Well, tomorrow is the start of 2019, and I just read through this section of my 35 Years blog and thought I’d share a few thoughts on this past year. I had some successes, like finishing up the All Trails project, indeed setting foot on every trail in the park, finishing another Wonderland Trail hike (although broken into two excursions), bagging some peaks and doing some very cool loops. Then there’s this want to do list:
OTHER: Little Tahoma climb • Curtis Ridge notch (9,000') • Vernal Park/Old Desolate • Tatoosh Traverse • Puyallup Cleaver/ St. Andrews Rock • Mt. Wow • Glacier Island orbit/climb • Van Trump/Wapowety Cleaver • Colonnade (8-9,000') • Chenuis Mountain traverse
Little Tahoma was scheduled but weathered out and the rest of this list didn’t come to fruition either….I did manage to get to Van Trump Park but didn’t make it to Wapowety Cleaver, and I did go a bit up the Colonnade but was turned back by snow early season. One thing I’ve learned over the years is to have goals but do your best and chill if the list isn’t completed. It’s been a good year despite falling short.
EQUIPMENT I’d like to touch briefly on some observations and experiences with gear this past season. My usual method was to look at each trip and pick from my quiver for appropriate gear. Of note, my trip to Natural Bridge involved a 27 mile day with 10 miles of biking with possibility of rain. I opted to pack my Zpacks Poncho instead of a rain jacket and ended up wearing it for a good portion of the hike. I was pleased with the decision, proving that the venerable poncho still has a place in the gear closet.
I never broke out a tent, even the new Plexamid from Zpacks….most of my solo endeavors were day trips with the exception of one night out on the Wonderland push, where I slept for only 3 hours as planned. Not only did I leave a tent behind, I didn’t even pack a sleeping pad or a bag. I slept on a soft rather mossy area right next to the trail in a Borah Bivy Bag in a puffy jacket. Guess I didn’t want to be too comfortable. The one overnight I did with my daughter (in fine weather) we opted for another open bivy on Ptarmigan Ridge. On many of my forays, especially the long days or multiple day hikes, the nights were spent in my pseudo Avalanche RV. So the Duplex and Plexamid stayed packed this season.
A few years ago I did a blog post on Beyond Clothing. Yes, I still use these pieces. Of note, I’ve been using the Polartech Alpha jacket on late season training hikes; in fact, the last one I did involved over 3,600’ of climb and about 19 miles and the jacket stayed on the entire time. Polartech Alpha has proven itself over and over again as a true active piece that vents and breathes well yet provides considerable warmth. I’m surprised I don’t see more of this making its way into the mainstream, I don’t seem to hear much about it.
My various pairs of Inov8 shoes still work like a charm. I finally tossed one pair I’ve used for years only because they’ve been chewed up from some rough cross country travel and I was afraid of imminent failure like sole separation; I retired them after my Wonderland Trail hike #31. Haven’t had a blister this year.
I picked up 2 more pair of OR hooded Echo T’s this year on sale. Aside from biking, they’re practically on every outdoor endeavor, including a recent half marathon in Seattle. Aside from the sun protection the hood provides (especially on snow), the hood also retains just that little bit of heat when needed without donning a hat.
Nunatak; some of the best products available, be it bags, quilts or clothing. I’ve done a few reviews (3D 15 degree quilt/Skaha Apex pullover) and plan on a couple more purchases this coming year, namely the Nova Insulated Bivy and the PCT Jacket. All this gear is meticulously made, conservative in ratings and backed by outstanding customer service. I haven’t been on a hike or bike yet this past year without something Nunatak in my pack.
Cameras: I’m very pleased with my Panasonic G9, especially paired with the 8-18 Leica lens. And for Christmas my family gave me the latest generation of GoPro, the Hero 7 Black. Preliminary tests promise excellent improvements over my Hero 5, especially in the stabilization department. If you peruse this site’s myriad videos you’ll see that I incorporate lots of helmet cam footage in most of what I do. The 7 follows prior purchases over the years of the aforementioned Hero 5, and before that the Hero 3 Black, the Hero 2, plus 3 Contour cameras including the first one when it was called VHoldR. Quite a difference in the quality from those first iterations. I recall having to deal with some very funky yellow casts in my Hero 2 whilst time lapsing the Wonderland in 2012 during post production. PITA, but now so much better. Lastly I’ll mention the Lumix ZS100, a travel camera I bought for my wife but have taken on many outings due to its small form factor. Especially handy is the 25-250 zoom lens (1” sensor), enabling shots I couldn’t get on my G9 without the zoom attached vice the 8-18.
As this year of 2018 comes to a close I give thanks to my continued health but don’t take it for granted. I’m looking forward to great sojourns and adventures in 2019 and wish you all a Happy New Year!