Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thansgiving!

A safe and happy Thanksgiving to you and yours from all of us here at E2E and Trail Ready!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Glory Days

I was reminiscing the other day about where this backpacking obsession began and my first overnight trip. My outdoor roots go deep, back to when my father used to take us four wheeling in his old Ford Bronco in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Later in those same forests I would hunt (although I spent more time walking and seeing than shooting). Eventually I realized I didn't want to hunt, just walk in the woods. As a young adult I decided to start car camping, and as I was at a local outdoor outfitter buying a Eureka Timberline 4-man tent, I spied the Appalachian Trail guide for the Pennsylvania section of the AT. I had never been in the woods of Pennsylvania, and though maybe I'd find some car camping spots in that guide. Little did I know what I was getting into.

I decided to do a little recon, if you will, and took a drive up to Leheigh Gap for a day hike. I was hooked! I immediately went out and bought a 6500 cubic inch, 7 pound load monster for all the gear I would surely need for my newfound adventure. After acquiring a synthetic sleeping bag (about 5 pounds), an axe (gotta have one of those), AND a folding bow saw I was set. On September 23rd, 1988 I started north on the AT at Leheigh Gap, fully expecting to cover 12 miles with the 65+ pound load on my back. Poor, innocent fool.

Getting water at a spring:

The long and short of it is I made it 6 miles. Made camp after going as far as I could go, and enjoyed my time in the mountains immensely. I hiked back to my car the next day, and was completely exhausted. I spent the next 4 days as sore as I had ever been. Interestingly enough, it never occured to me that backpacking was not for me. On the contrary, I couldn't stop thinking about it. The very next trip I no longer had an axe or saw, as well as a few other items not used, and not long after I acquired a down bag and external frame pack that saved me a good 7 pounds!

Given enough time we evolve as backpackers, lightening our loads to what we find comfortable and (hopefully) developing new skills that further this evolution. My own personal journey took me to the point of hiking with a sub-5 pound base weight, but these days I find I'm most comfortable with a base that falls into that 8-10 pound range. I got down to (almost) the barest of bones (I danced with thoughts of a sub-3 pound base for a time)and decided I liked a few goodies like a thermarest pad and a Kooka Bay pillow, etc.

Where has the road taken you, and where are you now?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Gear Review: Headsweats Supervisor

In my early years of backpacking my standard piece of summer head wear was the simple, but versatile bandanna.

It would keep the sweat out of my eyes (no easy task), as well as serving as a pot holder, wash cloth, water strainer, etc. Few pieces of gear can rival it's multi tasking capabilities. The bandanna still has a place in my kit, but I think it has finally been ousted by the Supervisor by Headsweats.

I've never been much of a visor kind of guy, prefering baseball caps for my ever thinning hair (I don't have a forehead, but a five head, if you will). Even so, I decided to give the Supervisor a try. After using the Supervisor on my last outing to the Adirondacks I'm here to say my trusty old bandanna has one less task to perform.

Being a heavy sweater I appreciated the open air feel of the visor. It fit well and felt quite natural. The Cool Max terry liner worked so well, not one drop of sweat rolled down my face during the entire trip. In fact, if I tilted my head down the sweat would drip off the tip of the brim, but never on me. Speaking of the brim, keeping the sun out of my eyes was greatly appreciated and would never have happened with a bandanna.

I'm sold on the Headsweats Supervisor, and highly recommend it for your warm season hikes.

Monday, September 6, 2010

High Peaks Getaway

I have to admit, I've been pretty bad at this blog thing. It's not for lack of material, but rather lack of time. Hopefully now I can keep you a little more up to date on my ramblings.

Last weekend my buddy Dean and I decided to hit the Eastern High Peaks in the Adirondacks. This would be my first trip to the area in about 32 years, since my scouting days, and Dean's first. This time I was really feeling my age - after working all week and driving 6 hours on 2 1/2 hours sleep I was a bit ragged. On top of that I've been nursing a torn miniscus since April. No snivelling, just a little history.

After spending way too much time in Keene eating breakfast we finally hit the Adirondacl Loj arount 10am. The only problem is that the trailhead filled up around 8am, so we were forced to park about a mile down the road and hike back to the park.

It should be noted here that the Eastern high Peaks area requires the use of bear cannisters, and more specifically the Garcia cannister. It seems the bears have figured out how to get into the the Bear Vault by unscrewing it with their teeth and claws. Clever beasties they are. Since I am primarily used to bear bagging PCT style I rented a Garcia for the reasonable fee of $5.00 for our 3 days out.


