Thursday, November 19, 2015

Opinions and Hiking Solutions

I received this e-mail recently and thought I'd share it with you. Thank you very much for your kind thoughts and words. Below the bold text, I offer the remedies I've found work for me.

Sent from my iPad.   
Brawny, I read your blog to get real common sense advice about hiking.

I'm 54 and always wanted to hike more but life always kept me too committed to others. Raising a family, caring for elderly parents, caring for elderly pets and now working days and sitting evenings for my first grandchild.

I day hike, mostly on the Long Trail. I live in Vermont and have beautiful places to hike all around me. They are not Grand like the PTC or CDT but I have to work with what I have and Vermont is beautiful. The fact that you are an older woman and have a ton of trail time under your belt, makes your advice much more valuable for people like me! There are a lot of Baby Boomers wanting to hit the trails but not sure if they can handle the challenge. Your experience and advice could help a lot of people. Screw the Hollywood types, they are all idiots anyway. I need advice on foot wear. The pads on the bottom of my feet are thinning out and I can't seem to find a hiking shoe with enough padding. At the end of a long hike it's extremely painful to walk. 

On a more personal note, my hormones ( after menopause ) are all screwed up and I can't seem to take the heat and humidity. Any suggestions? I have snowshoes and cross country skis for the winter, but it would be nice to enjoy summer hiking too.  Thanks for reading my long winded message. I sincerely hope you will reconsider giving up your blog. Although I do get it that you just want to be left alone to find some peace. You are the real deal and have the experience to prove it. All the normal people out here could really use your advice. Just something to think about!                  Stay Happy😊

It is disconcerting that our bodies start giving out, especially as we look at retirement from full time jobs and caretaking. But never give up. I spent a summer Ridgerunning in Maine's Hundred Mile Wilderness (a paid position in 2014)  and met people in their sixties, seventies and one turning 80, out there loving it, in spite of the pain. I also met 'kids' who couldn't take it anymore and quit.

I no longer can get by with trail runners for mountainous terrain. My Keen hiking boots weigh about twice what my Nike Airs did, but I now need a high-top, light hiking boot and extra padding, which I obtain by utilizing a secondary, serious insert. So, when shopping for a hiking boot, I go in the afternoon when my feet are "swollen", if ever, so I can get the boot that feels like home. Comfortable the second I lace them up. Also, I bring the extra inserts I plan to use to be sure the boot is large enough.

I still wear trail runners for light excursions.

Not everyone deals with heat and humidity the same way. Some folks are definitely more susceptible to heat exhaustion. I've met many long distance hikers who take a long break during the heat of the day to hunker under a shady spot, even if it means a simple Joshua tree. Then, instead of camping by 5 p.m, they'll hike into the evening, perhaps even after cooking supper along the trail. So they still get their miles in, but break it into spurts.
I rise with the sun and hike in the cool of the morning. Its amazing how many miles you can get in before noon.
While doing the Wonderland trail this past summer, I rose with the sun, ate as I hiked and had to press on during the heat. Several times, upon reaching a trailside stream or waterfall, I took off my  hat, filled it with water and soaked my shirt. Very cooling and refreshing.

And surely, if there ever was a time to lose the extra pounds, either gear or body, its now as we age. The critical things we can't do without: sleeping pads, sleeping bags, good shoes, reasonable calories and plenty of water, weigh enough without extra pounds of non essentials.

Body weight is a hard one, especially with the holidays coming up. I've learned to take half portions and savor it. That little bit of pleasure one feels while eating hearty can in no way offset the grueling effort it takes to remove the extra pounds.

In closing, thank you so much for your kind words. Its not so much wanting to be "left alone" as sort of running out of stuff to talk about. It seems its all been said and done.

Maybe not.
Happy trails.

Monday, November 16, 2015

What To Do With Nine Months

A dear friend of mine was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She smoked for thirty years then quit this fall, on her birthday. Two months later,  after a great deal of pain in her gut, she went to the hospital, demanding answers. She got hers.

Nine months to live.
What would you do with nine months?

