Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Definitions: Convection

(1) Being carried away.

May be confused with the word "conviction", which means about the same thing, but in a less peace, love, and free will sort of way. One which often entails the deliberate and forceful application of handcuffs.

So, different, 'K?

(2) Being carried away in the other sense.

To be wafted along, gently, perhaps almost imperceptibly, lovingly, to a pleasant conclusion, as might be experienced by a sip of wine as it is taken up between the lips, slides over the tongue and down the throat, to find a warm welcome in the stomach, where it can reside in peace and comfort.

But only for a while.

Everything is only for a while.

Eventually even the finest wine is converted to a sort of irritable sleepy grumpiness and is squirted back out as urine and then forgotten. This happens with so many things.

Like rain. Or hail, which is the end product of rain with an anger management problem.

But before rain is ejected from the clouds and falls onto your head, possibly accompanied by high winds and lightning strikes, some of which may kill or stun your companions, is convection, which tenderly raises dewy filaments of moisture heavenward on wisps of warmness. And not just one or two filaments.

Millions.

Billions.

Trillions.

And more.

So many that they cannot even be comprehended, let alone counted, tallied, or given cute pet names.

And once in the sky these wisps swirl and twirl and spin and tumble and coalesce and combine into clouds that sail the skies without any cares at all until they meet more and stronger currents of convection, warm shafts of air soaring into the highest reaches of the sky where those uncountable myriads of moist hazy aerosols meet and conjoin to form mists and whorls of nearly weightless droplets, and then drops, and, flung even higher into the heavens they freeze into tiny ice crystals which rise and fall upon the currents, and thaw and freeze again, gaining layer upon layer of fresh, hard, crisp ice until the air no longer has the strength to support them and they begin to fall, and then are caught by fearsome downdrafts and are hurled toward the ground with supreme force, and this is what bonks you on the head and makes you swear like a sumbitch.

(3) The thing that happens in your cooking pot when the water gets hot.

After a while, after it gets just so hot, water can't stand it any more and begins jumping for the top of the pot, hoping to escape.

This is called boiling, and means that the water is hot enough to do some serious cooking, and it is powered by convection wherein the heat at the bottom of the pot makes the water excitable, peevish, pettish, petulant, testy, and generally disagreeable to the extent that the two of them just can't get along anymore and begin trying anything they can think of to put some distance between themselves.

Instant rice, couscous, bulghur wheat, and many other common hiker foodstuffs are extremely effective at smoothing things out, like a good arbitrator (meanwhile becoming cooked), and so now, during the boiling situation, is the right time to dump that food in there and get on with dinner.

And turn the heat down too.

Don't be a dumbass and burn supper, hear?

(4) There are other, more boring definitions of convection that center on meteorology, which sounds like it's this cool class you can take to find out about meteors and stuff, and maybe flying saucers and the real truth that is out there somewhere, and maybe ray guns and aliens are involved somehow, but then you have to sit in an old stinky chair that was made in some factory back when there were, like serfs and all they had was candles for light and rocks for tools and try to stay awake while some professor dude talks about vertical transport of heat and moisture and updrafts and downdrafts and atmospheric instabilities and weird boring kinds of clouds you have to memorize and identify by their shapes, but dry convection sounds like a little bit of fun since it happens without any clouds but then you realize you can't even see anything while at least with visible convection or moist convection as the professor dude calls it you get clouds, even if they are weird and have strange names and are tedious and basically annoying anyway.

Etc.


As always, Effort or Eff it. No sniveling.

Source: How to talk in the woods.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Fresh, November 27

 BBC:  Amazing white rainbow snapped over Scottish moor.  Melvin Nicholson was out on the moor, south of Glen Coe, on Sunday when the "unbelievably beautiful" white rainbow appeared.  Read this...


 Trail Recipes:  Barocook Flameless Cooker BC-007 Review.  All you need to do in order to have your meals hot is to activate the heat packs by adding a little water or snow.  Read this...


 BrawnyView:  Books of Lasting Value.  "Clutter's Last Stand" and "The Gift of Fear".  Read this...


 Light Heart Gear:  Dental Floss — Myth-buster Edition.  An understanding of what dental floss is will help explain why it's not best for sewing.  Read this...


 Old School Outfitter:  Gear Review: Feathered Friends Snowbunting EX 0 Sleeping Bag.  On chilly nights of camping, nothing's more popular than a fat sleeping bag.  Read this...


 MSR Summit Register:  Behind The Photo: How To Get that Glowing Tent Shot.  Modern cameras are just as much 'computer' as your computer so mastering the technology inside a camera takes time.  Read this...


 Hiking in Finland:  The Week in Review 255.  "Nature always wears the colors of the spirit." - Ralph Waldo Emerson  Read this...


 India Hikes:  How I overcame a deformity in my foot and became a Trek Leader at Indiahikes.  Born with a twisted right foot, I could not walk properly. So being at such postcard-perfect landscapes was just what it was — a dream.  Read this...


 The GearCaster:  Pre-Hydrate Backcountry Meals To Save Fuel.  A simple concept: use a lightweight, watertight container to pre-hydrate meals before cooking in order to save time and fuel usage while improving flavor.  Read this...


