Virginia Creeper 1 Web

Pot Stands and Poison Ivy

My days here are limited – we haven’t really announced it, but this Saturday we’re hopping a bus for Maine to again attempt the Appalachian Trail.  So ya’ll heard it here first.  : )

Anyways, I’ve been so consumed with preparations that I haven’t gone out and photographed anything of real consequence.  But that’s okay – my workhouse camera will be here when I get back, and my Lumix DMC-LZ10 will have a hell of a good time along the eastern seaboard.

Know what a pot stand is?  And it’s nothing to do with illegal greenery.

A pot stand is a mainstay in any backpacker’s kit.  Well, any hiker who cooks, anyways; there are indeed wanderers who forego the weight and sometimes inconvenience of hot meal preparation and instead eat GORP (Good Ol’ Raisins and Peanuts), cereals, jerky, crackers, all ‘cold’ stuff.

For shorter trips I’d consider such a diet, but the comfort that you receive physically and emotionally from a cup of steaming hot chocolate or a pot of fluffy mashed potatoes with gravy mixed in is too powerful for me to ignore.  Below, a side-by-side of the pot stand we built last year versus the one constructed this year.

They’re made from the same material, aluminum flashing, which is the ideal size, weight and rigidity for such a device.  But as you can see, this year’s design should fare far better.  We utilized steel rods instead of the screws which should better help seat our pots over the alcohol stoves (more on ultralight pop can stoves later.)  The steel rods are removeable and the 2 ends of the aluminum come away at the seam as seen below, which means you can roll it right up and fit it inside your pot.  Smart, practical and portable.

The screws you see on the left allow your pot to sit at a good distance above the stove.  However, these stoves put off a TON of heat, and the crimping you see around the screws occurred New Year’s Day in 2011, on an improptu “Hey, the weather’s great!” trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in eastern Tennessee.  The temperature was around the low 50s and continued to plummet as my husband and I ascended Bull Head Trail up Mt. LeConte.  We shivered our way, dehydrated and foolishly wet from the 40MPH+ wind & cloud combo, to LeConte shelter and heated up some food, where to our alarm and dismay the screws and aluminum began bending inward, toward the flaming ball of denatured alcohol in our pop can stove.  It’s never happened since and we can only assume that the cool temperature and sudden flash of heat caused this reaction.

One summer tidbit before I head out to the tent.  Do ya’ll know what poison ivy looks like?

This is baby poison ivy.  The leaves surrounding this are also poison ivy, so you can see how they mature and take on a different look.  When they’re newly sprouting, they’re shiny, usually a rather dark green, and sometimes with a pronounced tinge of red/burgundy, as you see above.

This is an exceptionally smooth example.  Most leaves that you encounter will have ‘ruffles’ around the edges.  The leaves are distinctly teardrop-shaped and just have that ‘look’ that you can recognize after a while.  Poison ivy can be confused with Virginia creeper, but as you see below that particular plant has 5 leaves versus the “Leaves of 3, leave it be.”  I used to get a rash if I so much as looked at it too closely, and I haven’t had an outbreak in a few years.  Let’s hope I can keep it that way.  : )

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