Category Archives: Uncategorized

Oregon Coast Storm of the Half Century

Several weeks ago a large weather event was predicted for coastal oregon and washington areas. Thankfully we were already scheduled to travel to the Oregon coast, so we had a front row seat. While a tornado touched down 5 miles south of our Friday-morning hike, we enjoyed an intimate, dramatic, but relatively safe weekend with family and friends celebrating my brother’s wedding. Congrats you guys… and welcome to the family Sarah!

 

picking up litter on the coast

 

grey on grey on grey

Dad likes the huge trees

My cute mom raises her glass

my dudes

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Leave Trace Club

Confession alert:

I’m not perfect. I totally-otally LEAVE TRACE. On this hike alone I’ve “left” (aka lost) a pair of sunglasses, a bamboo spoon and two bandanas somewhere on trail. I’m not happy about it but accidents happen. 

That said, today I must address a particular brand of Trace seen almost daily in wilderness areas. 

TP. 

Now – people – I get it. Our culture trains us to use TP at every possible moment. And for women it’s expected every time we tingle to practically wipe the area raw – lest a single drop moisten our panties. But please… PACK IT OUT!!! Or, use a pee rag, like a normal human.

I don’t want to smell like an outhouse either. So do what you need to do to stay fresh. But for the sake of all that is holy in nature (i.e. Everything) PACK IT OUT.

while I am sort of relieved to know you also pee right by the trail… please … PACK IT OUT

if I could make a wish on this crane… it would be for you to PACK IT OUT.

while its cool you can twist it into oragami shaped like a snail… PACK IT OUT

while you’re at it, that bag of poo you thought you’d pick up later is still sitting here. PACK IT OUT (NOW)

thanks for letting me know you peed on these huckleberries so i don’t forage here … but actually I’d rather not know… so PACK IT OUT

teamwork makes the dream work. but can both of you PACK IT OUT?

cool! I ALSO sometimes use a baby wipe – in addition to TP. that’s a great town prep technique when youre gearing up for a hitch. but in that case PACK EM BOTH OUT.

I’m really sorry for whatever it is your body went thru to make this mess. and maybe you even buried part of it and a squirrel dug it up. so next time PACK IT OUT (then use some hand sani)

putting it next to coyote poop doesn’t camoflage it for the person behind you on the trail. PACK IT OUT.

aw. I almost missed this one it was so cutely hidden in the brush. but actually no… I still totally saw it. pack it out.

TFW you changed your baby’s diaper and then pee and then leave both by the tree at Grand Lakes because nature will take care of you. hi five.

but seriously tho… a diaper??

bored yet? me too. PIO.

now, much like baby albert, everything white reminds me of your bodily functions. i beg of you. PACK IT OUT

I know you are used to dropping it on top of your pee in the toilet but that pile of moss doesn’t flush. PACK IT OUT

hey! a nice flat spot to set up our stove for afternoon coffeeeeeee… oh wait.

how thoughtful! keeping your TP dry right under the footbridge. i still found it when i was crouching down to filter my water. do you get why this might be gross for me? PIO.

Tips for not joining the leave trace club:
1) carry a “used TP/baby wipes” ziplock with you. And hand sani. 

2) after peeing or pooping, wipe and put used TP in your Baggie. Seal Baggie. 

3) sanitize hands

4) repeat until town.

5) Throw away Baggie. 

A closing reminder: it’s fun & fine peeing in nature, without the ‘effluvium of human waste’ in most restrooms (sez Groucho, who’s not a privy fan). But when pooping please do so far off trail, 200 FEET AWAY FROM WATER (at least), in a 6-8″ deep cathole.   Refrain from burying wipes, especially scented or if your hole is too shallow. Critters WILL dig it up and share your secrets with the rest of us. And don’t be afraid to give that poo a stir! Mixing it with your cathole backfill helps it biodegrade faster.

Also, I totes recommend buying one of these excellent Deuce of Spades poo trowels. As Future Dad reminds us “the poo never ever should touch the trowel”. Wrong Way Gang trowels are all named for stars of stage and screen. Mine is named Brent Spiner, aka Data. 

❤ Harpo 

Harpo’s CDT Journal: #11

Aug 17, 18, 19Zeros
The exhaustion and calorie restrictions caused by the wind River Range, now require us to take 3 zeros in a row. I suppose that’s what we get for not taking a day off in a whole month. We’re around 1000 miles into our hike. 
We arrive in Lander and I realize I haven’t looked in a mirror in almost 2 weeks. I don’t recognize this person. I look and feel dirty, depleted and gaunt. I shower, launder and give myself a bang trim with my mini Swiss army knife. 


