My workbench

My workbench

Monday, January 26, 2009

An article linked from digihitch..

Check it out. I remember some of those roads.

Keeping in contact

I've been doing a LOT of thinking lately. Chatting with Val the other night, she made a very good point, which I had realized earlier (in connection with my friends, but not necessarily of myself): If something happened to me, or to almost any of my friends, I would have no way of knowing, save a group message (Such as Robin was thoughtful enough to circulate, even bearing such news as it did).

I've met a lot of people in my travels. The center/focus of my trip is definitely the time spend at Casa, but I met people everywhere. I am generally horrible about keeping in touch with people, especially those I only meet once or twice. I do not always get contact information; sometimes, I just don't have anything to say. Mostly, however, I always feel that I will see someone again. I mean, the world really isn't such a large place, and if someone is within the vicinity (ok, my definition of vicinity is ~500km or so, IE a day's hitch), I'll move out to greet them.

I realize that despite my own personal convictions of immortality, I do not have infinite time. I try to connect with mom and dad frequently, though I even fail at that. I rarely call Steve and Dan, and even less try to get out and see them. I realize that I simply do not keep in contact with any number of my friends. I haven't spoken to Steve Forti in months, any of my former schoolmates (aside from Sophie, and a few messages with the Manteys), or even any of my old friends.

"New friends are gold, but do not forget the old"

Don't forget to tell those you love, that, in fact, you love them. You never know when you won't get another chance.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


George, Leigh, you both met Aris the night we were walking around Amsterdam after the Anne Frank house, just sort of wandering. She was the one whom you thought liked me. She did.

I'm not honestly sure when I first met Aris. Was it that first night when I showed up cold, wet, and tired at Casa? Or was it a few days later, perhaps as much as a week, when I became comfortable with meeting strangers in a foreign land, staying at a friend's flat, Who knows. All I know is what I thought throughout the time, and what hit me this afternoon, when I received the E-mail from Robin. I stuck it out at work, crying occasionally, but not showing any serious emotion. They thought I was ill. In a way, I was.

While not confirmed, and as an eternal optimist I always have hope, there is strong reason to believe that five of the six skillsurfers of the migrobirdo group have passed on. I'm deeply saddened by this, as though I did not know any of the other members of the group, I felt that I had connected with Aris as I do with the more serious travelers I know, something that most cannot understand. I can ramble, it's my right.

I remember hearing the broken english, not always understanding specifically what she was saying, but in the end assuming I knew what was going on. Relaxing on the back porch, and up on the roof, relaxing and watching the planes fly over the city...Gosh, those were amazing times.

Come to think of it, Aris was the first smoker I was actually Truly attracted to. Strange, to think of that now, especially in light of the fact that prettymuch everyone up here smokes, and it's a huge detractor, but impressive nontheless. So unique, a lil punk and yet a fun and wonderful person at the same time. It's hard to believe that she's gone.

I am a firm believer in remembering instead of mourning, enjoying the memories of a person instead of crying over their loss. From the stories, the ancedotes, and all of the traces left on the web, she had an amazing tale to tell. One of those people I was not sure when I would see again, but certain that it simply would be, sometime, someday. Now...I don't know what to think. Rationally, she's gone...But in my mind, somewhere, someday, we shall meet again.

Untill then, keep that thumb up, live life to the most, and enjoy. We all miss you Aris.

New Shwag!

So my kit finally came in! REI Monarch IV boots, A Sandisk Sansa Clip MP3 player (tiny, cheap), and a Camelback Hellion backpack. Ahh, all I need is a good pair of riding boots I can Hit the deep backcountry. Wait, that's why I've been bribing the guy at rentals. Ah well, he deserves the beer, he works hard. Yeah, loving the boots, they feel nearly perfect and I hope they will last to and through the hike.

received an interesting comment from a friend while I was at Bambu tonight...I really need to work on my Spanish, and now that I'm getting to know some South Africans, Afrikaans. Ahh, languages! Why doens't anyone here speak German? Well, except possibly for Claire.

