Every Drop Counts

water-filtration-bottleAs I wake up and look out my window, I see an unexpected sight for the first week of April. There is no snow in sight except for the patches of snow that cover Mt. Rose, a local ski resort in Reno. If you listen to the news or have picked up a newspaper in the past week you have been told the Sierras received a record low snowfall this year. The lack of snow run off has transformed lakes, reservoirs, and rivers and have made them unrecognizable. This has and will cause problems for California and Nevada during the upcoming summer. In addition, will cause significant life dangering problems for through-hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail this year.

Every year the PCT brings a new challenge to the most seasoned travelers. This years challenge is water.Having enough water is crucial on any hike you go on, especially when you lose access to fill up your bottle everyday. One of the most important things I have learn during my preparation for the PCT, thus far, is having enough water between fill ups decides if you quit or finish the trail. Hikers usually refill their resevories at seasonal streams and creeks. This will not be an issue on the northern part of the trail, however, it might make it nearly impossible for hikers to make it through the Southern California deserts.

As the days become hotter and longer this is only going to get worse and worse. Lucky for PCT hikers there are websites that are updating about once a week letting hikers know which water source are dry. This allows hikers to be concervative with their water and plan for long hauls with their limited supplies. In addition, hikers this year are bringing larger reservoirs and additional containers to avoid the possibility of running out of water.

The idea of running out of water and becoming dehydrated is a terrifying possibility. At the same time it is what hiking any through hike is all about. It is a challenge. It is pushing your body and mind to its limit in order to accomplish a unimaginable goal. In addition, it is about helping others and making friends to help get you through it. This is a feat that can’t be done alone. If you are on the PCT or day hiker  please send updates to let one another know what to expect up the trail. In addition donate to the Pacific Crest Trail Association, to help keep the trail maintained for hikers in the future. Good luck to all of the 2015 through hikers.

Be safe out there

Photo contributed to Louis Cahill

Advertisements

Bring Your Security Blanket with You

Meet_linus_bigImagine it is dusk and you are on hiking back to your car through Red Rock National Park and you come across a large mountain lion. The lion is aggressive and is in its hunting position. What do you do? Do you grab your knife, play dead, run or maybe pull out a gun. Protection can be one of the most important things out on trail. It can be the difference of an amazing experience or a life altering event. Protection might also be false security that will never help you but comforts you on trail.

Protection is not only for wildlife, it is also from other travelers and yourself. Depending on your personal beliefs and needs you might choose either a non-weapon or a weapon form of protection. Be aware, of different government regulations subject to different types of protection. As I prepare to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, I am having difficulty deciding if I should bring a form of protection and the type I should choose.

There are multiple forms of non-weapon protections you can have that will discourage animals away. Most reliable of these is hiking with a buddy. Hiking with someone is by far the safest option you can chose. You are significantly less likely to be attack by an animal or person if you are not alone and less likely to hurt yourself. Hiking with someone also provides you with a resource that can help you or find help if you are hurt or are in a bad situation.

If you are hiking in bear country, bear spray is an option. Bear spray lets out a gas that is designed to detour bears away if you come across their path. Having bells attached to your pack is also a great way, like talking, to let animals and fellow, whom are up trail, know someone is coming. These are great options and if you feel comfortable on trail with them they are effective and don’t have the ability to hurt you by having them.

Personally I think knives are a crucial item that every hiker should carry. Whether you are using a Leatherman or a straight blade, a knife is a tool you might need on your travels. In society we look at knives as a weapon but as soon as you step out of society and you’re in the wild the weapon now becomes a tool like an ice axe. It could be used as a hammer, wood cutter, or even a fire starter. Knives can also be a form of protection, so you should be familiar pulling it out to avoid injury.

The final form of protection is surrounded by a lot of controversy and legal red tape. It is carrying a gun or sidearm while on trail. I never thought about carrying a gun until my dad suggested I did. Guns statistically have hurt more hikers than they have helped. This is due to hikers and campers improperly using them and the individual’s lack of safety training. I am personally not against hiking with a sidearm. It can be used to scare away a predator by shooting a round in the air or it can take it down if you are attacked. Hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail I might enter into California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Canada. Each state and country has different rules about firearms. Please be aware of these regulations before you care to avoid fines and imprisonment.

Personally I plan to hike the Pacific Crest Trail with my Gerber Knife, which is attached to my pack, and hopefully a fellow backpacker. I am still undecided if I will carry a gun because of the regulations in California and taking one over an international border.

If you have any suggestions please send me a message on Twitter or leave your comment here. As we approach the weekend, I want all of you to get outside, enjoy the spring weather, and share your experiences on my Twitter account.

