Hiked Mount Baldy today

October 17th, 2009

Today I took a day trip from San Diego to Mount Baldy. Hiked up the Ski Hut trail and down the Devil’s Backbone to the chair lift. It was an excellent day and I took some video footage for a future report. Glad I was able to get this trail in before the first snow of the season. Look forward to cutting the footage, sunny all day long, not a could in the sky. Could actually see the ocean.

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Pee Perimeter

October 10th, 2009

I was always curious about this topic and found this Q/A exchange with an expert on backpacker.com

Q.} Are bears, mountain lions, and other predators attracted to, or repelled by human urine? I often ‘set up a perimeter’ when camping in bear country by peeing in different locations outside of camp. Is this effective or am I just watering a lot of different rocks?
A.} Pee, by any other name, still smells the same, and bears, lions, and other predators are interested in anything that smells interesting. Stephen Herrero’s book “Bear Attacks”, considered the definitive work by many authorities, says “human excrement/urine attracts bears and should not be near your campsite.” The National Park Service promotes that belief as well, adding that the salt in urine attracts wild animals (including bears and lions) and should be deposited well away from camp. There are some folks, however, who disagree with urine-as-attraction. The Get Bear Smart Society is one. They say human urine deters nosey bears. But the majority of experts oppose this view.Two other no-no’s that you should be aware of: You don’t have to bury urine; and you shouldn’t pee on vegetation. Urine is harmful to many species of plants. Move about 100 yards from camp to urinate in big predator country, and you should be far enough for a safe deposit.
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Topo Maps

October 3rd, 2009

A good topographical map is essential to have on any hike, but only if you know how to read it properly.  Lets look at what all the lines and scales are about.

Contour lines

The heart of a topo map is its overlay of contour lines, each line indicating a constant elevation as it follows the shape of the landscape. Contour lines that are close together represent steep slopes.

topographic map

Grids

Topographic maps almost always carry a grid of lines which divides them up. This is either based on degrees of latitude and longitude or a special grid developed by the mapping authority such as UTM -Universal Transverse Mercator coordinate system.

Simply defined, scale is the relationship between distance on the map and distance on the ground. A map scale usually is given as a fraction or a ratio—1/10,000 or 1:10,000.  These “representative fraction” scales mean that 1 unit of measurement on the map—1 inch or 1 centimeter—represents 10,000 of the same units on the ground.  The second number (ground distance) is different for each scale; the larger the second number is, the smaller the scale of the map. In the small-scale map (1:316,800), there is less room; therefore, everything must be drawn smaller, and some small streams, roads, and landmarks must be left out altogether. On the other hand, the larger scale map (1:63,360) permits more detail but covers much less ground.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) publishes maps at various scales. The scale used for most U.S. topographic mapping is 1:24,000. USGS maps at this scale cover an area measuring 7.5 minutes of latitude and 7.5 minutes of longitude and are commonly called 7.5-minute quadrangle maps. Map coverage for most of the United States has been completed at this scale.  Maps at 1:24,000 scale are fairly large and provide detailed information about the features of an area, including the locations of important trails and most campgrounds. Footbridges, drawbridges, fence lines, and private roads are also shown at this scale.   I’ve included a USGS scale grid on the website to give you an idea of what scales are used where.   US sectional maps are 1 : 2,000,000 scale. where 1 inch represents 32 miles.

USGS Maps

Series Scale 1 inch represents
approximately
1 centimeter
represents
Standard quadrangle size
(latitude by longitude)
Quadrangle area
(square miles)
Puerto Rico 7.5 minute 1:20,000 1,667 feet 200 meters 7.5 by 7.5 minute 71
7.5 minute 1:24,000 2,000 feet (exact) 240 meters 7.5 by 7.5 minute 49 to 70
7.5 minute 1:25,000 2,083 feet 250 meters 7.5 by 7.5 minute 49 to 70
7.5 by 15 minute 1:25,000 2,083 feet 250 meters 7.5 by 15 minute 98 to 140
USGS-DMA 15 minute 1:50,000 4,166 feet 500 meters 15 by 15 minute 197 to 282
Alaska Maps 1:63,360 1 mile (exact) 633.6 meters 15 by 20 to 36 minute 207 to 281
County Maps 1:50,000 4,166 feet 500 meters County area Varies
County Maps 1:100,000 1.6 miles 1 kilometer County area Varies
30 by 60 minute 1:100,000 1.6 miles 1 kilometer 30 by 60 minute 1,568 to 2,240
1 degree by 2 degrees or 3 degrees 1:250,000 4 miles 2.5 kilometers 1° by 2° or 3° 4,580 to 8,669
State Maps 1:500,000 8 miles 5 kilometers State area Varies
State Maps 1:1,000,000 16 miles 10 kilometers State area Varies
U.S. Sectional Maps 1:2,000,000 32 miles 20 kilometers State groups Varies
Antarctica Maps 1:250,000 4 miles 2.5 kilometers 1° by 3° to 15° 4,089 to 8,336
Antarctica Maps 1:500,000 8 miles 5 kilometers 2° by 7.5° 28,174 to 30,462T
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Bear Canisters

September 26th, 2009

You need to take some precautions with your camping and hiking gear if you’re camping in bear country. Bears have a tremendous sense of smell, and they are so strong they can rip out a car window or tear off a car door a lot easier than you might think. Don’t store any food inside your vehicle or tent.  Bears have learned how to get to food caches suspended from tree branches, so this old backpacker trick is no longer safe, either. Most parks recommend these bear canisters for all food, and some even require them. If you’re going camping in an area with bears, don’t take any chances.