Every day I go to work and cook for special guests, I ask myself, if I was given that diagnosis, what would I do.

I sure wouldn't be cooking a line.
I'd go hiking.

And visit family.

And dance every night I could.

Maybe there is reincarnation. Great minds believe its not over when this body gives up.
I don't know. Some hope they don't have to deal with all this again. Maybe we'll get to be wild animals or a tree.

Nine months is nothing.
It is enough time to hike a long trail. In the end, they say, its not the things that we did that we'll regret, its the things we didn't do.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Goodbye Gift-Free Book

Between September 23, in honor of the first day of fall, until September 25th, you can get a free copy of Moose and Men-Ridgerunning in Maine's Hundred Mile Wilderness.

Simply go to:Of Moose and Men at

While hiking the Wonderland Trail, I came to the realization my blogs had run their course. Maybe I've just read and reported and tested until the cows finally came home. Hell has frozen over. Last straw and all that.

So, good bye, happy trails and may the bluebird of happiness smile on you.

I'm leaving the blog up in case I change my mind.

No, just to share what I've worked on the last five years.

Best wishes, ya'll.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Running Out

Here on the mountain, I run out of ideas for posting.
Sure, I've been trying new ideas in the backcountry, but nearly every trick under the sun has been seen and done.

The chef gave me one idea, though, for my last hike that I'd never seen before. Instead of carrying a bottle of 100% deet, I put six paper napkins in a pint size Ziploc bag, doused it good with deet and brought that.

At night, I wiped my sweaty body down, removing dust, applying deet. In the morning, I flipped the napkin over and wiped my face. Somehow, and this may gross you out, I actually felt refreshed. Sweat gone, a fine layer of oily bug repellant installed.

It worked. End of trail, I had used every paper napkin and endured not a single gnat or bug.

Of course, what works for me might disgust you. To each their own. As the saying goes, hike your own hike.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Wonderland Trail Brutal but Beautiful

I met lots of groups on the Wonderland trail. Everyone hiking this circle around Mount Rainier needs one, so that in the end, each campsite is full, but none overfull. There's a lot of rock and slope, so finding a stealth camp would be hard.
When the chef gave me 4 days to go get er done, I did. Permit in hand, I left my motorhome eating an apple. The first photo opt, at the Longmire junction, was before daylight.
With GORP and gear, my pack weighted 10 pounds. Water, was extra. I kept a good handle on that so never got dehydrated. Below, see the prototype 'bivy'. It weighs 12 ounces. A tad claustrophobic, but it held the heat in good. You can see the red quilt inside, tested for 40 degrees at one pound. Primaloft fill, the best I could find, is considered synthetic down.

I asked a woman to take my photo. This was coming over Summerland. You can see the sleeping pad is used for my hip belt. My food bag is in the front. I carried 4 pounds of Gorp.

Because there is over 20,000 foot elevation change in these 93 miles, the toes take a beating. Even with my wide toed hiking boot (not trail runner) I fear I might loose toe nails. The price we pay for freedom!
This magnificent trail usually is done in 10-12 days because it is indeed brutal. I did it this way because it was the most days off I could snag up here while cooking for the employees. Many, many thanks to my chef, Chris, for understanding my need and ability to undertake the challenge.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Mount Rainier Hikes

My family came to visit last Monday. It was great. We hiked three waterfalls, did hot dogs and marshmallows and found out you can make sa'mores using Oreo cookies instead of graham crackers and candy bars.
The traffic is sort of bad due to road construction, Monday thru Friday, but its worth it.

This view from lower Christine Falls was one of our favorites.
If you manage to visit Mount Rainier, bring snacks and make sure your tank if filled. You can't buy gas in this park. Last week, we were two days without power up at Paradise, which makes cooking for 200 a challenge.
But, being a backpacker, I knew some tricks and all went well.
Looking forward to fall and doing the Wonderland trail.
Sorry for so few posts. I get internet by walking to this one little EDR at Longmire, sitting here on my day off and struggling with the streaming. Hopefully, more stuff to follow.
I continue to be amazed by the heavy gear I see. It does make a difference, even on day hikes.
Happy Trails. Be prepared, but travel light.
See you on the mountain.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Love the Mountains, Hate Road Construction

Here at Mount Rainier, we face some challenges. While I adore my views, my motor home and new friends, staying "connected" or uploading new material to my blogs or films is challenging.

