Night in pisgah

A short window of time opened up in our work schedule last week that Joshua and I decided to take advantage of and slip off for a couple nights of camping and fishing.  We went on a short and easy backpack trip with Joshua’s 7 month old puppy Ginger.  She was a bit anxious during this new endeavor, but bravely followed her leaders.  Spring was just unfolding in the high elevations along the Art Leob Trail and the MST.  We passed numerous trilliums in bloom, and the forest was alive with songbirds.  Along with the many towhees and juncos, I noticed some unique yellow colored birds: Golden Crowned Kinglets, and a new sighting for myself, a Chestnut-sided Warbler.  Another yellowish bird provided insufficient time for identification.    The next day some beautiful wild trout were sourced and brought home to provide some high quality omega 3’s.    The fingerprints of the Creator were impossible to miss.  How wonderful to witness the beauty of His creation!

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Oatmeal

I’ve been sick most of the week with a nasty cold.  Just sick enough so that my body won’t work, but my mind will.  What a frustrating combination!  My family can tell when I am on the mend because I start getting really hungry and begin fixing meals at random hours of the night and day.  This was particularly delicious.

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Healing Oatmeal

Water

1 apple and 2 large whole dates, diced

1/3 c whole rolled oats

Handful of raw almonds

Tblsp of raw honey

½ lemon, squeezed

Tsp of cinnamon

Dash of salt

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Bring water to near boil and begin adding ingredients.  Cover and cook on low for 30 minutes (or until the apples are soft, and the almonds are swollen), stirring occasionally.  Additional water might need to be added while cooking.

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Climate Change?

It seems now as though every severe weather event is pounced upon as an opportunity to tout the effects of climate change supposedly caused by humans.  Speaking of climate change, human’s concerns over such relatively small changes in the long term global climate indicate just how specific human’s environmental needs are.  And how earth is comparatively suited so perfectly for humans.  And therefore that maybe we were intelligently designed and placed on the earth by a Creator God?  (Of course this does not give excuse for abusing the planet; contrarily we should be stewardly to the creation that God has placed us in.)

To end with a bit of satire:  Climate change is simply one of mother earth’s natural habits.

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Chasing the elusive snow

Last week Joshua and I took a quick overnight trip hoping to catch the forcasted snowstorm right in the act.  We left Newberry Creek around 5pm on Thursday evening and made it to the parkway in a couple of hours where we set up camp.  We started the hike in the rain, which eventually turned to snow as we neared 4000 feet of elevation.  Unfortunately, only a fraction of the predicted precipitation manifested itself.  It was enough however to make for some adventurous travel conditions and beautiful scenery.  Friday morning we walked into the state park and to the summit of Mt. Mitchell, before returning via the same route.  I was thankful the my ailing Achilles tendon seemed to hold up very well to the 20-something miles that we walked on Friday.  I also got to test out some new backpacking recipes that I plan to share here soon.

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Krauting Galore

November brought the close of an especially productive gardening season.  For the first time, we planted a serious fall garden consisting of multiple varieties of lettuce, kale, swiss chard, broccoli, and cabbage.  By far the most exciting process was making sauerkraut from our abundant cabbage crop (we had nearly 30 heads of cabbage with the largest weighing 8 pounds).   I just finished the last batch to complete a total of five gallons of kraut that will hopefully last a several months.   I fermented the kraut in the croc, then packed it into quart jars where they should keep for months in the refrigerator.

This process of lacto-fermentation was one of the major ways of preserving food before canning was popularized a couple hundred years ago.  Apparently, the history of sauerkraut goes back at least 2000 years.  The cool thing about sauerkraut is that it’s filled with healthful enzymes and probiotics that will bless your gut with an abundance of wonderful flora.   Be sure it is raw though– Nearly all commercial sauerkraut has been canned and hence is missing all those enzymes and little good guys.

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Pack Crafting

I Timothy 4:8  “For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”

Life is rolling along.  Nearing my 23rd birthday, I consider the potential that at least a third of my life is behind me.  I see how incredibly short life really is, especially compared to the eternity to come!  With that realization, it makes me want to constantly reassess my priorities in life so that I might make a greater eternal difference.  And I love backpacking, but getting out to do it just doesn’t materialize very often.  Spur-of-the moment trips seem to be the typicality.  This is okay though, because it keeps my mind from being kidnapped by the planning process of grandiose excursions.

