Showing posts with label barefoot. Show all posts
Showing posts with label barefoot. Show all posts

Vibram EL-X Long Term Backpacking Review

  At the start of the hiking season, I wrote a Trail Review for the Vibram Five Finger EL-X.  I've since put this pair of footwear to the test.  Used in backpacking on and off the trial, even non-traditional mountaineering.  Traveled in/on Ice, Snow, Glaciers, Rainforest, the rugged Olympic Coast, Scree, Rock, Moss and even walked down/over wind fallen trees.  These little guys were also randomly on my feet in Escalate, Utah.

  I still stand behind every statement in my first review of the EL-X.  Its a good piece of kit to have in your lineup.  Even if you just use them as a secondary footwear source, such as in camp or river crossings.  I found the tread to be superb for winter and/or slippery conditions.

Vibram EL-X
Vibram EL-X, with 3 months of heavy use.  Complete upper failure on the inside forefoot.  Plastic-like material, acting as a skeleton for the upper cracks in below freezing conditions.  The same material is used in the Spyridon upper.  

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.

Top 3 Olympic Campsites

  Had a lot of time to reflect over my hiking season with all the National Parks being closed, with no end in sight.  Looking for hours through a memory card full of pictures of this hiking season (unpublished) and other hiker trip reports from the Olympic Mountains.  This is what gets me through these through these tough times and positive.

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

Top 3 Campsites in 2013
  I get asked all the time about places to stay or the experiences I've had this hiking season.  So thought I would share a few locations to stay the night in the Olympic National Park (in no particular order).  It was hard just to pick 3, but here I go....

#1 Lost Pass
  After a hard day of kick stepping up and over two snow covered mountain passes, I was pretty tired and ready for dinner.  The second climb of the day would be more sketchy than Mount Olympus a few weeks earlier, because of icy conditions.  Once the shelter was pitched and dinner was in my belly, I could truly enjoy the complete solitude.  Surrounded by thousands of Avalanche Lilies, sounds of Marmots whistles echoed the area; as they played and the perfect sunset.

Lost Pass
Lost Pass camp.

Summer Update: The Bailey Range Traverse

Update:  All photography & video from trip

  Just got off the bus from Lake Quinault.  Ended up doing a 10 day high route of the Olympic National Park from north to south.  My friend Steve, Liz Thomas and I did the off trail traverse from Mount Appleton to Kimta Peak of the Bailey Range.  This would be my 3rd continuous trip out in the last few weeks.  Those who are not familiar with this mountain range and have visited Hurricane Ridge, it runs from left to right in your view; protecting Mount Olympus.  It has some Class II scrambling, few glacier crossings and not the place for someone with a fear of heights.

  We had a mixed bag of weather, starting off in 85+ degree heat for a few days and then turning to autumn like conditions at the end of the route; thunderstorms, lightning and just above freezing rains.  In fact the most sketchy part of the trip was done in the middle of an electrical storm and heavy precipitation.  All that were present, will ever forget that day!

Olympic rock
Alpenglow on Mount Olympus. 

Summer Update: Gossamer Gear - Group Trip

  Just finished up a 7 day loop hike with some friends.  We had a mixed bag of weather; from winds to heavy rain and even some lightning.  Did some peak bagging, sections of off trail in the alpine and a handful of mountain passes.  It was great sharing the Olympics with friends I've known for awhile on the internet.  Getting them all together to do a backpacking trip was just awesome.

Name drop

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

Backpacking rainbow
The group gets blessed with a rainbow, as a storm passes through.  

Hiking Deception & Royal Basin Loop

  Feeling a little down the last few weeks, my friend offered to accompany on a grand Olympic adventure.  Having only one day off  his job this week, we would need to make this trip in a single push.  Those that are familiar to this route, know that it is best enjoyed by spending 1-2 nights minimum; to fully enjoy the beauty of this remote area.  He must be a masochist as well, to agree on following me on a true test of the legs and mind.