Anywho, it's most def. time to go back to sleep, long day of riding tomorrow. The more people I speak to, the more agree that I've got one of the best jobs at the mountain. Booyah!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Bounce-box comparisons, and skiing/riding update

He's the breakdown of USPS flat-rate boxes:

Cost L W H V Cost/in3
13.95 12 12 5.5 792 0.017613636
4.95 5.375 8.625 1.625 75.3339 0.065707397
10.35 11 8.5 5.5 514.25 0.020126398
10.35 11.875 3.375 13.625 546.064 0.018953807

So it looks like either the first or last would make a decent bounce-box. For those of you unsure/unaware of what this is, a "Bounce box" is a box which a thru-hiker mails from one point to another, to be picked up at a later time up the trail. Instead of carrying something, it can be placed in the box, and "bounced" up-trail, to wait until it is necessary.

Also, my current list of injuries:
small tear of my lats
sprained left thumb
bruised right elbow
bruised left forearm

So today I went skiing. And it just wasn't as much fun. But at least I didn't injure myself!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Thursday, January 8, 2009

That's what I get for not stretching...

I spoke to Dad, and apparently I injured myself. An amazing diagnosis, no? He explained what most likely happened, pretty much in line with what I thought. I came very close to losing my balance while shredding today, and threw my left arm up and back in a (successful) attempt to save my balance. However, I over-extended/tore/tweaked some muscle in my underarm/rib area. If I reach back, push on it (even accidentally), or encounter any sort of turbulence, it burns.

That's what I get for not properly stretching before riding. This should hurt for about a week. Yipee!

In other news, I ordered a Nitro Magnum 159 with Raiden Phantom (also Nitro) binding. I'm not going to buy boots yet, because I like the ones I have (I can remove the step-in crossbar so they fit a regular binding). I also ordered a Camelback Hellion (100 oz, same size as the H.A.W.G. but with board-carry straps and an insulated hose) and the REI Monarch IVs in 10.5 (finally in stock!). Hopefully they will fit, and carry me across the US this summer. Everything should be arriving (sometime) next week. I can't wait to shred pow in a longer, wider, stiffer board. I'm definitely going to ease off the aggressive tree riding on the Mag, as I don't want any deep gouges/core shots (like I've got on Cherry, my $35 Rossignol). I'll keep Cherry for the exploring/pinball action.

I had a stunning realization today while on the lift. It's something which I have thought before, but I voiced it quite well. I get to play every day. I wake up, go snowboarding, or hiking, or whatever else I want to do to entertain myself. So I work at night, sitting in an office. It's a small price to pay for being able to do what I do. I came here to ride, and I'm doing a pretty good job of fulfilling that objective.

I should send a thank-you letter to the British immigration service.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Great Trail journal quote, gear update


I've got roughly two hours left of work, and all of the 'main' work has been finished. I let Nikki bail early, so she could head back to Idaho and pick up her dog. The downside of this, along with the computer-system blocking (I am not going to attempt to bypass it), is boredom. So I have been reading PCT thru-hike trail journals, and continuing my incessant planning. So here are a few thoughts:

Nunatak Back Country Blanket, with an ounce of overfill and EPIC fabric, at $360
Debating a Tarptent Contrail, Sublite Sil, or Gossamer Gear's Squall Classic. Pricing ranges from $200 to $300, but cost is not really my major concern.

I'm still dead set on the REI Monarchs, patiently waiting (ok, waiting) for the 10.5 to come back into stock.

Sticking with my Deuter pack. I still need to fix the slight run in the lower sleeping bag compartment, but that should not be any problem. I am unconcerned about the durability of that particular ruck.

I have been looking somewhat curiously at the Bushbuddy stove. Unfortunately they happen to be classified as campfires (in Cali) and therefore are unsuitable for use for the first HALF of the PCT. I am looking (as always) at various alcohol stove designs. The simplest, a personal favorite, is the SuperCat stove. However, I wonder if a pressurized stove can provide a bit more efficiency, and therefore afford me to carry less fuel?

Nowhere close to a decision on pants/etc. I am thinking lightweight nylon shorts, nylon boxers, and a rain wrap. However, given what I know about sun exposure, as well as some of the cold nights I will encounter, I am considering my grey EMS trekking pants (possibly purchasing a new pair, as I have a few small nicks from somewhat shady activities in the past). I do have my Rock & Ice rainpants, weighing in at just over 6 oz. They purport to be breathable, and they are certainly comfortable to wear around with only boxers (or without, for laundry).

