Sunday, February 26, 2017

Fresh, February 26

Adventure Journal Mary McIntyre's Arresting Photography.  She distills moments and memories into images that are sock you in the face good.  Visit site  ▷

The Hiking Life Review: Hyperlite Mountain Gear Square Flat Tarp.  In three decades of tarping, I'm not sure I have used a more solidly built model.  Visit site  ▷

Adventures In Stoving Gas vs. Alcohol — Which is Lighter?.  Don't like my numbers? That's perfectly understandable. Use your numbers.  Visit site  ▷

The Ultimate Hang Review: Nemo Cloudview Hammock.  It contains elements of a bridge hammock with a drop on the foot end but also a standard spreader-bar hammock on the head end. The fabric is a thick, stiff, and open mesh that reminds me of patio furniture.  Visit site  ▷

The Ultimate Hang Review: Warbonnet Outdoors Wooki Underquilt.  A full-length insulator for the bottom of a hammock.  Visit site  ▷

KSL From sewage overloads to traffic jams, Utah grapples with surging tourism.  Last year 4.3 million people passed through Zion — a sharp uptick from half a decade ago when the park hosted 2.8 million.  Visit site  ▷

Parasite of the Day Apatemon gracilis.  A fish's brain is where the parasite being featured in today's post is found.  Visit site  ▷

Washington Trails Association Focusing on Historic Connections to Find Lost Trails.  Trails around Washington are disappearing, due in large part to steep declines in funding for our public lands. To help tackle the problem, Washington Trails Association started the Lost Trails Found campaign at the end of 2015.  Visit site  ▷

GORE-TEX Blog How To Choose the Best Hiking Socks.  When you consider what your feet go through in the course of a hike, no matter the distance, it makes sense to prioritize what goes on them.  Visit site  ▷

Ultralight Insights GEAR REVIEW: Columbia_Montrail Caldorado II Trail Shoe.  I don't go with the lightest shoe, rather a stable, supportive, cushioned, rock-protected shoe with a good traction outsole, which weighs a bit more.  Visit site  ▷

The Ultralight Hiker The Silverback.  This is the new Gossamer Gear 58 litre pack.  Visit site  ▷

The Adirondack Almanack Tipulidae: The Cute Faced Crane Fly.  An email chirped in my inbox; "Check out the cute face on this insect we found."  Visit site  ▷

Hiking Project Journal Everything You Need to Know About Reading a Topographic Map.  A step-by-step guide to buying and using topo maps.  Visit site  ▷

Oregon Natural Desert Association Water Cache Guidelines.  1. Hide caches so they are not visible from roads and mark with name and ETA date...  Visit site  ▷

OutdoorGearLab Blunt XS Metro Review.  The Blunt XS Metro Umbrella has a very unique look that stands out.  Visit site  ▷

Gossamer Gear Guide to Backpacking in the Rain.  You will get wet — what can be controlled, however, is how you handle it.  Visit site  ▷

Feature Shoot Paul Nicklen Captures the Beauty and Fragility of the Polar Regions.  To counter contemporary political discourses denying climate change, we need only turn our heads to the polar regions.  Visit site  ▷

Feature Shoot Minimalist Snapshots of the World.  By 'The Agoraphobic Traveller'.  Visit site  ▷

Feature Shoot The Couple Who Found A Shared Love For Tornado Chasing.  The passion caused by the great and sublime in nature is Astonishment.  Visit site  ▷

Old School Outfitter Klymit Insulated Hammock V: Review.  Cold Butt Syndrome (CBS) is the biggest challenge to sleeping in a hammock year around.  Visit site  ▷

PCT Trailside Reader The Last One to Canada Loses.  This time last year I was sitting on a bit of a secret. I was planning to hike the Pacific Crest Trail.  Visit site  ▷

Section Hikers Backpacking Blog Sawyer Mini Water Filter or Sawyer Squeeze Point One: How to Choose.  How can you decide between the two? It really depends how you intend to use them.  Visit site  ▷

Willis Wall Multimedia Bye Bye UL, SUL etc.  Familiarity with my gear allows me to generally assess what I'll be carrying on my back without having to create a spreadsheet.  Visit site  ▷

The Shooting Star Soul Searching in the Ecuadorian Andes.  When you've been on the road long enough, you start questioning your own wanderlust.  Visit site  ▷

Nicolaross Hiking in Central America: Guatemalan Style — What's Not to Hike?.  The hikes I find most memorable are those that test me. Hiking in Central America can do that.  Visit site  ▷

Popular Science La Paz adapts to a world without water.  Piss water is better than no water.  Visit site  ▷

Science / AAAS The great Greenland meltdown.  Veiny networks of azure streams meander west, flowing to the edge of the ice sheet and eventually out to sea.  Visit site  ▷

The Atlantic Ten Days Along the Border.  Agence France-Presse photographers Jim Watson and Guillermo Arias traveled the length of the U.S. — Mexico border, one on each side, documenting.  Visit site  ▷

Columbia River Orienteering Club Wilderness Navigation Course [YouTube].  These videos will teach you the core map and compass skills needed for wilderness navigation. It's much easier to learn these skills from a video rather than a book!  Visit site  ▷

Sierra Club Following the Golan Trail.  Mountains, minefields, and the Sea of Galilee.  Visit site  ▷

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Fire In Your Hand: Dave's Little Guide to Ultralight Backpacking Stoves.