Photo contributed to the Peanuts Wiki

Only Footprints

memories-plaqueLions, and tigers, and bears! Oh, My! For most of us seeing a tiger outside of the zoo is slim to none but, mountain lions and bears are wildlife you might come across in your travels. First off, I would like to emphasize that all wildlife shoot be treated with respect and at caution. Even herbivorous should be treated with caution because no one knows how a wild animal may act if frightened. This even includes feeding animals. We have all seen it and probably have done it. It may look like a perfect Kodak moment but it could possibly be dangerous for you and the animal. Animals are unlike humans and might have difficulty digesting our food. Being aware of this might save you from possible injury and keeps the wild, wild.

This idea is inspired by the movement “Leave No Traces, Only Footprints.” As hikers, backpackers, and campers we bring into the wild food, drink, and other supplies that might be left behind. Leaving trash on trails and campsites does not only take away from the beauty of the nature but could hurt smaller animals such as birds. In addition, it is also important that you keep your food in safe air lock containers, such as BearVault or bear lockers. If food is left out this might attract hungry and dangerous animals to your area.

“Leave No Traces, Only Footprints” does not only promote bring back what you bring in but, also encourages individuals to pick up trash they find on trails. The Pacific Crest Trail and Appalachian Trail are two of the busiest through hikes in the country. These trails are also two of the most maintained and trash free trails. Backpackers take multiple week worth of supplies on trail and beside what they consume or burn, the majority carry their trash to their next stop.

Keeping nature wild and trails in top shape is everyone’s responsibility. I urge you to join a society or one of their events, for those in Reno/Tahoe I promote Tahoe Rim Trail Association or Keep Tahoe Blue, to help conserve your home. In addition next time you are on trail and you see a plastic bottle or a wrapper pick up and take it with you.

Photo is attributed to Amanda Walkins author of A Walk on the Run

Let’s Go on a Adventure!!

B3OYxN3CIAAGkpgI know over the past week I have been telling you about my vacation over spring break, hiking down the Oregon coast. Now that I am back at work closing in on the final month of busy season I can’t help but think about my first blog post, Get out there and… R-E-L-A-X. Most of us have been locked in are cubicles like animals running on the wheel making profits for our respective companies. Now that it is April, you are only a few months away from summer and a much needed vacation. Don’t lie I know it has been on your mind. Where will you go? How long will you be there? And most importantly, how much will it cost? These are restrictions that keep us from getting out of our everyday life and going on an adventure. I am here to tell you that a vacation is not far from your reach and all you need is a tent, sleeping bag, and a cooler.

The average cost for a vacation for a family of four, according to Forbes, in the United States is $1,145 per person, or $4,580. $4,580 is a large chunk of change, especially when the median household income was $50,502 in 2014. I don’t know what your financials are, but I can’t afford to spend 10% of my annual income on one week of the year. There is a much better alternative available for you and that is camping.

Over the past week I kept track of the cost for five people to go camping. The total cost for five friends to go to Oregon and back was just under $700. That is about $140 a piece for a five day vacation. The total cost includes gas, campground fees, food and beverages (both brought and restaurants), and miscellaneous expenses. I think we can all agree that $700 sounds better than $4,580. You will also need to buy a few supplies. These are one-time cost. You can find a nice durable family tent for $100 dollars, another $120-$80 per sleeping bag, and a cheap cooler will do. Even after those expenses it is still cheaper.

Enough about cost and prices, there are more benefits about camping than an expense report can show. No matter if you are a group of college friends, a family, or a romantic getaway, there is nothing like the memories of camping. From making S’mores, star gazing, or having a cold one next to a fire with an old friend. These are the little memories life is built on. If you wanted to fall asleep to the sound of a TV, why leave home.

Now pick up the phone, call those old buddies or your significant other, and start planning. What are you waiting for? Your desk and computer will be there when you get back I promise. I am calling out everyone to let out your inner Bilbo Baggins and go on adventure this summer.

See you out there

Photo contributed to Camping Yurts

The Earths Last Giants

After braving the night of another typical Oregon shower, it was time to say farewell and thank it for all of its unforgettable memories. The road now had us heading towards the great California Redwoods. This was a unexpected detour in our adventure but after snow hit the mountains we were no longer prepared to continue our journey hiking down the Oregon Coast and to Crater Lake.

