Sunday, December 4, 2011

it is skysunday

post the glacier point sky?


Dan Mitchell

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

My 'REAL' Blog is Back in Business

I recently encountered some technical problems on my long-standing dan's outside blog which forced me to temporarily post here while I investigated alternative hosting options. I have now moved that blog to a new hosting service and I think I'll put a hold on updates here for now. 

So, please visit...

If you have been reading this site at blogspot please wander on over to to see the "real thing," and subscribe to the RSS feed once you get there.


- Dan


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Tuolumne Campground Opens

Yosemite Blog reports:

Tuolumne Campground Opens for Season - Tuolumne campground is now open and in operation. Sites are available on a first come-first served basis until July 14th when 1/2 the campground will be open for reservations.
Looks like good timing since I'll have some time during the first weeks of July.


Monday, June 11, 2007

A Backpack for Your Backpack

I saw post at Trailcraft today about the idea of taking a daypack along on your pack trips. This is not as wacky an idea as it might seem, at least if you take a few layover days and explore the surrounding terrain.

I used to carry pretty heavy "old school" internal frame packs. (Before that I used to carry really old school external frame packs, but that ancient history is a story for another time.) My favorite from that era was my gigantic Mountainsmith Crestone II - a capacious single compartment pack that was excellent in every way... except that it weighed around seven pounds. One nice feature of this pack - a brilliant feature, actually - was that the large top pocket converted into a functional fanny pack that could be used to haul just enough gear on most day trips away from base camp.

After I finally "saw the lite" and began to move to lighter equipment I picked up my current favorite pack, the Mountainsmith Auspex. Although not a true ultralight pack, it is about half the weight of the Crestone II. Its capacity is smaller, but sufficient for multi-day trips. Much of the weight savings comes from simplification (no side pockets, etc.) and lighter materials, but it still has an excellent, fully padded suspension system. When pressed, it can handle significantly more weight than the lightest ultra-light packs.

This pack is easily roomy enough for a 5+ day trip, but beyond that things get tight. Fortunately, Mountainsmith produce a small, attachable companion pack, the Boogeyman. It weighs in at only 1 pound, has a minimal but decent set of shoulder straps, and attaches nicely to the back of the Auspex. It is truly a minimal pack, though made of decently sturdy material matching the Auspex - there are not pockets whatsoever and a no stiffeners. But it is sufficient for summer day hikes away from camp since it can handle extra clothes, food and water, and a few other essentials.

It attaches to the back of the Auspex in a somewhat cumbersome manner, but it nicely extends the capacity of the pack such that I've done trips of up to 9 days with this setup and I think I could go longer. (I'll find out this summer on a 10-12 day trip in the southern Sierra.)

Unfortunately, the Boogeyman pack is no longer made, and I'm not sure that the Auspex is around any longer either. But there are other similar options out there that work more or less the same way, and I can report that it is a good strategy for both extending the range of your lightweight backpack and for carrying gear away from base camp.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Random Collection of Weekend Stuff

Outdoorsy thoughts on this early June weekend... that I'm spending indoors.

  • About that "indoors" business... Two factors are conspiring to keep me inside on this beautiful feels-like-summer spring weekend. First, we're nearing the end of the term at the college where I teach and the grading and other work has been stacking up. So this weekend I did a grading marathon (almost finished!) and took care of some of the other administrative tasks needing attention. I thought I might get out for at least a brief urban hike, but alas.
  • Two of my kids are graduating during the next week - a daughter from college (Go Kelsey!) and a son from high school (Go Jameson!) - so I'll be spending a lot of time on related family stuff during the next few weeks. It's all good!
  • The foregoing aside, school is out at the end of June and then the summer is mine!
Meanwhile, in the blogging world...
  • Tom at Two-Heel Drive posts another dry run for one of his upcoming articles in the Mercury-News this one about hiking at big basin state park. His newspaper articles tend to be quite short, so catch the pre-story at his site - it is more extensive and includes a lot of photographs...

  • Speaking of which, Tom's photography has really improved a lot. I enjoyed his trail snap shots from the beginning, but his recent photographs have become quite nice as photography. Nice work, Tom!
OK, I'm done now. Back to grading. :-)


Saturday, June 9, 2007

What is Fun?

A post at my favorite oboe player's blog got me thinking about the notion of fun today and why I love to do things that are sometimes quite hard and challenging:

I don't always go to movies to have fun. I don't go to concerts to have fun either. I have fun when I go to Disneyland. (And I admit I love Disneyland ... sorry to those of you who don't get it! I become a little kid the minute I walk through that gate!)

I go to movies, concerts and operas to be moved. I go to learn something new. I go to somehow be changed. I go for a variety of reasons, but fun isn't usually one of them. (Okay, maybe when I go to see goofy movies, but those are fairly rare for me.)

I want to be left with something when I am done with whatever event I'm attending. I love it when, days later, I'm still thinking about what I saw or heard. And I want to feel something ... even if it's anger. I don't like to walk away thinking, "Whatever" or "So what?"
It occurs to me that is pretty much why I'm willing to carry a large, heavy backpack up and down over high and difficult mountain passes, sometimes for more than a week at a time. If the definition of fun is "smiling broadly or laughing outloud because, gee, I'm just plain having a good old time," then backpacking, most of the time, doesn't qualify. (Though sometimes, with the right group of friends, sitting around in the evening doing whatever it is we do does qualify as plain old fun!)

But the experiences do teach me (often about myself), move me, stay on my mind, and most certainly leave me changed in ways that are worth any amount of sweat and pain.

Well, almost any amount... :-)


Two Riders, Calero Hills

Two Riders, Calero Hills

Two Riders. Calero Hills, California. June 2, 2007. © Copyright G Dan Mitchell.