Friday, February 9, 2007

by way of explanation

A little background will help you understand some of the terminology and equipment that I use, and the passion for long-distance hiking that drives me.

My love for long-distance hiking began in my teens. In 1976 my father led our family on a hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. We took the Bright Angel trail from the North Rim of the canyon, a hike of 13.6 miles from rim to Phantom Ranch. We spent two nights at Phantom Ranch and hiked out on the third day. Though it was an extremely tough climb, it is forever etched in my memory. Many of the lessons learned from that experience, such as water management, dealing with heat, with altitude, and with pain, are lessons that are still applied today.

Other family vacations involved hikes of varying degrees as well, though the Grand Canyon was the ultimate. I lost touch with hiking for a number of years, but always day-dreamed about it.
In 1991 the excitement for hiking was re-kindled. A good friend of mine went with me on a hike high in Rocky Mountain National Park. That account will soon follow.
In 1996, I moved with my family to the state of Idaho. This is a hiker's paradise. Over the last several years, I have experienced much of what my new adopted home state has to offer, and I have only begun to scratch the surface.
A few of my earliest hikes in the mountains involved heavy backpacks. Through those struggles, I came to realize I needed to change my style of hiking. In 2003 I encountered the topic of "ultra-light" hiking, and discovered Ray Jardine's book called "Beyond Backpacking: A Guide to Ultra-Light Hiking." I learned new techniques for cutting down on carried weight, and my backpacking mileage has soared in the last two years.
My first home-made pack was sewn by my wife, following the pattern in Jardine's book, using specialty nylon fabrics. I decided to give the resulting product a name, based upon my humorous fascination with llamas. I call it "The Llamanator." She also made an ultralight sleeping quilt for me, and I named that quilt "Llama-Hyde." Then I made a hiking staff out of PVC pipe and I named that POLAMA. No, the nice men from the home haven't come for me (yet) with the strait-jacket to put me in the rubber room! It's just all in fun, so please bear with me and laugh along.
Now you will know what I'm talking about when I use these terms.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

All that llama talk makes me want to ask...do you watch the kids cartoon Jimmy Neutron...doesn't his friend Carl like llamas?

Andrew