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  3. Lowa Renegade Hiking Boots

    Thanks for the review. The Lowa Renegades look like nice boots. I'm going to need new hiking shoes soon and having briefly looked at the Renegades, will give them a closer look when I'm shopping.
  4. Katadyn BeFree vs Sawyer Mini

    I bought the BeFree and am pleased with it. The wide mouth makes it easier to use. The first one I received had a broken lid; I think it had been bought and damaged by somebody who then returned it.. This is the third item I've bought after reading about it here.
  5. Chimney Tops trail (Smokies)

    That's great news for the park...especially since Chimney Tops is such a popular trail. We hope to get to the Smokies before the end of the year and may have to check out the new viewing platform.
  6. Ha, yeah - figured I'd keep this one a little more about the experience than getting too specific about the destination. Glad to hear you had a great shortage of places to explore out there!
  7. For Sale, all prices are inclusive of shipping, and I accept PayPal Smith Cascade Classic Ski Goggle for $25 ($30 new) Used only once, lens and foam are in excellent condition. Aquamira Frontier Pro Water Filter for $20 ($30 new) Never used, got in a subscription box and already had a water filter I liked. Package is opened, but it's brand new. Solid Fuel Backpacking Stove $15 (Got it for free, no name brand, don't know new price) Never used, comes with a couple dozen fuel tablets.
  8. Chimney Tops trail (Smokies)

    Chimney Tops has reopened. Think it was in the last week or so. The trail to the actual rocky peaks is closed, and may never reopen because of fire damage, but the parks system has built a viewing platform up top. I haven't hiked it since reopening, but I've heard its a bit shorter and easier. Here's a link to the trail:
  9. MLD Burn for Sale

    Pack has now sold, thanks!
  10. Older Rokk Yukon Sleeping bag

    I've never heard of that brand at all, but if you haven't found out any information yet my best advice would be to do a google search and see if some old "book" results come up for Backpacker magazine. I've been able to find specs on some old gear that way, either through an article, ad slick, or an entry in their annual buyer's guide. 4.8 pounds sounds like it may be old Hollofil or Quallofil. You should be able to feel the difference between any type of synthetic and down just by pinching & kneading it, sometimes holding it up against sunlight.
  11. Do the trailhead and river have names? I understand if wish to keep them private. I made my first trip into the Wind River Range in September. I’m not sure why it took me decades to get there. I will go back. Wayne
  12. MLD Burn for Sale

