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Fiddleback Forge Interview with Desert Survival Instructor Tony Nester

Fiddleback Forge Interview with Desert Survival Instructor Tony Nester

by Kevin Estela June 12, 2019 1 Comment

When you grow up in the Northeastern United States, you experience the full range of seasons with hot summers and frigid winters. In New England, you can find nasty swamps to navigate and an ocean to explore. One environment not found in New England is the desert and if there is ever a weak point for me to train, the desert has my attention. Since my experience with the desert is limited, I wanted to reach out to someone who is no stranger to it. Tony Nester, Owner and Chief Instructor of Ancient Pathways is my go-to desert survival expert. Recently, while visiting Arizona, I had the opportunity to pick his brain about the state, the terrain, and the history of the area. We discussed survival and the great outdoors over breakfast and Tony answered some questions for us.

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Lights

Lights

by Brian Griffin June 05, 2019

There are many reasons why it is a good thing to be able to illuminate darkness at need. Some of them can actually be crucial to our survival. Having spent much of my life working in various non-illuminated environments, both urban and woodland, I almost never venture out without having at least one light on my person and a backup or two in the console of my truck and / or in my pack. A deep forest can be a very dark place to find yourself on a cloudy night or on the night of a new moon, and our cities are only well lit as long as the power grid is up and running. When the grid goes down, cities can become very dark places. I've spent time under stress in both situations with no light source, so today I make every effort to avoid finding myself in that position again if it can be helped.

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Yucca Cordage

Yucca Cordage

by Kevin Estela May 22, 2019 1 Comment

Continuing with the theme of desert-related posts to this blog, this month’s topic is cordage making with a widely available desert plant, Yucca. This survival skill is challenging and takes practice to be proficient. Personally, I am more amazed by those who have mastered how to make great cordage than those who can get a friction fire going. It’s only when your fingers get sore from repeating the cordage-making movements do you really come to appreciate pre-made cordage like decoy line, 550 paracord, and Kevlar thread. It is a pretty amazing sensation when you are able to harvest a plant from the land and turn it into something useful. It makes your sense of self-reliance much stronger as you become more resourceful.  

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Blood. Sweat. Years.

Blood. Sweat. Years.

by Andy Roy May 03, 2019

Ten years ago on May 1 2009, a Friday of course, at about 3 pm I was called into my bosses office at CAB Incorporated. They laid me off. I knew it was coming, but let me tell you that every layoff is a kick in the nuts.

... So I decided to go full time with my two year old hobby at Fiddleback Forge.

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Backpacking to Havasu Falls

Backpacking to Havasu Falls

by Kevin Estela May 01, 2019

If you have been looking for the ultimate bucket-list vacation, I think I have an amazing backpacking trip that should fit the bill. This is the type of trip you won’t soon forget and you will brag to your friends about. It is the type of trip I knew I wanted to share with the readers of the Fiddleback Forge Blog when I reached camp and had a moment to ponder how incredible of a time I was having. Recently, I had the opportunity to backpack through the Arizona desert to a highly-sought after destination popularized by internet top 10 lists, instagram “models”, and landscape photographers. Havasu Falls, located within the Havasupai community, is a turquoise blue water feature found shockingly among the red rocks and cacti. The trip was both challenging and rewarding and it’s one I will have a hard time topping.

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Keep Your Hands Off My…

Keep Your Hands Off My…

by Kevin Estela March 26, 2019

How possessive are you? No, not in your relationships with another person, I’m referring to your gear. We all have certain pieces of gear we covet and we protect. You’ve likely heard the expression “safe queen” used to describe knives or firearms that never get used and live mostly in the dark and secure confines of a locked container in your closet, basement, or den. For all the other gear that actually gets used, you might have discovered an inseparable relationship with it or perhaps a jealous relationship should one of your buddies use your gear. When someone else uses a piece of gear you’ve used so frequently you can close your eyes and recall every detail of its construction, a little piece of you dies inside. Ok, maybe it’s just me but when someone starts creeping in on my most personal gear, the only proper response is, “keep your hands off my…”

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Ugly Is As Ugly Does

Ugly Is As Ugly Does

by Brian Griffin March 19, 2019 2 Comments

Andy Roy has a philosophy that “life is just too short to carry an ugly knife”. For which I am very glad because he makes very nice knives, some of which are my absolute favorites, and that philosophy shows in his work. I agree with his philosophy for the most part, in as much as life simply is too short to not own and carry nice things. Things that we enjoy having and looking at as much as we enjoy using them. Yet, having been at ground zero a few times when things went seriously askew, I do have one caveat. There are some not-so-nice days in our lives, and sometimes it's just having to work out in really bad weather conditions, when our nice knives can use a little backup from an ugly friend to get the job done. This would be why my every-day-carry items are a team of tools that, in my personal opinion, complement each other rather well.

