Wednesday, December 31, 2014

10 Backpacking Resolutions For The Coming Year.

I'll do it so you don't have to.


  1. Bring a map next time.

    This sounds obvious, but the obvious thing is often wrong. According to those in the know.

    Like "Everything Mom taught you about drinking pesticides is wrong," and "All you ever learned about keeping dynamite in your trunk is wrong." Well sometimes it isn't.

    Speaking as someone who spent a solid week finding his way home from the city park across town, I'd say go with that map is a needless crutch mindset if you want, but ease into it.

    I know I will. From here on out. If I can find my way home again so I can put it on my ToDo list.


  2. Before camping somewhere, I'm getting permission.

    It's not fun waking up to find a 2000-candlepower beam from a BushBurner Tactical Everlight punching you in the eyes, and a 12-gauge shotgun poking you in the nose. And an angry beefy guy doing the yelling.

    In the past this was mainly for camping on private land, but these days there are lots of jumpy guys with badges running around too. So maybe get permission first, and don't count on apologizing later.

    When stealth camping works, it works, but when it doesn't — hoboy. I hate getting my tent shot up.


  3. I'll wait longer before climbing on the latest trend.

    With that in mind, I'm ditching the hiking turban.

    And I'll never ever even think about wearing one and a hiking kilt any more. Not at the same time. (See previous note about people with badges.)


  4. No more camping next to bears.

    These guys are not as cute as they look. No way. They're sloppy eaters, and they fart a lot. Along with a bunch of other bad habits.


  5. I'll think about getting a job.

    I can use the money, for one thing. And it might help me with Number Six, which is...


  6. Get a girlfriend. Even a crummy one.

    It's lonely out here. I'm not fussy any more. I'd even put up with your cat. Really. Call me. I'm always home. Alone.


  7. Lose weight.

    Everyone else does, so why can't I?

    So all those backpackers who go and and scarf down a half-gallon of ice cream? For a appetizer? And then eat two dinners on their way to the hospital for intravenous feeding to fight off starvation?

    Not me. I'm still waddling. Go figure.

    Starting next week it's two laps around the park every other week. Not just one. No matter how long it takes to go around twice. Then we'll see what happens.


  8. Stop procrastinating.

    Pretty soon now.


(9 & 10) Eh. Time for a break. TV, a beer, and a plate of nachos. I'm tired. I'll work on the rest next year.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Fresh, December 28

 Astronomy Picture of the Day:  The Winter Shower.  The 2014 Geminids rain down on this rugged, frozen landscape.  Read this...


 The Shooting Star:  My 14 "Incredible India" Moments in 2014!  I only had to traverse the crevices of my mind, to recall the solitude of the Himalayas, the serenity of the backwaters and my serendipitous encounters over the past year.  Read this...


 iRunFar:  The Definitive Guide To Fastpacking.  Where you cover big miles and earn even-bigger views.  Read this...


 Spreading my Wings:  Goodness in Callahan and Etna, California, and everywhere!  A group of four backpackers stole some food and a huge case of Gatorade.  Read this...


 Lessons of the Appalachian Trail:  Letting Go Of Attachment.  I had walked over 2,000+ miles and I was worried about 80 I had't walked.  Read this...


 Restless Kiwi: Walking the Te Araroa Trail:  Day 54. Fielding to Palmerston North.  It rained on and off last night but by the time I started packing up my tent was dry.  Read this...


 Six Moon Designs:  10 Questions Greg Bearden.  She had a four pound makeup bag complete with hairspray and a family-sized toothpaste tube.  Read this...


 The News Tribune:  Carolyn Burkhart has walked in Cheryl Strayed's boots.  Burkhart, now 59, made the trek on her own in 1976 as a 20-year-old. She is credited with being the first woman to do the solo hike from south to north.  Read this...


 Trails and Tracks:  MYOG: Down quilt for winter hiking.  Well, I don't know how long other people have taken, but it took me 15 months from go to whoa!nbsp; Read this...


 UltraPedestrian:  Low Fat Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce.  I've never met a nacho I didn't like.  Read this...


