Showing posts with label backpacking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label backpacking. Show all posts

Instagram - Olympic Mountain Adventure

  A friendly reminder for all you smart devices users out there.  I often post exclusive photography of my adventures over on my Instagram account.  Feel free to 'follow me' over there, if you haven't done so already.

 Don't know what this Instagram is?  Basically its a way to share photos with others, using an app for phones or tablets; making them noticed by using a 'hashtag' generally on the subject featured.  You would uses these tags to describe the subject and/or features in the image.  I like to use #hiking #backpacking #Olympic #wilderness #photography #urbanhiking #ultralight #minimalist ect...

Think of it as a micro blog of this website.  Sometimes small daily adventures are not really worth typing up and formatting for this site, but are worth sharing.  All to promote an active lifestyle, inspire others and connect with the reader (you).  Feel free to check it out!

Tip:  If you set up an account with your phone or tablet.  Instagram will let you view and monitor the content through your web browser via laptop or desktop computer.  

barefoot jake instagram
Follow me on Instagram! 

New this Week!

  I was lucky enough to go on a 3 day backpacking trip this week.  After get back and endless hours of editing; ended up putting up several blog posts this week.  Want to recap and let everyone know about this new content.   Hope you had a nice week. -jake

Trip Reports:

Gear Reviews:

Cream Basin
Cream Basin, Bailey Range ONP

Golite Chrome Dome vs Sea to Summit Umbrella Review

Update:  Mechanical Issue

  I just started using a hiking umbrella in the last few months.  Now I will not go anywhere without one, even in urban environments.  Generally go everywhere in life on foot and its not secret it rains all the time in the Pacific Northwest; so it just makes sense to carry one.  High winds being the only foe.

  Carrying an extra piece of gear does add more weight to the backpack, but I feel the pros outweigh the cons.  You now pack a light windbreaker, replacing that bulky rain jacket.  Portable shade, provides sun protection and even extra weather protection under your ultralight tarp.  Protecting your camera from the weather; while taking a photograph.

  A hiking umbrella saved my butt big time during my recent bad weather trip in the Quinault Rainforest.  The Olympic Mountain SNOTEL near the area, measure 3.5" in a 24 hour period, before finally turning to heavy snow.  I was able to leave my rain gear in the pack and wore only insulation layers.  Below the knee, was the only thing that got wet.

  So I decided to test the 2 most popular options on the market and see which options worked best for use on the trail; well as urban lifestyle.

Golite Chrome Dome
Sea to Summit Trekking Umbrella vs Golite Chrome Dome

ZEMgear TERRA Hiking Review

  I enjoy trying new options to protect my feet against unnatural surfaces and sharp rocks that are lying in the trail.  Decided to give the ZEMgear TERRA minimalist footwear a try.  The traditional Japanese Tabi design is what struck my initial interest.   This pair of footwear puts a modern twist on what has been around for century's in various cultures.

  ZEM's feature a zero drop construction, which puts your body at its natural alignment.  Well as a flexible soling to allow your foot to travel with a full range of motion.  The split toe benefits balance as your walking or doing lateral type moments.

ZEMgear TERRA tested in below freezing conditions.

Beyond the Chalet

  A man that has inspired me for years sent an email last week, asking if I would like to accompany him on a walk up the Quinault River drainage.  His Olympic Mountain photography has personally inspired many of my adventures; often dreaming into these images during the winter months to get my wilderness fix.  Of coarse I accepted the invitation, it is an honor to walk with him.

  The original purpose of this trip was to enjoy the history that the Chalet represents.  Countless people have come from all over the world to enjoy this building through the years.  To be honest with you, after a few hours observing the damage the river is about to do to this structure, I lost interest in it.

  The Quinault valley was full of spring activity and countless wildlife.  A full day was spent watching life happen before our eyes.  Avalanches, Mountain Goats, Black Bear and Olympic Elk could all be observed in the same area.  Its was nature in its pure form.  An impression like this can be life changing.   Powerful and real, this is wilderness to me.