 Rambling Hemlock:  Arizona Trail — Passage 21.  Ready or not this is happening: a solo section hike of the Arizona Trail. With tent.  Read this...


 Trail Hiking Australia:  SNOWGUM Micro 600 Down Sleeping Bag.  I had completely failed to understand that sleeping bags actually came in different packed sizes for a reason.  Read this...


 n+1:  The Laboratory of Our Future.  The places I call home have been targeted for the ash heap of history.  Read this...


 Scottish Mountaineer:  We're off to Never-neverland.  The roof of the tent was bejeweled with crystals of frost, last night's breath given solid form. I sat up and it showered gently all over my head.  Read this...


 Bold Betties:  The question isn't "why?" — it is "Why the F*** not?".  Advice from my old college roommate Mud.  Read this...


 Gore-Tex Blog:  Beyond the Valley: 5 Great Day Hikes in Yosemite National Park.  Cathedral Lakes, Young Lakes, Cloud's Rest, Hetch Hetchy, Chilnualna Falls.  Read this...


 Forest Hiker:  The chaos at the end of Belding Road.  Some people get a kick out of climbing up things. I'm always descending from above.  Read this...


 Jan's Jaunts and Jabberings:  NM — El Malpais — Chain of Craters, Hello CDT.  With the line of mounds, you can see why it's called a chain. Why it's called craters, I don't know.  Read this...


 Hiking For Her:  Significant Other Hiking Partner: Romance + Trail Time.  Let's get real.  Read this...


 Adventure Journal:  Can Black Friday Ever Be Green?  Take time to remember the late biologist Barry Commoner's famous aphorism: There's no such thing as a free lunch.  Read this...


 Adventure Journal:  The 16 Best Bad Campground Reviews.  There were pine needles EVERYWHERE in our site and in everyone else's for that matter. It would have been nice to arrive in a CLEAN campsite.  Read this...


 Charlie Knight:  Climbing Ben Nevis With One Leg — Michael Robbert Brans.  Fastest 5km on crutches  Read this...


 Adventure Alan:  Recommended Sleeping Bags & Quilts.  Quilts are Value. Quilts Work. Quilts are More Comfortable. What is a Backpacking Quilt?  Read this...


 HikeLighter.Com:  Interview: Enlightened Equipment.  The amount of times I have gone "wow" while conversing with Tim is likely more than any other interview I have ever done.  Read this...


 HikeLighter.Com:  Interview: Six Moon Designs.  The Gatewood Cape is one of the topics I bring up with Ron.  Read this...


 The Ultralight Hiker:  Pimping a Gorilla.  With my Cyclone Chair in the Gorilla is more comfortable under load than with its original stay and hip belt, yet significantly lighter.  Read this...


 Most.Memorable.Moments:  Demystifying the process of change in life.  "Happy Diwali", a friend applauded, cheering me, while I was still panting. I rejoiced.  Read this...


 The News Tribune:  Climbing to crater rim and explore wild lands at Mount St. Helens.  Visitors will have the opportunity to explore Mount St. Helens in a variety of ways throughout 2017, thanks to programs offered by the Mount St. Helens Institute.  Read this...


 Stick's Blog:  PHGT: October 2016 Mt Roger's/Grayson Highland Hike.  Since this was more of a camping trip than a hiking trip, when it came to gear, I decided to carry a few luxuries.  Read this...


 Backpacker:  18 Tips From Female Solo Hikers.  These six long-distance divas have no problem hitting the trail alone — and often prefer it.  Read this...


 Sandiego Mitch:  My IKEA Backpack.  The $0.99 Ikea Frakta bags were rated to 55lbs, which gave me some confidence in the material.  Read this...


 Terbil Draems:  Draems whats is terbil .  Thers is a sorfbort in yor slepeing bage.Howe it gete ther ?No ideae.  Read this...


 KNKX:  Food For Thought: 'Hey Mom! I Want a Butterbloat All-Wiener Turkey!'.  "So tender you can cut it with a glance," says proud Bar X President Bill Whistlecod. [audio]  Read this...


 TTBOOK:  Knowing Animals.  And the fascinating story of Charles Foster's attempt to live like a badger, when he lived in a hole in the ground and ate worms. [audio]  Read this...


 The Guardian:  Being a Beast by Charles Foster review — the man who ate worms like a badger.  Worms from the Chablis region of France, when chewed, have a long, mineral finish. Worms from Picardy are apparently musty, like splintered wood. Worms from the high Kent Weald are fresh and uncomplicated.  Read this...


— Links to external images are removed after one week. —


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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Definitions: Brush Fire

(1) A fire found in lightweight perennial vegetation such as bushes, shrubs, and scrub growth. A brush fire may not be as large or intense as a forest fire, but you can't really bet your life on that.

(2) Also, fire in a brush recently used by a backpacker fresh off the trail.

This brush may have been used on the head, but more frequently on another part of the pelt (backpackers are known for growing excessive amounts of unduly long body hair).

Ignition is often spontaneous, triggered by oxidation of natural body oils which can't be properly removed by simple bathing, or by bathing and diligent scrubbing. Or even by a trip through an industrial clothes washer, though some try this, and it can be a source of temporary amusement during a long, dull, rainy weekend in some random town.

