Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Timeout for Kayaking

Hope everyone (both of you who read this) had a great Christmas. I know that I'm excited to try out my dehydrator, and am planning on making my own meals for the trail this Summer. Since I'm enjoying my holiday break, I thought that I would also take a break from the hiking/backpacking topic, and share this amazing video I came across a few weeks ago.

It's amazing what kayakers are able to do. Jumping off a waterfall is suicidal enough, but with a little boat attached to your waist is beyond me. I mean what happens when they hit the water? If I were to just jump in, I would hit the water and sink several feet before swimming back to the top, but if I had a kayak attached to me than it seems like I would hit the water with an abrupt stop (something similar to what happens with this guy when he hits a rock). Apparently this guy is one of a kind - as you will see for yourself.



Found on Backcountry.com

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Skiing Utah's Desert Spines

I love Utah. There may be the nay-sayers who have noting but negative things to say about this state, and while it may have it's imperfections, I love it nonetheless.

I came across this video and felt that it caught what Utah is all about, beautiful red rock desert scenery, yet amazing powder known throughout the world. Hope you enjoy. There isn't much to say, other than to encourage you to watch it, so I'll let you get to it...



Brought to you by The Adventure Blog

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The History of Eddie Bauer

I'll be honest, I have loved Eddie Bauer's products for several years, but there is this prideful part of me that doesn't want to wear any "outdoors" brand that also sells bedding and home furnishings, or any worthless crap that has very little to do with the outdoors. They have great winter wear, but seem to care more about selling anything that will make them money instead of sticking to their grassroots. The North Face seems to also be doing a similar thing as they are willing to sell to any sports shop out there - but this is for a separate posting.

I came across this video and was surprised to learn that Eddie Bauer, the man, was the one to invent the quilted down jacket:


Hard to believe? Yeah, I thought so too. I did some research to find out how Mr. Bauer (not THAT Bauer) could have started an outdoors store in 1920 located downtown Seattle (of course...), only to become the company we now have that no longer specializes in anything. Along the way, I read about Eddie Bauer supplying more than 50,000 B-9 Flight Parkas for airmen in the U.S. Air Force during WWII, and over 100,000 sleeping bags to the Armed Services.

Come to find out, Eddie developed hypothermia during a fishing trip in the dead of winter. As heavy wool was the only insulation from the elements at the time, Eddie made a quilted down jacket and in 1940 his patent for THE FIRST quilted jacket was approved. Here is the original patent drawing:

By the time I learned about the quilted jacket, and how Eddie was hired by the military to manufacture jackets and sleeping bags for the servicemen, I began to care less and less about the company we know today, but still wanted to know what happened. Turns out, Eddie and his hunting buddy/business partner sold the company to General Mills (?????), who eventually sold it to Spiegel (hence the "fashionable" mens and women's clothing we now have), and then went bankrupt - turning over ownership one more time. I guess that most companies change over 90 years, but it makes me wonder what the Eddie Bauer company would look like if they were to go back to their roots, and also makes me wonder if this is even possible.

In case you were wondering WHO could EVER want to take Eddie Bauer serious when it comes to mountaineering and outdoors adventures, it may interest you to know that the first American to successfully summit Mt. Everest was wearing Eddie Bauer outerwear. If you are interested in looking at the other notable achievements made by mountaineers while wearing Eddie Bauer clothing, you can check out First Ascent Expeditions on the Eddie Bauer website. 

In all fairness, it must be mentioned that Eddie Bauer has recently made a push to the public, showing that the company still means business when it comes to hardcore outdoors adventures. First Ascent is Eddie Bauer's line of clothing dedicated to the serious outdoorsman who is about a lot more than lounging around a ski lodge, and sipping a hot beverage while laying on a lush sheepskin. Here is what the company has to say about this line of clothing:

First Ascent is a line of world-class expedition gear created by Eddie Bauer with some of the best mountain guides in the world. Simple. Functional. Light. Durable. Everything you need. Nothing you don't.™

The bottom line: I'll continue to stop by Eddie Bauer while my wife visits her stores at the mall, but just the thought of going to an outdoors store in a mall feels like an oxymoron. Their First Ascent line does interest me, and buying a quilted-down jacket made by the first company to come up with the idea does sound kind of appealing. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Welcoming in the Winter Months

I came across this amazing photo on the Yosemite Blog, and just had to share it. I have seen many impressive pictures (not to mention the double rainbows) from Yosemite, but this photo just proves how vast and amazing this national park truly is.

First Winter Snow in Cooks Meadow - by Robin Black
I love the change of seasons. There is something majestic about watching the blossoms bloom and fall, then watching the trees become full of life only to morph into amazing tints of red and orange, and then to finally fall along with the snow. Although winter is kind of a dormant-death for several months, pictures like the one above help me appreciate the change of perspective. Although I am no longer able to hike the same trails as I did a few months ago, it gives me an opportunity to start snowshoeing (hopefully this season finally), and to take on different activities that the other seasons don't offer.