  This would also be a chance to venture into one of my newly favorite areas, ever since spending the night in Deception Basin a few weeks before, coming in from a different route.  (see video at bottom)

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

Deception Basin
Descending from the shoulder of Mt. Fricaba, into Upper Deception Basin.

Summer Update 1.b: Snow, Views & Sun

  The last week or so has been a mixed bag of change in the Olympics.  Going from going from humid, wet and muddy on the Hoh Rainforest floor, to sun and snow in the alpine.  All this sun has taken me by surprise, not something a man from Washington would be acclimated to.  Drinking over 10 liters of water a day and lots of sodium intake, still feel the effects from the exposure.

  Besides that energy levels are good, considering all the elevation I gained and lost the last few days. Pulled a 12 hour hiking day and still had a bit of gas in the ol' tank.  Crossing exposed snowfields while gaining elevations.  I thought to myself, 'Boy, sure glad I took my training serious over the winter.  If green, would've been in a world of hurt'.  Can not express enough on how much attention should be given to prepare fitness level for a successful trip.  Unless you have a very active career, physically prepare for backpacking. 

  There was a section this weekend, where I didn't see or talk to a person for 72 hours (besides to myself).  I find that type of isolation very inspirational.  Wish I would have brought some note paper, to write down thoughts.  Maybe I will add that to my packing list?

  Mount Olympus was awesome as always.  Why climb without modern climbing gear?  I feel it takes away from the spiritual experience with the mountain.  Wanting to feel the cold under my feet and the dangers that lie below.  Focusing on proper posture, balance and using a natural gait with each step; allows me not to use crampons or need an ice axe.  (one should master this, before attempting)

  Section 1a and 1b are now complete.  This route led me from the rugged North Olympic Coast of Washington State, then following a glacier fed river to its source and then walking over the Divide; so took look back at everything you just travel across, ocean, mountains and glacier in one view.  What an awesome journey.  If you want to truly experience the endless beauty of the Olympic National Park, this is the way to see it.  I highly recommend walking this route, it is life changing.  It will take you 2-3 weeks to complete (depending comfortable milage per day).  Feel free to email me and I can send you more details on trip prep.  

  Now I resupply food and head out to start Section 2.   Look for a full Trip Report post in Autumn/Winter.

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

Mount Olympus perspective
48 hours apart, looking opposite directions of Mount Olympus.  
Minimalist mountaineering
Solo ascent of Mount Olympus.  No rope, Ice Axe or Shoes.  (do at own risk, not recommended)

Summer Update 1.a: Coastal Rock

  Just finished the first section of my summer, 40 miles southbound on the rugged North Olympic Coast.  Glad to be done with the beach.  Having to walk with the the tides is a pain in the butt.  Will be nice to travel on a trail without being on mother natures schedule.  In the last two weeks, spent 9 days breathing salty air.  Had my fill for the season.  Looking forward to alpine.

  Nightmares of walking across billions of slippery rocks in the next few nights I'm sure.  Traveling down the coast is really slow going.  I couldn't imagine doing it with a big pack for that many miles. Would of probably lost my mind.

  Weather was a mixed bag,  50/50 rain and sun.  Got wet and then the next day sunburnt.   Good ol' Washington.  Summer solstice had a nice sunset, but was nothing compared to the following night.  Took some nice photos of all its glory.

  Body is sore, but in good shape.  Gear all holding up perfectly and worked superbly in the stormy conditions; up to 20 mph winds w/ rain.

  I now grab food and head inland toward the interior of the Olympic National Park.  The next section has 7 days without resupply.  Carrying that much food on your back is never fun, but somebody has to do it.

Buspacking Note:  I ended up walking the road from Neah Bay to the Shi Shi Trailhead.  Locals tell me that the Reservation Shuttle will now be offering 1 trailhead run a day.  This will save you the 8 mile walk from town.  It is not currently listed on there website, but you should call for details on the exact time.  I am told that it will be a permanent thing and run year around.

Look for full post; with photos, Autumn/Winter 2013.


(Read original post)

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

Sea trash
Adrift during the first full day of summer.  