Available in the following formats...

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Skyline Ridge, August 2016

It was an odd year.

I went places I'd been before, often many times, but many of them were barely recognizable.

Maybe it's my memory. Maybe it's time and weather. Or a combination.

Maybe I'm an impostor.

It could be that this is what it's like to infect a human and take over its body. I could be a body snatcher, and not good at it. If this is the reason, my inexperience shows.

I have control of the body. It goes where and when I want. And the mind is mine, with its memories, with its knowledge, and its understanding, but the match is not quite right. I can drive the mind around but the memories are off. Skewed. Warped. Inexact. Clumsy. Sloppily glued together.

I go places that this body has been, and there I am, but where is that? The edges don't match. Things are not right. Not quite. It seems that they should be but they are not. Not right.

The map says I'm there. My memories say I'm there, and I'm not there. The land is not right. Things go missing. Lakes. Mountains. Trails. Whole forests. Everything is off.

So it was with the Skyline Ridge Trail in Olympic National Park, and its connection with the trail along the North Fork of the Quinault River. Off.

It was off.

Good weather, clear trail. The aftermath of a low-snow year. I had decent hiking, wasn't in a hurry. Everything was fine at first.

I left my car at the North Fork Trailhead a little north and east of Lake Quinault, a nice place. I'd spent the night off the road near Bogachiel State Park up north. It has a great shower, at least on the men's side. Can't speak to the other half. With the state parks it's a real crap shoot. And it was not only a working and good shower, but I got a deal.

I bought tokens at Millersylvania State Park near Olympia at four-for-a-dollar, and used them at Bogachiel at the rate of two-for-a-dollar. And had a great shower too. Almost a good enough deal to make me settle there permanently. Few state park showers are any good. Some are deceitful. They take your money and don't give water. One with reliable hot water is worth marking on the map and returning to.

But that was yesterday. This was today. I was there to hike. So I hiked. Things were fine.

Up north, by the time I got to Three Prune or thereabouts, I camped. Difficult. Few trees good enough for a hammock, but I found a spot. Not great but it served. Spent a quiet night not far from a little stream. Left my food in an Ursack and hoped it would work. Was alone. Fine.

It worked. OK so far.

But I didn't recognize a lot of the trail. The broad outlines, sure, but not the details. I was looking to revisit them and they'd gone off somewhere.

Like the spot I'd stopped about a decade ago, speculating on lunch. It was a nice spot. A small circular meadow surrounded by willows, near a stream. Here? Over there? Closer to the stream? I stood, thinking it over.

I was wondering if maybe I should go past the stream and sit in the sun a hundred yards or so farther on, or not, when I saw a bear looking back at me. From beyond the line of willows, over by the stream. A quiet bear. Brown. Large and brown. Sitting, looking at me through a small gap in the willows like the resident of a small old village eyeing the tourist from a window. Casually.

I stood. Right where I was.

Before long the bear decided to be elsewhere. Me, I wasn't sure. Couldn't go on, not with the bear parked on my route, couldn't go back, because. Because I'd just been there. I wasn't going that way. So I waited.

The bear pulled its head down. Vanished. Only willows again. I waited. I saw bear again, circling around me, moving away from its spot on the stream to my right, crossing the trail, heading off left. Up ahead now, peeking through another window to check. To see if I was behaving.

Yes. I was.

I waited, an uninvited visitor in the bear's living room. Trying to be polite. Unsure of exactly what to do. So I waited. To see what the bear thought. It pulled its head down again, still going left.

Several minutes later I slowly moved toward the stream, going opposite to the bear. All quiet. I tanked up on water, looking around, staying quiet. All quiet all around. I moved on, had lunch farther down the trail.

I wanted to see that same place, see what it was like now, and walked over the same ground but did not recognize the place. Not even once. Odd. Things didn't seem to have changed, but they had, enough so I couldn't recognize landmarks, couldn't orient.

Anyway. I was headed to Lake Beauty. I'd been there the previous year during a long-smoldering fire season in the Queets Valley, which is over the ridge to the northwest. A hot year then. Smoke blew over the lake all night. No one else was there. Just me. Decent place to camp. Fresh clean water flowed out of the lake through a ridge on its northwest side, filtered by tons of earth. No need to drink green swarming lake water.

Anyway, I was headed there but didn't make it. Got lost.

Not lost. The trail went away. Up in the area shortly after Kimta Peak and long before Lake Beauty. The land gets rocky. You follow cairns. No problem. I'd been through there before, at least four times, in both directions, as recently as last year. I had a picture of the route in my head, the head I'm occupying. The memory is there for me to use, whether it's my actual memory or the memory of the body I'm temporarily making use of. Regardless.

