The Story Of Lost Creek…

The story of Lost Creek is one of connections…

Greg Weiss

Greg Weiss, Owner/Director of Lost Creek Adventures & Folk School

Greg Weiss is the owner/director of Lost Creek Adventures and folk School. He began his career teaching in the outdoors in 1993, and since then has worked with Outward Bound, Boulder Outdoor Survival School, and several other organizations including one that he started with a friend. This work took him all over the North and South American continent leading survival trips, sea kayak expeditions, mountaineering trips, youth rehabilitation programs, and later on, planning, marketing, and then leading expeditions to the Ecuador rainforest to live and learn with the Huaorani natives.

It was a wonderful way to see the natural world and get paid a bit for doing it. But mostly it was the way he could try to teach connection.

Even though it seemed that the problems of the world were complicated, in the end it seemed to Greg that if people were connected to the land, physically, emotionally, spiritually… that many of the worlds problems wouldn’t happen in the first place. The idea was that if someone loved something how could they destroy it? It would be like destroying themselves. No one would do that!

This ideal, like everything in life, is born in ignorance. Ideals are black and white while life is not. However from his experience living and learning with people who still live by the old ways, there is something to it. Something modern human existence is missing. Something that all of the comforts and conveniences we have can’t make up for. Something that Greg knew deep down could help people, if they experienced it for themselves.

Greg started Lost Creek Adventures in 2011. Looking for a name he thought back to his original reason for starting this path in life. Connection. Greg’s land is at the headwaters of Lost Creek. This little waterway meanders from his now straw bale house, (across his driveway in the spring) and down several miles to Lake Superior. The name fit the mission, and the rest is history.

Lost Creek is a name that symbolizes our wandering connection to the natural world. It symbolizes the meandering adventure of life. It is a very real connection to how we treat the land and one another, because in the end, we all end up in the same place.

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Caring for your yurt

I’ve lived in a yurt for 7 years in northern Wisconsin. I bought my yurt used (Pacific Yurts), and I am estimating the age to be 22 years of this posting.

So far so good. The frame is great. The vinyl top seems solid. So what problems have I had and how did I address them?

Greg's yurt in front of the newer straw bale house.

Greg’s yurt in front of the newer straw bale house.

Skirting

The thin plywood that I used to make the skirting (what the bottom of the side cover screws into) has rotted in some places. This is what helps keep the yurt down in a wind so I need to replace it soon. I’d like to find 1/8″ treated plywood for this fix. Pretty simple. I would think 1/4″ plastic sheeting could work too, but you want it to be strong enough to screw in to and hold up against wind.

 

Windows

The plastic windows have velcro along the edges, (female) which attach to the velcro on the yurt side cover (male). When the sun hits the male velcro it breaks it down pretty fast. Consequently the windows blow off in a wind, get damaged and new ones cost $60 each last I checked. It would be great to have a better fastening system.

What I did was to pop-rivet new velcro on to the yurt side cover. It leaves some air gaps between the new and old velcro however, so gluing fabric or sealing with caulking would work to seal the gaps.

Sidewall

The vertical sidewall gets a beating from the sun. Generally the sidewall is lighter and has exposed stitching. Mine was rated for 10 years, and after 22 years being in full sun it’s still going strong.

When I saw that the stitching was starting to fray I decided to paint it. Yes, that’s right paint it. It sounded crazy to me, but with a new sidewall costing $2,000 I figured I’d try it.

I bought paint meant for RV’s called “Plasticoat”. It’s a flexible paint meant to go on metal. Since metal expands and contracts quite a bit, I figured this paint would work well.

It came in white, so I tinted it some with brown, and rolled it on. After at least 10 years of exposure I can say that this is one of my few experimental successes. No chipping or peeling at all and the stitching is coated and protected from not only sun, but molds and other growths known to affect fabrics.

 

That’s about all for now. Let me know if you have any questions!

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Choosing A Stand Up Paddleboard

Stand Up Paddleboards or “SUP’s” are a relatively new addition to the paddle-craft buyers market. As a paddler with over 20 years of experience, I can tell you a few things that you won’t hear from the retail stores or manufacturers.