Then I try to gain weight. Over three days I will eat caramel corn, hummus, chips, bean dip, sandwiches, wraps, pizza, more pizza, waffle fries, again with the waffle fries, coconut chocolate milk, bread sticks, bananas, peaches, salad, more salad, more salad, and many Luna bars. 
I begin to feel normal ish. 
Our hotel room is ridiculously spacious. We spread out over 2 queen sized beds and air out our gear, clean and repair things, ice our knees and feet. 
I also practice talking to other humans again. My first attempts are runaway train style. And I realize how lonely I’ve felt out here in our stretch since we left Helena. I turn on my phone and dash off dozens of text missives to friends back home. 
The teevee offers an impressive array of 80’s hits including Beverly Hills cop and Full House. 
Lander is a charming town with a great bar/restaurant, outfitters, groceries, a Post Office, thrift store, coffee shops and a yoga studio. We take yoga and feel great. And now, finally, it’s time to get back on trail. 

Savory Raw Zucchini Chip

 

 Harpo & I get tired of sweet food on trail – even thinking about all the processed sugar stacked on convinience store shelves in trail towns is making my teeth hurt – so we’ve been experimenting with various homemade savory snacks. Our latest most successful venture iz zucchini chips.

These are light and crispy. They dehydrate better without oil – salting the zucchini first and sweating it for a few minutes helps to bind the yeast. Although they’re not super calorie dense, they are tasty and super easy to prepare. They make an awesome vehicle for hummus or refried beans, or crumbled on soup. It’s kindof a bummer that zucchini are mostly water, so you lose a lot of weight in dehydrating – but they’re cheaper by weight to produce than kale chips soooo…

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 large zucchini
  • 2 cups nutritional yeast
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Smoked paprika (optional)

PREPERATION:

  • Thinly slice the zucchini. You can use a mandoline if you like.
  • Toss with nut yeast, salt & pepper
  • Add smoked paprika for BBQ flavor if desired. Also maybe garlic powder.
  • Place in single layers on dehydrator trays.
  • Dehydrate on 105 degrees for about 8-12 hours depending on the thickness of the slices. Keeping the temperature at or below 105 is important to keep the chips “raw.”

 

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Trays of chips ready to go in the dehydrator.

 

Harpo & Groucho’s How Not to be A Dick on Trail

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Harpo, Groucho, Bug and Twinless in the Sierra, 2015.

Hiking is awesome for it’s almost total equanimity – regardless of age, gender, race, nationality or income people can make their way on trail and have rewarding and transformative experiences. As free as we feel on trail, we also need to recognize that it’s still a mirror of human society. Women are told to keep up their guard in society, that danger lurks around every corner, and that every situation is unsafe. Additionally, women are told it’s their responsibility to keep themselves safe, and their fault if they are victimized. This is not only totally unfair, it’s also unreasonable. Dudes just need to man up and not be dicks. Remember – we create this world together…

Here are some tips for trail angels, fellow hikers, business owners and society at large to make women feel welcome, celebrated and safe:

