Lessons Learned

Mt Marcy after 30 days of rain; bring your gaiters and keep your sleeping bag dry.
The episode know as The Summer Time Slosh was one of the craziest experiences of my life. It had rained in the Northeast for 30 straight days. In addition to the snow melt, our July 4th trip turned into one of the wettest, coldest, most uncomfortable experiences on a trail. We were wet and cold all night, mostly because we had neglected to bring something to keep our bags dry. The lesson here is to be prepared to keep dry at all times. And don't ever forget to bring your gaiters!

Rushing at altitude
Never rush to do ANYTHING at altitude. If you forgot your hat, or your gloves, or need to pee one last time...just relax and take your time. They can wait. And if not, you'll catch up eventually. But if you rush, your heart rate will sky rocket and you'll be done before you even started.

Working out at altitude
Never go to the gym in Park City, Utah or Keystone, Colorado, or any other place at a reasonably high altitude. Skiing or boarding is more than enough. Surprisingly enough, I needed to learn how seriouls altitude was twice!

Fix blisters before they start
If you are on a multi day dtrenuous hike, attend to your blisters before they become one. The minute you feel a hot spot, stop, take off your boots and socks, dry the area, and put on some moleskin. Blisters will ruin a good hike, for you and your group.

Bring plenty of snacks for the mountain
If you don't like the meal that night, you are still ok. And when you are tired of eating the same old thing every day, you've got your favorite snacks.

Don't sweat in your sleeping bag
The point of a sleeping bag is to stay warm and toasty without getting too hot and starting to sweat. The minute you do, you'll wake up, open your bag to cool off, quicker than expected get cold, and then wake up having caught a cold. I always wear a hat and layer just like I would for hiking. That way if I get hot in the middle of the night, I can just take off a shirt or socks and regulate my temp that way.

Be cold standing around so you dont overheat on the trail
If you are not shivering or at least a little cold when you are standing around before a trek, hike, climb, or ride, you are overdressed and need to remove a layer.

If you're sweating on a trek, remove layers
If you are sweating on a trek, you are overderessed. Remove some layers and you will be in a better position to not only enjoy the hike, but also to keep from overheating.

90 % of your heat is in your head
To keep it in, cover your dome. To let it out, uncover it!

Food is a nice to have, water is a need to have
If you are treking for multiple days, make sure you have enough water. If you are planning on obtaining water from a stream or spring, plan as if the source may be dry. If not, you'll still be ok. Theres nothing worse than expecting to be able to fill up your two water bottles for the next 2 days, and having to reverse course because the spring at the end of the first day is dry and you can't take a chance of going on with only 1 liter of water cfo 20 miles or more.

Throat Coat
I had a sore throat at Mount Washington. I sucked on one of these lozenges before going to bed and when I woke up, I almost felt like I never had a sore throat at all.

Turn Around Time
When you are on a mountain, you should always have a turn around time. This is especially true of a killer mountain such as Mount Washington.

Airports and TSA
If you have an ice axe, crampons or some other technical rock climbing or alpine mountaineering item in your bags, it is imperitive to get to the airport the full suggested 2 hours prior to your flight. Failure to get in with the suigested time and those items in the bags will almost certainly get your baggage delayed and not on the flight you are on.

Boots need enough space for toes
I learned this lesson the hard way when on my orizaba trip, my feet were freezing cold on the way up, and my toes got beat to death on the way down!

Storing and Packing Gear

Storing is actually the forgotten first part of packing.  Most of the stuff you will be taking to adventure travel destinations are not every day use itmes. In fact, unless you live in Alaska, or are a full time mountaineering guide, that ice axe you need for your weekend winter climb of Mt Washington will be hanging up in your attic, shed or packed in a box somewhere in your basement. 

The key to smart storage is a system.  The more sports you are involved with (or the more you travel, play, etc.), the more effective your system needs to be. 