Quinault Trail
East Fork Quinault Trial

A Special Message to my Readers

  A friend and I just got back down from 3 wonderful days up the Quinault drainage.  There will be more from that trip to follow in the coming days.  Until then, I wanted to say hello and thank you for your support.

Continued Support by:

You!  Without the reader, this website would be abandoned and lacking fresh content.  Sharing these wilderness places with others, is what keeps me going.  So please, leave a comment and say hello!

Honoring the Enchanted Valley Chalet

  In honor of the Chalet that probably wont last much longer.  I decided to put a fresh edit on some stock footage from a previous adventure.  Utilizing public transportation, human powered bicycle and my own two feet.   Covering just under 60 miles in my 4 days visiting the Olympic National Park.  I was blessed to see so much wildlife on this solo trip.  Countless Olympic Elk and numerous Black Bear just waking up out of winter hibernation.

  My most recent trip into the Quinault Rainforest, I got hammered with rain and heavy spring snow.  Looking back at this footage, cant help but feel blessed for having such good weather.  Didnt receive a drop of precipitation; wandering in my t-shirt most of  the time.

  Towards the end of the video, you can see how much of the meadow (where the building stands) the East Fork Quinault River has eroded away in the last few seasons.  Hope you enjoy this video, much as I did making it.  

Gear featured in film:  Footwear, backpack & camera used.

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Announcement - Luna Leadville Trial

  Just seen some very exciting news on social media this morning.   Luna Sandals out of Seattle, Wa - just announced a new lacing option for my favorite minimal footwear tread pattern of all time.  Their Leadville model is made from quality Vibram soling material.  Whats so special about this pattern?  It grips anything like velcro.  I've personally walked on every surface possible in the Olympic Mountains in my multiple pairs with his same tread.  River fords, mud, snow, slush, coastal slim, rock, roots, trails, off trail and even southwest desert terrains.   I personally feel that every hiking footwear company should use this pattern; even for traditional boots and shoes.

  Luna is also offering their new trail ATS lacing option, with Tech Strap mod.  This is a win-win, if you have been thinking about getting yourself a pair of trail sandals or use as a secondary pair of footwear around camp on your next backpacking adventure.

luna sandals
Luna Sandals Leadville Trial w/ updated ATS laces & Tech Strap mod.  Click> Products> Leadville Trail.

Related:  Check out my review of the Luna Tech Strap.

You!  The Leadville has been on the market for some time and know that a lot of my readers own a pair.  What do think of them?  How have they worked out for you?  Post any questions in the comments below!

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

Top 3 Foot Stetches

I feel there is not enough attention given to foot care. All this focus on what gear on our backs, but often the item that gets used the most gets neglected.  If you take care of your 'dogs', they will be a lot happier at the end of the day.   Most times these are the ingredients for a successful and enjoyable trip.

Here are my top 3 foot stretches that should be done several times a day for prevention, well as treatment.  These should also be done in part of our everyday lifestyle regiment. 

General rule of thumb:  Start of/mid day -5 second holds.  End of day 10+ second holds. 

Foot yoga
While standing with a straight back, put a leg behind you and turn the foot upside down; primary pressure on your toes, pressing them into the floor.  Focus on feeling a stretch in the toes, through the top of your foot, into the shins.   Alternate legs. (can also be done seated)

Survival at Enchanted Valley Chalet

Update:  April 1st 2014 status of the Chalet; with video.

  I just jumped on a bus out of Lake Quinault headed back to civilization.  Spent the last few days upriver in unfavorable conditions.  Had a few extra days on my hands for a backpacking trip.  Why not spend them with the Enchanted Valley Chalet?  So I loaded up a bunch of food and set out.

  With all this rain in the Pacific Northwest this March, the trail is knee deep standing water in places, actual creeks running down the trail in others.  There were moments I was wondering to see a salmon headed upstream in the small cascades at my feet.  There was one creek to ford up to my hip in fast moving current.

