Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Year Camping Goal Reached!

Yes!  You read that right!  I have reached my goal I set back on March 5th 2011 to camp 365 times (one full year of camping) before I turned 40 years old!  That's an average of 9.1 nights per year, so that's not too bad, right?  Here's some of my stats for the camping nights:

Backpacking Nights - 53
Canyoneering Nights - 30
Snowcave Nights - 16
Hot Springs Nights - 9
Boating/Rafting Nights - 25
Biking Nights - 1
Beach Camping Nights - 81
Plus a ton of other campouts!

I've camped 112 nights with the scouts in the troop I'm in now!

Does all this camping make me an expert?  Nope, I'm still learning on each campout the things that work well and the things that don't.  In preparation for each campout I still go through my list of things to bring, and debate on the things from previous trips that I thought I couldn't live without, or that I wished I'd had.  I feel like I've gotten better at being prepared for whatever happens, and that's good, but I also feel like we can work through unforeseen challenges we face, and that's even better.

Does that mean I'll stop camping now?  Not on your life!  I really enjoy camping and taking scouts on campouts.  I enjoy helping them experience the outdoors and helping them to learn and grow.  I like how I feel as I go outdoors and get away from my desk job.

Boy Scouts of America has given me much and taught me much.  I earned my Eagle as a 14 year old scout, and have been involved in scouting pretty much ever since.  It's a great program that helps young men to build confidence, character, and values that will help them as they grow up and become men.

The outdoors is calling, and I must go.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Lumberjack Campout 2017

This year for our yearly Lumberjack Campout (we go on a yearly lumberjack camp where we cut firewood and take it back to give to families in our neighborhood that need it) we sent the leaders out with chain saws to cut up 8-10 foot sections of logs, then had the boys team up and haul the logs back to the vehicles so that we could cut it up and chop them up close to the vehicles.  The boys liked it this way as they were able to do less trips out into the woods to haul back wood, and they felt tough lifting large dry pine logs.
One of our adults wanted some logs for himself, so we cut them to length and loaded up his trailer with logs he can then cut another day.

Right as we were finishing up the project it started snowing - we knew that there was a chance of that in the forecast but were hoping it would hold off.  We were prepared and were able to handle it just fine - our only challenge was one of the 12-seater vans didn't have chains, so it took some work to get it up one of the hills we had to climb to get out of there.  But that's a great experience for the boys (and leaders) to see that we can work through challenges and make it alright if we work together!

It was a pretty view from my tent window that morning though.

After the hard work all day long we took the scouts into the nearest town and played Wallyball at the local rec center, and then swam for a couple hours (and soaked in the hot tub).  It's a great way to reward everyone for their hard work and have fun together.  Between the rec center and being a Lumberjack, this campout is one of the scout's favorite over-nighters!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Camping with Sleep Apnea

I was diagnosed with Sleep Apnea about 16 months ago.  For those that don't know what that is, it means my body stops breathing multiple times while I sleep, and then struggles to start up again.  I was tested and came up on the low end of the scale - only stopped breathing 16 times per hour, but that was enough to make me always tired!  Plus, it's not too good on your heart.  I was prescribed a CPAP machine to sleep with that blows pressurized air into my mouth & nose to keep my airway open.  Unfortunately, the CPAP machine requires power, which makes camping difficult.
Image result for airsense 10 autosetImage result for airfit 10

So I've been camping with a CPAP machine for about 16 months now, and have tried a few different ways to power my CPAP machine.  The typical way is to get a large marine battery, plus an inverter so you can plug the CPAP into the inverter and have power.  I did this for awhile, because it was the popular way to do it, and I knew it would work.  If I turned off the humidifier, tube heater, and data feed, I was able to get 3 nights comfortably off one deep cycle marine battery.  Unfortunately that marine battery is heavy!
Image result for deep cycle battery
Then I found a battery pack that was a lot smaller, with Lithium batteries instead of the Lead/Acid batteries.  It's made by ChargeTech and is available at HERE. I got it from when it was in development for a lot less money, but it's a great product!

It is 56,000 mAh, up to 250 Watts, and has two USB charging ports to charge your phone/tablet, and two outlets that provide AC power.  When I turn off the humidifier, tube heater, and data feed on my CPAP machine I am able to get 2+ nights of sleep, so not as much as the deep cycle battery, but this weighs just over 2 pounds, not the 60+ pounds that the deep cycle battery weighs, and you don't need to bring an inverter - it's built in.

I bought two of them so I can get up to 4 nights of sleep with them, and if I need more than that, I bring my deep cycle battery and leave it in the car, then charge this smaller unit off that.

They also sell a solar panel that is supposed to charge the battery pack in 24 hours, so while it won't keep the unit fully charged, I should be able to get 3, maybe 4 nights off a single one if I keep it charging on the solar panel all day each day.  I tried charging it in September, and I was able to get a 19% charge in one day while I was gone to work.  If I were to use it in the summer with longer sun hours, and be there to adjust it to keep it in the sun all day it would probably get more.

Do I take it backpacking?  Nope.  Between this battery pack and the CPAP machine, it's too much to take backpacking, and it's hard to use the CPAP machine if I sleep in a hammock because it needs to be sitting on a flat surface.  I don't take it on snowcave camps either for fear of freezing my CPAP machine.

I did use the setup over the weekend on a pretty cold campout, where the temperatures dropped to freezing.  I didn't want to freeze my water reservoir in the CPAP, so I turned the humidifier on low - unfortunately that draws a lot of power and I was only able to sleep for 3 hours that way.  It must have a thermometer built into the humidifier because I've used it on the low setting before, and only used 60% of the battery pack in 8 hours of sleeping.  I'm guessing it tries to get the water to a set temperature, and when it was down to 32°F, it needed more power to get to that temperature, so it ran my battery out.

So yes, it is possible to camp with sleep apnea, unfortunately it cost a little more to get started, but once you have the equipment, you can handle most trips just fine.