Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hiking Alone - What you should know

Tumwater Ridge - Photo by D. McMillin
Hiking alone can be a very enjoyable time to observe, think, and explore and it is a great deal simpler to organize than group activities.  But with going alone there are additional risks which need to be considered and if at all possible brought down to an acceptable level.  Here are some of my recommendations:

1) Always tell someone where you are going and approximately when you will return.  If no one know where you are no will know where to look for you.

2) Make sure you know what the weather is like, at least you can prepare for bad weather if you know about it.

3) Take the 10 essentials.

4) Stay on the trail. Finding a lost hiker off the trail is very difficult and potentially impossible.

5) Know your limitations.  If you hike down a trail you better be fit or healthy enough to hike back up it.

6) Choose a well known and well used trail.  People and wildlife are less likely to bother you.  

7) Be aware of your surroundings.  Seeing a bear or mountain lion before you get too close is always a good thing.  It doesn't hurt to work on your singing skills while hiking either.  I like hymns but a good chorus of, "I love to go a wandering," is just as good.

8) Check in at the local ranger station.  This is just one more person who knows where you are going.

9) Make sure your car  will make it to the trail head and back again.  Gas is very important, I always like to start the day with a full tank.

10) Take camera.  Proof that you were there is always a must, it make the stories more believable.  This really is for your safety but it in my book is essential.

These are ten of my best thoughts.  Be aware that hiking alone is intrinsically more dangerous than being with a group and every step should be taken to reduce the danger.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Espanola a Micro Adventure

Photo by D. McMillin
In the spirit of the last blog Micro Adventures I decided to take on one of my own.  So this last Saturday I looked at the map and found a little dot on it.  The dot in this case was a town named Espanola about 17 miles from my front door.  The route took me through some of Eastern Washington's back roads first to the town of Medical Lake and then Espanola. 

Along the way were some wonderful discoveries.  1)  An old ranch with a rather large stone barn which is starting to break down.  2) Two different lakes; Medical Lake and West Medical Lake both of which is very pretty.  3) An old collection of Barns, somewhere between five and ten on the same piece of land next to each other.  And then the town of Espanola, which consisted of about six house, an old Grange hall, a grain elevator, and a railroad track, not that railroad tracks are uncommon here is Eastern Washington. 

I also found that the long ride allowed me time to listen to a couple of lectures about the foundations of Jazz. Overall it was a very good day and my desire for adventure was satiated for another day. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Micro Adventures

This week I ran across a blog about micro adventures called AllistairHumphreys adventurer/author/motivational speaker.  His idea is to get out and go on an adventure that starts at your front door, preferable without a car.

These are the adventures which cost the least and allow an adventurer to satisfy the inner explorer; the need to see what is around the next corner or over the next hill.  These days cost is very much an issue in all but the richest of our society so doing things closer to home is certainly a way to get out. 

What to do though, try looking for monuments around your town by riding your bike or walking a kind of treasure hunt with some historical or archaeological theme.  It may take a little time but you will certainly see more of your local community then you have every done before.  Go for a long bike ride to another town. Load your backpack up and hike to a local hill preferably on public land and set up camp, do be legal about it.  Enter a race, most communities have at least one a year.  Take your boat, if you have one, and explore the shoreline of a local lake, there can be many wonderful things to see.  If you are looking for an even more exciting adventure bring a friend.

The idea of the micro-adventure is an excellent one and with a little creativity we can all partake in our own.  Who knows you might even learn something. So get out and start adventuring. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Adventure for a Cause

The idea that an adventure is only for personal growth and achievement or even national pride, which is what most of the old explorers were out for is both ill conceived and wrong.  Three men after finishing college have set out to ride their bikes 4200 miles across the United states starting with their tires literally in the Pacific Ocean.

Tony Lorenzo, JJ Augenbraun, and Chris fox, set out to ride across the country while raising money for the Berkshire Food Project (BFP).   Honestly they represent some of the best in national pride and they are certainly growing.  Their adventure, however, is much more then any of these things, it is for the good of others and has more then self interest at stake.  The three of them are almost done with their ride, they have maybe a week left on the road.

If you would like to find out more about their adventure you can read the Wilton Bulletin.  

Monday, August 22, 2011

Speed sailing the Eiger

The Eiger, Photo by Cyrill
Maybe this is not an adventure I would go on, but it certainly is exciting. First to climb the Eiger is considered one of the greatest challenges in mountaineering and is the test of any great climber, not all survive.  But these men who not only climbed the mountain but decided to use a speed chute to ski off the mountain.  The video is very much an adrenaline rush. 


Friday, August 19, 2011

Kayaking at Night

Photo by D. McMillin
Recently I tried Kayaking under the stars and learned some valuable lessons I think worth sharing.

1) Trust your compass and not your eyes - While moving across the water the only thing I could see was the shadowy outline of the trees along the shoreline and the water next to the kayak.  The water next to the kayak always felt like it was pushing me sideways, however the compass said the kayak was moving in a straight line along with the shadows on the shore.

2) Use a flasher - The flasher/strobe light made me stand out to other boats on the water, especially the motor boats.  In fact a boat slowed down because they saw the my flasher.  The only thing I would do different with my flasher is put it behind me instead in front so that my night vision is not affected.

3) Try to stay clear of the normal boat lanes - Even with a flasher not all boats pay as much attention to their surroundings as they should and as a general rule it is wiser to be the cautions boater then getting run over by a less observant driver.  

