Monday, June 27, 2011

Disposing and Recycling Stove Canisters

Although canister stoves are a wonderful addition to any multi-day hiking pack, they have the drawback of creating waste (I personally have and use a Snow Peak LiteMax). After doing some digging on the web and calling some local businesses and the city hall, it seems there are a couple solutions, some better than others ranging from cheap and easy to annoying and expensive. I'll start with what is probably the best option, and make my way down to the worst. (So, if you're pressed for time, just ignore anything after the first entry).

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mt. Lafayette (New Hampshire, USA) via Liberty Spring Trail

Day 1

I left the parking lot by the Flume visitor center at around 2pm on a beautiful Friday afternoon. The sky was blue with only a couple white clouds that provided intermittent cover from the sun. I realized a bit late (i.e. when i had my pack on and car doors locked) that there is a parking lot a bit farther down the road that is closer to the trailhead. But then again, using that logic I could just forgo hiking and drive to the nearest cinema. So, if you happen to make this mistake too, all you have to do is follow the bike trail for a bit and then when the road splits, take the road less traveled (the bike trail is paved, but the way you want to go is the unpaved way). This should lead you to the "correct" parking lot where the trail actually begins.

As many have said, the path to where the Liberty Spring Trail (LST) begins is very flat and can be walked in no time -- part of it is paved as it is also a bike trail. If so inclined, one can take a quick detour and go down to the river that flows right by the path. After about 20 minutes or so, I arrived at the point where the trail splits and the LST heads away from the bike path and up towards Mount Liberty and the Liberty Spring Campsite. It was easy going for the first 30 minutes or so, but then things got a wee bit steeper. Actually, from there on out, it was pretty much stepping from rock to rock on what seemed to be a never ending stair case. I don't think it was as steep as the Grouse Grind in North Vancouver, Canada, but it goes on for longer. Fortunately for me, I met some nice people along the way that I stopped to chat with giving my legs some rest.

After about 2.5 hours of hiking I made it to the campsite where I was the third person to show up. I stopped by the caretaker's tent (the campsite is run by the Appalachian Mountain Club) who told me that the tent platforms are on the left and that water is on the right. I ended up taking the first small platform (I mean, there is no need for me to use up a large platform for my 1 person tent), set up the tent and started chatting with the folks around. At around 5:30pm I took out my home made alcohol penny stove and my rice and dehydrated vegetable and turkey dinner. Only then did I realize that the first thing that I should have done was to put my dinner in water and let it soak for at least 30 minutes before cooking it. Alas, although I got both the water for the hot chocolate and my dinner to boil using about 1 ounce of denatured alcohol (2 tablespoons), the meat never got soft and was akin to turkey jerky.

Day 2

After crawling out of my tent at 6am, I lit my stove to heat up my oatmeal that contained some dehydrated strawberries and blueberries and made a nice cup of instant milk coffee. Fortunately for all of us at the camp site, the light rain subsided for the breakfast, resulting in a nice meal that wasn't interrupted by pesky mosquitoes. Rain is definitely nature's best bug repellant. By 7:30 my stomach was full, the mess kit cleaned, the tent put away, my hiking quilt tucked away safely in its dry sack, and my water bottles filled with nice cold mountain water. I followed the trail up to Mt. Liberty where I had the best views of the day... I actually saw across the valley and could make out the peaks on the other side. I made my way back down from the summit and hiked along the Franconia Ridge Trail to Mt. Lafayette. Unfortunately for me and the other fellow hikers that day, the conditions were nothing short of miserable. We had gusts of wind up to 40 miles/h, freezing rain, and the constant dampness of the mist. While on a nice day the occasional trees and shrubberies would distract from the views offered on the ridge, today they provided me with a nice break from the constant onslaught of the wind. After making my way down from the summit of Mt. Lafayette on the Old Bridle Path, I was definitely very glad for the respite from the cold offered by the Greenleaf Hut where I enjoyed my tuna wrap followed by a decadent peanut butter, honey, and chocolate chip wrap. I followed the Old Bridle Path down back to the main road where I had a cold and wet 3 mile walk back to the parking lot. By 3pm I had changed out of my soaked clothing into a dry pair of shorts and t-shirt and was headed back to the concrete jungle.

Monday, June 20, 2011

DIY $1 Pot Cozy

Making gourmet meals on the trail is hard. At home one usually brings water to a boil, adds the pasta or rice, and cooks it for 10 to 30 minutes on the stove. However, the amount of fuel needed to do this on a hiking trip makes this sort of cooking impractical. So, instead of cooking things on the stove for a long time, it is more practical to first soak the food to be cooked in water for a while, bring the water (and food) to a boil on a stove, and then let it sit for some time more. To make sure that the water that was heated stays warm for as long as possible, a pot cozy can be used. So, here are some instructions for making a $1 pot cozy using a thermal bag and some duct tape.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

DIY High Visibility Tent Stakes

Although I made some of my own stakes, I also have some DAC V stakes that came along with my Sierra Designs Lightyear 1 tent. The problem with these (and most other stakes that are not some bright color to begin with, including the ones I made) is that they can be hard to see and easy to misplace or trip over. So, a very simple solution to this conundrum is to take some bright nail polish and paint the top of the stakes. A note of warning, if you are taking it from your significant other, make sure to ask to borrow the nail polish first to make sure that you don't run in to any trouble when you go up to her and say, "Look at my cool stakes!"

  • Bright nail polish
  • Tent stakes
This is a hard one. Take nail polish. Apply to stakes. Wait for it to dry.
Oh wait, there is no next step.