Reaching new heights

August 26, 2006

Just three years after her first backpacking trip, Little Po (Szu-Ting Yi) has completed a NOLS Alaska Mountaineering course.

“Old friends and family members are shocked that I have become an outdooraholic. Before I came to the States, I had never backpacked, neither had I exercised regularly. I didn’t do any sports, and I couldn’t run 3 miles.”


Fluffy, not stuffy

August 25, 2006

Sleeping bag in cloudsBruce Lewis at has some useful tips for washing your down sleeping bag, though he might be overstating them a bit by calling them Secrets for Cleaning Goose Down Sleeping Bags.

His tips are good, but similar to the instructions that come with most detergents intended for down products.

One of his tips is to include tennis balls in the dryer. I wish I could remember where I read it, but somewhere I found instructions that said this was a common suggestion but shouldn’t be tried.

Instead, these instructions said, you should take your bag out of the dryer every few minutes and fluff it up, breaking up the clumps by hand. This way, you don’t run the risk of damaging the baffles and stitching.

I don’t know which is the best way, but a few weeks ago I washed my Marmot Arroyo 30-degree bag with Nikwax Down Wash and tried that drying technique without the tennis balls. I was impressed with the results.

When finally dry, my sleeping bag was as fluffy as a cloud.

So that’s what I’ve been doing

August 24, 2006

I have a couple trip reports that were partially written months ago but remain still sitting in draft mode. Now I find out that’s a good thing.

Marinate your blog posts before you publish

That’s not procrastinating. That’s marinating!

Attention getter

August 21, 2006

feetI’m not sure what to think of Ron Zaleski.

He’s thru-hiking the AT.


To draw attention to the lack of mental health services for soldiers returning from the battlefield.

Or something like that.

Articles about him have followed him along the trail since he started hiking in late May, so he’s good at getting press coverage.

Shoeless hiker treks Appalachian for vets’ rights:

“Zaleski admits his hike is a form of protest against the war in Iraq, which he sees as another Vietnam. He also describes the trek as a personal journey of discovery. Most important to him, though, is his hope that it makes a difference for veterans suffering the mental effects of war.

Man’s shoeless trek is tribute to veterans’ plight

Zaleski, 52, is calling attention to a problem he perceives in the way the military treats veterans. While there is counseling for post traumatic stress disorder, he believes counseling should be mandatory so no one refuses treatment to avoid being stigmatized.”

Mandatory counseling? Hmmm.

Anyway, I guess hiking barefoot draws attention to his cause, despite the logical connection to it.

But what bothers me is he’s acting like this has never been done before. In his Web site he says his hike is

“An attempt to be the first person to walk the 2,174 mile Appalachian Trail barefoot…”

Maybe he doesn’t know about the Barefoot Sisters.

Or maybe it’s best to not let the facts get in the way of a good story.

Gotta make me one of them

August 16, 2006

Make a Survival Kit out of an Altoids Tin

(link via Two Heeled Drive, by way of Outdoor Hacks)

UPDATE: This story is really making the rounds. It showed up in Lifehacker and Boing Boing, even. But none of us got credited with the find.

Also, in the comments of the Lifehacker post, someone points out Altoid tins aren’t waterproof. I thought of that too, so I’m planning to put mine in a homemade silnylon stuff sack with sealed seams.

Enjoy the view

August 13, 2006

Mt. CammererThe Charlotte Observer has a review of some of the lookout towers and observation decks atop mountains in the Southeast, like Mt. Cammerer (pictured here from a hike I made last May).

What’s missing from the list are mountaintops with balds, which I find afford some of the best panoramic views.

The article is brief but useful. And it reminded me of something about Mt. Mitchell that I had forgotten:

“If you’ve never climbed Mitchell’s tower, better do it soon. The N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation plans to tear down the 47-year-old structure this fall and replace it with a shorter but handicapped-accessible tower at a cost of $1.2 million.”

Guess I better get over there. Though I’ve been in the vicinity of Mt. Mitchell a couple times, I’ve not yet been to the top.

Is now offering podcasts?

August 13, 2006

Ipod Among‘s many reports from this year’s 2006 Outdoor Retailer Summer Market is an audio program (paid subscription required) that reviews trends in integrated canister stove systems. The program discusses new products that have been introduced to compete with the JetBoil.

If this is a podcast, it’s not evident from the site. There’s no feed for subscribing or loading into a portable player.

And if this is the beginning of a podcast series, then I hope future episodes are a little more polished.

This one was, well, dull.

No, let me be more to the point. It was unlistenable.

It begins with Ryan Jordan reading from a script, then goes to a product demo at the show. Neither one of these activities makes for a good podcast.

I like the site and respect the opinions of Ryan and the other contributors. But he sure missed the mark on this one.