Doug Chabot of the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center with a somewhat in-depth description on recording snow pit data.
Nielson Brown Outdoors did a simple write-up about cookpots a few days ago and it got me to thinking I haven’t really written about what I’ve come to call my “go to” cook set up. There’s nothing special about it, and it’s not the most minimal or the lightest kit out there – but it works for me in terms of volume, weight, ease-of-use, and comfort. I do have other setups that I take out with me in exceptional conditions such as winter or when I’m trying to travel SUL but time and time again the setup below is what I use.
- Antigravity Gear alcohol fuel bottle
- Trail Designs Caldera Cone
- MSR aluminum pot gripper
- Trail Designs Caldera stove
- Snowpeak 900mL (handles removed, DIY lid)
- Backpacking Light Short-handled Titanium Spoon
- Backpacking Light 475 mL Trapper’s Mug
I’ve come to really appreciate this setup. I roll the Caldera Cone up and place it into the pot. Next the Trapper’s Mug sits inside that with the stove at it’s bottom, the fuel bottle atop that, and the spoon and gripper alongside it. The lid fits atop all of it and it’s gets perfectly fitted into a silnylon stuff sack I sewed up a few years ago.
It would be very easy to argue that this kit could be minimized from seven items to four but I like having the 475 mL mug for coffee or whisky for sipping on while I’m preparing my meal. The pot gripper is so sturdy and easy to use that the weight penalty is worth it to me. And lastly although there are many who use stoves that don’t require a stand of any type I will argue then near-perfection that is the Trail Designs Caldera with great vigor. It’s speed in heat transfer, nearly untippable nature, and general cleverness are well worth it’s weight in my ruck.
I follow a great DIY blog called “Bike Hacks” which features reader submissions for creative hacks related to bicycles. These are usually really down and dirty, low cost solutions for people more interested in function than form. As a practical cyclist I’ve created myriad hacks to the many bicycles I’ve manned in my day and have submitted a few of them to “Bike Hacks”.
The blog recently featured one of the hacks I came up with wherein I put a front derailleur to interesting use as a chain tensioner on my the DIY long bike I built a few years ago.
For those who’ve not seen my long bike which I lovingly call the RecycleCycle you can view a gallery of the build process and some of it’s recent iterations in the DIY Longtail Cargo Bike Build aka RecycleCycle gallery I keep at Flickr.
It’s been a summer of weddings on the weekends and work on the weekdays. My fiance, our friends, and I have managed to get out for a fair number of car camping overnighters with some good mountain biking and hiking during the days but the backpacking has been a bit sparse so far this summer. We penciled in a weekend trip to the Bitterroot valley to visit my long time friend Casey at the farm she’s been living and working on and to spend a night a short distance into the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Complex – a land I’ve not yet explored but have wanted to.
Casey and I have been friends since the late 90s having met in Fargo, ND during college. Luck would have it that we both found employement in Glacier National Park in 2004 without knowing the other was doing the same and since then we’ve managed to stay in touch every year or so when our paths could cross. It was serendipitous hearing Casey would be only a few hours away this summer so a meetup was definitely in order.
We toured the small, farm that is being worked by the sweat (and tears) of just two gals who put in long, hot hours in the SW Montana sun to bring fresh, organic vegetables to the tables of people in the Bitterroot Valley. It’s about as honest of work as one can find.
Living in tents and teepees, and cooking at an outdoor cook shanty is about all the camping most people would need but Casey still enjoys getting away from it all and was amped to join us on a short trek up to Peterson Lake in the Sweeney Creek drainage of the Bitterroots.
We arrived at the lake about an hour before dark and Torie picked a spectacular zone on the East shore of the lake. The former marshy end of the lake had dried up in the past decades leaving a flat, soft, dry, and grassy acreage perfect for our tents.
We dined on couscous and fresh, organic veggies (of course) and shared whiskey and hard cider after. Fire danger has reached it’s height in SW Montana and with restrictions and a high wind we opted to enjoy the light of the nearly full moon as opposed to some good ol’ “Ranger TV”. The noobs at the other end of the lake must have been blissfully unaware of the fire restrictions for we could see their “TV” blazing from the tree’d zone to the West.
Morning was relaxed, the hike was mostly cool and breezy, and we had time in the late afternoon to swing through Missoula for a late lunch with yet another friend. A weekend full of good times for sure.
