Wednesday, February 29, 2012

YMCA Pine Crest

This coming weekend I will up in Gravenhurst at YMCA Camp Pine Crest. My Brother in law is the team leader for Pine Crest's teen and youth programs, and my wife and I usually make a couple trips up per year to hang out. The camp is quite a historic camp here in Ontario, in fact it is thee longest operating camp in North America. The story began in 1896 when C.J. Atkinson started the Broadview Boys Institute running summer camps for boys across Ontario. In 1910 the BBI opened it first camp in its current location on Clear Lake, and originally called "Camp Clear Lake". The following year they expanded the camp around what is known as First Point. One interesting fact about the early days of the camp, is that actual summer camp participates helped in the actual construction of the camp. Imagine having to help build the cabin you and your group is sleeping in, fantastic.  During the 50's - 60's the camp grew tremendously, and now owns almost 650 acres and 6km of shoreline. In 1980 the camp was finally changed to accommodation a separate girls section. At Pine Crest everyone who attends goes on a canoe trip in their stay, and good thing as the camp has one of the largest fleets of cedar canvas canoes in Canada. The Trip duration is usually governed by how long your stay at the camp is, your program, and your age. Some of the trips are up to 30 days. The camp also has Pine Crest Games, a two-day event that takes place on the last Tuesday and Wednesday of each summer involving competitions between two teams, the Lumbermen and the Voyageurs. This is quite a event at Pine Crest involving numerous events, a hopefully good description is from Wiki (for what its worth).

"The Pine Crest Games are an annual two-day event in which a series of competitions takes place between the Lumbermen and the Voyageurs. The Games begin with the announcement of the two team leaders. The leaders are camp staff, one man and one woman, who each have to hold their team's symbol - an axe for the Lumbermen and a paddle for the Voyageurs - without allowing it to touch the ground over the two days.
Three different sets of competitions are held. Swimming is held at the swimming docks, Boating is held at the boating docks, and Woodcraft, competitions which do not occur in the water such as portaging, tug-of-war, and giant jenga, is held at the Adventure Field.
On the afternoon of the second day, three marathons occur. The Neanderthal Crawl is done by Bantams and Juniors - the competitor must paddle in a kayak around a marker in the water, and then run to the adventure field and complete an obstacle course. The Snake Island Marathon is a canoe race completed by two-person teams of Seniors, in which the team must paddle from the Boating Docks, around Snake Island, and back – roughly 3 km. The Tri-Lakes Marathon is a longer race run by Pioneers and Leadership participants, in which two-person teams, which can have up to one staff member, pick up a canoe near the boating docks, carry it and two paddles 300 meters to Gullwing Lake, paddle 4 km through Gullwing Lake, the narrows, and Echo Lake, complete another 200 meter portage, and then sprint 500 meters across Clear Lake to finish the race.
At the end of the Games, a campfire is held in which the winners of each marathon are announced. Then, a four person relay occurs in which one member from each team paddles from Willison House to the swimming docks, then another member from each team jump off the jumping tower and swim a pool length together, and then the third members from each team run together back around to Willison House. At the end of the relay, each team leader drinks an unknown beverage, and then a letter on Sunset Bridge is lit on fire and spun to indicate either a V or L, whichever has won the Games.
The rules for deciding the team leaders and the winner of the Games was made into a sworn secret in the 1970s. Only Games leaders and Camp Directors are offered the secrets. Once one knows the secrets, he/she becomes a Referee-in-chief, or RIC, and can no longer compete in the Games. Additionally, he/she is sworn to secrecy and cannot tell the secrets to or discuss them with anyone who is not a RIC. Games leaders have the option to defer knowledge of the secrets, in which case he/she can continue to compete in the Games with the team that he/she led. To date, only two have done this, of whom only one still does not know the secrets."

On the Pine Crest Facebook page there are some great photos of old and new, including many of the Pine Crest games. Take a look and enjoy.  I will have some more photos after the week-end, stay tuned.

While rebuilding their Centennial Lodge one of the main
beams was carved with the original date of construction.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Weekend, and Blueberries and Noodles.

