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:, 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 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 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.