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  ▷

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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  ▷

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

Available in the following formats...

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Pasayten Pass Through, August 2016

A short trip in a short time.

The way out.

This post wasn't working. I was a day late and disappointed. Pretty much as the trip itself went.

The photos weren't coming together. They're mostly crap, but they have some value, so I decided to stretch this out over several weeks and see if I could think of something to say.

I mostly just wanted to go to bed and forget it all, but I do a lot of that anyway, and that's wearing thin, so time make it or fake it is what I decided, and try something new — do a post backward and see what happens.

Day Four — It's over.

Fellow stroller.

Glad to be done, sorta, and anyhow I have an excuse — the rain is coming. I don't do well in rain. I keep thinking it's no big deal, until I see it headed my way. Then I panic and run for home. I'll have to grow up one of these years. Maybe.

The two guys I passed earlier today were about my age. I'm not particularly light this year — had to throw together what I could on short notice, and it wasn't the best selection of equipment, but these guys...I don't know. They're in for a helluva time. They're going uphill. I'm going downhill. They have a couple of those big, armor-plated packs. I think one is an Osprey but I'm not sure any more. You know the kind. Full-bore commercial pack. Probably weighs five pounds empty. Maybe it's what you use. Hard fabric so stiff you need a tire iron to fold it. Designed to last a thousand years. Impervious to everything this side of the slow, inevitable death of the universe.

They were sweating, moving slowly. They wanted to know if there was much to see up at the tungsten mine. No, but it's a place. It's a high point. It's a turnaround. Make it there and you can go home and not have to say you gave up on anything. Especially if you're sweating as much as they were. I'd guess they were carrying 35 to 40 pounds apiece (16 - 18 kg). That's a lot for a two-day trip, three-day trip. I used to do that. Not now. I have improved slightly. Anyhow, I'm headed out. This is the last half of my last day. I had to come here, visit Cathedral Peak, pass by. Now I'm nearly done.

Ever wonder what it's like to walk without legs? Inquire here.

It's been tough. Tougher than I thought. Different. The first time through on this loop was fine and dandy. I'm beat now. Had enough, and it's been only four days. Not quite four days at this point and I've had it. Don't care. Dropping into a quick summer of backpacking without a slow lead-in is turning out hard so far. St Helens a couple of weeks ago wasn't fun at all. Only annoying. Too hard, too dusty, too hot.

Pretty much like the Pasayten Wilderness now. Maybe I've been expecting too much. It was nice the first time I came here, years back, about a month later in the season, but that was right at the beginning of "high buck" hunting season, whatever that is. Men with guns were trickling in. I don't need that again.

Now, this time around, there are no guns, but some of the trails are goofed up. Things don't seem to be where they were before, and it's tedious with the fun parts missing.

Yep — too rushed. I have only a little time this summer to do a bunch of things. Cramming and ramming things together is the opposite of a good backpacking trip, which is another reason I'm not enjoying it.

Local color.

Last night was nice though, after I passed Cathedral Peak, the lake, and made it down the rocky trail from the tungsten mine, though those three long stretches of muddy trail were not pleasant in any way. It's good that I didn't take that route last time. I don't know where all the water came from. This is a dry year. Very dry, and here is this whole wide trail, formerly an access road (that's plain, though it's been long out of use), thoroughly wet, flowing in parts, with almost but not quite enough stones in it to keep a person's feet dry. Slow going.

At least I made it most of the way down before plutching a foot deep into it. Not too bad, really. The camp site I found almost made up for it.


I came to a clear stream and crossed it, then thought about it and went back, and off to one side. It was quiet there. Quiet and lonely. There was no one behind, and with it being Sunday evening and all, there was no one coming in. Just me and the stream and a silent forest. That was good. I don't need much. I washed and ate and went to bed in my makeshift hammock. I know just enough to make a hammock that works, though it's awkward and goofy and thrown-together and too heavy, but it works.

This morning I continued heading out, the last two or three miles, trying to beat the rain.

Ah — some fellow hikers. Maybe they'd like to share notes...

I beat the rain. I did, but I made another mistake.