Rooms in lodgings along thru-hiking routes normally come supplied with sturdy airtight metal cans for disposal of body hair and used brushes, but carelessness often results in tragedy when a hair-clogged brush bursts into flames deep in the night (anytime after 8 p.m.).

Remain alert!

As always, Effort or Eff it. No sniveling.

Source: How to talk in the woods.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Fresh, November 20

 PDN Photo of the Day:  The Beasts of the Mara, Up Close.  "I felt a primeval sense of being, a connection to a distant past. I wondered if I could translate that feeling into photographs."  Read this...


 Cool Tools:  Caltopo Backcountry Mapping Software.  The best backcountry mapping software currently available.  Read this...


 The Washington Post:  Man who dissolved in boiling Yellowstone hot spring slipped while checking temperature to take bath.  "In a very short order, there was a significant amount of dissolving."  Read this...


 Designboom:  Joshua Abarbanel sculpts ice boats during arctic circle expedition.  To experience this unparalleled region, do research for future artistic endeavors, and make art in situ.  Read this...


 The Ultralight Hiker:  The Rolls Royce of Back Country Trowels.  I used to think these doohickies were pretty silly.  Read this...


 Adventure Alan:  The Point and Shoot Camera is Dead for Hikers.  Squeezed into the grave from two sides.  Read this...


 Adventure Alan:  Why Would a Man Wear a Hiking Skirt?  I've wanted to wear a skirt for a while. My wife will back me up on this.  Read this...


 IGNANT:  The Arctic Circle.  I look around; wilderness in the middle of the fjord. Nobody; you can almost hear your heart beat. What brought him there? Eagles flying above the sea surface, Elks crossing the stream, the music of the sea.  Read this...


 AVAUNT:  My Greatest Challenge: Joseph Cook.  Changes in the Arctic don't stay in the Arctic, and yet it is an incredibly sensitive part of the planet and a driver of processes across the globe.  Read this...


 The Guardian:  Hot rat is so hot right now: Moscow falls for the rodent burger.  The Russian capital's most challenging current food craze.  Read this...


 Cooking in Tongues:  Planning a Visit to Petra, Jordan.  The Monastery trail starts by the museums and is marked. If you can't find it, any mule boy can tell you where it is.  Read this...


 Jan's Jaunts and Jabberings:  Death Valley — Corkscrew Peak.  It's a route, not a trail. Definition of route hiking? Adventure!  Read this...


 Hiking For Her:  Trail Snacks: What To Eat On A Hike.  If we ever meet on the trail while you're taking a snack break, I'll be the one asking "Whatcha eating?"  Read this...


 Hiking For Her:  Hiking Energy: Can Sugar Be Your Friend?  To answer our original question...  Read this...


 PMags:  Mad Libs — Gear review edition.  I'd argue that a real review takes at least one year of regular use. An initial overview based on experience has some merit. But a review? Naaaah...that it ain't.  Read this...


 The National Parks Girl:  Night Photography 101.  Night photography is not easy and it requires standing outside in the dark, usually uncomfortably cold, but it's worth it.  Read this...


 Into Cascadia:  [Darn Tough] Socks for Backpacking.  Why wear socks? Opinions differ widely.  Read this...


 Section Hiker:  Winter Backpacking on a Budget: Gear Up without Breaking the Bank.  A phased approach.  Read this...


 Must Hike Must Eat:  Prosciutto Date Wraps.  I started looking for prepared meats that didn't have additional ingredients and found prosciutto. It is normally just ham and salt. Simple. Like these wraps.  Read this...


 Adventures In Stoving:  The Kovea Hydra — First Look.  The Hydra has three claims to fame: It's quiet, it's compact, and it works with either canister gas or white gasoline without needing any hardware changes or adjustments.  Read this...


 Adventures In Stoving:  What Makes a Good Backpacking Stove?  Here's my fourteen criteria.  Read this...


 The Hiking Life:  Can GPS Make You Lazy?  A complement, not a substitute.  Read this...


 Bored Panda:  This Rare 'Magic Rabbit' Was Spotted For The First Time In 20 Years And It May Soon Be Lost Forever.  The Ili Pika was first discovered in 1983 in the Tianshian mountains in northwestern China, but its estimated population has dropped by 70% since then.  Read this...


 Adirondack Almanack:  Black Bears Attack, Or Do They?  Do not expect the bruin to announce its intentions and allow time to retrieve the weapon from the tent during a late night pee run.  Read this...


 Not Dead Yet:  Going Solo.  I had just crested the mountain peak when my phone buzzed. I ate a PB&J and my phone buzzed again. Two different people, but the message was the same: You ok?  Read this...


 A Hiking Blog:  My second through-hike.  I'm taking another 5 month break and hitting the trail in New Zealand.  Read this...


 RichSo's Blog:  The Sunshine Coast Trail.  The trail has existed since 1992 when a small group of people started to connect trails and old roads in the Powell River region to showcase the old growth forest.  Read this...


 Fabienne & Philipp's Travel Diary:  Ushuaia — fin del mundo y principio de todo.  Ushuaia is commonly regarded as the southernmost city in the world.  Read this...