And I had a map.

Going west to east: Start high and angle down toward the southeast. Going east to west: Emerge from the woods and angle northwest while climbing over moderately rocky ground. Simple. Do it once, or twice at most, and you can close your eyes and sail along.

Didn't work this time. Somehow. Didn't work.

The cairns were sketchy. Shouldn't have been, not after a mild winter, not with so many people out on the trails. Cairns should have been robust, sharp, frequent, and clean, built up afresh by many helpful hands.

No. Nope. Not.

The farther east, the farther across this rocky reach, the flatter and more disorganized the cairns. Scattered. Spread. Splayed. Random. Tricky going. Time was getting on. Voices.

I heard voices shortly after the last cairn gave way to random pebble collections. Voices. Someone knew where they were going. No problem now. I met them. Three guys from Boston out for a big adventure. They were ahead of me, had found the trail that I needed.

It didn't go where I expected. Didn't match the memories I had with me. Dead end, the guys said. Led down to a camp spot on the top of a cliff. That didn't sound right. The trail definitely didn't skirt the cliffs hanging over that little hidden whatever stream way down below somewhere. Stumped.

I backtracked. They backtracked. We looked. Everywhere.

Then I found a different cairn trail that went up instead of down, northeast instead of southeast. I followed it. Nope. Dead end. Just higher than the other dead end, but still dead, and an end.

Getting late. All hands frustrated. Stymied. Four of us. Three guys who'd never been here before and I, who had, and should have known how to walk through it, humming happily no probs just follow me.


I checked every whichway and could not remember where the hell to go and could not find the trail.

We camped by a meltwater pond surrounded by old snow. I put up my hammock fly and stretched out on the ground. The night was calm. A little breezy, a little damp, but calm. Quiet again.

The next morning the three of them went back to looking where they'd left off. I headed west, planning to find the trail again and to try following it a second time. I did. After a huge detour way up high. Have to get back there. Never knew what fun landscape there is way up high there far off the trail.

They were right. The mess of cairns, followed a second time, pointed me to a camp spot on the cliff, the one they had found. And then there was a vague trace of trail, and then a little more, and some more again, and I was past it all, back on the trail again, definitely.

Eventually it became familiar. But I didn't see the other guys. Kept expecting to bump into them from behind. Did see a different hiker coming the other way. He hadn't seen anyone. No guys from Boston ahead. Only a bear.

Scuffling along the gravelly trail in a shrubbery tunnel I walked into that bear's personal space. It was around a shallow bend, standing on the trail's up-side, looking downslope across the trail, and exploded when I broke its reverie. Boom. Gone. Racing down the mountain before I knew what from where or why.

Ok, that wasn't good either, was it?

But it was over. I kept going.

Eventually, the next day, the Low Divide came along and then the North Fork of the Quinault River, and way down south, the Wolf Bar area, but other hikers were there already, so I couldn't stay. Way off the trail downstream I found a quiet empty spot, decided to stay, and committed a crime.

I found a decent camping spot near the river, but there was really only that one spot, and the space between the two trees I needed for my hammock was occupied by a third tree, a young conifer, right where my hammock would hang. I used a length of spare line and a toy carabiner that had come with a bottle of sunscreen. Tied back the young tree, severely. Hung the hammock. Ate. Bathed. Went to bed.

Left the next morning. But only after a rough walk back through brush to the trail did I remember that I'd left the little tree tied up, bent way over. Go back? Well...

No. Naw. Not worth it. So far back. Crap.

Stopped a few minutes later. Thought it over. Same decision. Kept going.

All the way back to the car. Stop. Think. Shrug. Continue.

By the time I reached the car it was way too far to go back. Easier to live with the guilt, I thought.

Another guy drove in and parked. Had a jeep. I didn't tell him about the tree. After a few minutes he headed out for a hike. Left his vehicle's windows full open. Before he vanished completely I hooted and asked if he wanted to do that, leave the windows open. Jeep full of stuff, bicycle on the back, all there for the taking.

Yep. No choice. No glass in those windows, he said. No way to roll them up or lock it. Always open.

I tried anyway. I told him. I'm not all bad, I thought.

Yes, I am.

I need to get back to that tree and untie it. Undo my crime. Some day. I will. No way out of this one. I will remember that, at least, clearly. That memory won't be false. I know exactly where it happened and what I did and how I did it. The little tree will wait there, tied, until I go back and let it go and say I'm sorry.