The same day I came across this photo on Google Reader, I saw this one and had to post it as well:

Found this amazing picture taken of the Montana Prarie for the National Geographic Photography contest. While I'm making a habit of posting pictures, I might as well include this one as well that I saw on Backcountry's website:

Surfing Orca:)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

To eat or not to eat??? Buck knows best...

As I included in my Mt. Nebo post, there were several factors which kept me from having the best day-hiking experience possible. I knew that I was out of shape before I even started my hike, but I couldn't figure out why I felt pretty good all the way to the base of the summit, but then felt so crappy half way up the summit, as well as the whole way back to my car. I can understand why the summit would be hard on my body, but why would I have to stop so many times when going bacak downhill to my car?

This is where I place my plug for Backpacker magazine again:)

I was reading "The Manual", a weekly e-mail I get from Backpacker, and came across this wise advice from "The Medicine Man", Buck Tilton. To give you some background, Buck is a medical doctor and answers one question a week related to various medical issues you may experience when on the trail. A couple of weeks ago someone asked the following, and received an answer from Buck:

When I read this, I realized that the only thing I ate throughout my day-hike included two small peanut butter and honey sandwiches, a slice of banana bread, and a candy bar. For breakfast I had a couple packets of oatmeal and called it good. In total, I had maybe 400 calories spread throughout the day - nowhere near enough for as many calories as I was burning on my way up the mountain.

I remember thinking a couple of times during the day, that an all-day hike would be a great way to burn unwanted fat, but after reading Buck's response I think I'll reconsider. Personally, I try to find reasons to have big meals that are loaded with calories - FOUND!!! Looks like it's pancakes and sausage in the morning, with calories spread out throughout the hike for me! I love finding excuses to eat a lot:)

During my Nebo hike, I felt that I was stopping so many times just to catch my breath that I didn't want to stop for any additional reasons. It's smart to keep track of time as you hike so that you are actually making time for water breaks, and giving yourself plenty of opportunities to fuel-up for the hike ahead. By the time I was at the base of the summit, my body was already burning its reserves. On my way down from the summit, I realized that I had already taken much more time than planned, so I decided to push forward without replenishing the calories I burned on the way up. This made for a less-than-enjoyable walk back down when it should have felt nice to let gravity do the majority of my work.

In closing, EAT UP CHUBS! Your body wants you to:)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bear vs. Bird Feeder

I saw these pictures on-line, and felt that they were "post-worthy." It amazes me how resourceful bears can be. I know that I have included a link to the book advertisement on the left-side of this post, but check it out if you haven't yet. The book did an excellent job of making more aware of what bears are capable of. Ignorance in the woods is never a good thing.
Am I the only one who am reminded by Yogi Bear with this one???


Thanks to BestHike.com for finding these pics on WesternHunter.com.
*I would consider this a sad excuse for a post, and blame it on my demanding studies. REAL post to follow soon...hopefully...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Wing-Suit (The Flying Squirrel Suit)

For some reason, I thought one of my first posts on this blog was dedicated to some amazing videos I first saw a year or so ago. It shows some guys base jumping while wearing wing-suits, flying next to rock-faces and over roads. Amazing videos like these are the type of thing which make a grown man start wishing he was Superman.

This first video was the one which took over my dreams several months back. I seriously had a dream one night where I was flying in a wing-suit like these guys. I had complete control over where I flew, and how fast I could go. When it came time to stopping, I slowed down to the point where I simply put my feet down and walked away. If only dreams could come true...



I just found this second video on The Adventure Blog, and had to share. The scenery is breath-taking. It amazes me that the guy didn't fall like a rock when being sprayed by the waterfall.



One day I HOPE to at least sky dive. Base jumping would be sweet too, although I read last week that there is one death for every 2,317 jumps. The article where I first read this put things into perspective when the author said that if those were the chances for winning the lottery, EVERYONE would play.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Trip Report: Mt. Nebo - North Summit

View of North Peak (left) and North Summit (right)
I've wanted to hike the north summit of Mt. Nebo for a couple of years now. Although EVERYONE along the Wasatch Front seems to hike Mt. Timpanogos, Nebo is actually the highest peak in Utah County - by 179 feet to be exact. It is ranked as #38 of the top 100 peaks by prominence in the lower 48 (Timp is ranked at 47). I have yet to hike Timpanogos, and honestly don't know when I ever will. When people ask me why not, I tell them that if I wanted to come across dozens of people along the trail, I would go to a National Park and make it worth it.

Fall colors against a backdrop of pines
I realized that Fall Break would be the last opportunity to get a long hike out of my system before hitting the books for another two months while trapped indoors. To be honest, I was second-guessing whether I really wanted to spend my day hiking alone. When I woke up I hit the snooze several more times than intended, and then even as I was driving through the vibrant colors of fall, I debated whether I should call it good and go fly fishing instead. After hitting the trail I was glad that I didn't wimp out.