What is a bear-resistant food canister?

Bear canisters are light weight (less than 3 pounds), cylindrical, high impact plastic, aluminum or carbon fiber containers designed to fit inside or on the outside of your pack.  One canister of this size can hold 5-6 days of food for one person or up to 3 days worth of food for two people.

Canister use is now required by many park agencies, including Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Inyo National Forests.

Reminders on using canisters

Besides being careful to lock all bear attractants in the canister you should store the canister a safe distance from your camp – 100 feet. However, do not hang them from a tree since ropes or bags attached to the canister will enable a bear to carry it away, possibly out of sight.

Remember, when you are using a canister ALL scented items – food, toiletries and garbage – must fit inside the canister throughout your entire trip unless you are in attendance or actively preparing your food.

  • Carry the first two meals outside of the canister: lunch and dinner.
  • At the trailhead, make sure that ALL food, trash, toiletries and scented items will fit inside the canister the first night.
  • Put the canister and your kitchen at least 100 feet from your sleeping area.
  • Leave the canister on the ground.  Do not hang the canister from a tree.
  • Never leave canisters open and unattended, rather leave them locked unless actively retrieving items or putting them away.
  • Likewise, never leave backpacks unattended along the trail while making a pit stop.
  • Remember to check pockets of clothing and backpacks for any forgotten scented items and place them in your canister.
  • When it is time to eat, take out only the foods that you need for the meal, repack the remaining contents, and re-lock the canister while cooking and eating.

Popular and approved models include:

Garcia Machine Backpacker’s Cache
Bear Vault

Additional resources: http://www.wcs.org

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Podcasting and RSS

September 21st, 2009

VideoWaypoint is now is registered with iTunes and can be downloaded as a podcast. Keep in mind this only applies to video and audio content so be sure to also subscribe to the RSS feed.   If you like this website be sure to give it a high rating on iTunes, this will make it more visible. Thanks for all the comments on the videos, I really enjoy hearing from everyone.

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San Jacinto Peak – Video Trip Report

September 15th, 2009

Below is the video trip report for San Jacinto Peak via the Palm Springs Tramway.    I did this as a day hike, leaving early from San Diego and catching the first tram up.   I hiked this late in the season (November), but the weather was nice and the first snow had yet to fall.  I’ve also done this peak via the Devil’s Slide trail out of Humber Park , which I found to be a little more challenging.  The hike from the Tramway is still challenging, but does not have quite the elevation gain.  I also thought the Tramway was quite scenic and added an interesting element to the day.

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Video

Water Purification

September 15th, 2009

Giardiasis is the most common and widespread disease and is caused by microscopic parasitic cysts called giardia.  Giardiasis has an incubation period of seven to twenty-one days. Some of the symptoms for giardiasis include bloating, diarrhea, headache, vomiting, cramping, low-grade fever, and loss of appetite.  It’s a good idea to have purification tablets as well as a filter as a backup in case the filter gets clogged.     Here are some common methods of purification.

  • Boil the water – This is the good old standby. The main disadvantage of boiling your water is carrying enough fuel to provide ample water for your trip. It also makes the water taste flat.
  • Chemical Disinfectants – Iodine or chlorine dioxide. Some of the most popular and effective brands are Potable Aqua Tablets, and Aqua Mira.  One of the main problems with using iodine or chlorine is the taste they give the water. If using iodine, one effective method for reducing the taste of the iodine is a secondary tablet placed in the water after the initial treatment is complete.  The KlearWater treatment is a liquid that is made from chlorine dioxide, which doesn’t impart a chemical taste to the water.  One disadvantge is that you need to wait 30 minutes for the treatments to be complete.  Not as big of an issue if you plan ahead a bit.
  • Filtration – This is the method I’ve used for years. The flavor is maintained, or even improved, by the use of water filters. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as the perfect water filter.  Because there is no perfect water filter for every situation, be sure to compare and buy one suited to your needs. Where will you be using it most? How often will you use it? How easy is it to use by yourself? How comfortable is it to use? These are all very important considerations.  Another thing to think about is the ability to clean the filter in the field. Another thing to consider is the availability of replacement filter cartridges.  My personal favorite is the Katadyn Hiker PRO.
  • Ultraviolet (UV) Light – This is a relatively new process for treating water in the backcountry. Innovations in design have minimized the size and weight of these water treatment devices, making them an excellent choice for the backcountry.  The SteriPen Adventurer has some excellent features geared specifically for those of us who need something durable and lightweight as well as effective. It weighs only 3.6 ounces with the included batteries and will purify .5 liter/16oz of water in 48 seconds, or 1 liter/32oz in 90 seconds. It will destroy viruses, bacteria and protozoa, but it is less effective in murky water. If you will be treating water that isn’t clear, it is imperative that you filter the water through the optional SteriPEN Prefilter or fabric, such as a bandana or cheesecloth, before using the SteriPen.