Even a body snatcher has a conscience about some things.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Fresh, February 19

iGNANT Cody Cobb's Mystical Pictures.  Cody Cobb captures portraits of the earth's surface, focusing on the American West, from the deserts of Utah to the Hawaiian Islands.  Visit site  ▷

Charlie Knight The Lost Art of Hitchhiking.  I wait. A lone figure standing at the roadside, thumb outstretched. I wait.  Visit site  ▷

Halfway Anywhere The Pacific Crest Trail Thru-hiker Lie.  Vomiting and diarrhea in 100+ degree weather outside of Etna, alone.  Visit site  ▷

PCT Trailside Reader Re-Introduction to the Bigfoot Trail.  An introduction to this, one of the newest of the long-distance trails.  Visit site  ▷

The Trek Getting Lost With People You Hate.  At this point I would have left him there, but he was the only person with a cell phone. I finally convinced him dying in the woods isn't easy.  Visit site  ▷

The Ultralight Hiker The Umbrella Redesigned.  The folks behind New Zealand-based Blunt set out on a mission: to make an umbrella that actually works.  Visit site  ▷

Trail to Peak Gear Preview: The New Salomon XA Pro 3D.  If you're looking for a bombproof trail shoe for backpacking and hiking, the XA Pro 3D should be at the top of your list.  Visit site  ▷

Section Hiker Top 10 Backpacker Recommended Backpacks — 2017.  What are the best multi-day backpacks recommended by badass backpackers? We surveyed 900 backpackers to find out.  Visit site  ▷

Barefoot Jake Hikes Olympic Luna Oso (2017 Review) Flaco and 2.0 Sandals.  Right away the hardcore tread catches your eye.  Visit site  ▷

Bogley Outdoor Community How To "Lapse Rate" — Finding the temperature at elevation.  Geographers use something what is called the "lapse rate". Lapse meaning change. And there is a formula that you can use to find out the approximate temperature.  Visit site  ▷

HikeLighter.Com Vargo 'ExoTi 50' Backpack.  My initial thoughts, are very good.  Visit site  ▷

The Mountains Are Calling Embracing the Dry, or, Hunting up an Elusive Grand Canyon Permit.  Once again, there was an unwelcome email from the Grand Canyon Backcountry office, informing me that my permit request was denied. It cheerfully went on to remind me that I should have applied three months ago.  Visit site  ▷

LensCulture Zima: The Powerful Beauty of Russian Winter.  Photographs and text by Elena Chernyshova  Visit site  ▷

USGS Science Explorer: Barred Owl.  [A collection of posts on this critter.]  Visit site  ▷

The Adirondack Almanack Ugly History of North Country Nationalism Offers Lessons For Today.  We were taught to appreciate certain rights and freedoms, to speak out against perceived wrongs, to defend the less capable, and to question the directives of those in leadership positions. In some countries, those rights are viewed as privileges for the chosen few, or are not available at all.  Visit site  ▷

Always Wanderlust 20 Things I Hate About Staying At Backpacker Hostels.  Unfortunately, bed bugs are real and your likelihood of an encounter with them goes up when you stay at hostels.  Visit site  ▷

Chris Townsend Outdoors Igloos & Spindrift.  These conditions were ideal for showing just how comfortable igloos are — once inside all was calm and quiet and secure.  Visit site  ▷

Must Hike Must Eat Essential Oils Insect Repellent.  My battle with the bugs still rages, with varying success.  Visit site  ▷

Outdoors Father Backpacking Eagle Creek in Winter.  The site is a relatively small one that, in summer, gets full very early; but that night it was completely empty.  Visit site  ▷

REI Co-op Journal Microfibers — What We Know So Far.  When fabrics or other fiber-based materials break down, they can shed "microfibers," tiny filaments typically nanometers in diameter, much smaller than the width of a piece of hair.  Visit site  ▷

The GearCaster Wash Your Fleece Without Polluting.  While water treatment plants catch some of the microfibers that come from your laundry, they don't get everything.  Visit site  ▷

The Trek 10 totally normal things you do when you've decided to thru-hike.  Depending on your definition of "normal," of course.  Visit site  ▷

The Trek Quest for a Lighter Hammock System.  When the ounce counters meet and compare a hammock set up versus a tent for the majority of setups the tent always wins. There is only one problem with this — you still have to sleep on the ground.  Visit site  ▷

The Hiking Life Is Thru-Hiking Really 90 Percent Mental?  The thing is, I've never believed it was true. Not even close.  Visit site  ▷

Adventure Journal Duct Tape: A Love Letter.  To my dearest Duct Tape, I flippin' love you.  Visit site  ▷

GORE-TEX Blog Appalachian Trail Frequently Asked Questions Answered By an AT Thru-Hiker.  We've got an AT thru-hiker to answer common questions and give you an inside look at the trail!  Visit site  ▷

Hiking ProjectJournal How to Prep for a Long-Distance High Desert Hike.  Cold winter days and long, dark nights are the perfect time to start planning your next adventure.  Visit site  ▷

LightHeart Gear Polyester vs. Nylon Clothing for Hiking.  Polyester fabric is oleolphilic, or able to absorb oil and not water. It just so happens that body odors are oil based.  Visit site  ▷

REI Co-op Journal Renew Your Passport Right Now.  Government officials have been warning that there will be a flood of requests from now through 2018, possibly leading to delays. So get ahead of the crowd while you still can.  Visit site  ▷

