Here is the new patio all laid out and leveled:
Archive for June, 2009
To prepare for the Smith Rock trip, Paula and I picked up a pair of Camelbak Better Bottles. Last time we went to Smith Rock, we were just checking things out, and took a mini-hike, so we did not come prepared with water, among other things. It was pretty hot that day, so we wanted to make sure that we had plenty of water when we did the full hike. So, this time around, we wanted to make sure we had the right gear for the job.
Carrying water is a pain in the butt. I wanted to find a water solution that used carabiners, so I could simply clip the water to my belt or day backpack and have my hands free to use the camera, climb or read a map–just not carry the water. Our first stop was at Sportsman’s Warehouse, where we found the Camelbak Better Bottle. We also ended up at REI where we also found these bottles, but we had already purchased them. We did end up purchasing some smaller carabiner-based water bottle holders, so you could take a store-bought bottle and clip them onto a rubber loop, so we decided to test those alongside the Camelbak Better Bottle.
It has a nice nose with a hole to put a large carabiner through. It also has a long straw that hits the bottom of the bottle for drinking. The bottle’s mouth is very wide, allowing me to first fill the bottle with ice and then fill the remaining space with water, allowing me to keep the water cold longer. The bottle’s plastic is apparently BPA free, which is also good. The Camelbak Better Bottle is also really sturdy and durable, as it did not break despite being dropped on the Big Obsidian Flow, and banged around on Smith Rock.
The Camelbak’s competitor, the lame carabiner water bottle clip with generic store-bought water, failed to meet my expectations, breaking almost immediately on Crater Lake. I’m glad “do not use for climbing” was etched on, because it barely clipped on to my belt for 10 minutes before the movable metal piece snapped. Fortunately, I was able to dump the generic store-bought water into the Camelbak bottle and proceed with my hike.
The Camelbak Better Bottle is available from the online retailers below:
Today’s Gear Review is about the Exofficio ExO Dri Men’s Tee Shirt. Paula bought this shirt for me from REI, although it is also available directly from Exofficio and probably other places, too.
She bought th ExO Dri shirt because I was looking for a shirt that I could wear on a trip to work on a hardware and software implementation at the Motosport Distribution Center in Southaven, Mississippi. During previous implementations in the middle of the summer, with the 100+ Mississippi heat and 90+% humidity, I found myself drenched in sweat, so I asked Paula to find me a shirt that I could comfortably wear in the middle of the desert to fight off the heat but also had wicking action to combat the humidity.
On my most recent trip, I put the Exofficio ExO Dri to the test. The heat was in the upper 90′s outside, with high humidity, but the ExO Dri let the breeze through and let the moisture evaporate easily, keeping me relatively comfortable. Inside the distribution center, however, there was increased humidity and heat. Working atop the scissor lift, I got extremely hot and sweaty despite the shirt, but, to my surprise, upon returning to the ground level and outside, the shirt dried out very quickly, making me very comfortable.
However, you are probably not reading this to find out whether or not it works in a Distribution Center environment. Well, you’re in luck! The Exofficio ExO Dri shirt went on my latest trip out to Eastern Oregon and took to the trails at East Lake and the Lava Cast Forest. The temperature was warm, but was not extremely humid. The ExO Dri kept me cool and dry as advertised. The shirt is also extremely lightweight yet durable. Unlike other shirts with wicking action, the ExO Dri does not have any mesh, making it very comforatable to wear even on days where the temperature is under control.
ExOfficio states on their website: “The ExO Dri Short-Sleeve Tee will keep you comfortable and odor-free in any environment. Gear up with this innovative Dri-Release fabric that dries quickly, resists odors, protects from the sun’s harmful rays and pairs perfectly with every active adventure. ExOfficio clothing field-tested and approved by the African Wildlife Foundation.”
