Friday, November 29, 2013

Nights 330 - 332 - 33 nights to go!

Hi and welcome back!

Tuesday night: 32 degrees
Wednesday morning: 42 degrees
Wednesday night: 28 degrees
Thursday morning: 24 degrees
Hero 3 White
Thursday night: 28 degrees
Friday morning: 27 degrees

Not much has happened lately, except that today I got a GoPro!  I've been looking at all the different models, and I decided on the Hero 3 White.  It's the entry-level camera, but it's still really good.

As soon as we got home, I put one of the mounts on my ski helmet.  I didn't have another mount to put on my climbing helmet, so I took the strap off my headlamp and fed it through the camera's back panel.  Now I can wear it on my climbing helmet or just on my head.

I think I might make some videos of my usual hikes, and on some of the days when I can't post because we go skiing, I'll try to make videos of some of the runs.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Nights 328 and 329 - 36 nights to go!

Hi and welcome back!

Sunday night: 20 degrees
Monday morning: 18 degrees
Monday night: 30 degrees
Tuesday morning: 32 degrees

My big announcement is that the Royal Arches video went live on Mark and Janelle Smiley's website today!  I hope you like it and share it with your friends!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Nights 326 and 327 - 38 nights to go!

Hi and welcome back!

Friday night: 50 degrees
Saturday morning: 34 degrees
Saturday night: 28 degrees
Sunday morning: 21 degrees

On Saturday night we got home from the Penn State game at about 9:00, and I noticed that it had snowed a bit here at home.  It was 28 degrees with 13 mph winds, which turned out to be about 18 degrees with the wind chill.

When I went out to the tent it was pretty windy, but as I was starting to fall asleep, it got REALLY windy.  The tent was flattened by the wind a few times, then it started to blow around.  I realized that my dad and I hadn't staked it down when we pitched it the other day!

I quickly reached out into the vestibule and tried to grab the ground, because I thought the tent was going to blow away.  Thankfully, one corner of the vestibule was staked down, so that was like a pivot point, and it blew around that stake as the wind blew.  I didn't want the floor to rip, so I tried to keep it from sliding on the ground when the wind blew.

I ran to the house and woke up my dad to come outside.  We quickly staked down the corners, but one stake that my dad tried to pound in broke, because the frozen ground was so hard.

Once the tent was secure, we both got into sleeping bags and tried to sleep.  It was hard to fall asleep with the wind, though.  The tent was almost flattened completely when the wind blew too hard, but it wasn't as hard as it was before.

Today I got out the rain fly from my Alps tent, and I was able to duct tape the back of the fly.  I set it up, guyed out all the corner so it could stand up to the wind.  

Today my dad and I hiked to the pond.  It's been below freezing for more than 24 hours, and we wanted to see if it was frozen.  I thought it probably was, but dad didn't.  It was really shallow, but it was frozen enough that I could hit it with my hiking stick without it breaking or cracking.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Nights 324 and 325 - 40 days to go!

Hi and welcome back!

Wednesday night: 20 degrees
Thursday morning: 21 degrees
Thursday night: 41 degrees
Friday morning: 43 degrees

Last weekend my friend S.F. and his dad, our assistant soccer coach, let me borrow their 5 degree sleeping bag.  I was glad I had it on Wednesday night, because it got down into the teens overnight.  I was never cold in it, and I have a feeling I'll have to use it a lot over these last few weeks of the year.

It warmed up over twenty degrees from Wednesday to Thursday, and it's been kind of rainy.  On Sunday, however, the overnight low is supposed to be 16, which will be awesome.  I'll definitely be glad I have that 5 degree bag then.

Mark Smiley sent us this picture that they took on the Royal Arches climb.  I think it turned out pretty well.

Royal Arches
Pitch 16 - September 25, 2013

I'm going to have a big announcement on Tuesday, so be sure to check back!

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Nights 322 and 323

Hi and welcome back!

Monday night: 44 degrees
Tuesday morning: 38 degrees
Tuesday night: 31 degrees
Wednesday morning: 26 degrees

bivvy shelter
On Monday night, since I didn't have a tent, I slept in my bivvy shelter.  That night instead of having the slick side of my sleeping pad facing up, I put it down so the sleeping bag would stay on it.

