Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Supes: Flat Iron

Date: Dec 5-6, 2009
Destination: Flat Iron (Lost Dutchman State Park, AZ)
Who: Justin, Julia, Jeff, Jeonard
Details: Flat Iron is a short tough hike in the Superstition Mountains about 10 miles from my home. Hard work, gorgeous views, great exposure...incredible camp site!

Another "storage geek extreme hiking" adventure...well, there is a lot more extreme hiking out there than what we do here, but compared to data center's, storage array's, and grey cubicle farms, just about anytime we get outdoors it feels extreme :) I've hiked the "Syphon Draw" route several times to the Flat Iron and have always wanted to camp on top. Loree and I bike to trail head at least once a week...I always check these routes out...and finally found a group of weirdo's that would backpack this route with me! Thanks Justin, Julia, and Jeff.

** side comment: Jeff and Julia leave for Mt. Kilimanjaro "19,331 feet" in 2 weeks. This trip was a good opportunity to re-test all of their gear...and quads :) Rock on Guys and Good LUCK!!!

** side comment #2: Thanks for the blog help Loree!!! The picture collages turned out awesome!

I think Google Earth is one of the coolest pieces of software ever!! - I use the Garmin 305 to track our exact route, hiking time, speed, elevation change, grade, and distance...then export it to Google Earth and capture some 3D screen shots...yes, we are super geeks.

As you can see, this hike is pretty much UP. From trail head to the Flat Iron you gain 2,789 feet...most of that is in the last 1 mile.

Exact elevation gain plotted over distance...thanks Garmin Training Center.

Starting out.

Syphon Draw the top right is the Flat Iron
Most of these pictures were taken on Justin's iPhone! crazy...if he can get this good of pics with his phone, I am excited for him to suck it up and start packing the D-SLR!!

Left to Right - Leonard, Justin, Jeff, Julia.

After you pass through "syphon draw" towards the Flat Iron...things get really steep and rugged. "Hey, I got an email!" Yes, Jeff left is Bluetooth headset comfortable he didn't realize he still had it Nothing like scrambling up through desert cliffs and still getting 3G coverage :)

This proves I really thought we were closer to the top than we were...everyone asked me several times how much farther we had to go...I would always say just 20 more least 3 or 4 times...towards the end I picked up this log for firewood. I packed it quite a ways before realizing we weren't that close to the top...put it down for the next time we head up there.

Ok...if you follow my blog at all, you will know that when Julia/Justin/Jeff and I get together, it is usually not your average hiking trip. Once again, we are not at our camping spot before dark...although, sunset is beautiful.

Ahhhh...8 servings of Mountain House Chicken and Rice for the 4 of us!!! Man that was good...temp is in the high 30's, wind is blowing 10-20 mph, moon is coming up, and a great view of the city...phreaking cool!

What a night. Justin and Julia found that the 1$ hand warmers last 8+ hours and keep a sleeping bag really warm! Despite the wind, rain, sleet, hail, snow...those hand warmers made for a decent night. Not a lot of sleep...but at least we were warm. We still believe that our buddy Joe was in a drum circle praying to his Pagan god's that it would storm on us :)

5-10 feet close to the edge would make a killer base jump! One of the sweetest camping spots I have ever been in!

Have you have heard the old saying "bright eye'd and bushy tailed?" This is what it isn't!!! Notice the large bags/wrinkles under Justin's eyes...very funny!

Julia was having a good morning...if she only knew how the pancake breakfast would turn out...she probably would have slept in a bit more.

Ok, in my defense...I cooked pancakes in the beartooths with no problem! I brought 2lbs of pancake batter, a can of pam spay, and maple syrup. I was prepared!! Turns out the aluminum pan conducted heat a little too quickly, mixed the batter to thin, and pancake batter absorbs pam spay really matter how much I sprayed on the pan :( Thus... SCRAMBLED PANCAKES...I guess we were all hungry enough we just ate it anyway... LOL

View looking off the Flat Iron towards Apache Junction

Jeff and Julia, packed up and ready to head out. Scrambled Pancake smiles on their face! Summit hoodoo's in the background.

Wouldn't be a "storage geek extreme hike" with out Justin's "Short Bus" wave! I pulled these pic's of the video...took a while to step through each frame to find the worst/best clips :)

If you haven't checked out any of the videos...this one has a great view off the Flat Iron!

Heading back to the valley...just a few more yards and then you head down...down...down to the left.

Not an easy hike down. The rocks were super slick...making it much more difficult to hike out.

Justin 1/2 way down the trail, view back up towards the Flat Iron.

If you like beautifully maintained trails with joggers and kiddo's...this is not your trail. Add hiking back down in rain and sleet = great time. Took us 3 hours to hike up...3.5 hours to hike out.

Contimplating getting down through the steep wet rock in Syphon Draw...everyone fell/slid at least once. Julia show's everyone her war wounds to prove it...and she does have a few :)

Heading down into Syphon Draw. A bit farther down I make the comment that "man this is slick for me...must just be my shoes." At that moment Julia's feet slide right out from under her and she lands pretty hard...great timing Julia!

Good pic's and great scenery.

Another great backpacking trip! What an adventure...all the great components...crazy weather, some exposure, night hiking, and good friends. Whats Next???

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Beartooths - Lake Mary

Date: Sept 3-5, 2009
Destination: Lake Mary Montana (Beartooth-Absoraka Wilderness)
Who: Joachim and I
Details: Lake Mary is part of the Beartooth wilderness near Red Lodge Montana. This area reminds me Glacier National Park...incredibly beautiful but rugged country. Many alpine lakes, great fly fishing, and some tough/gorgeous backpacking! Lake Mary is a 10 mile round-trip hike...the first 4 miles are a gradual climb with the last mile gaining about 1200 feet.

