Category Archives: Backpacking

ADK backcountry – some photos

Here are some shots by my wonderfully talented friend Jay of our backcountry excursion. All photo credits to him.

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View from the top – Mt Colden

Had a great jaunt in the Adirondacks over Canada Day weekend. I took a novice and two fairly experienced backpackers on a three day trip.

Beautiful views on Sunday from 4714 feet on top of Mt Colden. Some fairly technical scrambles to the top coming from Lake Colden. Expect to put the trekking poles away!

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We shot a wonderful 360 of the top using the iPhone app.

Check it out HERE!

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Why I own a food scale

I love to obsess over what my gear weighs. Be careful though… It can be addictive. I keep commonly used items in an archive and just copy it to make new lists.

If you see me tinkering on my iPad, chances are it is in Numbers with one of these spreadsheets.
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Foreward – A sense of scale

The world is a really big place. It is hard to appreciate it when you think of the areas mankind has conquered as being the center of the universe. Most men and women take comfort in the buzz of the millions of other souls about them to quiet the hissing, lizard part of their brain that cynically whispers ‘You know… you’re really all alone’. Being alone can be terrifying. It forces one to be with one’s own self in a way that is chronically missing from modern life.

It is only when you get to the edges of what man has claimed (and believe me, they’re closer than you think) and look back, with the cold void of empty silence at your back, that you can truly appreciate the vastness of existence.

It is humbling and exhilarating all at once. It is affirming and entropic. All the humours of a life spent suppressing ‘being with ones own-self’ come undammed and flood in with a kind of overwhelming endorphin and adrenaline fuelled surge.

Take a trip to the edge. Swim away from shore. Walk until the quiet hums in your ears. You’ll know it when you get there. It’s when you know you’re just one person in the center of everything and nothing. You’re just you. Then you really can be the centre of universe.

You might never want to do it again. Extroverts will lose energy at an alarming rate. You might never want to return to civilization. Introverts can find the charge from such isolation empowering.

It is my belief however, that to experience even the tiniest atom of the vastness of what is must be impossible without using the only tool at your disposal, your own self, to get a sense of scale.

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Gear I Don’t Like – Lifeproof Iphone 4 – 4S Case

I, like a lot of people, have joined the Smartphone revolution as a way of condensing many devices into a single, portable unit.

The iPhone has for me (like many folks) taken a ‘front pocket’ role in both my business life (as a commuter) and in my hobbies (backpacking, hiking, etc). It combines a personal computer, GPS, Phone, Camera and entertainment centre into one simple Ounce-Light device.

It’s only failings are its durability (common to all technology), susceptibility to water damage and of course reliance on power.

Two of these I was hoping to have solved with my iPhone 4S case from Lifeproof. After reading some reviews, including a recommendation from Backpacker Magazine, I selected it as my new case over Otterbox due to it’s lighter weight and versatility. It would also work with my external collection of camera lenses which extend the iPhones versatility taking photos of the outdoors. The price tag ($99) was fairly average for the case type so I picked it up roughly nine months ago.

For roughly six months it held up well. I took photos on the tops of Tolmie peak in the fall, dropping my phone in the slop as the sun rose and snow started to melt. It held my case safe as it was knocked out of my hand by fellow air commuters in the airport.

Over Christmas it slowly began to decompose. Perhaps the extreme amount of use and time in the sun/outdoors caused the rubber to break down. Regardless, the rubber lips on the front face which seal in the faceplate and cushion the edges from damage began to crumble. Over time, the entire top and left side (along with the side switch cover) had eroded. I removed the phone and tested it for watertightness and the case continued to keep out moisture… so with a shrug I continued to use it, assuming this erosion to be cosmetic at best. The interior cushions still protected my phone and that tiny amount of rubber could not possibly endanger the device.

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It would appear I was wrong. One fateful day last weekend I was knocked while walking through Midtown Manhattan and my phone was tossed from my hand. Landing flat and facedown I assumed at first (having survived many a similar fall) that the phone was fine. It was my wife that noticed a line running down my screen.

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The screen was crushed directly in the area where the eroded rubber had flaked away. My assumption that this small cosmetic flaw wasn’t actually what was protecting my phone was apparently erroneous.

Now, seven months of abuse and my phone’s first bit of damage came after I knowingly watched part of the case fail… but I still feel cheated. The case itself is still watertight and 99% intact. In addition Lifeproof describes that the interior of the case is designed as shock resistant, not the film of rubber at its edges.

While this does give me the excuse to upgrade my iPhone to a 5 (I’m due anyway), I will likely be looking for a new and different brand of case to protect it.

So if any of you are experiencing the same rubber failure on a Lifeproof Case, consider yourself warned. That little bit of rubber lip is apparently what is keeping your phone screen from being drop damaged. Caveat Emptor!

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Filed under Backpacking, Commuter Travel, Outdoor Gear, Traveling Light

Gear I Like – Salomon Synapse Mid-High WP Train Runners

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I have been looking for some time for a pair of light, waterproof boots to take with me on short notice scrambles and peak-bags. Its hard to find hybrids that are tough enough for rocky terrain, supportive enough for uphills and downhills and waterproof enough for the unpredictable weather of places like the PNW.

Salomon to the rescue. Although technically trail-runners these affordably prices boots are burly enough that their goretex exteriors and rubber outsole and toe cap resisted my best efforts to tear them up on Cougar Mt. loop trails outside Seattle and Angels Rests rocky terrain in Portland. Both hikes were between 5-6 miles and both had me caught in rain on several occasions with sloppy trail conditions.

The only moisture in these boots when I took them off was from me. Even that had vented well enough that my socks were bone dry seconds after coming out (Smartwool hikers).

The toggle and lock system of laces kept my heel jammed down in the constant uphills and downhills and my feet (abused by 15 miles walking through Manhattan a week before in Nikes) came out non the worse for wear.

The wide luggy soles were grippy on slick wet rocks, mud and compressed gravel all through both hikes. The mid high cut even gave a bit of ankle support.

My only nitpick would be the lack of arch support… but if you need it you’re already used to putting in your own insoles.

So if you’re a guy looking for a great blend between a hiker and a trail runner this total winner in my books and great for the price.

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May 30, 2013 · 3:40 pm

Pro Bar

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Tried these today;

Pros

– Really tasty, chocolate and mint, lots of chew.
– 380 calories, just right for a grab on the go meal.
– Compact enough to stash in a hip belt pocket.
-Good mix of healthy fats to heat you up and fuel muscles.
– GMO free and organic whole food.

Cons
– Pricey; about 1 cent per calorie.
– Sticky; could turn to glop in really hot weather.

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