Wanting to be proactive in living my life in a more eternally-relevant fashion, I felt the desire to consolidate my backpacking gear into a kit that would have more utility rather than specialty.  For a backpack, this meant find a pack that would function for overnights, family trips, fishing trips, and even as an airline carry-on bag.  I liked the looks and specs of the Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus backpack.  But paying the price of a new MLD pack wasn’t worth it to me, especially with a few sewing projects under my belt.  I also preferred the wing belt w/ hip belt pockets of my former Six Moon Designs Swift pack.  So came the excuse to search for a heavier-duty sewing machine (so I wouldn’t have to subject my mom’s machine to pack cloth) and to have some fun sewing up my first pack.  After a few weeks of patiently monitoring the local Craig’s List ads, the Lord blessed me with a steal-of-a-deal.  I found a Singer 500A (manufactured right down the road in Anderson, SC) at an estate sale for a mere 50 bucks.

I openly disclose that the design of my pack was made primarily by reverse engineering.  I fully credit Mountain Laurel Designs and Six Moon Designs for most of the ideas and inspiration in this design.  And I hope that my imitation is indeed flattery.  I did however spend a day making cardboard back-panel models to determine my exact torso length, and the best shoulder strap placement and shape.  I’m particularly thrilled that the fit turned out really well.

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The next step

So many times I have been asked “What are you going to do after college?” “What do you want to do?”  “What are you plans?”  I admit that my answers to these questions have appeared evasive.  But I understand these questions and sympathize with them much more than it appears.  In the past few years I have tried to initiate several different career paths, but each time I have felt resistance from the Holy Spirit to the steps I started to take.  The “problem” is that the life I am living is actually not my own.

Since becoming a Christian, God has begun a relentless effort (as a potter) to transform me into something worthwhile (for his service); a process of reverting the damage done as a consequence of the fall of man (which of course will not be totally complete until this body of flesh is replaced and we see him face to face).

My plan for life is to follow when and wherever God leads me.  This is so clichéd, but, I have to.  There is no other option if I want to keep in a close relationship with God.  This answer naturally leads to the second question “So what does God want me to do?”  Right now, I don’t know; but I will explain why I believe God is testing me in this way.

I believe for me personally, God has not given me a very long-term and detailed plan as to what he wants for me to accomplish (at least yet) so that I will learn to rely on him more for my strength and direction.  You see, I am a natural strategic planner— I understand the importance of crafting a goal, set of objectives, and then a strategic plan/road map to go about accomplishing that goal in the most efficient manner.  I enjoy performing calculated strategies, but also remaining flexible and navigating under my own strength.  This is probably the reason that I find multi-day wilderness travel with only 6 pounds of gear intriguing.  Ultralight fastpacking and competitive fly fishing are two of the most strategy-intensive single-person sports that I know of (I thank God daily that he has somewhat painfully caused me to put these fruitless activities in their proper perspective in relationship to Him).  I believe God has given me these abilities, but I also know that he will not use them until I can learn to rely on Him as my real and utmost source of strength and guidance.

In light of these circumstances, when Christ’s return has never been sooner, and when the global economy has never been more uncertain, I am certain that waiting on the Lord and the steps that he will reveal is the best strategic and career plan possible for my life.  Of course God does not test each one of his children in the same way, so I would hope that most young people my age would have been given a direction, if not vision for the long-term by now.  But for me, God is only shining a light on one step at a time, and I thank him for that.

The one step that God has revealed for me to take once I complete business school is to enroll in a Bible college.  This is still a scary step for me, but yet I am excited to learn the Bible on a deeper level and in a more systematic way that I might ultimately draw closer to Him and become a better communicator of Christ and the Gospel.

On a somewhat unrelated note, I recently listened to the best sermon I have ever heard on the Caleb of the Bible.  What an inspiration!  

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A sure sign of spring

I always anticipate the blooms of the trillium.  I first discovered a large group of them in the woods on our property when I was twelve or thirteen.  Ever since then, I make it a priority to pay them a visit every the spring.  It’s best to enjoy them where they live rather than pick their flowers.  Their blooms are very short lived and it can take a plant whose flower has been picked several years to recover.  I learned something recently about trilliums from Wikipedia that I did not know–  that their seeds are spread by ants.  How could such a beautiful, delicate, and specialized wildflower happen through natural selection or chance?

