Showing posts with label ultralight. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ultralight. Show all posts

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.

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.  

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.  

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.

(Read original post)  

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:

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 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'.

Prepping for Southern Utah

  I'm excited to go on an extended backpacking trip this coming week.  Heading to the Escalante, Utah area for just under 7 days.  Make sure you check out the Pinterest Board I created; featuring the area.

  There I will be trekking with new and old trail friends.    Positive vibes for good weather and a safe journey.

  This is not my only adventure so far year, but defiantly the biggest; since I will be traveling out of state and sleeping out more than just a few nights.  I wonder if all the rain and Olympics will miss me?

  What better time to test out some new products?  New shelter, camera, clothing and little items; that are just dying to get outdoors.  Will be nice to try them out before being used for an extended period this summer.  I'm a big believer in testing gear thoroughly in various conditions before relying on it for a multi-week adventure.

Samsung NX1000
New toy - Samsung NX1000 w/ 2 lenses - shared on Instagram 

Gossamer Gear Minimalist Review

  Lighting your pack is a never ending evolution it seems.  I've done a great job at getting my overnight kit dialed in, but my smaller trip gear has seemed to be less of a priority.  As winter closed in.  It was time to get my day pack in order.

  For years have used a tradition bag that can be found at almost any outdoor shop.  I was in need of something not designed to carry heavy loads.   Did not want my pack to slop around my body when doing trail running or scrambling.   

Gossamer Gear Minimalist
Exploring Chaco Canyon, NM with my Gossamer Gear Minimalist

Highs and Lows of 2012

  While writing this I'm patiently waiting for the end of the world. (sarcastic)

  The last few weeks I have gotten in quite a bit of little day hikes in the ONP.  Have not done any overnight trips now in almost 4 weeks.

  Spending a lot of time alone trying to recover from my 'Post Backpacking Blues'.  If you have spent a good chunk of the year wearing a backpack.  Know exactly what Im talking about.

  Walking on an almost endless trail, with no real responsibility and seeing epic sights daily.  Getting away from the modern human lifestyle in the most part.  Spending real time with nature and getting to know your self with each step.   

  Then you come back to 'the normal life'.  Experiencing a huge shock to the system.  I find myself starring out windows watching it pour down rain.  Reflecting back to the most fulfilling year of my life.  

  Looking through 100's of pictures that I snapped along the way.  Wishing I was walking through fields of wildflowers.  With every breath; smelling wilderness in my lunges.

  Waking up in the middle of the night when nature calls.  Gazing above to endless meteor showers on a clear night in the alpine.  Then easily falling back to sleep; like a baby without a worry in the world.

  During my self reflection I thought about allot.  So I decided to list some things here on my blog.

Presentation for FONP in March 2013

  A few months ago I was asked if would be interested in telling my '30+ Days in the Olympic National Park' story in the auditorium in the Visitors Center.  This presentation would be in part of an Friends of the Olympic National Park Winter Series.

  Having a life long obsession with the Olympics excitedly agreed.  I remember being a young boy; spending my afternoons studying ONP trail maps.

  Look forward to sharing what I created in my imagination and turned into a reality.  Make sure you mark March 21st 2013 on your calendar.

olympic peninsula
Route Map from June to Oct 2012 (some trails done twice) 

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.