Attitudes suffer from no phone service. Sure, I could skype someone if I wanted to sit here in the Longmire EDR and chat over my laptop. Sure, I could gmail a phone call, but all that is pretty much public because the connectivity here sucks.

So, if you're considering working up here in this particular National Park, beware. You will face challenges that are not always evident.
Last night, a couple guys took the shuttle to Ashford on a beer run. Round trip of two and a half hours. That can be fun, if you're in the mood for a beautiful drive.
I've started doing laundry by hand to avoid the two hours needed to make that happen in the one machine here.
I'd rather be hiking.

Can't say it isn't some of the most amazing scenery on earth. Wild flowers abound. Every color and texture. Deer feed a dozen yards from the Employee Dining Room windows. Lovely. Very lovely.

Hoping to get some hikes in again, I've done those close to this location. I've just got to fight the construction crew delays, and drive up to the trail head up mountain. Worth it. So worth it.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Wild Edibles

Here at Mount Rainier, I cook. On my days off I eat wild plants.
Its a learning experience, because I'm finding, many plants in the field are not in the books. At least, not at this early stage of development. So I have developed other methods of personal discovery.
I did find several edible varieties from the book by Samuel Thayer. He does and excellent job detailing plants in their various stages. As we all know, however, plants common to one area, are not common to another.

Other activities up here on the very remote, lightly connected Mountain include hiking and exploring. I've been told the Wonderland Trail is booked for the summer. What?
Oh, yeah, you've got to have permits to camp in any one of a dozen remote campsites on the 93 mile circuit. As yet, I've never seen a tent at any of those remote sites. Humm. Booked but unbedded?
Maybe one can hike it, anyways.
Can we whisper stealth? No, I did not say that. I did NOT say I would cover it as a wild creature, bedding down at will, when darkness came.

Nearly every work day, as I ride the shuttle through the parking lot on top, I see hikers heading up the Skyline trail. Some are geared for mountain climbing, some for backpacking, some for a simple stroll.
I always want to chuck the uniform and head out. I ask myself, what the hell am I doing here, cooking?

I guess being a  ridge-runner last summer, inhaling freedom with every breath of air, ruined me. I am time-clock abhorrent. A horrible affliction for an employee of rule laden concessionaires.
Four months to go.
The trail calls.
Which master will win?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Hello From the Mountains

Living and working at Mount Rainier is proving interesting. Wifi and connectivity is at a premium, but the people are as fun as always.

Cooking for an EDR leaves me longing for my outdoor job Ridgerunning, but life goes on. I'm loving my motor home at Longmire campground. Mice are scratching around, but so far so good. No one's moved in or given birth.

Check out my for more info. Transportation to and from work takes up nearly all my time. I will try to do better.

Yesterday I climbed Eagle Peak. A marvelous round trip of 7.2 mile, up 3,000 feet to a 360 degree view. Being technically, that is to say, camera challenged, my footage was sparse and disappointing. I'll try to do better, next time.

Stay tuned. Its wet. I go everywhere with my umbrella and a poncho.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Mount Rainier Heaven

Mount Rainier , home of the Wonderland Trail, will be my playground for the next five months.

Can we say elated, astounded and ridiculously lucky? Wow. Besides cooking up at Paradise for the employees, I'll be hiking and writing and having campfires if allowed.
I always follow the rules on location.
Last thing I want is to be evicted from heaven.

My backyard includes a 14,000 foot volcano, innumerable trails, and bountiful wildlife. I plan to see it all. Of course, its probably not humanly possible in the course of one season, but winter finds many enjoying the mountain as well.

Hello Snowshoes! They're on the wish list. A shout out to gear enthusiasts. If you got recommendations, I'd love to hear them. Gear manufacturers, if you got something you'd like tested, I'm game.