 

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Shamrock 4 Miler

Nice effort by my brother Joshua this morning at the Shamrock 4 Miler in Charlotte this morning.  Here are a few photos from the last hill of the course.

Bert Rodriquez 1st

Paul Mainwaring 2nd

Joshua Boyle 3rd

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Makings of a poncho tarp

As I’ve gradually upgraded my backpacking gear to lighter-weight options, it finally became cost-effective for me to consider a cuben poncho tarp.  Last fall, I sold my down bag, and with the proceeds I was able to purchase materials to make a down quilt and bivy.  I recently saw Matt Kirk’s recent design and was inspired to take a stab at making my own cuben poncho tarp (thanks Matt!).  Now that I have a bivy to somewhat shield my insulation from blowing rain and shelter condensation, I was able to sell my 8×10 myog silnylon tarp to buy materials to make this smaller and lighter tarp.

This new tarp made from cuben fiber is roughly 70×104 inches (much better coverage than the skimpy MLD 52-inch-wide cuben poncho I had considered purchasing ).  And it weighs 4.75 oz (I haven’t seam sealed the hood yet) of which I am very satisfied– this piece of gear will replace a 16oz rain jacket and a 16 oz tarp!  However, being substantially lighter, it does bring some “limitations,” and it will require proper use and care to work successfully.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to test the tarp out via some fishing trips or perhaps a smokies-section fastpack of the Benton MacKaye Trail some time this year.

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Crowders Mountain hike

On Saturday, my younger brother and sister tagged along with my brother Joshua and I while we played at our favorite local state park.  The recent rain and cloudy weather must have kept most of the casual visitors away because the park was relatively quite compared to the average weekend.  My brother wanted do some hill running, and I used the occasion to hike several miles to judge how my Achilles was recovering from injuring it a few weeks ago.  Joshua incorporated the WNCTrailrunner’s “Crinnacle” fitness challenge into his 10 mile run.  As specified by the challenge, he began the challenge at the peak of Crowder’s Mountain and finished at King’s Pinnacle via the Backside/Crowders/Pinnacle trails.  And he did it in 36:27!  We met up at the top of Pinnacle for a finish photo.

And a little action from my other brother also documenting his presence at the peak of Pinnacle…

Right place, right time, with camera

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Caleb’s Chimney Case Caddis

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“Caleb’s Cased Caddis”

Hook: TMC 3761 #8-14

Thread: Olive

Weight: Tungsten bead (you can use brass for a lighter version) and .020-. 025″ lead wire

Body: Peacock crystal chenille

Case: Molted turkey

Last October I made a trip to the backcountry of the Smokies to hunt up some brown trout.  Jim Estes, a local of Bryson City and expert smokies fly fisherman recommended that I try some cased-caddis patterns (which he called Chimney Cased Caddis).  While in the larvae stage , these caddis build elaborate square-shaped cases to live inside of before entering the pupa stage and hatching into an adult.

Here are a couple websites with photos of these insects:

http://www.west-fly-fishing.com/entomology/caddis/grannom.shtml

http://www.rickhafele.com/RH/Bug_Blog/Entries/2011/5/2_Mothers_Day_Caddis.html

Back to my camping/fishing trip…  the short story is that I came up with this fly pattern to imitate the cased larvae and ended up smoking the fish which included scoring an 18 inch brown!

The thread rib tends to limit it’s durability (the fly typically lasted me about 15 fish before getting chewed up although the fish liked it even after getting shredded) and a  wire rib didn’t give the same look.  Feel free to improve the pattern and be sure to post any suggestions you may come up with!

Here are some step-by-step tying sequence photos:

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1. After sliding the bead on the hook and wrapping the lead wire on the shank, secure the wire with thread and tie in the chenille just behind the bead. (Don’t wrap the lead wire all the way to the hook bend.)

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2. Make 1 1/2 to 2 close wraps with the chenille and tie off.

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3. Now, wrap your thread to the back of the hook behind the lead wire.  Tie in three slips of molted turkey feather (two one top, and one on the bottom), butts toward the rear and leaving the tips 2x the body length.

