Showing posts with label hiking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hiking. Show all posts

Quinault Loop Trail by Bus

  My son is on spring break this week from school.  I was hoping to go on a 4 day backpacking trip during this time period.  The weather forecast did not agree with this plan.  There was one really good day in this window for some hiking to be had.

  So we loaded up some water, sandwiches, snacks and hiker umbrellas in our pack.  Then climbed aboard the local bus system; which dropped us off right at the trialhead.  This whole adventure cost us $4 round trip in travel expenses.

  Exploring the local Quinault trail systems is a perfect way to spend any spring day.  Found more spring flowers than we could even count.  Most of which were Trillium's; which were in full bloom.  The sounds of birds echoing through he forest was also a highlight.  Even got 'buzzed' by a few humming birds.

  Finished the day with a picnic lunch on the Lake Quinault waterfront in the sun.  Then we loaded back on the late afternoon bus to take us home.   Looking at the Doppler once back into the safety of our domestic shelter, heavy rain system moved back into the area.  We timed our adventure perfectly!

Trillium in the Quinault Rainforest

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.

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)

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. 

Spring on the Undammed Elwha River

  A friend & I went out at first light to explore the Elwha River drainage this morning.  The Olympic Peninsula has been getting a lot of back to back storms in the month of February through March.   First heavy snow in the mountains and then warm rains; causing a melting event.

 This is the first major flood type event since the removal of the two dams.  It was amazing to see the sheer volume of water that was moving through the area.   The chocolate milk looking silt that has been trapped behind the man made barriers is now free to flow into the ocean.  Being in this dynamic environment is a real treat.

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.

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. 

North Olympic Coast tasted in Winter

Spent 3 days on the coast during the month of February 2014. It was very wet conditions and even a day of moderate winds; as the tail end of none stop winter storms pushed though that have been hammering the Olympic Peninsula. Captured this image, before the next 48 hour storm moved through the area. Did'nt take out my good camera much after that.

The snow line dropped near sea level elsewhere in most of the northern regions of the state of Washington, but we received nothing but heavy rains and cold temperatures in camp.   Most of the day was spent gathering wood; to keep the beach fire hot enough to stay alive, in these hyperthermic type conditions.

Olympic sunset
Seeing things in a different light. 

Hiking Healing - Walking through the Seasons

Read beginning of story.

Spent a few weeks sitting on my butt to rest my right ankle and arch that was injured during the fall. Foot yoga and epsom salt baths were performed several times daily, in attempt to heal the body. Replaying the event in my mind led to countless sleepless nights. It seemed I was having issues digesting the whole rescue event. Within that time period I also isolated myself for weeks at the farm. Decided that this was not healthy behavior, so I jumped on a bus and spent time with family.

Once back in Port Angeles a few weeks later, I was itching to get back into the Olympic Mountains; which I love so much. Not being able to walk in the Park was more difficult that going through a separation from any relationship. This was a time that the internet kept me from going completely crazy. The ability to travel virtually into the mountains allowed me to hold on to sanity.

My friend Torry helped get me out of my slump once I was able to walk again. Duct Tape and Super Glue allowed me to patch the external issues giving the ability to keep dirt out of my wounds. We went on a series of day hikes during the month of August.

high divide trail
Hiking on the High Divide.  

Hurricane Ridge Webcam Labeling

  The Hurricane Ridge Webcam is a good modern resource to keep an eye on the Olympic National Park interior.  I often view this on the internet to monitor snowpack, weather patterns or even just to daydream about being out there; during the winter months.  Its amazing how with one click, you can visually transported to your favorite area.  Think we are pretty spoiled this day and age, to have this option.  I don't know how many web visitors these National Park cameras get daily, but I'm sure more hairs than on the head.

  What are you actually looking at?  Most of what you see is actually a section of the Bailey Range.  A series of mountains that run almost the entire length of the Park, from north to south; crecenting Mount Olympus, which sits to the west or behind the range.

Admit it!  How much do you look at this webcam?

hurricane ridge webcam
Labeling the Hurricane Ridge Webcam.  


  The time has come for this site to think about generating a source of income.  There is an gap of 8 to 24 hours of editing time for you to see each blog post.  This adds up to endless hours of sitting in front of a computer, drinking pots of coffee to keep the content flowing to you; the reader.  I do not get paid a cent for doing this.  In the last two years, I have made a real effort in being a full time adventure.  Living very minimally, in order to be in the backcountry much as possible.  There a lot that goes on in my life that isn't seen on this website.  I try to look at it positively, so that I can continue to live my personal dream of hiking year around.  Its hard and I hate to admit this,  but money needs to come from somewhere.  Nothing in life is free.