    Pm sent
  13. MLD Burn for Sale

    Actually still have this one available, price drop to $150 shipped U.S.!
  14. Earlier
  15. While non-waterproof shoes shine for summer backpacking and hiking with their light weight, breathability, and quick dry times, when temperatures fall, and especially when snow is involved I turn to a waterproof breathable solution. This has meant abandoning my usual lightweight footwear approach and turning to heavy Gore-Tex boots or similar, and going from my normal lightweight zero drop trail runners to a heavy cumbersome boot with a raised heel and significant heel to toe drop has always been a bit of shock. Not to mention, I still have yet to find a boot of this type that is completely comfortable. These types of boots are often built for maximum durability and consequently they’re bulky and heavy, which simply isn’t great for walking. To keep the soles from wearing out faster than the uppers the sole rubber used is durable, but often with durability the tradeoff is that traction is compromised on slick surfaces like snow and ice without additional traction devices. However, a couple years ago zero drop shoe maker Altra released a waterproof breathable version of their popular Lone Peak trail running shoe, quite popular with many hikers, backpackers, and myself for most 3 season conditions. The NeoShell version of the Lone Peak features Polartec’s air permeable yet waterproof NeoShell fabric along with all the normal features you’ll find in the Lone Peak. A normal low cut version, as well as a mid-height boot offering are available in the 3.0 line – while the mesh Lone Peak is now up to the 3.5 version, no Lone Peak Polartec NeoShell 3.5 is currently available from Altra. Since the Altra NeoShell release, I’ve had the opportunity to utilize both the original 2.0 NeoShell as well as the more recent and current NeoShell low shoe and mid based on the more recent Lone Peak 3.0 – in addition to all other normal mesh versions of the Lone Peaks save for the 3.5. In either version the NeoShell Lone Peak uses a unique approach and places the waterproofing layer on the outside of the shoe as a shell, instead of as a bootie or liner sewn into the interior of the boot or shoe as you’ll find with Gore-Tex, eVent, or similar proprietary membranes from other manufacturers. What this does is repel moisture immediately without allowing it to soak the outer fabrics or materials of the shoe, and it also allows the interior fabrics of the shoe to offer quite a bit of moisture buffering capacity as your feet sweat. For either version, an aggressive trail running tread pattern provides traction, while a generous midsole with a rockplate provides ample cushioning and smooths out the ride. Shoe or boot, the Lone Peak NeoShell is quite light (15.25 ounces each in my size 12.5’s for the mid) and this combined with the zero drop design, and “foot shaped” wide toe box really make these very comfortable to hike in. The NeoShell Mid offers all the same features but with the addition of added ankle support, better compatibility with gaiters, and additional warmth. All things that should be great for snow travel, while the low cut version is great for its light weight and mobility. While the tongue is gusseted, unfortunately it’s gusseted using a non-waterproof, ripstop nylon material and this can be the source of water intrusion into the shoe or boot. On the 3.0, there is still an improvement in this area as the tongue is now covered in NeoShell, compared to the earlier 2.0’s non-waterproof mesh. The tongue gusset issue is limited to some extent simply by the overlap of the tongue and shoe, creating something of a seal when worn, and can be further sealed off through the use of gaiters if you use them. However and in my case using the MLD eVent gaiter, the area is not completely covered towards the front of the shoe and some spacing is always created by the laces. (Altra also offers their own gaiter, but it is not waterproof) If you’d like to use a gaiter that does not utilize an underfoot strap or cord, the NeoShells are well setup for them, containing Altra’s Velcro gaiter trap on the heel for compatibility with gaiters that secure this way, and either way along with a ring in front of the laces for your gaiter hooks. Lone Peak NeoShell Mid w/ MLD eVent Gaiter Altra does offer up a disclaimer on their website that these are not meant to replace waterproof full rubber boots, but I was hopeful that they would at least offer a replacement for typical Gore-Tex, eVent, or proprietary membrane waterproof offerings from many mainstream shoe and boot manufacturers that use an inner bootie to provide waterproofing. In practice the NeoShell from Altra is more water-resistant than proof, with the leakage through the tongue gusset, standing water is out of the question and I have additionally noticed leakage in this area from melting snow, and seemingly through the fabric / seams of the shoe itself as a hiking day goes on in snow and / or wet conditions and even when wearing waterproof gaiters. Additionally as the NeoShell is on the outside of the shoe and while it’s designed to be used as an outer layer, it will take direct abuse and abrasion over time from snow, ice, rocks, and brush and as time goes on the fabric will wet out faster. As such, for longer shoulder season and winter excursions in snow or chilly wet conditions there is still very much a place for more traditional Gore-Tex or similar waterproof / breathable boots in my gear room and the NeoShell is best suited for conditions where only occasional or intermittent moisture may be encountered. Hopefully as with improvements from the 2.0 to the 3.0 further waterproofing improvements can be made in the future as the NeoShell version matures, and especially since the Lone Peak platform is essentially unrivaled when it comes to fit and comfort. Long term, extensive NeoShell wear example. (Lone Peak 2.0 NeoShell version shown) I do however find breathability of the shoes to be a plus, although as you might expect they do run a bit too hot for me for summer hiking. As such and overall the NeoShell is best at keeping your feet warm in cool but not cold conditions – adding a VBL will help as temps drop lower, but at some point you’ll want to switch to an insulated boot – and thus as a whole I find them best for a somewhat narrow range of day activities (running in the lows, day hiking in either the lows or mids) and they work best in cool dry conditions or on shorter excursions in the same weather when moisture is added to the equation. When wet and placed in a dry warm environment to dry, the shoes do dry quickly for an offering of this type. One other thing on the wishlist for a future version and only in relation to the mid version is that metal closed eyelets are used towards the cuff – it would have been great if these had been open hook speed lace hardware to make tying and untying your shoes and loosening all that much easier and faster. Durability is inline with what you’d expect from a normal trailrunner. The sole will wear at the same rate, and I’ve found that just as the soles are about completely out of tread the upper is breaking down at around the same rate. Of course by this time with the shoes out of tread traction became a concern with a few slips to prove it. It seems that the upper and tread wear out all at about the same rate and somewhat gracefully over time, so if the feature set and performance works for one’s usage at first it all works. In regards to the mids these won’t be boots you’ll have resoled and use for years and years by any means, though. For me the low cut version for the most part is relegated perhaps for what it was originally designed for: running in cold conditions and I also like it for day hikes or backpacking in chilly, but dry, shoulder season conditions. If more support and warmth is desired in similar conditions with running out of the equation, the mid may be the way to go. Either way the benefits of a footwear solution that’s as comfortable as your normal trail running shoe while adding both water resistance and warmth are very welcome during those times of the year when temps are lower, and on shorter excursions when light infrequent precipitation or snow may be encountered or where water resistance is desired, and in these specific situations the NeoShells do excel at keeping your feet warm and comfortable. The NeoShell Lone Peak from Altra is available for men and women in both a low cut trail runner and mid-height boot version ranging from around $130 to $160, but you can occasionally find them on sale for a modest discount. You can check out both versions here at REI, at Backcountry, and on
  16. Grayson Highlands VA

