Hiking Dude Blog
2020 - Mar Feb Jan
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There's a new spork coming to the market! I can hear your cries of excitement and anticipation already. Or, you're thinking 'Didn't sporks fade away like fanny packs and flip phones?'
The folks at Morsel have spent a ton of time designing a new item called the Morsel Metal Spork which may be the ultimate eating utensil.
Here's my predicament when out on a thru-hike...
I've tried many different styles of preparing food, including cooking in a pot, rehydrating right in the food's bag, cold soaking, and even no-cooking. No matter what, getting the last bit of food out of the container is a chore. It doesn't matter if it is scraping the bottom corner of a Mountain House bag or extracting the last bit of peanut butter from a jar - there's always some left. And, if my spoon isn't long enough, I wind up getting goop on my hand trying to stretch to the far reaches of the food abyss.
I've used disposable long-handled spoons from DQ - they break.
A metal spoon - gives me shivers on my teeth.
A spork - too short and heavy.
A knife - I cut the package open and lick everything out, it works but is messy.
So, I've been settling for a long plastic spoon with a 2nd as a backup for when I break the first.
The Morsel Metal is going to make my life great again, at least my meal time portion of my life. Here's why:
- Length - 10.5 inches long, and this is big. I'll keep my grimey hands out of the food, and the food off my grimey hands so I don't have to lick my grimey hands.
- Weight - 24g (.85oz) means I'm keeping that baseweight low, and you know It's all about the base! Weigh your current utensils and see how they compare.
- Materials - Aluminum and Silicone combine to make a great tool. Completely safe, easily cleaned, and tough as nails, this aluminum alloy is stronger, lighter, and less expensive than titanium. The silicone edging is tear-resistent, flexible, and heat-resistent, for use to cook, eat, and clean.
- Design - Besides the cool hole that lets you attach a cord or biner, the multi-radial shape of the spoon lets you scrape any shaped bowl, pot, kettle, plate, or package clean as a whistle. That flexible silicon edge really helps, too.
What are you doing still reading??? You should be joining the Kickstarter campaign along with the 1,300 before you and get your Morsel Metal sporks delivered in May, at a significant discount. There's only 3 weeks left in their campaign from today, so get out of here.Hike On!
Disclosure: I'm supposed to get a Morsel Spork and I might even earn some money for referring backers.
It's treacherous on the trails this time of year, for sure. We're in the midst of days warming up but nights still being freezing cold. This freeze - thaw - freeze - thaw daily cycle creates dangerous terrain on trails, paths, and sidewalks. Now, my friend Bren in Alabama can ignore this post (Hi, Bren!), but this bit of advice might help keep the rest of you upright and out of the doctor's office.
I noticed that:
- During the spring, summer, and fall, trails can be wet and muddy, or dry and dusty, but the risk of slipping is slim when the trail is tan.
- During deep winter, all trails are white - completely covered with snow and not very slippery. The snow makes going tougher, but actually slipping, falling, and getting hurt is not a big concern.
- It's the early spring or late winter that is especially slippery and risky to be out walking. Daytime sun melts snow enough to flow water over the trail, but not enough to dry it out. Once the sun gets low enough for the trail to be in shade, the cold air and subterranean ice work to freeze the new water into a shiney, smooth, slick surface of gray ice suitable for iceskating.
If you're like me, you can't sit at home and not hike just because the trail is a bit menacing. We go out and we take our chances, probably pussyfooting along not really enjoying the walk. Well, today I realized that I've developed an easy-to-remember method for picking my safest way along a trail this time of year. I'm calling it the TWiG Safety method.
TWiG is how to remember the relative safety of the different colors of trail you may need to walk on. It goes like this:
- Tan - dirt, gravel, leaves are all tan or brown and tend to have friction and are the safest.
- White - snow is the next best. It can be packed and slick, but usually has some grit to it.
- Gray - the most dangerous because it is ice and probably very slick.
So, while briskly hiking down the trail, I scan ahead to see what colors are there. All Tan and I'm good to go, some White and I avoid it, but as Gray shows up I use the white snow and avoid the ice. If there's no option but gray ice, then I slow down and take no chances by slow stepping as needed.
Just Remember TWiG - Tan, White, Gray for safety and your hikes will be safer and more enjoyable.
With the warming sun, our mountains of snow along the roads and trails become dirty and then gradually melt away. What they leave behind is like the receding glaciers - piles of debris that has built up over the short ice age from November thru February. Unlike glacial debris, what we find every March is trash (and too much dog poop) which doesn't belong there.
As long as I'm out there, I pick up what I can and recycle or dispose of it (but not the dog poop). I've found it's a little more interesting to make up a story about the trash I collect, so here's A Sad Story for you...