What a weekend. It started off with heading to the Outdoor Adventure show to say "Hi" to the COEC guys, and to take a look around. The COEC booth looked fantastic, racks of Gransfors axes, lots of Helle Knives and Trangia stoves. The trifecta of solid outdoors kit. I bought what I thought was Coyote Brown Para-cord, but due to my colour blindness (some colours) I bought Olive Drab, I will have to get that switched. Lots of other good stuff to be had and ideas for places to visit. I even got to have a great conversation with Author Kevin Callan and Evan Holt of about my recent score of 16mm films, and the other possibilities of showings. Saturday was busy as I was in pursuit of a birthday gift for my wife, with no luck. I did however hit up Lens Mills in Cambridge, which is a fabric store built in the old Dominion Woollens Factory. I was digging in the "outdoors fabric remnants" bin, and scored 3 yards of Canvak treated Canvas Duck in Emerald Green, as well as half a yard of blaze orange Cordura. If you are unfamiliar with Canvak it is a Canvas treatment giving it a waxy feel and noticeable smell, It has been the choice of waterproofing for canvas for a very long time in the Military, and you will smell it when you walk in any army surplus store. There will be some special projects coming up shortly for these bits of fabric. Sunday was filled with a good olde fashion brain storm, My wife and I sat down and played with ideas for some new dry goods. Trying to keep it different, but still tough and useful. All these items are small batches and limited quantities but that keeps things interesting. I think I have a couple fun things coming up shortly, as well as some great new field tests and reviews. So stay tuned folks and in the mean time try this old Adamiak Family recipe. It was created to be a lazy man's Blueberry Perogies.

Blueberries and Noodles

One pack of Penne Pasta.
One pint of Blueberries (frozen will do).
One 500ML Tub of 14% Sour Cream.
1 cup of white sugar.

1. Boil pasta in pot as usual.
2. In seporate pot, on stove top blend blueberries and half cup of sugar to make blueberry sauce, or put the two in microwave and nuke for a couple minutes to make sauce.
3. When pasta is done, strain water.
4. In pasta pot, mix blueberries with pasta, then add at least 3/4 of the tub of sour cream, and the rest of the sugar to taste.

You can make this with any berries, I have had strawberries, cherries, raspberries, or all at once! I know it might sound disturbing, but I assure you it is amazing.  You can thank me later.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Geared Up.

I came across this photo somewhere, about 6 months ago. It has been sitting on my desktop waiting for me to do something with it. I absolutely love this picture. I look at it almost everyday. It really captures the honest, and traditional art of wilderness tripping.  Look at the slight smile, He wouldn't trade having a 80lb pack on his back for nothing at that moment. Not only that, but the gear he has as a whole. I find it funny how today, in 2012, I wear a Stormy Kromer, and a wool shirt everyday in the cooler weather, and while in the bush I wear 16" bean boots and wool pants. Looking at the photo it looks like its from the 30's - 40's, and his gears is still viable some 70 years later, and is still the best you can get. Wool and Leather folks, its all you need! 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Bill Mason 16mm Films.

 This past week has been quite memorable week for me. If you have followed the blog or know me personally, you know I am big Fan of Bill Mason's work. Well this week I had the pleasure of basically having a collection of the original 16mm films fall into my lap. I stumbled onto two film, then while looking for a projector to play them I was offered two more. These are the classic films with the sound right on the film, like we use to watch in Grade and high school. One of my earliest memories of Bill Mason's films are sitting in my old living room with my Dad and watching the projector clack away with the super distinct voice of Bill chatting way on "Song of the paddle". To be able to have these films is something else, I was giddy like a school-girl waiting for them in the mail. The four movies that I got are as follows:

"Path of the Paddle - Double Basics"
"Path of the Paddle - Solo Whitewater"
"Paddle to the Sea"
"The Rise and Fall of the Great Lakes"

Two of them have faded a bit, as all film does, and  the Magenta is the predominate colour, but the films are 100% viewable and I have been watching them all weekend! I hope to be having a Public "screening" coming up soon, I am just trying to work out details with some friends in regards to space etc. Stay tuned!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Custom Drop Sheaths.

Tim and Chris of COEC asked me to make two different sheaths for their matching knifes.  I am a fan of drop sheaths, their simplicity and lack of snaps and buttons make them fool-proof and durable. These bad boys are made form 10 oz tooling leather. They were wet formed over the knife and then stitched to the backing. Wet forming is when you soak the leather then place it over the item, and stretch it while it dries. I lay it on a slice of log and tack it down tightly around the knife (or any object) while it dries. This insures a custom fit! They leather, after dried and stitched is treated with a blend of waxes. My treatment for sheaths is 65% beeswax, 35% paraffin, this is a good balance of stiffness for the sheath, and for a good measure I threw in a dollop if Damn Yak Pine Pitch Salve for a bit of oil and the grip of pitch. I like the idea of the "Pancake" Sheath, this was the first time making this type of sheath, its tight to the body and does not get caught on thing as easily as a regular sheath would. The initial fit is super snug, but with use they will loosen up appropriately. These sheaths should provide years of hard use and dependability. Can't wait to see them in a 6 months, to see how they have weathered.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bear Mountain Boat Shop - Nick Offerman Build-up DVD.

