Saturday, February 28, 2015

Port Angeles Morning

A bit nippy on the tits today.

But picturesque.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Tyvek Wallets

I never know what I'll find there. At Swain's General Store. It's a guy place here in town.

Got stuff. Fishing stuff. Hunting stuff. Camping stuff. Hardware hardware. Household hardware. Outdoor clothing.

In the outdoor clothing area, that's where I saw the wallets. $12.87 each. Tyvek wallets.

I came home and looked them up. Made by an outfit called Dynomighty. Got a bunch of tyvek wallets, them, with a selection of printed designs. Go there and see.

Or you can make your own, either the right way (see link to instructions below), or the sloppy way (i.e., whatever).

Might be right for someone out there. Might be right for you.

The Mighty Wallet is tear-resistant, water-resistant, expandable and recyclable. Made from Tyvek (think express mail envelopes), these cool wallets resist tearing because of thousands of interlocking plastic fibers spun in random patterns, giving them incredible strength.

The ingenious origami construction was and is the original folded paper wallet designed by Terrence Kelleman. The stitch less design reinforces the materials own strength and allows these very slim wallets to instantly expand and adapt to your own personal storage needs. The Mighty Wallet will expand right before your eyes.

Because of the slim, lightweight and water resistant features, you can take these cool wallets anywhere. They make great "night out" wallets for a slender silhouette and the writable surface conveniently acts as a quick note pad on the go.

In time, the Mighty Wallet will gradually soften and patina but, even after years of wear, it will still offer surprise and solicit intrigue.

Check them out...

Mighty Wallets on YouTube

Dynomighty Tyvek Wallets

At Amazon

How-to at Instructables

Make your own gear: 5-gram Basso Bifold Wallet (via Andrew Skurka's site)

Selected print samples...

Alaska

Camo

Comics

Hiroshige

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Fresh, February 22

 AAAS:  New map shows America's quietest places.  Craving some silence? Head toward the blue regions on the map.  Read this...


 Vox:  See how much of your state is owned by the federal government.  Basically, the government owns your tumbleweeds.  Read this...


 JRCAdventures:  How Do You Sleep At Night?.  We found a system that works for us and is lightweight without having to eliminate comfort or warmth.  Read this...


 Clive's Blog:  Water treatment methods and their effectiveness.  A guide for individuals intending to use untreated or poorly treated water as a drinking source.  Read this...


 backpackthesierra:  Our Favorite Hikes of All Time.  THESE HIKES capture all that we love: great scenery, classic destinations, not too many people, and at least one good opportunity for fishing!  Read this...


 I Hate Cheryl Strayed:  Bonus Segment: A Word For All the Cheryl Fans.  I-- the author of this blog-- own the fact that I am a giant douchebag.  Read this...


 lotsafreshair:  How to treat drinking water.  What's Upstream?  Read this...


 Rock. River. Run.:  Graaarrrr Mountain Kitty!!!!!.  I realize that there are people who would never hike alone during the day, much less in the dark. And here I am, doing just that.  Read this...


 Mountains and Miles:  The Girl Who Goes Alone.  I did something this weekend that I have never done before – I went camping, alone.  Read this...


 Meanderthals:  Lawmakers propose 500-mile trail across New Mexico.  Could New Mexico have a 500-mile long trail stretching from the state's northern border with Colorado to its southern frontier?  Read this...


 Trail Kit:  Hiker's High.  It's a random gift from the hiker god.  Read this...


 HikeLighter.Com:  Wind Jackets: Montbell Tachyon, Patagonia Houdini, ZPacks Wind Shell.  The idea of a sub 5 ounce shell that can be a master of both wind and rain, that peaks [sic] my interest.  Read this...


 The Hiking Life:  A Hiker's Guide to Blister Management.  The primary cause of these little bubbles of fun is friction.  Read this...


