Showing posts with label autumn. Show all posts
Showing posts with label autumn. Show all posts

Olympic Gear List - Winter, Spring & Autumn

Readers ask me all the time, 'I want to get out in the Olympic Mountains, but what gear is needed?'  There is no right answer to that question.  Variables are hiking style, goals, style of trip, season and conditions.  Its important that you learn what works best for you and tailor that kit to fit those needs.  The weather turns very quickly during all seasons in the PNW, so its important not to go too minimal that you are going to have a miserable trip, but only bring things you actually use.  Most 'ultralight' gear lists wont fly here, unless your lucky enough to catch the weather just right.

Here is a lightweight list I put together, that combines all my suggestions on average. 

Hurricane Ridge
Spring in the Olympic Mountains

Summer (last) Update: Divide to Coast

  Well its late autumn and most the leaves are fallen to the ground in the Olympics.  The elk are done bugling, marmots have retreated into their burrows and most visiting backpackers are back to the 'everyday grid'.  All that is left is breathtaking landscapes, with the occasional song of a bird.  Fresh snow has fallen a few weeks ago and melted away anywhere the sun touches during the short days.  The clock ticks before the deep white stuff falls, sealing the high country in for the season.

  Just hours after the powers that be reopened our National Parks, I rode my bicycle down to WIC and got a Backcountry Permit.  The plan was to spend a few days exploring a small piece of the Bailey Range and then walk west using the Pacific Northwest Trail to the Coast.  I originally started my summer journey back in June by taking the bus to Neah Bay, then walking south on the North Olympic Coast, before heading inland into the Hoh Rainforest on my way up Mount Olympus.  So I thought it would be right to walk from the mountains, back to to the sea and have this be the grand end to the trail series.  Ending in the small coastal town of La Push, catching a bus to Forks and then Port Angeles.  There would be no friends or family at my finish line.  Nor a grand support team to whisk me off, with a congratulation metal.  Just the feeling of personal accomplishment, to walk a custom route I put together in my head last winter.

Note:  All photos and trips reports will be released Winter 2013 in a multi-part series titled 'Walking through the Seasons'. 

Full moon rising over the Bailey Range.

Silver Lake Olympic National Forest

  Can you imagine coming home eviction notice posted on the door saying, 'If you enter back in, there a ticket given'?  Thats how I feel about our Olympic Mountains.  It saddens me that it has came to this.

  Some friends asked me to join them on a hike into the hills.  Being in need to peek into the interior, I gladly accepted.  Few photos from our hike.

Silver Lake Way Trial
Frosty autumn morning.

Backpacking Grand Gulch Primitive Area - Utah

  Growing up in the Pacific Northwest I am used to hiking in the plush green forest and to having a relatively endless water supply.

 The desert has always been an unknown place for me so when Grant emailed me an invitation to join him and his family for an adventure into the southwest I excitedly agreed. 

grand gulch
Autumn color in Grand Gulch

The Plan
 A party of 5 traveled  from various States and met at the airport in Albuquerque, NM.  

I am a minimalist and choose to not own or drive a car so this trip would take two days of travel time just to get me to Albuquerque.

  A total of 7 buses were needed to get me from Port Angeles to Seatac, Wa to catch my flight. After spending the night in the airport we all met early the next morning in baggage claim and got rolling. 

 We picked up our rental mini van and after stopping by several markets to supply we made the long drive to the Grand Gulch Primitive Area. We had decided to spend 4 days backpacking in Grand Gulch and then several more day hiking in various locations on the way out.

 The forecast ended up being a lot better than what was predicted.  Not listening to the weather man paid off this time. We encountered 12 hours of bad weather during the first 4 days.  This was in the form of wind and cold rain.

 The first night was a bit of a howler and after that we encountered snow flakes on the canyon floor randomly throughout the day,  none of which ended up sticking on the ground.

 The remainder of the trips reached the lows of 20 F and highs barely above freezing, if at all.  The highlight of our mornings was the sun creeping over the canyon wall and warming our backs while we enjoyed breakfast.

grand gulch frost
Afternoon frost - Some spots on the canyon floor rarely see the sun in the winter. 

 Our main concern for our desert hike, especially this late in the season,  was water.  I was unsure how much water would be available and what quality it would be.

After talking with a local ranger we decided to “base” camp near the only sure water in the area which was a “flowing” but minimal spring.  

The spring is located at a canyon intersection with close access to a network of various canyons.  We would then day hike out of that location up and down the various canyons exploring for ruins.  

The Sawyer Squeeze filter worked well with the water supply. Would of pretreated the water with a coffee filter; if we needed to drink from some of the other springs that we stubbled appon while exploring. I also slept with my filter each night the temps dipped below freezing.

green mask camp
Base Camp hid from the sun most of the day - Temperatures reached lows of 20f.

 Our days were spent exploring the various canyons; hunting for old ruins left by the people that once lived in this area.

 I felt that looking for ruins and hieroglyphics was like taking part in a treasure hunt.  It had the feel of ‘hide and seek’, but for big kids.

A highlight was climbing up, down, thru and around the diverse terrain.  What better way to connect with your primal side than monkeying around on rock all day. 

Gossamer Gear backpacking
The group.
Tens of thousands of cactus kept you on your toes - all the while; carefully not stepping on Cryptobiotic crust that covered most the land. 
dyeing desert flower
Color clinging to life in the desert.