If anyone wants to be on t-v, and thinks they can solo the wilderness for weeks and wants some info on that opportunity, write a comment and I'll send you the link.

Gram weenies unite. I'll be testing my new thinsulate prototype quilt this summer. Initial testing for Search and Rescue have proved promising.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Transition Time Rules

I'm not sure who wrote the following rules, or steps, for achieving a strong personal foundation. About seven years ago, I read them on the internet. The steps were so succinct and profound, I saved the list to my hard drive and later printed them out.

As I transition to my new job (Mt. Rainier) , new home (class A motorhome) and new state (Washington), I reread them. I'd like to share them now with you.
Again, I don't know the author. I didn't come up with these rules myself, but strive to employ them as much as possible.

Ten Steps to A Strong Personal Foundation
1. Honor your boundaries. Boundaries protect you from people that your spirit cannot easily afford.
2.Raise your standards. The higher your standards, the fewer problems you will encounter in life.
3.Clarify your requirements. Everyone in your life deserves to know what you expect/require of them.
4.Finish your unfinished business. The fewer unresolved items in your life, the more confident you will feel.
5.Get your personal needs met. Until your personal needs are met, its difficult to live powerfully and sustainably.
6.Orient around your values. when you orient your life and your goals around your values, fulfillment naturally occurs.
7.Build reserves in all areas. Having more than enough calms the mind and affords more experimentation in life.
8.Identify and reduce tolerations. What you put up with drains your energy and slows your development.
9.Handle the money, completely. Until your money is handled, you are not at choice in life.
10. Define success for yourself. When you define success for yourself, life becomes very, very simple.

As I typed this list, I realized each step could mean different things to different people and could be the topic of an entire high school essay. Try it. Take a step and figure it out. Its way more productive than taking one of those stupid quizzes friends on Facebook persist in posting.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Virus Warning for Hikers

We just went through a rough case of the flu/virus/seasonal bug thing here in Nampa. From kids to adults, family and friends, we learned to take sips no matter how thirsty we became.
This unnamed thing hits fast and hard. One minute you're eating supper, next thing you know, you're doubled over. Not food poisoning. Kids didn't eat what we ate. A friend flew in. She got sick, then passed it on. So, it appears contagious, with an incubation period of two -three days.
But the bad part is, after twenty-four hours of puking and such, you're wiped out for days. Hard to get back to the gym, let alone hike a trail.  It seems very much like the Noro Virus "epidemic" I witnessed last summer while working in the Hundred Mile wilderness as a Ridgerunner.
I met a doctor recuperating from the Noro on the trail. He didn't go to the hospital because he said it had to run its course. My personal experience seems to agree with everyone I interviewed. It will knock you off the trail for twenty to forty-eight hours and when you return, expect slow short days. Exhaustion is the main after effect.
I do recommend staying on the AT, rather than taking an obscure side trail into town. You could get too exhausted to move and if you get lost, or fall, you may become search and rescue material unless you're on the populated AT.
 And as I cautioned every hiker I met, even when you're in the woods, maintain good hygiene. Wash you  hands, don't share eating utensils or sacks of gorp. Your gut is depending on you.
If you have read this newly release book, could you please leave me a kind review on It helps others to know if this is something they would enjoy reading. There are a lot of trail books to choose from.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Good By Old Stuff

The Geo is no more. We had good times. We've been to Key West and the Grand Canyon. Drove through Canada, twice, been to Maine. You name it.
But at some point in time, you have to say enough. Two months ago, after bad news, I decided not to put another dime in the thing.
But our relationship is over though. I bought a Mitsubishi Mirage.

I summed up my decisions to buy the Mirage, which gets 44 mpg and is an automatic:
I wanted the largest motor home I could manage, and the smallest car I could get by with.

All systems go. Within a month, I'll be moving to Mount Rainier. Stay tuned for photos and updates on one of Americas best loved National Park.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Hammock Hangers Respond Please

Five years ago I created this video. It shows how to rig a flat tarp into a solid shelter. I use hiking poles, and know many other hikers do.

