Tuesday, April 7, 2015

5 Knots to Rule the Universe!

Knot making is one of those essential outdoor skills that seems boring and out-of-date, what with all the fancy new nite-ize contraptions and little plastic or aluminum doo-dads that people use these days.  Well, I'm here to tell you that if you know 5 basic knots, you'll be able to rule the universe.  I'm not kidding - you'll be able to rig tarps, guy out tents, make clotheslines, and do just about any other outdoor task requiring knots.  Below, you'll find a fixed hitch, an adjustable hitch, a way to tie two ropes together (bend), a loop, and hitch that acts like a pulley.  What more could a good outdoorsman need?  Don't answer that.  And add a couple of more knots to the list (not listed this time around) and you'll be able to saddle up and DdRT up a tree.  So, in no particular order, here they are:
1.  Two half hitches on a quick release - holds tight around a tree or post, the harder you pull, the tighter it gets.  You can't adjust it - that's the way it's supposed to be, as a fixed end of a ridgeline for example.  And the icing on the cake is that it is very, very easy to learn.  The quick release part is missing from the diagram below but I'm sure you'll figure that out.

2.  Adjustable Cawley Hitch - I love this hitch.  It's easy to remember and does it's job nicely.  I use this knot just about anytime I need an adjustable line anymore, and its very similar to a prusik loop.  There is an outstanding discussion of this knot in the following link - the discussion of the hitch starts at 1:34 and ends around the 2:50 mark.  Setting up a tarp with a ridgeline

3.  Sheet bend on a quick release - My favorite way to join two ropes.  I use this so often it's completely indispensable.

4.  Bowline - What can I say, if you need a loop, this is your knot.  Period.

5.  Power Cinch Knot - Cliff Jacobson's favorite and mine too.  I use this knot any time I really need to put a bunch of tension on a line, you can really crank on this one.

There you have it.  Now, go out and rule the universe.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Caesar Creek State Park near Waynesville, Ohio has quite a few nice hiking and mountain biking options to go along with the boating opportunities on the lake.  I've become enamored with a little five mile hike that I start in the gorge (created by the namesake creek), leave the gorge by way of the levee, and make it into a loop by turning around near a horseshoe shaped waterfall called Flat Fork Falls (below).

 The Army Corp of Engineers has done an outstanding job with the gorge area, including the maintenance of the Gorge Loop Trail and all of its stairs, and the levee climb provides a bit of elevation change to give the hike a little bit of an Appalachian feel.  You do have to walk a tenth of a mile or two along a road on top of the levee before diving back into the woods, but that road crossing provides a beautiful view of the lake on the north side and an equally nice view of the gorge to the south.  I've put together a track of the route, "Caesar's Creek Gorge to Flat Fork Falls" that can be used to follow this path.  This particular route is especially enjoyable in the autumn as the trees are in the midst of their annual display of color (see photo below).