  1. Be nice. Smile, say hi, shoot the breeze.
  2. Don’t ask whether someone is hiking alone. Never. Ever. It is creepy, misogynistic, and none of your business.
  3. Don’t press personal questions or ask about itinerary specifics. It makes you look like a stalker. Talk about anything else – food, gear, water, weather. This goes for hikers, hitches and trail angels too.
  4. NO UNSOLICITED HUGS!! Fist bumps instead.
  5. Don’t assume a woman’s time is public domain. A women sitting alone may be super happy to be alone. This goes for bars, restaurants, coffee shops, waterfalls, lakes, or trail pit stops. You can wave or vocalize “hi”. If she clearly invites you over, then it’s okay to join her, but otherwise respect her solitude and keep it movin’.
  6. If you’re approaching a campsite and others are already there, use GENERAL etiquette… before you start setting up, greet others, say hello, and ask genuinely if they mind if you set up nearby. If they say no… respect their vibes and cheerfully move along. You are a thru hiker (and therefore superhero), you can do another 1/2 mile. N.B.D.
  7. All humans love jumping naked into crystal clear alpine lakes. But most people enjoy it privately. If you come upon anyone skinny dipping that you aren’t friends with, find somewhere else on the lake to swim. Or again, ask if it’s okay to do your own thing there. Be mindful and respectful of your body language if you are skinny dipping with someone.
  8. Avoid using violent or threatening language, such as “Hunters make me want to commit murder” or even… “Aren’t you scared to camp alone?” (Often dudes make assumptions about women’s experience. Fear is not a gender-specific emotion. Feel free to talk about your own experiences honestly, but don’t assume you know things about her. Also… asking a woman if she’s afraid may induce fear and make you look like a creep).
  9. Speaking of annoying language – don’t comment on people’s bodies. This is not gender specific. I have a hiker friend who lost weight while thru hiking, whose friends from home body shamed her on her instagram pictures “you skinny bitch!” She had just climbed an 8,000 ft mountain. On the other hand, I had lady section hikers say to me 700 miles into my hike, “you don’t look emaciated enough to be a thru hiker.” Both comments are insulting, and draw attention to how we look, rather than all we have achieved.
  10. Avoid misogynistic behavior and activities. Don’t play stupid games like “Fuck, date, marry” or any other game where you are outright objectifying women. Call out other dude hikers who make misogynistic assumptions. Even if you are just in the company of other men… consider the psychic environment that will be most welcoming if the next hiker who joins your camp is female.
  11. All the trail angels we’ve met are incredible and give without thought of returns. This is the gold standard, and obviously applies equally to interactions with male and female hikers. “Return” includes things physical and metaphysical, including a hiker’s time. If you feel someone is uncomfortable, leave them alone by politely excusing yourself from the interaction, which does not necessarily mean withdrawing your kindness. It’s a fine line, we know…
  12. Everybody gets lonely on trail. If you find yourself getting loose with a hiking bud and things are moving towards any physical interaction, use your words – GET A POSITIVE, VERBAL YES from the other party. And if they’re drunk, no go under any circumstances. Basically, be a normal-ass, kind human.

Groucho sez: Ultimately, dudes, its up to us to consciously create a world where women feel empowered and safe hiking. I love being part of a sport where the sexes are physically equal – lets face it, women are often better long distance walkers and runners than men. However, society tells women to be afraid, to guard themselves, and avoid situations where they can be victimized on trail. DUDES, ITS OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO PREVENT WOMEN FROM BEING OR FEELING VICTIMIZED ON TRAIL. Men are privileged in society and on trail, and its time to recognize that. Now is the time for men to step up and create and defend safe space – it takes work but iz totes possible with mindfulness and willingness.   We can share the trail, with positive and enlightened vibes all around. GOOD LUCK!

Have any other tips/suggestions? Add them in the comments!

Setting a PCT SOBO Start Date

Uh oh. It’s only January and the SOBOs of 2016 are wringing their hands about start dates.  I hear you. Snow melt in the North Cascades is a topic of much wailing and gnashing of teeth. This post explains my methodology for choosing a start date…

 

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Harpo using her ice axe on a melting avalanche chute north of Harts Pass on 6/14/15 (10 days after the snotel for Harts Pass reached zero in an exceptionally low snow year)

Colloquial  wisdom suggests starting your SOBO hike once the Hart’s Pass Snotel reaches zero. Or better yet a week or so later, unless you love postholing and are really looking forward to using that ice axe.

Hart’s Pass is 30 miles from the Canadian border and elevation 6,100’… not the highest elevation in the North Cascades, so once snow is melted at the pass you may still have snow-filled avalanche chutes to traverse. Be prepared for snow travel and know your own limits.

We began our 2015 hike 9 days after the Snotel data reached zero at Hart’s Pass. I STILL carried an ice axe despite the exceptionally low snow year, and as you can see from the photo above, I was happy to have it for balance, leverage and peace of mind.

But how can you guess when the snow levels will reach zero?

Yung buck, it is still too early to tell.
HERE’S THE A SPREADSHEET WITH SNOTEL DATA FROM THE LAST 5 YEARS AT HARTS PASS AND MY NON-EXPERT METHODOLOGY FOR USING SNOTEL TO HELP DETERMINE SAFER START DATES

UPDATE: I recommend clicking on the link above for an overview of snotel stats from the last few years, and my analysis of that data… but a few highlights:

  1. January’s data is nearly equal for ALL years, high and low. Therefore it is not easy to tell looking at January’s accumulation whether it will be a high year or a low year.
  2. In the last 5 years, snow levels peak in late March/early April. This is a better time to look at data and determine if it is a high or low snow year.
  3. In 3 of the last 5 years, snow has melted to zero before July 4. This average is probably why folks plan to start after July 4.
  4. Are you anxious to leave in early June? Remember that in a high or average snow year, there may still be over 50″ of snow (or more) at elevations of 6,000 in early June.