I was surprised by this comment, which showed up 8 months ago. It seems pretty obvious the guy hasn't even used a hammock. Last summer I met plenty of hammock users who needed pads underneath to keep from freezing their butts off. what do you think?

Holy Fuck! You are carrying needless equipment. You have aluminium walking sticks and metal tent pegs? And you sleep on the ground? What is wrong with you? Carry less. In my back-pack I have 3 ziploc bags that weigh almost nothing and take up very, very little space. One contains a parachute fabric hammock, the other a 6 x 4 groundsheet and the last para-cord. When I set up camp all I need are 2 trees about 8 feet apart. Sling the hammock & tie down. You are now above ground level (preventing heat loss & minimizing unwanted animal contact). Tie a rope one foot above your hammock and drape and secure the groundsheet. With rocks and sticks that are free! You can now secure all of your equipment: accessible, dry and within reach. You will sleep like a baby because you are not on solid ground and don't have to worry about snakes, creepy crawlies, alligators, Mormons, and such. WTF? What has happened to common sense? If you need a walking stick, cut one, don't buy one!!!! 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Winter Thru Hike of PCT

In March 12th, Thursday paper, I read the story of Justin Lichter and Shawn Forry's successful thru hike of the Pacific Crest trail. What makes it remarkable is they did it southbound, over the winter.

Ok. Wow. Having hiked the entire PCT (2000-2001) I know somewhat of what they went through. I can't imagine doing the passes in the JMT, though. They were snowy and steep in June. And that was a low snow year.

You'd need more calories, for sure, slugging over the trails in skis or snowshoes. I guess sometimes you'd be crossing massive streams on ice instead of wading waist deep.

Maybe nothing is impossible anymore, given the right equipment and mindset. The article told how they prepared by testing gear and researching food drops, given its not the season for resorts to be open. It also mentioned both were extremely experienced backpackers.

Kudos to the brave twosome. I remember reading the question posted, Is a winter thru hike on the CDT possible. I now believe it is.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Of Moose and Men Released

Finally, Of Moose and Men-Ridgerunning in Maine's Hundred Mile Wilderness is finished. I created this "trailer" to commemorate the experience. In the interest of full disclosure, I don't really have this bad of a temper. Really, I don't.

Sometimes the film gets cut off at the right side, so if  you wish, you can watch it on You Tube.

In Paperback  or for Kindles and laptops,  this new book is 396 pages of full on Appalachian Trail,  hiker heavy stuff. When co-worker 'Ivan' used to introduce me as "a recovering thru hiker",
I'd reply, "I'm not recovering from nothing! I'm proud to be one of them."

Here's what he wrote me yesterday: Hey Carol! Congratulations on the book! I laughed so hard reading the preview of the first chapter. I was funny how you told my mouse story and how you references my pride in my dresser! I even liked the name Ivan! You really have a talent for story-telling! Dan read half and said it was great. he read it on a plane and everyone asked him why he was laughing so much.

If you read the book, I would very much appreciate it if you would write a review for me on
Thanks and Happy Trails!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Search And Rescue Truck for Sale

Today, I trained with Idaho Mountain's Search and Rescue Unit.
 We learned how to set up base camp and command centers. While there, I took photos of the old truck they have for sale. Their new trucks are larger and can haul more gear. The 'old' 901 has a tag of $6,800. However, I was told that if someone came with $5,000, they could buy it.
Its a '96 Chevy. The miles and phone numbers are listed below. These guys really take care of their stuff, so I know the truck has been maintained. All funds and proceeds go to further the all Volunteer organization.

Call them if you're interested. Mention my name if you like. Its a small world. You never know who might be looking for this very rig. It would make a great backcountry camper because the sides open up, as well as the back. It can seat 5. It has the lights on top, too.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

On the Home Stretch

First, let me apologize for my lack of entries. I've been writing like nuts, intent on getting this book finished. Estimated availability for Kindles and paperback: March 15.

Writing, proofing, polishing and fine tuning after my beta readers give suggestions is taking way longer than I figured, but the end result, Of Moose and Men-Ridgerunning in Maine's Hundred Mile Wilderness , should be worth it.