Provo Peak from a distance (this was one of my last clear views before the clouds moved in)
It was only after hiking about 200 yards up the first hill that I realized how out of shape I really was. I would look behind me every so often for the first couple of miles just to be sure someone wasn't doubled over, laughing at my poor display. I tried telling myself that it was my cold that I was still battling with which was slowing me down, but by the end of the trip there was no denying it. Although I am working full-time and going to grad school full-time, being crazy-busy behind a desk does not keep me from becoming a giant blubber of a mess.

The North Summit from the Nebo Loop
The fall colors all along this hike were amazing. The weather couldn't have been more perfect (with the exception of the actual summit), and the lack of traffic along the trail only helped get my last hike-high of the season. Just before starting up the North Peak and the North Summit, I met up with a group of three guys on their way back down from the summit. They reported that they had been hiking for 4 hours, and actually stopped 500 feet from the top. One of the guys said that they stopped because the mixture of snow and slate was too much for them to navigate comfortably without trekking poles. Once I finally made it to the top I could see what they were talking about. Without my poles there was no way to get up, and coming down was even more treacherous.

This is what I saw when starting up the peak and for the rest of the hike
I assumed that my hike back down to my car would have taken half the time it took to make it to the summit, but it felt like I was stopping twice as often for some reason. I read about a few doing the hike in 5 hours, but both groups I passed who were on their way down from the summit reported that they had already been hiking for 4+ hours. I tried to keep track of how long it took me, but I forgot...or something like that...

Cross on the North Summit overlooking the valley...or not...but you can imagine.

For those of you who ever want to tackle this day hike, I've included some directions to the trailhead:
Get on the Nebo Loop from Payson, UT and drive for about 25 minutes to the "Monument Trailhead". There is a parking lot with a bathroom and a trailhead located at the south of the parking lot (this is for the Nebo Basin trail - not what you want to take). On the north end of the parking lot is a dirt road. Take this road and it will lead to a second parking lot. The trail starts at this parking lot, and runs along-side a barbed-wire fence for more than half a mile. The trail is clear and well defined the whole way, so there is no way to really get lost unless you try.

I would rank this hike as moderately strenuous. The hike to the base of the peaks is steep in most places, but from the base of the peak to the actual summit it is VERY steep. If you go sometime between July and about the middle of September you should be able to make it to the summit without there being too much mud or any snow. Distance is 10-11 miles round trip and can take anywhere from 5 hours to...well, longer than that if you're me...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Sven-Saw

Ever heard of the Sven-Saw??? I just saw this for the first time on KK's Cool Tools blog, but apparently it's been around for decades, if not centuries. It's compact and light-weight (less than a pound, the manufacturer says) and looks like the perfect tool when backpacking.

It's nice when you can snap branches on your thigh or foot, but sometimes you want to break branches that your foot has no chance of snapping in half. Here is a diagram showing how the ingenious idea works:


Looks like something worth purchasing. I love how compact it is when disassembling it. Pretty sure it would fit quite nicely on the side of my pack.

Here's a couple more ideas from Amazon...
               
This was more of a quick post just to get one in for the week. Next week I will post about my hike up Mt. Nebo.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Website Review: NOAA.com, The Most Accurate Weather For Your Location - ANYWHERE


I came across this website a couple of weeks ago. The website claimed that you could find the predicted weather for the EXACT location you want to know about - even by elevation. I have always felt that using weather.com or a local news weather forecast was inaccurate, since I would typically be thousands of feet higher than what the forecast would report.


After navigating through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's website, I quickly saw how useful it would be when planning those trips which take me out of the valleys and into the mountains. When entering a City in the search box it does a fairly good job of bringing up what you are looking for, but, for some reason, if you type in the City AND State, it gets confused. When I tried typing in "Grand Teton National Park" it was also too much for the search engine. I found that typing in the Zip Code gives you the best shot of finding what you are looking for without wasting any time.

Once your desired location loads, you can move the exact location you want within the red box on the Google Map. Under the map the latitude and longitude is listed, along with the elevation. I couldn't find an option to punch in the lat/long when doing a search, but using the map to locate your exact location is no big deal.

**I would say this website is a must when planning trips in the backcountry. Don't waste your time with the forecast you will find on weather.com or on some local news station's website - unless, of course, you want a second opinion, but I haven't been able to find any other website which claims to give an accurate forecast for any elevation.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Gear Burger - Website Review


Thanks to Google Reader, I saw a review last week of Gear Burger given by The Adventure Blog. After checking it out for myself, I thought it was worth posting about in the blog.

