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Urban Foraging

Urban Foraging

by Brian Griffin August 07, 2019

I imagine the phrase “urban wild edibles” will conjure up different images in the minds of different people. These images are, as always, based on our own individual experiences in life. Admittedly, there was a time in my youth when this phrase would have brought to mind dinner at the most risque bar and grill I had been to in the local circuit so far, somewhere out along the fringe of civility.

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Lights-2, Keeping Them Lit

Lights-2, Keeping Them Lit

by Brian Griffin July 24, 2019

A few weeks ago I wrote an article on portable lights. In it I talked about some of their common uses, or at least some of my uses for them, but mostly I talked about a few characteristics and attributes that are good to have in them. In the middle of writing that one, I realized there was more to the “Lights” story than I could fit into one article. I knew then that and there would need to be a series of articles inorder to address the subject well. Having gone into a few of the important reasons for having a light handy in that piece, I thought it would be good to say a little more about the various types of lights, the times they can be extremely handy to have around, and ways of keeping them powered in this one. Because, as everyone knows, a dead light is even less useful than a dull knife.

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White Mountains Hiking

White Mountains Hiking

by Kevin Estela July 17, 2019 1 Comment

Summer New England Hiking is truly a sensory experience. The warm air you breathe in feels thick and rich. Sunlight shining through the trees turns the leaves in the forest a brilliant green. The sound of running water seems to be all around you with song birds occasionally providing an accent to the calming white noise. One of the most iconic hikes in the region is found in the White Mountains near Franconia Notch. Mt. Lafayette sits at 5,260’ elevation and an incredible ridgeline connects it to Mt. Lincoln and Little Haystack Mountain. The views from the trail are breathtaking but if you are not careful, faulty planning, the exposure, and over-exertion can be too. I recently traveled to the White Mountains to hike Lafayette again and brought my camera and notepad with me to document the trip.

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Nessmuk-ish In A Modern World

Nessmuk-ish In A Modern World

by Brian Griffin July 03, 2019

Yes, there are many differences between the concrete jungles and the woodland forests, but there are also some similarities. Both have their own unique attributes that draw us to them, and both can have their negatives that repel us. Many of us are drawn to the practice of bushcraft and enjoy the study of primitive living. Some of us find the the primal nature of it compelling and therapeutic, while for others it is a form of escapism used as a mechanism for coping with the over-stimulation of city life. None the less, the reality is that more of us live in cities and towns than in the woods these days, and there are a lot of good skills to know in urbancraft as well. We just have to bear in mind that the chaotic and synthetic nature of many of the available resources in a city call for a different type of tooling than those in a forest. Case in point, unless you're in need of being rescued at the time, a smart phone will likely be much more handy for you in an urbanized environment than a forest. That is unless you're like me, want to document your whole life, and have a tendency to take pictures no matter where you go.

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Alternative Land Navigation

Alternative Land Navigation

by Brian Griffin June 19, 2019 2 Comments

I think most of us who have spent time in the out of doors are pretty familiar with the concept of a compass. The liquid-dampened versions came along in the mid 1930s when Suunto founder Tuomas Vohlonen found a way to fill his compass capsules with liquid in mass production. So most of us have grown up seeing that type. However the very first primitive compasses, made of load stones, date back a couple of thousand years to the Han Dynasty in China, and the first dry compasses predate the Dark Ages of Europe. For the most part all compasses – old school and newfangled – perform one primary function, they point to magnetic north.  

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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 1 Comment

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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