 Alan Sloman's Big Walk:  I feel dirty, used and abused. Retailers, eh?  Put simply this retailer is using all the bloggers and the good will of the blogs' readers to promote their business.  Read this...


 FellBound:  A Fine Panorama: A Walk in Wales along Creigiau Eglwyseg.  Not having lots of time I pootled along to the local uppy bits which are near Llangollen and parked the Model T in an old quarry at the foot of Trevor Rocks.  Read this...


 Living High On Life:  Q&A: How to Be the Best Trail Angel Ever.  Remember that conversation can be a gift in itself.  Read this...


 Winter Campers:  How To Start Winter Camping: Be Prepared.  Winter camping requires advanced planning.  Read this...


 tgsg Blog:  Not for Everyone.  We could hike in shorts most days but had to use all the gear to sleep warm at night.  Read this...


 Bedrock & Paradox:  The full suspension spectrum.  I think the most interesting developments in packs during the years to come will be in the areas between the old categories.  Read this...


 My Modern Met:  37 Most Incredible Photographs of The Year.  These are the pictures that stood out to us, leaving an indelible mark on our memories.  Read this...


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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Hello From Way Out West East

The gang is currently aft agley.

Happy Holidays, everyone! It's been an eventful year. Time for the annual "Status Report" that I send out to my family and all you people without whose support I couldn't be doing this.

As you may recall, I did set out last spring to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, hoping to get it done before Cheryl Strayed's movie came out and everyone in the world started going Wild next year.

And things did go well for a while. I was covering lots of ground until this one day. I'd had this growing feeling that something was off, so I finally had to stop and ask for directions. That's when I found out I was in Colorado.

Don't know how that happened. Well so anyway, being that far off the route and all, it doesn't look like I'll be making it to Canada this year. I'm too busy anyhow.

For the time being I'm spending my days in a little snow-filled town not all that far from the Continental Divide. It specializes in winter tourism — skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and all that, so at least I get to do some people-watching, but I got a job to tide me over too. I think it will. I think it will work out.

I met a woman here. Her name is Jane Saw. She's pretty special — tough but nice. Smart too. She paints watercolor scenes on card stock. Some gnarly ones. They appeal to the snowbirds who spend their winter vacations here. I write up some text to go with the pictures and we sell them for $10 a crack, and it isn't a bad business. Some people buy a whole box at a time. Mostly apologies. Apologies seem to be hot for some reason.

For example, our biggest seller so far is "I'm sorry I peed on the carpet," and it comes with your choice of images. A lot are cats and dogs but some are people too, which makes sense in a party town I guess.

Some you wouldn't much expect though, like "Insincere Apology Letter for Plagiarism", but we cover shoplifting, car accidents, drunkenness, slander, trespassing, infidelities of all kinds, minor acts of vandalism (mostly unintentional), and apologies to the court and to police as well.

So I guess it's my turn then. I'm sorry. I screwed up somewhere. Ed, if you're still out there, I will return your tent, but as you know by now, not on schedule, my friend. I need to be more organized for next year so I'm making a list. I'll try to follow it when I pick up the trail again next spring.

To myself:

  1. Do your research: You need more than a compass to find Canada. At least one that's better than what you get on a zipper-pull. Now I know for sure.
  2. Write up an itinerary: So you can check where you are, for sure, at least once in a while. Western Colorado is nice, but the winters are hard. I'm just lucky that Jane lets me sleep with the cat. (His name is Buzzer.)
  3. Keep people updated: Mom told me to call, but did I listen? No. I think I started to veer right at about Agua Dulce, down in southern California. Mom would have caught that.
  4. Keep on top of details: Given the above, I guess I should have gotten suspicious when the sun seemed to be rising in a more northerly direction than was healthy, and it did seem odd, but I was committed by then. Luckily I didn't make it all the way to Denver.
  5. Don't immerse yourself in the experience: That isn't natural. After all, they call it wilderness for a reason, so keep your guard up.
  6. Reevaluate: I.e., pay attention. Now that I look back on the experience, I realize that I spent way too many uncritical miles hiking along the shoulder of I-70.
  7. Taking zero days doesn't mean zeroing out: Don't just turn off your brain and shove food into your head when you stop walking. Although it does feel good.
  8. Do enjoy your hike: But not too much — you actually have to get somewhere.
  9. Follow a trail map and/or guide: So, older and wiser.

