Sunday, April 17, 2011

DIY V Tent Stake

What does a guy that has access to a machine shop, an extra piece of aluminum angle iron, and free time do? Make tent stakes of course! Although these stakes are nothing out of the ordinary, and by no means the prettiest things out there, the next time I pitch my tarp I can proudly say that I will using stakes that were custom made by me. I based the design of these the simple and effective Sierra Designs V Tent Stakes making a couple small adjustments to fit my purpose. While making them I documented the measurements and machining process, so if you feel inclined to make your own, the steps are below.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Baden-Powell Trail & Grouse Grind, Vancouver (Canada)

What better way to kick off a new blog than with a hike in North Vancouver, BC, Canada. At the end of March I was in Vancouver for a research related conference for a couple of days and thought that a good way to spend a day would be to go for a little hike. So, that's what I did. I packed a sandwich for lunch and headed out the door at about 9 in the morning to the Baden-Powell trail in North Vancouver. Unfortunately there were some self inflicted public transportation delays and it took me 2 hours to get myself to the trailhead instead of the planned 50 minutes. (I happened to miss both the SeaBus – why they couldn't just call this a ferry, I don’t know – and the connecting bus, thus adding an extra 30-minute wait time at each location.)

View Trail in a larger map. Note, this path is only approximate.

It was a typical Vancouver day for the season (cloudy with some rain), but once under the canopy of trees, it was actually quite dry and warm. The trail started out with a massive wooden "staircase" and then leveled off for a while. There were several mountain bikers that were making use of the relatively dry weather to thunder down the mountain. After passing over several small streams on nice wooden bridges, I had the pleasure of encountering a slightly larger "ravine" that had to be traversed by holding on to a rope on either side for support. According to one of the ski patrol guys that I talked to at the Grouse Mountain ski lodge, they had to rescue a couple of people the week prior after they slipped and couldn't make their way back up to the rope. So yes, "Caution, slippery when wet."

After sitting down on a log and enjoying my sandwich and tea biscuits, I came to the joyous Grouse Grind, affectionately known as "mother nature's stair master." I can assure you, the name is well deserved. About halfway up the mountain the signs of snow began to emerge with spots of packed snow on the trail. About 15 minutes later, the dirt under my shoes was gone and was replaced by a blanket of snow – boy was I glad that I brought my hiking shoes and not just some running shoes. 15 minutes after that, the unpacked off-trail snow was at least hip high (I figured this out the hard way when I took a little detour to try to get a view of the city; all I got was a view of a cloud-enveloped downtown and a nice dip in the snow).

Three and a half hours after setting off from the bus stop, I made it to the ski lodge on Grouse, and enjoyed a nice cup of warm tea amongst skiers and snowboarders. After resting my feet for a while, I proceeded to the information booth to ask where the trail forks so that I could get to the bottom of the mountain instead of back on to the Baden-Powell trail. The lady behind the counter kindly informed me that the trail, the very one I had just traversed, was closed until June. Oops. So as not to ruffle any feathers, I paid her $10 for a 1-way gondola ticket. On the bright side, my hike concluded with a nice quick ride down the side of the mountain leaving me enough time to get back to the hotel, shower, and make it to the opening reception of the conference.