Crank!

Frustrated with the weather, I headed out to Olympic National Park do get in some biking counting on the rain shadow effect of the area around Sequim. Since I had some friends staying there I thought I'd do the 4800 foot climb of the Hurricane Ridge Road and hopefully enjoy a rain free 18 mile descent. I started the uphill portion at 2:30 PM (starting elevation 400 feet) and slightly over 3 hours later arrived at the Hurricane Ridge visitor center at 5200 feet. This is a steady grind, more climbing in one shot than I have done before and almost twice the elevation gain of Longmire to Paradise at Mount Rainier National Park (11 miles/2600 feet). Since my proposed Baker trip has need of my mountain bike, with the last 13 miles on gravel road with 2600 feet of climb, that is the steed I used. And frankly, besides the better climbing gears on my mountain bike, I just didn't want to go too fast on the descent. With the rolling resistance and more upright (less aerodynamic) posture on my mountain bike, I was able to keep the speeds reasonable without riding the brakes too much (top speed 34 MPH). Slowing 3 times for deer, either crossing or right by the road, was another factor that warranted caution.

Cranking that much with little bike time is a good indication of my fitness level, which I would consider "very good" at this stage, and a good confidence builder for the bike portion of the Baker trip (58 miles biking). Now it's just a matter of having decent weather on days off before the forest service starts rolling up the carpet and snows settle into the high country.......

The documentor in me took over and I filmed the entire descent, so if you'd like to vicariously do the 45 minute trip, sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

Ready, Set, Go!

running descent/Mt RuthMy recent one day 33 miler with 10,600 feet of elevation would have been the exact profile I would use as my last outing before an ultra 100 miler, only I would have run more. This has me thinking about taking a crack at a personal best on the Wonderland (sub 36 hours) after an appropriate rest period. Unfortunately, the long range weather forecast doesn't look promising, with unsettled weather and low freezing levels for nearly the next two weeks. This September has certainly been unusual compared to years past where I've enjoyed incredible weather outings for quite some time.

As for my prior hike, I could have easily spent an evening around Mystic Lake and trotted out in the morning, but I simply wanted to keep going just to see how I would do, committing to another 13 miles with 2600 feet of elevation gain. I finished up at 3 AM, but aside from twitching legs I felt fine afterwards. Although not as light as I'd like to be, I haven't done anything approaching my ultra days like this hike for over 15 years and I'm feeling pretty jazzed about undertaking something really hard. I may just go out even with bad weather when the time is right, just to take advantage of my peaking fitness and motivated attitude. Feelin' good!

Mt. Baker Round-The-Mountain prelim

new Ridley Creek seasonal bridge

With my fitness level nearing optimum, I had a short window to attempt the Mt. Baker RTM route, consisting of 58 miles of biking and 37 miles of hiking. I decided to go for it on September 8th, 3 days prior to my vacation ending. I figured this would leave me a day of leeway for work, but although the weather forecast for the Puget Sound area was passable, further north the weather certainly did not cooperate. This trip starts off from the Lake Ann trailhead (5000'), where I will leave my vehicle, and immediately starts with a winding descent on roads with little to no shoulder. The forecast of 50 percent chance of rain had me chance it, but I was greeted by fog and steady hard rain as I ascended RTE 542 toward Artist Point. The first nearly half of this trip is downhill, with little climbs totaling 760' for the first 40 miles, but with nearly 4500 feet of descent...I anticipate speeds to be high on this section. In the interest of safety I abandoned the attempt and scouted the rest of the route to the Ridley Creek trailhead to ensure I would have no surprises if/when I come back. Since the last biking portion is on FS Road 38 (gravel) at 13 miles and 2500 feet of gain, I did not have the luxury of waiting until afternoon to start the attempt if the weather improved. I will need to be on the bike NLT 7 AM if I'm going to do this sojourn in under 48 hours, as I need to be on trail and well into the hiking portion before it gets dark. I was glad to be able to scout the route, but driving 350 miles round trip with no biking or hiking was a pain. At about 11 AM, and as I moved south, the rain finally abated. The forecast for the following day stood at zero percent chance of rain but, alas, this would not leave me enough pad for returning to work. So it goes, I shall try again when weather and schedule align better. Check out photos and video here of my scouting trip.