Many companies want in on the action of SUP. It’s new, it’s hot, and it’s selling. However many of them don’t have the experience to design a good board.  This doesn’t mean that new companies can’t be great designers and builders, but very often YOU as the consumer end up being the test dummy for the models put out by the newer companies. Don’t listen to the hype. Get a good understanding of what makes a board do what you want it to, then you can make the best decision.

Some steps to finding your perfect SUP

1. Don’t look at boards first.

First think about what kind of paddling you will want to do. Generally this means you should borrow or rent a board for a day and try paddling it for a distance, play on it, and just think about the future of you and your board. Try not to fantasize too much.

When I paddle my surf-style board my maximum distance for fun paddling is generally 5 miles. As counterpoint, in my kayak 15 miles is a fun day. If you want to SUP distance, you will most likely want a touring style, not the flat or “surfing” style board most popular now.

2. Decide on a flat or touring board.

Surf style SUP boards are designed primarily for flatwater paddling. The smaller SUP’s (relative to your weight) are geared towards being able to play in the surf, while the larger are more stable when on flat water. Overall they are maneuverable, have enough floatation to carrying your pet sloth with you, and your drybag for your lunch.

A touring board has a pointed nose/bow for cutting through oncoming waves, and the bottom shape lends itself better for going straight than turning. It’s a less stable feeling board initially. Because this board tracks better, and has less rocker (or tip to tail curve, like a rocking chair) and is generally narrower, it will be a faster board when in the hands of the right paddler.

3. Decide on general dimensions

Length: Surf-style boards range from 9′ to 12′ or so. Most board manufactures design a board shape and then make that board shape in a range of sizes, not just for different size people, but for different sized uses. For example I can use a same design 9’6″ for playing around in the surf, but for traveling 5 miles on flat water I choose my 11’6″ board.

For a touring board you will be looking at 12′-14′ board length and maybe even a bit longer depending upon your weight and desired use. Though a longer craft has the potential to go faster, speed depends not on your board, but on YOU. You must have the technique and muscle to propel it. So at some point a longer board gives you less, not more.

Width/Beam: Again, this will mark how much stability the board has. The wider the more stable platform you will have to stand on, the more floatation the board will have, and the slower the board will be. Flat boards range from around 28-35″ as width increases with length, while touring boards generally stay just under 30″ regardless of length. Touring boards are tippier, but faster because of this.

Depth: This is how thick the board is. Boards will be thicker somewhere around the center or balance point of the board, while thinner out at the nose and tail. Thickness lends itself to “displacement” or how much water the board displaces. The thicker the board, the more displacement, the higher you ride, and it will feel more stable on flat water. It will also be heavier, as there is more material. I know paddlers who like water washing their feet all day, while others have boards that put the paddler 2″ above the water. For surfing it’s nice to have a lower displacement board, because once you are on a wave the planing action floats the board, rather than the floatation in the board itself.

Remember that the longer the board the more displacement it will have due to length as well, so you have to figure that in along with the depth.

Rocker: Is the banana shape you might see looking at the side of a board (or kayak) This means easier turning, but a bit slower board. A more rockered board will also feel more stable for the same width/beam than a less rockered board of the same dimensions.

Additionally, rocker can be placed in the middle, or often more towards the nose. This helps your board to not “pearl” or take a “nose dive” while catching a surf wave.

Shape: Even “flat” boards are not flat. Perfectly flat boards are called “doors”. SUPs come in concave, convex, double convex, and all variations. The idea is that the bottom of the board affects how the water travels past the fins, and how you can edge the board to help it turn. This is somewhat subtle and complicated to explain here, so if you’re local store can’t really tell you much about the board shape, you’ll want to continue your search.

In general you will want a board with some nose rocker to keep from pearling while on a wave, with a rounded rail (sides) gently giving way to sharp rails near the tail. This sharpness helps carve while on a wave. Plastic and inflatable boards do not have much shape, and more more “door like”, while composite boards allow for much more variation and subtlety in design.