Once upon a time, a guy from Iowa got a call from friends in Minnesota. They said, 'Dude, let's party! Tonight!' So, he left work early, hopped in his car and headed north. He did a great job of staying hydrated by drinking water, Powerade, and a couple Monster fuels. Along the way, he got hungry so he stopped for a quick bite at Taco Bell.
When he reached Minneapolis, he checked into the Marriot where he planned on crashing after a night of partying with his BFFs. He took a shower, put on deodorant, and brushed his teeth with a brand new toothbrush he bought when he stopped for gas earlier. Then, he headed out to meet the gang.
Man, oh man, what a party!!! They drank lots of beers, chewed a little tabacco, and smoked while they caught up on old times. After awhile, that got a little old as they got a little lit, so they moved up to the stronger stuff. Captain Morgan, Fireball, vokda, and whatever else they could find kept them hopping late into the night. Time flew by.
Just as the bars were closing, and he was looking for his Marriot's cardkey to go hit the hay, his phone rang. There was an emergency at work and, if he wanted to keep his job, he had to be at work before the sun came up in the morning! Being a loyal, but inebriated, employee he left his friends, hopped in his car and raced south.
As you might expect, all that alcohol caught up to him and he became drowsy. He slapped himself a few times and pulled into a gas station. There, he bought some Monster fuels and some Energy Extra shots to get him home. That worked for a few more miles, but not long enough.
Somewhere in the night, in the beautiful Iowa countryside, he finally fell asleep and drifted off the road where his car crashed into a herd of sleeping cows, tipping 23 of them over.
So Sad - almost as sad as finding this much trash along a 2-mile stretch of bike path. We are all grounds keepers so please trash your trash, leave no trace, and care for the planet.Hike On!
You've probably seen many examples of the You're Better Than Me meme by now. Well, here's a version I made:
Most of those are good companies with fine products, so I hope they have a sense of humor. :-)
Making your own gear (MYOG) is a great way to get equipment that fits your needs, saves you money, and is well made.
There! I said it, and I'm proud to be a MYOGer! No more waiting for nightfall to set up camp to hide my MYOG quilt. No more keeping my MYOG pack covered with a trashbag. Let everyone see my label-less equipment!
Sure, some items such as water treatment, shoes, and hiking poles make more sense to purchase but you could make them if you wanted. Lots of other equipment can be made yourself to exactly your own specs. Purchasing materials is almost always cheaper than purchasing a finished product, and it's great learning if you don't mind a little effort.
I made my first pieces of gear in 2012 for my Arizona Trail thru-hike - a quilt, backpack, and shelter.
- My silver quilt had two layers of polyester insulation between a shell of silnylon fabric. 8 years later, I'm still using that quilt! It has been used for over 200 nights of sleeping outdoors. A quilt like this is a simple piece to start your MYOG journey. The sewing is all basic, straight stitches that you can do on any sewing machine. It weighs a bit over 2 pounds and has been warm down to the mid-20s.
- I made a 1-pound backpack myself for the AZT. I still have it, but it's on its last legs now. A pack is more challenging, but step-by-step instructions helped me create something I was quite proud of.
- For an experiment, I sewed a shelter out of silnylon. I designed it myself, created a model to size out of brown paper, and then used that pattern to make the prototype. It worked, but there are plenty of ways to improve it.
These three items weigh 4.9 pounds, reducing about 6 pounds from my equipment load. Eight years later, they are still usable (except the pack is wearing out). I spent $220 on materials and patterns. I'm not sure how many hours I spent making them, but it was around 40.
I made a 2nd backpack and quilt, using the same patterns. The quilt has one layer of insulation, making it lighter and smaller but less warm. My son and I used the two packs and quilts on our Florida Trail hike and Pacific Northwest Trail hike. I've also made a hat, arm warmers, underlayer jacket, and miscellaneous other items.
Three things seem to prevent people from making their own gear: not knowing how, not believing it will be good enough, and brand envy.
I can't help you with brand envy except to tell you that many ultralight people remove the tags and labels anyway.
I'm absolutely sure that MYOG items can be good enough, and better than, mass produced items that cost much more $$$ - mine have held up wonderfully.
As far as the difficulty of MYOG, I'm an old man and I found it pretty easy to lay out, cut, and sew materials - and it was fun. You'll make a few mistakes when learning, but it's a rare mistake that can't be fixed.
So, these MYOG items are fun to make, are economical, are the exact size I want, and hold up well. There's no reason not to try making something yourself.
Have you made any gear, or want to try?
