Time and snow

snow glorious snowI had almost eaten all the snow off of my porch when I new supply was delivered overnight.     I love snow.  Mostly for the same reason I like being sick– I don’t feel like I should be doing anything  besides laying by the fire and swimming in time.

I parked my truck down by my gate, so with some digging I guess I could get out, but not easily.  My truck hasn’t moved in over a month.   Besides a bag of onions and a few heads of garlic, I don’t have anything fresh but there is a little log cabin store a couple miles away that I  snow shoe to through state land.   I can also start sprouting for some fresh greens.

At my water access only cabin in British Columbia, I would get dropped off by a boat taxi and he wouldn’t come back to pick me up in a least a month, sometimes two.   That is the best feeling to me—no where to go and nothing to do.

Keeping your phone charged on the trail.

I love having a smart phone.  It’s a GPS, compass, emergency flashlight, holds maps and trail data.  I can listen to podcast, music, audio books.  On my Iphone, I had Wikipedia offline.  You can store books on it.    To me, its worth its weight.   If I need some gear, I can sit on a mountain top and order it sent to the next town.    I can keep abreast of fire closures and trail info.

Besides the water report in Southern California, I hike the PCT paperless now.

The GPS works even without cell service.  You can turn the sim off so it isn’t spending battery life searching for service.   I hiked the Camino in Spain and though I used the maps and the GPS through GAIA GPS app,  I never turned on the sim once.  Sometimes the GPS is not as accurate as a real GPS but it’s so much easier to load with your tracks and way-points.

phone chargersIn southern California, on the Pacific Crest Trail, I carry a Suntatics solar panel and a small Jackery 6,000 mAh auxiliary battery.  The solar panel weighs 8.2 ounces (233grams) and the auxiliary battery weighs 5.5 ounces(155grams) There is plenty of sunshine and I’m usually laying in the shade when its hot, so I have plenty of time to charge my auxiliary battery with the solar panel while I sleep.    You need to be careful that your phone or auxiliary battery stays in the shade though.  Sometimes I would make shade for what ever I was charging with my umbrella.   The towns are close together  in So CAL and I just want to get in and out of them quickly and not wait for my phone to charge.   It’s freeing to have your own source of power.

It would work great in Arizona and New Mexico too, but as I move north the sun becomes a less and less reliable energy source.   I then send my solar panel home and up my auxiliary battery storage.

For the Oregon Coast Trail, this year, I used one huge battery.   The Anker 16,000 mAh.  It weighs 10.9 ounces (310 grams).

I also understand why people hike without a phone.   It can and most probably will distract from the experience.   There is a place on the PCT , off trail a little bit, with the most amazing sunset and views of many mountains in the distance.  I’ve camped there before and felt thrilled for such beauty.  Last time through, I climbed up there just as the sun was setting and laid out my pad and sleeping bag.  I glanced at my phone, saw there was service and when I glanced up again the sun was gone and it was dark.    I hope now that I have high speed internet at my cabin,  the internet won’t seem like such a treat that I give up enjoying a sunset on a mountain top for it again.

Related post: How-to-remember-your-cell-phone-when-leaving-town

No calorie snow treat

I love lemon sorbet but its full of sugar plus you can’t buy it out here.

yummysnowI bought some stevia and true lemon packets from amazon and combine with a big bowl of snow to make a delicious no calorie treat.   Often I eat this 10 times a day.

In a big bowl dissolve 1/2 teaspoon Mommy Knows Best pure stevia power  and 6 packets of True Lemon  with a little hot water.  Add snow, mix and enjoy.


The Pacific Northwest Trail

Besides hiking the Oregon Coast Trail, I didn’t hike this year.  I don’t know why, just content, I guess.

That is until I picked up some hikers hitchhiking into the town by me.   One of them was Freebird.   A “repeat offender” long distance hiker, like me.   I have met him a few times on the PCT and we know some of the same hikers.

He was hiking the Pacific Northwest Trail.   A trail that runs from Glacier National Park to the Washington coast.  It crosses the Pacific Crest Trail.   It comes within 5 miles of my cabin.

Even though in the past, the PNT has not been a popular trail, there were 13 hikers in town that day for a small concert that was happening.   They said that earlier there was kind of a trail days celebration in another town nearby.

It was weird seeing hikers in my town.  It was like my worlds collided. Seeing other hikers made me discontent and made me long to be on a trail.

I have a couple books on the trail but Freebird gave me Li Brannfors  email.  He is the Johnathan Ley of the PNT   li_brannfors at hotmail.com  After emailing him I had the maps, tracks, way-points and notes loaded up in my smartphone Gaia GPS app and was ready to head out when fires broke out and threatened my cabin and closed the trail.

Then I got all excited about my cabin burning down and started planning on living in a tepee for the winter and forgot about hiking.

Well, the fires didn’t make it to my cabin,  so, I’m tucked away in my cabin for another winter.

I still plan to hike that trail.   I think I’m about at the halfway point.  I live between the CDT and PCT, so it’s cool to know I could walk out my door and walk to either trail.

I always worried about the water situation, but Freebird said there was lots of water.    All the hikers I talked to said they liked the trail.


Backwoods wrapping paper

presentTime is what I have lots of and though I’m mostly not very productive,  I did create some wrapping paper, I like, with supplies I had in my cabin.

I made wrapping homemade wrapping paperpaper by painting newspaper with  house paint,  then putting a branch down on top of it and lightly spraying with metallic gold spray paint.   I then sprayed it with some glitter hair spray and stuck some greenery on top.

Me and my internet.