I should have stopped at Wenatchee but instead I drove past it and took Highway 2 west, as though I have a home to go back to. I connected to I-5 at about 3:30 this Monday afternoon, and had — What was it? — 85 miles of rush-hour traffic? — almost all the way back to Olympia. And once there, once here, I have no place to go. Except my choice of staying in the state park for $25 or driving out into Capitol State Forest and parking in the trees for the night.

Why didn't I at least stop at one of the parks in Wenatchee? I don't know. I need to get smart.

The rain is over, but it would have been over in Wenatchee too. I like Wenatchee and I'm not there. Now I'm tired and disgusted and not sure what to do next.

No, no time to talk — just going randomly in all directions.

Day Three — Past the cathedral.

Amphitheater Mountain, Cathedral Pass, Cathedral Peak. (Image from 2009.)

Man, I wish I'd shot some images of my campsite last night. I'm playing it cool, trying a new approach, only shooting what I think is the odd stuff. Not pointing the camera at everything that comes along. Reaching for a new technique. Maybe it will work.

As if. Maybe I don't care right now. Maybe no matter how boldly I post what little I end up with, maybe I'm the only one who will see any of this anyway. Little excitement, no recognition. Such is life as a single electron.

But the campsite was fine. I wish I knew where it was. Couldn't find it on the map when I was actually there, can't exactly figure it out now.

Valley wall at Cathedral Lake.

Night-before-last (Day One) I was at Four Point Lake under the brow of Remmel Mountain. It's hard to remember where exactly I was or what the names are because I discarded my maps before returning to Ecuador for the winter. And didn't take any notes.

Anyhow, that was then. Back to today.

Valley wall at Cathedral Lake.

Last night I deliberately overshot the turnoff toward Cathedral Peak, looking for a campsite. Then I went farther, and farther, and it didn't look good. I saw a sort of nice-ish place but not great, so I kept going and things got less nice. Then I turned back because the place I had passed over had water. At least.

I wandered around in circles and found a sort of flat a couple hundred yards off the trail, with nicely-spaced trees, sort of a woodhenge-feeling location, and just dandy for a hammock. Fine. Fine and dandy then. Back to the creek for a bath and cooking water, and I was set for the night.

This spot was hidden from the trail, far enough from the water and high enough not to have a problem with dampness or cold breezes overnight, and nowhere near where anyone else had ever camped. Just about perfect. Didn't see anyone all day, didn't hear anything all night.

Valley wall at Cathedral Lake.

Today (Day Three) I headed back east, connected with the trail to Cathedral Peak/Cathedral Lake, and got lost.

I can get lost in my own bathroom. It's a talent. I'm well practiced at it.

Headed north, I somehow missed the obvious turn, or more properly, I took a turn when I should have gone "straight", and ended up looping back west and intersecting the first part of the trail I'd been on this morning. Which is confusing because going "straight", or sticking to the proper trail meant making a right turn, and turning off the trail meant actually going in a straighter line. (You had to be there.)

It was all so obvious at the time that I didn't bother checking the map, which would have helped, but why bother? I mean, it was so obvious. And if I hadn't gone off the trail I never would have found that great little bridge going over that wonderful little clear trickle of a tiny creek, and couldn't have stopped there to eat.

Cathedral Peak. (Image from 2009.)

So, fine. Color me dizzy. It's a nice day. I had some happy minutes after the swearing was over with.

Last time through, in 2009, I camped at Cathedral Lake but this time I was thinking of the tungsten mine area. So here I am at the tungsten mine site and it's too early, even though I've put on some miles today. I've gotten lost, wasted time, gone in circles, deliberately passed Cathedral Lake, continued on a few miles to the tungsten mine and it's early and I don't really like it.

Last time through, I continued far east to Horseshoe Basin, but I'm thinking No, not again, not this time. Not today. Because the trail out of Horseshoe Basin and back south from there to Thirtymile trailhead was disused and faint then, and coming in this time, two days ago, I could hardly locate it when I passed the junction. But more importantly, things are dry this year. Really, really dry. There is a little stream (Basin Creek?) paralleling the last part of the drop down from that route's 8200-foot (2500 m) highpoint, which is Windy Peak, I think, and the stream is dust, definitely. Too iffy. Don't want to get up there, lose the trail a third of the way down, and then go dry and get into real trouble, so then what?

