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Peakbagging, Hiking & Climbing

“There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games.” ― Ernest Hemingway

Winchester Mountain Lookout – Maximum View with Minimal Effort

Getting to the Winchester Mountain Lookout in the North Cascades, Mt. Baker area is harder on your car than it is on your legs.  The drive to the top involves a seven mile, single lane dirt road with some big potholes and more than a few washout areas.  That said, once you arrive at the trail head the rest of the trip is a snap. This is a short hike with a killer view of the North Cascades and Mt. Baker.  Backpacker Magazine calls this hike the best day hike in America.  If you are looking for a peak to bag and you want to maximize your view and minimize your effort, this is it. We haven’t had a chance to explore much of the North Cascades yet, but this was a great intro.   You get a ton of great photo opportunities without too much effort. Winchester Mountain Lookout Trail Notes   Once you shake off the bumps from the road up the rest is easy.  The trail is well engineered and distributes the elevation gain evenly.    The total distance from parking lot to lookout is only about two miles with a steady elevation gain of about 1500 feet.  The views and photo opportunities start right away. On The Trail… The trail starts on the patch of land between Twin Lakes.  You will need to sign into a backcountry registration box as you enter the Mt. Baker Wilderness area.  A few hundred feet after the sign in point

Valley Uprising and Thoughts on Yosemite Climbing

Between 1999 and 2009 our family spent a fair amount of time at Granite Arch Climbing Center in Sacramento, CA. We went there to learn, to practice, to improve our climbing skills and to hang out with friends.

Granite Arch was a fun place and we logged a lot of hours dangling from ropes above shredded tires. We had no idea at the time, but also baked into that arrangement was something truly remarkable.

How to get a $500 GPS for thirty dollars

I recently downloaded the Gaia GPS app for the iphone.  I was a little nervous about the price ($30 for the app and another $10/yr. for the premium features).  I was delighted to find that it was worth every penny. Gaia works BETTER than the last GPSr that I purchased.  Granted, it’s been a few years since I purchased the eTrex series Garmin that we used for Geocaching, hiking, and SAR but Gaia has every feature that I would want – and more. Our test run was on a recent climb of Mt. Defiance in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area of WA state.  With my phone in airplane mode, we monitored our route along the trail, identified major landmarks, calculated our pace and distance traveled, and geotagged photos along the way.  Because this all runs on the iPhone you don’t have to carry an extra device (although a battery charger is a good idea). I love Gaia and it is now one of my favorite apps.  Considering that Garmin is asking $550 for their Oregon unit (color TOPO maps with similar features) the $40 that Gaia is asking for is a steal. So, my first impressions are that the price is well worth it and the features do everything that I need.  I love this app. On a final note, if you are long on GRMN (a stock that I have liked for years) you may want to monitor the popularity/growth of Gaia.  IMHO Gaia can easily undercut their eTrex