On July 9th, I was one of four journeymen from the lowlands of Boston that packed together their most prized possessions and set off for the mountains of New Hampshire. Facing the grim reality that this could be the last time we see our loved ones, we tried to focus on the journey ahead: conquering the Beast of the East, Mt. Washington. Over the next two days, hauling 40 pounds each as we ascended the Presidential Traverse, we men suffered through wind gusts of over 50 mph, bloody blisters, and broken backs. But our pack refused to give up as we battled through the 25 miles of treacherous, rocky terrain. On the morning of summit, the sun came out, and Mt. Washington revealed itself in all its glory. 2000 feet below, in its shadows, we heard the battle cry. The epic moment was now on. This is our story.
Big ups to CatEyez for editing this video.
Finding the right backpacking gear is a daunting task. Not only is it time consuming, but it can get very expensive, very quickly. Do not lose hope, I bring good news. Over the last year, I have built up my arsenal of backpacking gear from virtually nothing to being fully equipped. And by no means am I rich, but quite the contrary. I have spent days frugally sorting through equipment in stores and online, diligently reading through countless reviews, and buying the best gear, all with a low budget. I did not break the bank and my equipment has held up as well. I am finally ready to report back!
[Just In: My Backpacker Magazine Contest Video, “Olympic Dreams,” Lands Me a Gig Reviewing Gear for Columbia!]
In this article, I outline the best gear your Washingtons can buy you, including:
The most important piece of the puzzle. Since you’ll be hauling anywhere from 20 to 40 pounds for multiple days, you need a pack that is large, durable but also comfortable. You need a pack that rests on your hips with strong zippers and lots of compartments. Your pack should never give you blisters or give you significant back pain. My pick: The Osprey Atmos 50.
The Osprey Atmos 50 in Green Apple
This pack is perfect. I have used it on numerous adventures, including a month long trip to Peru. It has completely shattered my expectations. To date, there are no signs of wear and tear – no broken zippers; no ripped fabric. It is compact, lightweight, but large enough for multi-day trips. There are multiple compartments and weight is Continue reading
Rolling out of my warm sleeping bag nook after another short night of sleep, I woke up to the reality of putting on a pair of cold and wet hiking boots for the third consecutive morning. I would spend the rest of my day in these boots, trudging through steep terrain, mud, and possibly snow in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The three pairs of socks I packed were soaked as well, emitting a nauseating fume by today, day five of our trip.
“When the mountain ahead looms over us with a dark shadow of self doubt, we look deeply within ourselves and dig out long embedded personal characteristics.”
I reached into my bag and tried to focus on the necessity of the cold, slimy, and stinky cloth that was sliding over my foot. I knew I had no chance of finishing the last few miles of our journey without socks to protect my developing blisters. My socks on my feet, I prepared for the equally cold, wet, and uninviting boots, which would stay that way until I got home. The temporary sting of cold and the general absence of comfort however were mightily overshadowed by the most important lesson of wilderness adventure: Accepting a mentality of dealing with your circumstances.
[Backpacking for Beginners: Choosing the Best Cheap Backpacking Gear]
A random collection of my favorite photographs I have taken over the past few years. Enjoy! And check out my Flickr if you’d like to see more!
Sitting in Spanish class in ninth grade, I would have never imagined I would one day find myself in one of the premier geographic Meccas of juvenile jokes. Yet here I am on Lake Titicaca, taken aback by its size and beauty, smiling down at the jokes of a distant past. At an altitude of 3.8 km (2.36 miles) above sea level, Lake Titicaca covers a vast 8372 square km (3100 sq. mi.), roughly the area of Delaware, with its longest diameter of 168 km (104 miles) from shore to shore.
I’m on a very slow moving, motor powered boat, transgressing the deep, dark blue water between a ‘floating’ and a ‘geological’ island. The people of the area have been living on floating islands for centuries. A floating island is composed of reef that naturally grows in the lake, and every 3 months a new layer of reef is laid down to replace the decomposing reef submerged in the water. As you walk around your feet literally sink half a foot into the ground.
I feel as if I’m in the middle of the ocean, so dark is the water. Yet there are no great whites or sandtiger sharks, no killer whales or bottlenose dolphins to speak of. The low levels of oxygen at this altitude prevent this ecosystem from supporting significant life. The lovely people on the floating islands rely on fish smaller than the size of the pen I’m writing with for food. It’s quite extraordinary, since isolated tradition like this does not exist in many parts of the world. I’m glad to have witnessed it.
As we keep moving, the sun slowly chars away at my skin. A sure call for a sunscreen break. This high up, the sun really torches you. Meanwhile, you would think I was Continue reading