The Ultralight Hiker Henry's Original Tarptent & Tarptent-for-2.  The following document has appeared in print since 1999 and details plans for making your own tarptent. These tents are excellent do-it-yourself projects.  Visit site  ▷

Trail Hiking Australia River Crossing Techniques.  Crossing rivers, especially when they're running high, is among the riskier things you can do on the trail.  Visit site  ▷

Trail Hiking Australia Hiking on Hills.  Hiking Uphill. Maintain a natural pace and avoid making large strides... Hiking Downhill. Never run downhill — inevitably gravity will always win...  Visit site  ▷

Men's Journal Outdoor Retailer Seeks a New Home.  After Utah Governor Clashes with Industry Over Public Lands, Bears Ears National Monument.  Visit site  ▷

The Shooting Star Sarmoli, Uttarakhand.  A Himalayan Village Where Locals Run Marathons and Their Own Instagram Channel!  Visit site  ▷

The Smoky Mountain Hiking Blog Controlled Burns Across all Four NC National Forests in Coming Months.  In the Southern Appalachians, the Forest Service uses controlled burning to promote fire-tolerant native plants and restore threatened plants and communities, such as table mountain pine and mountain golden heather. The low- to medium-intensity burns create healthier, more diverse and more resilient forests.  Visit site  ▷

Men's Journal Uinta Brewing Announces Beer Brewed to Support Our National Parks.  For each Golden Ale release, of which there are currently eight planned, the beer itself will remain the same, while the can promotes a different National Park with an original illustration.  Visit site  ▷

Parasite of the Day Trichodectes Pinguis.  The words parasite and lice regularly go hand in hand, and usually brings us dreaded flashbacks to those primary school days when our parents would rigorously comb and shampoo our hair.  Visit site  ▷

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


Fire In Your Hand: Dave's Little Guide to Ultralight Backpacking Stoves.

Available in the following formats...

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Definitions: Culvert

A culvert is a handy dandy thing, but no one knows where it got its name.

Possibly it was from a long-forgotten engineer who fancied being the first to build pipes for dealing with annoying and unwanted bits of water. Some engineers do things like that.

Whether the engineer's name was Cuthbert Vertulus, or Cloaca Venatia Tubula Fluminal, or something else, we will never know. Too late now. But this invention lives on.

And it's ever so handy.

And dandy.

As noted in the opening.

Because...well, because culverts drain water away, as in away from trails and into bogs, which, if you've been paying attention, you know are places best left, undisturbed, to themselves.

Which is why it's reasonable to have culverts. Because culverts keep us safe from those creeping bogs.

For example, take your cross drainage culvert. A cross drainage culvert is a conduitical conveyance (round or square — it doesn't matter) fashioned of native rock, or of wood, or of factory-hammered and galvanized metal, or of plastic or concrete, and it channels water across a trailway, from one side to the other.

Got it?

But unlike so many of the tricks that trail builders like to spring on us, while the culvert does in fact shoot water crossways, it makes sure that that water goes under a trail (and not messily over the top of it, as peevish waters prefer when left to their own devices), moving said water from a ditch or catch-basin on the high side of a trail to somewhere or other (We don't really care where, do we?) on the low side.

And in fact culverts can route entire creeks under trails, and in that case they are called stream bed culverts, and are quite handy indeed, remaining, perhaps, internally slimy (but acting so discreetly that we normally never even notice) while still successfully repelling bogs.

And that's a plus for us, isn't it?

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Fresh, February 12

Fix How to Plan For a Thru-Hike.  Between the gear, the maps, the planning, and creating a budget, it's hard to know where to start. Here's a breakdown of the biggest decisions.  Visit site  ▷

Cool Tools 96 Gallon Super Big Mouth Trash Bags.  I really hate the ones they sell in hardware stores and supermarkets (the "Christmas tree bags") which are usually made of thin plastic.  Visit site  ▷

The Atlantic A Visit to the European Southern Observatory.  High in northern Chile's Atacama Desert, the European Southern Observatory has built several collections of telescopes and observatories on remote, arid mountaintops.   Visit site  ▷

Faith is Torment Grey Matter(s): Photos by Tom Jacobi.  Jacobi traveled over two years to six continents searching for archaic landscapes.  Visit site  ▷

Nowness The Way We Dress: Women in Uniform.  The first woman that really inspired me was Betty Reid Soskin. She's a park ranger at the Rosie The Riveter Museum in Richmond, California. She lived through the civil rights movement, at a time when wearing a uniform as a black person and a woman was inconceivable. Now at age 94 she wears her uniform proudly, with elegance and style. She owns it.  Visit site  ▷

Across Utah! Hayduke Alt: Via Escalante East (Choprock_Harris).  Almost all Hayduke Hikers end up in the town of Escalante for a re-supply (or do an inconvenient cache pre-hike.) Getting to this small town from the route usually means a long and sometimes difficult hitch along the Hole-in-the-Rock Road. However, many great canyons in this region provide possible alternates which allow hikers to simply hike through the town instead.  Visit site  ▷