Gear Burgar is an outdoors site of all sites - meaning they find out where all the deals/sales are going on, and list them all on their site. To put it simply enough, check out this website if you want to find the best deals on your outdoors gear and clothing without having to spend hours on the web. The website tracks down all the gear you would find at REI, but checks out all the other similar websites to find you the best deal out there. Here are all the sites they currently track:

Altrec.com Outdoors (New), AltrecOutlet.com, Backcountry.com, Bike.com, CampSaver.com, Chifly.com, DepartmentOfGoods.com, DogFunk.com, evogear.com, FishWest.net, FontanaSports.com, GearX.com, Giantnerd, Half-Moon Outfitters, HucknRoll.com, Konasports.com, Marine Products, MasseysOutfitters.com, Moosejaw, o2 Gear Shop, OutdoorBasics.com, Patagonia.com, RamseyOutdoor.com, RealCyclist.com, REI, RiverBum.com, Skis.com, Snowboards.net, TheRiversEdge.com, USOutdoorStore.com, WildFly.com with more on the way!
I assumed that I would be able to click the link to Gear Burgar and immediately see what deals are currently out there, but it's not that simple, unfortunately. Apparently this website wants something from you before they are willing to give you the goods, so you have to open an account first. You only need to give your e-mail address before having access to the information you are looking for, and it's not a problem to change your settings if you don't want to get any unwanted e-mails.

When first logging on to the website, I was kind of confused. I couldn't figure out where to find the deals I was looking for, and it seemed that the only options I could find were dealing with my settings and preferences. Finally I saw in the left corner "Gear Bin" and voila. 

After checking out my "deals" I felt a little disappointed. I saw some great deals like 80% off some Nikwax Base Wash, but after clicking the link I saw that their "deal" was $5 for a 5 oz. bottle, not 80% off for their 33 oz. bottle - meaning they saw that the site was selling a bottle for $5, and assumed that it was for the 33 oz. bottle. NO savings for this one...

There were several other items that were sold-out or discontinued, and others that were just flat-out priced wrong on the Gear Burger website. I did see some clothes that were accurately priced, AND in stock however.

I would give this website two stars for having a great idea, but it appears that they are still working out the kinks and trying to make the website work properly. If they can get the system working like it should, than I have no doubt this company could become a best friend for a lover of the outdoors.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Outdoors Impaired...



As I said in Cranial Malfunction a few months ago, "we are no longer 'required' to work as we once were" while in the outdoors...
Once I can afford the monitoring fee and the actual beacon, I want to get a SPOT locator. They are small and lightweight, and as long as you have a clear view of the sky, your chances of survival when in a scary situation multiplies exponentially. It makes me wonder how local and state agencies are going to start regulating when they will, and won't, go out for a rescue. With stories like this one found in the New York Times something is going to need to change:

Last fall, two men with teenage sons pressed the help button on a device they were carrying as they hiked the challenging backcountry of Grand Canyon National Park. Search and rescue sent a helicopter, but the men declined to board, saying they had activated the device because they were short on water.
The group’s leader had hiked the Grand Canyon once before, but the other man had little backpacking experience. Rangers reported that the leader told them that without the device, “we would have never attempted this hike.”
The group activated the device again the next evening. Darkness prevented a park helicopter from flying in, but the Arizona Department of Public Safety sent in a helicopter whose crew could use night vision equipment.
The hikers were found and again refused rescue. They said they had been afraid of dehydration because the local water “tasted salty.” They were provided with water.
Helicopter trips into the park can cost as much as $3,400 an hour, said Maureen Oltrogge, a spokeswoman for Grand Canyon National Park.
So perhaps it is no surprise that when the hikers pressed the button again the following morning, park personnel gave them no choice but to return home. The leader was issued a citation for creating hazardous conditions in the parks.
Pretty sure I don't need to comment on how ridiculous these guys are. I will say it a million times probably - some people just don't belong in the outdoors...

(Article originally found at Trout Underground)


Click here to see an additional story just posted this morning on The Goat about K-Mart employees putting batteries in the SPOT locators, not assuming that store patrons would activate the beacons just to see how long it would take for a helicopter to arrive...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

All-In Trek: 12,500 miles within one year

I came across this story on The Adventure Blog, and had to share. Some stories are too impressive to pass up.

An outdoors fanatic, Samuel H. Gardner, plans on beginning his "All-In Trek" expedition on January 1st, 2011. He will be hiking the countries four longest trails within a year, and will start with The North Country trail in the dead of winter. He will only be the second to ever complete this trail during the winter months. Did I mention that he is in his mid-twenties??? This guy amazes me.

During his interview with CheapTents.com he disclosed that he is planning on going through 22 pairs of shoes over the year he will be on the trail. So how many miles will he need to cover each day if he is going to meet his goal? He will need to average 34 miles a day which, those of you who hike know, is quite the feat. For food he will be mailing ahead boxes to drop-off points where he can re-stock his supply and will use whatever transportation he has access to in order to get from one trail to the next.
The first time I was able to really understand what is required of such intense thru-hikes was when I read "A Walk in the Woods" by Bill Bryson (which I just found out will soon become a movie produced by Robert Redford). It's hard enough for me to imagine the amount of preparation (both physical and mental) which goes into planning such a long trip, but I think the hardest part for my head to wrap around is how someone is able to take months, not weeks, off from work and family to achieve something as intense as one of these hikes. So how does someone like Samuel take a full year off from life to carry out his "All-In Trek?" I hope to one day hike the PCT, but can't see any way of doing this without either doing it between jobs or once I retire, but who wants to wait until they are out of their prime condition to do something like this?

