Prepping and Caching on the Homestead

I carried the gear up the mountain in a surplus ALICE pack
I carried the gear up the mountain in a surplus ALICE pack (pictures empty). The frame was quite helpful with the heavy load.

Yesterday, it was warm for early February and dry-ish, so I loaded my pack, grabbed my hiking stick and climbed the mountain with a .50 caliber ammo can that weighed more than 30 pounds. Cache 1 is now stashed it in a secure location on the mountainside that overlooks the road.

As you may recall from my earlier articles, this cache contains more than 425 rounds of ammunition, some food, and a few general supplies. If I end up on the run, I can resupply from this can, if necessary. It is also in a suitable location for ambushing someone chasing me. Placing my second cache will be the next big chore.

I am contemplating putting together a third cache, one that focuses on bedding, rain gear, and food with little or no ammunition. There are hundreds of undeveloped and unpopulated acres around us, many of them steep and remote or inaccessible. My plan is to do some more exploring and look for a cave or sheltered spot among the rocks, or a remote place where I could build a primitive shelter this summer. I would then place the cache in that general area. I think this would be some good bush crafting experience as well as provide a fall back location if we had to retreat from the house for any length of time.

Packing It Up

I dug a surplus ALICE frame pack out from my pile of gear. It was old when I bought it twenty years ago, but still functional. I used it to haul the stuff up the hill because I wanted a frame pack. It was a good call, and a reminder of why frame packs ruled the backpacking world for so long. The lumbar support was excellent, and the waist belt kept much of the weight off my shoulders. That doesn’t mean I’m looking forward to carrying the two cans in my second cache three or four times as far (2 miles of up, down and then what seems like straight up). I wish I had a sherpa, or a 4-wheeler, which could get me halfway there.

There are some downsides of living halfway up a mountain, and a major one is there is no level area unless you own a bulldozer.

The Downside of Living Halfway up a Mountain

Because there is no flat space, every day when I walk the dog, I go up and down some part of the mountain. I either go up first, and then back down,  or I head down and then climb back up. Sometimes, I go down, circle around, and go up so far, I have to go down again to get home.

I can go further than I used to without stopping, but my heart still beats hard. I no longer need to stop for a drink when I am halfway up, but I don’t argue when the dog wants to stop and smell something because it gives me a chance to catch my breath. When I do stop, I recover faster and can start sooner. All good signs, but there’s more work to be done.

Carrying that ammo can up was no fun and cut into my hiking speed and performance. I’ve carried a small day pack before and done it a few times in my plate carrier, but the pack is more difficult.

On the plus side, it will be a strategic advantage if I can get up the mountain faster than someone chasing me. I don’t expect I have to outrun an elite military unit, but I hope my frequent hikes give me at least a slight advantage over whomever shows up wanting to run us out of our property. Of course, they have to climb a mile just to get here, so I should be starting off with an edge.

Surprise Prepper Food

While on a ladder pulling the pack off a shelf in our storage room, I found a box of canned foods I did not know was up there. It was mostly chili and canned beef. I turned each can upside down, which I find helps foods packed in liquids or that are wet enough to flow, remain fresh longer. For example, if some of the roast beef was floating on top of the broth, it might dry out over time. Flipping the can minimizes that by redistributing the broth.

I don’t have any proof this is an effective tactic, but in my opinion flipping cans of soup or stew will help keep it appetizing well past the expiration date.

In any case, that’s at least the second surprise stash of supplies I’ve found in the past few months. Always a nice surprise to know I am more prepared than I thought. I added the cans to my inventory list.

Three Pairs of Boots

I wore three different pairs of boots yesterday, which reminded me how important good footwear is. Because very little footwear is made in America, I recommend stocking some extra shoes and boots. If war with China disrupts the flow of trade goods from Asia, you’ll be glad you have those extra boots.

On the hike up the mountain, I wore my winter hiking boots, which are waterproof and have Thinsulate insulation. They provide good traction, ankle support, comfort, and keep my feet warm on those chilly mornings.

After I came down the mountain, I switched into my muck boots to go into the chicken run to change their water and pour more feed into the feeder. Despite spreading straw around on Monday, the chicken run is still muddy, and the mud blends with chicken poop to make a mess. I often have to hose my boots off when I am done. Even so, you don’t want to wear these boots into your house. You don’t even want to get into your truck with them on.

Later that day, I carried a three-day supply of firewood into the house as we prepare for the possibility of rain and snow over the next few days. I wore safety toe boots for that chore.

I started wearing safety toe boots more than a decade ago when a pallet with about 200 pounds of stuff on it fell a couple inches onto my toe. Not only did it hurt then and throb for days, my toenail turned black and fell off. I learned my lesson and wore safety toe boots on the worksite thereafter. I still break them out on the homestead when dealing with firewood or something else that might fall on my foot.

In my book, being prepared covers far more than food and water.