GEARING UP

OK, this is where gear nerds are most likely going to have a hard time with me. I’m just a normal guy…I’m not sponsored…I have a family and three kids, which = not a lot of dinero. My plan with the JMT is to make due with as much as I can and only buy what seems necessary.

I have made some purchases and I will try to note those items. Also, this is my hike. Not your hike. It’s nacho cheese…it’s my cheese. So, back off a bit. This is the gear I’m using and taking…I’m not looking for advice. Feel free to scream at the screen if you are worked up.

Lastly, I consider myself a lightweight gear type backpacker. Lighter than many, heavier than some. I’m not totally wanting or financially able to have the NASA-designed-ultra-light-metal-like-carbon-fiber doohickey that makes life great on the trail. I also don’t wipe my nethers with my fingers to save some ounces. I like my TP and an occasional wet wipe…which I don’t dry out and re-wet. So, take a deep breath if you need to. Keep calm, wipe on.

Here we go [* indicates newish purchase]:

golite_jam_neuPack: GoLite Jam 70– out of business now, but this bag serves me well…especially with the bear can I have to bring.

 

 

 

Fly Creek UL 2 Tent-zm

Tent: Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2* with ground cloth. I like the extra space and ground cloth, so I can use the quick set up. I will use this set up the first night or two to save some weight. Plus, the ground sheet essentially weights what Tyvek would for this tent. Also, will have 10 stakes. I’ll use one as a poop digger too.

 

qcore mummyGroundpad: Big Agnes Q-Core Mummy I like the weight and thickness to help me get my beauty rest. I’m old and crusty and my back can have issues. Also, my hips. I need the blessing to sleep well. Happy sleep=Happy hike.

 

 

 

nf gold kazooSleeping bag: North Face Gold Kazoo Long* 30 degrees. If it gets colder I have clothes to wear. With the Q-core, should be good to go. I had a large NF credit and this is what I could afford. Worked well in 38 degree nights.

 

 

Clothing worn:

Base/shirt:    Icebreaker 150 L/S Keeps some sun off, helps with stink.                             Pants:          Adidas running shorts These are like 4 -5 years old. Can stink, but                                   don’t want to buy others when they still work. Have the built-in liner.               Head:           Billabong Trucker Hat* Keeps some sun off. I like to dip in                                               streams… the foam holds some water and keeps my head cool.                     Feet:            Hoka One One Rapa Nui 2* Gives me foam to help my feet, knees                                   and joints. Light and breathable. Darn Tough socks.                                       Poles:          Komperdell cork grip, anti-shock. They help me get up and down                                     mountains.                                                                                                       Sunglasses: Smith polarized somethings. Easy on my eyes, help me see fish.

Clothing packed:

Jacket:         Patagonia Down Sweater/hooded Helps keep me warm. I like the                                 hood to help my baldhead.                                                                               Pants:          Marmot Arch Rock Pants*. Light, full coverage. May wear a lot for                                   sun protection.                                                                                                 Mid:             Old Merino Wool sweater [banana republic, has holes, 20y/old]                   Socks:          2nd pair of Darn Tough, and 1 pair Defoot thin wool to sleep                         Nethers:       1 pair of exOfficio boxers, 1 pair of compression type shorts                         Shirt:             Mountain Hardwear Seaver Tech shirt L/S* Helps with wicking                                      and sun. I like that the collar has an additional flip up section to cover                                  the neck.                                                                                                         Rain stuff:     OK, so I’m one of those cheap guys. So, I’m using the Tyvek pants                                    and I cut a pair of Tyvek bodysuit, so I only have a long zippered                                        jacket with hood. Super light, super packable. I used thin bits of                                         Tyvek tape to cover all the stitched seams. I’ll let you know how this                                   goes.

Electronics:

iPhone 5S with Lifeproof case [phone, camera, music, reading]                                       Delorme Explorer [Rented]- so my family knows I’m alive                                                 Charger + cord To plug in at Muir Trail Ranch                                                                   Anker 2nd Gen Astro E6+ cord* To have power and not use large solar panels.               Should be able to charge phone up to 6x. Weighs less than 1 pound, lighter than               comparable Goal Zero Nomad 7 + battery.                                                                           Gorillapod Help to set up some of the pictures/video                                                         Stic Pic for trekking pole [gotta love selfies]                                                                         Black Diamond 80 lumen headlamp Light, small and hopefully good enough if I             do the sunrise hike to Whitney.