The cover isn't ready, but it will have a giant Moose on it. If I met you last summer, you might be in the book. If I changed your name, it's for your own good. If I didn't change your name, please don't sue me, I only said good things about you.

There are surprises. Some folks in the book have been contacted and warned. Some have not.

Above all, if you read the book, I would appreciate a review online because it helps spread the word. We independent writers need all the help we can get.

I'll do some promotional sales. A few free download days. A trailer for YouTube. Bottom line, I think its my best work to date and I hope you enjoy it.

I big thanks and shout out to Maine Appalachian Trail Club, who I love dearly, especially the CARE committee who hired me for that perfect job.

Happy trails.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Learning Curve and Knowledge Base

In preparation for my next seasonal gig, I've been researching how to get my Geo and Motor Home five hundred miles down the road.
The obvious answer? Tow it. Get a dolly. Get a trailer.
So yesterday I went to an RV dealer. While these guys are expensive, they know their stuff. Here's what I learned.
A dolly is cheaper than flat towing a car. The guy told me for $3,600, I could have a hitch and brand new dolly, suitable for towing a small car.
But, he warned, this situation is so tedious with all the lights and hook ups, removing and storing said dolly on location, that most "older" folks just don't want to deal with it. They tow their cars, but leave them hooked to the motor home rather than unhooking everything and running around, only to hook it all back up again.
Flat towing is the ticket, he said. It just so happened, a customer heard our conversation and agreed. "I had a dolly. I hate it. Flat tow your car."
What's that cost? Well, for $4200 we can have you ready to go.
I gulped. Not going to happen. "Well, talk to me. the Geo?"
"Yes, we install brackets and electric braking in case the thing comes loose from the motor home."
Humm. My mind was working. The Geo has been diagnosed with a fatal tranny. I've vowed to drive it until it bites the dust, however long that may be, but bottom line, not sticking any  more money into  it. "Keep in mind, if you're flat towing, you can not back up, not even an inch. If you get in a spot that you can't pull through, you'll have to unhook everything, move the car first, then back up the motor home, re-hook and try again."
Wow. That's a head full of info.  
"What about a new car, only manual transmissions?"
"Don't take anyone's word for it, you've got to check the owner's manual and make sure it can be flat towed. Even some automatics can be flat towed, but check the owners manual before you lay down any cash. Had a guy come in with a brand new car, said the salesman promised it could be flat towed. He lied. The purchaser lost several thousands re-trading that car."
"Humm," I murmured. "Maybe I'll just get a motorcycle."
With that I left, pondering the car situation. Maybe I'll get a scooter or a bike. Or, for $4200, I could get a friend to drive it to location and I pay their airfare back.
So, let me throw the question out there:
any ideas???

Friday, February 13, 2015

Look Before You Sit

In an effort to get back in hiking shape, I've been putting serious time at the local gym. I really like the place and the hours are good. Watching the calories slowly add up for the intense effort expended makes me realize how sweet backpacking is. Never have to kill myself in order to enjoy a cupcake.

I have my routine. When I get to the gym, I claim a locker, put my smart phone, ear buds, reading glasses, water bottle and wash cloth on the bench nearby. Then I change, weigh myself and groan. How did I let these pounds jump on my body?
Over the holidays, silly. All those chocolate covered yummies, nuts and drinks?
Yup, I grimace. Never again. Hiking weight is healthy weight.

Just as I prepare to lock my locker, I turned to see a massive woman sit right on my phone, washcloth, ear buds, etc. For a moment she seemed oblivious to the fact, but then, something must have finally registered. She rocked to one side, lifting a cheek, revealing my stuff. "Oh," she said, and nearly pushed my phone onto the floor.

I gathered my stuff as she repositioned herself, wondering how she lost so much sensation in her a$$.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Winter Walk on Greenbelt

While waiting for various personal things to get done, I took a long walk today on the Greenbelt. This trail hugs the Boise River and is sometimes difficult to find access because the parking along the few streets it crosses is unmarked.
However, I found it at Eagle Road and River Meadow Rd. There, you cans hike west at least miles. Along the way, you'll meet bikers, roller bladers, joggers and tons of dogs.
Everyone is friendly. 
 The mountains rise in the distance while to the right, the biowaste treatment facility and other private property is fenced off. To the left is the river and fishing.