At about 1:00 I woke up outside of the bivvy with my sleeping pad still underneath me.  No matter what I try, it seems like if I use that pad I'll end up outside of the shelter.

Tuesday night I had the replacement tent from L.L. Bean, but didn't have it up in time for bed, so I slept in the bivvy again.  It was pretty windy, and as you can see it was about 10 degrees colder than Monday.  There are spots on the shelter where the fabric is loose, and when the wind blows it can be pretty loud. Also, there was some wind from the east again, and even though I cinched it down all the way, it would blow right in my sleeping bag.  That was pretty horrible.  It took me a long time to fall asleep.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Nights 320 and 321

Hi and welcome back!

Saturday night: 49 degrees
Sunday morning: 51 degrees
Sunday night: 59 degrees
Monday morning: 49 degrees
Radar at 1:00 a.m. Monday Morning
with Storms to the West

On Sunday afternoon I was putting the footprint under the L.L. Bean tent, and I realized that I could do a fly/pole/footprint only pitch.  That's where you pitch the tent with everything but the tent body itself.

When I was putting it up, I realized that the front vestibule was part of the tent body, and that left a hole with no door to close the fly.  I pitched it facing east, because the wind almost always comes from the west, so I didn't think it would be a problem.

Around 2:30 a.m. I woke up to find that it was pouring and windy.  Not only that, but there was some wind from the east blowing rain in on me.

About five minutes later my dad came out to check on me, and he asked how long I'd been awake.  I said just a few minutes.  He said that around 1:00 a storm had passed over, but I must have slept through it.

Right around then it started getting REALLY windy.  Dad came into the tent to get out of the rain, and the wind pushed one wall of the fly in on us.  The poles started to pull out of the velcro loops that held them to the fly, and because the conditions were so bad, dad went in to get a sleeping bag to stay with me.

When he got back, we were trying to hold the tent up, when one of the poles snapped and ripped through the fly.  I couldn't believe it, because those poles were really fat.  I thought they would be stronger.

There was nothing else to do then but cover ourselves with the fly and try to stay dry.  Not too long after, the heavy rain and wind stopped and it was just a steady, light rain.  After awhile it started to get muggy under the fly, so we opened the back vestibule zipper and stuck our heads outside.

When we got too wet, we decided to go back under the fly.  We were under there for awhile when I started getting sick to my stomach.  That's when I realized that the fly didn't breathe at all, and there were no vents.  I felt sick enough that I decided to sleep with my head outside the fly, even if I got wet.  I slept on and off until almost 5:00, then I went inside to get ready for school.

Thanks to the L.L. Bean guarantee, I was pretty sure that they would replace the tent for free. I know their guarantee is very good, so I wasn't worried.  More on that later!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Nights 318 and 319

Hi and welcome back!

Thursday night: 28 degrees
Friday morning: 27 degrees
Friday night: 33 degrees
Saturday morning: 34 degrees

I'm sorry that I didn't post yesterday, but my dad, my grandfather and I were at the Penn State football game, and we got home kind of late.

On Friday night dad and I were hiking when we saw a black object about 15 feet in front of us.  It started to move, so we knew it wasn't a rock, then we saw its white tail and we realized it was a skunk!

It definitely saw us, but it must not have thought we were much of a threat, because it just ran away while Maisy barked at it.

Did anyone get to see the Leonid meteor shower last night?  It was cloudy here, so I didn't get to see them, but the Geminids are coming on December 12 and 13, so hopefully we will have better weather for those.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Nights 316 and 317

Hi and welcome back!

Welcome to the new reader from Moldova!

Tuesday night: 35 degrees
Wednesday morning: 36 degrees
Wednesday night: 26 degrees
Thursday morning: 26 degrees

The other day we got a new Patagonia catalog, and one of the pictures showed a climber named Josh Huckaby bivouacing in Argentina.  Dad said that would probably be me in 15 years (and it probably will), so we've pasted a copy of it here.

I've had five nights in the new tent.  I really like that it has a main vestibule in the front of the tent, and a smaller, secondary vestibule in the back of the tent.