First/Gear Aid: Fairly normal stuff. I have a few bandaids, some leukotape, some KT tape, Advil, allergy meds, some triple antibiotic ointment, some Auquaphor, Deet liquid, sunblock [though main SPF help is clothes], blister helps.

For gear, I have a small sew kit, nylon thread, small duct tape roll, precut tenacious tape, very small crazy glue.

Toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, Dr. B soap, TP, wetwipes, nail clippers, Swiss Army classic.

Kitchen Stuff:

Snow Peak gigapower* with wind dealie.                                                                         –MSR aluminum pot.                                                                                                           -Random small, bamboo handled silicon spoon.                                                                 -Aluminum foil lid for pot.                                                                                                     -Bear canister: Bear Vault BV400…older large size. Also, a good seat.                             -Small lighter

Fishy Stuff:

4-piece fly rod set up. I cut my flyline and pre-tied it to be like a Tenkara style. No reel. Small bag with extra leader, some tippet and about 20 dry flies.                               License.

Other:

Journal:      Field Notes [waterproof paper kind]                                                                 Pen:           Just the inner part of a Space Pen                                                                   Map:           I’m going with Nat Geo JMT booklet. I like it better than Tom H’s. I                                  know, shoot me.                                                                                               Compass:   Brunton dealie. Small, light, has mirror [I need a mirror to help put in                                  my contacts each day]                                                                                       Umbrella:    I may use a cheap pharmacy bought umbrella. Silvered. Will keep off                                  the sun and rain.

 

I will most likely edit this post when I remember stuff I forgot to add. But, this is what I’m going with. Looking forward to getting out there!

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R&RP : ROUTE & RESUPPLY PLAN

I was lucky enough to get the Happy Isles to Sunrise/Merced Lake (Pass through), exit at Whitney permit reservation. So, that is my route. I will enter August 5 and I will exit the 20th or 21st. I will hike approximately 15m/day.

So, my plan at this point is to drive my humanity to Tuolumne Meadows on the 3rd, spend the night there, and then catch YARTS the morning of the 4th into Yosemite Valley. This allows me to leave my car and some supplies at TM. My goal is to only bring what I need for the night of the 4th in Yosemite Valley…possibly the night of the 5th on the trail [I hope to have 15-20 pounds total pack weight]. I’d like to go light and fast the first day, because of all the climbing [‘fast’ is extremely relative- fast compared to carrying a 40-60 pound pack up the sheer cliffs of Yosemite Valley].

This means I’ll be taking the tarp-like set up of my tent and leaving the rest in my car. Then, bringing my ground pad, a 40* rated bag, 24 hours of food, water filtration, first aid/meds, poop gear and a toothbrush. Whom I kidding? I don’t need a toothbrush.

Arriving in the valley, I will go to the wilderness office to pick up my permit and get myself to Backpackers’ Camp for the night. This should give me the day to basically explore and relax while eating big meals in a café/restaurant and have a celebratory pint or two.

I will wake up the 5th, eat breakfast somewhere hot and delicious and be on my way. I hope to make it to TM by the evening. But, if things are harder than I’m imagining, I don’t mind sleeping somewhere near Cathedral Lakes and getting to TM in the late morning.

On my return to Tuolumne Meadows, I will resupply about 2-3 days of food [left in a bear box] and my other gear [from my car]. I’ll eat something at the restaurant [breakfast or lunch] and be on my way.

I will be sending a small resupply box to Red’s Meadows and when I stop there I will eat at the Mule House Café. So, for about the first week, I will not be carrying a ton of food.

My last resupply will be at Muir Trail Ranch, where I’m also set up to spend one night. That will give me a dinner, breakfast, lunch and my plan is to basically stuff my bear canister and go when I check out. I’d like to finish the JMT 7 days after leaving MTR.

