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Dear PCT Class of 2019

I’m getting ready to go on a hike of my own, but I wanted to drop you a note to let you know it’s still snowing in the High Sierra. My 2017 blog post “Dear PCT Class of 2017” with tips about snow travel and whatnot definitely, definitely applies, since we got more snow (* see footnotes) this year than we did overwinter 2016/2017. I spent the winter shoveling, plowing, skiing, and snowshoeing in the Sierra, and I’ll tell you what: nobody who knows anything about avalanches or snow conditions (in brief, they suck) is going back there behind the Crest right now. I hope you read my 2017 letter and do all the other research and preparation you can, and don’t rush a thing. There are a lot of us who are very concerned for your safety. Remember that Leave No Trace (LNT) ethic isn’t… continue reading

Hayduke Trail Maps & Resources

Maps

1) Caltopo map of all Hayduke sections, with notes, separable and exportable:

Hayduke Sections 1-7 Hayduke Sections 8-14

These tracks were carefully retraced and will provide decent distance and elevation profiles, in case you need that data. The track stays in wash beds and on trail/road when available. Very few short sections are actual bushwhacks where you will need advanced route-finding skills. Very much of the trail can be short-cutted using well-established desire paths (game trails, use paths, etc), but the GPS tracks I’ve made stick to washes these shortcuts typically avoid. There are several reliable water sources not mentioned elsewhere, and other notes, and so it is worth scanning through. Export the parts of this map you wish to use, and import into your own Caltopo map — or straight into your GPS device. Like many other backpackers and explorers, continue reading

New flooring for Chief Pete

In March, I undertook installing the 9-piece Vanagon carpet set I purchased from Sew Fine in January. Even though new carpet was a must for sanitary and health reasons, I was really nervous about this change for a few reasons. I was scared of what I would find under the carpet, and I was not sure how well the carpet would fit. Also, I was disappointed with the quality of the carpet when it arrived. I almost returned it because it felt cheap and I can’t see it lasting in a vehicle application. As I’ve seen stated elsewhere on the Internet, the replacement carpet available for Vanagons is nowhere as nice as the original. I’ve also heard it said by install pros who use Sew Fine that it takes a ton of patience, fussing, and glue to get this carpet installed.

Sew Fine states that the carpet is a direct… continue reading

Colorado River: 1, Me: 0

It was funny that just as I got back to Flagstaff after a 20-day float of the Colorado River, and was scrambling to get home after having lost my iPhone and wallet in the River, that I discovered I was chosen to write for the Listserve.

The Listserve is your chance to write an email to a million people. I’ve been a member of the Listserve for several years, and while frankly I don’t read all the emails, the ones I do read are charming and provide perspective for the day. I wondered when I would be chosen, but really I wondered if I’d already been chosen and missed my “You’ve won the Listserve!” email.

I almost missed the “You’ve won the Listserve!” email. With 72 hours to respond, I had already missed 70. I had two hours to write my email to a million… continue reading

Hayduke Trail Map

Hello.

I’m the nut who thru-hiked the Hayduke Trail twice, two years in a row, once in each direction, solo. You can see some of my pictures here, my tips here, and my 2017 trail thanks here. Many of my photos were posted in-the-moment on Instagram (@puppyhikes).

Before I hiked it the first time, I made my own maps. After I hiked it the second time, I had quite a few corrections to my own maps, and tips to share for people wanting to hike it.

Whereas this is a difficult route as far as way-finding and sometimes terrain go, I think people can make it a whole lot more difficult for themselves if they are following the wrong track, obsessing over GPS rather than ground and terrain. I have done this, and imagine if one chose the wrong track over and over,… continue reading

Hayduke Trail Tips

These are organized section by section, east to west. I’ll probably add a few more things as they pop into my head, but these are the ones that stood out today. All things that weren’t obvious to me at first…

Section 1

Get the Hayduke Trail book. Read it. Carry it (I, uh, photographed every page and stored it on my phone). I’ve read every sentence in this book at least five times. There’s a lot buried in there. You need it.

Make sure to check out my extremely detailed Hayduke maps. Learn more about how to use them here.

Ok, ready?

Get ready for shoes full of sand, and then wet shoes.

Use the waypoint in my Caltopo map (38.7389, -109.6352, near mile 7.5) to find the corner of the fence you will be following south, and stay close to the fence. I… continue reading

Post-Hayduke Thank Yous

Hi! Whew! Yesterday I finished my last long hike of the 2017: my second thru-hike of the Hayduke Trail. The Hayduke is a scenic but very tricky route that goes through Utah, dipping into Arizona to hit all the iconic Colorado Plateau parks. I loved it the first time and immediately upon finishing decided I’d do it again. I was going to hike it in the Spring but things came up (other hikes, taxes, volunteering, work, boys).

I figured I could really switch it up by not only Hayduking in the other direction (eastbound), but Hayduking in the fall. I hiked every day except 4 days between September 22 through November 16, trying to finish before snows. Those days got so short and the nights got cold here and there, but otherwise it was a dream. Just me, trudging thru sand, down wet river beds and dry washes, up and… continue reading

Westfalia front end werk

This summer while a friend was driving my van through Yosemite to fetch me on the West side, my blower fan seized. He said he almost had a heart attack as my dash smoked and threatened to catch fire. (A reminder why all drivers should carry fire extinguishers.)

“It’s ok. No big deal. It’s a cheap part,” I reassured him.

But I knew the truth. The time has finally come for the dreaded Vanagon dash removal. The only way to replace the heater fan is to remove the entire dash, which means disconnecting all the wiring, removing the steering wheel, and worse, somehow opening the stubborn clam of a heater box. No big deal. Once my friend returned home to the Midwest I took on the project. It was actually a good thing because it meant I could finally also tackle the windshield leak. Might as well put in… continue reading

french spring trail flowers

Little Update

I aborted my big Spring thru hike because of weather and taxes. Meh.

Instead, I finished a solo tour of old mines in the Inyo mountain range of central California west of Death Valley. The “Lonesome Miner Trail” — what the late Wendell Moyer* called it — is 40-50 miles of rough, hard-to-follow disused trail involving somewhere near 17,000 vertical feet of elevation gain/loss.

More PCT high snow tips

In my last feverish post, I totally missed some really good points about hiking in snow – really crucial stuff like navigation. A 2011 nobo thru-hiker made me aware right away (but doesn’t necessarily want to be credited).

So without further ado here are more tips from someone who has gone through the difficult and uncomfortable, but very survivable process of trudging through the High Sierra in a high snow year:

“GPS/phone = major time saver. THERE IS NO TRAIL. Forget the trail being avalanched away. It’s just not there” (until many people walk it first). Learn how to read a map and navigate by it (that is an invaluable link to a precious map-reading resource, BTW). “Carry a paper map back up, because you know, if your GPS takes a dive in a stream crossing… Navigating in trees as you get further north… continue reading

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