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The doldrums
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Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
The doldrums on 11/26/2011 11:47:32 MST Print View

3 season backpacking is coming to a close, gun season has been keeping me out of the North Woods for the past two weeks, and the occasional flurries we've been seeing just serve as a reminder that the time for epic winter trips is not yet here. Judging from the way that chaff has been heating up lately, I'd guess I'm not alone.

I've ramped up my crosstraining (focusing on hip flexors), picturing myself postholing through 3 feet of snow across a frozen landscape. I've packed and unpacked my winter backpack a dozen times. I've also been running my dehydrator non-stop, filling the freezer with hearty, winter-style menus (slow-cooked moose stew, venison chili-mac, quinoa elbows with spicy sausage).

What are you guys doing to fill the void?

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: The doldrums on 11/26/2011 12:23:36 MST Print View

Really lucky here along the Coastal Ranges. Can hike and camp all year. Though the Mrs. and I do mostly car camping in the winter.
The campgrounds are empty. Bliss.

Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Pent up hiking fever in the American sunlands on 11/26/2011 12:50:06 MST Print View

Actually just about to get started in Arizona and maybe southern California (we'll see). Just got one more week of work before 2 months of vacation. Last year one abnormal snow dump was followed by the worst drought and fires I've seen (the "Willow" fire and Bandeliers "Los Conchas" fire). Nothing like skiing at 10,000 ft while a forest fire rages a couple peaks over below snow line at 7,000 ft in March. Then the forests were shut down, not reopening until it was time to work again.

Of course, Texas and most of the southeastern US had it worse, so I imagine there's some pent up hiking fever from Arizona eastward...

Add that the sun still sets early, even on the border, and water is still a concern.

Edited by hknewman on 11/26/2011 12:54:00 MST.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
day on 11/26/2011 14:43:17 MST Print View

headed out for a quick day walk/hike right now in the pouring rain ... see if my rain gear still holds up

shietty weather days are just god telling you to test your gear on day trips ;)

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: The doldrums on 11/26/2011 15:45:02 MST Print View

Spending my fall getting bigger by the day :-P


Tim Zen
(asdzxc57) - F

Locale: MI
Re: The doldrums on 11/27/2011 16:17:34 MST Print View


Edited by asdzxc57 on 01/29/2012 13:01:26 MST.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Re: Re: The doldrums on 11/27/2011 16:21:36 MST Print View


You're looking good! I hope all continues to go well!

At least you have a good excuse for getting bigger. I don't!

Tim Zen
(asdzxc57) - F

Locale: MI
Re: Re: The doldrums on 11/27/2011 16:25:56 MST Print View


Edited by asdzxc57 on 01/29/2012 13:02:02 MST.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"The doldrums" on 11/27/2011 16:29:43 MST Print View

@ Ike,

I'm doing the same thing I always do, which fills the void quite nicely, running 5-6 days a week. Doing so clears the mind, renews the spirit, and conditions the body. I don't have anything concrete planned for this winter, I rarely do, maybe a few overnights/weekends if I can sneak away from the business of family and holiday stuff. The beauty of getting out and running trails in the week for me is that I very rarely get antsy to get out into the backcountry away from my family, I can go two months without a single bag night under the stars and sleep just fine. With that said, I missed the peak colors up in the Gila this fall and I'm still a bit bummed on that, but I'll get over it. It's backpacking as usual year round here, doesn't change much until you get up high, we're getting some snow now.

I'm looking forward to your upcoming reports from the Icebox.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: "The doldrums" on 11/27/2011 16:58:14 MST Print View

As the husband of a hiking buddy says: "There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing choices". That pretty much says it all about living in the soggy Pacific Northwest. We hike and train year around up here. No excuses.

But, yeah, Chaff does tend to heat up this time of year. For those of you who are relatively new to BPL, stick around; come January, as cabin fever and SAD start to take their toll, the fur will really start to fly. ;-)

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
re: the doldrums on 11/27/2011 17:30:42 MST Print View

It's not the weather keeping me out of the woods this time of year, it's the guys with the guns. I have no desire to ruin their backcountry experience, and still less to have them ruin mine. Come December 1st, I'll be out again.

Sarah, congratulations. Eugene, I do have some special stuff in mind for the "icebox" this year- that's why it's so hard to wait for the snow to fall. Timothy, see you out there. Michigan's a special place.I'll probably be doing some dune walking come next week.

Edited by Ike on 11/27/2011 17:32:12 MST.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: "The doldrums" on 11/27/2011 17:58:13 MST Print View

>But, yeah, Chaff does tend to heat up this time of year. For those of you who are relatively new to BPL, stick around; come January, as cabin fever and SAD start to take their toll, the fur will really start to fly. ;-)

This year, I think cabin fever and SAD carried through the spring and summer.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Re: Re: "The doldrums" on 11/27/2011 18:04:36 MST Print View

I swear the off-season was all year this year in the PNW. I was so bummed - by the time the snow melted I was too tired to hike much. I got in ONE FREAKING HIKE this summer that was spectacular and it took me an hour to hike the last mile uphill - the only thing that kept me going is my hiking partner is slower than dirt and no way was I giving up - and being beaten by her. LOL!! She kept encouraging me to make it. I have severe anemia when I am pregnant. So I haven't done an alpine hike since early August :-(

We had so much snow and then no summer - I was picking blueberries at home till September! And then it went from spring weather to fall to winter here. I am spending so much time inside looking out - I can't wait till spring :-( I have about 10 more weeks or so till Baby #3 is here.