EDIT: I did this trip on August 23-24, 2016. Full trip report here.

Finally Back in the Groove

60 Y/O Dad entertaining the daughterMy daughter and I just finished Part 2 of the Mt. Rainier Grand Tour, a tough cross country jaunt that cuts off from the Northern Loop Trail and travels through the Elysian Fields and Moraine Park, reintersecting the trail on the south side. I had to throttle back as my daughter was on her first real hike of the season, but I felt really strong throughout the hike, even those final miles approaching an 18 hour day at the end. I never red lined on the climbs, never found myself panting to take in more air, and mechanically had no problems. This hike felt like ones I did in my 40s, a tough day but far from a sufferfest. Although I felt tired the following day (after arriving home at 4 AM), my muscles were not sore.

I feel like the body is dialed in (although I'm still carrying about 7-10 extra pounds), my equipment is dialed in, and I'm ready to launch with confidence on further adventures in celebration of turning 60, 'cause it sure doesn't feel like it!

Mystery Solved

Starting the 7500 foot climb: Nisqually BridgeI had been complaining of fatigue on earlier trips and how I didn't seem to be performing as I should be, but when you're 60 it's hard to tell if this is natural or if something is indeed impacting you physically. I went to the doctor last month checking on a lingering cough and got some bloodwork done just in case. Turns out I was impacted by an upper respiratory problem that has since cleared up....once I started treating for the cough and sinus congestion I noticed that crud was breaking up in the chest. Since then I have noticed an improvement in performance, especially on my last trip (Mt. Rainier Grand Tour Part 1). It took me about 4 hours to climb from Paradise to Camp Muir, but I had throttled back a bit, already having climbed from Longmire (2800') to Paradise (5400'). Anticipating the return trip from Muir (10,188') all the way to Maple Creek Camp (2800') my time and performance this time just about matched where I thought I should be, also factoring in that I was sleep deprived from an overseas trip. This is encouraging for me because on both my Mt. Adams trip and Wonderland trip I just had this feeling that I wasn't moving fast enough but there was nothing I could do about it.

I've kicked back a bit since my last sojourn, anticipating my daughter's return and our plans going forward where kicking back will not be an option. From a training perspective this brief rest period is in anticipation of ever challenging outings going all the way into September. I'm hoping to peak physically at that point and anticipate attempting something harder than what I've been doing recently.

STP '15 Cold

two relics, a plane I flew at one time....STP (Seattle To Portland) indeed was blessedly cool, at least on day 1 and the morning of day 2. But when I say "cold" I mean that there was no training....I took my road bike off the rack in the garage, where it had hung since last summer, wiped it off a little bit, pumped up the tires, and put it on the car rack. It wasn't until I started out from UW with my buddy Craig that I was sure it would even shift. Probably not the best way to tackle 206 miles but the bike is sturdy and presented no problems the entire time. This is more in line with my philosophy this year of tackling hard stuff, and biking to Portland with no training sorta qualifies as hard.

Now, this is not to say I hadn't done any biking whatsoever, as I've been on my mountain bike a few times and occasionally on trip layovers I'll use the gym bikes to go for a 50K. I knew this fairly benign course would present no difficulties with the exception of my butt and my neck....these are the reasons to get some seat time on my road bike and in this respect I paid the price. However, this was another nice ride with a course alteration this year going through McChord and Ft. Lewis, and Craig and I checked out the C-141 Static Display during our lunch stop, reminiscing how we both had flown this particular airplane, and how us and the airplane are now relics of a bygone era. At least we are still functioning though.

