Primitive Addictions Facebook Page

I’ve got a public facebook page now, where I’ll post anything from this site, as well as pictures from my adventures. Go ahead and follow Here.

Looking forward to interacting with you all.

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Maxpedition Condor II review

I finally got a chance to test out the new pack, and I’ve got to say, it really exceeded my expectations. I picked this up through Redsgear, the outdoor gear company I work for. I’d read a few reviews of it, and it seemed like a good alternative to my old day bag that finally started to fall apart. The bag itself is built wicked tough, and has big fat zippers that I’m sure won’t break anytime soon.  The real selling point for me was how moddable it is. There’s extra straps all over it, and plenty of MOLLE loops to attach extra pouches, my bed roll, etc. All of this I could kind of see before I bought it, but after carrying it around all day at elephant rocks over the weekend, I’ve got to say that the most impressive part is just how easy the thing is to carry. Even loaded up with thirty-five pounds of gear, I hardly noticed I was carrying it. I’m really looking forward to trying it out on some longer hikes.

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So let’s get down to pros and cons here.

I’ll start off with the two complaints I have.

  1. Size;The pack itself only has a 25-litre capacity, which is a bit on the small side compared to my old bag (32 litres). I was worried about this at first, but after loading it up this weekend, I’m less concerned. I fit all of my gear into the pack itself, and all that MOLLE is going to make it really damned easy to strap on my tent, sleeping bag and anything else I deem necessary.
  2. Ease of access; This is my only real complaint, and ironically it’s caused by just how moddable the bag is. All of the MOLLE loops, as well as the extra straps that function as a place to slide a belt looped bag/hatchet sheath etc, mean that there’s a bit of unhooking to be done to get into the main part of the bag. It’s not a huge issue most of the time, but I can imagine it being a pain if you’re caught in a sudden rain or injured and trying to get to your first aid kit.

Now, onto the good stuff.

  1. Hydration Compartment; I didn’t even realize this when I chose the bag, but it’s got a 3-litre area to insert a water bladder, and it’s so cleverly positioned that when I put the bladder in it actually functioned as a padding for my lower back. That may not have been the intention, but I’ve got a feeling that on long hikes I’ll be grateful for it.
  2. MOLLE loops; So many MOLLE loops you guys. Just so many.
  3. Straps; I’ve got a feeling this played a huge part in how easy the bag is to carry, but having  waist and sternum straps is a huge shift. My old bag had a waist strap, but I rarely used it. I’m not sure why, because I’m definitely goign to make these straps a priority the next time I need a new bag.
  4. Weight; This thing is pretty heavy duty, but there’s hardly any metal on it. On it’s own the bag only weighs 3lbs. That’s a huge improvement from my old 30 litre, which weighed in at about twice that.

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All in all? Really happy with this bag, and I’m looking forward to modding it out with all of the accessories Maxpedition offers. I’ll have to take it on a real blister making hike before I head to Maine to see how it carries on a really long hike, but after this weekend, I’m not really worried about it in the slightest.

If any of you are interested in this, or anything else made by Maxpedition, head over to Redsgear and take a look at some of the stuff they offer. I’ve gotten most of my gear through them, and know for a fact that the people who run it will answer any question you’ve got about their products.

Slainte

The Roots Of Wanderlust.

I’ve written about friends in a previous post, but now I’d like to talk a little bit about my family and how they influenced my need to wander as much as I can.

In trying to figure out why this thing in me exists, this burning urge to not be where I currently am, I’ve thought a lot about the people I grew up around and how much moving so much in my early years of life formed it.

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We grew up with an uncle who played the bagpipes, singing “Parting Glass” and laughing at my uncles and their boisterous approach to personal interaction. This is my father’s side, and I think they influenced greatly how I am with my friends. They bring to mind a deep desire to help those who need it, and a loyalty that I try to emulate and seek out in the people I choose to be friends with. They love to sit around a table, laughing at stupid things we’ve done, and somehow finding peace in the chaos that they produce. My favorite memories of them will always be the ones where other families would be quiet or reserved. Funerals, in particular seem to bring out a deep understanding of the joy life offers that I have never quite managed to master. When my great-grandmother passed away, we had the post-funeral gathering at a biker bar, and for every sip of beer someone had, another person was spitting one out in order to open up their mouths to laugh. Being around them and learning from them meant that even when we moved around so much, I never had a problem making friends. People love a fool, and thanks to the Russell’s I know how to be one if it’ll get a smile out of someone who needs it.