Come spring I'll be heading out again, and will myself be offering guiding services for anyone who wants to avoid making the same old mistakes. Jane and I are working on a whole new map set and we'll have note cards all printed up and ready to go for any and all eventualities. Sign up early!

Bye for now.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Fresh, December 21

 Astronomy Picture of the Day:  Geminid Fireball over Mount Balang.  This was a sky to remember.  Read this...


 Windyty:  Windyty wind forecast.  [See it in action]  Read this...


 Indefinitely Wild:  How To Pack A Backpack.  Don't be this guy.  Read this...


 Eric's Blog:  Sex Peak Fire Lookout.  (really...thats its official name)  Read this...


 Sunny Side of the Alps:  KS Ultralight gear daypack.  If you are aware of its weight carrying limitations it is indeed very price affordable and nice daypack.  Read this...


 The Mountains Are Calling:  The Rural Life, Running Edition.  Barbed wire crawl? Check. Mud pit? Check. Uncontrolled fire? Check.  Read this...


 Mama's Basecamp:  Devil's Doorway.  Although the Wisconsin landscape can sometimes be rather barren once the leaves fall, Devil's Lake is amazing - beautiful at every turn and in all seasons.  Read this...


 Animated Knots by Grog:  Tie knots the fun and easy way.  Better to know a knot and not need it, than need a knot and not know it.  Read this...


 Karen K Wang Blog:  The Enchantments — September 19th, 2014.  This place is magical, and sometimes I still can't fathom it's in Washington and only 2.5 hours away from us.  Read this...


 BrawnyView:  Beefing Up Winter Sleeping Bags.  "Pack Light, Freeze at Night."  Read this...


 Trails and Tracks:  Lerderderg Gorge - Bears Head Circuit — Dec 2014.  In the Lerderderg State Forest, about 70 kms west of Melbourne.  Read this...


 David Stillman:  Trout Creek, Round 3.  I've learned through these explorations that Trout Creek has a deficit of redeeming qualities.  Read this...


 Astronomy Picture of the Day:  The Potsdam Gravity Potato.  Why do some places on Earth have higher gravity than others?  Read this...


 The Atlantic:  2014: The Year in Volcanic Activity.  Out of an estimated 1,500 active volcanoes, 50 or so erupt every year, spewing steam, ash, toxic gases, and lava.  Read this...


 Adirondack Life:  The 46 Blitz.  Thirty-five years ago, a quartet of college kids attempted to bag the biggest peaks in one arduous winter outing.  Read this...


Ad: Fire In Your Hand: Ultralight backpacking stoves.



Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Zipper History

Pull me — see what happens.

Time for some general background info.

A zipper consists of two strips of fabric tape, each permanently attached to one of the two flaps that it joins together.

Each zipper has from tens to hundreds of metal or plastic teeth.

The slider, the part that gets pulled by hand, rides up and down the two sets of teeth.

Inside the slider is a Y-shaped channel that pushes the opposing set of teeth together (forward) or pulls them apart (reverse).

Friction of the slider against the teeth produces that characteristic buzzing sound. (And it may be where the name zipper came from.)

Some zippers have slides on both ends, which allows for varying the size and position of the opening.

Elias Howe, the American inventor of the first practical sewing machine, developed an early zipper-like device he called an Automatic, Continuous Clothing Closure, which he patented in 1851, but it was never commercialized.

In 1891 (or possibly 1893), Whitcomb Judson patented a similar Clasp Locker, for fastening shoes, and marketed it through his Universal Fastener company.

Both his and Howe's designs used hooks and eyes rather than the now-familiar teeth.

Today's design, based on interlocking teeth, was invented in 1913 by one of Judson's employees, the Swedish scientist Gideon Sundback.

It was originally called the Hookless Fastener, though patented in 1917 as the Separable Fastener.

The B. F. Goodrich Company coined the name Zipper in 1923, and used it in tobacco pouches and on boots.