hot mochas make up for sore butts

Mt. Adams Circumnavigation

wild terrain in Hellroaring MeadowYou can read the regular trip here. But this blog is about ageing and such. This trip proved to be everything I had hoped for: challenging, tough and highly rewarding, probably never to be repeated (by me). I mentioned it in my blog write up but the difference between this trip and a regular on trail trek is all in the mindset and approach. If I'm on good trail there is no need to think about it, then I can get lost in introspection or write books and songs whilst ambulating down the trail. But when every footstep requires consideration the mental aspect is completely different. For 8 hours I was constantly assessing the terrain ahead and choosing an appropriate path, aiming towards my next "waypoint" or visual destination. All this in utter solitude with no one within miles, I didn't see one person the entire first day. Risk mitigation finds its way to the forefront because I am more aware of my solitude and inaccessibility. This is not to say I usually traipse about with abandon concerning possible injury when on a popular trail, just that I need to be aware of each step I take and possible consequences if I fall and twist or break something. So in essence yes, I am being more cautious because of my surroundings and circumstances.

Long have I thought about doing this trip since I read about it in Mike Woodmansee's book "Trekking Washington." I used his description of how to navigate the off trail section relying mostly on my altimeter. That I could finally pull this off at age 60, solo, made this trek extremely rewarding. The fact that I didn't cover the easy on trail portion as quickly as I wanted to does little to take away my satisfaction with completing a seldom done journey.

Harder Than Expected: Wonderland Trail in June

Wonderland Trail ProfileOn my latest trip I was both satisfied and somewhat baffled. See the trip report here. On day one I started at Longmire and proceeded CW with the intention of staying at Golden Lakes, and everything went exactly as planned with about a 15 hour day for 25 miles and 7500 feet elevation gain. I had a nice sleep on the ranger cabin porch and got about 5 hours in, rising early at 5 AM to tackle day 2, which would be challenging at 32 miles and 8,800 feet of gain. However, according to "past practices" this should have taken me about 16-17 hours, plus a little more thrown in for the various difficulties I experienced due to lack of trail maintenance: 1) no bridges over the Mowich Rivers, 2) blowdown, 3) trail eradicated crossing the S Fork of the White River, 4) eroded trail section above Garda Falls, and 5) snow at Skyscraper Pass. However, it wasn't until 22 hours later that I pulled into the parking lot and awaiting vehicle with the eastern sky already getting light.

I was moving slowly, but managed to finish off with the old ultra mantra of "relentless forward movement." Day 2 started off with my body never feeling quite on. One thing going for me though, the mental toughness that I learned over the years came to the fore and I was able to soldier on. It was interesting that despite an obviously physically punishing day, I told myself that "I wanted to do tough things this year so just suck it up and enjoy what you can, it's only a little pain." So I did....enjoy things I mean, like a blazing star show everytime I stopped to rest and turned off my light, an ever present flower riot, and sense of isolation and wilderness experience that came with hiking this unmaintained trail in June, even the biting winds above 6000 feet.

I've decided to take a week off and hope that some recovery time after this grueling event will help me on my next hike. So far I guess I'm getting what I planned on, so why stop now?

GEAR NOTES: On this hike I tailored my kit for the warm conditions and excellent weather forecast:

Zimmerbuilt custom Backpack and Frontpack

Enlightened Equipment 50 degree Enigma quilt

NeoAir XLite pad

Mountain Laurel Designs Sleeping Quilt/Bag Liner (used as bivy bag)

24 oz bike bottle/1 liter of Tailwind supplement

ZPacks carbon fiber staff

Clothing bag: left insulated jacket but included Borah Gear down vest. Always included: Montbell windshirt, ZPacks fleece mitts and overmitts, ZPacks WPB cuben XLarge/long cut jacket, fleece hat, EE Hoodlum, sun cap and cape, Halo beanie, spare socks, Beyond Clothing sleep top.