 Clever Hiker:  Ultralight Backpacking Stoves.  We hope this guide helps you to lighten your load and satisfy your appetite on the trail.  Read this...


 TTBook:  On Our Minds: Reinhold Messner.  Steve Paulson caught up with him and asked how he got hooked on climbing.  Read this...


Ad: Fire In Your Hand: Ultralight backpacking stoves.



Wednesday, February 18, 2015

I Need To Take What?

The details of packing a pack.

Stuffing your pack is about the most serious thing you're going to do on any normal day next to scratching, shooting snot rockets, and speculating about what would happen if you never went home again.

Stuff your pack wrong and it will hurt you, all day.

Leave something out, like a few tent stakes, your water treatment, your stove, or the car keys, and you will be hurting. Promise.

So you have to get it right.

This is a good excuse to have a checklist, a clipboard, extra pens, and carbon paper. Maybe an assistant, too. Possibly two assistants, so they can both watch you, and still check each other.

This is important. Every day, every time you open your pack, you have problems. The first problem is finding what you need and getting it out. The second problem is putting it all back. Back were it fits, back where you can find it again. Back where it won't fall out.

But most of all, back.

Leaving a fuel bottle under a bush is bad form.

Having to pull everything out of your pack to get at a matchbook sucks big time. Always.

The more efficient your housekeeping the more time you have to hike. Never tempt the gods. They will whup you like a chump. The gods love to do that. The gods love to do that more than anything else at all.

But best of all, the less you do the less you have to think.

There are two ways of looking at packing.

  • Deciding what to leave.
  • Deciding what to take.

Deciding what to leave.

Which method is up to you. Screwing up is its own punishment. Don't plan on begging if you run out of food. Everyone needs what they have more than they need you.

True, you like your stuff. It's part of you. You want to take it all. So you do. And it starts.

There you are then, your pack is so heavy you can hardly pick it up even though you aren't carrying water yet, or food. And all you have in your pack is the bare essentials. Plus a few extra things. Just a few, but they're all really light, so what's the deal?

You've just been creamed.

Deciding what to take

That's one way to do it — starting with everything and deciding what to leave. The other way is deciding what to take. For this, plan on taking nothing. Zero.

Zero is step one.

Next, for step two, use one hand and pick one thing that you absolutely must have to stay alive, then branch out.

Say you've picked one piece of clothing, but what can you do with only a pair of underpants? Got to have a bit more, so what's one more thing that's absolutely essential?

Grab that. Hold it in your other hand.

From there, choose only the next item that you absolutely need. What you absolutely need for your well-being, for your comfort, for your safety. Regardless of what anyone else thinks.

So then what?

If using Plan A and deciding what to leave out, you might be stuck sagging under too much weight, but if something unexpected happens, you'll have a spare, or just the right odd thing to fix the rare odd failure. Like if you have super glue along, and a wheel falls off one of your little model cars, you're set. If you want to be.

Following Plan B, deciding what to take, you might find that you left out something you really do need, or that you don't have that spare thing you could use, or that you can't really cope too well if, for example, you have a July snowstorm instead of humid, drippy heat and thick clouds of mosquitoes, all of whom really want to get into your nose.

So either route can take you to a place that sucks. But it's up to you. Something will always suck. Face it, you're hosed no matter what. Backpacking is like that — the best of times, the worst of times.

You've been there. A mouse in your food bag. Or a rattlesnake in your pants. Something. You still have to manage because once you're in over your head, you're in, and it really doesn't matter how deep, because having a snake in your pants is not theoretical. You gotta do something, not think about it.

No matter how well you plan things, and no matter how terrifically you loaded your pack in the morning, it gets rearranged all day long, so organize the load based on how you plan to live. (It's good to plan on living. Don't underestimate the value of that.)

Group things by importance, accessibility, and weight. Similar things together, but you don't have to keep all of something in one place. Keep accessible what you need during the day. The rest can stay buried deep.

The basic ideas are...