 It was hard to break out my non waterproof camera in this conditions, without trying to destroy it.  So much moisture in the air, it was hard to keep condensation out of the housing and off the lenses.  I'm happy the rain gods spared my electronics to last another day.

 The forecast was spot on with the incoming storm.  Had hoped to stay up there longer, but late winter conditions where more than I was willing to endure being solo.   One thing to be pinned down in bad weather, its another to be stuck in a tent for days alone.  So I called the trip early and began my 2 day retreat back towards the lake on foot.

Update:  Checking the SNOTEL in the area.  Quinault got almost 4" of rain during the time period of this trip.

Enchanted Valley Chalet
Mid-March at the Enchanted Valley Chalet, as the East Fork Quinault River creeps closer.

Olympic Mountains to Sea - PNT - (finale) Walking through the Seasons

Start at the beginning of the Trail Series?

Well it is late autumn and most the leaves have 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 everywhere 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. I thought it would be fitting 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 and 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 having walked a custom route I put together in my head last winter.

Mount Olympus
Autumn in Olympic.

Bailey Range Traverse - Walking through the Seasons

Coming off the previous 7 day Olympic adventure, we would have two days to do laundry and pack up 10 days worth of supplies. Food preparation is most dreaded part for me, but it would be nice to have the calories during the strenuous walk ahead.

The Bailey Range is one of the most sacred off trail high routes in Washington State. These mountains create a crescent shape around Mount Olympus. Close enough where you can almost reach out and touch her at times. This dramatic landscape is what you see when peering into the interior from Hurricane Ridge. Home to the Olympic elk during the late season rut and black bear which graze almost around the clock as winter approaches.

This route is not for the faint of heart or for someone who does not like heights. Packing lightweight and keeping everything fixed to your backpack is a must because there are times you need to use all limbs to travel forward. There are key points of navigation, so doing your homework is a must as well as land navigation skills and terrain reading. Basic mountaineering skills are required as one must cross several small glaciers on this walk.

My friends Steve and Liz Thomas would be joining me for this grand adventure of Olympic sized proportions. What life lessons would we learn for the next coming weeks? Before we knew it, we were walking up the Sol Duc drainage on an approach to our Bailey Range Traverse.

Bailey Range Traverse
10 days across the Bailey Range.

Luna Sandals Tech Strap Walking Review

  The team over at Luna Sandals have been doing a pretty good job at hyping up their newest modification to the ATS lacing system.   This added piece of webbing was promised to make the foot feel more secure during lateral movements and lessen the 'toe wedgie' feeling that sandals can give you.  This is especially important for someone that is descending a steep trail grade.  Overtime this may cause irritated at the end of a long day of backpacking.

  So does this extra modification to their ATS lacing system live up to all the hype?  Lets take a look!

Luna Sandals Mono w/ ATS laces & Tech Strap mod in the Olympic National Park. 

Top 3 Backpacking Mistakes

  Life is all about adapting to any situation that comes your way.  On my journey in the outdoors, that path can lead down the trail to some lovely places.  I have made many mistakes along the way, but grown from them.  Isnt that what life is all about?

  Looking back, its hard to prioritize mistakes, but I feel positive self reflection is important; in order to grow as a person.  So thought I would share some of these things, with the goal of helping someone.

Starting my first 7 day solo trip into Olympic.  You can see how my posture is affected, by the burden of this heavy load of 75 lbs.   Note the blue tarp.  I was completely wiped out by the end of each day.

Update: New Website Interface

  Alright, I'm able to go take a shower now!  A short time ago, launched the new website interface today.  This took me some time to figure out; even a 14 hour day yesterday.  Thanks to one of my readers, for helping with the coding.  I was starting to get really grouchy and irritable.  My helper saved 1 year out of my lifespan.

  This was to make it easier for my visitors to access content, but keep with my minimalist theme.  I want to make everything simple as possible to navigate, so that everyone can enjoy content.  A great deal of you use tablets and smartphone, this should improve your experience a great deal.