 

 

Self Supported Looping

Governors Ridge from point 6240Loop hikes are great, but if these are not available then one is relegated to out and backs. I'm finding that judicious use of a bike can allow me to cover more distance in the hike. This week I did a test run where I parked at the Stevens Canyon entrance to Mt Rainier National Park and hopped on my vintage Gary Fisher hard tail and biked HiWay 123 north to the White River entrance, just short of 18 miles with 2600 feet of climb. Then it was retraining my limbs for the climb to Owyhigh Lakes on trail where I continued on the Eastside trail south back to my vehicle. With similar stats for the hike (17 miles/2600') it made for a longish 11 hour day but I was able to cover so much more distance with the bike thrown into the mix. Most people use bikes for stretches on roads that are closed to vehicles or to bridge a loop hike at two different trailheads. In this case of course I had to drive back to the White River entrance and retrieve my bike from the woods, but this was an excellent test of my recovery where I even threw in a short climb from Owyhigh Lakes to point 6240 to check out the views of Rainier. The most notable aspect of this 35 mile day was the pleasure I felt with being able to pull it off without undue stress, although my legs were protesting on those last few miles. I would call my recovery complete and am optimistically looking forward to upping the game over the next weeks, building towards much more difficult endeavors. Mentally this hike was a total game changer for me, following last week's Loowit trail....I'm starting to believe I can pull off some of my more ambitious planned outings, especially using this combo of bike/hike to give me total solo freedom.

one of many waterfalls on the Eastside Trailperfect combo of sun and rainMt. Rainier's Eastside Trail is a watery old growth paradise

 

Kickin' it on Mt St Helens

Windy Pass MSHSo I'm still 10 pounds over weight but feel pretty good after a series of recovery hikes I've done with my daughter, each one getting a little longer and harder with the last being a 32 mile hike of the Loowit Trail around Mt St Helens. Any lingering effects are barely noticeable and the legs are recovering nicely. This last hike had us doing 12 miles the first day and 20 on the second, slowed by heat and darkness on the last day but physically not really a sufferfest (total elevation gain for this hike is @6000'). Consistency is the name of the game and my schedule should allow for an event once a week, a good way to build for the harder events I have planned (like the Mt Rainier Grand Tour).

This hike was my first test of my custom Borah Gear Snowyside bivy, my primary shelter planned for this season's solo hikes. It was an excellent side by side test as my daughter was using my older ZPacks bivy. Conditions on the Plains of Abraham were cool at night with a significant breeze at first, then calm winds. My daughter was up first with a soaked bivy top and a damp sleeping bag, a surprising condition considering the breathability of her bivy. Mine, with a 1.5 cuben bottom and eVent top, only felt a little clammy on the inside of the top part of the bivy, with dew and water rolling off on the outside and a completely dry quilt for me. Condensation is always a concern with bivy bags and this first night out was very encouraging. I had the bag made at 90 inches long so I could put gear inside and the volume seems just about right. I'll do a proper gear review after more use. As for my Geigerrig pressurized bladder I am having mixed results. At first there's a pretty good stream going but it doesn't take long for the pressure to become equalized and I end up sucking the end just like a regular bladder. This was also the first time I used the filter in the setup and although it worked, I had to work to get the water out. I do like the 3 liter capacity though so I'll see how it fares under long term use. Other gear that is working out great: ZPacks staff, custom Zimmerbuilt front pack.

Borah Gear custom Snowyside on bottom 

The Climb Back Up

Hopefully the low point is behind me. My only real caution is to prevent my leg from completely extending or compressing to ensure that the scar behind my knee heals properly. With this in mind my daughter and I went for a little stroll a few days ago on a local trail as a test and a photo opportunity. This encouraged me to try the next level. I settled on Glacier Basin in Mt. Rainier National Park as I knew the trail was gentle, we could find places for my daughter to practice some mountaineering techniques, and I could easily turn back at any time. We ended up hiking for 8 miles round trip with a bit over 2000 feet of elevation gain and loss. Today I am pleasantly sore, not at the recovery site but overall muscles that haven't been used for a month. It was a slow day with me cautiously stepping and taking my time, still limping a bit, but it was sooo good to get back outside. We found a nice spot for her to practice self arrest and we continued up the amazingly low snow cover to get in some roped travel practice. Nice to get a boost from the outdoor reenergizer bunny.

total sun coverage!rock break and turnaround point

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

rock and ice and air, oh my!

