Dan's Outside

I go, I see, I do, I walk, I think, I like…

Gear Lust Becomes Gear Disappointment

(An old article – posted here so as not to lose it during the site transition.)

At Two-Heel Drive, Tom writes:

Fed up with buyer’s remorse. Something that occurred to me over the weekend: Almost every piece of gear I’ve ever bought has turned out to be the wrong thing. Tents, packs, sleeping bags/pads, you name it. They serve their purpose but are always flawed — primarily in comparison to some other piece of gear which has the attributes my gear lacks. … [Two-Heel Drive]

A rainy weekend pack trip seems to have provoked Tom’s Monday morning philosophizing – he was not completely dry and he found himself pondering the various gear options he might have resorted to – follow the link to read his piece.

Two interesting topics come up in his post: gear lust and expectations. I think almost all of us who hike, packpack, ski and so forth succumb to gear lust on a regular basis. There is always some piece of gear out there that is too cool to resist, some new piece of equipment that promises to improve our experience, an answer to a long-standing problem, or something that simply looks to be well-designed. I can report that, for me at least, the affliction never seems to go away completely, but it does moderate somewhat over time.

Tom also touches on the issues of what sort of performance we can really expect from our equipment. To read advertising copy one might imagine that with a particular tent, shell, pair of socks and so forth that one will be able to stay dry and warm all the time. Sorry, but it just isn’t so.

When it rains you will get wet, and when it snows you will have to deal with cold. Its not so much that your gear will make the difficult, uncomfortable, or risky conditions disappear – rather it is that you can draw the line between comfort and disaster a bit closer to the comfort zone.

I’ve been rained on quite a few times while on the trail. The difference between me – when I’m equipped properly – and someone who is less welll equipped (and perhaps less experienced) is that I may only get damp while they might get soaked; I may react to the cold sooner. If I get a little damp, I have strategies for minimizing the consequences and for drying out.

On the other hand, Tom does intend to try to get a handle on gear lust for awhile, and that is a good thing. (Though, Tom, what was that about a bicycle? :-)



April 17, 2007 Posted by | Commentary | Comments Off on Gear Lust Becomes Gear Disappointment

Prime Time for Waterfalls?

(An old article – posted here so as not to lose it during the site transition.)

Seen at Yosemite Blog:

The Modesto Bee: “With his camera perched on a tripod and pointed at Yosemite Falls, Vaughn Hutchins didn’t have to think very long when asked about the perfect time to photograph one of North America’s tallest waterfalls.

‘Right now,’ he said Thursday, glancing at the puffy, wind-blown clouds drifting elegantly in and out of Yosemite Valley.

Hutchins, 52, of Eureka and many other Yosemite aficionados know the waterfalls are peaking more than a month early this year because of the skimpy snowpack.

Indeed, this may be the earliest peak since 1919 for 2,425-foot Yosemite Falls, say park officials.

Their message to Yosemite fans: Don’t wait until Memorial Day to see the falls this year.”

Sounds like it may be time for my annual Yosemite Valley waterfall pilgrimage sooner rather than later.

Timing visits to the Valley falls is an interesting subject. I’ve seen many people in the Valley later in the summer – July, August, and even September – who were disappointed to find that the falls did not look like what they had seen in photographs. In my experience, typical years bring the most impressive display in May and perhaps the beginning of June, though this can vary quite a bit. In very wet years the display can last longer, and this year I think that later than May will be too late. (Not that there aren’t plenty of other reasons to visit the Valley…)

One issue to keep in mind is that some of the falls, in particular Yosemite Fall and Bridalveil Fall, are fed by runoff from relatively low basins just north and south of the Valley. The snow melts out of these mid-elevation areas surprisingly early, and is often almost completely gone before the peak season begins. (Nevada and Vernal Falls are fed by the Merced River, which has its source at the Sierra crest.)

Not so well known to Valley visitors is the fact that there can be some very beautiful seasonal falls much earlier in the season, particularly during late winter and early spring melt periods. These occur as the low level snow melt reaches its peak.

With luck, you may find me in the Valley soon trying to catch this years likely-fleeting waterfall display.

April 17, 2007 Posted by | Yosemite | Comments Off on Prime Time for Waterfalls?

Monitor Pass, Clouds

MonitorPassCloudsBW2007|04|04: Monitor Pass, Clouds. Alpine County, California. April 4, 2007. © "Copyright G Dan Mitchell". ("sales") keywords: monitor pass clouds alpine county california black and white photograph

Monitor Pass, Clouds. Alpine County, California. April 4, 2007. © Copyright G Dan Mitchell. (Sales)


April 17, 2007 Posted by | Sierra Nevada | Comments Off on Monitor Pass, Clouds


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