Across Utah! Hayduke Alt: Via Escalante East (Upper Muley_The Gulch).  This is the second/northern option that I present to Hayduke Hikers looking for an alternate to connect the Burr Trail Switchbacks to Escalante.  Visit site  ▷

The Adirondack Almanack Adirondack Tree Bark in Winter.  It's winter. Hardwood trees are bare. But that doesn't mean the woods are bereft of interest.  Visit site  ▷

The Adirondack Almanack Adirondack Wildlife: American Mink.  If the river otter is the most aquatic member of the mustelid family, and weasels represent the terrestrial branch of the clan, the American mink is the adept middle child.  Visit site  ▷

The Adirondack Almanack Trump In The Adirondacks: Tweets From the Tower.  I do great centerfolds.  Visit site  ▷

Adventure Alan Review of Dutchware Chameleon Hammock — Light & Superbly Versatile.  I discuss what makes it possibly the best multi-season hammock. The review concludes with a Comparison of the Chameleon Hammock to its nearest Competitors.  Visit site  ▷

Hiking For Her Insect Repellents For Hikers.  Seriously, aren't we outdoors to soak up the full Nature experience? The answer depends upon the hiker you're asking.  Visit site  ▷

Hiking For Her Rainy Day Hiking: How To Stay Dry.  As a veteran of some of the wettest hiking in the northern hemisphere (Washington State, western Canada, Alaska), I've got some strategies for how to stay dry on a wet hike.  Visit site  ▷

BrawnyView The Proving Grounds — Now Available.  All the way up the trail, I realized I was proving to myself I could still do this. I met others proving similar things, plus proving their gear worked, proving they could stand the rain. Proving they had the stuff to make it all the way to the great Mount Katahdin.  Visit site  ▷

Charlie Knight Do What Makes the Best Story.  The most interesting people I meet on my travels are the ones who have lived fascinating lives, say yes to every opportunity and have a whole host of stories to tell.  Visit site  ▷

Chris Townsend Outdoors Yosemite Valley to Death Valley: The Gear.  Selecting gear for a long walk always means looking at likely conditions and also possible extremes.  Visit site  ▷

from canyons to clouds Day hikes in El Chalten.  El Chalten, Argentina is Patagonia's "trekking capital" and for good reason!  Visit site  ▷

Hiking Project Journal 10 Essentials Every Hiker Should Always Carry.  The new rules on what to bring with you when you hike.  Visit site  ▷

Inga's Adventures Planning a Tour of Mont Blanc hike.  The choices immediately get overwhelming.  Visit site  ▷

PopUpBackpacker Make Your Own Backpacking Gear?.  There is one thing I have not factored into the DIY backpacking gear route: pride in making something yourself. There is value in that. However, I propose that the time spent making gear could be better spent by going backpacking or camping instead.  Visit site  ▷

PopUpBackpacker Book Review: The Ultimate Hiker's Gear Guide, 2nd Edition.  The Ultimate Hiker's Gear Guide is really not about the gear per se, but how to choose gear and how to use it so you can accomplish The Goal and enjoy the walking part too.  Visit site  ▷

Washington Trails Association Backcountry Permit Reservation System Coming to North Cascades National Park.  As demand for backcountry camping opportunities continues to climb, North Cascades National Park is piloting a new reservation system for the 2017 season.  Visit site  ▷

Scoutmastercg Outdoor Footwear 101 Infographic.  The basic information in this infographic will help you choose and, more importantly, get a proper fit.  Visit site  ▷

The Mountains Are Calling Rainshoeing.  By mistake, I invented a new sport. Rainshoeing!  Visit site  ▷

The Trek When Ultralight is Too Light.  With low weight comes great responsibility.  Visit site  ▷

The Trek How to Get Your Gear Where You're Going.  The vast majority of such issues fell into the "air travel" category. Going by car — your own or someone else's — rarely causes gear safety issues. Ditto train travel.  Visit site  ▷

Singletracks Mountain Bike News 10 Lessons I Learned in a Year of Bikepacking.  Bikepacking at its core is very minimalist. You can follow the same principles behind lightweight backpacking. The gear I don't have is actually an advantage.  Visit site  ▷

Section Hikers Backpacking Blog How to Plan an Off-Trail Hike with Caltopo.  This is a tutorial about how to plan an off-trail hike that illustrates the judgements that experienced hikers make when they plan off-trail routes.  Visit site  ▷

Section Hikers Backpacking Blog Superior Wilderness Designs 50L Long Haul Backpack Review.  The Long Haul is a good size for multi-day backpacking trips, with all of the must-have features you'd expect on an ultralight backpack.  Visit site  ▷