Did you plan on doing a long hike this year? Maybe a thru-hike of a long trail? Well, the Pacific Crest Trail Association, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Continental Divide Trail Coalition, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Florida Trail Association, Arizona Trail, and probably every other long trail support group have cancelled all events, closed their offices, and recommend using local trails rather than doing thru-hikes. A bandanna over your face isn't really gonna cut it.
Some folks are of the opinion that, being America and all, we've got the right to hike! Sure, being in the fresh outdoors is certainly healthier than being in a confined building day after day, and our country's long trails can still be hiked. But, besides the disregard to recommendations from the trail associations, and unconcern about spreading the virus, someone that makes the decision to do a long hike now will have extra challenges, such as:
- Facilities closed in trail towns - restaurants, laundromats, stores, and other businesses will not provide the usual support
- Hitch hiking - expect to walk that mile or three to town rather than getting an easy ride to town and back to trail
- Trail Angels - don't expect any free food, free rooms and showers, shuttling, or any of the other free support often found
- Hostels - closed down just like the hotels, motels, and BnBs
- Medical Support - sickness or injury will be up to you to care for with small, local doctors overburdened with current patients. Search-n-Rescue will also be hindered so you're on your own to survive
- Camping - local, state, and national park camping facilities being closed means stealth camping and locked bathrooms. Expect the same at private campgrounds, too.
Then there are those who have given up their plans for a thru-hike this year. Even in the best possible case of virus containment, there will not be enough hiking days available to complete the trail they had planned. Sadness and frustration abound in this group, but all is not lost!
Virtual Thru Hike
You can virtually hike your trail while staying safe and doing some good where you live. Here's how:
- Get up at 5am.
- Use gmap.pedometer.com to lay out a 10-mile route around your community.
- Hike this route in 3 or 4 hours.
- Get home by 9am for the rest of your day.
- Repeat making new routes and hiking them for 1 month, or 10 months.
- Feel free to take a bag along and pick up litter along the path.
- Congrats! You completed your thru-hike!!! and it looks something like this...
The image above is my Superior Hiking Trail VTH (virtual thru hike) I completed the past two months. The circle is about 6 miles in diameter. I hiked for 90 to 100 minutes 5 times a week for 10 weeks.
Now, I'm working on my Arizona Trail VTH which will be 800 miles. I hope to finish by the 4th of July.
I still hope to do some multi-day hikes this year, but they will only happen if official guidance approves of the activity. And, I plan on using these parameters:
- No resupply - I'll carry all my food from the start so I don't need to interact with trail towns.
- No communal shelters or hostels - I'll sleep in my own shelter away from any other people.
- Emergency Support - I'll carry a SPOT Messenger to track my path and alert help in emergencies.
- Real Wilderness - my treks will be on less-used trails at a less popular time of year where I'll likely encounter no one else.
Where will you be hiking this year? Did you change plans for a hike, or are you hiking your plan, or are you waiting to see how the virus situation evolves?
Missing the outdoors? You can still go on walks and hikes every day. But, for those long days of social isolation, there are a ton of movies and videos to watch and wonder why you ever thought being in the wilderness would be a good idea. :-) Most of these can be found on some streaming service, but maybe not yours.
Are one of these your fav? There are a lot more, so please add any other suggestions you have...Long Hikes:
- free - Walking Home
- free - As It Happens
- free - Only the Essential
- A Walk in the Woods
- Into the Wild
- Mile...Mile and a Half
- Tell It on the Mountain
- The Way
- The Way Back
- free - The Endurance
- 7 Years in Tibet
- A River Runs Through It
- Dances With Wolves
- Desert Runners
- Lost City of Z
- Ride the Divide
- Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Plus, here's 101 free videos of various lengths and quality to pass the time...