My Mothers side gave me my fire. They are tough, and they do not allow for others folly very well, but they’re the ones who passed on the rambler gene. They lived simply and with a work ethic that puts me to shame every time I thought about complaining about my office job. They spent as much time as they could outdoors, and because of that, I grew up taking long drives to places I’d never have found on my own so early in life. When we left the east coast, it hurt me deeply. I was removed from the base I’d gotten used to, and my Ma’s parents saw this and eventually flew me back to go on a road trip with them over the course of two months. That trip will always be the thing I identify as the beginning of my habit of disappearing for a weekend or two on occasion. We drove up the east coast to Maine, then west through the lakes and into Wisconsin before returning to the St. Louis. The time in Maine in particular has stuck with me almost every day, seeing the heather and moss early in the morning in Acadia park felt like being in another world, and everything I’ve done since has been chasing that feeling. Seeing thunder hole created a curiosity in me about the natural world, and seeign a moose early one mornign through the fog instilled a deep respect for nature. (I remember spilling coffee when I saw the thing and thinking “That is the biggest animal I’ve ever seen this close and I’m going back inside”) So DeArmitts? Thanks for “addiction” part of Primitive addictions, you crazy bunch of baltimorons.

So as I finish the final preparations for my time in Maine, I’m reminded of these little bits of influence that bred the desire to rove as far as I could. I’ll never stop now that I’ve started, and thanks to these two vastly different groups of people I have the burn to keep going and know enough songs and jokes to meet interesting people as I go.

 

~slàinte mhath~

 

 

Getting restless

Destiny you can’t control
That’s cool
I work better alone
Give me space, gimme some good air to breathe

 

As my time in Maine draws closer, I’m having some trouble being patient. I’m all packed, I’ve got all my gear, and all I want is to be out on the trails. Having this album on repeat certainly hasn’t helped. If you haven’t listened to Nahko, check out his stuff.

The Priest Archetype.

I’ve got a lot of things I want to do once I’m finished in Maine. The one that’s come most to the forefront is a pet project I’ve thought about a lot before, but never cemented into a real idea until I read This article about the women who play the role of Shaman for the people of Tuva.

A bit of backstory right off the bat. I grew up really catholic. The kind that, to paraphrase Dylan Moran, doesn’t know which is nicer, pleasure, or the shame of feeling that pleasure. The role models I had were mostly priests and nuns, and my mother who’d converted was and still is one of the most devout people I know, teaching at a private catholic school, etc. I spent a few years as a preteen planning on becoming a priest and devoured books about them. Some of them led such interesting lives and traveled the world as they knew it, helping and healing where they could. I don’t ascribe to any religion now, nor do I consider myself a spiritual person. However, I am still fascinated with the role that “preists” fill in societies. In any culture, there seems to be a member of the community who forgoes their own personal desires to a certain degree for the good of the community. Sure, sometimes it’s a position of honor that brings with it respect and possibly monetary gains. Often it isn’t, and more often than that it’s draining.

There’s a reason therapists have to have a strictly professional relationship with their clients. Otherwise, you become increasingly emotionally invested in these people, and it’s hard to not ache when someone you care about comes to you and bares their soul expecting you to have all the answers. The priest/shaman/mullah etc. does this willingly for their community, and is active in said community otherwise. They form friendships with the people who trust and depend on them, knowing full well that trust may not be fully reciprocal. I admit that this is an idealistic view of these people, but that ideal is what I’m interested in. Is this an archetype that will fade as the world becomes increasingly connected and people have more access to information of their own valition? Or will we always want a figurative “Medicine man” in our communities that we can turn to when conflicts and struggles arise. Religious or not, most cultures seem to have someone that fills this role and that’s where the idea for the previously mentioned “Pet Project” comes from.

I’m going to start compiling a list of these people, and when I can,  visit with them wherever I can find them and try to suss out their reasoning for leading this sort of life. The more obscure the better, because it’s easy to give up personal comforts for the good of the community when you live in relative ease anyway. The Tuvan’s are definitely on the list, as well as a few friends who profess forms of modern paganism and have been gracious enough to point me towards people who can explain that viewpoint to me. If this goes the way I expect it to, the list will grow larger and larger as I go. That’s just fine with me. If you know of someone like this, and feel the need to pass it on please do, along with how best to get in touch with them. I don’t expect this to be a project that’s ever “finished”.

I’ll leave you with the quote from the article about Tuvan Shamanism that struck me most and planted the seed of this idea.

“During Soviet times the rituals were banned but the tradition was still passed on, and in mid 90s completely re-emerged from the underground thanks to Mongush Kenin-Lopsan, now the head shaman of the republic and a respected historian, writer and poet. This year he is 90 years old.”

This is the point that I find most fascinating, that even in outright conflict with the larger culture or society, smaller demographics find such comfort in these traditional central figures that they continue to carry it forward, even as they adopt modern ways of living such as cell phones and living in five story apartments.

As previously stated, if you know of a culture, or practice I should add to my list please comment below.

sláinte