Our itinerary for this trip was Adirondack Loj to Wallface lean-to, then Wallface to Colden Lake, and finally Colden Lake back to the Loj, a modest 20 mile trip. My goal was not big miles, since I knew my knee would not tolerate too much abuse, but rather to take in a leisurely 3 days in some beautiful country. The beauty of the loop I chose is that if things didn't work out as planned the trip could be modified to suit current conditions. Good thing because not one single day went as planned.

After a late start it was finally good to get on the trail. We made our way around beautiful Heart Lake and set our minds free of all our cares as we enjoyed some of the most deafening silence I've heard in quite some time. The trail was nice and the weather was picture perfect. After a bit we came to a side trail to Rocky Falls. I'm a sucker for waterfalls so we made the side trip and took a break to enjoy the roar of the water.

We tore ourselves away from what on any other day might be a great spot for a nap, only because we still had a good way to go. By the time we hit Scott Clearing it was becoming obvious that we would have to push just a little harder than my knee would allow to make our destination before dark. Dean and I assessed our options and decided that we would rather relax and make an early camp. We came here to do something I haven't done in a long while - to hike and camp without pressure or goals. We would just see where the next few days would lead us.

While heating water for dinner a chipmunk decided to join us, and he definitely had his eye on a quick snack. Chalk up another plus for the Garcia. I hated carrying around an extra 2 1/4 pounds of plastic, but love not worrying about critters feasting on my goodies. In the time it took for my dinner to rehydrate I had the tarp and bivy up, and mr. chipmunk was jealous as I wolfed down my Mountain House lasagna dinner.

All summer I've been putting a prototype of my new tarp through it's paces. I must say, it's one of the nicest 8x10's I've had the pleasure to use, and will be a replacement for my favorite Oware tarp. I'll have them up on the End2End Trail Supply website with all the specs, hopefully in the next few days.

After we were settled in Dean and I took in the views of Wallface Mountain from the stream bed near camp. We were camped near the rockdam and there was even a pool deep enough for Dean to swim and go under. How I have missed these simple pleasures. It's nice sometimes to change gears and not be so goal oriented.

Right before bed we shared some time in Proverbs and after some time of worship it was lights out. I went out like a light and when I awoke in the dark I checked the time on my Ipod - 9:48pm! I thought it was much later and fell in and out of sleep all night. When the sun started to peek it's head I checked the time again, only to find my Ipod said 11:59pm! Apparently it was about 6 hours off :).


We had talked with a fellow by the name of Tim, and his mother Joan, who were also from New Jersey. They had camped near us, and now Tim was helping us with his 7+ years of High Peaks hiking experience. He suggested to us that our route through Indian Pass was one of the more rugged ones in the area, and that we might consider taking Cold Brook (formerly Algonquin) Pass over to Colden Lake, then along the Opalescent River to the campsite at Lake Arnold. This sounded reasonable, so we changed plans. In hindsight it would have been much better if I had shared with Tim about my bum knee, but why let your limitations spoil a good plan, eh? After our morning devotions we were off to chase our new adventure.

Up to this point the trails had been very nice and not so rocky, but the trail over the pass was a whole different ball game. It was reminiscent of the trails I so know and love in Maine and New Hampshire on the Appalachian Trail. The trail was lightly used (we didn't pass another soul) and steep and rocky. The seemingly never ending climb was highlighted by some small but beautiful waterfalls. The trail crested at a high boreal bog, complete with a boardwalk and views of Colden Mountain.

As steep as the climb was, the descent was even steeper and rockier and at times trying. Like I said, just like Maine and New Hampshire. I had to stop at one point and catch my breath, and say a little prayer for patience, since my pace was about half of what I'm used to. This was the only part of the trip where my pace was really off, probably because I was trying to lessen the strain on my knee while going downhill.

Once at the bottom we made our way to the lean-to at the bottom of Colden Lake. There was an awesome view just 50 feet in front of the shelter of Colden Lake, with Colden Mountain on one side, and Avalanche Mountain on the other, framing Avalanche Pass in the distance.