If you have any other suggestions for kayaking or canoeing at night write it in the comments.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Kayaking Around Kalispell Island

Papoose Island Photo by D. McMillin
If you are looking for a nice afternoon kayak Kalispell Island, on Priest Lake, ID, is a good place to go.  The adventure more then likely will begin at the Kalispell Bay boat launch.  

There is a nice sandy beach at the boat launch sheltered in behind the docks.  From here paddle about a 1/2 mile across the lake to the island.  The paddle around the island is about 3 1/4 miles.  While kayaking around Kalispell there is a nice little side trip out to Papoose Island.  Papoose is just a little island that should take you no more the 15 minutes to paddle around, be warned the island is posted as no public access.  

Kalispell Island also has nice sandy beaches to get out and play on when you want to get out of the boat and play.  For the bird watchers, on the east side of the island at the three pines camping site is an eagle nest near the top of one of the trees, if you are fortunate you may catch him watching you. This is definitely a nice day trip and, if you want, Kalispell Island also has camping site for those overnight trips.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Adventure in Alaska

Mike MacFerrin is a doctoral student at the University of Colorado in Bolder, CO, studying geography.  He has discovered the secret to both enjoying the adventure and wanting to get out again.  He calls it "selective memory,"  the process of remembering the good things and either ignoring or forgetting the bad.

Bad weather, horrendous insects, and cold all make for misery.  These are the things to which any adventurer needs to forget, and really more accurately state, put aside.  The enjoyment of solitude; a place where cell phones, ipads, ipods, etc are not needed or desired, the desire to see what is over the next hill or around the next corner, and the thrill of seeing something new are what we get out for.   The old idea of conflict overcome will always add to the story of your adventure and it actually enhances your adventure.

Mike has discovered all of this and more, if you would like to read more about him you can go to The Republic website.  

Friday, August 12, 2011

10 Hiking Adventures

Tiger Leaping Gorge
Hiking is what gets me out the most during the summer, always looking for a new mountain top or lake.  This list I found on the website.  A list of ten hikes they consider the top.
1. Appalachian Trail - Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mount Katahdin, Maine, USA
2. Camino Frances (El Camino de Santiago) - St Jean Pied do Port, France to Compostela, Spain
3. Pembrokeshire Coast Path - Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, Wales
4. Mount Kilimanjaro - Tanzania
5. Zion Narrows - Zion National Park, Utah, USA
6. Tongariro Alpine Crossing - Tongariro National Park, New Zealand
7. Paine Ciruit Trek - Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia, Chile
8. West Coast Trail - Pacific Rim National Park, British Columbia, Canada
9. Tiger Leaping Gorge - Yunnan, China
10. Inca Trail to Machu Picchu - Peru

All of these look exciting and if you get a chance try one of them out, might just be worth exploring.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How to Wash Dishes Outdoors

When I am outdoors the last thing I want to take is a lot of extra stuff, the idea is to make life as simple as possible so that I can spend more time letting out the inner explorer in me.  Washing dishes is one of those things that for most will require bringing a sponge and some soap.  But if you are experienced then you know there are easier ways that require only sand and water.  By the way this will also save you money in sponges and soap and these days every penny counts.  

What you will need is someplace with a little bit of sand and water, a stream or beach will almost always have both of these items.  First scoop some sand into your dish a little water also helps, then scrub until all the food particle are gone.  Follow this with a good rinse and check your dish.  If it is not clean then repeat until you have it clean.  Set aside to dry.  

If this bothers you a little bit then put a drop of biodegradable soap in after you have scrub and rinse,  nothing worse than having the trail trots because you forgot to rinse well after applying soap.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Kalispell Island Trail

Photo by jhildahl
For a nice short day hike, only about 40 minutes on hiking time, try Kalispell Island in the middle of Priest Lake. The trail is mostly flat and circumnavigates the Island.  At many locations along the trail are nice white beaches which can be used to rest, swim, or even eat lunch.  The most difficult hurdle to overcome is the access to the trail.  You will need a boat or some other form of water transport to reach the island.  

The best access point for this trail is by parking at the boat launch provided by the Forest Service, just east of Hills Resort.  

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Frightening Bike Ride

I found this video on youtube.  Every once in a while I just need to display something I would not be willing to do.  This is definitely one of them.  Walking up this trail would be challenge enough.  For your information, this is somewhere in Germany.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Riding on the Outside

This last weekend I went on a mountain bike ride up Tumwater Ridge along the edge of the Bavarian style town of Leavenworth, Washington.  I thought I would share a couple of lessons from the two hour ride up and down the hill.  

1) Always take your own bike if you think there is even a small chance you might go for a ride.  My brother in-law brought one of his old bikes,  he is a bit shorter than I and so the bike was not quite the right height even after I raised the seat as high as it would go.  Don't get me wrong I really appreciated the use of the bike, it was a real blessing.  On the uphill my legs never quite got a full extension causing them to work harder, on the downhill the handle bars were too low giving me a little less control.  

2) While riding uphill on a forest road, always ride around the outside of a hairpin corner.  The road grade is not quite as steep on the outside as it is on the inside.  If you want more of a workout then by all means ride around the inside, but most expert athletes know that conserving energy is as important as having enough fuel to complete your task.

Mountain biking is a great activity which requires some measure of stamina.  With a little knowledge you can increase the amount of time you have to bike and decrease the amount of energy needed to get up and down the hill.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Backpacking Cat

I found this video on youtube.  The man took his cat on a 9000 miles backpack trip from Miami to Argentina.  The trip would be exciting however, not so sure about packing a cat for that distance.  Cat's are not really as useful on a trip as a dog.