Rob's Blog Archive

November 3, 2016

Day 1










I got up, weighed myself---normal operating procedure---and found that I had apparently gained four pounds in ten days. There were several contributors, including three trips to Missoula, but even on these, I never splurged, I never had my old favorite, two pieces of Costco Pizza. The big player remains, I can look at food and gain weight. I love my body's durability. Its efficiency, not so much.

And so, I decided I'd take advantage of good fall weather and go for a hike.  It took a while to sort through all of my options---there's no shortage of great hikes within half an hour of my home---and decided to hike up Mt. Henry, then if there was time traipse over to Dina Lake then back to the trailhead at Lake Ediza. 

I was stoked to go hiking for the first time in three years.  Since I last did anything other than walk dirt roads near my house, I've upgraded and lightened all of my gear.  What came in close to 12 pounds three years ago now runs about 7, and that's with less compromise than I had with the 12.  For example, I have full waterproof breathable pants that weigh in at 10 ounces.   Three years ago, I used a nice softshell pant that weighed 17.  Headlamp went from 4 oz to 2 oz, and is also better.   Even the weight of my camera dropped by a factor of two.

Additionally, I now have GPS's with full topo maps.  I'm as excited about this change as I was when the first workable waterproof-breathable fabric, Gore-Tex II, came on the market.  With my GPS's I can see exactly where I am regardless of the weather or time of day.  If I'm going cross-country, I still have to route find, but the ability to see my surroundings and navigate using landmarks is no longer a consideration.  Neither is daylight, at least if the route finding isn't too complicated.  I do remember coming off of Mt. Stewart in the Cascades and learning that it was much more difficult to route find at night than it was during the day.  Hard hiking turned into easy climbing.  However, on terrain where this, or brush, or other similar obstacles, aren't too bad, I can easily move at night. 

Day or night, I no longer worry about not knowing where I am.  I never minded navigating using a map and a compass, but I really enjoy route finding---which rocks to climb around or over, whether to be on the snow or rock, etc.  I should add that, being good at memorizing maps, I relied on that when I shouldn't have and wandered off of my route more times than I'd like to admit.  Now, my flaw is checking out the GPS way too often. 

While I haven't hiked with all the new toys, I have gone sledding, skiing, and skijoring with them. It was while skijor-sledding the Iditarod Trail that I had my worst case scenario of being lost.  I was on Farewell Lake---the trail has traditionally crossed this---and couldn't find the trail.  I camped for the night.  The next day, I backtracked using the GPS.  With it, I saw immediately whenever I strayed more than twenty yards from the route I had taken to Farewell.  I found the real trail in less than an hour.  The Iditarod Trail varies from year to year and, this year, its closest point to Farewell was a mile and a half away. 

And so, I tossed my pack and hiking poles into the truck, and started off to Lake Ediza.  Shortly after turning onto the road that headed into the local hills, I passed the first truck parked by the side of the road.  Then a second.  Then a pass of one coming the opposite direction.  Then, popping out of the woods, a couple of men in camo with orange vests and rifles. 

I had totally spaced that it was the first day of hunting season.  I glanced at my florescent yellow green parka, thought for a split second, and decided there was no way I was going to head out onto the trail on day one of hunting season regardless of the colors I was wearing. 

During hunting season, I avoid being out during daylight on weekends.  That's both with the dogs and hiking or climbing on my own.  Hiking or climbing, I'm afraid of being shot.  Running dogs, always on dirt roads, I'm not afraid of being shot, but I am afraid of a hunter trying to spot deer off of the road and driving his truck into my team.  Like most mushers, I breathe a sigh of relief at the end of every hunting season. 

Growing up in Southern California, some things changed from season to season, but not a lot.  Here, there are seasons for everything, and they determine exactly what I can and can't do.  It's mud season right now.  It's also hunting season.  The hike up Mt. Henry will wait for at least a day or two.  And, I will be wearing a new orange vest. 

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