Heinrich C. Berann, (born 1915 – died 1999) the father of the modern panorama map, was born into a family of painters and sculptors in Innsbruck, Austria. He taught himself by trial and error. In the years 1930-1933 he attended the arts and design school “Bundeslehranstalt für Malerei” in Innsbruck.
In 1962 he painted Mount Everest for National Geographic Society, and created 4 panoramas for the United States National Park Service: Yellowstone National Park, North Cascades National Park, Yosemite National Park and finally Mt. McKinley National Park (now Denali).
- Source, Wikipedia
The route was picked last week, the meals were planned, and the gear lists were dialed. Friday night would be devoted to car shuttling and then a gentle valley approach of about four miles to a late night camp. The next day would be an aggressive mountain pass probably requiring multiple miles of over snow travel and then day three would entail a long exit valley out to the awaiting car.
The car shuttle worked out great. It was a beautiful Friday night in SW Montana for a drive down long dirt roads with million dollar views of snow-capped mountains in the distance. We hit the trail at 19:30 knowing darkness would fall about two hours later so we hightailed it down the trail to walk as far as we could until dusk, then make camp.
The East Fork Mill Creek trail
Scared up a couple bears
Hiking at dusk means a higher chance at seeing wildlife while they’re foraging for dinner. We scared up two bears and two elk on our hike in.
Snow-capped mountains at dusk
My buddy Mike noticed a small trickle of water running across the trail and a good looking game trail that exited off to the side so we followed it to see if it would lead to a good camping spot – and it did. Complete with a little spring, very soft patches of earth to lay our bivies and tarps, and some stout trees to hang our bear rope were to be had.
This ain’t our first rodeo. Cooking after dark.
The sun rose at 05:00 and I leaned over to see if my dog was getting cold and wrap some of my sleeping quilt around him. My watch read 30 deg F and I could see frost on the grass all ’round my tarp. Times like this, lying under your tarp, wrapped in your cocoon of a quilt are some of those that just make you feel alive.
Mike was still sleeping so Gus (my dog) and I awoke, gathered some kindling, and got hot water going on the Bushbuddy. The frost was slowly melting in the sun which was also warming Gus and I and felt great.
After breakfast we hit the trail hoping to get as much of an early start onto the snowfields we had to cross that hung a few thousand feet above us. We made great time and reached snow as we approached 8,000 ft elevation. All was going great, the trail wasn’t too hard to find, and everything around us was beautiful.
The dogs were exploring every which way as we proceeded uphill until something caught Jax dog’s eye. Many a wilderness trip has been shut down by a necessary trip to the veterinarian and unfortunately ours would be no different as Jax decided to pick a fight with a porcupine.
Jax has bad judgement when he comes to picking fights
We reflected on the situation, pulled as many quills as we could and considered our options. Continue hiking over and out to the end (15+ miles) or turn around and go back the way we’d come (8 miles plus backtracking the 2 we’d already done that morning for 10 total miles) and opted for the latter. Back the way we’d come.
Mike and I have been in the Mill Creek drainage three times and two of those times we’ve been thwarted in a larger goal. Once by raging whitewater and the second by a damn porcupine.
We hiked out pretty fast – or at least as fast as Old Gus dog would allow. It was a beautiful day and felt good to be hiking even if it was in the “wrong” direction.
Hiking out to the vet
We got back to the car and hightailed it back to town to get Jax to the vet for some quill removal. All went smoothly and we then had time for another beautiful drive to go and retrieve the car awaiting at the end of our intended destination. We made the most of the night by grilling some spectacular burgers and drinking beer.
We’ll get up and over that pass someday. I’ve been at it from three angles and there’s lots of micro-country to be explored around the Boulder Mountain area. Just leaves me an excuse to go back!
My grandmother passed away recently having outlived my grandfather by over a decade. Upon her passing I found myself pondering the ways they shaped my life and in particular my love for the outdoors. My grandmother was a school teacher during her working career and my grandfather managed a local grocery store in their medium sized Wisconsin town. Much like many other Midwesterners they spent their weekends camping, fishing, and hunting. A love for the out of doors was a passion they spread to their daughter (my mother) and on to me. Memories of camping at the family property in Northern Wisconsin and countless road trips all over the country are some of my fondest. I miss my grandparents dearly but am able to find appreciation in the fact that my mother and father are carrying on the tradition in educating their grandchildren – my nieces – in the ways of the woods.