Hiking in Norway Official travel guide to Norway.  Our most scenic landscapes are definitely best enjoyed on foot.  Visit site  ▷

fubiz French and Swiss Snowy Summits by Sebastien Staub.  The visual result is the fruit of the superposition of several shots and of a subtle play of lights.  Visit site  ▷

Tastefully Offensive River Otter Spotted Sliding on Snow in Yellowstone.  Wildlife photographer Barrett Hedges filmed this wild river otter happily running and sliding his way across a frozen river.  Visit site  ▷

Tastefully Offensive Clever Donkey Helps His Friends Escape.  Video of Oreste, the donkey, helping his donkey pals escape their pen.  Visit site  ▷

The Art of Manliness How to Treat Frostbite.  Knowing how to properly treat it can mean the difference between a sore hand and an amputated one.  Visit site  ▷

Outside Online Frozen Alive.  Your first thought is that you've just dented your bumper. Your second is that you've failed to bring a shovel. Your third is that you'll be late for dinner.  Visit site  ▷

flickr Christer Karlstad.  Wondering if somebody is dead or only sleeping, whether it's good or evil, comforting or disturbing.  Visit site  ▷

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Fire In Your Hand: Dave's Little Guide to Ultralight Backpacking Stoves.

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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Definitions: Broadleaf Woodland

An unimaginative biologist type might define this sort of place as "broadleaf forest vegetation with 10% to 25% cover of the tree crowns", compounding the clumsiness by saying that broadleaf trees belong to the angiospermae (as opposed to the needle-leaved gymnospermae). Of course.


We know better.

We know that woodland is where faeries, sprites, and elves do roam, and that broadleaf woodlands especially are always hung with the intricate dew-kissed silver orbs of ingenious spiders, are resplendent with mosses in every possible shade of green imaginable, are forever eloquently silent, and that these are only a few of their many unique qualities, most of which have never been witnessed by mortals such as we.

We know that a woodland of trees with broad, flat leaves is really the only habitat suitable for elves and faeries and sprites, beings who glory in flitting soundlessly among the great boles of majestic arboreal sentinels, bows in hand (if elves) or joyously flinging sparkly magic gruffy dust with abandon (if sprites), or doing whatever it is that faeries do these days. (Maybe pondering why it's faeries and not fairies, and so on.) And probably other stuff.

Broadleaf woodlands are excellent, welcoming, quiet, relaxing, protected and cool places to route trails, if trail builders were not consistent in avoiding them in favor of bogs, fens, marshes, mountain tops, swamps, hillsides, foaming gorges, deserts, blank dusty flats, and boulder fields. Go figure then.

Maybe it's the elves and their arrows. Maybe it's sparkle allergy. Maybe they don't want to annoy the pondering faeries, or is a fear of spiders. Maybe they haven't thought it through yet. Or maybe they just want to keep these places to themselves. Have you ever thought of that? Could be the reason. Meanwhile, enjoy your usual poison ivy thickets, mud holes, gravel flats, parched, windy hillsides, and only the rare, far-off, fleeting glimpse of magical gruffy sparkles.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Fresh, February 5

Astronomy Picture of the Day Where to See the American Eclipse.  Are you planning to see the American Eclipse on August 21?  Visit site  ▷

Astronomy Picture of the Day Conjunction of Four.  From low Earth orbit the International Space Station briefly joined the trio that evening in skies near Le Lude, France.  Visit site  ▷

USGS International Recognition for Historic Elwha River Restoration.  The collaborative work of the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe to restore the Elwha River of Washington, USA, was recognized as a world-renowned restoration project during the awarding of the 2016 Thiess International Riverprize.  Visit site  ▷

PetaPixel Gorgeous 8K Timelapse Captures All Four Seasons in Norway.  One year of planning, one year of shooting, and four months of post-production is a lot of time to spend on a single timelapse. Good things come to those who wait.  Visit site  ▷

BBC News Weekend Camping Resets Body Clock.  The first thing they learned on a week-long camping trip in winter was people were exposed to 13 times more light than at home, even though it was the darkest part of the year.  Visit site  ▷

USGS Wetland and Aquatic Research Center.  WARC researchers provide scientific understanding of how wetlands work and the importance of wetlands to both humans and the plants and animals that rely on healthy wetlands to survive.  Visit site  ▷

The Adirondack Almanack Words Of Wisdom From "Old Mountain" Phelps.  His determination to locate his party's camp in the deep forest rather than in a clearing with a splendid view of the Great Range: "Ain't the kinder scenery you want to hog down all at once."  Visit site  ▷

The Adirondack Almanack Raccoons in Winter.  Like the black bear and skunk, the raccoon experiences a type of winter dormancy known as carnivorean lethargy.  Visit site  ▷

Adventure Journal 5 Cool Things You Didn't Know About Topo Maps.  I first fell in love with topographic maps about 12 years ago. The maps were like little miracles to me. The little boy in me was eternally fascinated.  Visit site  ▷

Hiking For Her Barefoot Hiking: Is That A Thing?  There are people who wax poetic about barefoot hiking.  Visit site  ▷

