Forum Index » GEAR » Which Pencil for the JMT?


Display Avatars Sort By:
Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Which Pencil for the JMT? on 05/14/2013 22:43:41 MDT Print View

It was pretty easy for me to put together a gear list, but I am struggling with a Pencil Solution.

My first thought was to use the little pencils you get at the golf course to keep score. I can’t find these small pencils in a store. Would it be appropriate to ask the golf course if I could keep one? Would it be a moral issue if I kept one without asking, since the golf course here charges over $200 for green fees?

If these are too short, perhaps I could cut down one of the standard long pencils that are sold in stationary stores? Is this dangerous? They are called “lead” pencils, so do they contain hazardous materials? What should I cut them with? Wood or metal saw -- or something else? Will I need specialize breathing equipment to protect my respiratory system?

How long should a pencil last (inch per miles)? Will I need something longer than the golf course pencil?

Would you suggest just using a long standard pencil? The eraser would come in handy.

Has anyone used a pencil as a tent stake? I could leave one of my tent stakes at home and use the pencil, saving 0.25 ounces. How would you handle writing if your pencil is in the ground?

Will the pencil attract bears, mountain lions or marmots? Should I store it in a bear canister at night?

Do pencils off-gas dangerous fumes? Anything I should be looking for?

What is the best way to carry a pencil? In my backpack or in my shirt pocket, or some other method? I am concerned about carrying a pointed pencil in my shirt pocket… I could fall and the point might pierce my heart. Maybe a pocket protector? How about some sort of clip to keep it secure in my shirt pocket?

How about a mechanical pencil? I could carry extra lead and erasers. But it would weigh more than a regular pencil. What maintenance should I expect to do with a mechanical pencil?

Actually a mechanical pencil might be lighter, because I cannot sharpen a pencil with just a razor blade. I would need to carry a knife. With a knife I could cut off my finger sharpening the pencil, so perhaps I need a FAK that could allow me to attach a severed finger? Or should I buy a SPOT instead?

Which is the best brand of pencils? I am looking for an environmentally responsible company.

Should I buy American? I don’t want to negatively impact the US balance of trade or put an American worker out of a job.

Would it be better to use one of those Kevin Spacey Pens instead? Do they work when it is raining or in sub-freezing temperatures?

Once I resolve the pencil conundrum, I might need advice on paper. My thought is to purchase everyone one of the USGS Topo Maps for the JMT. This way I could write on the back of the maps – multi-purpose, you know. Or should I just buy a Tom Harrison map? They are water proof; can your write on them with a pencil or a pen? How much room is there in the margins to write? Is there enough room for a daily journal? Will I be breaking any copyright laws by writing on the map?

If writing on a map isn't acceptable, should I buy a notebook or something else? How about those small waterproof notebooks? Or should I stick with a linen paper? Is linen paper made from cotton? If it is, then no trees will be injured in the manufacture – correct?

Finally, is it possible to thru hike the JMT without a pencil and paper? I prefer not to take any electronic items.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Which Pencil for the JMT? on 05/14/2013 22:55:19 MDT Print View

"Would it be appropriate to ask the golf course if I could keep one?"

Nick, you could offer to trade them some small condiment packages from a fast food place.

--B.G.--

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Which Pencil for the JMT? on 05/14/2013 22:58:45 MDT Print View

Cut yourself with a titanium scalpel and use your blood as ink.

There, I just saved you 5 grams. Your welcome.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Which Pencil for the JMT? on 05/14/2013 23:05:03 MDT Print View

Nick...you're not thinking bushcraft enough.

The pencil solution is easier than you think. My method will add zero grams to your spreadsheet.

Using my Gransfors Bruks hatchet, I will chop down enough trees to light a sizable fire with my flint, steel, and char cloth. Incidentally, any birds killed in the process of harvesting the lumber for the fire will be saved for smoking later. I have an excellent pemmican recipe that works with all manner of game animals.

I digress.

Fire raging, now comes the task of carefully selecting a hardwood sapling for straightness. I use my $250 handmade Finnish Puukko knife to strip the bark and leaves, whittling it down to a suitable pencil diameter with a sharp point (Save the shavings for smoking your birds).
Then simply fire harden the entire dowel (slowly). Once this step is complete I will char the tip for writing. Incidentally, you might as well make all your tent stakes at the same time. It is quite easy to whittle them while your pencil is cooling.
If you do have birds, render a little fat to help burnish the handle of your pencil. It creates a nice luster.

It's all so simple.

Bushcraft paper is another story.