 Hiking Project Journal:  Bringing Sophisticated Home Cooking to the Backcountry.  How two New England entrepreneurs revolutionized dinner on the trail.  Read this...


 TTBOOK:  How To Be Alone. [audio]  We're changing the script and making the case for the lovelorn, the loners, the bachelors and spinsters that there's nothing wrong with being alone.  Read this...


 Oddly Satisfying:  The space between these rocks.  Wow, amazing!  Read this...


 McSweeney's:  Look, All I'm Saying Is Let's At Least Give Nyarlathotep a Chance.  Let's not be so quick to judge Nyarlathotep before He even excretes a blackened, corrosive bile on Inauguration Day.  Read this...


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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Kindly Walking In Cuenca

One of the things I vividly remember after spending my first six months in Ecuador and returning to the United States was a brief episode in a Safeway parking lot.

I was coming out of the store and heard angry male voices. I turned my head. I looked. To my left were two men, deadlocked.

One was in a monster truck, one of those jacked-up pickups with the huge tires, so high off the ground that you need a stepladder to get into it.

The other was in a wheelchair. He was trying to cross what they call the "fire lane" from the parking lot proper to the store. Apparently, this disabled guy in his tiny, hand-powered sit-up bed was an offensive inconvenience to the other guy in his thousand-horsepower muscle truck, and they were having it out.

I felt threatened. I cringed. My soul hurt. I left.

A few days before, a man angry about the placement of a fence fired up a bulldozer and began ramming into things. Depending on which account you read, he destroyed two, three, or four houses plus a truck and a boat. He did "knock down a utility pole, cutting power to thousands". I know this last part to be true. I experienced it.

The cause? "A long-standing property line dispute between two neighbors." Resulting in violence.

Life as we know it. Life as I used to know it.

Things seem to be different in Ecuador.

Last week, for example, I was waiting to cross a busy street. On the other side were two men. One was on foot, the other on a bicycle. They were both going the same direction and came to their own private, two-person bottleneck. One had to yield.

They stopped. The man on the bicycle stretched out his arm, holding his hand palm-up, signaling that the other man should go ahead. He did, and the bicyclist followed. Problem solved.

No fights broke out. There were no threats. End of story.

Last year I came out of Good Affinity, a Taiwanese/Ecuadorian restaurant where I frequently have lunch. There was construction in the area. The city is building a light-rail system and many streets have been torn up for over a year. Wires were hanging loose from the surrounding utility poles. That happens here. Things are different. You have to deal with it.

Back to the story.

I saw several people in a car. They were trying to get past the hanging wires. A man was in the street. He held some of the wires, lifting them up high enough so that car could inch forward and get past them. Done. Problem solved. But.

Now the man who held up the wires had to get his own car past the wires. He got into his car and began to inch it along. Hmmm.

I'm not quick on my feet as they say. I'm better at analyzing things after they happen than while they're happening, but I got it right this time. I walked over to the car, bent down, and picked up the wires. I raised them above the roof of the car so the driver could get past them without getting any part of his car tangled in the wires. He crept forward until he was clear, and then I dropped the wires and went on my way. Done. The end.

Things are like that here. No one stood in the street swearing or throwing things or making threats to the sky. We just got past it.

Another story from this week and then I'll get to the point.

I was taking a late-afternoon walk. If I don't schedule some exercise, it's easy not to get much. I walk to lunch, and, well, I walk everywhere, but I usually don't get out before noon, and I don't go out after dark, ever, so late afternoon is my last chance to do some moving around.

Anyway, I was walking near the Tomebamba River, a small stream flowing through town, and came to a place where some construction work was going on. The construction was separated from the sidewalk by corrugated metal. There was a gate, a doorway, of painted plywood. The gate was open. A man was backing his pickup truck out, across the sidewalk, and into the street. I stopped, waited.

Then I noticed that the right side of the truck was barely clearing the door on my side. Then I realized that the truck's right-side mirror might be close to hanging up on the plywood door. Yep. I reached out and pulled the door toward me — away from the truck — as far as I could. This helped.

The truck cleared the door and then the sidewalk and I was able to resume my walk. Another problem solved through cooperation.

The man had to get his truck into the street, and I had to get the truck out of my way. We worked together. Then it was all over. I don't know who he was and never will. Ditto for him. We just worked together to get past it. That's how it is here.

Now, last summer I saw something else.

Again, this was related to the endless light-rail construction, which should have finished last June, but shows no signs yet of coming to a conclusion. So anyway.

The street was torn up. You could walk on the right side or the left side, but down the middle was a muddy trench. This was fenced off to keep people out of it. At one or two spots down each block there was an opening in the two fences, and a plank-and-plywood "bridge" spanning the trench. That's how you got across the street.

These cobbled-up "bridges" were points of pedestrian congestion. You can imagine.

Right then, when I wanted to cross, it was busy. I held back a bit, unlike everyone else. People here don't stop and wait. They push ahead, rub elbows, bump into one another, jostle, work their way through somehow. I'll do some of that if I have to, but mostly I stop and wait. That works too, and I'm not so good at politely shoving others aside. I have yet to learn that art.

