Friday, July 29, 2011

Nomadic Samuel.

Here is a guy who is getting out and exploring, seeing new places and trying new things including wearing a cute pink chef's hat.  He calls himself Nomadic Samuel, a rather appropriate name for those of us with the wander lust.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

GPS vs Maps

Here is a discussion that is ongoing, using a GPS (Global Positioning System) or a map while outdoors.  I will admit a GPS is a very nice and handy tool and I use one myself but they do have some limits.

The first limitation is the life of the battery.  Recently I thought I would be smart and bought some batteries at a local Dollar Store, batteries are batteries right?  Not so, normally my GPS with fresh batteries can run most of the day, this time it only ran about four hours then my device died and I had to resort to the map.  The second limitation is the screen size.  To date no outdoor GPS has a screen the size of a standard map thus the details are limited to how far you have the screen zoomed in.  When the screen is zoomed in you miss the larger picture, when it is zoomed out you miss the details.  Either way you are missing something.  On longer trips you must also carry extra batteries which adds weight to your pack and most experienced backpackers are looking for ways to lighten their loads not add to them.

The old fashioned map also has a few limitations.  To stuff them into your pack or pocket you have to fold your map creating creases, usually along you route being traveled.  You also must put the map in some sort of protective cover, I personally like clear contact paper, to protect it from moisture.  The third limitation to carrying a map is you usually end up carrying more than one map because the trail is never on only one map, this is more common with the Green Trails Maps specifically made for the Cascade Mountains (I highly recommend these maps for the back country if you are in the Cascades).

The truth is, I always carry a GPS with extra batteries and an old fashioned map that way if the GPS dies I have a backup and if I want to see a broader picture with details out comes the map.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Lake Stuart Trail

Lake Stuart in the Enchanments just outside of Leavenworth, WA is a top notch hike and scenic location. Lake Stuart is at the base of the United States larges monolithic slab, Mt Stuart. 

The trail begins above Bridge Creek Campground.  For the first couple of miles you will hike along the left side of a creek in and among the trees.  At about two miles is one of the stoutest wilderness bridges you will ever cross it is built across the creek out of logs and sits on top of a rock.  From this point the trail will take a winding course around large boulders to the intersection of Lake Stuart and Lake Colchuck trails.

Staying right will lead you along a mosquito infested marsh, suggestion here is to carry plenty of bug repellent, especially if you plan on camping overnight.  The last section of the trail climbs up the side of the hill and rises above the marsh, but not the mosquito's.  The lake with it view of Mt Stuart and its hanging glaciers will suddenly spring up before your eyes in spectacular fashion.

Only one note here, if you plan on going overnight you will need to get an overnight permit from the Leavenworth Ranger Station, which are not so easy to acquire.  The day permit can be picked up at the trail head the only requirement is your party can contain no more than 8 people and/or animals (no dogs allowed).

This 4.5 mile hike with its 1600 ft elevation gain is more than worth the effort  and I recommend it.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Reversal of Adventure

Asgard Pass -The Enchantments
Recently I went for a bike ride and as I was deciding where to ride I thought to myself, maybe I should do a familiar route in the reverse direction.  The change in direction revealed a cornucopia of details I had missed the first time.  

Just like the path in life we take it always takes turning around to see where we have come and the details we have missed and also to remember the mountain top moments.  I recently read the account of Joshua just before Israel attacked Jericho.  Each of the twelve tribes took a stone from the Jordan river bed to make a cairn at their campsite that night in remembrance of what God had done for them that day, dried up the Jordan so that they could cross.  They were also to share with future generations what had been done for them.  Only by looking back is that possible.  

The same applies to adventure, going in reverse helps to remind us of struggles we survived and the provision we were given.  And more then that helps us to remember the God who both supported us through the struggle and the provision and grace he gave.  

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Kayaking Prince of Wales Island

Here is a video of a group of people who decided to take a kayak trip around Prince of Wales Island in Alaska. It is a little over 3 minutes long but shows a beautiful oceanscape, and the most important part, a little fellowship along the way, something every adventure should have.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Icicle Ridge Trail

The Icicle Ridge Trail starts out about 1 1/2 miles out of Leavenworth.  To get there travel Hwy 2 to the west end of Leavenworth where the Icicle Ridge and the Tumwater Ridge meet. Turn up the Icicle canyon and drive approximately 1 1/2 miles.  The turn off for the trail will be on the right side marked by a brown sign. 

If you are looking for a flat trail this is not the hike for you.  The trail does nothing but go uphill for many many miles.  In the first 2.5 miles you will gain 1600 ft.  Once you have reached the ridgeline you can bear left and continue up the ridge or turn right and walk another 1/4 mile to the overlook of the Tumwater Canyon and the Bavarian town of Leavenworth.  

For a quick morning hike, which is the best time to hike this hot and dry trail, I would highly recommend it.  Just come prepared to sweat and bring plenty of water or you will be thirsty. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Positive side of Carmageddon

The closing of I-405 in L.A. has caused something of an uproar, that is at least if the media is to be believed.   The media has even come up with a name for it, Carmageddon, the utter destruction of L.A.'s commuter culture.  It seems like a good opportunity to look at this freeway shutdown as positive in the life of a very commuter crowded city, by taking the time to explore.

The current commuters are being forced to find other means of arriving at their offices and homes.  What better time to explore new streets and neighborhoods, to try a different means of transportation, like a bicycle or a bus, or in the case of Jet Blue, a plane ride.