A guy parks his bike and went fishing. Unbelievably warm temperatures brought out scores of folks today. 
A sign warns of nesting herons. Its amazing how many nests were in a dozens tall trees.

One of my favorite views was of the island below. I could imagine wading out there for a picnic.

Another access points for this trail is Broadway Avenue, near the University. Beautiful homes have their backyards bordering this trail. I imagine they are equipped with alarms.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Blame It On the Fries

So I'm at the gym, killing myself on the elliptical trainer, checking calories burned, damning those French fries to hell and back.
Work out for an hour just to burn off that generous scoop of hot salty fries that appeared next to the sandwich I ordered at a dinky diner in Fairfield? Nope, never again. Not worth it. Last weeks tasty treat is this weeks abomination of stinkin' fat.
Headphones in place, Latin Dance Club pumping, I'm breaking February in hard. No one wants to hit the trail fat and weak. Let the pain begin.

Suddenly I hold my breath. The stench is worse than a skunk's worst discharge while sitting in a pile raw manure.
There's only one guy in the row ahead. Really? Really, you're going to act like you don't smell that?He's cute, strong and working out like a fiend. He's also plugged in to head phones and making out like the air quality didn't just drop to fatal levels.
I keep working out. Maybe the dude's eating lots of veggies. Broccoli will do that to you, or cabbage.

Eventually the odor dissipates and I can raise my nose from the fan venting on my face. Holy guacamole, within ten minutes another ballast shoots my way. I frowned. He didn't look like a broccoli kind of guy. In fact, I bet he plays football and hangs at the bar. I'm going to blame his trouble on Fries, too.

Maybe that's why all these machines at the gym have fans, aimed right at your face.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Mount Rainier Here I Come

It may seem silly, but I'm in the market for snowshoes. is of course one of many places to start looking, and after my avalanche training I know backcountry skis have their limitations. read for more on that adventure.

I can hear you all saying winter's almost over and I reply "SALES!"
And now the really big news. I'm going to work at Mount Rainier this summer, the snowiest place on earth. with snow possible any day of the year snowshoes might come in handy for the forth of July parade.
Here's what the National Park Service website has to say about this location:

Ascending to 14,410 feet above sea level, Mount Rainier stands as an icon in the Washington landscape. An active volcano, Mount Rainier is the most glaciated peak in the contiguous U.S.A., spawning six major rivers. Subalpine wildflower meadows ring the icy volcano while ancient forest cloaks Mount Rainier’s lower slopes. Wildlife abounds in the park’s ecosystems. A lifetime of discovery awaits.

I'll have my motor home inside the park and expect to explore the Wonderland trail as well.

Now, here's what I learned this weekend, good stuff before I go shopping for this essential piece of winter gear:

I learned snowshoes must bear weight of body and gear, have easy on off bindings workable in sub zero, and adaptable to various boots.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Always a Test In Progress

On the journey to perfection, there's always a test in progress.
Currently I'm working on a "terracotta pot gentle heat system" which I first heard about up in McCall, Idaho, on a winter survival training weekend. We shared the location with Boy scouts who underwent inspections of their well built snow caves, shared their chili and listened to our presentation on Search and Rescue Missions.
According to one scout leader, a clay pot inserted and bolted inside another clay pot will gather and preserve heat from one voltive candle.
Of course, I had to take that a step further and try an ultralight burner fueled with denatured alcohol under said contraption.
Once the video is produced, I'll link it here. Test results of burner: inefficient. I had a large candle at home, but in spite of all efforts, the thing kept going out from lack of oxygen. Next test will involve real voltive candles, the kind you find at the dollar store in four packs.

Meanwhile, I was the envy of many with my REI bivy sack, which held my full length closed cell pad and sleeping bag secured inside. That night it rained, but I stayed dry, comfortable and content.
Watch the video at Winter Camp. Also, the multiple guy-out loops on this 9x5 silnylon tarp were  sweet allowing me to anchor it firmly to withstand the snow shoveled against its sides as insulation.