Right then, when I wanted to cross, things were busy. Especially so since an elderly woman was working her way up to the "bridge", supported by a walker. You've seen them. She and her walker took up two-thirds of the bridge's width. It was slow going too. One slight mis-step and she'd have been down, walker or no walker. But she had help.

Behind her and a bit to her left was a woman, guiding her along, steadying her, holding one hand against the small of the old woman's back. In front was a man, also guiding her and lifting the front of her walker over rough spots in the jury-rigged bridgeway. Eventually the woman was across. "Nice," I thought. "It's nice to see how people here care for their elderly relatives." You see a lot of that here. And a lot of extremely small children out walking with their parents too, all holding hands as they walk the streets.

So the way was clear and I began crossing the street too. And then I nearly lost it.

Once the old woman was safely across the street the man turned and walked away. So did the younger woman, in the opposite direction. They were not a family. They did not even know each other. They were three strangers. Two who were young and healthy, and one who was not, but who needed just a touch of help. So they helped, and that was it.

I had trouble crossing the street. You have to watch where your feet go but I couldn't. Because my eyes were full of tears. Just as they are now, yet again, remembering.

Things are like that here.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Fresh, November 13

 Nydia Lilian:  Elsewhere.  Photographer & graphic designer from the city of Monterrey, Mexico.  Read this...


 Musings:  The Ascent to Sandakphu.  After one final sip of water, I stood up, slung the rucksack over the shoulders, tightened the straps, and took a hard good luck at our destination, far and high up in the mountains.  Read this...


 Outdoor Quest:  Defining Compass Bearing and Heading.  Bearing and heading are two commonly used terms and two of the most misunderstood. This post will define and review both terms.  Read this...


 The Hiking Life:  Cultural Considerations When Hiking Abroad.  It takes effort to "embrace the discomfort."  Read this...


 The Hiking Life:  Alpine Pass Route.  I completed the Alpine Pass Route in August, 1997. Nineteen years and many hiking miles later, it remains one of my favourite European trails.  Read this...


 Journeywoman:  What Should I Wear?.  North American tourists that visit the rain forest invariably overpack. And what they do take is often hilariously wrong for the climate.  Read this...


 Challenged Hiking:  Review: Esbit Solid Fuel Stove and Cookset.  Light and not so fast.  Read this...


 LightHeart Gear:  Repairing Damaged Window Netting in your Tent.  I consider the inside of my LightHeart Gear tent my "Mosquito Free Zone". Any hole or tear in the netting voids that space.  Read this...


 Lint Hikes:  Altra Lone Peak 3.0 review.  While there are fewer people clamoring to read a review for last year's shoe, I sure ain't gonna write up my opinion until I put it through the wringer to see how it truly performs.  Read this...


 The Gear Caster:  Backpacking Tarp That Helps You Get Organized.  The tarp helps you sort your gear into eight primary categories.  Read this...


 Must Hike Must Eat:  Bar In The Jar.  I would buy this for the jar it's in.  Read this...


 From Canyons To Clouds:  Climbing Kirkjufell in late fall/early winter.  That funny shaped mountain in Iceland? Did you know that you can CLIMB this mountain?!  Read this...


  El Taraumara:  Learning Outdoors.  Tday is the 24th day of our month long self-propelled journey from the highlands of Ecuador towards the Pacific coast.  Read this...


 Hiking For Her:  Safe Hiking Weather: What You Need To Know.  Safe hiking weather and perfect hiking weather are very much alike: blue skies, puffy white clouds, a gentle southerly breeze, and plenty of daylight to spend on the trail.  Read this...


 Hiking For Her:  Night Hiking Tips.  Go for a night hike, using these how to hike in the dark tips.  Read this...


 Charlie Knight:  PCT Gear Review: Salomon XA Pro 3D Trail Runners.  Three days into the Pacific Crest Trail, I found the hiker box piled high with a mountain of discarded gear, composed primarily of practically unworn shoes.  Read this...


 Midwest Basecamp:  Gear Review: Serac Sequoia Hammock.  The Sequoia is Serac's XL model, a double hammock that, at almost 10 feet long and 6 feet wide, fits 2 (or more) people easily.  Read this...


 Hiking in Finland:  The Week in Review 254.  "Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." - Ralph Waldo Emerson  Read this...


 LittleGrunts:  Therm-a-Rest Stellar Blanket.  The Stellar is a fair weather, warm summer alternative to a sleeping bag.  Read this...


 India Hikes:  Meet the Super Couple that has made Trekking Independently their way of life.  They have a deep rooted love for the mountains and an itch for adventure and the unknown.  Read this...


 Ultralight Insights:  GEAR REVIEW: ZPacks Duplex Tarp.  My inner gram counter got really excited! The Duplex Tarp has a wonderful design and amazing roominess for just 10.7 ounces.  Read this...


 The Big Trip:  Hiking in Hungary: Tipps [sic] and recommendations.  And there are also the good old cemeteries that all have water taps as well.  Read this...


 The Ultimate Hang:  Air Nest Inflatable Hammock Lounger Review.  The company boasts a 12-hour inflation time. In my own experience, these bags leak sufficiently after about two hours to be less comfortable.  Read this...