  • Soft things against your back
  • Light things toward the bottom of the pack
  • Heavy things higher up
  • A balanced load
  • Necessities where you can reach them
  • Be as stupid as you have to be, but no more.

That's about it then for a quick overview. A longer and even more interesting version of this advice will show up in a book I'm finishing up titled Bag On Your Back. (It's about backpacks, eh?)

Until then, have fun if at all possible.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Fresh, February 15

 BBC News:  Peaky blinders: Stunning images of winter at mountain tops.  Winter scenes on some of the UK's highest peaks.  Read this...


 The Washington Post:  Can scientists bring mammoths back to life by cloning?.  Working with elephants is not as simple as working with lab mice.  Read this...


 Scientific American:  U.S. Droughts Will Be the Worst in 1,000 Years.  The drying will be even more extreme than previously predicted — the worst in nearly 1,000 years.  Read this...


 One Swedish Summer:  Svalbard - Where I Went & What I Did! (Part 1).  I got some curious stares in London carrying my heavy pack with an apparent mini-scaffold strapped to it.  Read this...


 PilgrimChris:  How I Plan For a Hike Or, More Accurately, Don't.  I hike to leave all that behind!  Read this...


 Onna Voellmer:  Stewards, Teachers, and Angels...They're coming — Let them come have their time in nature...  Let "the trail" become the environmental classroom. Let the waves of more people schooled in nature multiply.  Read this...


 OMails:  "Wild" Debates About PCT Overcrowding (Part Two): Caches.  Many in the trail community have expressed fears that the trail will become overcrowded with people who aren't "real hikers."  Read this...


 Living High On Life:  Q&A: How to Calculate Pace.  After hiking together less than one week...I'd gone over to the dark side and become a pace-calculating fiend.  Read this...


 Lint Hikes:  Food...not just for making poop anymore!  Lately I've been drawn towards stoveless cooking, or the "soaking method" as it's sometimes called.  Read this...


 Just Two Hikers:  The Southbound Scoop: What you need to know about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail Southbound..  With increasing numbers of hikers on the trail, it only makes sense to spread ourselves out and minimize our impact on the trail.  Read this...


 Jill Outside:  Sometimes it does get easier as you go.  Great experiences await on the other side of the wall.  Read this...


 Hiking the Trail:  Man's Favorite Meat Is Put to the Test — Infographic.  Whatever your favorite meaty snack may be, you're sure to get a kick out of this infographic.  Read this...


 Eating Miles for Breakfast:  On Foot Insoles.  He took one look at my bare feet, shook his head and said "Kristin. You have Gates feet.  Read this...


 To The Best Of Our Knowledge:  How Grizzly Bears Saved Doug Peacock's Life.  "You go up in wilderness and after 3 or 4 days something happens."  Read this...


 The PCT Trailside Reader:  Photo.  What will we dispense with this year?  Read this...


Ad: Fire In Your Hand: Ultralight backpacking stoves.



Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Definitions: Hippety-Hoppity Hip Belt

In this case, let's talk about a Canted Hip Belt. So what is it anyway?

First Definition A hip belt on a big fancy pack.

A hip belt with attitude and its own slant on things.

A hip belt that's street wise and savvy to the ways of supporting a heavy load, though not necessarily having a high school diploma.

May be well-contoured but stiff.

A hip belt like this has to be, because it's carrying all the weight of a heavy pack.

No wait — you are.

The belt is the mechanism that transfers all the weight of a big heavy pack onto your very own soft tender hips.

The hips that belong to you, the ones made of living tissue.

It's true that a canted hip belt, being angled, conforms better to your body and therefore hurts less, but you have to keep in mind that less is only less, which isn't the same as not at all.

If your pack has a canted hip belt then it's probably very well made, having been designed by engineers who intended it to be adjustable to fit a wide variety of body types.

