Monday, April 9, 2012

Appalachian Trials - A Review

(11/12/12) NOTE:  Please read the author comments and my response that follow this rant. 

Recently I finished reading a book written by a 2011 thru-hiker named Zach Davis, aka The Good Badger.  The full title of the book is Appalachian Trials: The Psychological and Emotional Guide to Successfully Thru-Hiking The Appalachian Trail.  What follows is my personal opinion of said work.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Failure is Always an Option

In a never ending struggle to minimize the crushing pack weight on this fat old sage, an experiment was performed on some run of the mill Coleman aluminum extrusion tent pegs.

The theory was to drill small holes at regular intervals to remove extra material without diminishing strength.  It s a simple and common method used in mechanical design.  A familiar use can be seen in bridges, airplanes, and some high end ultralight bicycles.

The problem arises if one makes the holes too big, leaving too little material.  There are fancy strength of material equations I have long since forgotten to determine the optimal proportions, but in this case I was swagging it. (SWAG = Swinging Wild Ass Guess)

Obviously from the photo I guessed wrong.  To my defense, I was pounding the stakes into extremely dense and rocky West Virginia Appalachian clay.

So, what have we learned?

  1. West Virginia has really hard dirt.
  2. Coleman uses cheap-ass aluminum for making cheap-ass tent pegs.
  3. I need to dig out my engineering books. (Duh)
  4. Experimentation leads to useful info, even if it is what not to do.

Back to the drawing board...