I think I have said it earlier but the Beartooth-Absoraka Wilderness is definitely one of my favorite places on the planet. Thanks to my sweet wify I was able to get another chance this year to head back to Montana with a good friend, Joachim, for some backpacking. We were able to get direct flights on Allegiant Air (Mesa AZ to Billings MT...non-stop.) My brother Nate wasn't able to head out with us this time...but played taxi at the airport, bought us breakfast, and let me borrow his Thomas and Thomas fly rod/reel and fly's :) Yeah, I owe him!

Google Earth view of Lake Mary and Rock Creek Canyon...

Joachim and I made it to the West Fork of Rock Creek trail head around noon and geared up to head out. During the 10 mile drive in we saw the results of a large forest fire that had charred everything living and left and inch or 2 of ash.

Heading out...3 days in the Beartooths :)

Fishing pole, xtra gear...3 day pack at 25lbs! Now if I could just lose another 25lbs...that would cancel out the backpack all together!

One of the "roaring" waterfalls on Rock Creek. The guide book for this trip did tend to exaggerate the descriptions here...but I guess if it was in early spring this place would really be roaring.

Completed the first 4 miles...stopped to top off our camelbak's in prep for heading up to Lake Mary...1200 in a mile...not terrible but definitely a lung buster for those of us living near sea level. Altitude now here is about 8500 feet.

MSR Hyperflow Water Filter...filters about 3 liters a minute! Much faster than any of the other filters I have used...and we didn't get sick :)

1/2 way up the switch back's.

Made it to Lake is set up and we are getting ready to cook up some Mountain House Beef Strog...good stuff.

Dinner is done, camp is setup...time for fishing!

Day 2 - Climbed up a ridge near our camp, exploring around and looking for a good picture point for our lakes and campsite.

Not sure how this was our only picture of the rock cairn on the saddle near Lake Mary...sorry Joachim...but it is critical that the blog viewers see the before and after pictures :)

We had some time to kill and this little rock cairn was just not what it should have been. We decided to get back to our manly roots and make a big rock


If you look close on the saddle, you can see the

Joachim's first trout "miss" on a fly rod! He did almost hook me though...guess I shouldn't film to close behind someone fly fishing :)

Joachim's first trout on a fly rod.

Day 3 - After breakfast, more fishing, and cleaning up...time to head out. What a great buddy...let me take 5 or 6 pictures with sunscreen on my nose and lip.

Catching a few more trout in Rock Creek on the way back to the trail head. Water was a bit nippy...but couldn't feel my feet after a few minutes anyway :)

Wait, wait...let me adjust my low riders before you take the picture :)

Ahhh...better :)

Well...that's it. Good friends, backpacking, fly fishing, rock piling...and no distractions! What's next???

Saturday, August 29, 2009

LightWeight Backpacking

It is a nice Saturday afternoon here in the Phoenix area today...only about 110-112 degrees outside. This kind of weather really gets me amped for getting up to Montana this coming week and spending a few days in the Beartooth-Absoraka Wilderness. The forecast for Thur-Sun is High's of 70 and lows of 30...sheesh...can't wait!!!

Lightweight backpacking has been a goal of mine for several years. I think it began on a famous Zito brother week long camp out...packing 50-65 lbs for many miles in the Bitteroots or Beartooths...either way, I have been looking into it "obsessing" over it for a while now. Since today was a stay in the house or jump in the pool day...I got out the gear, weighed each peice and took some pictures. I have gone from 50-65 lb fully loaded pack for 3-6 days backpacking down to 22 is how I did it. New gear for me is the REI-Flash pack and Big Agnes Tent. With these 2 peices of gear alone I saved 8lbs from my 4 seasons Sierra Designs tent and 5,700ci Dana Designs Pack. I bought a new stove (msr - pocket rocket... 3 0z $39) and just really went through all of the things I had been bringing backpacking. There was quite a bit I could live comfortably with out...some things that I already had that could be lightened...and some items that would cost too much...but that I would buy anyway :)

Food and water will vary for any backpacking trip but I find that if there is frequent water, why carry 100 oz with you at all times...drink ton's at each water stop and then fill your camel back 1/2 way full for the next stretch. Food can be all over the place for weight...I plan for about 10-16 ounces for food a day...mostly freeze dried, Cliff Bars, oatmeal, pancakes, trail mix, jerky...etc etc... Planning for the weather is also a big one. I found that my old Ski jacket weighs almost 3 lbs without a heavy fleece liner...the 12 oz Gortex rain shell with layers underneath should be fine for just about all 3 seasons camping. I learned the hard way with rain jackets...Gortex is the only way...Marmot Precip "fabric" and the other lower end brands will do good for about an hour in rain...then saturates.

Fully packed with the base gear and additional gear (12.5 lbs) ...minus fuel, camel back and food. It is just barely 1/2 I guess the gear takes up about 1500 ci. Still plenty of room for everything I need...along with the video camera.

While perusing REI and trying to build up the nerve to pay 300 bones for a 3 lb tent...I was talking to one of the sales dudes. He said that he doesn't use a compression sack for his tent/rain fly...he just packs his mattress and compressed sleeping bag...then packs the tent/fly into all the loose areas. I found this to work great and takes better advantage of available space.

So yes, I am a gear nut and really enjoy getting outdoors. I tested this setup (without the new pack) on my Humphrey's peak over nighter and it worked great...(although, I did not bring enough warm clothes...) I have made a few adjustments and am just about ready to hit the trail once again in Montana :)

If you are buying gear...I recommend the following places. You can save a ton of cash on "slightly blemished" or discontinued colors...etc etc...fully functional gear