If you are a fan of the series "Parks and Recreation", you most definitely like the "man of all men" Ron Swanson. Sporting his stellar mustache and love of breakfast food, and carpentry, he steals the show with his no-nonsense attitude on everything. The Actor who portrays "Ron" is Nick Offerman, a comedian, and quite a real carpenter. Working with friends under the company "Offerman Woodshop", the group build marvelous pieces of wood creations. A few years back while Nicks wife was working in NYC on Broadway, he made his way up to Peterborough to Bear Mountain Boat Shop to purchase plans and materials to construct a couple of canoes. The two groups decided to make a DVD to be a companion piece to the famous canoe makers book "Canoecraft".  Here are some clips to tickle your fancy, but head over to Bear Mountain's website to grab the whole step by step video. Nick has a certain way of talking that makes you feel really comfortable and confident that you could, with no history in woodworking build a canoe, and beautiful one at that.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Estwing Hammer Rebuild.

I was asked by my Sister-in-law about a month ago to take on a task.  As she reached into her tool box she pulled out a beat up, rotted, grip less 16 oz. Estwing leather gripped claw hammer.  "This was my Dad's", My brother's remark was "Just tell her to get a new one!". As I put my hand up to my brother I ask what she want me to do, her reply " rebuild the grip, he had it for I don't know how many years and I would like to use it again." And so one of my favorite builds to date began.  I have made many leather gripped knives before, and have build some amazing things out of leather in the past 6 years, but none of this caliber, none that have been so sentimental that's for sure. And to see the handle come out of the massive stack of leather was incredible. No power tools were used, it was completely done by hand with no glue in between the stacks of leather. Instead of going into huge detail about the ins and outs, I will just put some comments down under the picture as to whats going on. I did used Spar Varnish on the grip, as raw leather (as beautiful as it would be) my Sister-in-law will actually be using this hammer in all conditions and to maximize the leathers durability I varnished it.  There must be a reason to it, as Estwing varnishes theirs as you can see on the 20 oz claw hammer I was using as reference.

The original I was handed, missing a few pieces, about 50 years old.

After removing end, and sliding over 40 stacks of leather.

Freshly peened rivets, snug tight.

After 20 min of cutting with Olfa knife, using my hammer as guide.

Final rough cut.

After some intense 120 grit sanding.

Final raw hammer, after 400 grit sanding.

Final raw hammer.

About to varnish, this leather was thirsty.

After eight coats of varnish.

Finished, ready to be passed down for many more generations.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Sweet Find Alert: "Last Climb" (Deluxe Leather Edition) $1.99.

Swing by to pick up this fantastic deluxe edition of this book for a whopping $1.99. Tons of great pictures of the fatal 1924 expedition to Everest. Lots of photos of the early Wool and gabardine mountaineering gear. Imagine today climbing Everest in a Harris Tweed suit and thin leather boots.  Also has some cheap Kevin Callan Canoe books - $5.99 - Say what!

The last known photo of Mallory and Irvine before their Summit.

Mallory (second from left) is so bad ass he used people as stepping stools, and Irvine (far left)

Maple Sugar - Songs of Early Canada.

While browsing at the local Salvation Army yesterday, I stumbled on this flipping through the records. In among the James Last, and the Herb Alpert records was this rare gem. "Maple Sugar - Songs of Early Canada", released in 1973. A 2 LP set with early logger jigs, paddling songs, some pipes, election songs, a couple sea shanty's, just about everything under the sun, in both English and French. Before this record was put out "Maple Sugar" was a festival of Canadian Folk Music at the University of Guelph, and the album combines live recordings from that day as well as studio recordings from afterwards. In the liner notes it says:

"Maple Sugar is dedicated to all those
guitar-pickin', banjo-fralin', harp-blowin', 
country-fiddlin', sod-busters, gold-dusters,
tree-choppers, and train-hoppers who stole this land
from Winter and didn't get away with it, buried
now beside good women, but ready to drink, dance,
or sing with any of us who'd care to knock on
the graves, that being the way of people who get 
involved with stringed instruments."

It really is quite a collection of songs, and it from the one of the oldest local public schools library in Milton. The album is titled after a song written by Ward Allen, a Canadian Fiddler.  Take a Listen to "Maple Sugar" by Ward himself on the fiddle.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Damn Yak Trading Post.

Welcome to the Damn Yak Trading post. This is where all the Goods that We make here are available all the time. FYI: Bartering is great, and will be accepted as currency. It works for everyone. Paypal only. Shipping is per location, actual amount rounded to highest dollar. I am not responsible for Duties, customs, etc. All leather goods are "Made to order"  and will require a 4-6 day lead time.

All offers, sales, requests for more images, and inquires can be emailed to Damnyak(at)

Refurb Woods #100 Canoe pack (DY.02) - $120 + Shipping

Refurb Woods #100 Canoe pack (DY.03) - SOLD 

Refurb Woods No.200 Canoe pack (DY.04) - SOLD 

Damn Yak Axe Holster 10-12oz Tooling Leather. SOLD 

Mens Wallet Handmade 4oz Tooling Leather. SOLD 

Men's Handmade Long Wallet.  4oz Tooling Leather  Raw or Brown. SOLD 

Toronto Wide Cruiser Brigade T-Shirt S, M, L, XL. SOLD