It wasn't until the 1920s that the zipper was first used in clothing, specifically for men's trousers and in clothes for children.

And here we are.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Fresh, December 14

 Astronomy Picture of the Day:  Moondog Night.  Light from a last quarter Moon illuminates clouds above the mountaintop domes of Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, Arizona.  Read this...


 Bill Moss:  Bill Moss: Fabric Artist & Designer by Marilyn Moss.  enter the world of BILL MOSS through the eyes of MARILYN MOSS, his former wife and business partner. Here she introduces the book that explores the creative mind and story behind a shelter revolution ignited by Bill Moss (1923 - 1994).  Read this...


 Photos By Griffin:  Photographer based in Seattle, WA.  (See it.)  Read this...


 Oregon Exploration:  Enchanted Valley — Olympic National Park.  In this episode we are headed into Washington to an unspoiled valley deep within Olympic National Forest.  Read this...


 Keith Foskett:  A Dependable Classic — The Tarptent Contrail Review.  We Brits seem to love them as well although I've only seen a handful of their shelters in the UK.  Read this...


 BrawnyView:  Trip Report-Gila Wilderness in December.  New Mexico in December? Bring warm clothes and rain gear.  Read this...


 Karen K. Wang Photography:  Whistler, B.C., August 28th, 2014.  Please be aware of the million photos that are in this post... so many things happened that I just couldn't leave out.  Read this...


 Walks With Moss:  Webhill Lookout.  3 mile round trip up an old logging road to the site of a long gone lookout.  Read this...


 Banana Pants' Trails:  Cold wave & Gila Canyon.  As soon as we reached the river, we were overwhelmed by the dimension of the canyon.  Read this...


 Longwalks And Dirty Socks:  CDT in 3 minutes.  Some random clips taken while walking the CDT...with musak!  Read this...


 paknhf:  Pacific Crest Trail -- Colorado Trail -- Continental Divide Trail.  (Photo blog.)  Read this...


 Bedrock & Paradox:  The big pack.  Not long after I started building packs from scratch I started packrafting, and realized in a hurry a truly large pack was a good idea.  Read this...


 Walking Womad:  Teaching my first lightweight backpacking course.  I got to teach my favorite subject: lightweight backpacking!!!  Read this...


  Hike It. Like It.:  ULA Circuit.  Hiked It. Liked It.  Read this...


 Trail Kit:  Body Hair.  Some combination of my genes made it such that hair grows on my body like the amazon rainforest, creating a veritable canopy, under which all sorts of fascinating and horrible creatures can thrive.  Read this...


Ad: Fire In Your Hand: Ultralight backpacking stoves.



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Definitions: Wool

Like hair that's been to college.

1. Animal hair made into fabric, and then worn by humans, who have no decent pelts of their own, but who think being fuzzy is still a pretty nifty idea.

2. Animal hair fibers, including the hair of the Cashmere or Angora goat, the specialty hair of the camel, alpaca, llama, vicuña, Patagonian hairy lizard-rat, sheep-dog, bushy squirrel, kinky-maned wart hog, or Shetland carrot (for vegans).

The process of converting wool (the fuzzy stuff) into wool (the same fuzzy stuff but with sleeves) is like this: First it is removed, or liberated from the animal, preferably when said animal is preoccupied with something else like eating, watching reality TV, or procreating, and less likely to bite.

The result is fleece. The next step is to remove foreign matter like dirt, bug parts, dead skin, feces, sweat residue, vegetable matter and such-like from the fleece through a process called scouring.

Then the fleece is washed, and the water is retained by the company cafeteria for making a nutritious soup.

The fleece or wool (the non-liquid part) is then carded (combed), spun (twisted), and ends up as yarn (which is another story in itself).

After that they bring in a dog to bark at half of the yarn (to make the woof), and the other half is slightly bent (to make it warp).

Following this step the woof and warp are combined by a complicated, clickety-clackety, dangerous looking device called a loom to make fabric, which is where cloth comes from. (No, the stork did not bring it. Grow up once.)

3. Fuzzy fabric, much favored by hikers, that when you put it on makes you feel like a normal animal again, with a pelt and all. Unless you are a vegan, in which case you feel like Scottish carrot salad.