Like you when you were slim, or now, after you've gained some weight, and also your next door neighbor, who isn't anything like you (at least you hope not), but whom the belt still has to fit, as well as it fits you, which may not be exactly perfectly.

A canted hip belt may flex and move with you like a good dance partner, sweeping across the landscape, keeping time with your every twist and turn, hip and hop, swivel and sway.

But the hip belt is still the point where your fragile body connects to a heavy pack, and canted or not, there's no incantation that can take the weight away.

Second Definition A hip belt on a pack that you just can't face carrying any more.

This is usually because your pack is too heavy, or doesn't taste good now, and you canted face it any longer.

So try thinking of good and tasty things like powdered sugar.

Imagine what life would be like if you had a candied hip belt, or even an entire pack made of ice cream.

Think about Christmas, the fairies, the sugar plums.

Try to imagine what a sugar plum might be and what you would do with it in private, if only you had one, and time enough to bend it to your will, and enough privacy so you would not ever, ever have to explain anything you thought of doing, and then did.

But why stop there? Think about what life would be like if you had a genuine pair of Sparkle Dots Ballet Slippers from the Sugar Plum Princess Boutique.

Or a set of fairy wings? Or a tiara and matching kite? Then there's the safety-enhancing Jingle Bells Pastel Tutu that you could wear comfortably in bear country, on even the hottest day.

Heck, you could spring for an entire Wholesale Fairy Princess Party Units Business Start Up Kit and get off the damn trail and out from under that horrible old smelly painful pack and spend all day, every day doing fun and gentle girly things like you used to do when you were young and played dress-up with your Mommy.

There are worse things, maybe.

Like the one on your back.

Have a nice day.

If possible.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Fresh, February 8

 Katmai National Park & Preserve Alaska:  Birth of a Brown Bear.  They give birth to very small, vulnerable offspring and nurse them in the protective environment of the den.  Read this...


 KUOW:  Northeast Washington Politicians Propose To Relocate Wolves Westward.  "Most of the people speaking in favor of wolves are not in the area affected. I would personally not like to see anybody go through the pain we're seeing in our area."  Read this...


 Campendium:  Where do you want to camp?  RV Parks, Free Camping, National Parks, National Forests, State Parks.  Read this...


 The Economist:  Wings of steel.  An alloy of iron and aluminium is as good as titanium, at a tenth of the cost.  Read this...


 My Modern Met:  Natural Phenomenon Casts Yosemite Waterfall in a Brilliant Fiery Glow.  Interested in catching a glimpse of the Firefall?  Read this...


 Groundbird Gear:  Winter Backpacking on the A.T.: Three Ridges and Mau-Har Loop.  This section of the A.T. is a doozy even for thru-hikers.  Read this...


 Geoexploits:  The Black Bear.  One day, Black Bear was out and about doing what black bears do best, looking for food.  Read this...


 Lifehacker UK:  Boots vs Trail Runners vs Approach Shoes: What's Best for Hiking?  My own personal solution ends up being a mix between boots and shoes.  Read this...


 Kevin's Travel Blog:  Torres del Paine W-Circuit Day 1: Paine Grande to Refugio Grey.  I believe this was my first time seeing a glacier in person.  Read this...


 trekalong:  Friday Foods — Caramel Apple Tortillas.  Place the pan on the stove or fire and cover with a lid or foil. Cook until the apples are soft and the caramel is gooey.  Read this...


 Backpacker:  Shedding Baggage on Kilimanjaro.  Kara Richardson Whitely talks about conquering Kili as a plus-sized hiker.  Read this...


 Andrew Skurka:  Short is the new long. My next "big" adventure.  I feel as if for too long that nesting and career development have trumped a vital part of me: backpacking.  Read this...


 100Peaks:  Why I Hike Alone.  I remember the sheer joy of having a mountain to myself.  Read this...


 Italian Ways:  The Ravine of Gorropu, when reality surpasses the imagination.  [Some] say the dark heart of this incredible gash in the rock, 500-meters deep in the Earth, is where terrible negotiations take place between damned souls and Lucifer himself.  Read this...