Ultralight backpacking cedar mesa
The group making our way across the Cedar Mesa.  Encountering wind and scattered rain showers. 
sheiks canyon
GG Mariposa; as we head down Sheiks Canyon
Sheiks Canyon
High points were used to find routes through the canyon floor. 
Sheiks Canyon
Cactus vs 'E's Inov-8's
Sheiks Canyon
Cairn's marked multiple ways through the canyon.
Sheiks Canyon ruin
GG Gorilla at our first ruin find. 
Sheiks Canyon wash
Sheiks Canyon
desert poop
Wonder what left this?
backpacking Sheiks Canyon
The wild southwest.
Sheiks Canyon
Trying to make our way around the steep canyon.
Sheiks Canyon
Walking on the canyon wall. 
Sheiks Canyon
Down this drainage.
Sheiks Canyon
'G' scouting for a way down.
Sheiks Canyon
Rock hopping.
Sheiks Canyon
Using all 4's. 
barefoot jake
Me looking down canyon.
Sheiks Canyon
Looking up canyon.
green mask camp
Gossamer Gear's 'The one', Squall, prototype Pyramid shelter after a stormy first night.  Because of high winds and rain.  Decided to use available rocks on these 3 shelters.  I spend my first night with two others in the Pyramid. 
Sheiks Canyon morning
The highlight of our morning was the sun creeping over the canyon wall. 
Sheiks Canyon pictographs
'G' checking out the pictographs.
Sheiks Canyon pictographs
Sheiks Canyon pictographs
My hand to small hand pictographs. 
autumn in utah
A little autumn left in the desert.
southwest cactus
grand gulch ruins
Exploring for ruins.
desert cactus
grand gulch autumn
Desert color.
desert spider
grand gulch
The views.
desert art
ultralight grand gulch
Gossamer Gear Riksak and Minimalist during our day hikes.
minimalist desert
Relaxing made simple.
grand gulch trail
'G' surrounded by cactus - day hiking with the Bigbag.
grand gulch hiker
grand gulch minimalist footwear
'E' going with the right choice - switching out of his Inov-8's into a pair of VFF's.
utah rock patterns
Rock patterns.
autumn grand gulch
Autumn clinging to life.
flat cat stove
Flat Cat Stove - I was very impressed.
Footwear grand gulch
'E' showing off his VFF's.
Desert dinner table
Dinner table.
Ultralight backpacking grand gulch
Gossamer Gear prototype Pyramid Shelter in the desert - Im looking forward to future 1 man designs.
grand gulch winter
Frozen autumn.
grand gulch hazards
The desert is full of everything sharp and pointy. 
desert butterfly
grand gulch
Beauty of death.
petrified tree
Old tree.
grand gulch pottery shards
Pottery shards.
grand gulch ruins
Ruins blend in perfectly with the landscape. 
grand gulch ruins
grand gulch winter
Little seed clings to life.
grand gulch ruins
slickrock sraping
Ultralight backpacking bullet canyon
Up Bullet Canyon.
bullet canyon ruins
bullet canyon hiker
Worshiping the sun.
bullet canyon landscape
bullet canyon
'G' taking it all in.
bullet canyon pictographs
jailhouse ruins
jailhouse ruins
backpacking jailhouse ruins
bullet canyon
keva bullet canyon
Wonder whats down there?
bullet canyon ruins
bullet canyon pictographs
perfect kiva
bullet canyon winter
Checking out a frozen water source.
bullet canyon
Up Bullet Canyon.
bullet canyon
Up this drainage.
bullet canyon
Under this arch.
bullet canyon
Follow this cairn.
cedar mesa sunset
Out in time to watch the sunset from atop Cedar Mesa.

Primitive Hiking
 Connecting with your environment is what being outdoors is all about.  Anything you can do to safely enhance that experience bridges the gap from nature to human. 

 This is why I am an ultralight backpacker and choose to wear minimal footwear.  I only bring things along in my pack that I feel are needed to keep my experience enjoyable. 

 I am also a believer in choosing my footwear to match the terrain, with the caveat that my choices are all minimal. 

 For the dessert I chose to wear near a traditional Huarache design.  By wearing sandals I could greatly appreciate what it was to be an original native to this harsh landscape.  Every step I took brought me that much closer to these people.

 Similarly sleeping under a open Tarp design dramatically increases my connection to the critters in this area.  Honestly I wasn't sure what was going to climb into bed with me at times.

 The truth is that I slept better outside on this trip than I do in a house,  averaging nearly 12 hours of undisturbed sleep every night due to the cold temps and short days.  

grand gulch footwear
Luna Sandals vs Cactus.
grand gulch hazards
Truth be told - out of all parties involved.  I was the only one who didn't end up pulling cactus out of my foot.  Why is that?
barefoot cactus
The cactus tested my sense of proprioception.
primitive footwear
Primitive Hiking - such a great connection to the people that once called this area home.

Short Video from Trip:

Special Thanks: Supported by Gossamer Gear - Edited by -G

Full album of all the pictures from this trip.

Gear Featured

What about you?
Ever wanted to explore canyons in the desert? Have a fear of stepping on a cactus? Finding old ruins and admiring pictographs sound fun to you? Please leave your questions or comments bellow. I enjoy hearing from you.

Please check out this discussion on minimal footwear on the trail and the original post of this blog.

Disclaimer/Comments:  One should train their feet for some time for this type of trail conditions.  
  Biking, Hiking or Backpacking in Minimalist Footwear takes strong feet.  Since as we aged wearing shoes have lots most of our natural foot muscle. Give you body time to adjust to this type of Footwear before attempting anything you see on this Site.