 The Ultimate Hang:  Lesovik Ultralight 2 Hammock.  The Lesovik Ultralight 2 hammock is among the lightest, full-size hammocks on the market today.  Read this...


 Old School Outfitter:  My 10 Most-Read Stories at The Big Outside.  Feature-length stories about adventures and some of tips on outdoor skills to help make every trip a success.  Read this...


 Elina Travels:  Dear Mother, I Broke My Promise.  Don't worry. I'm surrounded by beauty. I'll be resting soon. I'm happy.  Read this...


 Pacific Crest Trailside Reader:  Clarence King - mountaineer, geologist, and enigma.  Throughout the marriage, King never revealed his true identity to Ada.  Read this...


 The Ultralight Hiker:  I followed my footsteps.  The twin-prop alights like a butterfly on a rhododendron blossom on the steeply sloping runway. Of a sudden you are in a Middle Ages.  Read this...


 People:  Indiana Man Ends 10-Year Corporate Career to Start Outdoor Shop.  "I thought I had the American Dream — chasing money and chasing financial freedom and security."  Read this...


 Marmot Mountain LLC.:  How to Thru-Hike the 133-Mile Northville-Placid Trail.  Trails twist like tunnels through old growth and virgin forests alike, packed dense enough that it's generally only bears and moose who tend to navigate them.  Read this...


 Alone on the JMT:  Surviving Loneliness Solo-Hiking the John Muir Trail.  Set: A lone tent nestled beneath a Lodgepole pine. Time: Half-past dead of night. ACTION: I'm jolted from a peaceful and deep sleep by a thunderous, earth-vibrating roar.  Read this...


 Wanderlust Travel Nurse Adventures:  Backpacking the Wonderland Trail.  Backpacking the Wonderland Trail was quite the adventure...quite the personal accomplishment for me.  Read this...


 The Spokesman-Review:  Search suspended for missing Pacific Crest Trail hiker.  Fowler's last confirmed sighting was Oct. 12 at White Pass, where he told a store clerk he was headed to Snoqualmie Pass.  Read this...


 Hartley Brody's Adventure Blog:  Beginner Backpacking Blunders: 16 Myths.  If you're guilty of believing some of these, fear not! Even more experienced backpackers follow these myths from time to time as well.  Read this...


 Mile Hike Guys:  2017 Appalachian Ultralight Thru-Hiker's Pack.  Cody ended up sending me a prototype for his 2017 Thru-Hiker's pack.  Read this...


 Run, Hike, Live, Love:  The Story of an Arizona Trail FKT.  I decided to follow the parameters of a self-supported attempt including walking into and out of my resupply locations.  Read this...


 Astronomy Picture of the Day:  Inverted City Beneath Clouds.  How could that city be upside-down?  Read this...


 PetaPixel:  Photographer Snaps Streaking Meteor Above an Erupting Volcano.  We were extremely lucky with the circumstances (not just the meteor, but clear skies and the active volcano!  Read this...


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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Definitions: Air Pecking

Urinating off a cliff. Catching air with your private waterfall while setting it free from a great height.

It's yet one more guy thing.

If done often enough, it will result in a pecking tan, which is usually only a byproduct. Deliberately trying to get a tan where none should appear is not approved behavior. Keep that in mind.

But if done at all, this procedure is most wisely practiced in isolated spots (preferably sunny of course if it's a tan you're after) where no roaming posse of Sunday school teachers is likely to tread.

Probably a hobby best pursued alone. And check for who might be walking by, down there, while you do it. Or you could get pounded.

This is never, ever, ever done with other guys unless you really, really, really mean it, and are under 10 years old, and immature for your age.

Sort of stupid though because you'll probably get your feet wet in the process or end up with a weird tan line along the zipper. If it's a tan you want why not go to a nude beach and get an all-over? Eh? Or buy a sun lamp.

Or something. Geez. What does this have to do with hiking?

Too much sun exposure may cause distinctive permanent skin spots known as "peckles". And how do you explain them?

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Fresh, November 6

 Cool Tools:  Douglass Field-S Oil Lighter.  This thing lasts forever.  Read this...


 Mason Alexandra:  PCT SOBO DAY 74 — a new day.  The Sonora Pass Resupply man offers a service to hikers, for a fee, where you can order stuff from him, send him stuff and he will bring it to the Pass on a prearranged date.  Read this...


 Challenged Hiking:  Getting Your Car Ready for the Trailhead.  One topic that gets a one line mention in some guidebooks is to have your car in good working order. This cannot be stressed enough in the 4th season  Read this...


 Sonora Pass Resupply:  About Us.  I have been an avid hiker in this and surrounding areas for over 45 years. My passion for hiking and respect for the environment have helped me to identify the need for mid-point resupply and offer this service.  Read this...


 An Epic Life:  Solitude — We All Need It, and Most of Us Do Not Get Enough Of It.  "With all due respect, I don't think it's a waste of time to figure out where we are, so we can figure out where we're going."  Read this...


 Tokio Marine:  Backpacking Tips and Destinations.  Anatomy of a Backpacker  Read this...


