Monday, February 22, 2010

Backpacking by R.C. Rethmel

I found this old backpacking guide a little while back. It's from the 1960's and written by a fellow from New Mexico named R.C. Rethmal. The book is a no-frills, straightforward guide to backpacking. Though old, there's still a lot of great, practical knowledge in the guide and, personally, I appreciate Rethmal's clarity and organization. It's a form of clarity that's been lost in our over-stimulated era of information. The forward to the book closes with, "Well, we were going to talk about backpacking --- so pull up a log, get a little closer, and we will get started." In this spirit, I'll forgo commenting on the book in this post and let Mr. Rethmal's words come through.

Why go backpacking?
"In this 'modern day civilization' it is possible for a person to go from the cradle to the grave and hardly draw a deep breath. He may never have a problem in seeking shelter from the elements, or need to build a fire from natural materials and cook his own food. You can go through life and never experience the fatigue and pleasure of real physical exhaustion. A drink from a cool mountain stream on a hot day, the smell of a pine forest, and the taste of a fresh caught mountain trout are pleasures that are available to practically everyone in reasonably good health, if they will but make the effort and take the necessary initiative. We all need some adventure in our lives, if only for a few days each year. Backpacking is a wholesome, invigorating activity that will provide a physical and mental atmosphere which is a pleasant change from our daily routine."
 Backpacking by R.C. Rethmel - Gear
Equipment - #1 - Improvise
"You can easily spend several hundred dollars on special equipment for use in backpacking. On many items, however, you can improvise or "make do" with equipment that is already around your home or with substitute items that are locally available....This book will outline what equipment is desirable in the way of effective and light weight backpack equipment but it will also give particular emphasis to pointing out acceptable substitutes for special (and frequently expensive) equipment. If you keep on with backpacking, you will probably want to replace some of these substitute items with better equipment. It is recommended that you do this gradually, however, and gain some experience and knowledge as you go along, so that you can spend your dollars more wisely."
Backpacking by R.C. Rethmel - Backpacks
#18 - The Pack
"The type of hiking, the load to be carried, and the expected terrain are primary considerations in choosing a pack.  Most backpacking for pleasure involves the carrying of 25 to 35 pound loads for substantial distances over reasonably good trails."
Backpacking by R.C. Rethmel - Cooking
Experimenting with Food
"If the cook likes to experiment with new food dishes, that is fine, but he should do his experimenting at home, not on the trail. Most hikers will not appreciate a cook who experiments with food that has been carried deep into a remote area on their backs, over many miles of rugged trails. Cooking any food dish for the first time is an experiment. Neither will hikers appreciate waiting an hour or more for more exotic dishes to cook when adequate, tasty and nourishing food can be cooked in half that time, with proper planning and selections of menus."
Backing by R.C. Rethmal - Clothing
Clothing - #1 - General
"Clothing must breathe. This is demonstrated when you wear a pair of rubber hip boots or a rubber slicker on a warm day. Your perspiration cannot escape to the outside and evaporate. Depending upon the amount of exertion, humidity, and other factors, your clothes soon become damp and uncomfortable. Keep shirts and other clothing clean, insofar as practicable, and keep them dry. When clothing becomes sweat or rain soaked it loses a lot of its insulating value. You can easily become chilled when you allow your clothing to get damp."
Backpacking by R.C. Rethmel - Dangers
Safety on the Trail - Part 2  - Causes of Accidents
"It takes some know-how to plan a backpack trip and a daily routine that will take you safely from place to place in the wilderness.  Assuming you have this know-how, of that the leader of the group does have, then the two main contributing causes of accidents on the trail are: (a) getting in a hurry, and (b) allowing yourself to get too tired."


Sean said...

It looks like a good book. sometimes you can get the best information from the books that are simple and straight forward.

I actually just picked up an old book that I'll have to show you sometime. It's called Essentials of German by B.J. Vos and was published in 1906. It was originally owned by a guy named Harold Davis who was apparently studying German while at the Wenonah Military Academy in New Jersey. Since it was written in 1906, would it be that old style of German?

Eric said...

It may or may not be in the old style font, which is called fraktur. It was used in the 19th century but then there was a break from it for part of the early 20th century, but I don't remember when. I know the Nazis returned to using it as a form of nationalist pride, but I'm not sure of dates before that.

http://www.1cover.com.au/ said...

It is fun to do backpacking with family or friends. But before we go, we must pack fragile and important items with the most protection as possible.

Matt said...

It is fun to do backpacking with family or friends. But before we go, we must pack fragile and important items with the most protection as possible.

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Anonymous said...

how do i get to read more of the book

Eric said...

I found this copy at a swamp meet in Tucson. Ebay's probably your best bet.