Author: Mike (Page 1 of 4)

Photographing Reflection Canyon

A roughly 10 hour drive to Escalante Utah, brought me to Hole in the Rock Road where I drove 50 miles down a dirt road to hike 10 miles through the desert to see the beautiful Reflection Canyon.

Reflection Canyon was the high point of the trip, but it was one heck of an adventure to get there!

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HMG Southwest 3400 VS 4400

I just sold my favorite pack that I ever owned…. the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 3400. A few months ago I finally ditched Osprey for my main backpacking pack, and jumped into Hyperlite Mountain Gear and never looked back.

I had previously owned the Osprey Atmos 50 and the Osprey Atmos 65. Osprey makes some of the most comfortable packs, and have one fo the best warranties in the industry. Over all they are an absolutely amazing company.

One of the reasons I switched to Hyperlite Mountain Gear was the weight. The Osprey 65 (65L) weighed in at 4lbs 6oz. The Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 3400 (64.8L) weighed in at 2.10lbs (Black Version).  The Southwest is about half the weight!

This post is not going to be an in depth review of the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest pack, but a comparison of the 3400 and the 4400 version.

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MYOG: Crampon Bag

If you have read any of my previous articles I first stepped into MYOG (Make Your Own Gear) with an attempt at a bivy sack. Long story short, your first attempt at MYOG should not be a large project like a bivy sack, start small. I never finished that project but learned a lot form it and am getting ready for attempt two.

Before starting off on attempt two of the Bivy sack, I decided to try something small. On my Mt Whitney tip, I carried Crampons for the entire trip. I was fortunate I did because of the early season trip, we would not have been able to complete the hike without them.

I hated placing my crampons in my pack each time I used them, because I was afraid their tips would puncture everything in my pack. They also would get everything wet.

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MSR has New Gear for 2017!

First off I am not being paid by MSR nor do I have any special connection with them.

Now that I got that out of the way, I have to say I am pretty excited for a few of their new products for the year, despite there website currently having some issues. I kindly informed them, and they worked quickly to fix it:

Anywho, back on topic to what I am excited about from MSR this year.

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22 Hours of Driving, 1.5 Days of Snowshoeing

Since I have moved out to Southern California, I have been dreaming of making a trip up to Yosemite.  My one caveat is, when I go out in nature I like to be away from crowds, and I have heard some horror stories from friends waiting hours to get into Yosemite National Park. So how could I go visit Yosemite National Park and avoid the crowds? Go camping overnight in  the cold snow!

Before this trip I have never gone snowshoeing before in my life. While planning my trip up to Badger Pass ski area and Glacier Point road I debated the idea of Cross Country Skiing vs Snowshoeing. In the end, I chose snowshoeing because it essentially walking with bigger shoes, and I believed cross country skiing is more of a skill I would have to learn.

My Gear layout before the trip:

Snowshoeing Gear List for Yosemite

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Delorme inReach SE Satellite Communications on the trail

The Delorme inReach SE Satellite Communication device is close to having a real “trail Angel” along with you on all your back country remote trips.

I must admit I was hesitant to purchase the Delorme, and roughly $300 it was an expensive piece of gear. While preparing for my Mt Whitney Summit, I was thinking a lot about safety in the final weeks leading up to the trip.

I did a whole lot of planning, from obtaining my permits, ordering custom made maps, and having the right gear for a hike that was going to have lots of snow and large ice fields.

What was the deciding factor that made me finally pull the trigger on this expensive piece of gear? Peace of mind.

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New Orleans a changed City

Its hard to talk about New Orleans without mentioning Hurricane Katrina. Luckily, this story is a good one! Last time I went down to New Orleans I went with my church to work with Habitat For Humanity and help re-build homes. It seems like such a long time ago now, but the images of the devastation are still fresh in my memory.

Fast forward a handful of years and my boss sent me on a last minute trip to New Orleans. I was really excited to visit, I have heard so much about the culture, music and food. I had to work, but I decided to go exploring after hours with my camera, and see a few of the sites. I also decided to take a trip down memory lane…..

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Bivy Construction: Day 1 Learn Sewing

Lets just start this post out, I have no idea what I am doing, I just have an idea in my head and I need to get it out. I have embarked on the great journey of building my own bivy Sack.

We can start a whole debate on bivy vs tents, but that is not point of this post and all I will say about that debate is, SPEED and SIMPLICITY are the two reasons why I love bivy sacks.

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Always Have a Plan D

This past weekend, I had Friday off from work and me and my friends really wanted to go camping. We had epic plans and wanted to go hiking on something with spectacle views, we had our sites on Half Dome and Yosemite.

Plan A

Our first plan was to go to Half Dome, I was really excited but also nervous the crowds would spoil my opinion of Yosemite. I mostly like to go camping to get away, I loved the vast solitude I experienced at the Grand Canyon, and the beautiful untouched wilderness in the High Sierras.

Half Dome is this dream hike of mine, but that fact that permits are so hard to obtain make me weary of crowds. Either way, I still want to hike Half Dome, and me and my friends entered the lottery. According to the lottery rules you can enter yourself two days before the day you want to hike for the daily lottery. I stayed up till midnight to enter my permits on Thursday, for the hike on Saturday. Come Friday morning, I was greatly disappointed to see that I had not one the lottery and am now officially 0/2 for Half Dome. Plan A was a bust but we still wanted to go camping.

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Pillow Talk

Lets have a little pillow talk here on Cattywampur tonight. Ultra light backpackers are probably shuttering at the word “Pillow” mentioned in conjunction with camping, but I am all for them!

I have been there, trying to be super light but now I just go light where it makes sense. I do not mind sacrificing a little weight for some added comfort at night. I have tried using clothes jackets, and even my pack as a pillow in the past. Don’t get me wrong all those non pillows have all worked, but a good nights sleep on a dedicated pillow I think does a world of difference for you mentally on the trail.

Lets talk about what I think are two of the best backpacking pillows on the market today, the Nemo Fillo and the Sea to Summit Aeros Premium.

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