Out for the Summer

  Weeks of preparations and evenings laying in bed thinking about details; are about to pay off.  The countdown begins until I take the biggest journey of my life.   Hope everything goes to plan, but mentally prepared if it does not.  Flexibility is key, when doing something with a lot of variables.

  The first 3 weeks of calories is all pre organized and ready to serve.  Food prep is the worst part for me.  Was going to do blogs about meal plans and gear lists, but got too lazy.  Takes a lot of time to put a post together and wanted to focus on other projects before leaving the farm for the summer. Maybe after?

  I have high expectations of capturing some nice photos.  Ordering some spare camera batteries last minute and pick them up next month.  Would like the ability to shoot more video.  There will be certain sections of no charging for 10 days.  It would be nice to leave it all in storage, however I really enjoy reflecting back at the images during the winter months. 

  Look for short updates right here and social media when I come out in various towns to resupply food.

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minimalist rock trail
Walking in wilderness, one of my greatest joys. 

Special thanks to the small companies that keep me comfortable and hydrated on the trail:

Climbing Mount Angeles in Spring

  Looking at the weather window, a friend and I decided to get up high for some views.  This would also be in continuance of our Monday morning cardio ritual in the mountains.  Try to spend a few days inside the ONP or I get grumpy.

  Objective of the day was not to use a trail during the approach and not to fall on the snow; since we would not be using any boots, shoes,ice protection, traction aid or modern climbing equipment of any kind.  The route this day would be 70% snow covered, with lots of hidden snow bridges inside the treeline.  To avoid steep gullies, ended up just bushwhacking straight up the mountain and followed game trails.

  Unfortunately I did not copy down the proper path out of the Climbers Guide before heading out the door.  Ended up going up 'Route II' of Mount Angeles, which is a '2.3'.  I was concerned about down climbing the summit block after the final scramble.  The book suggest rope being used and I'm not that skilled in climbing to come down rock faces feet first.  Was happy to get views from just below the summit, so called it a day.

  Plan on going back soon and going up the 'easier' route, now reading the guide more carefully.    Fresh Mountain Goat and Olympic Marmot tracks were seen in the snow; hope to go back for some photos before I leave.

Update:  Ended up climbing back up the moutain 48 hours later (see below).

Ultralight mountaineering
Navigating the snowline. 

Old Baldy Trail - Olympic

  Continuing my obsession with abandoned trails, I set off to scout an old WWII trail for an upcoming trip. This trial, along with the Maynard Burn Trail can be used to connect sections of the Park as a loop or thru- type-hike.

  Little over 5 miles to approach your ascent on this trail, leaves day hiking it a question of reasoning.  Communication wire can be seen in the trees and rolled up in random places on the forest floor, this was used in part of an old lookout on Baldy Mountain.

  The unmarked trail is easy to follow until after 4,000', then land navigation skills are used.  The path is straightforward and follows a spur off the main summit.

  I ended up turning around because of heavy rain in combination of thick over brush at just over 5,000'.  Did not reach the summit this day, but will be back in more favorable conditions.

Old Baldy Trail
Old USGS map showing the abandoned Baldy Trail. 

Dosewallips Trail in Spring

  My friend Steve and I headed off for 3 days of relaxing up the Dosewallips River drainage.  We would also be walking on a section of the Pacific Northwest Trail.  The primary reason of the trip would be to plan our 13' Bailey Range Traverse.  What better place to do trip planning, than in the Olympic National Park.  This would also be perfect training for my trip in a few weeks.

  It was impressive to see the effects rapid snow-melt in the Park.  The weather also added to river volume.  A perfect chance to test some gear in rainy, damp and cold conditions.  This would be the first part of my 7 days in the backcountry.  After resupply I would head into the Quinault drainage.

Dosewallips Falls
Checking out the roaring Dosewallips River.  (see video below)

Walking through the Seasons in Olympic

  I had originally planned to walk the PNT this year.  After deep thought; during many rainy days this winter, decided that my ONP bucket list takes priority.  Created a mental catalog of all the places I wanted to visit here in the Olympic Mountains through the years.  Did not want to put this the list off for future years and was a greater personal priority than other options.  Visiting some of these areas for the first time and revisiting a few of my favorites.