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4. Secure the turkey feathers down along the body.  You can trim most of the fibers off behind the chenille, but be sure to leave a few for legs!  Now using thread, build a taper up towards the front of the fly before coating the body with cement or any type of fingernail polish.

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5. Pull each slip of turkey up one at a time and tie each one off just behind the chenille.

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6. As you tie the turkey down, make sure they are tight.

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7. Wrap the thread back over the body to creating a rib and tie off at the very back of the fly.  Finally trim the turkey feather butts off, taking care to leave the legs underneath intact.  When trimming the butts off at the front, don’t trim them too close (this will give the illusion of the opening of the case).

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8.  The finished fly.  Coat the thread wraps and tie-off point with cement.

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Caleb’s Bee

This is the current evolution of a pattern I created when I was 15.  I consider it one of my top 3-4 dry flies for the freestone trout streams of southern Appalachia.  The wily brown trout of the smokies seem particularly gullible to this imitation– I think this is because the orange eyes trigger their carnivorous instincts.  Or, perhaps they just like the spicy taste of wasps.  Try fishing this fly anytime April through August (May and June seem the best).

Caleb’s Bee

Hook: TMC 2499 #12

Thread: Black 70 Denier

Body: Montana Fly wasp body

Wing: Deer hair, stacked, crystal flash

Eyes: Medium round rubber, orange

Head: Superfine dubbing, black

Legs: Fine round rubber, black

Here are some rudimentary tying instructions:

Cut body to shape and cut slit to slide body onto hook.

After tying in the body, drop some cement into the foam slit to give extra durability.  Stack the deer hair, and tie the wing and flash in.  Then use figure-8 wraps to secure the rubber for the eyes.  Continue to dub the head in a figure-8 fashion.  Lastly, tie in the legs and whip finish.

The materials

Enjoy (letting the fish enjoy)!

PS- Check back soon to see a new cased-caddis larva pattern!

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Happenings and an Inspiration

This past week I took off from running while I continued to nurse my Achilles back after injuring it last week (a freak and stupid ordeal involving a poplar log rolling back onto my sandal-shod heel while helping my dad unload some recently-cut firewood).  I also to a few days off from my college studies, flying up to Indianapolis to help my grandfather assemble some products that he designed.

This week I have also enjoyed musing on a song that my sister and I will be singing soon in a trio at our church.

“Without Him”

Without Him I could do nothing,
Without Him I’d surely fail,
Without Him I would be drifting,
Like a ship without a sail.

Without Him I would be dying,
Without Him Id be enslaved,
Without Him life would be worthless,
But with Jesus thank God Im saved.

Jesus, oh Jesus,
Do you know him today?
You can’t turn him away,
Oh Jesus, oh Jesus
Without Him how lost I would be.

Here are some Scripture verses that spoke to me this week that relate to the song quite wonderfully–

Ephesians 2.4-6

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

and

Hebrews 4.16

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

I thank God that he brought several specific trials into my life shortly after my time on the US Youth Fly Fishing Team in 2008 which brought me to my knees.  It was then that I accepted God’s redemption plan through Christ.  Without Him, I would definitely be enslaved, drifting, and dying.

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The beginning of something, hopefully…

Caleb, circa 2002

Welcome to my new blog!  I have had the occasional thought of having a blog for quite some time now, and now I have finally decided to take the plunge.

First a little history of my online activity– I published my first personal website at the age of 14 and it has been active in some form for the past eight years.  I originally established it to document my fishing trips and display the flies that I tied.  Life went on, and as events happened in life, there were times that my website was out-of-date and neglected because of the lack of time and inspiration.  Recently I tried to resurrect my old website using MS Frontpage and I was not pleased with the archaic 20th-century look I was achieving.  I determined to explore my options for setting up a blog, and after thinking about it, I realized a blog would better suit my needs; as life proceeds, content can easily be updated.  WordPress seemed to be a very contemporary blogging platform, and after a short learning curve it also seems very user-friendly.   So here I am.

Topics I hope to cover in this blog include: fly fishing, fly tying, photography, hiking, running, backpacking, maps, future interests, my Faith, and life-in-general.  I realize that since my blog subject matter will potentially be so diverse,  it may limit the number of readers I have, but no big deal.

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