Income Options

  •  A part time job means I work more and hike less (minimal content for you the reader).  
  •  Affiliate Links (seen on the top right)
  • Subscription based.  (there would be a fee to access content)

  This is the route I would rather go.  People that financially feel that they can help will do so.  Then the public can still enjoy fresh flowing content.  I do not need much to continue my lifestyle, but there are necessary items needed to continue being a full time backpacker. 

Items Consumed
  • Replacement footwear:  Sadly the average pair of shoes are an average of 100 dollars.  I go through 4 pair a hiking season.
  • Town food:  It cost me 3 to 10 dollars a day to eat in the woods; depending on route caloric needs. 
  • Clothing:  All my shopping is done at the Goodwill, but I still go through an average of 4 items per season, because of heavy wear and body odor absorption.
  • Travel:  I do not drive, but still cost me bus fairs or pitching in on gas getting to and from trailheads. 
  • Internet access:  Not having a house to access the internet.  I must go to public locations, which out of courtesy, items must be purchased at various establishments to use their service.  
  • Electronics:  Computer; as we speak this device is overheating and will quit on me soon.  When it goes, the content will be very minimal.  External hard drive; this devices memory is about full and would like to back-up all the photos.  Cameras; from heavy use, both cameras are in need of maintenance.  
  • Domestic Storage:  I spend most of 3 seasons in the backcountry.  By doing this,  I still need a place to store personal items.  This could mean storage shed or room rental.  

  This year I will be spending a full summer, into autumn in the Park.  Im not going to disclose my routes at this time.  If you are out there sometime, keep your eyes open and you just might run into me!  I will be doing updates all year long right here on my blog of my progress.  
  I hope you have enjoyed the content on this site over the years.  The future is now in your hands, help if you can.  Keep this site free of ads and subscriptions.  Click the bottom below. 

Campfire Rest - Walking through the Seasons

Read beginning of story.

  I was ready for some rest and relaxation, after getting my butt kicked by the mountain the last few days.  So I jumped in with a friend on his trip and we ended up just lounging on a gravel bar for 4 days; good food and campfires every night.  It was good to experience this form of backpacking, was also nice to hike with a partner; for the first time in weeks.

Hours spent staring into a campfire. 

Olympic Mountain Weather Forecasting

  I have been using NOAA for years as a tool for forecasting weather in the unpredictable Olympic Mountain Ranges.  Rather than physically scrolling over an area with a mouse click to get more of a 'pin point' prediction.  I stumbled on this nice regional map feature.  This probably isn't anything new for some of you, but it was to me; so thought I'd share.  Feel free to add it to your bookmarks, as I did.  Try it out....

Olympic Natinal Park Foecast
Olympic Mountain Ranges Forecast Tool. 

Presentation - Walking through the Seasons

  Sitting here in a hotel internet cafĂ© in Salt Lake City, Utah; for Outdoor Retailer Winter Market.  I want to tell you about an upcoming presentation for the Peninsula Wilderness Club in Bremerton, Wa.   The topic will be a slideshow and stories from my last years adventure in the Olympic National Park.  Most of the photos will be exclusive just for this group; since I have not released them onto the web officially.    Feel free to join us and look forward to saying hello to each of you.

All the information.

Walking through the Seasons
Mount Olympus in autumn.

Rugged Olympic Coast - Walking through the Seasons

Beginning of story.

The section of coast south of Yellow Banks is always mentally tough for me. Walking on endless loose, small boulders with very limited fresh water and no shade is tiring. This is where a hiker umbrella would come in handy for sun protection. For those walking westbound/north on the Pacific Northwest Trail, this is the crux of the Olympic Coast.

I arrived at camp a few hours before sundown - not due to being tired but because I ran out of a hiking tide. You can only walk on the coast when tides are at certain height levels. Usually at points or headlands there is only a small strip of land between ocean and bluff. This makes these features of the landscape impassable - unless you can walk on water.

I was antsy to get into the high country for mountain views, as the coast is where I make most of my winter backpacking trips. Generally, my time was spent sleeping or walking. I didn't really pause to fully enjoy the microenvironments.

Norwegian Memorial
Preparing a hot meal after a long day of beach walking. Started my day one hour before sunrise to walk the max distance with the tides. Was ready to inhale some salt - after the sun cooked me by reflecting off the ocean.