The floor space is HUGE compared to the backpacking tents I've been using all year.  That's good and bad, because all of us can fit inside it at one time, but I find that I move a lot in my sleep, and I have so much room to move now that I wind up sliding around a lot.

I like that the Vector has really fat poles--that means that when it's really windy the wall that's facing the wind doesn't buckle.  Overall, it's a really good family car-camping tent.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Nights 314 and 315

Hi and welcome back!

Sunday night: 44 degrees
Monday morning: 32 degrees
Monday night: 45 degrees
Tuesday morning: 36 degrees

Last night I woke up around 3:00 in the morning.  My watch said it was about 35 degrees inside the tent, and it was raining, so I thought there might be some snow.  I stuck my head outside, and sure enough there was a mixture of snow and rain coming down!  That lasted for about four hours, but unfortunately it didn't amount to anything.

The other day I was in a rush to post, and I forgot to tell you that even though I wasn't using it on Sunday, the Polaris was in our yard pitched but not staked down.  While I was at my soccer game, my mom called to tell me that it blew into the new tent and put a small hole in the fly!  I looked at it when I got home, and thankfully it was just a slice about an inch long.  We got a patch for it, and it won't be a big deal.

Later on Sunday I was going out to take the Polaris down and put it away, and a huge gust of wind picked it up and blew over the house!  It landed safely in the grass in the front yard and I took it down for good.  At one point, as it was blowing over the roof, I was really afraid it would get stuck between the chimney and the dormers on the front of the house.  It didn't, though.
Steck-Salathe Route, Yosemite

By the way, my dad got an email from Mark Smiley today that he's almost done with his video for our Royal Arches climb!  I'm so excited.  I've decided that if it comes out on a Friday or Saturday I'm going to stay up all night watching it over and over.

Also, I subscribe to Mark and Janelle's video release emails, and I got one today about the video for their Steck-Salathe climb in Yosemite.  Mark sent us a link to the video about a week ago and it's really good.  When they get it on their site I'll be sure to tell you.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Nights 311-313 - Tent Troubles!

Hi and welcome back!

Thursday night: 37 degrees
Friday morning: 35 degrees 
Friday night: 37 degrees
Saturday morning: 20 degrees
Saturday night: 37 degrees
Sunday morning: 26 degrees

I'm posting a few nights in one post because I have so much to talk about!

First of all, the answer to the trivia question was 5.9+.  I first heard this question in a discussion  from one of my SuperTopo emails.  Somebody posted a comment asking how high on the Yosemite Decimal Scale (YDS) mountain goats can climb.  Somebody else replied that he had seen one of Galen Rowell's pictures of a mountain goat climbing a 5.9+ wall!  This isn't the picture, but it shows just how good they are.

Not Good

Friday was really windy here, and when I came home from school I saw that the Polaris was in bad shape.  As I got closer to it, I realized that one of the poles had broken, and the sharp ends poked through the fly and started a big rip.

The pole had broken at a point that had a bend (which was supposed to be there), but that meant we couldn't even put a splint on it.  The rip in the fly was big and right above where my head would be.  With the Polaris being an older tent that Sierra Designs only made for a year or two, I'm not sure I will be able to get a replacement fly and pole.  I've heard that REI makes custom poles, but I don't know if they can make one with a bend in it.  We're going to see what we can do, though.  The Polaris is too nice to give up on so easily.

Vector on the Right
We still had to figure out a solution quickly, though.  I usually bivouac on the weekends anyway, so Friday night I slept in the bivvy/shelter I made.

On Saturday we went to the L.L. Bean store in Center Valley (near Allentown).  We've been thinking about getting a tent that's big enough for the whole family, and this was the perfect time.

We spent a lot of time with Beth and Matt at L.L. Bean.  They showed us a bunch of tents (4-person, 6-person, 3-season, 4-season, etc.), and they even let us set them up in the store to see what we liked.  We decided on the Vector XL, which is a 3-season, 4-person tent.

When we got home on Saturday, we pitched the tent next to the Polaris, and it was literally three times the size.  Even though the floor space is only about twice the size, it's about six feet at the peak, versus about three and a half feet in the Polaris.  The Vector weighs 18 pounds, which is more than twice as much as the Polaris (and three times the weight of my Alps), but it's not a backpacking tent, so weight doesn't matter.