To pay for his expedition, he will be relying on his sponsors who include the Ultralight Adventure Equipment company which is located in Logan, UT. If you want to contribute, or want to learn more about the All-In Trek than check out his website HERE. He will be updating his website along his journey.







Friday, September 3, 2010

Woman Puts Her Hand Down a Bears Throat!?!?



A Wisconsin woman hears a weird sound coming from her backyard, looks out the window, and sees a mama black bear obviously choking on something. The bear is close to passing out when the woman realizes that it must be her dogs bone that is lodged in the bears throat. Although the bear has one of her cubs close by, she is so close to passing out that she doesn't mind it when the woman reaches down the bears throat, grabs the bone, and pulls it out. Not really sure there is anything else I need to write about this one...

Here is the story, and HERE is where I found the story. Back to my weekly postings!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

TV Series Review: I Shouldn't Be Alive

A while back I was flipping through the channels on TV and came across "I Shouldn't Be Alive" on the Discovery Channel. I immediately began saying "what an idiot," or "why don't you just...," or "if I was there I would do A, B, and C." It's a lot easier to see the perfect solution of a problem when you are on the outside looking in, but it would be very beneficial to have the skills to get an outside perspective when you are actually in the thick of a hairy situation.


I'm going to attempt to break down one of those less-than-wise casualties as well as that of a survivor, and then give examples for what the human body is really capable of when put in an impossible situation.

Bad example: Lost in the Snow
A husband and wife leave in a hurry to get to a funeral for the husbands relative who lives two states away. They leave California and head towards Idaho, only to have their route cut off by a severe blizzard. Finding out that the Inter-State had been closed, they decide to purchase a road atlas and attempt to cross Nevada on a different road (mistake #1: if a major highway/freeway has been closed due to weather, most likely a smaller road will be worse off - snow plows are going to do everything they can to keep the inter-state open, not some small road out in the middle of nowhere). They run into the same storm they were trying to avoid, are unsure which road they are driving on (mistake #2),  and eventually get stuck in the snow. They stay in the truck overnight (good), then wrap themselves up the best they can and zip the baby up in a garment bag to drag him in behind them as they hike on the road in the same direction they were headed (mistake #3 and #4, why wouldn't they either stay put, or hike in the opposite direction they came since, obviously, plows rarely go down the road, meaning they are not headed TOWARD civilization, but AWAY from it...).
End of the story - they hike aimlessly around the frozen desert until he decides to leave the wife and baby in a cave while he hikes back toward the truck. When he gets to the truck it doesn't start (of course) so he hikes in the OPPOSITE direction they were originally headed, flags down a truck, and they are all saved.

Good example : Solo Hiker Drags Himself 15 Miles
I wasn't able to find the title of this story, but it is too good not to use as my positive example.
A man who is used to navigating and solo hiking goes on a long hike during the wintertime, and is swept away by an avalanche. He survives, but not without the violence of the avalanche first breaking his hip. He is alone, has little, if any, food, and is far out enough in the countryside that he has no chance of someone coming across him. He spends three days battling his fears of wolves he can hear in the distance, sub-zero temperatures throughout the whole ordeal,  and only his will to survive. He CRAWLS 15 (I can't remember the exact number) miles in the snow, all while his hip is on fire with pain. He eventually comes across the road he was intentionally crawling towards and finds a stick to use as a crutch: although it only makes it barely possible for him to move, and relieves none of the pain.
He spoke a lot of the "will to live," and that this is the only thing which kept him alive. He said that he wanted to give up hundreds of times, but refused to let his body stop moving.

The TV series, itself, is not that impressive. It appears that they didn't have much of a budget to work with, and the acting is pretty unimpressive for the most part. The message in each episode, and which makes the series worth watching, is very clear - if you want to live bad enough, than you will; if you lose your desire to fight for your life, than you will most likely lose it. Every person who gives in to their despair ends up dying in the end. The human body is capable of much more than we really understand, but without the skills to keep a positive mindset there is no chance of tapping into that power of the will to survive.

I would highly recommend this series to anyone who has an interest in wilderness survival. There are scenario's which take place in the desert, in the frozen tundra, on the ocean, and in pretty much every situation you can imagine. This series would be perfect for a Survival 101 class. If only such a class was offered at my University...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Worlds Highest Swing - New Zealand

A while back I came across this video of the "worlds highest swing" located in New Zealand. I would LOVE to do something like this. The first time I saw it I thought "why not just bungie jump," but it looks like the distance you swing is far greater than what you would ever be able to bungie jump.



This second video does a better job of showing the distance that these guys are swinging. Pretty sweet!!!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Trip Report: Thousand Lakes (Boulder Mountain), UT

Location: Fish Creek Reservoir, Boulder Mountain, Utah
Mileage: 3 Miles out-and-back, 6 total


Last weekend I went to Boulder Mountain here in Utah. It was a small hike, but I learned a lot in the over-nighter...

