Monday, October 3, 2016

Hiking in the Smokies by Brent Schubert

While visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park recently I decided to spend some time in early 20th century period attire. During the 1920s the idea of creating another National Park in the East was gaining traction through the work of people like Horace Kephart. Tourists were starting to spend more time visiting and hiking in the Smoky Mountains, even before the National park was chartered in 1934. In 1924 the Smoky Mountains Hiking Club was formed. The Smoky Mountains Hiking Club made group outings, hiking in the mountains, and engaged in conservation and trail maintenance. Several photos of club outings and other hikers in the Smokies exist to give us an example of the kind of clothing and equipment used by hikers in the late 1920s and early 1930s. I used these photos to guide my own impression of a late 1920s Smoky Mountains hiker on my trip to the park.

One unique piece of equipment I've noticed in period photos of hikers in the Smokies is a surplus WWI US gas mask bag worn with the strap extended and slung over the shoulder. I've yet to find evidence of this practice in photos from anywhere else. I thought it was such an interesting use of a piece of WWI surplus gear, that decided to wear a reproduction bag in the same manner on my hike. Another piece of equipment that shows up in those period photos is the surplus M1910 canteen, often worn on a waist belt. In one Smoky Mountains Club group photo an individual appears to be wearing the canteen with the M1917 mounted canteen cover slung over his shoulder with a leather strap.

Inside my surplus gas mask bag I carried a few items for a short day hike in the mountains. I had my 1917 copy of Horace Kephart's "Camping and Woodcraft" in honor of the man who spent so much time in the Smokies, and worked to save the Smoky Mountains as a national park. In fact it was in a cabin in the Smoky Mountains where Kephart wrote "Camping and Woodcraft." I also carried my circa 1920 Kodak folding autographic camera in the bag. As well as a small tin of Lollacapop (a period bug repellant), my Swedish barrel knife, a handkerchief, and an old tobacco tin which contained some matches along with a separate tin which holds my flint and steel fire starting kit. Tucked in my belt I wore my "Sierra Cup" to dip into a mountain spring should I come across one. Cups like this were carried by members of early 20th century hiking clubs, including the Smoky Mountains Hiking Club. To carry drinking water with me in the hot Southern sun of east Tennessee I carried a WWI surplus M1910 canteen on my belt.

With this equipment, and dressed in period clothing common to outdoorsmen of the late 1920s, I spent a morning hiking in the mountains around an old circa 1820 Tennessee log cabin I was staying at near the national park. From the cabin I hiked across an open mountain meadow, down to a small pond. After skirting around the pond, I entered the woods on a trail that wandered around the mountains for a bit. The September sun of east Tennessee was much hotter than what I was used to coming from Michigan. The cool of the morning was beginning to quickly turn to a very hot day as the sun rose above the mountains. After a little while I sat down to take a break and observe the mountains while I took a drink from my canteen. Eventually I made my way back to the cabin the way I had come. It was a short hike, but an enjoyable period experience nonetheless. Hiking in the mountains in period clothing during the summer months takes a little more stamina than modern summer hiking in lightweight synthetic clothing. But it is possible. The extra weight and heat of wearing early 20th century clothing in warm weather forces you to slow down a bit, but it is still an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

-Brent Schubert-

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Fall is Coming, Memberships and Writing

Well, as I sit here in the somewhat humid state of Kentucky, I can feel fall weather just waiting around the corner and I for one can't wait. Fall is the time of year where I really start to get back in touch with my love for this time period.

 I thought I would maybe do some reviewing of what has happened in the last year and once again like a beating a tired old horse offer up my thoughts on the original vision for ETCS and what I think the future could hold.

 The vision began many many years ago with my father, David Book (member 0001). The idea was to recreate the golden age of hunting, trapping, camping and outdoors activities. An influential book was called "Back Then : A Pictorial History of Americans Afield". Our plan was simply to hold a few period camps on our farm, maybe invite a few like minds and do some shooting. Nothing to big. We certainly didn't envision it getting very big, and honestly it's not necessarily what we wanted. To often, as things grow, different ideas about the direction and vision begin to be offered, infighting begins and suddenly you have a split or the whole thing just folds all together. Obviously we don't want this to happen.

 Over the last year, interest in ETCS has exploded. It's truly been amazing and to be honest, I didn't really know how to handle it. It was a bit overwhelming to say the least.

 As I saw it, I had two options in front of me. Include everyone or exclude some people.

 Part of our vision for ETCS was that we would maintain a high level of authenticity in our portrayals if we kept it small and membership limited. That way we could make certain that everyone was on the same page. But with the group growing, we didn't want anybody with a pair of bibs and a flannel shirt to be able to affiliate with us. It was becoming a sticky situation as the facebook group requests began piling up.

 After talking with Matthew Fenewald (member 0003 and Vice President of ETCS) and a few other early members we came to the conclusion that the facebook group we had would be open to anyone with a casual interest in ETCS and that if a person had their kit together and wanted to submit for official membership they could do so. Official members become so based on a kit review and then are added to the membership roll and then become eligible to attend ETCS Members Only Events. This will ensure that we maintain this high level of authenticity as mentioned before.

 So what do we do for the casual folks who would like to come out and see what all the fuss is about?

 We are currently working on a sort of "Sportsman Convention" of sorts where ETCS will hold a camp open to all interested persons to come take a look and participate. This will give aspiring members a chance to meet the members of ETCS and to maybe make some purchases to add to their kits and improve their impressions.

 In short, I am really excited about what the future holds!

 On a last note, I am wanting to encourage the membership and even non members after review to submit to the blog :

-Hunting Stories
-Camping Tutorials
-Equipment Reviews
-Firearm Reviews
-Hunting Dog Advice
-Dog Sledding

 Please consider this as we get out into the woods this fall. Our counterparts wrote into the sporting magazines of the day and related all kinds of great stories, advice and tips for the sportsman. I'm sure we can come up with some of our own!

 Here's to an excellent season of sporting,

-Jake, Member 0002-