    I recently got a chance to spend two nights in the area of Grayson Highlands and Mt Rogers. It is a beautiful area but very crowded on a nice fall weekend. I saw some of the famous ponies The first night was a gorgeous sunset I woke up to a foggy/cloudy morning But eventually the clouds lifted enough to see the views the area is know for Unfortunately the clouds came back and ruined another sunset I had a great time and nice weather (except for the clouds). Hopefully there will be fewer people around the next time I go back. Lots more detail and photos here
  17. Napa Fires

    hoping mother nature brings some help (rain, no wind)..........
  18. Napa Fires

    One more update on the fires in California's wine country. We live in the center of Napa City, and so far we have had no fires or damage in our part of the city. The smoke has been quite intense from time to time. Since Sunday night the fires have burned some 200,000 acres in the hills on all sides of Napa, but the Napa Valley floor itself has had very limited damage. Over the past few days, the fires burned in many directions, and fire crews have been able to use that development to establish burned out zones that give us some protection. The two largest fires are the Atlas Fire, in the hills between Napa and Solano Counties; and the Tubbs Fire between Napa and Sonoma Counties. Both of those fires are now more than 40% contained, due to these burn zones. The Nun Fire is in the Mayacamas Mountains between the towns of Napa and Sonoma, and it is still only 5% contained. It is in very steep, rugged terrain, and very difficult to manage. Even in the other two fires, we expect that there are areas that will continue to burn until we get a significant rainfall. But since they are now far from undamaged homes, and hard to access, those areas are not of major concern. So what's happening right now? Strong winds from the Northeast are blowing on the fires at 20-40 mph. For the Atlas Fire, this means that most of the fire is being driven back over an area that had previously burned in Napa County, so we're hopeful that it won't mean much further damage. But the southern end of this fire is burning towards Green Valley near Fairfield in Solano County, and towards Highway 12 between Napa and Fairfield. We hope our friends over there are still safe. Some areas of southwestern Solano County are now under a mandatory evacuation order. The more northern Tubbs Fire is burning into the southeast part of Santa Rosa. There are new mandatory evacuation orders in those areas, and the city of Calistoga in Napa County, also south of this fire, is still under a mandatory evacuation. The Nun Fire is burning towards the town of Sonoma, and mandatory evacuation orders are now in place for most of area east of Sonoma itself. Those are new orders as of last night due to the wind and the growth of the fire. So eastern Sonoma County is quite seriously threatened. The evacuation orders along the eastern edge of the city of Napa have been lifted in some areas, because there is nothing left to burn, and the active part of the fire is now farther east. And as a result, the evacuation advisories for neighboring areas of Napa have been lifted. Right now the biggest threat to Napa County seems to be the Nun Fire, to the West, which is burning up over the ridge from Dry Creek Road towards the main valley, and the Tubbs Fire threatening Calistoga at the northern end of the valley. Today the air in the city of Napa is sparklingly clear---due to the winds that are pushing all the smoke south. More than 90,000 people have been evacuated because of these fires, and the death toll now stands at nearly 40--although more than 200 people are still reported missing. Among our staff, we have one employee whose home is in the mandatory evacuation zone in Sonoma County, one whose home is still under an evacuation advisory in Napa, and another whose home is in an area where the evacuation orders have now been lifted. Friends and colleagues in Napa, Sonoma, and Solano Counties continue to have a gamut of experiences, from miraculous escapes to sad losses of homes. We have taken a few of our most treasured possessions out of town to keep them safe, and among those are our backpacking equipment. We figured if we really had to manage to live away from home for a while, what is in our backpacks gives us most of what we need: clothing, shelter, water filter, first aid kit, raingear, etc. The wind is expected to slowly ease later today, and after that we hope to get three or four days of calmer weather, followed by a tantalizing prospect of rain later in the week. Thanks to everyone who has sent the kind wishes. And thanks also to the emergency personnel, who have done a really remarkable job in utterly overwhelming conditions.
  19. Napa Fires

    Well, made it through another night last night. But tonight they are concerned about high winds and very low humidity again. No telling what that will bring. We're fine in our house in the downtown part of Napa. The smoke is still quite think in Napa, and the streets are pretty quite. No tourists, and even some of the local have left for greener or safer pastures. We're taken a carload of our most treasured items to my father-in-law's house in the East Bay for safe keeping. Calistoga remains completely evacuated, while in parts of Napa those evacuation orders may be all depends on the wind tonight. None of these fires is more than 10% contained...
  20. Lowa Renegade Hiking Boots

    Hey guys! I went on some epic hikes in Zion National Park in Utah. This video has footage of Angels Landing, probably the most beautiful hike I've ever been on. In the video I review the boots my girlfriend and I wore on our hiking vacation in Utah. Lowas aren't cheap, but they performed well and were very comfortable. It's hard finding women's hiking boots that come in wide sizes, but Lowa offers it. We hiked for days and had no issues. +Gore-Tex, waterproof and breathable +wide sizes +stability +good traction +comfortable -some people mentioned they don't last long. Through my personal experience, if you take care of your gear it'll take care of you. I never leave boots in the car to bake in the hot sun. I clean dirt and mud off them after use because the bud could dry the leather. I pick out the pebbles that get logged in between the lugs on the out sole. Just some real basic stuff and haven't had issues with any quality boots.
  21. Trail work

    nice work!
  22. Trail work

    I'm back from a three day trip to Summit City Canyon with a trail work party. Spectacular weather and a group of really nice guys made this a real pleasure. I began by leaving Napa at a little before 5 a.m. to get to the trailhead in time to meet the group, At about 9:30 the first team hit the trail, while others stayed behind to load up the mules with the heavy lifting: tools for the trail. My little group of three split up at the Horse Creek Trail junction, when Greg headed back over the ridge to take care of his ailing wife. Dave and I continued down for another mile or so and set up camp. By the time we had the tents up, the pack team arrived, and everyone else got there soon after to join us for lunch. By 1:30 we were at the first major obstacle of the trail: a massive tree that blocked things from the far side of the river to the granite cliffs on the other side of the trail. And since the only way to get past it was to get on your hands and knees and crawl under it, this one had to go. Ranger Chip had been there some weeks before, but had been unable to cut through the monster. In fact, he'd had to leave two wedges stuck in place in the saw cut. The damn tree was still alive, with some of its roots drawing water from the creek, and the wood expanded around every cut and wedge. So we set to work. The buck saw would bind up completely after a few strokes, despite the wedges we were pounding into the cut. We cut from below, then we started another cut on the other end to reduce the tension, and final hacked out the wedges and Chip and I began a second cut parallel to the first one, whacking out the material between the two cuts with a small saw and a hatchet. Bear in mind that all of this was done with hand tools, as any engine is prohibited in the Wilderness Area! After a couple of hours, we began to make progress, and finally cut through the first cut. The tree didn't move. Now we started on the second cut, with Tom and Dave pulling much of the work. But now we were able to use the wedges with some effect, and about 4 p.m. we finally cut through on the second side. The middle section was now held up by the branches we had propped under it, and with a few whacks we dropped it to the ground. With much heaving and hollering, we slowly inched it up onto a smaller branch, rotated it, and rolled it off to the side of the trail. After that, it was back to camp for a well-deserved rest and dinner. It was a beautiful evening, with fall colors all around, but after dark the temperature dropped quicker than that big log, and we were in bed soon after. The next day we left our camp and headed down the trail for more fun. This time it was a large aspen that had fallen almost directly on the trail. And while the tree was smaller, it was lower to the ground and still green. Tom, Dave and I sawed away on it for more than an hour before we finally cut it through on both ends, and then maneuvered it off the trail. Chip had gone farther down the trail to scout out our next project: a maze of trail braids through the jungle of ferns above the first crossing. He arrived just in time to see us polish off the aspen. From there is was a short walk down to the ferns, where the trail had become quite confused due to a large tree blocking the route. We used a Macleod, a shovel, some loppers and lots of hard work to mark the best trail through, and then lined it with larger branches to make sure it was easy to see. By the time we had done this in two different sections of the trail, it was lunch time. Meanwhile, Mark and Greg got off to a late start, but hiked past us to head down to the second crossing to get to work down closer to the Mokelumne River. After lunch our team hiked down to within a mile of the second crossing, hitting the trail with the Macleod from time to time, lopping off a few branches, kicking bigger logs out of the trail, and occasionally restacking a cairn for better visibility. We stopped at a glorious granite plateau by the creek, refilled out water bottles, and started to hike uphill back to camp. On the way back Tom, who had never been down the canyon before, led the way so that we could get a fresh pair of eyes on the trail. We found a few places where it wasn't clear, and did what we could to mark it better. Chip raced down to chat with Mark and Greg below, and then joined us in camp for the second night's dinner. It was another stunning evening in the wilderness. On day three Tom and Chip were going to hike down and join Mark and Greg, while Dave and I hiked out. But we weren't done with our work detail. We took the post hole digger along for the ride, so that we could dig new holes for two of the posts that Chip was having brought in by mule that day. The first one, at the junction of the Horse Creek Trail, was a cakewalk. Dave wiggled it a bit and pulled the old pole neatly out of the perfectly preserved post hole. It took all of thirty seconds, and we were a bit gleeful about that. (You may remember that sign post from our trip report a month ago.) But the second post hole, at the junction with the Fourth of July Lake Trail, was not so much fun. It had broken off right at the ground, and as we dug a new hole we discovered that the old hole had been packed with rocks to hold the post tight. They worked, and so did we, digging it out one rock at a time. But after twenty minutes of combined sweat, David and I declared the second post hole dug, and left the tool beside the trail for the mules to collect. Our work was done. We hiked out and made the trailhead by noon, and I managed to get back to Napa through the stunning aspen trees around Carson Pass by 4 p.m. As I drove into town I noticed a fire burning in the grasslands by the airport south of town. Later that night, Napa would be surrounded by fires on three sides, with blustery winds blowing them quickly across the landscape. Our own home only suffered a light coating of falling ash, but our more rural neighbors found themselves in dire straights. We can only hope the easing of the winds will make controlling the fires possible today. Here's a link to the photos:
  23. Katadyn BeFree vs Sawyer Mini

    Good choice with the Hydrapak! I hear people just buy the BeFree filter replacement and then the hydrapak. I need to buy the Hydrapak next!
  24. Hello From CNY/VA

    Great stuff Cam, welcome to the forum!
  25. Hey runnerjohn, I've since moved on and have been using the Lone Peak 3.0 as of late: While not the 2.0 overall they're working for me, and Altra has since released the Lone Peak 3.5 as well adding some drainage ports that may address some of my issues with the insole, although I haven't had a chance to test out the 3.5 quite yet.
  26. I have been running in the Lone Peak 2.0 for the past 2 years, have just worn out my last pair (I also wear a 12.5). I can not find the 2.0s any longer. Have you found a replacement that was similar? Please let me know. Thank you!
  27. Sometimes even a quick day hike can provide inspiration for another quick trip or a subsequent backpacking excursion, and such was the case last year on a family dayhike in the Bridger Wilderness of the southern Wind River Mountains. The plan: a simple morning in and a brief offtrail excursion to a river shown on the map, a brief afternoon of fishing and a return to the trailhead before evening drew on too long. Logistically simple, the hike went as planned and was a typical summer stroll along and off the trail – until we reached the river. Summer sights were abundant, but the river itself was nowhere to be found. Slightly bewildered and evaluating the map, we did now stand in a slight depression, entirely dry and it didn’t look like water had ever flowed through it. And we weren’t looking for an intermittent, seasonal creek either – this was a legitimate and named river. Doubting my map skills momentarily, I even turned my phone on and double checked with Gaia GPS – and sure enough, the app showed us standing in the river. Hiking on a bit farther through the lodgepole pine forest, entering a scenic dry meadow where it seemed good campsites – perhaps for another time – were nearly everywhere you looked. The more I hike, and perhaps the more bad campsites I stay the night in, the more I’ve come to appreciate the good ones. You know the spot: an actual flat place to sleep where you’re not sliding around your tent throughout the night, one that is protected but still with a view, and one that's close enough to a water source – at least according to the map. But this was just a day hike. At such a site in the meadow we had lunch, but with the day getting late the decision was made to abandon the river search and perhaps, return at a later time. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this in the Wind River Range. While the USGS maps are for the most part quite accurate, it seems that when it comes to waterways assumptions have occasionally been made; water always flows downhill, but not always where you think it might at first glance. In any event, finding one of these inaccuracies, whether on USGS topos or usually equally reflected on other options like the Beartooth or Earthwalk maps has always been a great excuse to explore further and to see what the land truly reveals, and adds a bit of mystery to any follow up hike. A year later and in need of a quick and easy family style overnight with easy logistics, we headed back to the site. Some research at home, looking at satellite views had revealed the real location of the river – nearly a mile away from where the USGS topos had suggested. After a drive to the southern end of the range ending with a rough final drive to the trailhead we hit the trail and made our way towards the meadow we’d eaten lunch at the year before, and after sheltering from a brief and quick moving rain shower we eventually made it just as our younger trail companion’s legs began to fade. Although late in the year…so much that aspens were turning yellow…lupine still bloomed and the last glimpse of summer wildflowers was quite the welcome surprise. After deciding on a reasonable spot to setup the tent, we ambled off in the real direction of the river, both to actually find it this time, evaluate fishing opportunities, as well as load up and filter some water. The meadow was higher, so after descending a game trail we found, and crashing through the brush, we entered a lush soggy meadow and eventually found ourselves on the river bank of the slowly flowing, lazy river that meandered through meadows. Filled only with small brook trout, fishing was decided against but water was filtered and returning to complete camp setup for the night, dinner was had – a fire considered but decided against on this mild evening, and much time was spent relaxing, taking photos, and watching the moon rise, set, and stargazing as the show emerged overhead in force while elk bugled in the distance. Eventually we all piled into our trusty Tarptent Hogback for the night. The next morning after a night well above freezing the elk were again bugling at sunrise, more water was filtered, camp dismantled, and packs shouldered as we made our way back to the trail and eventually the trailhead again. Although a short and easy trip, it was a trip that easily fell together and was easily accomplished and all at a great spot – sometimes just what you need – and with one last glimpse of summer to boot. And best of all, now we know even more than the map at first reveals.
  28. Hello From CNY/VA

    Hi I’m Cam, recently I’ve been trying to get more into hiking and outdoor rec. I’ve always been the “live vicariously through someone” kind of person and I’ve decided it’s time to live vicariously through myself. I’m here to get advice and learn from ya’ll!
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