A year ago I took a friend to Fish Creek on Boulder Mountain for a quick little excuse of getting a backpacking trip in, as well as a prime opportunity to catch fish on a Lake where there would be very few other visitors. The weather was prime, and the hike was strenuous enough to feel good about ourselves once we reached the lake. After making our way around the boulder-covered (hence the name) shore-line, we camped at the inlet and caught fish, after fish, after fish. When we left the next day, I would say that I felt more confident with my fly-fishing abilities than my backpacking know-how.


This year was a little different, but more profound for me in may ways. I was meeting this same friend up at the lake (he decided to ride a 4-wheeler), and was left by myself to hike the steep 3-miles up to the small lake. About 2/3rds of the way up it started to rain, giving me an opportunity to test the integrity of the cover for my backpack, as well as the breathing ability and water proofing integrity of my rain jacket. I was breathing and sweating hard, but I was dry and I was happy. Being by myself gave me more freedom to take my time and really get a better sense of my surroundings.

Love finding those out-of-place scenes that don't seem to belong in Utah
Once I made my way around the lake I set up my minimized tent, using only the foot-print, poles, and rain-fly. This was the first time that I have ever used my tent without the tent body, and doing so saved two or three pounds in my pack. I was impressed with the structural integrity of the tent without the tent-body, and my friend and I both stayed dry during a mid-night storm. The only downside to not having the body, I soon discovered, was the large gap between the ground and the bottom of the rain-fly.

View of Fish Creek
When getting into my bag that night I saw a salamander chilling on my pad and looking up at me with a "what? I'm not bothering you - don't bother me" sort of look. I debated between just tossing it outside, or placing it on my friends head while he slept, but chose to toss it out. For some reason this little harmless salamander triggered thoughts of all those OTHER creatures who would probably have loved to crawl under the rain-fly and snuggle up with our warm bodies. Images of raccoons, skunks, squirrels, and mice danced in my head as I struggled to move as little as possible while in my sleeping bag (another thing I learned during this trip was that I am done with the 'down-slope shuffle' I struggle with when sleeping in a silky bag on a silky-textured pad while on a slope, and will fix the problem before going out again). I'll admit that I may have jumped to my headlamp once when hearing little paws next to my head, but all-in-all I was very pleased with the minimalist version of my great tent.

The last learning experience I had was with my trekking poles I used for the first time. I'll admit that I used to think that using poles when hiking was less-than-cool, and would silently mock those who used them. I tried using them on my way up to the lake, and after feeling ridiculous I determined that I would only use them when snowshoeing. On the way back down the mountain, however, I decided to see if the poles would help me get over the slick and steep terrain, and was very impressed. My opinion has TOTALLY changed, now I will use them when snowshoeing AND when hiking downhill:)

It was a great trip for learning more about my gear and how to work around rain storms. Due to the rain I only had about two hours worth of fly fishing and didn't catch anything, but felt like I got so much out of this trip that not catching anything meant very little in the grand scheme.
*Be sure to stop at Slackers for good hamburgers if you are ever passing through Torrey, UT.

Discovered that the Great Western Trail passes through part of this hike to the Lake

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Backpacker Magazine - Ask A Bear



Have you ever wanted to ask a Bear why he/she does the thing he/she does? If any of the many myths told around a campfire have any credibility? Or what the chances are of you making a bear mad when just trying to mind your own business? Well, wait no more...

Backpacker Magazine's "Ask a Bear" column is part of 'The Manual' weekly e-mail updates. The columns author, or "Bear", has done an excellent job of entertaining us with a bears take on how our careless mistakes in the wild are viewed and what we should be more careful of (along with what rediculous beliefs surrounding bears can be ignored and laughed at). Ever wanted to know if it's o.k. to not safely store food above the treeline? The "bear" anwers questions from whether or not soap/deodorant will attract attention from a bear, to whether or not it's a good idea to make whoopee in the great outdoors (or if human flactulence attracts a bear...).

If you have ever had a question for a bear, but haven't been able to have that intimate on-on-one conversation without having to worry about being his next lunch, than ask him HERE.

Since I'm on the subject of bears, check out this video. If you have ever wanted to know what it looks like to have two bears charge you than here you go. I'm sure that the guy shooting this video didn't admit   to having lost control of his bowels at the same time he fired his rifle...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Can You Candwich????


Some company based out of Utah came up with a brilliant(???) idea of canning a whole sandwich. Mark One Foods claims that it's the perfect idea for people on the go, it has a "long shelf-life" (without being specific as to how long that is), and it doesn't require refrigeration.  Personally, looking at the pictures of the PB&J and the BBQ chicken make me want to gag. When I see a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that looks like something my niece or nephew made, I tend to be less inclined to eat it. Even if the sandwich has a protective can surrounding it, I have my doubts that the sandwich will look anywhere near as neat and orderly as the picture on the can when I actually open it, but I have to admit that it is a good idea. Seems like an easy way to bring a meal while backpacking, although a can isn't as packable as a freeze-dried pouch. The company will be coming out with a Pepperoni Pizza Pocket and possibly a French Toast - that is, if the company lasts that long. 