Important!  If you subscribe to this blog via RSS, Feedly, Email or other feed-linking applications?!  You may need to update the address, since I moved things around.

Update:  No alterations needed for Feedly & currently working in mobile browsing.

New Layout & Interface. 

You?  What do you think?  Did I make it better or worse?  Sound off!  Constructive criticism welcomed in comments below.

Locus Gear Khufu Sil Long Term Review

  I have an addiction to sleeping up above treeline; with limited cover.  In need for a shelter that gave me protections when the wind changes directing through the night; which is common in the Olympic Mountains.   Peace of mind is important while I sleep; against high wind, heavy rain and snow.  Wanted the option of being able to sit up fully inside, in case of prolonged stays during a big storm.

  Reaching out to the internet world, doing a bit of research over various shelter options and finally seeing one with my own eyes.   I decided that the Locus Gear Khufu Sil would be the right choice for me.  Placing the order to Japan during the winter months of 2013; which happens to be almost one year ago to date.   During this time, I have given this shelter heavy use during my four season overnight trips into the Olympic National Park, well as some southwest use in Utah.   This was my year around weekend trip refuge, well as primary home for my trail series 'Walking through the Seasons';  where I slept out 41 nights.

locus gear khufu
Locus Gear Khufu Sil on the North Olympic Coast.

Off Trail Gossamer Gear Blog Contribution

  I & other Trail Ambassadors, wrote a small piece for the Gossamer Gear main site blog.  The subject is walking off trail; which holds a special place in my heart, in good times and in bad.  Go on over and check it out!

What do you think about the article?  Did it speak to you?  I would love to hear from you in a comment below!

olympic off trail
Photo used in write up, snapped during a 10 day traverse of the Bailey Range in 2013.   Shows us approaching the Elkhorn Glacier.  Ragamuffin, Mount Childs and Mount Olympus can be seen (left to right).   Featuring Liz Thomas

Sharing Wilderness - Walking through the Seasons

Read beginning of story.

I would have two days to rest my right and now left feet. A combination of the climbing fall injury and the new wounds acquired from walking so many miles in very wet trail conditions. I was so focused on getting to the destination I failed to take proper preventive care during my last walk. The top 1/3 of both feet were missing skin, epsom salt to the rescue - as well as duct tape and super glue. All three would get me trailworthy once again. This would be a start of 4 consecutive
weeks in the Olympic alpine taking photos and video.

After months of planning and communication via the internet a group of Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassadors, as well as some friend, were standing on the front porch of the farm in Port Angeles. We had no real itinerary yet, but would sit down with a group of maps and go over a plan that worked best for everyone involved. Once going over all the route variations we had a real plan.

The group decided on one central location to park the vehicles. Trip would be a loop style hike, with a small dogleg out and back walk. We would be out for 7 days and 6 nights. Our campsite selections would give the more energetic parties an option for some peakbagging out of a base camp. We would also be using basic land navigation skills as some of the sections would be off trail in remote and fragile places in the Olympic National Park interior.

Weather forecast had us sunny the first day, then turning into wet conditions with thunderstorms and early autumn temperatures in the alpine. It was a good thing I warned everyone during planning that the Olympic Mountains can turn from fair weather to early winter type conditions overnight. I have a motto here - plan for worst conditions, but hope for the best.

three forks trail
Starting our 7 day loop walk into the Olympic Mountains.

Olympic Mountains - Google Earth

  The internet can be a fun place to daydream about backpacking in the Olympic Mountains; especially during the winter months.  Thought I would share some Google Earth 'hacks/plug-ins' to make your mind endlessly wander the alpine regions of the Park.   These tools are for educational and planning purposes; not to be trusted for off trail land navigation.  Stumbled upon these through surfing the web and/or sent to me by reader.

.kml Google Earth Plug-Ins:

Google Earth Topo
Location of Google Earth topographical overlay, after plug-in download is complete.