Kinetic Meditation

running the West Side road for pickupBy now anyone reading my blogs knows that I use the gym to prepare myself for strenuous hiking, especially in these months leading up to summer. However, a recent question from a cohort of mine brings to light a specific component of working out, that question being "how can you run on a treadmill without music or watching something?" Well, the answer lies in the title.
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Marmot Hole Sniffing and Cross Cultural Relations

After months of working on serious affairs, I had to get back to my roots. In college I wrote a comic opera and conducted a brass choir in white gloves, also using my feet. Humor is part of my makeup and some things never change. This short is exerpted from a film festival entry that never made it into any film festival, but required weeks of work to animate, with no animation software. At a minute and a half, I hope it provides some entertainment.

Filming the Wonderland Trail: The Experience

Yes, this year it took me 15 days to hike the Wonderland. Of course if you've read the complete account, you know why. But I just want to touch on the experience itself, beyond the technical aspects of filming the trail or the logistical parts, and get to it's core....this was one amazing season of hiking. In truth, probably one of the reasons I did this film project was that it gave me an excuse to go to the park. I got to tell my wife, "Oh, I have to cover A and then do B and I have to get up to C before the snow levels drop." My ever patient spouse went along with these flimsy excuses and indulged me, and I got to skip some days of potentially working on the house to do fair weather hiking. And was it ever fair weather. Not once did I don a pair of gloves, very unusual for me as I tend to get cold hands. Only once did I don a poncho due to brief minutes of squall activity very early as I trotted my way out to the start film point. Only on my last foray, on October 4th, did I wear a jacket through most of the day. As I review the stills and video I amassed, it was unusual to have any clouds in the frames, and I came to welcome this "anomaly" and the variety it bestowed on the usually clear skies. 

the rare clouds over Silver Forest on Sep 13, 2012

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Filming the Wonderland Trail: Equipment

For complete background on this project, please reference the section on Filming the Wonderland. There you'll find a complete chronicle of every day that I was on the trail and the sections covered. Over the course of filming I spent 15 days (including filming the West Side road on bike), hiked 238 miles and amassed over 316,000 still photos and 19 hours of video from 3 cameras. However, I want to cover the equipment I used in this labor of love.

3 camera setup on custom mountCAMERAS

Panasonic GH2: for my first two outings I carried my GH2, along with a tripod, to specifically film the water sources and take photos of interesting features. However, I soon pared my system and equipment down to leave the bulky GH2 and the tripod at home as I found that the other 3 cameras could get the job done.

GOPRO Helmet Hero2: this was my primary camera, mounted facing forward. I took advantage of the cameras myriad time lapse functions and ended up using the 2 per second setting for recording the entire trail. Once stitched into video, the viewer will essentially see motion about 5 times faster than my hiking pace, or the equivalent of running about 8 miles per hour.

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Gossamer Gear in action and gear integration

loaded Mariposa packsUltralight is great, hyperlight is cool and megalight is risky but each trip has different requirements. The Olympic National Park marmot survey is one such trip for my 17 year old daughter and myself where we were base camping for 5 days and day tripping off trail to survey sites. Now I'm a Murmur fan and I use my Gorilla quite often when I'm carrying camera gear for projects (including a tripod) but what to do when you throw in a bear canister, radio and spare batteries, 5 days of food, 4 cameras and spare batteries, ice axes, paperwork folders and myriad other things we wouldn't normally take on a fastpacking trip? Thank goodness we had the new Mariposa. Last year on this same trip (but to a different area) we had to make do with a couple of my older packs that had enough volume but made us suffer mightily under the load.
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Flexibility in Rain Gear

A soggy day in the Pacific NorthwestThe pacific northwest is soggy. If I wanted to do hikes or trail runs only on good days I wouldn't get much done before July, so I've been exploring options for dealing with various forms of wet. Like most people I usually rely on some form of jacket for rain protection, but I've recently been rethinking this approach and dusting off a few older but tried and true techniques. Before I go into these I should mention that there is an excellent article at that addresses the efficacy of air permeable membranes and the marketing hype that accompanies many of the claims. This multipart series is worth the annual membership fee of $25 in and of itself.
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Biking Stevens Canyon Road: refining camera techniques

I have an ambitious project this year, which is to update my Wonderland Trail DVD with new products that are very comprensive. I've become somewhat of a video archiver for Mt. Rainier National Park and am planning on covering every foot of all the trails. A recent trip to the park had us biking the west side road and experimenting with filming the Kautz Creek trail, snow free until 3900'. This process is to finalize how to cover the trails, how many cameras to use and in what configuration, how to stabilize moving shots, what settings to use for recording with final output in mind (24, 30, 48 or 60 FPS? Tall, wide, 1080 or 720?). The problems are many but not insurmountable. However, I need to have the system down pat and be consistent. I am very close with bike video and put together this short example of a fast downhill section of the scenic Stevens Canyon road, my fun reward after a day of fiddling, hiking and filming. Enjoy the quick ride!

Barefoot Training and Hiking: Observations and Experiences

As an older runner and fastpacker (57) I share my thoughts on my transition to barefoot running, it's relationship to Kendo and hiking in barefoot shoes. I plug Luna sandals as my choice in barefoot running, biking and hiking (I purchased my sandals and have no relationship with the company). Hopefully these observations and experiences can help anyone who is considering transitioning or trying barefoot technique; however, understand I am no expert and this video is not meant to dispense advice. Advice seekers would do well to scope out qualified trainers. My background includes multiple marathons, ultras and over 25 years of fastpacking (hiking more than 20 miles per day).