Tungsten mine site near Wolframite Mountain. (Image from 2009.)

It seems like the only reasonable thing to do is to go south from right here, at the tungsten, mine and see what's along this trail. Overall, the trip will be shorter, less scenic (possibly), and I'll end up covering ground that I walked two days ago, after seeing a new stretch of trail. But that's better than getting lost or hung up running a day or two late, without food and without water, so I go south. Right about now.

As noted under Day Four, the trail is unpleasant. Nice enough in its brutish way, as most trails are, though lumpy. Lotsa rocks. Then mud. Not nice. Mud not nice. Not like mud. For such a dry year there is an ungodly amount of seepage coming out of the mountain to goop up the trail. There is even a bit of current in spots. "Current", maybe. A tiny bit of flow. Creeping seepage.

I have to keep asking myself why I'm walking this route. I keep getting the same answer: Because it's all you've got.

Tungsten mine site near Wolframite Mountain. (Image from 2009.)

Mostly, being careful, I am able to tiptoe from pebble to pebble, which makes for slow going, but dry feet. Then I am not able to. I put a foot in it and get damp. But it's not that bad. Only a slight wetting. Then I do put a foot in it and get mud — all the way through. Through the shoe, and the sock, and it's all wet and so is my foot. Then later yet it's more mud and water and pebbles and slow going, but only the one foot gets it all. This continues about forever, until the trail levels and levels some more, and some more, and I'm in a deep but young forest, of thin trees and here is a stream.

Beautiful. Lovely. Quiet

Where the trail crosses this stream I camp. Nice. I usually camp well above and away from streams but don't have much choice tonight. I can get only a few feet of elevation on it but I'm far enough away that I can't hear it and hope to avoid the downstream overnight flow of cold damp air. I'll see. At least I got past the mud.

Tungsten mine site near Wolframite Mountain. (Image from 2009.)

I manage to put up my hammock perpendicular to what the downslope flow of air is likely to be, wash and eat, and that's it.

Time for bed then. My hammock is waiting and I am ready for it. I know that rain is coming sometime, but I think I have another day yet.

Day Two — Four Point To Somewhere Or Other.

Four Point Lake, looking east. (Image from 2009.)

It's a good morning at Four Point Lake. No one else is here. I'm in a small grove off the northeast side of the lake, about 200 yards above and away from the nearest shore. Day Two begins.

It was a quiet night. To the left, upslope and northwest of me, a hard rocky ridge catches a bit of morning sunshine. It is cool, but so is every morning. I've had a quiet night, my favorite kind, and am ready for the new day.

Poplar in quiet shade.

Yesterday was a little odd. (I'll save the exciting part for the next installment of this backward post.) I hiked along the Chewuch River looking for familiar spots and didn't see any of them. There was a woman here from Everett the first time I came through. I think that was in 2009. I met her the first day and she alerted me to the Border Patrol cowboys riding around on horses and checking the identification of hikers.

Then I headed up to Four Point Lake that time as well and came across her later, not yet breaking camp along the river. I haven't found that place today. It was a distinctive location right alongside the trail but I still couldn't see any trace of it. Gone. Gone somewhere. It's in with my other memories but no longer a part of reality. I can't find it. Nor most of the other spots I remember.

Immature blue grouse on trail.

At least I did find Four Point Lake. That is still real. Losing a lake of two or three acres (a hectare or so) would be really odd, but it was there waiting.

So this morning, it's back down the spur trail and then west.

It's a pleasant walk. Somehow I manage not to use my camera, not to use it much. I capture photos but later am unable to separate them into this day versus that day with any certainty. I am there. I walk. Time passes. Eventually the day grows late. I am in no hurry all day but every day ends and I need to camp. Nothing looks good.

Possibly a shadow, possibly a deep but fleeting meaning.

I walk farther and farther west, long past the turnoff to Cathedral Lake. I'll get to that tomorrow. It will wait, but now I need a place to sleep, and I don't see one. The trail begins descending, and crosses a small creek on a small bridge. Well, there is water here but otherwise the place doesn't seem particularly friendly. I continue.