I will then hike down Whitney, eat at the Portal Store, hitch out and spend the night feasting in Lone Pine. Ending my trip will include a ride from Lone Pine on Eastern Sierra Transit Authority to Mammoth Lakes…a transfer to YARTS to continue to Tuolumne Meadows…finding my car key and driving home.

I will definitely blog the reality of this plan on my return. I should clear up that I’m using the word plan loosely. I’ve bought a bunch of food, and if you read the post about my food you know that there isn’t really much of a plan. I’m going to bring and eat things I like…I have no idea if they will provide the calories I need…I don’t have some cool chart…I guess I can catch fish if I need to?

FAX ME, FAX YOU

Back in October 2014 or so, I was talking with a few family members about the possibility of doing the JMT. I was amped. I had wanted to do it for the last 3-4 years, but timing just wasn’t in my favor.

Summer 2015 would find me in a bit of transition. I was in a new job after 19 years and the time would be easier to take [though of course, now that I’m a month out- it’s challenging].

When it started getting REAL and we were talking dates, it became clear that no one else would be able to go. Kinda lame. Now I was faced with the question, ‘Would I go solo?’

The answer was an immediate, ‘Yes!’ With that I started figuring out what needed to happen.

I joined the JMT Yahoo Group, bought Elizabeth Wenk’s book and a set of maps from Tom Harrison. I was making strides.

Getting online, I quickly realized that the permit system had changed. Like…the week before…greeeeeat. It was going to be even harder than I thought. Yosemite had changed the lottery system and the JMT permit leaving from Happy Isle [pass through type] and exiting at Whitney had gone down to like 5 per day, with a total Donahue Pass exit quota of 45/day [you can read official information about it here: Yosemite JMT Permit Info]. ‘Oh, crap!’ [I also didn’t really understand the exit quota dealie.]

I needed to get my fax on. Now, to be honest, I was an idiot. ID-I-OT. I didn’t know what I was doing and was sending like 8 faxes/day. I figured, “Lottery…I better get lotsa tickets in the mix”. Dumb. I did this for the first week, until I got an email, basically telling me I was stupid and needed to stop wasting their time with multiple faxes. Rangers:1, Kyle:0.

As I received my daily denial, I started looking into all kinds of other starting points. Mainly on trails from the north and going through Tuolumne Meadows. But, it felt a bit foochie to me. I’m kinda traditional and wanted to do the ‘normal’ route. My plan was to drive up a bit earlier than my start date and dayhike Happy Isle to TM. Then, drive to my ‘other’ trailhead and do the rest. But, that was going to add days, so it was definitely a plan-C situation.

It wasn’t until day 13 of faxing that I received a confirmation email for my reservation. Hallelujah! It was better than a Golden Ticket. I was so amped, and am still in shock. I have to admit that I still open the email confirmation once a week to make sure it is what it says it is.

So, I’m set to start August 5th. The real planning…and training has begun.

FIRST STEP

I’ve been avoiding this for at least a month. When I first starting planning for my hike, I was amped to get some thoughts on ‘paper’ by having a blog. It would contain my hopes and fears for walking the 220ish miles of the John Muir Trail. It would be messy, naive and a metaphor for the other parts of my life that are unfinished.

Finally, here I am. I will most likely have bits that others have included on their long walks. How my planning is going. What I am bringing and what things weigh. What I will eat. A log of my experience.

I also hope to include some of my inner workings, because I am doing this hike to look a bit deeper into me and what makes me tick. I will look at words like pace, solitude, isolation, community, pack weight, suffering, stewardship and who knows what else. I want to see how those words resonate ‘out there’ compared to being in my ‘normal’ life.

I feel like I am me wherever I go, but I’m hoping for a bit more clarity.

For those that don’t know me, I’m 45. A husband and father. Dodgers fan. I like strong coffee and a good IPA.

Thanks for reading this and maybe I’ll see you on the trail.

9 Tools to a Healthy Team : Being a Big Picture Leader

gear picWhen it comes to life, you will spend more time with the people you work with [at least conscience time- sleeping doesn’t count], than the people you live with. That’s crazy! That’s why it’s so important to build a healthy environment at work. Instead of just focusing on the bottom line…consider leading towards the big picture.