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Trip Planning

Trip Planning

by Kevin Estela February 26, 2019

Where do you even begin when you’re planning a trip and creating a packing list? For some, this process is incredibly intimidating and it carries with it a certain level of anxiety. It’s one thing to forget something at home when you are only a few miles away at work or while at play but it is an entirely different issue when you are hundreds if not thousands of miles from resupply. Sometimes you can’t turn around and grab what you forgot at home. When done correctly, a properly prepared outdoorsman, traveler, explorer should have few items at their end of their trip they didn’t use. Ideally the first-aid kit, repair kit, and other emergency supplies should be untouched. Trip planning is a topic that comes up in conversation frequently with my friends and students. As 2019 continues to roll along and I plan on traveling for work and play, I thought I would share with you the thoughts that run through my mind and the logical order of thinking I apply to making sure nothing is left behind.

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Leftover Lemonade

Leftover Lemonade

by Brian Griffin January 22, 2019

No, I'm not talking about actual lemonade. It's just a play on the philosophy of taking life's little lemons and turning them into something we like better. During the holidays, most of us go to seasonal parties and holiday themed events with our friends and with the companies we work for. As most have likely noticed over the years, the theme of the table fare is usually a bit repetitive, and it's often on the heavy side due to the traditions from whence it came. By the time we prepare our own holiday meals as well, it can all seem so overdone that we get burned out, and we're utterly disinterested in the leftovers. Yet if we've depleted our bank accounts and our cards have bad friction burns, as is often the case, it can be really beneficial for us to find more palatable uses for them, if for no other reason than to give ourselves a little less financial burden with our grocery bill over the next few weeks, in order to recover financially just a little more quickly.

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Hypoglycemic Hypothermia

Hypoglycemic Hypothermia

by Brian Griffin January 15, 2019 3 Comments

Hypothermia, being a malady that involves the lowering of the body's core temperature, is usually thought of as being a danger only during cold weather or due immersion in cold water. For the most part this is true, and it's one of the reasons I chose to write this piece this season, when hypothermia can be a real danger to anyone in any cold environment. It's a little known fact that hypoglycemia can lead to deadly hypothermia when ambient air temp is in the 60s, and well above freezing, so it can be a very serious danger in the cold season for those who are at risk. To put that into perspective, hypothermia sets in when the body's core temperature drops below 95F/35C. At 91F/33C the person can experience amnesia. At 82F/28C the person will likely lose consciousness. At 70F/21C it is considered profound hypothermia and is deadly.

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Know Your Rifle

Know Your Rifle

by Kevin Estela January 08, 2019

As a young boy with an insatiable appetite for plinking with my Crossman Air Rifle, I built a pellet trap with my father and shot in my parents’ home basement unknownst to my mother. My dad and I had a code and I would listen for his knock on the basement door or for the unmistakable sound of footsteps to signal when I would need to stow my rifle and avoid getting discovered by mom who would have surely confiscated the pellet gun from me and given my father a serious verbal beat down. My father wanted me to become proficient with a rifle and those early lessons from him, my daily plinking practice in the basement, eventual “graduation” to my first .22 rifle, and ongoing carbine and precision scoped rifle training/practice has brought me to a point in my life where I am extremely comfortable with my rifles today. I’ve been fortunate to travel with my rifles for both training and hunting. I’ve spent many hours on the range, in formal shooting classes, and in the field applying rifleman skills.  Over the years and through trial and error, I have learned there are certain universal skills and understandings one should have and apply to any rifle they own. I believe you should not just own and use your rifles, you should know them.

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Fishing the Oak

Fishing the Oak

by Kevin Estela November 21, 2018

“FISH ON!” The words excite those standing next to you on the frigid riverbanks while the caramel brown water is disturbed by one of the monsters it conceals. You better call out, “fish on”, when you hook into a steelhead, brown trout, or salmon as any of those game fish could be a monster under the surface and capable of tangling the lines of the anglers to your left and right as it runs and fights for its life. When a fish gets hooked, it seems like everyone in the general proximity pauses for a brief second, feels a shot of adrenaline that temporarily numbs the effects of the cold wind, and anticipates what will come to the surface when it is time to land the fish. After all, even the average fish caught on this river this time of year is likely trophy-size elsewhere. Fall fishing Oak Orchard in Western, NY between Niagara Falls and Rochester is a ...

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