More...



Sunday, December 7, 2014

Fresh, December 7

 Feature Shoot:  Into the Wild: Our Latest Group Show of 33 Images Explore the Wilderness.  Our latest group show explores the far-reaching corners of the world in all climates and regions to provide a glimpse into the amazing wilderness of our planet.  Read this...


 Girly Camping:  Bear-ly Missed Him!  Now all I'm missing is a picture of an actual bear!  Read this...


 Gypsy By Trade:  Into South Africa: Cape to the Karoo.  Squinting into the sun on the edge of a continent I hadn't expected to visit a month ago, we depart Cape Town and the coast.  Read this...


 Hike Bike Travel:  Snowshoeing in Alberta on a -20 C Day.  It certainly isn't the first thing that comes to mind, even for an outdoors lover like me.  Read this...


 Jill Outside:  Wells, NV.  I pulled into Wells for gas, I thought, "maybe I should go for a short run."  Read this...


 Jnunniv:  My Sawyer Squeeze Holder/fill scoop.  I LOVE my Sawyer Squeeze filter but I have two issues.  Read this...


 Linda's Lens:  Circling Coldwater Lake.  This unique lake, located directly north of Mt. St. Helens, was formed during the 1980 eruption when the mountain's north side slumped into the Toutle River.  Read this...


 Off Route:  Call of the Wild: Bikepacking B.C.'s Coast Mountains — Part 2.  "By God, I are a mountain man!"  Read this...


 Off the Beaten Path:  Grand Gulch Below the Narrows: Where to find the Perfect Campsite.  I've written about Grand Gulch before. It's one of my favorite places, and even after many visits we've only begun to discover its wonders.  Read this...


 Paradise From My Porch:  The End of Coyote Killing Contests in California...  Today the California Fish and Game Commission voted 4 to 1 to end Coyote Killing Contests in California. In fact, they ended almost all wildlife killing contests.  Read this...


 Prick-Eared:  2014 Post-Season Weight Optimization.  So, once in awhile, it is good to take a look at our options and see how weight can be reduced even more.  Read this...


 Outdoor Solitude Blog:  Seal Bay Park.  Most people go to the park for a jog. I seem to be the only one carrying a camera.  Read this...


 National Geographic Proof:  Through Steve Winter's Lens, Big Cats Step Into the Limelight.  I try to find a connection to our lives.  Read this...


 Astronomy Picture of the Day:  Milky Way over Moon Valley.  The otherworldly scene looks across the arid, eroded terrain of the Valle de la Luna in the Chilean Atacama desert.  Read this...


 EROS Center:  Image of the Week: Holuhraun Lava Flow, Iceland.  This eruption is occurring at the Bardarbunga volcano, which lies north of the Vatnajökull glacier in south-central Iceland.  Read this...


Ad: Fire In Your Hand: Ultralight backpacking stoves.



Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Definitions: Backwater

If it tastes bad, maybe there's a reason for that.

(1) As with so many problems, this one can be caused by food. Too much food, food too raw, dirty food, food too ripe, the wrong kind of food and the like. We could go on, but right now, if you have this problem, you don't want to hear any more about going, let alone about gurgling, rumbling, spewing, spraying, trotting, running, doing the two-step, or telltale stains on your pants. Backwater is a sign that your body has something going on that shouldn't be going on, and is trying to get rid of it, and will keep doing that, and that you need to pay attention. Because, really, no one else will want to even think about it.

(2) Where there is water, and it is flowing, or could flow if it wanted to, and there is a channel, then probably there is also a little bit of water in what looks like a sort of appendix stuck onto the main channel. This stuck-on channel probably doesn't have any current at all, and sometimes it is only damp earth, with no real water in it. That's a backwater kind of place, so it's called a backwater. This is where mosquitoes come from, and in-laws.

(3) A resupply town. Nirvana. Metropolis. Civilization. Maybe it's a backwater compared to where you came from, but right now, with you out of food and fuel and looking for a post office and a bed, it's The Big City. Especially if it has pizza and beer, ice cream and beer, or just beer.