- 7 Stages - skiing - 41:44
- Amo - Easter Island - 7:08
- Ascending Afghanistan - Afghan women issues and mountain climb - 43:33
- Age of Ondra - Part 1 - Adam Ondra - 20:57
- AoO-2 - part 2 - 30:22
- AoO-3 - part 3 - 27:53
- Artifishal - saving wild salmon - 1:19:55
- Aziza - ultra-running - 6:30
- Bawli Booch - Downhill Biking India - 4:30
- Beautiful Idiot - mountain biking - 14:41
- Beneath the Ice - ice climbing and climate change - 16:48
- Blood on the Crack - rock climbing - 9:49
- Blood Road - Ho Chi Minh Trail bike ride - 1:34:59
- Blue Heart - protest European river dams - 43:59
- BMX Nigeria - city BMX riding - 12:12
- Break on Through - rock climbing - 29:03
- Brotherhood of Skiing - black skiers - 10:11
- Brothers of Climbing - rock climbing - 7:18
- Camel Finds Water - building a boat - 8:37
- Carving Landscapes - reenactment of woman researcher - 6:13
- Charge - snowski tricks - 4:37
- Chasing a Trace - searching for wolverines - 20:01
- Chasing the Sublime - cold water swimming - 6:40
- Children of the Columbia - skiing and history - 21:23
- Climb Your Dreams - short poem - 2:29
- Circle of the Sun - skiing Norway - 5:03
- Danny Daycare - bicycling Scotland spoof - 4:10
- Defiance - snowboarding - 12:37
- Dream Job - skiing - 14:41
- Dreamride 3 - mountain biking - 6:00
- Eclipse - freeski - 31:24
- Electric Greg - climate change and mountain sports - 19:14
- Eli - ultrarunning - 5:18
- Emil Johansson's Story - mtb rider's illness - 24:52
- Escape - cross-Canada bike ride - 8:01
- Facing Sunrise - hiking - 8:51
- Fast Horse - bareback horse racing - 13:10
- Fell Runners - trail running - 17:17
- Flip - base jumping - 3:13
- For the Love of Mary - 97yrold runner - 6:17
- Free Flow - trail running, free climbing - 4:15
- Frozen Mind - snowboarding - 33:15
- Frozen Road - bike ride in Canada - 24:30
- Good Morning - red bull snow ski - 4:18
- Grizzly Country - protecting habitat - 11:46
- Holocene - climbing and skiing - 12:14
- Hourya - paragliding - 9:24
- How to Run 100 Miles - mountain ultramarathon - 28:14
- Ice & Palms - bikepacking - 32:00
- Imaginary Line - highline between US and Mexico - 10:38
- Kai Jones - 11yr-old snow skiing - 5:18
- Ladakh Project - whitewater kayaking - 14:11
- La Grave - free skiing - 17:00
- Last Honey Hunter - cliff climbing for honey - 35:51
- Legend of Rafael - bicycling - 6:51
- Lhotse - first ski descent - 23:00
- Life of Glide - snowboarding - 15:45
- Life of Pie - two women bikeriders - 11:47
- Liv Along the Way - mountain climbing - 22:21
- Lorax Project - basejumping - 34:38
- Loved By All - Apa Sherpa - 13:50
- My Mom Vala - fishing Greenland - 9:45
- Mother Earth - mountain biking - 5:43
- Motivator - meet my mom - 4:26
- Narics - snowboarding - 18:21
- Nordic Skater - ice skating - 5:26
- Okpilik - interview with woman - 4:57
- Out on a Limb - prosthetic foot for climber - 21:20
- Over Time - skiing - 7:20
- Par For The Course - Mirnavator hike - 3:39
- Perspectives - mountain biking - 5:20
- Redstone Pack - dog sledding - 5:22
- Refuge - steelhead fishing - 6:04
- Ride of the Dead - Mexico mountain biking - 11:53
- River's Call - whitewater kayaking - 7:45
- RJ Ripper - Mountain Biking in India - 19:00
- Rotpunkt - rock climbing - 50:27
- Running Pastor - trail running - 8:14
- Sacred Strides - running for Bears Ears - 12:20
- Safe Haven - indoor rock climbing- 7:49
- Silence - rock climbing - 17:40
- Ski Photographer - skiing - 8:49
- Skier Vs Drone - drone & skiier race - 4:08
- Sky Piercer - skiing - 43:57
- Solstice - skiing - 3:56
- Speak to Me Softly - rock climbing - 6:14
- Standing Man - FTK MTB attempt - 13:05
- Surface - ocean photography - 7:07
- Surviving the Outback - a month in Australia wilds - 59:49
- Thabang - trail running in Africa - 13:15
- The Botanist - building hydroelectric to survive - 20:04
- The Frenchy - 82yrold ski racer - 14:19
- The Moment - mountain biking - 1:17:05
- The Passage - canoe the Inside Passage - 25:19
- This Land - running - 10:32
- Treeline - forest communities - 40:16
- Up To Speed - speed climbing - 22:30
- Valley of the Moon - climbing - 21:38
- Wallmapu - skiing - 5:50
- We Are Abel - life of caribou hunter - 8:35
- Wolf Pack - trail running - 12:23
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Feb 13, 2020 - Jason Berklund
Getting to the northern terminus is expensive (in my mind). If you can schedule correctly, Arrowhead Transit is cheapest to Grand Marais, but then Harriet Quarles is the only shuttle I know of. You might find a good ol' boy in Grand Marais willing to drive you the 35 miles to the end for a few $$$.
It's a 3 hour drive from Duluth - that's 6 hours and 300 miles round-trip. Maybe your friend would like to drive up the north shore for a day.
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