It's been really windy and cold the last few days.  We're actually supposed to get a little snow on Tuesday!

In my next post I'll tell you about my first few nights in the Vector.  I can say that last night was strange spending the night in such a big tent!

Thanks for reading!

Nights 309 and 310

Hi and welcome back!

Tuesday night: 48
Wednesday morning: 51
Wednesday night: 49
Thursday morning: 56

It's been warm this week, and we've had some rain at night.  I've been very comfortable, but I'm looking forward to it getting colder over the next few days.

We're going to have a LOT to talk about tomorrow.  And it's not all good news.

How about a trivia question? If you're a climber you will understand this one: how high on the Yosemite Decimal System can goats climb?

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Nights 307 and 308

Hi and welcome back!

Sunday night: 33 degrees
Monday morning: 34 degrees
Monday night: 28 degrees
Tuesday morning: 33 degrees

When I started posting the temperatures, I forgot to tell you that I've noticed the morning temperatures are usually 5-10 degrees warmer in the tent than it is outside.  I think this is because the tent itself traps heat that is escaping from the sleeping bag.

Looking East Before Sunrise
On Sunday night my dad slept out with me.  We zipped the two 20 degree bags together, and it was the perfect temperature for that night.

This is my first post since Daylight Savings Time ended.  That means it's been a lot easier falling asleep and waking up.  For those of you who don't live in a country with Daylight Savings Time, we turn our clocks ahead one hour in the spring and turn them back again in the fall.  That means it gets lighter earlier in the morning (sunrise today was about 6:30 a.m.), but it gets darker earlier in the evening (it set at about 4:45 tonight).

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Nights 305 and 306

Hi and welcome back!

Friday night: 44 degrees
Saturday morning: 45 degrees
Saturday night: 51 degrees 
Sunday morning: 46 degrees

On Friday night I slept in the bivvy/shelter again.  I used the 40 degree bag without a sleeping pad beneath me, because I wanted to see if that was why I kept sliding out of the shelter.  It turned out that it WAS the reason.  I fell asleep and didn't wake up at all until morning, and I was in the exact same position.  I guess that means I won't use a sleeping pad when I use the shelter, unless I put something on top of the pad to keep it from being slippery.  Duct tape, maybe?

Dad and I hiked this evening and it was 37 degrees!  It was the first time in months that I got to wear a heavy fleece.  It was also the first time in awhile that I had to switch my hiking stick between hands so I could put one in a pocket when it got cold.  It was great.

When we got back, dad and I checked the temperatures overnight, and it said it's supposed to be 25 tonight.  Dad said that since it's going to be cold he's definitely going to sleep out, and we'll zip the two 20-degree bags together.

Solar Eclipse from Djibouti, Africa
Did anyone get to see the solar eclipse this morning?  It was too cloudy here, but I found this picture someone took in Africa.  You don't get to see a crescent sun every day!

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Nights 303 and 304

Hi and welcome back!

Wednesday night: 43
Thursday morning: 53
Thursday night: 57
Friday morning: 61

The answer to yesterday's trivia question is 20,322'.

On Thursday (Halloween) my dad and I went for a hike around 7:00.  It was spitting and foggy out, which gave it kind of an eerie effect.   We decided to go to the graveyard.  My dad tried to scare me, saying that he saw something in the graveyard, but of course there was nothing.  We were kind of creeped out because we saw lights, but then we saw it was only a light shining on a headstone.

After I went to bed on Thursday, it started to rain hard.  I was woken up about an hour after I fell asleep by the wind, and it kept getting windier and windier.  The wind chill would have been cold, but it was 60 degrees overnight, so I didn't have to worry about it.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Nights 301 and 302

Hi and welcome back!

Monday night: 47 degrees
Tuesday morning: 36 degrees
Tuesday night: 41 degrees
Wednesday morning: 49 degrees

Not much has happened since my last post. Tomorrow, though, I am going to tell you about the Halloween hike that my dad and I went on and a storm that hit last night.

This week's trivia question is: how high above sea level is the summit of Mt. Mckinley also known as Denali?

Thanks for reading!