4. Decide on materials

Strength: You want a strong board if you are going to be in surf. This may mean a bit heavier due to more layers of material on the board. Most boards have more layers of fiberglass on the bottom and sides, with less on top. This helps keep down some of the weight.

Materials: If this board will be for “anyone” and paddling around rocks in the river, you’ll want an inflatable or plastic board. For open water touring or surfing, a composite material such as epoxy-fiberglass or carbon fiber to decrease weight. But you’d be surprised at how a bit heavier board feels better in a headwind and waves. You’re momentum tends to carry through rather than being stopped at each little swell.

Some may argue that they want a wood board. That’s great. The difference is that instead of foam at the core of the board, you have wood. You’ll still have some kind of composite on the outside to keep water from soaking into the wood.

Fins: A strong fin box and good quality fin that you can adjust. A center fin is a must for straight paddling, while more fins, usually 3 smaller fins are used for paddling in both flat water or surf, and help “carve” while edging the board for a turn. Generally shorter flat boards come with 3 fin boxes. Longer flat boards have 1 center fin box because the manufacturers are not expecting you to surf the larger boards much.

Accessories: bungee cords on the front? fully padded on top, 3/4 padded, or no padding? What quality is the padding? Will it rip up quick or last a while?

Generally, if you look at a bunch of different boards closely you will see which seem to have a shoddy layup and outfitting.

4. Decide on price range

$800 to $3000 or more.

5. NOW go out looking

Take all of the above in to account and take a look around. At Lost Creek we have all lengths available in flat boards, with a few different brands available in used or new. What’s better, if you rent from us and then buy the board, your rental is free. There’s no better way to figure out what you want than trying a bunch of boards all in the same day.

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Paddler health – a winter venture

To put it simply, if you’re a paddler you are starting to get ready for the “season” which for us in the north starts when the ice goes out in April. First the rivers flood, then the lakes open up.

After I got a desk job with all the increased pay and benefits, I also started to get hurt more. My shoulder dislocated and then I hurt my lower back, neither of which I had ever had trouble with… All in one year. This was the year of sitting.

Now, paddlers do sit to paddle, but all the while proper stroke technique is increasing our core strength (good for the back) and the connective tissue and small endurance muscles. (the shoulder rotator cuff muscles)

But it’s too early to paddle so what to do to get ready? Check out our Paddler Heath page for updates on some strengthening ideas.

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Pot Pies and Woodsmoke

by Paul Sveum, Lost Creek Instructor for traditional skills and survival.

Let’s say you love those frozen pot pies. The ones that when microwaved bubble over with goo that, beyond the limits of physics, heats up to near nuclear levels. Every day you go to the store, plop a few in your basket and call it a day. Although you know that they are not the best thing for you, and admittedly you are growing concerned that they may actually be bad for you, you keep eating them because it is what you have always eaten and you know of no other way of satiating that hunger in your belly.

This is exactly why traditional Earth skills, primitive* technology, and all life ways that pre-date the modern agricultural revolution are so vitally important to our species. Get it? Cool.

Ok, I’ll explain. Just like little Jimmy Pot Pie our society is hooked on just one possibility for what life on Earth can look like, for right or wrong. This idea consists of, albeit wildly simplified, exploration, totalitarian resource consumption, unchecked growth, and expansion. This plan works very well, just like noshing down a few pot pies a day, but at some point it catches up with you, and for us that time is coming near. Now, this is not “the end is nigh” raving lunatic kinda near, but in a peak oil kinda way where the same science that got us to this point is starting to say whoa horsey!

Now, I am not saying that one way of living on earth, or eating for that matter, is better than another, but what is clear is that we as a species need options. A prime example occurred in Tasmania around 30,000 years ago. When the island of Tasmania was still connected to Australia, the people of Tasmania lived much like their Aussie counterparts, each sharing technology such as fishing nets, hunting tools, and also each others genes. As the glaciers began to melt though, Tasmania became disconnected from the mainland of Australia. This isolation caused the Tasmanian people to become more dependent on change in order to survive and ultimately lead, over the course of tens of thousands of years, to their cultural forgetting of such tools as fishnets, the boomerang, of all but the most simple clothing, and it is thought that they may have even lost the control of fire. Simply: the early people if Tasmania hedged their bets on a future dependent on quick adaptation with an apparent lack of desire to conserve ideas of the past. Now, they made it, and so did we, but it should be clear that such cultural forgetting sets up a tight rope existence, without a trampoline and funny clowns to help if things go wrong.