Isn't the beauty of a PB&J on the trail that it already lasts a long time, doesn't need refrigeration, and is the perfect travel snack? Not sure why I would need to can it when I can just put it in the top of my pack. 

Speaking of mid-hike snacks from a can, I saw THIS photo yesterday and asked myself why this guy is using his minimalist stove, yet he is cooking a heavy can of stew, and also decided to bring along his frying pans... "just in case" he decided to whip up some eggs on the trail or something? Maybe he just wanted to show his buddies how well-prepared he can be...or what cool gear he has...

What are your thoughts? Would you use the Candwich on road trips? On day hikes or long backpacking trips? Ever?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Update: The Pedouins Journey from Kentucky to Alaska

Remember the second post I wrote since starting this blog? In case you don't, I'll recap for you:
"A dad decides that it would be a great adventure to put his four kids on a five-person bicycle and go on a 7,000 mile ride from Kentucky to Alaska. Sounds like an awe-inspiring thing for a dad to do with teenagers, probably not a 7, a 5, and a 3 year old..." that all said with all with a touch of sarcasm I must add...

Well, I am eating my own words and doubts at this point. The family is now in Anchorage, Alaska and will undoubtedly make it to Fairbanks. Along the way they have had 22 flats, 8 falls with the bicycle (surprised this isn't more), but have only seen two bears - I'm thinking that all those bears in Alaska will look at a bicycle built for four as something they frequently dream of while hibernating. They have been traveling for close to a year now, and the nights they didn't spend in their tent have been split between motels and staying with people they have met along the way.

You can still track their journey here, and can read about their reasons for their trip here. If you would like details about each leg of their journey than you can read about it here.

I thought about checking up on the Pedouins after I read about the lady who is paddling from Seattle to San Diego. Pretty cool story, but I'm not a huge fan of those who do big and extraordinary things to make people aware of the fact that we have an ocean that needs to be taken care of - kind of pushes them in the category of "those people" as I wrote about in the last post.

*After I published the first post about this family, I realized that I made a couple of mistakes with what I said. The dad is with his wife and three girls - not just the dad with his kids.

Monday, July 12, 2010

"These People"

I'm sure some of you have already seen this video making its way around the net, but in case you haven't here it is... 





The first time I watched this was at work without the audio, and I didn't really get it. Watching it with sound for the first time had me in tears after the first ten seconds - not because "IT"S A DOUBLE RAAAAIIIINNNNNBOW" but because this dude is just ridiculous. I can understand loving the outdoors, but crying and speaking like some guy who is high as a kite??? Its because of THIS guy that my wife probably refuses to talk about sunsets and stars. She tells me that she thinks such things are beautiful, but doesn't want to talk like a hippie....Hmmm......


On YosemiteBlog the author quotes directly from this shameless guy also known as YosemiteBear. He says "You could feel the rays, like from the sun or from a heat lamp, only it was rainbow rays. It knocked me down. And that’s why I had that reaction! The camera only captures 40% of the color. You can’t imagine how intense it was...It looked like God’s eye looking at me. That’s why I had that reaction, why I said ‘What does this mean?’” Well, call me stupid, but I think it means that the sun is hitting the particles of moisture just right, but I'm no expert. Isn't "rainbow rays" like the ultimate oxymoron? 'I'm going to kill you with my rainbow-rays!'


After following where the quote originally came from, I was directed to THIS site and got much more than I bargained for. If you want more background on the man, than just check out the site. In case you were wondering what he looks like, I've included a pic for you (by the way, the article states that he wasn't high...right...)


I titled this post "these people" because although I'm sure this is a really good guy, this is exactly the kind of outdoorsy kind of person my wife must be afraid I will turn my kids into - "mommmmm...it's a doooouuubbble raaaaaiiiiinnnnbooooowwwwwww!!!!!" :) Personally, I think moderation is the way to go with everything - even with a love for the outdoors.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Yosemite - Nature's Disneyland


Ten years ago I visited Yosemite National Park for the first time. Although I was with my family and not equipped to do any hiking (or anything other than the typical tourist) I got my first real sense of what our National Parks have to offer. I distinctly remember looking up from the base of El Capitan and wanting to start rock climbing so that, one day, I could climb the 3,000 foot face. I went home and convinced my good friend that we needed to start rock climbing so that we could conquer El Cap a few years later. My friend got so invested in the sport that he eventually opened his own on-line trad climbing store, but I have yet to conquer anything beyond a 100 foot crack which was only rated as a 5.9 - one day though...hopefully...


I was finally able to go back to Yosemite a couple of weeks ago, and was once again inspired to start rock climbing. As I was with my six-month pregnant wife, I failed to do any hiking or anything other than the typical tourist - again. I was, however, able to further solidify my plans to hike the PCT from Tuolumne Meadows to Kennedy Meadows within the next five years. As I will be busy with grad school for the next three, that will give me two years after I'm done with school to complete the week and a half trip. Just typing about it makes me giddy like a little school-girl!