The Crisco candle went out after being douse with heavy rain. However, so far I'm finding it should burn continuously for 100 hours. Not bad for $2.49.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Time to Gear Up

Winter sales have begun and its time to gear up. So, after reviewing my present winter gear I decided to buy a few items. Along with an orange stocking cap I bought snow pants.

Features include: Single Welt zip pockets, Elastic Waistband at sides. Side zip with gusset, interior storm cuffs, rubberized snaps, elastic suspenders, webbing grip strap. Price tag $49.99. Found at Sports Authority at 50 % off, these Slalom Low Bib pants were a "steal".

They have Weather Guard: waterproof, windproof and breathable. The back bib will prevent cold air from rushing up into layers as I build snow caves, etc. On the fashion side, they fit perfectly and look good with blaze orange!

My current gear is under inspection and repair. A favorite jacket of mine is the Brooks Range Down jacket. My two complaints: no hood and the wimpy side pocket zippers which blew out after one season. Yesterday I sewed the pockets shut after another pair of gloves slid out into the snow. This will prevent me from using the pockets and also keep body warmth closer because the gaping unzipped pockets allowed single layer exposure to the elements.
To read more about the Search and Rescue last week up at Idaho City, check out my other blog:

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Winter Survival Training In McCall

Last Friday I spent five hours teaching boy scouts about winter gear choices. After asking each of five different classes what they liked to do outside in Idaho Snow, they said, "Skiing and snowboarding, hunting, hiking and snowmobiling."
Sense they were up at camp on an overnighter, building snowforts as their overnight shelter, I asked if they liked overnight backpacking trips. Dumbfounded looks followed.
"How about road trips, like over the pass up to see Grandma.?"
More baffled expressions.

Next we divided the class into subgroups who had four minutes to come up with a gear list/packing list for their adventure.
Spread on three conference tables was gear of all kinds, including 'tricks.'

Once the gear lists were finished, I let them 'tag' their choices on the table.
I was pretty surprised by the conversations that ensued as we devolved into erroneous selections.

Some of the most memorable include:
Several classes chose apples and carrot sticks over ramen and candy bars, even though they realized food was their fuel. So, I asked the class, "How much does an apple weigh?"
"Half a pound?" "Ten ounces?" several volunteered time and again.
"How many calories?" I asked.
"Fifty?" was the general consensus.
"How about weighs three ounces, how many calories?"
No one seemed to realize that one package of ramen had 380 calories and could be eaten like pretzels, raw and these calories would keep them warm or that protein took longer to digest and kept them warmer that fruits and veggies.

Nearly all chose the extra heavy, full bore Columbia Zero degree jacket over various layers. Once I asked them, "What happens when you're skiing?"
"You warm up, you might sweat."
"Problem with a huge jacket like this is its either on or off, or maybe you could unzip it. But layers allow many choices, which end up weighing the same as one huge overcoat."

Many forgot to chose one of several sleeping pads on display, though they elected to carry a 9 pound four season tent over a tarp or single wall. Few considered labels when selecting which pants. And surprisingly, though they chose a sleeping bag, nearly no one selected a spare set of clothes to change into for sleepwear.

After the sessions were over and I asked a young man what he expected his night in the snow cave to be like. Cold and Wet he replied. I frowned, Why wet?
Turns out, he didn't have anything to change into and after digging the cave, just figured to endure the night, or come into the huge dining hall and hunker down, with his friends by the fire.

Clearly  much more time is needed for instructing winter survival skills than the 45 minutes allotted.
Nearly all realized how scanty cell service is in those unforgiving mountains and were warned not to go anywhere alone because both cougars and wolves had been seen right down the road.

But, I love the boy scout concept of gathering youngsters to usher them into the wonders of the great outdoors. Only time and luck will prove whether we've done a good job or made a significant impression.

The main goal of course is to survive without injury. Happy Trails, young men, and eat hearty.