Falling Apart

Funny how things come in groups or waves. While convalesescing from my leg surgery I got up the day after a good upper body weight lifting session and could barely lift my left arm up. Then on the doctor's followup for my leg there was another spot on my face that needed to be burned off, so we decided to do the full face thing. At this moment I can't run, I can't lift, I can't do any aerobics of any kind, and I can't wear a men (Kendo face mask) for probably another two weeks. Now if my daughter asks me if my face hurts, I have to say yes and I'm sure it's killing everyone who sees me. Still, I guess I'm lucky that all these things are short lived and, in the grand scheme, not serious. But I'm going stir crazy. Maybe next week.....

Setback and Opportunity

My training is going well, what I would consider on track. However, a wrench was thrown into the works in that I needed surgery on my leg and this will sideline me for some weeks to come. Because the area is right behind the knee, I won't be able to climb, bike or run for at least two weeks, maybe longer. This of course is the setback, but what's the opportunity? Well, I can at least go to the gym and weight lift, so I'll really be working the upper body over the next weeks and utilizing the only aerobic machine appropriate for my status: a sit down "bicycle" that only uses the arms to crank. I am also concentrating on my diet so as not to gain weight from slacking and munching.

GAUGE

About 15 years ago, at the end of the season in September, I cranked up to Camp Muir in 2 hours 4 minutes and ran back down in 58 minutes. I was in excellent shape and running quite a bit (more than 40 miles per week). This past Sunday (April 19) I did a steady push and made it in 2 hours 55 minutes. There was snow  from the get go, compared to later season where one is on trail all the way to Pebble Creek (above Panorama Point). Also, the snow was much more consolidated then, which provided better footing. Although my time is 50 minutes longer this year, when I take into consideration being 15 years older and with slower conditions, I am pretty pleased with where I am at the beginning of this season. I'd almost be tempted to see what I could do it in in September of this year under similar conditions to back then. My temporary sidelining shouldn't make a big difference over the course of months (the morning of surgery I biked 30 miles and ran 4). Now if I could just drop this useless old man tire flab of about 10 pounds.

EQUIPMENT

My "celebration 60" new equipment is slowly coming in. Here's what I tested on my Camp Muir hike:

shoulder strap clip mountGoPro Mounts: I ordered a few items from theaccessorypro.com. My Hero3 Black is still a good camera but I needed to fix some mounting challenges. For instance, if you watch my Inter Glacier Ski video I had to deal with some shaking due to the rigged mount I attached to my pack strap. I also am constantly dealing with numerous loose itty bitty parts when I take along these small cameras. Another minor problem is the audio quality when the Hero3 is in its waterproof case....not that I use it much but it would be nice to have better audio "just in case" and to help synch with other cameras in post production. I addressed these problems with an aluminum housing, carry bag and clip mount. The other bonus for the aluminum housing is that I am able to mount a UV filter and still have a lens cap. Obviously this arrangement is not for inclement weather.

 

 

 GoPro housing/LX100Panasonic LX100: Over the past few years I've been researching an alternative to my older Panasonic GH2 camera. I've managed some nice shots with that camera but the prime lens is heavy and large and the telephoto is large. Only once have I changed out lenses in the field. I've been borrowing a pancake lens for the GH2 to make the package compact but this doesn't take advantage of the camera's capabilities. The LX100 is a compromise like anything else, but gives me a small form factor, good sensor, limited but satisfactory zoom capability along with a macro setting (within 3 CM of subject). Another consideration for me, the ability to take 4K video. The flexibility of this camera with good glass (fixed) is proving to be a winner.