At this point it was once again decision time as to where the path would take us. We could either stay put at the shelter and enjoy a swim in Colden Lake, continue on our current route, or hike over Avalanche Pass and camp at Avalanche lean-to, giving us an easy day three. I really wanted to stay put and swim, but my better judgement told me to give myself an easy third day. Dean agreed that whatever I was up for doing was just fine with him. Dean has been a great hiking partner, and I think that comes from a simple love of the outdoors, along with a hang loose, whatever it takes attitude.

The trail to Avalanche Lake was relatively easy, and soon enough we were at it's lower end.

On both shores the mountains tower over the lake, and touch it's shores with vertical cliffs. This marks the beginning of the boulder scrambles using ladders to get around the harder stretches. At one point you reach the "Hitchem Up Matilda" bridges. They were depicted in a somewhat famous Harpers magazine painting, and consist of boardwalk supported by steel rods in the sheer face of the cliff.

Once you reach the upper reaches of Avalanche Lake the boulder scrambling ends just as abruptly as it began. I actually thought this area was great fun. The rest of the trip over Avalanche pass was fairly easy and we finally cruised in to the lean-to, only to find it taken over by a group. No worries, I'd rather tarp camp anyway, so we found a nice quiet spot and put up our tarps. Dean once again disappeared to take a swim, this time in the stream that feeds Marcy Lake, while I was content to make my dinner and set up camp. I guess I'm just a creature of habit, but I like my camp routine. At this point I just want to say kudos to the folks at Hawk Vittles . They make some really awesome meals, and the Sweet Italian Sausage with Pasta dinner I had that evening has my mouth watering even as I type this. I highly recommend giving them a look.


Day three dawned early, and we were in no hurry.

Once again we were met with some of the nicest trail the 'Dacks could produce, and it would remain that way all the way back to the trailhead. About a mile down from camp we came upon a ranger dismantling an old lean-to called "The Barn". Judging by the pile of logs it must have been rather large. We were also told that the prior evening someone left some candy in their pack at one one of the Marcy Lake lean-tos and a bear grabbed the pack and shredded it to get at the candy. Bear cannister regs are in place to protect people from the bears, and the bears from themselves. I'm sure it sucked for whoever had to carry all their gear out in a shredded pack (lots 'o duct tape I guess). At Marcy Lake, Avalanche Pass once again formed a great backdrop over the area. Some views you just never get tired of.

We returned to the trailhead somewhere around 10am, just in time for some Strawberry Rubarb pie in Keene before the long ride home.

I can see the Adirondacks becoming a regular obsession.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

It's gonna be a busy year!

It appears we're going to have a busy year at E2E, as well as Trail Ready. I haven't posted any new vids because I am in the process of building a new computer for HD video editing, as well as for general business ops at End2End Trail Supply .

Just a peek at what's coming up:

In two weeks my crew and I will be hiking a section of the Black Forest Trail in Pennsylvania (with testing of the new Evernew DX Set, and the new Granite Gear Escape AC60, and pics or video to follow).

Memorial Day weekend finds us in Damascus, Virginia for 3 days (1 day of hiking Grayson Highlands w/ blooming rhodies and wild ferrel ponies, 1 day of biking the Viginia Creeper Trail, and 1 day of whitewater rafting).

In June we'll be doing a floattube trip down the Brandywine River, while July finds us on the Susquehannock Trail eating blueberries on the ridgetops.

We're also in the process of a few changes at E2E. Our manufacturing portion of the company is going to fall under a new name, soon to be disclosed. We're also developing two new stoves, and have a bivy and tarp that will come to market this year under our new label.

Finally, Trail Ready - the video series, will make it's debute. It's primary purpose is education, with a focus on techniques (tarp camping, UL backpacking, etc), gear reviews, and trip reports. We have a schedule of about 15 videos to shoot (not including the trips I named above), and so far about three are scripted.

Busy indeed!I hope you"ll check back often and see where the trail leads us!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Evernew Titanium Alcohol Stove Review

Well, I finally put up a video review of the new Evernew titanium alcohol stove. Generally, I like the design, but can't wait to get the full DX set and see what it is capable of.

I apologize in advance for the poor quality video. I am so tech unsavvy, lol. I recently purchased a Canon Vixia HV30 HD camcorder and upgraded to Sony Vegas editing software, but after shooting the entire video I found out that my computer didn't have the capability for me to download my video. My backup was to shoot on my trusty Olympus 770SW, so I get what I get, I guess. The good news is that going forward we'll have my tech missteps fixed (let's hope).