Saturday’s post included an image of me using a machete to strip the branches from a red cedar sapling I’d harvested for a walking stick. Looking at the picture later, it occurred to me that I had a total of four knives on me at that moment.
It’s no secret that I’m a certified (and perhaps certifiable) knife knut. Deb reminds me that I don’t collect edged tools — I accumulate them. I carry two every day, add a third when I venture into the woods and often have one or more others stashed in my vehicle.
Here’s a rundown on the knives in that photo.
1 – Benchmade 551 Griptilian. I just can’t quit this knife — it’s clipped to my pocket wherever I go. Like every Benchmade I own, the orange-handled full-size Grip has been flawless, bulletproof. I bought it 15 years ago from Deb’s cousin, the same guy we visit on The Mountain, at the family gun shop in West (By God) Virginia.
2 – Bark River Gunny. I own probably more “Barkies” than any other brand of knife. The Gunny, descended from the incomparable Bravo-1 pattern, is the perfect blade for woodswalking and general utility. I’m proud to say that this is an original, marked “First Production Run” and handled in green canvas Micarta with red liners. I carry it on my belt in the now-retired “Sure-Lock” sheath.
3 – Victorinox Tinker. I always have a Victorinox “Swiss Army Knife” in my pocket — either an Alox-scaled Farmer model, a Fieldmaster with its large array of tools or this slim Tinker. The habit goes back to my Boy Scout days, when I learned that there’s no substitute for carrying such a knife. This particular SAK, protected by a simple leather slip, has bright-yellow scales emblazoned with the Gadsden Flag’s “Don’t Tread On Me” design.
4 – Ontario 6144 Military Machete. The newest knife in that picture, we bought this one specifically for work on The Mountain. In those oak-and-cedar woods there are other tools I might prefer — like a golok or a small axe — but at $25, a US-made carbon-steel machete does the job.
Because we’re on the road, Deb and I brought along only a handful of our accumulated knives. (Under my influence she’s become a pretty respectable knife knut, too.) Each of us bought a few when we visited Smoky Mountain Knife Works in March, and on a whim I picked up a cheap Barlow at a pawn shop in South Dakota.
We go through our days, then, with the tools we have, and it appears that we chose wisely. In my world, few things can compare to putting a good knife to work. And that, my friends, is one of the greatest joys of spending time in the woods these days.
Deb and I got a leisurely but purposeful start this morning and were headed east before 10am. We had a loose arrangement to meet a young tradesman up on The Mountain — not really an appointment, more of an “I’ll text you when I’m on my way” thing.
Our plan was to arrive in the neighborhood early, grab some snack food, then drive over to The Mountain and wait. We hadn’t been in Flippin lately, so we dropped by the small Walmart there.
The short trip from Flippin, via roads we don’t often travel, was wonderful. It offered a totally different perspective on the area, and with the trees now leafless the surrounding ridges were in plain view, closer and higher than we remembered (or perhaps even knew).
After takin’ some porch-sittin’ time at the cabin we returned to where we’d worked this week and did a little exploring upslope from the site. Close by we discovered a cool outcropping of ledge set into the grade, forming a small sheltered spot. We noted its location, intending to visit again and often.
Back where we’d parked the Jeep, we set up our camp chairs by the roadside and relaxed. It wasn’t long before a pickup truck rumbled ’round the corner — it was the fellow we were there to see. We hit it off with him and his wife right away, had a great conversation, then showed him where the backhoe guy had dug a couple of four-feet-deep holes on Thursday.
We got his verbal endorsement of the work. That made our day.
We’ll be back on The Mountain again on Tuesday to make more progress. You might think we’d be getting tired of all the back-and-forth stuff, but honestly, it never gets old.
Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.