During my first trip I also got my first taste of "real" photography while viewing the Ansel Adams gallery. Although photography was one of those things I dreamt about but never did, I still find a lot of enjoyment in taking photographs. I have discovered that living on a tight budget requires me to choose one or two sports to invest in, and photography didn't make the top of the list. The photos you see are taken with my Sony Cybershot, but one day I hope to own a "real" camera (although the Sony seems to still do a good job).

So, why did I refer to Yosemite as being Nature's Disneyland? 800 miles of trails from simple day-hikes to multi-day hikes, 95% of designated "wilderness", thousands of established rock climbing routes, lakes & rivers for fishing, and unlimited options for photography - the possibilities are endless. It's no wonder that Yosemite had 2.7 million visitors in 2009 and was listed as the third most visited National Park according to the LA Times, trailing behind the Great Smoky Mountains and the Grand Canyon.

Go see Yosemite!!!!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Opinion vs Expertise


I LOVE Backpacker Magazine, I mean I LOVE it. This magazine sure gets my blood flowing, my imagination racing, and helps me justify why my wallet is always empty - not Backpackers fault, they just have too much good information. My wife makes fun of me for how many times I will read an issue before putting it up on the shelf: First time - flip through the thing to see what the current issue has to offer, Second time - read the smaller articles which are interesting, Third time - make sure ALL the articles have been read, and the Final time - flip through it again to make sure I didn't miss anything. Like I said, too much good information to just flip through it once to give a look at the pics and then throw it on the coffee table...I know, I'm a freak...

My ONLY complaint with the magazine are the times that I have felt deceived by an author throwing out their opinion to make it sound like fact. In one issue I read an author stating that high-cut boots are a "must" if you are going to carry a load heavier than 30 pounds. A few issues later a reader wrote in asking if he has to really wear high-cut boots when carrying a 50 pound bag as they tend to cut into his shins and ankles (which I have experienced first-hand). The writer who responded told the reader to wear whatever cut of boots he felt comfortable with, as long as he isn't putting his ankles at risk.

The on-line article I read today was about water filters. The reader who wrote in wanted to know how to tell when your filter needs to be cleaned. The author gave some half-effort of an unbiased answer which took a total of three sentences, and then went into a long paragraph about how the reader shouldn't even hassle with a filter when he could just as easily use tablets. She said that tablets don't leave a taste (not true, although some more expensive ones are better about this), are easier (maybe), and fool-proof (maybe for the fool who would mistake a puddle of pee for clear water I guess). Although I don't usually leave comments underneath on-line articles, I chose to this one time...you can read it if you follow the link at the top of this paragraph.

The bottom line: do your own research when it comes to which products you chose to buy. Whether it be a debate between low-cut, mid-cut, or high-cut boots, a conflict between using a filter vs tablets, or even which handle is best when it comes to trekking poles; use your head and try to stretch your brain a little instead of just taking someone for their word.
P.S. I still LOVE Backpacker Magazine:)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

To sleep under the Stars? or in a Tent?

Why do we sleep in tents when the weather is nice? What kind of false security do tents, a thin piece of fabric, give us when in the outdoors? Maybe it's the security that a raccoon can't gnaw at our face, and that maybe a bear will have to work REALLY hard to get us?????? Hmmm....


Personally, I prefer to sleep under the stars, that is, unless there is a good chance of rain during the middle of the night. No one, and I mean NO ONE, likes to wake up in the middle of the night to a serious downpour. Waking up to a wet sleeping bag and equipment and realizing that you now have to put up your tent in the middle of a rain storm is not the most pleasant experience at two o'clock a.m. After watching this video you will be able to see that sleeping outdoors is a must...   



Timescapes Timelapse: Mountain Light from Tom Lowe @ Timescapes on Vimeo.


There is something so refreshing about sleeping out in the middle of nowhere, far away from the city lights, and where thousands of stars are visible; all while feeling the night-time breeze on your face. This is about the time that I stop...my wife would say that I'm starting to get "cheesy" and I doubt that the couple of you who are going to read this actually brought crackers to eat up all that I could dish out - for another time maybe.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Inspired by Iceland



















"Inspired By Iceland" is a website dedicated to inspiring people to plan a trip to Iceland. There are live feeds to main attractions on the island, photos of wildlife, reports from others trips, accommodations, transportation, tours, and culture/shopping. In essence, it has EVERYTHING you could ever want and need to know about the country, and since the country's economy continues to struggle, the least we can do is go see this beautiful place:)

I LOVE Iceland. I may have never actually been there, but I love it nonetheless. My family's name actually comes from Leif Ericson, the famous Viking who landed in North America 500 years before Columbus. I have relatives who go to Iceland every couple of years, and one day I hope to go myself.



Although I have always wanted to go to Iceland, after seeing Sigur Ros' DVD Heima I was sold. I can't imagine how beautiful that place is in real life, just seeing it on a television screen is overwhelming enough...