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Which Pencil for the JMT?
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. .
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: (...)
... on 12/06/2013 09:57:00 MST Print View


Edited by RogerDodger on 07/06/2015 13:53:05 MDT.

just Justin Whitson
Re: Re: Re: Re: pencil on 12/06/2013 19:10:30 MST Print View

"Also a long sword is multi-use gear to deter bears and sane people."

Sometimes weird thoughts pop in and out, and funny enough awhile ago, i was thinking, what weapon would i want to defend self against bears if a gun wasn't an option. Ok, yeah i know, bear spray and all that (which i agree with), but i'm thinking a full on, i'm hungry and i'm gonna eat you attack and not, i'm bluffing, testing, and defending my territory attack.

A slightly longer, but very well made and strong Katana sword with tanto tip came to mind. Relatively light for a sword type weapon, but super deadly and quite strong for the lightness. Those tanto tips can really penetrate very deeply.

But, in all reality, a Grizzly or Polar Bear would still probably eat you for lunch.. or more statistically, 9 out of 10 people would be lunch.

Now a black bear, i think one would have more than a fighting chance if somewhat trained with such a sword. Odd maybe closer to 5 out of 10 people would be lunch. Hey, not bad odds.

Deck yourself out in a full Dyneema suit, hey odds might jump up a little more.

Jim Milstein
(JimSubzero) - M

Locale: New Uraniborg CO
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: pencil on 12/06/2013 19:15:28 MST Print View

I am concerned about the direction this thread is taking. Let us stay with the concerns of practicing literacy (and art!) on the JMT.

just Justin Whitson
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: pencil on 12/06/2013 19:21:06 MST Print View

Why? The doom of this thread was entangled and sown in it's original intent and creation. It was a thread started to make fun of people, well certain kinds and types of people. Somewhat destructive in other words.

I say, let's bring total chaos and anarchy to it.

Edited by ArcturusBear on 12/06/2013 19:27:45 MST.

Jim Milstein
(JimSubzero) - M

Locale: New Uraniborg CO
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: pencil on 12/06/2013 20:55:25 MST Print View

I feel like my head is exploding.

just Justin Whitson
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: pencil on 12/06/2013 21:33:29 MST Print View

Well, my latter posts on here were mostly subtly joking, but if your head does explode, i know a great facial re-constructionist/surgeon i can refer you too.

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
punsil on 12/06/2013 23:22:14 MST Print View

I use a full Faber-Castell #2.

Its my luxury item.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: pencil on 12/07/2013 08:26:59 MST Print View

I find it very amusing that this thread returned, as I was just thinking about finding it! My father sent me this as a Christmas gift request:

Kind of the cuben fiber of pencils, I think.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Rotring on 12/07/2013 09:04:07 MST Print View

Yeah, Rotring makes cool writing instruments. I got turned onto them years ago when I got a $150 triple pen/pencil at a garage sale for $2. They make some interesting ergonomic and very modern design pens that I like.

. .
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: (...)
... on 12/07/2013 10:56:38 MST Print View


Edited by RogerDodger on 07/06/2015 13:54:35 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
The JMT Pencil and the UL Life on 12/07/2013 13:40:01 MST Print View

This week when I submitted my weekly Kitchen Pass Request (KPR), the boss denied it. I thought I would be going backpacking. She (the Boss) said I have not been at home on a weekend in over two months and “her” To Do list was getting longer by the week.

So I am grounded this weekend.

One would think that the Boss should know better by now, than to leave me unsupervised with a Honey-Do List. But she did it again, leaving for some excursion with a friend. So I decided it was more productive to address the thread drift in the WPFTJMT thread.


So let’s get back to pencils. Since we are discussing the John Muir Trail, let us not overlook the fact that Mr. Muir, himself, operated with a pencil and paper.

john muir

His pencil and notes led to generally accepted glacier theories in the Sierra Nevada, especially Yosemite Valley; even though Muir was not a trained geologist. Not to mention many excellent books that led to protection of wilderness areas and a Movement. All this was accomplished with a pencil. Not a cell phone, not a camera, not a voice recorder, not a GPS, not a SPOT, not a PLB. How did Muir navigate these uncharted areas with just a pencil? How did he survive without those electronic devices, or even BPL to guide him in the proper gear choices to survive in the wilderness? More important than how, is the simple fact he did. We should emulate Mr. Muir.


Much has been written on BPL about taking the UL principles of backpacking and applying them to life in general. Whether this is desirable or worthy is up to each individual.

I will point out that my own JMT Pencil search brought me to the conclusion that owning a pen is not required to live life or even backpack. It is unnecessary weight!