I am def. going to be carrying my Spruce Run jacket (15 oz). It's kept me warm as low as -10 up here in MT, so it should be the only cold-weather top I need. For bottoms, I am thinking of bringing my thermal bottoms. However, I wonder how the combination of trekking pants and rainpants layered will hold up? Perhaps a test is in order tomorrow...

I "misplaced" (lost) my OR Balaclava. It is either somewhere in my office, in my Mountain Lodge room, or gone. I bought a fleece replacement from the pro shop, but it's just not the same. Comfy, but nowhere near windproof. I think I will mail-order another one from REI with my boots if I do not find it by the time they come back in stock. At $25, it was an amazing piece of gear.

My fleece gloves are a bit disappointing. Even though they are XL, they seem just a hair too snug, and failed to keep me warm today (-8, sunny, little breeze) while riding. I will probably stick to my (slightly heavier) Gates half-leather gloves. They have been bomber so far.

I still need to invest in a good pair of sunglasses (or at least a pair of lenses which do not have a giant crack in them. I learned an important lesson today (which, come to think of it, I learned already in Egypt): Metal wire frames may LOOK cool, but they attract ambient heat like nothing else. Which means they are burning hot in the sun, and absolutely frigid in the cold. Not the best for outdoor play glasses.

Instead of sunscreen, I will be carrying an umbrella. This, along with my Spruce Run (Pertex Quantum with DWR), and possibly a light wind shirt (GoLite Wisp or Marmot DriClime), will make up my upper rain gear. Fiona's words of advice are rattling around in my head, making me consider the possibility of bringing my parka (Probably the Patagonia, for better pit zips, over the North Face). It's heavy, and seems redundant (I have been out in -20 with my parka and Spruce Run on). Then again, with just the parka and my thermal top, I have been riding in 0 degree weather almost every day for a few weeks.

So, still a lot to consider. I've got four months before I launch, but it already feels like I am getting into crunch time. I need to begin thinking about putting in orders, and doing some more detailed planning.

OH, and I just got wind of a new ThermaRest arriving around March. the NeoAir has an R of 2.5 and weighs 2 oz less than the new Prolite which will be arriving at the same time (r=2.2). Despite some of my better judgement, for sleeping on the ground I am going to be going with an inflatable pad, instead of my former closed-cell pad. It is simply a matter of comfort, and at 4-6 oz heavier than the lightest closed-cell pad, I would prefer to sleep well. The Prolite runs $100, while the NeoAir should be $120 or so. Oh, and the NeoAir is 2.5in thick, as opposed to the Prolite's 1 inch (or Zlite's .75). Food for thought.

Friday, January 2, 2009

More thoughts on the PCT

So I've been talking to a few of my friends whom are vastly more experienced at backpacking, and bouncing a few ideas off of them for my gear selection. I seem to be universally damned in my selection, but it is my own hike, after all. I appreciate all of the advice, knowledge, and experience, but there are some things which I simply may need to suffer on my own.

That being said, I am currently looking at an outlay of around $700 for gear. That includes a Tarptent Contrail, a Nunatak Back Country Blanket, a pair of REI Monarch IV non-GTX hiking boots, Yogi's guidebook, the databook, and permits (Thru-hiking, as well as the MT Whitney and Canadian entrance permits). Overall, this should be the 'excess' from six weeks of work, assuming I continue at my rate of consumption.

I am also looking at ordering the Nitro Magnum 159 deck (snowboard) from I will keep my existing step-in binding and boots, as I do like them quite a lot.

I am still looking at April 24th as my step-off day for the PCT. I need to talk to Mom about the family vaca she is planning, because I would really like as much time as possible to hike around the socal desert before setting off on this trek. I am looking at beginning a training regime as soon as I get my Monarchs up here. Hiking in a pair of Merrel softy snowboots just isn't the same experience.

My training regime will, obviously, include snowboarding, as that is my principle activity up here. I am thinking about picking up an Osprey Switch26 to carry my board into the back country, and then do some snowshoeing up into the local basins, taking one sick run down, and returning home. While there is plenty of terrain around here, that sort of adventure appeals to me on a more primal and adventurous level. It's also great training, snowshoeing at 7000' in the backcountry. Here's to avalanche safety!