Bailey Range
Mount Olympus at sunrise.  Views from camp during my 2012 solo traverse of the Bailey Range.  

Barefoot in Escalante, Utah

  I would like to share a few things not covered in my Escalante, Utah post.  It is hard to get images you wanted to share all into one blog, when there was 3 memory cards full of good shots.

Locus Gear Khufu
Locus Gear Khufu Sil at sunrise.  A design that has been around before humans. 

Backpacking Grey Wolf Ridge

  My favorite time of year is upon us here in the Olympics.  All the snow starts melting out in the alpine, wildflowers blooming, bears wake up and birds chirping.

  It was time to make my annual pilgrimage up to stay the night on Grey Wolf Ridge.  A tradition for the last 3 years running.  A great training route for the Olympic Mountain summer time adventures.  The path has an ascent profile of 5,000'+ in only a few miles.  Summit of Baldy is just under 7,000' (high for the Olympics) and Tyler sitting just over 6,300'.  Both have views of the entire north section of the Olympic National Park, including Mt. Olympus.

  This would be my first time up Baldy.  The snow conditions weren't my favor the last few times.  Actually not this time either.  Optimal safe snow travel conditions are first thing in the morning, before the sun can turn it into spring slush.  Wet and heavy snow can also mean a melting slab could give away taking you with it.  I decided to go for it.  Sunk up to my calf and at times, hip deep every step.  This did not make me happy, but was good training.  Think of it as doing walking lunges up a mountain with a backpack on.  

Grey Wolf Ridge
The route up Grey Wolf Ridge.

Backpacking Boulder Mail Trail - Escalante, Utah

With a few days notice; I packed my bag and headed out toward the destination of Southern Utah.  Being a minimalist I prefer to travel light: so packing it didn’t really take that long.   Would first fly into Las Vegas from Seatac, Wa.  Then meet Grant from Gossamer Gear and Liz (Snorkel) Thomas and rental car to Escalante, Utah.   Traveling is really no fun for me, but the destination and company made it all worth it.

escalante backpacking trip
Will Rietveld, Mark, Grant 'The Gorilla', Mike, Travis, Sherry, Janet, Liz "Snorkel' Thomas & 'Barefoot Jake'.

Backpacking Olympic National Park with Kids

  In need of some father and son time, we packed our lightweight backpacks and set off to explore.  This would be our first overnight trip together for the season and would be great practice for a multi night trip planned in a few weeks.

Whiskey Bend Trailhead
At the trailhead with our matching shirts, minimalist footwear and Gossamer Gear packs. 

Heather Park Trail in Spring

Out doing some training; since only have 6 weeks before put a pack on my back for the summer.  Couldn't ask for better weather.  Blue skies, no wind, no bugs and spring corn snow.  Some postholing for a few miles, but the views made it all worth it.  Here is a few photos of the day.

Above Sequim
Dayna ascending up this chute. 

Hiking Mount Townsend like Winter

  Last minute planning had a buddy and I checking the weather report for conditions.  Ended up suggesting an areas I usually avoid, gets so travelled by hikers in the summer months. Winter like weather dropped a few inches in the Olympics overnight down to around 3,000'.   Decided to go for it, even if spring melt had me questioning avalanche conditions.  Would turn around if I felt it wasn't worth risking.  Did not feel in any danger through the day; since the steep slopes has very minimal white stuff.

Buckhorn Mountain
Mount Worthington & Buckhorn Mountain. 

Birthday with the Mount Angeles

  The day comes every year.  Your birthday is something that gets less significant as each one passes in your life.  I try not to focus on how to make one day good, but to make each day awesome.  If one goes by that didn't get spent outdoors.  I feel like that time was wasted.  My goal for the next 365 is to spend as many nights sleeping outside as possible.

A special place.