Dances with Angiosperms El Circuito de Los Condores.  Just finished a work/play trip to central Chile. There is not a ton of information in English on this trail so I am hoping this report will be helpful.  Visit site  ▷

Halfway Anywhere PCT Class of 2016 Survey: The Demographics.  It's time to take a closer look at the demographics from this last year's PCT class.  Visit site  ▷

HikeLighter.Com Interviews: Vargo Outdoors.  Vargo Outdoors is an outdoor company that sells specialized gear, nearly all of it titanium, a cottage company yet with a global reach.  Visit site  ▷

Hiking Project Journal How to Survive Winter in an Adventure Rig.  Over Insulate. Head South.  Visit site  ▷

Indiahikes 9 Tips to be a Good Trek Photographer.  Anuja Gupta is a Trek Leader at Indiahikes. She has eight years of experience as a Photojournalist. Once a press photographer in the busy streets of Mumbai, she ventured to the Himalayas to capture a different world altogether.  Visit site  ▷

Lee Petersen Spring in Alaska.  I didn't spend as many nights out watching the aurora as usual, but still managed to see a few good displays.  Visit site  ▷

Pacific Crest Trail Association A SOBO learns how hard it really is.  In the middle of the most challenging experience of my southbound thru-hike, I found a sock.  Visit site  ▷

Parasite of the Day Ophiocordyceps pseudolloydii.  The Cordyceps fungus has become a fixture in popular media, at least as the go-to comparison/cause for fictional human zombies.  Visit site  ▷

Pinoy Mountaineer There is room for all of us in the mountains.  I am one of the few who earnestly believe that there is room for all of us on our country's mountaintops.  Visit site  ▷

novaugust Californian Deserts.  As I left I was prevented from turning right by a low-flying helicopter chasing a Monster racecar down the highway. California, man.  Visit site  ▷

Scottish Mountaineer Red light indicates doors are secure.  I sat and watched as the mist swirled and opened another wee window north. A gift from the mountain gods for my toil.   Visit site  ▷

Strictly Sassy A Guide to Hiking The Panamint Dunes in Death Valley  The Panamint Dunes is located in the northern end of Death Valley National Park. This place doesn't get a lot of visitors.  Visit site  ▷

the clueless wanderer Am I too old to hang?  What the hell do I have in common with these girls? I will be turning 44 in December.  Visit site  ▷

QT Luong's Blog A day on and under the ice, Wrangell-St Elias National Park.  Although Wrangell-St Elias is a national park of immense size, none of the experiences it offers is as remarkable as exploring Root Glacier.  Visit site  ▷

The Trek Hiker's Choice: Favorite Appalachian Trail Hostels.  Each hostel has its own quirks and is known for different things, but thanks to our survey of past thru-hikers, we get to highlight a few that go above and beyond.  Visit site  ▷

The Ultralight Hiker Poly Tent by The Ultralight Hiker on the Cheap.  I bring you my new poly tent made from a standard 8' x 10' poly tarp. This one cost me A$7.99 and took only minutes to make.  Visit site  ▷

Adrenaline Romance Cebu Highlands Trail: The First Long-Distance Hiking Trail in the Visayas.  With a length of 408.29 kilometers and an elevation gain of 954 meters, the CHT snakes lengthwise along the entire Cebu island. It is not a straight line; it bends, turns, ascends, descends along and around the central spine of Cebu.  Visit site  ▷

Palm Beach Post Jupiter man home after 4,800-mile hike, from Quebec to Key West.  On July 6, the morning he took his first step, he had 4,800 miles in front of him. He would cover them all on foot.  Visit site  ▷

PetaPixel Shooting with the iPhone in Antarctica.  I knew it would be a great opportunity to shoot a photography project where I could capture the Antarctic landscape in a unique way.  Visit site  ▷

Privacy Pop The Bed Tent.  Create a sleep space anywhere or split large rooms like dorms and barracks into private suites.  Visit site  ▷

PDN Photo of the Day New World Cowboys.  Lving today by the same code of toughness and independence that have made cowboys into icons for the last hundred years.  Visit site  ▷

Canyon Country Zephyr One Night Only: When Ed Abbey and R. Crumb Came to Moab.  In 1985, two great artists, writer Edward Abbey and cartoonist R. Crumb met in Moab, Utah to promote a new edition of Abbey's classic novel, 'The Monkey Wrench Gang,' with Crumb's brilliant and unique illustrations.  Visit site  ▷

Bogley Outdoor Community Hunter Shoots Juvenile Triceratops.  Mmmm--baby ribs.  Visit site  ▷

McSweeney's Internet Tendency Initial Meeting of the National Parks Revolutionary Coordinating Committee.  My fellow national treasures, I call this meeting to order. Thank you all for coming. It seems like nobody else is willing to save America, so I'm taking matters into my own landscape.  Visit site  ▷

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


Fire In Your Hand: Dave's Little Guide to Ultralight Backpacking Stoves.

Available in the following formats...