As I do the trail descends more. My map says that I'm on the Boundary Trail, and before too long I'll hit a section of long, looping switchbacks and then be at the Ashnola River some way below, and will be far off my planned route. Things still don't look great for camping — either too open or too rocky or too brushed-in, and no water. I stop, think a bit, and turn back. The nameless creek behind me will have to do.

Peeping Pete peeking pensively.

I'm back. It looks the same. Not really inviting. The creek flows through a wide meadow and though the meadow is surrounded by forest, it's a loose forest. The trees are far apart. There is no privacy, and no possibility of a hammock hang here. I wander. Nothing here, nothing there...

I try farther out, to the southwest, looking, looking more. A little too far out there is a drop, and then what looks like a flat. Still open but well off the trail, well away from water, on an even and constant slope, and the trees look possible. I go there. It is delightful. I decide to stay. I negotiate with the trees for a hammock hang, and find another place for my food to sleep in safety. I feel welcome here. The trees haven't been planted but they almost form a circle. Good enough. No. Great. I like it.

Hey? Say what?

After arranging my things I return with only the bathing necessities to the creek, find a place, fill my water bottles, and try to keep inside a beam of sunlight while I bathe. The warm light comes and goes. I'm none too warm but get clean. Taking up more water, I return to my campsite and find a place to cook supper a safe distance from where I'll sleep.

Now it is getting late — just about right. I'm on schedule, in sync, on time. It has come together once again. I get everything put away and sink into my hammock. The night, again, is uneventful. If I dream at all, then I dream of yesterday, when something magical did come along.

Day One — A surprise finds me.

Cloudy. Somewhat. Rain is off in the distance, two or three or four days away. I know that, but today looks uncertain all on its own. Iffy. You never know. No choice but to hike or leave. Simple enough. I can handle that.

Morning meets the Chewuch River.

The other guy who parked here is still asleep in the back of his pickup truck, with his dog. It's early but I need to get moving so I start the engine of my car and move it off my level sleeping spot and park it right. It's a quiet car but I'm afraid that I wake him. I'm sorry.

Let's try a backrub.

He's a nice guy and even his dog is nice. For once it's a dog that doesn't snarl at me or bark, and has been quiet all night. Now I have to go and disturb both of them, but there is no way around that.

After the car is in place I move silently. I'm already packed, so I only have to get into my hiking clothes and stow anything valuable-looking into the car's back end. Doesn't take long. By the time I'm ready, my new friend is up. Up in time to say good morning and goodbye. He finished his backpacking yesterday as I was driving in, and now as I start backpacking, he'll be going home. Shift change.

Now a little leaning back and batting at this overhead stuff.

The sun brightens. The clouds break into small pieces and drift apart. The river continues talking to itself in the wet way of rivers. The trail lies beside it. I hike the trail.

From here it is a long way to anywhere, in any direction. This place, with the Thirtymile trailhead in the middle of it, burned out in 2006, during the Tripod Complex Fire. I was at the other end of the Pasayten Wilderness then, had begun a two-week trip a day before the fire started. Nearly walked into it. Changed plans. Changed direction. Bailed. That was July. The fire burned until October.

OK. Had enough — let's try something else.

This area had seen other fires recently not too many years before Tripod. You could tell. Some trees were dead, but others were curiously dark on one side. Sometimes black. The ground was clean. No twigs, no bark, no old dead shrubs. The grass was rich and tall and green. The Tripod fire blew through here and killed many trees but again left most of them standing. There wasn't enough fuel on the ground for a fire to rage over, so it kept moving, searching for a richer table to dine at. Until it lost itself in Canada.

Let's there something fun this way?

Well, today there is no fire. Today the river is here, the trail is here, and I am here. I walk, along the trail, next to the river, looking here and there. Morning. Cool. Not too bright, because of the hour and because of the clouds. The usual. For a mile or so.


Then it isn't the usual. I find a friend. I see a bear.

The bear is across the river, in the shrubbery, playing. I didn't know that bears played. This one is playing.

Anything back here?

My camera is tight in its little pouch. Fumble. Pulling it out doesn't help much. Fumble. Fumble. It takes too long to get it switched on, and focused. Fumble. But the bear is still there. I grab a few shots. They are blurred. I keep doing this. The bear keeps playing.