The ExO Dri’s fabric does dry quickly and odor resistant, but it only keeps you as odor free as your deodorant or anti-perspirant does. As a result, one should not rely on the ExO Dri alone to keep you odor-free.
One other item that I’d like to point out for all the male readers out there. Paula reports that this shirt really makes me look skinny and look good. If you’re like me, and need all the help you can get, how can you pass up the ExO Dri. It’s a stylish, yet comfortable way to keep cool.
The Exofficio ExO Dri Short Sleeve Tee Shirt is available from the retailers below:
100 Hikes in the Central Oregon Cascades by William Sullivan is a great book that outlines some of the better hikes in a given area. This book covers the area between Salem to Highway 97 all the way south to Eugene and Diamond Peak. Some of the key areas areas are hikes in the Santiam Foothills, Mount Jefferson, the Bend Area, The Three Sisters, the McKenzie Foothills and Willamette Pass.
One of my favorite aspects of Sullivan’s books is the fact that he lists the distance of each hike in terms of round-trip, or a loop. This makes it very convenient for weekend warriors to just get out there and hike, as you don’t need to coordinate two cars or a pickup at the end of a trail. Trails that do require a second pickup are clearly noted.
Another element that I enjoy is the additional options sections on many hikes. There can be side trails off main trails that can make an otherwise short hike longer or more scenic. Paula and I have been known to hike some of the longer, easy trails and then get to a point where we can extend it onto a moderate section, using the hiking options section. It is a convenient size to stuff into my day pack and reference while on the trail.
For each of the hikes, Sullivan rates the hikes as Easy, Moderate and Difficult, depending on different criteria:
- Easy Hikes are generally between 2 and 7 miles round trip and gain less than 1000 feet in elevation. They are generally not extremely steep or remote and are good hikes for novices. These hikes are also very good day trip, or half-day trips, as the weekend warrior can just put on their boots and go without planning well in advance. These hikes are generally extremely well marked.
- Moderate Hikes are generally between 4 and 10 miles round-trip. Some of the longer hikes are flatter, but the shorter trails are steeper, about 2000 feet of elevation increase. Sometimes, you even need to search for trailheads and turnoffs, so you want to be aware. Lastly, Sullivan recommends hikers be in generally good physical condition to do these hikes.
- Difficult Hikes are 8 to 15 miles round trip and can vary 3000 or more feet. These are pretty demanding hikes.
Each hike also lists the elevation gains on the hikes, the time of year the trail is open (some Oregon hikes are closed for the winter) and the Map that the trail can be found in. In addition, details about whether the hike is suitable for children, mountain bikes and horses are also disclosed
For the Top 100 Hikes, Sullivan also includes a hand-drawn map of the area and the hike, with key points and landmarks on the hike outlined. While they are informal, they are very accurate, and Paula and I have done many hikes following Sullivan’s books and lived to tell about it.
Finally, at the very end of the book, there is a section for some handicapped-accessible hikes in the area, as well as 100 MORE hikes in the area. These hikes have short descriptions on where they are located, the difficulty rating and other important details, but no hand-drawn maps.
Paula and I actually met William Sullivan at the Oregon State Fair in 2007, and have two autographed books by him.
Some of the hikes from this book that Paula and I have done are:
- Silver Creek Falls
- Opal Creek
- Iron Mountain
- Cascadia Park
- Metolius River
- Bend Lava Caves
- Lava Cast Forest and Cave
- Paulina Creek Falls
- Obsidian Flow and the Dome
- Smith Rock
- Sahalie and Koosah Falls
- Mount Pisgah
- Salt Creek Falls
If you have read or used this book, please feel free to write some commentary below.
100 Hikes in the Central Oregon Cascades by William Sullivan can be purchased at the retailers listed below.
After a philosophical discussion with Jarrod, I determined that WordPress was at least worth a try rather than relying solely on handcrafted HTML. So, here’s its shot.
If you’re walking out in the desert, keep an eye out in case you spot a fox, or step on a scorpion!