I know plastic is an environmental killer, but for storage of my gear, it’s a life saver.  I store my gear in 3 main places.

In all 3 cases, I have 2 sizes of gear. 

Frequency of use
The other dimension is frequency of use.  The most frequently used items go in the bat cave and the front of the shed.  The least frequently used items go in the attic and the back of the shed. 

For instance, my bikes go in the front (actually hang from rafters) of the shed because I actually ride a good amount in the spring and summer. However, my white water kayak, which sadly I must admit has very few hours of use so far, is lodged in the back corner where a 15 minute session of reorganization is required to free it.

Storing by Sport
The other method I use is storing items, as much as possible, by sport. This can be tricky because more easily to cross sport gear usage. In general, I store items more specific to an individual sport in a bin labeled for that sport, i.e. scuba.  Typically, the stuff is just thrown in there because I need all or most of it to do anything.  All of my diving equipment is in its own box and pretty much doesn’t get pulled out unless im diving. 

My trekking items, however, are used for rock climbing, hiking, mountaineering, and even just general travel.  So that stuff doesn’t get broken down into footwear, bags and packs, clothing and then other accessories. 

Snowboarding, which is in the middle, is still just thrown in the bucket, but with the most cross sport useful stuff (like gloves, hats and knee and wrist guards,etc) kept at the top, more readily available. 

Gear Lists
Once You’ve got your stuff stored, when you have a trip approaching, you need to determine what you have versus what you don’t, and then cross reference that with what you need , what you want, and what you don’t need for the trip.

Incedently, that was one of the reasons I started my gear section of my websites.  Although it serves as a list to tell others what I used, it more importantly, inventories all my stuff.  In the last few years, I’ve bought quite a lot.

I have 3 classes of gear lists

Lightweight backpacking: rigginig up a framestay
I never really understood exactly what I was paying for in these expensive packs until I ended up in the grand canyon with a lightweight backpack with no frame stay and 45 pounds of gear on my back. I couldn't take it anymore. I would have never made it through to the end of the hike if i didn't do something. I ended up rigging a makeshift framestay out of my tentpoles. They worked great.

Your headlamp is extremely important on summit day
Double and triple check to make sure you have brought your head lamp on the summit day! Having to rely on your camp mates to shine their light for you or to borrow it so you can trapse over to the bathroom (designated tree hole 50 yards from camp) is not a fun time.

Newspaper stuffed in wet boots is like magic
It helps to dry them 300% faster and keeps the mildew mod smell out. It's amazing.

Keep dry in downpours
Keep jacket cuffs tight
Keep hood cinched down tight over a cap with a bill
Keep your rain pants over your gaiters, especially in wet brush or grass
Stay dry from the inside by staying cool and not over heating. Slow pace and shed layers.

Know the rattlesnakes disposition
Coiled with tail parallel to the ground - he's just chillin
Colied with tail in the air - he's looking for food
Head up with rattle up and body off the ground - Ready to strike so get back

Don't put bananas in your pack
You are bound to forget about them, and by the time you remember they will be charcoal black and oozing like a burst blister all over your precious gear.

Wear it wet to get it dry
When it’s cold and wet, the only way to dry your wet stuff is to suck it up and wear it. Laying it out without any sun won’t work.  Put it on with a shell layer over top and your body heat will dry it out. 

In the Pacific Northwest always check your shoes for slugs
Apparently, there are a variety of slugs known as the European garden Slug that someone from Europe populated the trail with years ago, and now have taken over.  They are everywhere. Invasive European Black Slug  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fjFNKU6g6Pg

Always bring stomach ailment meds 
They are required objects to be included in the pack, even when trying to go ultralight. 

Bring TP on the plane
Pack TP in the bag from home, because invariably I will forget it once I get  to my destination and usually forget to procure it on the trip as well.

Buy a waterproof camera case
When cameras get wet, the lens tends to fog up and then they tend to take shitty pictures.  



"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."    — Robert A. Heinlein

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