I’ve either been on or led more than thirty teams or working groups over the last 20 years. This in no way makes me an expert…but, I’ve learned a number of tools…usually by struggling, that can help you move forward as a leader.

1. Lead in High Definition. It’s up to you as a leader to provide extreme clarity on the mission and vision. If people don’t know what they are going after…what they are working towards, they will be frustrated. Keep the mission and vision in front of them.

2. Top Down Flow. If the leaders enjoy what they do…and get along…it will flow down to all other staff and employees. Whatever is happening in the boardroom will impact the environment of the company. This doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for disagreement and animated [loud] dialogue, but, it means that there is a commitment to accomplish the job together. This leads to…

3. Healthy Relationships. Keep channels of communication open. Be willing to hear feedback from people that work with and for you. Have an open door policy…or even ‘office hours’, where 2 hours of your week are set aside to hear from people. Don’t just say you care for people, show them you care by listening and responding.

4. Conflict is an Opportunity for Growth. People are messy. Life is messy. That can make the job messy. As a leader, take the time to tackle conflict so it doesn’t interfere with the job at hand. Struggle and conflict are opportunities for people to grow and your company to experience new levels of success. If dealt with well, conflict can actually make teams, relationships and commitment to the cause stronger.

5. Spend Money to Build Teams. People are valuable. Show your team their value by investing in them.  Intentionally program fun. Schedule some team-building, go to a long no-talking-about-work-lunch, volunteer together, or even have a progressive dinner trying some of the newest restaurants in town.  Let your staff plan whatever the activity will be. Then show up and engage with your people.

Another idea is to offer team members a training of their choice and paying for it. Whether it’s a skill that directly relates to work or not, they will feel cared for. Show them they are valuable by investing in who they are.

6. Unified Wins. I’m not into the idea that ‘majority wins’, because when majority wins, minority loses. ‘Majority wins’ can get you off track. Create an atmosphere where people feel heard, feel they are contributing and can leave a meeting dedicated to get the job done. People should disagree and push for their ideas, but as a leader help them leave a meeting unified to execute what was decided.

7. Trust More than Question. If you hired well, trust more than you question people. Nothing hurts performance more than an atmosphere of distrust and second guessing. Don’t be the micro-manager. Focus on the areas only you can focus on [mission and vision] and trust people to own and run with what you have given away to them.

8. Frustrate me, Frustrate you.  ‘Family meetings’ in my house is code for, “What’s wrong, now?” We try to have a place where we can be open with what’s working and what’s not. Where it’s OK to share frustrations. Hopefully, the code will change.

At work this is another area that relates to atmosphere. Is it safe for people to express frustration…even anger? Can they come to you and shoot straight? You don’t want to have a negative culture, but there will be times when people need to vent. Are you a leader that keeps people on eggshells or can they share what feels stuck? Create a staff meeting, maybe quarterly, where it is ‘family time’. I’ve worked in an organization where the message was, “Just trust us and don’t push back”. It created distrust and made us think that leadership wasn’t interested in what was really going on, and just wanted to push their agenda.

9. Celebrate Risk. Even with the best plans, flops happen. Failure happens. ‘Managing’ is culturally different than ‘innovating’. Create an atmosphere where people sense the urgency of getting to the mission and making the vision a reality. If failure isn’t celebrated, people won’t risk. Let your team see you fail, learn and move on. Vulnerability builds trust and starts with the leader. Vulnerability and risk will energize your staff and take you places you would never go if they were just managing what you already have.

–There are a ton of ideas out there on teams. I hope these thoughts get you thinking and moving towards being a big picture leader.

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger : 7 Ways Feedback Helps Us Grow

strongerI seem to always laugh out loud…for real…when Jimmy Fallon busts out his Audience Suggestion Box routine. It always begins with this powerful voice saying, Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger. Then it sets up his ‘audience’ suggestions, like Black Simon and Garfunkel, or  recreate the cover of Nevermind with a grown man instead of a baby.