They say that learning new things, keeping the mind active, is a good way of putting off the onset of the mental degradation that comes with old age.  Sitting in the car listening to the hum of the engine and the blair of the radio is certainly not the way to do that.  However, taking a new route to the office maybe even by a different means of transportation certainly will improve the activity level of the mind and slow down the slow decent into mental incapacity.

Life just becomes more livable and interesting when we get out of the normal routine once in a while to see new places and learn new things.  The residence of L.A. now have a chance to get out get some exercise, see new people and places, and just live life a little bit better.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Kayaking a Waterfall

Here is a video I found on Youtube.  The waterfall system in this video is very spectacular and the two kayakers look more like sticks left adrift upon the surface of the water.

Monday, July 11, 2011

GORP - How to make it

Gorp is one of those strange names for trail mix.  Sure you can go to any grocery store these days and buy a variety of trail mixes but there is something both satisfying and comforting about making and packing your own Gorp.  What I am going to list here is my receipt for Gorp taught to me by my father.
Here is what is required.

1 container of peanuts - 16oz
1/2lb bag of M&M's (no peanuts)
1/2lb bag of skittles
1 bag of raisins 

mix these ingredients together is package in Ziplock bags.
Some additional ingredients that can be added are

1 bag of butterscotch chips
1 bag of shelled sunflower seeds
1 can of cashew nuts

Gorp is good for both the sort term and long term energy needs of the body that is burning up to 500 calories an hour.  And making it yourself is cheaper per pound than buying it pre-mixed.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Ashley Cowie does Indiana Jones Impression

A new series is coming out on the Syfy channel hosted by Ashley Cowie.  Legend Quest will be a show about searching out artifacts both real and mythological by Ashley.  He will take on the Ark of the Covenant, very Indiana Jones of him, and a South American talking cross in the first episode.  In the last episode he will seek out the mythological Holy Grail.  As Ashley is a member of the Scottish Knights Templar this was his most thrilling search.  

Given the fact that this show is on the Syfy channel and not a more respected factual channel like Discovery or the History channel I do not expect a great deal of truth to come of it.  Some of the artifacts are real, eg the Ark of the Covenant, and some are false, the Holy Grail. 

The show should prove to be at least entertaining since the dream of having the life of Indiana Jones is in no small part exciting.  If you have even the least amount of desire to seek out adventure then you have probably longed to buy a fedora and bull whip and headed into the wilds of the jungle.  Hopefully Ashley will spark the same kind of interest in archaeology and adventure as Indiana did.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sailing the Northwest Passage

Nicolas Peissel

Here is an adventure worth mentioning.  At one time seeking the Northwest Passage was of great importance to shippers and traders, they thought it would shorten the trip to the East since the only routes they had were around either the Horn of Africa or Cape Horn.  

Edvin Buregren and Nicolas Peissel have set sail from Sweden and plan on stopping in Scotland, Iceland, Greenland, Canada, and finally in the U.S.A.  and their route runs through the ice choked Northwest Passage.   A trip I am sure that will take at least a few month and possibly span more than one year. 

Edvin Buregren
They are keeping a blog of their trip Northwest Passage on a Shoestring.  These are two very exciting things 1) and adventure through a little traveled route and 2) doing it cheaply.  This is the heart and thrill of adventure: New places and on a budget.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Misery Makes Good Adventures Memorable

Poison Ivy
A couple of weeks ago this adventurer/explorer went hiking in one of the local State Parks, Mount Spokane.  It is always a nice place to hike with a spectacular view from any one of the three main peaks of the flatlands of Eastern Washington and the mountainous regions of Northern Idaho.  For added pleasure there are a few geocaches to seek out and open.  One of the drawbacks to hiking in the Spokane area is the space around cliff faces and stream banks sometimes has an obnoxious little plant known as Poison Ivy.

Early in the Spring Poison Ivy has not yet shown it's leaves of three, if you haven't heard that little rhyme it goes like this: "leaves of three leave it be".  The danger to this is you can wander into a patch collect the irritating oil on your skin an not know it for five to fifteen days when a wonderfully bright and itchy rash appear on your flesh.

Was the adventure worth the suffering and irritation?  Yes.  Sometimes an adventure involves unforeseen consequences eg. being soaking wet and cold, getting snowed on in mid August, getting a case of poison Ivy while searching out a treasure, etc...  The fact is, these miserable circumstances only make the adventure more memorable and in a lot of cases more story worthy.  I am certainly not suggesting that an adventurer go out looking for misery only that learning to accept it as a possible consequence and an added attraction to any good outdoor story is part of the adventure.  

Friday, July 1, 2011

Cycling Across America with Grandpa

Picture courtesy of the Daily Herald
Here is a story out of the Daily Herald of Utah.  Two teenage boys, Christian and Matthew, are riding their bikes across America with their grandfather and his friend.  Grandpa and his friend are 68 and 60 years old and still putting in a good days exercise.  Grandpa initiated the trip by asking the boys if they would like to go on this month long odyssey across the United States.  His intention was to spend some time getting to know his grandchildren and to give them something to remember the rest of their lives.  

Here is a grandfather who understands his role in life, to be a wise influence on his family.  Instead of spending his latter years running around in an RV doing exciting things, he is teaching the next generation about persistence with the use of a bicycle.  If you would like to read more about their adventure or even follow them along the way both Christian and Matthew have their own blogs.  Click on their names to follow either of their blogs.