camping but haven't thought about the state lands right next door? What about nature centers and hiking paths? A short drive from my house is the Finger Lakes Trail System comprised of 958 miles of hiking trails and sadly, I've only hiked short pieces of it a couple of times. I'm making a resolution to spend more of my outdoor time and money locally this year. Here's a challenge for everyone, find a place to get outdoors close to home, hike it, bike it, climb it, canoe it or whatever then find another and then another.. Let your friends know about it, take them along, start your own unofficial "Explorer's Club" and share your experiences with others. Let's spread the word about the places around us.
Thanks for reading and I hope we all discover something new!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Quick Camp Tip - The Pointed Stick "Multi-Tool"

OK..I know it sounds pretty dumb, but a simple pointed hardwood stick about can be very useful thing around camp.  I've used one to do everything from dishes to camp take down.  I usually find a stick about 6 to 8 inches long and 1/2" to 3/4" in diameter of Maple, Oak or some other hardwood, put a smooth blunt point on one end, flatten the other and add a notch on the flat side. The pointed end can be used to loosen tight knots in rope and cordage, clean burned food from the corners of pans, anything around camp you need something pointy for.   The flattened end is a great pan and plate scraper, and the notch is for lifting hot lids from your pots and pans. I know it sounds funny, but give it a shot the next time you're in camp and see how it works, you'll be surprised how many things you can use it for, and because you can make one in a few minutes, it's one less thing you have to carry in.
Thanks for reading,

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year and Thank You!

Hello Everyone,
     I just wanted to put up a quick post, wish everyone a happy new year and thank you for reading.  As of today we have had over 11,000 page views and I couldn't be happier. When I started this blog in 2010, I was looking for someplace to share information with others who love the outdoors and it has surpassed all my expectations. I hope everyone has a great 2012 and spends as much time outdoors as possible.   We'll have some more changes coming up for this year and I would love to hear from you.  Please email me at the address on the right of this page or leave a comment on this post if there is something you'd like to see on here.  And again, Thank You all for reading and I hope our paths may someday cross in the woods.