It got me thinking though, that feedback really does work to help us grow [whether we are giving or receiving it]. So, here are my thoughts on how feedback works for our good.

1. Practice makes perfect. Maybe not perfect, but better. Feedback can be scary. Remember, that it takes practice…like building a muscle. It may be raw or rough information, but done well, it can show the person you care.

2. Listen and filter. If you are on the receiving end of feedback, lower your defenses. It takes courage for someone to bring a blind spot to your attention. It may not come out well [see above, raw and rough], but this person is caring for and about you…helping your development. Filter what you are hearing, there is most likely some truth in it.

3. Timing is important. My wife knows not to give me information when I’m hungry. I’m a grump otherwise. I’m not listening. Similarly, timing can help or hurt feedback. Don’t let issues build up, have the conversation as soon as you can. If you blow off or minimize what is annoying you, you’re not helping the situation or your relationship.

4. Sarcasm is not the answer. Don’t try to give feedback with humor, sarcasm or passive aggressive language. Be responsible for what you are feeling…own it. Have an adult conversation about it.

5. It’s the behavior, stupid. I’ve often gotten in trouble when what I bring up is personality. We can’t change or even hope their personality will change, but, we can help a person develop skills in business or personal relationships. So, stick with behaviors that are affecting your relationship with the person.

6. I, not you. When it’s time for feedback, relationships are struggling. But, with a good conversation, it’s an opportunity for growth and strengthening. Don’t say things like, “You always ignore me. That’s lame.” Try, “I feel hurt that you don’t include me or my opinions.”

7. Picture this. Give them a picture of what you would like to see happen. “I can see us collaborating and being a great team on the next project. You bring so much to the table. I’m committed to seeing you succeed.” People love to know they are cared for and being invested in. Help them see that feedback is good for them.

Remember, whether you need to have the hard conversation, or listen to feedback from someone else, you will grow from the experience, by showing you value the person.

 

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger : 7 Ways Feedback Helps us Grow

I seemstronger to always laugh out loud…for real…when Jimmy Fallon busts out his Audience Suggestion Box routine. It always begins with this powerful voice saying, Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger. Then it sets up his ‘audience’ suggestions, like Black Simon and Garfunkel, or  recreate the cover of Nevermind with a grown man instead of a baby.

It got me thinking though, that feedback really does work to help us grow [whether we are giving or receiving it]. So, here are my thoughts on how feedback works for our good.

1. Practice makes perfect. Maybe not perfect, but better. Feedback can be scary. Remember, that it takes practice…like building a muscle. It may be raw or rough information, but done well, it can show the person you care.

2. Listen and filter. If you are on the receiving end of feedback, lower your defenses. It takes courage for someone to bring a blind spot to your attention. It may not come out well [see above, raw and rough], but this person is caring for and about you…helping your development. Filter what you are hearing, there is most likely some truth in it.

3. Timing is important. My wife knows not to give me information when I’m hungry. I’m a grump otherwise. I’m not listening. Similarly, timing can help or hurt feedback. Don’t let issues build up, have the conversation as soon as you can. If you blow off or minimize what is annoying you, you’re not helping the situation or your relationship.

4. Sarcasm is not the answer. Don’t try to give feedback with humor, sarcasm or passive aggressive language. Be responsible for what you are feeling…own it. Have an adult conversation about it.

5. It’s the behavior, stupid. I’ve often gotten in trouble when what I bring up is personality. We can’t change or even hope their personality will change, but, we can help a person develop skills in business or personal relationships. So, stick with behaviors that are affecting your relationship with the person.

6. I, not you. When it’s time for feedback, relationships are struggling. But, with a good conversation, it’s an opportunity for growth and strengthening. Don’t say things like, “You always ignore me. That’s lame.” Try, “I feel hurt that you don’t include me or my opinions.”

7. Picture this. Give them a picture of what you would like to see happen. “I can see us collaborating and being a great team on the next project. You bring so much to the table. I’m committed to seeing you succeed.” People love to know they are cared for and being invested in. Help them see that feedback is good for them.

Remember, whether you need to have the hard conversation, or listen to feedback from someone else, you will grow from the experience by showing you value the person.