As you might have predicted, I’m not using the vast opportunities of the having high-speed internet to take any  interesting life changing courses but instead I’m mostly consuming a steady diet of trash TV sprinkled with videos of animals being funny.   I have a theory that all roads will lead you to the same place anyway.

I did find this course by the “Iceman“.   He teaches you how to swim in ice-water and climb Everest in your underwear.    The course cost 200 dollars.  It requires a printer to print out the handbook and a shower, which I have neither.    He has a free mini course at http://www.wimhofmethod.com/video-miniclass/   I’m practicing by going for long walks without a coat and bare-legged and taking deep breaths when I get cold.     If I find some discipline I’ll sign up for the course and develop my “super powers”.   There is plenty of snow to roll around in and I guess that could be my cold shower and I know someone with a printer……

Here is a link to a documentary about him http://www.icemanwimhof.com/vice-documentary#vice-video

If you are looking for something great to watch on Netflix, may I suggest, “Small Town Security”.     Without a doubt the greatest reality show ever made.  If Errol Morris made reality TV,  I think  it would look something like Small Town Security.   There are 3 seasons.   Start at the beginning.

Travel, live cheaply, and be productive

I met a couple of women working in a hostel that were traveling around the world cheaply by using the workaway site to find places that would let them stay for free where ever they wanted to travel (some even supply food), in exchange for a few hours of work everyday.

I thought it sounded like a great way to travel.   There didn’t seem to be a big commitment; they would stay for a couple of weeks and then find a new position and move on to another place they wanted to see.

Waterproof your Iphone

phoneprotectorI now have a Samsung Galaxy 6s Active, which is supposed to be waterproof, but for three years I carried an Iphone on the trail.   When it was raining I would put it in a sandwich baggie.   It weighs 2 grams and cost 1.59 for a box of 50.    I could easily operate the phone through the plastic.

To use the headphones I poked a little hole in the bag.

gelcaseI also had a cheap little gel case for it to improve gripping and to give it some bounce when I dropped it.

My phone didn’t have an easy life.  I dropped it many times and  walked through  monsoons, showers, hail, and snow and my phone made it through intact.

Checking out library books while you are on the trail.

I discovered this cool app, Overdrive, for my smart phone this year.   You enter your library card and then where ever you are, when ever you have wi-fi you can download audio books and e-books for free from your library to any of your devices.

If you are a collector of different library cards you can enter all of them and then get a bigger selection.

Cabin lighting

cabinlightingI haven’t been connected to the grid now since 2002.  For the last 9 years, though, I have had a small solar system.

I liked laying on my couch watching the world get light in the morning and darkening at night and mostly I would just use a LED headlamp for when I needed light.    Some nights I would light candles and oil lamps but mostly not; they are pretty and pleasant but expensive and wax drips on stuff and oil lamps need to be filled and they don’t really give off much light.

I wired a regular outlet to my solar charged batteries, plugged a lamp into it, and screwed in a 12 volt LED light bulb.   Even though I bought the warm light bulb it was still too cold to enjoy and only lit up half my cabin.

Well, a couple of months ago, I found some lightbuls5 watt – 12 volt led light bulbs with a 2700 kelvin rating–very warm almost candle light warm.    I bought twoworklight clip on work lights at Home Depot and put one on each side of my cabin.   I point them up for a warm ambient light and turn them down when I need task lighting—like for reading a book.

It’s changed my life.  I can see from one end of my cabin to the other and move around without grabbing my headlamp.   The light is as pleasant as candle light, only brighter and doesn’t drip wax everywhere.

I want to shout it from the hill tops, “Have you got light bulbs? These things are amazing!  Everyone should have two!”

When shopping for pleasant lighting for your cabin look for the 2700 kelvin rating.

Gear Review: Microspikes

It’s snow season here in the Okanagon Highlands which means breaking out my Microspikes.   microspikesI don’t know how people out here function without them as I find it hard to bring in an armful of firewood without them.

essential winter wear
essential winter wear

With Microspikes I can take walks with the same long sure-footed strides as when it’s not slick out.    I’ve walked hundreds of miles in them and they have never once popped off my running shoes.

They’re nice for the trail too, as running shoes can feel like ballet slippers when crossing a steep ice shoot.

I walked the Camino in Spain in the winter.  I brought my Microspikes, and though I only needed them for 3 or 4 days, I was happy to have them.

I walk quite a bit so I usually need to buy a new pair every year; they get dull.

Mine weighs 13 oz / 368 grams.   They may be lighter now.

If you wear them inside your cabin, you may want to put rugs down because your floor may end up looking like this:

beat up floor

Before Microspikes, I screwed sheet metal screws into the bottom of my running shoes.


How to clean the glass woodstove door

lopi woodstoveA couple of years ago, I replaced my wood-stove when a big crack developed in it.   The new one (Lopi 1250) is much more efficient and has a glass door on it.

sootyglassMost nights I damper it down and in the morning my door is sooty.

I think the glass door is supposed to be self-cleaning and some of the soot does burn off  with a hot fire, but I still prefer to clean it because it looks better and it doesn’t take long at all.

woodstove screenSo most mornings now, I open the door and put in the screen while the glass cools.   Once its cool I scrub the glass with wood ash and a wet paper towel and wash clean with vinegar and water in a spray bottle.   Doesn’t take long and does a great job.

Cabin Bear Box

There were a serious amount of wild fires around my cabin this year.     It displaced a lot of bears and different bears kept stopping by.   They never got any food from me and I ran off every one I saw.

To allow me to keep my cooler outside overnight, I turned it in to a bear box by adding hinges and a clasp to it with self drilling metal screws.   I think a bear could still break into it, but I would hear him before he did and I could run him off before he was rewarded with food.   cabin bear box