I've been using a camera since 1973 and making the same mistakes since then. I should change my name to Dolt. Dick Dolt. One of the Dicktown Dolts. You've met my relatives. I know you have. We're all over. Fumble.

Nope. Maybe over this way...

I have trekking poles but keep forgetting to use them as support. One pole makes a fine monopod. Do I use it? No.

Two poles held together, along with one's body as the third leg, make a decent tripod. Do I do this? No again. We Dolts don't do that.

Ahhh — Smells like Giselle. I wonder where she is today.

So my first shots are hopeless smears.

Then I goose the ISO. Up to 800. It isn't enough, not hand-held, but 43 years of this isn't long enough for me to catch on, and I continue forgetting to use the trekking pole. Some of the shots might not be too bad, given enough editing, maybe. At least I have some that are recognizable, and the bear still doesn't see me, so it keeps up its bear dance.

At first it's playing, like a giant black cat in a catnip garden. It stands with its back to a small tree, rubbing, reaching up with its forelegs to bat at the vegetation over its head. I miss all the best shots.

Well, no Giselle but it's still a nice day to mess around.

The river is wide enough and noisy enough. That helps. If I stand still the bear can't see me. I stand still. If I don't yell the bear can't hear me. I don't yell. I hardly move. The bear keeps at it, doing whatever it is that it's up to today. After getting its fill of shrubbery tussling it walks along the far side of the river and investigates this and that. I don't see a purpose. Maybe it has the day off. Maybe this is a fun bear morning in the park. It goes to and fro. It doesn't seem to be carrying a permit, unlike me, so maybe it doesn't need a purpose.

After half a dozen minutes, or more, the bear decides to approach the river. It finds a log and begins crossing. When it reaches my side, it vanishes in the willows. I put away my camera. Resume hiking.

I wonder where this goes. Have I been here before?

With the bear on my side of the river, I can't see it and have no idea of where it is or where it's headed. I don't want a clumsy meet-and-greet. Without the greet. No grip-and-grin desired. I move on. No point in ruining both our days. Even Dolts do the right thing every now and then. Even if only by accident.

Enough. I've gotten my blessing. I have lots else to see.

Eventually, miles farther on, there is a large flat along the river. I eat there, back, away from the stream.

Oh, wait. This is...interesting...

If OpenStreetMap, which is all I've got for maps as I write this, knows up from down from sideways, this is where the Tungsten Trail intersects the Chewuch River Trail. I think about camping here. The idea is inviting. So much space. But Four Point Lake isn't far, and I want to see it again. I cross the river and head south, mostly, and up.

Four Point Lake is all alone today. No visitors. I explore. Less than last time, when I went halfway up the far side of the valley, but it's enough for today. Enough to be sure that no one is here. Comforting feeling. No need to be someone when you're alone. Just be. Luxury.

Ah! Right here. Mmmmm...

Now I'm near the end of the day. After eating I look for a hammock hang. I can't find the protected little spot that I had last time (someone always comes in and moves things around, and then your memory doesn't fit the facts any more) but I do find a friendly nook in the trees well above the lake on its northeast side.

Once that's over, it's back to the lake to grab water and pull back a respectful distance for a bath. This is not a huge amount of fun. The sky is hazy. The sunlight is weak, and fading. There is a breeze, luckily intermittent. But there is some sun.

OK. Time to see what's on the other side. Probably nothing new. But you never know.

Then the sun goes off somewhere over the ridge, and my bathroom becomes a large breezy refrigerator. Sometimes being clean isn't worth it. Sometimes it is. I missed a bath yesterday and have one today and then it's done.

After recovery, after regaining control of my limbs, after everything stops shaking, I fill up with water and climb to my camp site. By then I'm warm. Warm enough. Tolerably warm. Protected enough, by the trees. Cozy enough, on the mountainside. I sleep. This is good. Good enough. I've had worse.


Cathedral Peak and Amphitheater Mountain, Pasayten Wilderness

Four Point Lake under Remmel Mountain

Forest was easy prey for raging Tripod fire

Western Wildfires Update