1598946_10206025018722635_1740947948708388785_oWe decided to make camp at Elk Prairie Campgrounds  in the Redwood National Park. This was my first time seeing these magnificent giants. Pictures do not justify how tall and how big these trees are. Having once upon a time worked in a lumber yard, these trees took my breath away. The idea that these trees have been around for thousands of years and are upwards of 300 plus feet tall is memorizing. Unfortunately our time was limited and we only had the opportunity to go on a couple short hikes.

Being in the redwoods really taught me the importance of conservation. No matter what your political affiliation are, we can all agree and recognize that humans take up a large portion of resources from land. In order to conserve beautiful places like this, it is our responsibility to limit our footprint on nature. This includes cleaning up campsites, littering, and being water and energy conscience. If we don’t protect these natural wonders no one will. One of my favorite quotes is from Dr. Seuss’s book The Lorax, it states, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”IMG_0063_2

One of my goals of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail is to continue this blog and profess and show the need to keep these natural retreats alive and well. This can not be done alone. I call upon all of you to be smarter. Use what you need and limit the waste you leave behind.

Photos are my own

Oregon Day #2: Views, Views, and More Views

Remember being child and wanting to play in the rain because for some reason it made everything better. The idea of hearing the rain drip of your jacket and splashing in the puddles are thoughts we slowly lose as we get older. The beauty of backpacking is how it lets out your inner child. Day two along the Oregon coast was prove of this. It was cloudy rainy day and it was perfect to climb St. Perpetua Mountain.

IMG_0223_2St. Perpetua is a short five to six mile hike in and out. The hike is a quick straight up and down climb that brings you to a gorgeous view.  The view was named by locals as  “the best view of the Oregon coast.” You start the hike from the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center and up you go. From switch back to switch back, through the woods you go. Up and up the mountain going past one breathtaking lookout after the other, each one better than the last. When you finally reach the top of the mountain you come across a stone house built during WWII that looks over the entire coast.IMG_0545

As we entered the house, the skies opened and started to pour. We all, however, came prepared and had both rain jackets and covers to stay dry. We had a quick a drink and toasted our adventure while looking over the beauty of the Pacific. The way down felt like a time machine. The group of 20 year olds became children hiking and dancing in the rain.

It took less than an hour to reach the base of the mountain. We could have headed back to our campsite and gotten out of the rain, but none of us were ready for the fun to stop.  Still filled with energy we took a short walk down to the tide pools. Here we found Thor’s Well, the Spouting Horn, and collected mussels for dinner. We stayed along the coast taking in the beauty of the structures and creatures the Pacific offered. After another day we headed back to camp IMG_0275enjoyed some fresh seafood and fell asleep to the sound of the rain.

Share this post on Facebook and Twitter and please let others know about this blog. Always don’t forget to smile and do something you love today.

Photos are my own

Cape Perpetua: Day One Cummins Creek

Hidden under the fog along the Oregon Coast off the western Cascades is an outdoors wonderland. Is a place where you can start your day by taking a stroll along the beach collecting sand dollars, breathing in the crisp ocean air and if your lucky you can meet a baby seal. Then after a quick breakfast you grab your pack and off into the mountains you go. Going through beautiful green forest that make you feel like you have hopped into a rabbit hole and have joined Alice in Wonderland. IMG_0517If the forest is not your style you can head along the coast and try to catch a glimpse of Thor at his well or stroll along the tide pools and look out and see the spring migration of Gray Whales a few hundred yards off the shower. If you are like me and can’t wait to experience this haven, you must go to Cape Perpetua, Oregon.

Last week I was lucky enough to enjoy Cape Perpetua and all of its beauty for a few days. It truly is a great place to cleanse ones mind, soul and most importantly go backpacking. On the first day, we took the main trailhead to Cummins Creek and trekked 15 miles into the mountains. IMG_0527I had 30-35 pounds in my pack trying to build up my legs to prepare myself for the PCT. The first two hours of the hike were straight up mountain. Going from one peak to then next, making our way through the woods. This was different than hiking in the Sierras because it was humid and muggy.

After crossing six peaks we reached a clearing in the forest. This was a beautiful meadow and lookout. We could see the ocean and forest for miles. IMG_0161_2This truly was a view of all of Oregon’s beauty. We spent a hour up hear soaking in the sun, had lunch, and some of us even got a quick nap.

The way back took no time at all. The majority of the climb down was a steady incline. If you ever get a chance to take this trail make sure to climb some of the fallen trees on the way down. It took between 4-5 hours to complete the hike.IMG_0530 We all felt accomplished and celebrated with a bon fire on the beach. The next trail will have to wait for the rise of the sun. Follow the blog to learn more about backpacking, hiking, and trails.

Cheers

Photos are my own