Charles P
(mediauras) - F

Locale: Terra
Re: Which Pencil for the JMT? on 05/14/2013 23:39:57 MDT Print View

Nick, I STRONGLY suggest you take an eraser. Unless you're taking extra paper you'll really want to correct those spelling mistakes and wrong word choices in your trail haikus and deep thoughts. It's no fun later reading your scribbled missives and seeing what a dumbass you were. I believe REI has a Hiker's Eraser. Its a touch heavy (maybe drill some holes in it), but bright orange so if you drop you'll easily find it. I think it will even erase not only No. 2 lead, but No. 1 as well. Have fun! Nothing like the JMT with a solid pencil and eraser in hand.

lol.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Bushcraft Paper on 05/14/2013 23:45:28 MDT Print View

It's easier than you think.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3Ad6tBdLbM

Lyan Jordan
(redmonk)

Locale: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Which Pencil for the JMT? on 05/15/2013 00:06:08 MDT Print View

I wouldn't trust anything but a blackwing 602 for the JMT.
It has silky smooth lead that glides over maps at half the pressure of a normal pencil.
The eraser is adjustable. The black color blends into the surroundings, instead of distracting you from them.

If you can't get a blackwing in time, put off your JMT trip until you have one. You don't want to risk tarnished memories.

Hope this helps,
--G.B.--

I used THIS on my JMT hike. The sharpener is useful for making shavings to start a stove.

Edited by redmonk on 05/15/2013 00:14:20 MDT.

Alex Wallace
(FeetFirst) - F

Locale: Northern California
Pencil? on 05/15/2013 00:08:53 MDT Print View

How are you to fully connect with your surroundings with such distractions?!

One time, camped on the JMT, I heard the scribbling of an obvious newbie hiker hundreds of yards away scribbling in his notepad and thought "who brings such loud distractions to the wilderness!" Gosh, have some respect.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Which Pencil for the JMT? on 05/15/2013 00:34:32 MDT Print View

"you could offer to trade them some small condiment packages from a fast food place."

hmm... another Catch 22.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Which Pencil for the JMT? on 05/15/2013 00:36:56 MDT Print View

Craig,

I am concerned about the lack of quality control, regarding the ergonomics of a properly sized diameter pencil.

I don't want to develop a physical ailment such as Thin Pencil Syndrome or Thick Pencil Syndrome.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Which Pencil for the JMT? on 05/15/2013 00:41:24 MDT Print View

"I wouldn't trust anything but a blackwing 602 for the JMT."

Great idea. I think I'll order the gift box set. 12 pencils and a long point sharpener in a wooden box. Only $130 here. Wouldn't want to bring it on the trail, might break one.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Which Pencil for the JMT? on 05/15/2013 01:07:40 MDT Print View

"I wouldn't trust anything but a blackwing 602 for the JMT."

Oh, oh. Made in France. They still owe us a gazillion dollars in war debt.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
Which Pencil for the JMT? on 05/15/2013 02:20:02 MDT Print View

LOL. The answer is of course any pencil as long as it's a 9H.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Which Pencil for the JMT? on 05/15/2013 03:04:08 MDT Print View

Use a sharpie instead! Multi-use - in addition to journal entry screeds on the decay of western civilization will allow you to leave waterproof, long-lasting messages on multiple surface types for other hikers when you steal their water cache and condiment packets.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Multi use on 05/15/2013 05:13:57 MDT Print View

A long pencil is clearly the answer. It may weigh more but is multi use.
1) tent stake.
2) a weapon to keep PCT hikers from stealing your food.
3) the stick for use in the PCT method bear hang.
4) a sign graffiti remover.
5) a Mylar balloon popper.

The choice is clear

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Which Pencil for the JMT? on 05/15/2013 06:11:38 MDT Print View

Chaff wasn't all bad.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: Re: Which Pencil for the JMT? on 05/15/2013 06:24:44 MDT Print View

Well I know I'm opening myself up for UL harassment here, but I really think the pencil is bad and you should go with a pen. While far more UL, the pencil will, eventually, dull, the nub will wear thin and you will then your tool will be useless. Much like .31 cuben, it seems great on a spreadsheet but it practice it's just TOO light - stupid light, actually.

With a pen, on the other hand, you can send replacement inks into your resupply boxes and don't have to worry about the downing of trees to create your gear.

David Hunter
(mdhunter)
Which pencil on 05/15/2013 06:27:19 MDT Print View

Someone has WAY too much time on their hands. You could have hiked the trail in the amount of time it took to write this post. BTW what did you write this post with?

Katharina ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Re: Re: Which Pencil for the JMT? on 05/15/2013 06:33:29 MDT Print View

"Chaff wasn't all bad."

It is entertaining; I just don't have this kind of time in my hands.

Ian Van Halen
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Which Pencil for the JMT? on 05/15/2013 06:36:37 MDT Print View

I don't understand you kids and your need to carry pencils. In my day, we'd just set a brontosaurus on fire and used his charred remains to draw with. Sheesh!