From the Stuff That Works File: I never intended to become a walking billboard for 5.11 Tactical, but, well… here we are.
Thing is, if you like to bang around hard in the outdoors, you’d be hard-pressed to find better-designed or more durable gear. The first item of theirs that I picked up was a push-pack — a modern-day possibles bag that is perfect for stowing the tools of the newspapering trade — notebook, camera, pens, etc. It also stows my Springfield XD nicely. It’s an everyday-functional piece of gear for me.
Ever since my REI rucksack gave up the ghost — after two decades of stalwart service — I have struggled to find a satisfactory replacement. I’ve had busted straps and other failures and in one case of embarrassing operator error, I burned holes in one using it as a rest for the AR-15. When 5.11 Tactical offered their 72-hour 2.0 Rush Pack on sale, I hit the electronic trading post and snapped one up. Glad I did. The pack is thoughtfully designed, very comfortable on the back, and clearly durable. I’m hoping that it lasts 20+ years like that old REI ruck; if it does it’ll probably be the last pack I need.
As the name suggests, the 55-liter pack is set up for three-day missions. Three-day treks are not really on my dance card right now, unfortunately, but I prefer to have more capacity than needed rather than the other way around. This way, the pack is plenty and more for a long day-hike, doubles as a bug-out bag, and my rambles can be classified as official “rucking” — ie., a workout.
Lady Marilyn has insisted on buying me indestructible pants from this outfit — and who am I to say no? When your lady looks at your pants and says, “Oh, yeah” you roll with it, right?
Just last week 5.11 offered their Norris Sneaker at half off and… you know the rest. These things are unbelievably comfortable, and they make outstanding weightlifting shoes, being a completely flat platform.
At the end of this month, Lady Marilyn and I are heading over the mountains to Portland to see Bruce Springsteen. There’s a whole 5.11 trading post along the trail, in Tualatin. Trouble, trouble, trouble.
Rugged gear is kinda a requirement for the Frontier Partisans way of life. I fear I am, as the Corb Lund song goes, hard on equipment. Marilyn insisted on teflon 5.11 Tactical pants because she got tired of the fallout from barging through manzanita and snowbrush thickets and taking field shooting positions on abrasive volcanic cinders. Even Carhartts and Wrangler Riggs get beat up quick.
Sunday’s ramble is a case in point.
With the day setting up to be 55 degrees, sunny and still — basically Spring — nothing was gonna keep me out of the woods. I nailed down the next episode of the KPW podcast in one hard, bloody push on Saturday just so that the decks would be clear for action on Sunday. I set out on a ramble in a favorite stretch of country…
This area should be a snowshoe trek at this time of year, but it was far from that. There was snow on the ground, but it wasn’t deep, and there were big patches of sloppy mud. Days in the 50s like this melt it off quick. I heard Corb Lund’s Truth Comes Out in my ear as I hiked in.
The weather’s been funny 30 years or soThe winters got warm, not as much snowHear the big cats comin’ cuz there’s nowhere left to go
Didn’t see any sign of the big cats, but Don Coyote had passed through…
The old “wonder where this leads” bug is strong in me. Little game trails beckon up the ridge, and I must go. I seem to be about as capable of resisting being lured into a manzanita thicket as Pippin Took is capable of resisting the lure of the Palantir.
Yeah. Like that.
I got myself right into the thick of it on Sunday. Biggest mess of manzanita and snowbrush I’ve tangled with since I went way off-trail just to the west of this stretch last summer. Problem with manzanita-poppin’ in the winter is that an overlay of snow is an engraved invitation to post-holing into a tangle and twisting a knee or an ankle. Such shenanigans wouldn’t be catastrophic — I had cell coverage to call in the cavalry, and I always carry a fire-making kit and warm clothing in case I get stranded (another reason to carry a bigger rucksack). But the prospect of breaking through the crust and wrenching a knee was most unpleasant. So… had to take it slow and careful, and the hickory walking stick got a workout.
The manzanita took its dues — a few new scratches on the stock of the CZ, and on me. ’Tis but a flesh wound.