Read my initial review

 

Geigerrig 3 Liter Bladder: My daughter and I have been using 2L bladders for a few years, but cleaning them Geigerrig 3L bladder/filter/hoseis a pain and so is filling them. Geigerrig has improved on this basic design by pressurizing the bladder, making it dishwasher safe, and incorporating quick release connections so you can remove the bladder from your pack and leaving the hoses in place. It is also easy to add or subtract a filter in the mix, depending on your needs. I also ordered the insulated hose, which worked well in not baking the liquid on those first few sips. On Sunday's hike I filled the bladder without using the filter and mixed in tailwind, one of the reasons I could do this hike in one push. Because of the heat on the snowfield I dispatched my 3 liters of liquid before I finished the hike.

LX100 detail

It's all about the Vert

views like this require climbing legs (above Panhandle Gap)I'm really trying to hit the climbing legs this year, utilizing the gym provided stair machine. I'm figuring for margin, where my upcoming trips allow me to not push to the max and get totally trashed out on a hard day. Margin is working my legs to the point where I can climb (in the gym) steadily over hours and keep my heartbeat below 120 BPM, a pace that I can continue through most of a day. When I started this in January I was able to put in 2000 feet per hour. I skipped February but my log indicates that I can now sustain 2400 feet per hour. I am not wearing a pack, so this is not a rate that is equal to hiking trails, which have many more variables, and off trail is also a whole different animal. But getting the legs used to constant stepping should help tremendously. Over the past two weeks I have climbed 20,000 feet over 8.5 hours. Today I put in 4600 feet with a 33 minute 4 mile run thrown in the middle. April is Vert month and I hope to continue to slam the legs without much break, easing off in May. I know a gym is not ideal, I am not getting in any downhill training. However, the ease of access allows me to be extremely efficient in both time management (5 minute drive) and targeting. The ultimate goal?.....motoring all day for up to 15 hours, climbing (on trail) over 8,000 vertical feet and having enough left over for a good night's sleep and be able to do it again the next day.

Kendo 4 Dan test failure

I've been concentrating on preparing for my Kendo 4Dan (4th degree black belt) test for awhile, putting other physical activities aside in the process. From the title of this blog the reader can see that I was not successful. In fact, I wasn't even close. That all 14 testers for this rank failed is little consolation. Granted, I started practicing kendo at the advanced age of 49 so physically I am at a disadvantage, but testing is grouped by age so it's not like I had to fight someone 20 years my junior. I sit here writing and thinking about the test formulating what my plan is going forward. There are 6 senior people sitting on the board and when I say I wasn't even close, I got 0 out of 6 votes (I did pass the Kata). I guess one of the challenges of turning 60 is trying to find a way to continue improving my Kendo so that I can demonstrate what is needed to present at that level. This is age appropriate Kendo, so instead of looking at my age as a detriment I should consider it an advantage; the board members do not expect someone 60 years old to move and look like someone in their twenties or thirties. Although of course disappointed, I need to carefully consider what my failings were and take the next year to attend to these deficiencies. Instead of feeling downtrodden I actually feel reenergized...failure allows one to focus on what is important and strive for success.

Testing the legs on a 28 mile day: ONP

crossing Pirites Creek, ONPThis past Sunday (2/22/15) I decided to test out the conditioning and legs on a planned 26 mile day, but added a couple more in because of poor planning. This trip to Enchanted Valley in Olympic National Park was a perfect tester and trainer, without worry of much elevation gain and loss. Although I was rather stiff getting out of the car on the return trip for a coffee reload, by the next evening I was feeling rather good and enjoyed an hour of Kendo without Advil. I was able to continue trotting on the later portion of the hike, and this is a good sign. My aim is to be able to handle 30+ mile days with significantly more elevation gain and loss in 16 hours or less, enabling me to get 8 hours of rest on any endeavor I undertake. On this hike I carried my larger and heavier panasonic GH2 camera and the Zimmerbuilt packs. One thing I have to address is the backpack jacket attachment system, which works perfectly but in actual use my jacket strapped there attracted a bunch of ground and tree gunk when I took it off and set it down. I may have to resort to packaging an attached jacket in a cuben stuff sack for protection, but this is a minor point.

Motivation?

2012: realizing the goal of filming the WonderlandI have no urge to become one of the many news stories of late of people being pulled out dead for trying to recapture their lost youth in their '60's.