 Northern Nomads:  Chapter eleven.  To set the scene, this four day trek is the only one to take you along the original Inca Trail, an authentic hand-built stone footpath where you walk in the footsteps of ancient Inca royalty.  Read this...


 A fork in the road:  What the funk?  The driver reflexively rolled down her window even before I could get my door shut. I knew what she was thinking. "This guy's a thru hiker and I bet he smells to high heaven."  Read this...


 Backpackers.com Blog:  Guest Post: How to Bug Proof Your Hammock by Serac Hammocks.  What about bugs?  Read this...


 Futility Closet:  Harms and the Man.  Beattie sent me a list of some of the stranger complaints on the list: Urban rabies. Lobster-claw hand. Complete loss of teeth, unspecified cause.  Read this...


 Reflections on Water:  Dam...Who knew?!  Dams are contributing approximately 1.5% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.  Read this...


 Italian Ways:  Val d'Orcia.  Bare landscape and arid hills, which poet Mario Luzi once described as "a rough sea of washed out crete".  Read this...


 TTBOOK:  Walking. [audio]  Stories of people who transformed their lives by picking up their feet: Cheryl Strayed / Werner Herzog / Emma Gatewood / Jules Pretty.  Read this...


 Mikko Lagerstedt Photography:  Capturing emotion of places through photographs.  Alone.  Read this...


 The GearCaster:  Apparel Made from Spider Webs.  No, this is not a Halloween prank. Spider web fabric is a real thing.  Read this...


 The Hiking Life:  Badlands Traverse — Trip Report.  I hiked the length of Badlands National Park. To the best of my knowledge, it was the first time that such a traverse had been completed.  Read this...


 REI Coop Journal:  Ask an Expert: Can I Hike in Yoga Pants?  Liz recommends tights that are made for triathlons.  Read this...


 Living High On Life:  Creepy Moments on the Appalachian Trail, Part Two.  If my memory serves, in 5,000 miles of backcountry adventures, I've been in exactly five human interactions that have engaged my fight-or-flight response.  Read this...


 Hyperlite Mountain Gear:  Essential Tarp Camping.  The essence of going lighter is about the adoption of a simpler, less cluttered approach to one's time backpacking.  Read this...


 The Atlantic Monthly:  Flying Above Antarctica With NASA's Operation IceBridge.  Getty Images photographer Mario Tama recently spent several days accompanying NASA scientists making 12-hour research flights over West Antarctica.  Read this...


 Washington Trails Association:  Highlights from Washington State Trails Conference.  Transit to trails may be closer than you think.  Read this...


 Hiking For Her:  Hiking Gear Malfunction: Don't Ditch It, Fix It!  When gear breaks in the middle of a hike, you learn a lot — your capacity for patience and for modifying your hiking plans.  Read this...


 Hiking in Finland:  The Week in Review 253.  "The wonderful things in life are the things you do, not the things you have." — Reinhold Messner  Read this...


 nancyhikes:  How to Open a Bearvault Bear Canister.  A credit card can solve this problem.  Read this...


 Slate:  A Death in Yellowstone.  On the trail of a killer grizzly bear.  Read this...


 sciencealert:  There's something strange going on inside the US's deadliest volcano.  Despite being responsible for the deadliest eruption in US history, and the most active volcano in North America's Cascade Arc, the volcano is actually cold inside.  Read this...


 Jan's Jaunts and Jabberings:  OR — John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.  Hiking opportunities are very limited, so I'd consider this more of a series of meandering walking tours.  Read this...


 Jan's Jaunts and Jabberings:  Dear Friends & Family, If I become a Missing Person....  This is what I've done to hopefully be found sooner than later.  Read this...


 Fixing Your Feet:  Green Goo Salve for Feet.  This summer at the Outdoor Retailers Show in Salt Lake City I discovered Green Goo products.  Read this...


 Erik the Black's Backpacking Blog:  Ultimate Gear Guide #3: Lightweight Sleeping Bags.  Here is a list of every sleeping bag I know of that weighs 3 lbs or less.  Read this...


 Adventure Alan:  Sierra Designs High Route 1 FL Tent Review.  When used without the inner-nest, the Sierra Designs High Route 1 FL Tent is worth a serious look.  Read this...


  Bogley Outdoor Community:  Standing Rock tribe protests over North Dakota pipeline.  Thousands of Native Americans have been camping out in North Dakota since April to protest against a pipeline that is meant to cross sacred burial grounds and the Missouri river — the main water source for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.  Read this...


 Adventure Journal:  Opinion: Malheur Verdict Erodes Trust in Democracy.  Imagine running a business and a band of disgruntled customers barges in with guns, takes over your office, and spouts nonsense about how you have no right to exist.  Read this...


 Adventure Journal:  The 23 Best Ed Abbey Quotes.  Ed had something to say for every occasion, if every occasion demanded independence and rabble rousing.  Read this...


 The Outdoor Society:  Two of the Five "High On Life" Idiots Plead Guilty in Yellowstone.  ...agreed to pay over $8,000.00 in fines, restitution, community service payments paid to Yellowstone Forever, and fees.  Read this...