Here are several more tips for water usage in the backcountry:

  • When brushing your teeth, be sure to use purified water.
  • Remember that you do not need to treat water used in cooking or hot drinks as long as it comes to a rolling boil before you drink it.
  • Filtering your water directly from a stream or pothole can be very difficult.  you can use a high sierra cup to scoop water into a nalgene with sill filter, then treat with iodine, or filter pump into another nalgene.   If you are in an area of stagnant water, try lifting up rocks or digging holes in the mud to allow water to come in.

I normally bring two nalgene bottles.

Additional resources: Hitthetrail.com

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San Gorgonio Peak – Video Trip Report

September 15th, 2009

This is a trip report of the Vivian Creek trail, the more popular route to the summit.  San Gorgonio Peak is the tallest peak in Southern California at 11,500 feet and is near Big Bear.  We left San Diego and hiked to High Camp, dropped our packs, then continued to the summit before heading back to camp.  This trail is very challenging, especially the last couple miles as you are at elevation.  Arriving at the summit later in the day allowed us to have the whole place to ourselves which was really nice.  We hiked on a Friday and High Camp was not that crowded.  On our way out  Saturday we passed a ton of people heading to that camp, so I’m glad we went on Friday.  You do need a permit to hike in the San Gorgonio wilderness, they are free and all the info you need is on the wilderness website.   Check out the links section for details.

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Stove Types

September 15th, 2009

There are two types of lightweight stove:

1) Canister Stoves, which burn liquefied gas (butane or butane-propane mixtures) you purchase in ready-to-go sealed canisters found at outdoor stores and other outlets.  These stoves feature instantaneous lighting.   Best for: Weekend backpackers, pedalers, and paddlers who primarily camp in warm weather, at low elevations, and who would rather trade dollars and a few ounces for an extra measure of convenience.

2) White Gas Stoves that burn a gasoline-like liquid bought in quart or gallon cans, and poured off into the stove tank in the quantity you need. These usually require some form of priming to light properly.  Best for: Ounce-counting adventurers bound for long trips (5+ days) in a variety of conditions and topography, including high, cold places. Also best for people concerned about the monetary and environmental costs of using canister stoves.

Weight

Canister: Although canister gas provides really light heat for short trips, on longer trips with more canisters, the weight of the canisters soon mounts up and makes the stoves heavy overall. For example the small Peak 1 canister for 3.5 oz (100g) of fuel weighs (3.1 oz) 88g empty. That’s nearly as much as the fuel it contained! Larger canisters are not as inefficient.

White Gas: Although the stoves themselves are heavier than most canister stoves, the difference is not so large if you factor-in the following: 1. You can tell how much fuel is in the tank and can save weight by carrying no more fuel than you need. You don’t have the weight of the extra canister you must take when you aren’t sure how full the other canister is!
2. A fuel bottle carrying 14.5 oz (420 g) fuel weighs only 4.8 oz (140g). Compare that with the canister figures!

Running Cost

Canister: Running costs are very high compared to white gas. This becomes a significant factor on long trips or if you use stoves a lot.

White Gas: Very cheap to run — a gallon of white gas can be bought for little more than the price of one 8-oz canister.

Cold Weather Performance

Canister: Not great once temperatures approach freezing, better when fuel contains propane and uses iso-butane instead of n-butane as the main component of the mix.

White Gas: Performance unaffected by cold.

High Altitude Performance

Canister: Reduced exterior air pressure improves gas flow, even at low temperatures. Convenience and no need for priming are assets in cramped high-altitude tents, and when people are functioning below par due to altitude effects.

White Gas: White gas stoves seem to function at high altitudes if you have appropriate working conditions, such as base camps in which to use them. Not as nice to use inside tents as canister gas because of fumes and large flames during priming.

Additional resources: www.gorp.com

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Half Dome – Video Trip Report

September 15th, 2009

This is a very popular day hike in Yosemite.  Both times I’ve done the trail have been Fridays in July which made for rather hot and crowded conditions.  I would recommend mid-week and maybe not right in the middle of summer.  The first time I hiked it the cables were not that crowded, but this last time they were pretty packed.  As you will see in the video below it only takes one person to to freak out and bottle-neck the whole cable section.  You should give yourself 10-12 hours to finish the hike and make sure you have plenty of water.  I went through about 4.5 liters for the day.  I brought a pump which I used after Nevada Falls (going up and coming back down).  I recommend bringing a pair of gloves with the rubber gripping material on the palms.  Leather gloves do not work well.   I hope this trip report gives you a little preview of this unique trip.

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Video