This quote is taken off a hiking forum by an individual who is in his 60's, responding to someone's post. It got me to thinking about this 60s blog I'm doing and what my motivations are for it. Am I trying to recapture my lost youth? Am I attempting things beyond my capabilities based on my age? Far from it. First of all my youth is not lost, I had a great time and did some cool things. Perhaps I'm not satisfied with looking forward to a more sedentary lifestyle because I'm "supposed to." I'm extremely lucky in that I am mechanically sound, with no major problems, no past surgeries, no major health concerns, and at an appropriate weight. I didn't start really exploring more hard core pursuits until my late 30's, and it has been an extremely satisfying and rewarding journey, not to mention educational. Turning 60 is only a milestone in that it's an even number and cries out for a party or a commemoration (many thanks to my wife who threw me a real surprise B'Day party!). It is only in this light that I am thinking of pursuits to mark the occasion, but these pursuits are based on decades of experience and education. There is no reason why we can't keep stretching out of our comfort zone and attempting things that are hard as we age. Sure I have to make allowances for the physical realm....I need to make sure I get plenty of rest in that my recovery time lengthens like shadows in a setting sun. I need to pay more attention to nutrition and hydration (really, I need to pay more attention). Understanding waning physicality in the pursuit of hard core is paramount. Staying in the bounds of safety and actually enjoying the pursuits can only be done if one is in touch with limitations. This is not to say I won't push myself into the all too familiar suffer zone, for this is one of the things I have come to embrace. But I'm not recapturing anything, I am enjoying life at this moment, setting goals and working towards them, really no different than my life since I could reason. Perhaps someday I may try to "recapture my 60's"?

Custom Tools: Zimmerbuilt packs

Zimmerbuilt modified Hybrid Daypack/custom front packI've been refining my gear continuously, and for 2015 I wanted a simple system for both training and hiking. I just test ran my Zimmerbuilt custom configuration of packs with a 28 mile bike/hike to Summerland with very gratifying results. I had Chris make some simple modifications to his Hybrid Daypack: compression straps and a small dyneema pocket. My use has me carrying a small tripod, umbrella, trekking poles or (in future) a ZPacks hiking staff. When scrambling or when I need hands free, the lack of compression straps and/or pocket makes it hard to stow these items on my other small packs. I am also an avid front pack user, so I had Chris make me a custom front pack that matches the Hybrid Daypack, backed by some mesh to aid in the sweat factor on my chest. I found this combo to be very stable and useful; on my Summerland trip I stowed an ice axe and a single trekking pole, carried crampons and winter clothing, plus electronics and food. I also ran most of the return trip with minimal bounce. The front pack is just the right volume and thickness to not interfere with sighting trail under foot. Also, when we arrived at a solution via email and I paid the very reasonable invoices, I had the packs in hand within a week.

Zimmerbuilt packs on winter hike

Mt. Rainier Grand Tour

I did a series of hikes last year which I named Mt. Rainier: The 7Up Hikes. These laid the groundwork for a more ambitious project I have in mind for my 60th year, what I call the Mt. Rainier Grand Tour. I won't be doing the Wonderland this year, but I'll be on it a fair amount. The Grand Tour will take me off trail quite a bit, repeatedly probing up to higher elevations via snow fields and cleavers. The highest spot will be Camp Muir at 10,100 feet, followed by Steamboat Prow at 9700. I won't be camping in any of the established campgrounds, in fact I won't be "camping" at all. I am assembling a throw down sleep system where I will rest at strategic intervals. I may break this trip into two parts, where I start at Sunrise and proceed CCW to Longmire. This will be a solo trip, my pack will be tiny and filled mostly with food. Once my system is assembled and tested, I'll write about it.

This sojourn will go substantially beyond what one encounters on the Wonderland, both scenically and physically. Planned stats: 150 miles/50,000' vertical. More later, but here's an overview:

The Mt. Rainier Grand Tour: Beyond the Wonderland