 DPReview:  Announcing the winners of USA Landscape Photographer of the Year 2016.  From thousands of entries, Oregon-based Alex Noriega's photo of a misty Mount Rainier at sunrise was selected as the overall winner.  Read this...


 Motherboard:  NASA Scientists Suggest We've Been Underestimating Sea Level Rise.  A new study, published this month to Geophysical Research Letters, found evidence to suggest that historical sea level records have been off — way off in some areas — by an underestimation of 5 to 28 percent.  Read this...


 PDN Photo of the Day:  Lake Powell Dries Up.  In Peter Goin's 1987 panorama of Forgotten Canyon, the water is at full capacity, its blue edges lapping at red rock.  Read this...


 PetaPixel:  Dress On the Edge: Extreme Portrait Adventures with a Parachute Dress.  As anyone who has seen our work knows, we do a lot of on-location photography, often in pretty exciting places.  Read this...


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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Eats And Me

I'm not a fussy eater as long as the food is right. I guess that makes me a fussy eater. But maybe not.

If my food stays within broad guidelines, I can eat it, and I will. I don't get tired of food. If it was good enough to eat yesterday, then it's a good enough sort of meal to have again today. So I go for months eating almost the same thing every day. Even more so while backpacking.

Backpacking food can't be too fancy or too perishable or too expensive or too heavy. Because, you know — backpacking.

But between those bright lines, I still have a few slightly more restrictive and more general criteria, but not too restrictive. Here they are.

My backpacking meals have to...

  • Contain enough energy to keep me going.
  • Have adequate nutrients.
  • Taste good enough to eat.
  • Stay down once eaten.

That's about it.

I say energy instead of calories because calories are bogus. Calorie counts form an extremely rough guide, but they don't represent the energy that food provides. Calorie counts are generated by burning a bit of food inside a sealed container and measuring the heat output. This has nothing to do with what happens to food inside the human body.

Food is not burned, and heat is only a peripheral waste product of metabolism. The body digests food, circulates it, stores, it, retrieves it, and transforms it into a useful form of energy via complex chemical interactions. None of this involves burning raw food in an oxygen environment. Period.

The only way a person can tell if their food provides enough energy is to see how they feel. It's a vague sort of process, and can't be quantified. Either you are doing OK or you aren't. Count enough calories and eventually you'll learn what works and what doesn't, and by how much, the same as if you don't count calories. So I just dump stuff together, based on experience, and that's pretty close.

Nutrients are carbohydrates, sugars, protein, fats, and minerals. Fat is a great way to ensure getting enough energy. Sugar makes things taste better. Carbohydrates hold the other foods together. Proteins are chewy.

It's hard not to get enough protein — if you eat enough to keep going, then you're probably getting more than enough protein. Adding powdered milk or cheese guarantees it. Powdered milk and cheese also supply essential minerals. Going heavy on fat and lighter on carbohydrates means that your food load will be lighter for a given amount of energy, and that after eating it you'll likely not get hungry again so fast, because fats are slow to digest. Sugar gives a quick energy boost and works great as some kind of dessert or after-supper treat. Toss in a multivitamin every day or two and you're covered.

If I can eat my food and feel better after, then it's good enough. That's about it.

And if the food is OK, then it stays down, which is what I shoot for. So far I've never had a problem with this, but it's important to keep in mind, 'cuz if supper comes back up for a visit, and tries to get out and go running around, then the trip is over. Proper food sticks to one-way trips.

Here's something I like.

Breakfast:

  • ½ cup quick-cooking (1 minute) oats
  • ½ cup "grape nuts" cereal (or the Walmart equivalent)
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ⅔ cup powdered milk
  • ½ cup powdered butter *
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

Dump all ingredients into a quart-sized, freezer-weight ziplock bag.

To prepare, add 1½ to 2 cups boiling water to the bag, depending on what works for you.

Gently and carefully squeeze the air out of the bag and then re-seal it.

Hold the bag in one gloved hand while massaging it with your other gloved hand to mix and evenly wet all the ingredients.

Set the bag aside to finish "cooking" and to cool enough so you can eat it. If it's a cold day, put the ziplock bag inside your main food bag, inside a wool hat, or stuff it into a spare shirt or a cozy you've made up specifically for preparing food.

When the food is cool enough to eat, and if you like using a spoon, then open the bag and eat it from the top with your spoon. If you want to keep it simple, make sure you've got as much air squeezed out of the bag as possible, the re-seal the bag and check to make sure that the bag is sealed. Then check again, and again, and again.

Roll the top of the bag over so you're holding the top tightly closed (just to be super sure). Turn the bag 90° so one bottom corner is pointing up. Squeeze the food away from that corner. Carefully use your teeth to rip open that corner. Hold the bag in both hands while squeezing the contents into your mouth. When done, roll up the ziplock bag and drop it into your garbage bag. No cleanup needed, not even of your spoon.

Next time you're hungry, repeat.

* Minimum. Powdered butter is available in roughly gallon-sized (36 oz.) cans at Walmart under the "Augason Farms" brand. It's much easier to deal with than "real" butter, or any other fat or oil, and can be easily pre-mixed at home. (Ever open your pack to find that your pint of olive oil has leaked all over everything?)