All of this to say that the ol’ “not all those who wander are lost” ramble was a whole lotta fun.
Hammerson Peters, who spins yarns of weird doings in the Canadian wilderness, recently dropped the third in his Mysteries of the Canadian Fur Trade series, this one featuring the Irish-Canadian artist Paul Kane.
You’ve probably seen Kane’s work:
Peters specializes in spooky stuff, and it’s grand.
Speaking of spooks…
“If someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first.”
— The Talmud
If settlement is inherent to Zionism, the notion of a frontier lies at its roots…
— Moshe Dann, The Jerusalem Post
Israel is a frontier society, formed in the 19th and 20th century as settlers came to Palestine when it languished under the Ottoman Empire, and grew restive under the post World War I British Mandate, and finally as it became a state in 1948, in the wake of the Holocaust.
The conflict that broke out immediately upon the declaration of the existence of the state of Israel was real-deal 20th Century Frontier Partisan warfare, with all that implies. With the nascent Jewish state under immediate existential threat from invasion by neighboring Arab armies, paramilitary forces, particularly Haganah, fought bitterly for Israel’s survival. The fighting was dirty.
Sand Creek, Gnaddenhutten, and Camp Grant had analogues in the likes of the Deir Yassin Massacre, where an estimated 117 Palestinian Arabs — including women and children and elderly people — were killed by the hardcore paramilitaries Irgun and Lehi.
Cherry Valley, Martin’s Station, and Penn’s Creek had analogues in the murder of surrendered Israelis after the defense of the settlement of Kfar Etzion, and the slaughter of 74 mostly medical personnel and patients, ambushed by Arab fighters in a convoy moving medical supplies. Atrocity and counter-atrocity have always been hallmarks of Frontier Partisan warfare. Terrorist attacks and threats are countered with targeted killings, and a cycle of violence is perpetuated across decades and generations.
Frontier Partisan warfare has also always been the province of highly skilled and innovative shadow warriors. Such are the personnel of Mossad, the branch of Israeli intelligence responsible for foreign operations. Below is a set of well-crafted documentary episodes recounting the storied history of Mossad, from its formation just after the birth of Israel.
This sculpture really struck me. The Oneida were key allies of the new United States. The Iroquois Longhouse fell into civil war because of the American Revolution, a deep tragedy for the Haudenosaunee.
Allies in War, Partners in Peace
St George, Utah
Gift of the Oneida Nation of New York (to to the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.)
This work honors the bonds of friendship that were forged between the Oneida Nation and the fledgling United States during the American Revolution. Oneidas fought alongside the colonists in many key battles and helped sustain American soldiers during the darkest hours of the Revolutionary War.
In the winter of 1777-78, a group of Oneidas walked more than 400 miles from Oneida Territory, in what is now central New York, to Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, carrying corn to feed the starving soldiers.
Polly Cooper, the Oneida woman depicted in the statue, taught the soldiers how to cook corn one of the Three Sisters, the sustainers of life, along with beans and squash.
Oskanondonha, at right, played a key role in the Oneida’s decision to side with the colonists. Also known as Skenandoah, he was the wampum keeper, and creator of government-to-government agreements, a highly respected individual among Oneidas.
General George Washington holds the two row wampum belt, symbol of agreement that the U.S. and Oneida Nation would not interfere in each other’s internal affairs.
Behind these figures stands the white pine tree, a symbol of peace, in the stories of the Oneida, Mohawk, Seneca, Onondaga, Cayuga and Tuscarora nations, which constitute the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy. Long ago the Peacemaker united these warring nations with his message of the Great Law of Peace, unearthing the white pine tree and burying the weapons of war beneath its roots.
The turtle, wolf, and bear represent the three clans
of the Oneida Nation.
The Ranger Project is rollin’. Friends have connected me with GWOT-era Rangers who are interested in participating. This electronic campfire has become a real community — and I feel honored, blessed and grateful. Thank you to all of you.
In the “Ranger” spirit, I’ve been spinning this one every day. Howard Shore really did magnificent work on LOTR.