But I have a shiny new stroller for them - just waiting to hit the rail to trails - this spring! Until then I must not start any fights ;-)

Paul Wagner
(balzaccom) - F

Locale: Wine Country
Hiking close to home on 11/27/2011 20:15:33 MST Print View

With the mountains full of snow and ice, and our free time quite limited, we stayed close to home for the Thanksgiving holidays. But that's not to say that we didn't get out and enjoy ourselves.

You may know Stag's Leap as a part of the Napa Valley (a couple of wineries share that name) that is famous for world-class cabernet sauvignon. But the name comes from a mountain in the Vaca Range east of the Napa Valley. And there just happens to be a trail to the top of it. With a nice more or less sunny day in late November, we couldn't resist the temptation to climb up and take a look around.

There is no official trail or trailhead, just a parking area on the side of the road, and a use trail heading up the hill. And it's quite a hill. The trail climbs about 800 feet in the first 3/4 of a mile. The good news is that the views start almost immediately, and so there are lots of reasons to stop and rest--I mean look at the views.

Once up on the ridge the trail tracks the ridgeline southwards, showing first one side and then the other of the views. Napa Valley to the West, Rector Reservoir and Pritchard Hill to the East. And looming over it all is Stag's Leap.

The last mile is a steady and sometimes steep climb up the rocks to the top, where you have views over the whole northern San Francisco Bay area, from Mt Diablo to Mt. St, Helena and Cobb Mountain. And if you looked carefully, you could see the peaks of coast range even further North.

Best of all, since it was autumn, the leaves of the vineyards were a wild range of colors, from bright yellow to deep red, and often in fascinating patterns.

The hike was six or seven miles, and we loved every foot of it!

rOg w
(rOg_w) - F

Locale: rogwilmers.wordpress
deleted on 11/27/2011 20:30:50 MST Print View


Edited by rOg_w on 05/28/2012 16:57:35 MDT.

Ryan C
(radio_guy) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
Amateur Radio on 11/29/2011 00:06:22 MST Print View

Since I cannot go on my dayhike exercises now due to all the trigger happy hunters around here, I pass some of the time by playing with my Amateur "Ham" Radio equipment (FCC licensed, it is not CB). Just this past weekend I made radio contact with other operators in about 80 different countries around the world. Think of it as two-way HF shortwave radio. We sometimes even use Morse Code because it is fun!

Many of us enjoy operating with lightweight portable radio equipment from mountain peaks or while camping. Some of us also volunteer with Emergency Service Agencies to provide radio communications support during natural disasters, emergencies, and other events. It is a good hobby for when I am not traveling or backpacking.

Edited by radio_guy on 11/29/2011 00:07:50 MST.

Serge Giachetti
(sgiachetti) - M

Locale: Boulder, CO
climbing on 11/29/2011 03:04:15 MST Print View

ike, I'm totally envious about your backcountry menu.

I started climbing about a month ago. Mostly at the gym so far, but in the long run just aiming to increase my mountain skill set. Using similar visualization techniques for motivation (my fingers are actually aching as I type this, but thinking about climbing the flatirons makes it all better.)

ben wood

Locale: flatlands of MO
Re: The doldrums on 11/29/2011 08:36:40 MST Print View

man i gotta tell my story here. I moved from NM to Missouri to go to school. I haven't seen a real mountain since summer, and I still didn't get to go "in" the mountains. Missouri is not a good place to live for those that love the mountains.
I was confessing to eugene just yesterday that I often imagine a giant 14er looming over the end of my small town main street, just like i was in Silverton, CO or something. Having lived near the mountains my whole life, I've realized I will be back! just a year or two to not that long.

Leslie Thurston
(lesler) - F

Locale: right here, right now
the anti-doldrum on 11/29/2011 10:10:28 MST Print View

while i agree, it's a tough time o' year-- shortened days alone make it far more challenging for post-work bliss. i believe too that it's more mental than physical. my strategy of choice is to make every excuse to make NO excuses. light or dark, warm or cold, it's about momentum. just like water, let it flow.

Warren Greer
(WarrenGreer) - F

Locale: SoCal
Go to the gym or something on 11/30/2011 00:21:05 MST Print View

Well, I do that year round. But the winter and snow are for day trips or just staying home. Done much of that in the past but not too thrilled with it now.

And I'm making up two first aid/survival kits like Mike C! and Steve Green show in their videos. I think I'm better prepared now and I'm a whole bunch lighter too. Then its on to analyzing my gear list. And of course, some day hikes and hopefully some good swell so I can keep up my water skills. Doldrums, what doldrums?