There are only two situations in life where you must have a pen. One is to sign a legal and binding contract, and the other is to sign a check. It occurred to me that whoever wants you to sign a contract will, in fact, have a pen at the ready for your signature. You do not ever need to carry a pen for contractual purposes. And you can live life without checks. Financial transactions can be carried out will electrons floating around inside a microprocessor. One of the reasons I rarely shop in stores anymore is to the time sucking delay in the checkout line when some person whips out a checkbook. That action sends shivers down my back.

So my move to a more ultralight life can be symbolized by the writing instrument case I used to carry in my business travel kit.

pen and pencil case 1
Traditional Heavy Writing Kit. Weight is 408 grams = 14.3918 ounces!!

By replacing all of this paraphernalia with a dozen Blackwing 602’s, I have been able to reduce the kit by 232 grams (8.18356 ounces), or a 56% percent reduction in weight!

pen and pencil case 2
Ultralight Writing Kit. 176 grams = 6.20822 ounces.

Yes, I can get by with just one pencil. But in business I must be concerned with efficiency and productivity. By not needing to stop and sharpen a single pencil, I can mass sharpen them on an airplane back home, and my work during the trip was completed quicker allowing me an earlier flight home and thus a greater inventory of recreational hours to invest in outdoor pursuits.

And let us not forget the creative side of the pencil for artistic endeavors!


edit: forgot to add the artwork. And on 2nd thought felt it would be proper to add a picture of John Muir too :)

Edited by ngatel on 12/07/2013 13:58:38 MST.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: The JMT Pencil and the UL Life on 12/07/2013 13:47:04 MST Print View

If you can make that case convert into a stove windscreen, you will really have something.


Jim Milstein
(JimSubzero) - M

Locale: New Uraniborg CO
Re: The JMT Pencil and the UL Life on 12/07/2013 14:07:11 MST Print View

What a relief to be back on topic!

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: The JMT Pencil and the UL Life on 12/16/2013 23:46:59 MST Print View

I wandered into my local university bookstore art department and found this tiny pencil sharpener, the Kum 400-1K and it is made from MAGNESIUM :) It can double for fire starting material along with the pencil.

4.8g for the sharpener and a whopping 2g for the Integra scorecard pencil. Johnny Muir is quaking in his grave :)

Kum 400-1K pencil sharpener

Kum 400-1K pencil sharpener

Edited by dwambaugh on 12/17/2013 00:20:49 MST.

Jim Milstein
(JimSubzero) - M

Locale: New Uraniborg CO
Re: Re: Re: The JMT Pencil and the UL Life on 12/22/2013 16:28:05 MST Print View

You know, Dale, that quarter weighs as much as the sharpener. Leave it behind! One need not flaunt one's wealth in the wilderness, especially on the JMT.

It is very shiny, though.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Re: Re: The JMT Pencil and the UL Life on 12/22/2013 16:36:35 MST Print View

What does an original Nick Gatel drawing sell for these days? I like it.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: The JMT Pencil and the UL Life on 12/22/2013 18:28:48 MST Print View

Nick ... lighten up ... ditch the pencil case in favor of the one you were born with:
UL pencil holder

OR, since you require access to more than two pencils, a pocket protector

Maris L
(Ablaut) - M
Etch-a-Sketch on 12/22/2013 19:21:46 MST Print View


Sometimes I bring this little guy. I find it to be a multi-purpose item when I pre-sketch (pre-etch?) a section of my map. Upon completion I can be rid of that hypothetical gram of paper map with the flick of a wrist! I find I achieve a zen-like record of my thoughts when my writing space is at a premium.

If you're already carrying powdered iron oxide like I do (like we all should, really), the aluminum powder inside your new writing utensil can give you some emergency thermite for desperate fire starting situations.

This also seems to be a better item for emergency bartering on the trail than a mere pencil.

No lead breakage, nothing to sharpen, no spare eraser...

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
UL blackwing 602 mod on 12/22/2013 20:19:28 MST Print View

While I view Nick's original groundbreaking research as definitive on this subject, at least until we have better field data, I think it would be best to sand off the word "pressure" and substitute "weight" making the pencil motto


The net removal of two letters would save weight. Almost as important, after so many months have passed I think it is time for the JMT pencil movement to take thought for the next stage - ensuring the long term propagation of the JMT pencil meme for posterity. By making this mod I believe we can better insure the spread the JMT pencil lifestyle to the sorely deluded masses, and placing this valuable information on the pencil itself will economically save weight over educational material in the form of trail handouts and flyers that would take up way to much weight, not too mention pack space.

Edited by millonas on 12/22/2013 20:37:26 MST.

Jim Milstein
(JimSubzero) - M

Locale: New Uraniborg CO
Re: UL blackwing 602 mod on 12/23/2013 10:00:48 MST Print View

Your mod has merit, Mark, but please let me tweak it slightly. Substitute FORCE for WEIGHT. More accurate and only five letters. Or even this:

½ x FORCE, 2 x SPEED

Maybe we can petition Blackwing to issue a special JMT edition so embellished.