As mentioned in yesterday’s post I had to keep my snowboarding exploits to a minimum this season due to an out-of-whack sacroiliac joint. The trip highlighted yesterday was in November and was pre-injury and being able to dwell upon how great it was to get out ski camping with a good friend did a lot to keep me in a positive attitude the rest of the winter. I did get out on a few day trips with friends and my fiance which helped as well – but were certainly hard on my back and required some downtime afterward to rest.
Last weekend I was feeling the need to get out for some snow camping and hopefully get to ski some Spring corn snow. The snow line is continually receding higher and higher so I garnered sign-ons from Jon and Kyle to pack up overnight gear and skis/splitboards for a journey into the Northern Gallatin Range of SW Montana.
Kyle had an engagement until Friday evening so we opted to do a nighttime start, hitting the trailhead around 20:00. Darkness doesn’t fall in these parts until 21:15 or so and we were able to get a good chunk of the hike under our belts before the headlamps had to come out. Snowline was somewhere around 8,000 ft (2440 m) at which time we were able to transition from trailrunners to ski/snowboard boots and skis for much easier travel. Having the extra weight of skis and boots on your back when hiking is an absolute nightmare for those of us who practice ultralight backpacking!
The next morning we awoke about an hour after dawn and once coffee and calories were in our bellies we set off for the summit of Mount Blackmore. It was hard to tell whether the snowpack had frozen overnight but I expect it didn’t. If it had we would have needed to wait for it to melt out a bit before we could ski it so not summiting until approximately 9:00 was what we aimed for. Everything was perfectly soft on our approach, our snowpit yielded excellent results, and other than being wary of sloughing snow we presumed we were in for some great riding.
The turns were superb with a few inches of soft, sloughy corn atop a breakable crust and bomber base. We lapped the East face of the peak twice, grabbed our camping gear from our base camp, and were back in town with the whole afternoon to take care of those pesky domestic chores and backyard relaxing.
I injured my back in early winter and was unable to get out splitboarding as much as I’d like this winter but was able to get out on two meaningful overnight trips (second TR to follow soon). One of my go-to ski partners, Jon W. is pretty much always up for an adventure no matter how marginal the snow so back in mid-November he and I grabbed touring and overnight gear and headed into the Deep Creek drainage of the Northern Absaroka range. This drainage had burned almost completely black during the wildfires that raned in the NW U.S. during the summer of 2012 and hiking through this darkened landscape blanketed with white snow was both eerie and beautiful.
Our destination was an offtrail draw which is the headwaters of Deep Creek and located below the menacing NW face of Mt. Mcknight. A trail runs up the E/W length of Deep Creek but we planned to exit the trail at a natural departure point and hopefully find enough snow to ski into the headwaters. We knew snow levels would be low and opted for edged and shaped nordic skis (XCD) as opposed to splitboards which are our usual weapons for powdery descent.
Jon and I both have pretty good attitudes towards getting into the woods and regardless of the purpose of our destination (powder snow, quality singletrack, good whitewater) we don’t let the lack of action intended from that destination get us down. This trip didn’t provide as much snow as we’d like but we still had a great campfire and got to spend a night out under the stars in a pristine wilderness absolutely soaked in beauty.
There may not have been tons of snow but Jon didn’t let that keep him from getting rad on his 3-pin gear.
The following is a synopsis of an article in the American College of Sports Medicine’s “Health & Fitness Journal”.
The ability constraints can be a concern when it comes to getting people to exercise. High-intensity circuit training seems to deliver numerous health benefits (3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 12, 16, 17) in less time than more traditional programs that are recommended. Furthermore, body weight can be used as resistance, eliminating the need for specialized facilities or equipment.
Exercises are performed for 30 seconds, with 10 seconds of transition time between bouts. Total time for the entire circuit workout is approximately 7 minutes. The circuit can be repeated 2 to 3 times.
- Jumping jacks Total body
- Wall sit Lower body
- Push-up Upper body
- Abdominal crunch Core
- Step-up onto chair Total body
- Squat Lower body
- Triceps dip on chair Upper body
- Plank Core
- High knees/running in place Total body
- Lunge Lower body
- Push-up and rotation Upper body
- Side plank Core
By Brett Klika, C.S.C.S., B.S. and Chris Jordan, M.S., C.S.C.S, NSCA-CPT, ACSM HFS/APT