The hallmark of our species is our creativity, resourcefulness, and our ingenuity, but in order to utilize those attributes we need options- both historical options of what has worked well in the past and future possibilities of how to make life even better. Just like with fashion, regrettably where 1980’s style is cool again, history repeats itself- but we can only repeat what we remember. After all, how many ways can you cook a pot pie and come up with something other than a pot pie?

What we need to do as a people is to explore all life ways- the old and the new. For my part, advanced physics being slightly out of my grasp-for now, I will speak for the old ways because that is what I have dedicated much of my life to. One option we need to keep alive is the working knowledge of the lifestyles, skills and practices of the people who we used to be before the laptop, the McBarfwich, and Monsanto.

This is where learning the old ways comes in. I do not proclaim that the old ways are how everyone should live or that they represent a panacea to our current situation, but simply that we need to keep those traditional ways alive so as that we might in the future have more options of how to live on Earth. For instance, if the day comes when oil prices are too high for the average, say, plastic spoon factory to justify staying open just to sell 99 cent spoons, then we can say so what, I know what wood to use and how to carve a mean spoon, so no biggie. If we didn’t retain that bit of cultural knowledge we would be left either hopelessly slurping soup with a fork or praying that science will figure things out before the soup gets cold. My point is that by whatever means, we need to start making an effort to keep some options open, so when things change, as they always do, we won’t be caught sitting on a pile of frozen pot pies with no way of cooking them.

Traditional Earth skills represent a way of life, that by sheer dint of time, have proven to be, oh here comes that word, sustainable in the truest sense of the word. After all, any life-way that existed for at least 50,000 years must have been fairly sustainable- they must have shopped at Co-ops and driven Priuses! Now I know that not everyone is going to start carving figure 4 deadfalls and lighting fires with hand drills, but what everyone can do is to learn a little of the old ways and save them for later. There are many down to earth folks out there teaching traditional earth skills and many offer short weekend courses at a reasonable price, so you don’t need to commit a load of time or money to helping retain the knowledge it took humans a 250,000 years to perfect. We need to go into this future of ours with as many tools as we can in carry, so learn to make fire with sticks then tweet it to the world.

*The word primitive has been used derogatorily to refer to a people or a way of life that is somehow less, or under developed. I use the word primitive to mean, as the dictionary says, first, original, and natural.

From the author: This summer I am excited to be offering a full 3 months of courses with our pals at Lost Creek Adventures!  The vision of SOAR Outdoors is to help establish and grow our connection with the natural world and also do so in the most sustainable and ecologically responsible way we can. This summer’s courses are aimed at getting back to our roots- that means a summer of lighting fires with sticks, eating wild foods, living in hand made natural shelters, learning how to survive in the bush, and crafting the goods that make life possible with a few hand tools and a great deal of creativity.  We are running multiple day long workshops, two weekend long wilderness survival courses, a couple of week-long traditional skills courses, and also our most in depth and experiential course – the month long Bushcraft Semester.  All of the field based courses are live in, hands on, and outdoors.  We will be running all of our field courses in and around the beautiful Cornucopia area- from Lake Superior to the Chequamegon National Forest- and we can’t wait!

Paul

http://paulsveum.posterous.com/

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Baja Mexico Travels

I just got back from Mexico.

So what? You say. Rubbing it in our face? You say.

Actually, I wanted to share some pics and invite you to join us next time!

Lots more photos to come on our website. Get our newsletter to stay in the loop!

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Getting around Baja Mexico

Greg from Lost Creek just got back from a scouting trip to southern baja where we will be leading kayaking trips in the near future.
After some internet research on buses,vans, shuttles…. and then going there for ourselves, we found that there is a alot of
misleading information out there and would like to help anyone who is thinking about heading to baja. Please comment if you have questions.

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