 As It Happens (CBC):  Frozen bubbles make Alberta lake pop for photographer.  At first glance they might look like jelly fish, but they're actually frozen bubbles trapped beneath the surface of lakes.  Read this...


Ad: Fire In Your Hand: Ultralight backpacking stoves.



Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Making Tracks On Harry's Back

From June 2001.

Area map. Look for the big yellow arrow, eh?

Arrival at Johnston Ridge parking lot.

Sometimes the edge of bad weather is the best time to be out.

Or it can mean you're screwed. Hey.

A bit east, at the start of the hike.

Meanwhile, down in the blast zone, a hopeful sign.

A view of the road coming up to the visitor center and parking lot.

As I said, sometimes "bad" weather can be good.

Let the tromping begin.

Crew, motley, one each, resting phase.

Really — lovely day.

There be fog!

The view from the advance party.

Some dither, some hike. Some only take pictures.

Attack of the killer fog.

Fills the valleys, it does.

And rises, spilling over the ridge

Time for another break.

A bit of pseudosun.

Yet another break (these people get it).

It's a wonderful landscape, and fine to explore when damp (no dust).

Then we skirt a finger of land above the abyss.

The upper end of Spirit Lake appears.

Toward the mountain.

The "hummock" area. There's a trail through there, you know.

Right below our feet, things suddenly become interesting.

Back to the mountain — fog or death-gas?

More hummocks, still inviting.

The tip of Spirit Lake, Windy Ridge in the far background.

Over and above those hummocks is Harry's Ridge.

What they're looking at — Spirit Lake on left.

And an example of how to use trekking poles.

Here come da fog.

An shrubbery was caught before it could get away.

Likewise with three hikers who became mired in foggliness.

The landscape too — trapped, all trapped.

Even the distance was locked up by the all-enveloping fog.

Six hikers tromp by a trail marker — toward what? What?

Ahhh — now we see. The upper (northeast) side of Spirit Lake.

Hikers in landscape may appear much smaller than they are.

The way upper end of one lobe of Spirit Lake.

Across Spirit Lake toward Windy Ridge.

Bottom: snow. Upper left: floating logs from 1980 (21 years before).

We go south-ish, up to the actual Harry's Ridge.

Near the top, there are more views of the blast zone.

Up on top of Harry's Ridge — kinda bare.

Still not much there after nearly a quarter century.

But it's great for views, like this one directly above Spirit Lake.

Meanwhile, the actual mountain seems to be enjoying its fog bath.

A closer look into the crater.

Looking mostly east, and a little north.

Straight across east, toward Windy Ridge, which one can drive to.

The stumps are from snapped-off trees. The rest blew away.

The southwest end of Spirit Lake, and its eruption-created earth dam.

The crater clears for a moment...

The main part of the blast zone lies right beneath it.

Then a little sunshine with clouds coming and going.

From the southern end of Harry's Ridge, past the end of Spirit Lake.

And a little farther off to the right (west).

A look down onto the "hummocks" area from above.

Time to go, and it's all uphill from here.

No more fog, but plenty of time for a break.

The route back west toward the Johnston Ridge visitor center.

The delightfully steep part.

No — seriously. Steep.

I forget which one this is. Still nice to see it.

Very colorful. Close to the actual colors.

After an up-and-down trudge, time to shed some insulation.

Almost sunny again. Good excuse for another break.

And the view from there, directly toward the mountain.

The blast zone a little to the west.

And back east toward Windy Ridge (background).

Upper Toutle River way down there to the west.

Just about back to the parking lot. The end.

More:

Harry's Ridge at Washington Trails Association

Harry's Ridge Hike at NWHiker

Harry's Ridge Trail #1E at Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

Recreation Vicinity Map (pdf) at Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

Mount St. Helens Visitor Map (pdf) at Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument