Thursday, October 29, 2015

Mindshift Panorama 180 Backpack Review

Published on

Hiking gear problems have long been an obsession for me. Aching shoulders? Add some padding. Extra weight banging on the back of my pack? Get a bigger one and put everything inside. Everything soaked after a day of hiking in the rain? Carry a hiking umbrella. But one problem I hadn’t been able to solve was how to safely and comfortably carry my DSLR.
In my basement, I have a box of rejected camera bags. I have a sling bag that holds the camera gear, but little else. I have a small, over the shoulder bag that holds only the camera, but can be worn with a backpack on. It generally results in an aching neck after a day out hiking. I have tried hiking with this bag stuffed in a rucksack or backpack, but it is impossible to take it out for a quick shot. I kept imagining a bag that would ride comfortably on my back, with room for extra gear and somehow be easy to access, and thought I would never find one. Enter the Mindshift Panorama 180. Read more.....

Monday, September 14, 2015

Mt. Rainier Northern Traverse

Published at

Standing high above the White River, I gazed up at the looming heights of the Willis Wall, a vast snow encrusted cliff of black rock towering over verdant mountain slopes. Every now and again, a stream of ice would come tumbling down its flanks, adding to the frozen river that is the Carbon Glacier. Despite the magnificence of our location, the view was not so lovely as to lessen the trepidation brought on by the lateness of the hour and the length we had yet to go to reach that night’s camp. That our campsite was visible, only a few miles’ distance as the crow flies, did not lift our weary hearts. For though the waters of Lake James sparkled tantalizingly in the distance, between us and its azure surface lay the shadowy depths of the valley below. Read More.......

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Vibrobarefoot Trail Freak hiking shoe review

Article published on

Upon initial inspection, the Vivobarefoot Trail Freak looks like just a water shoe; colorful, flexible and breathable – unlike any hiking shoe I’ve ever worn. When first trying them out, I felt as though I was walking around with nothing but thick socks on my feet! The Trail Freak is truly fundamentally different from what many of us have come to expect in a shoe. Read More.......

Friday, May 1, 2015

Wildflowers and Waterfalls in the Columbia Gorge

Published at
I’m an impatient hiker; I don’t care for the long wait till the snow melts and flowers bloom in the high country. When the first warm sunlight of spring breaks through the rain clouds of winter, I want to hit the trail, and not the dim forest paths to which I have been restricted throughout the winter. To get my fix of open air, wide views, flowers, falls and bright sunshine there is but one destination that beckons: the Columbia Gorge. Read More.........

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Spring flowers

Maple Flowers
Spring is here! A joyful cry for all who have longed for the color rushing through the land in a tide of green leaves and rainbow blossoms. Though the height of the spring bloom has not yet showered us with its most spectacular display, the first flowers have risen from the mud like the vanguard of some sylvan army.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Saddle Mountain

Published at
Ascend to alpine prairies and far ranging views atop Saddle Mountain, the highest and most northerly summit of the Oregon Coast Range.


Monday, March 30, 2015

What's in a name - Volcanoes of the Pacific Northwest

Mt. Rainier
A controversy that has swirled, mist-like, about the peaks and valleys from Oregon to Alaska is that of the names of the great mountains that stand like guardian angels over the forests and fields of the Pacific Northwest. Christened with the names of admirals, presidents, and close friends by European explorers, there have always been a few who have argued that these mountains should instead be referred to by their original monikers given to them by the local tribes that inhabited the region before the pioneers.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Silver Falls State Park

Published at
This is the time of year when most residents of the Pacific Northwest turn their minds towards escape. The damp, dreary months of winter bring thoughts of trips to Hawaii to the minds of cabin fevered lovers of the great outdoors. But I say, rather than run from the precipitation exuding from the sky and the land all around us, it’s time to embrace it. Resist the tourist covered sunny beaches, and head for the solitude of the rain forest. Forget an afternoon sunset watching ocean waves, and slip behind the cascading sheets of a raging waterfall. Abandon the glamour of a glitzy, full service, wallet-draining hotel, and discover the joy of a rustic log cabin with reduced rates and a tiny electric heater that feels better than all the sunshine in Hawaii after a day spent hiking in the drenching rain.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Juneuary at Mt. St. Helens

The unseasonably good weather here in SW Washington proved to be just too tempting yesterday. Despite the oppressive weight of the studying I needed to do for an upcoming economics test, I couldn't resist taking a break for a quick afternoon jaunt to Mt. St. Helens. It's been a spectacularly warm January, but even with the record breaking winter temperatures, I was shocked at how little snow there was on Mt. St. Helens and the mountains surrounding it. Even the region’s highest peaks, Coldwater, Whittier, Margaret, and Potato, retain little more than a few scattered snowfields. St. Helens itself has fared little better, and vast bare streaks extend far up its flanks. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

SOL Escape Lite Bivvy Review

 My review of the SOL Escape Lite Bivvy, Published in Seattle Backpackers Magazine
As the ice crinkled on my bag and water melted from around my face and dripped into my eyes, I pondered on the fantastic claims many gear manufacturers make about their excellent products.
The great paradox of backpacking gear has always been the balance between weight, comfort and durability; comfort and durability often equal bulk and weight, while a lack of weight and bulk often result in the sacrifice of comfort and durability. As I settled into the SOL (Survive Outdoors Longer) Escape Lite Bivvy, I hoped that, here, I would find an ideal balance of the three, but it turns out that – at least in this case – you can’t have your cake and eat it, too. Read more at:

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Adventures in deep snow with old gear

Until last year I had never been downhill skiing. The closest I had ever come had been an occasional jaunt in the woods on cross country skis; looking up at the ski hill, I would shake my head in wonder at the madness of people careening down mountains at breakneck speeds. In my mind, skiing was a hobby partaken of only by wealthy daredevils, and of course by my parents sometime in the ancient, hazy days of the 80s. That all changed with the watching of a broadcast of the 2014 Olympic winter games in Sochi, and my younger brother’s resulting fascination with winter sports. For several days of the games, he watched snowboarders twirl through the air, saw the challenge and the glory of the sport, and decided that was what he wanted to do. We decided to take to the slopes with him on skis to see what the allure of the tall mountain was.