Friday, December 25, 2020

New York v. Florida

Interesting comparison between NY and Florida and you could substitute California in for NY in these comparisons.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Mattis Interview

Great interview with General Mattis. I particularly like his story at the very end.

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Survivalist Books

 Been reading a lot of survivalist books, fiction and non-fiction.

Weekend Activity

  • Rucks at the local reserve and Torrey Pines SB
  • Zoo at Night - haven't been in a long time and a lot has changed; we got in before the lockdown and saw many animals

Wanted: Director of Health Services - no experience necessary

Biden chooses health expert lawyer to be next head of HHS.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Dictator Newsom

 I guess its only tyranny if you disagree with the tyrant but ok if you agree.

Update: Dictator disregards his own rules.

The Meaning of Science

Watt's Up has a good discussion on the process of science and how it applies specifically to climate change.  Hopefully our dear leaders will read it.

Friday, November 06, 2020

Ruck and Hike

On Saturday, I loaded a pack with 48 pounds of bricks and water jugs and headed for a nice ruck at Denk Mountain.

On Sunday, Jyoti and I went for a hike at William Heise County Park.  The Desert View Trail had a great overlook that had 360 degree views to the desert, mountains and foothills.  One of my new favorites.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

New England Fall Vacation

As vacation plans get changed weekly, Jyoti was able to put together a New England trip for us and Kevin and Robyn.

We first flew to Portland, Maine.  Portland is a nice small city, bigger than I expected but not crowded.  It had some great restaurants as well.  I highly recommend BlueFin, they had the best lobster dishes of the trip.  We visited Fort Williams Park and took the obligatory photo at Portland Head lighthouse.  Later in the day, we took a ferry to Peaks Island and rented a golf cart to take a tour around the island.

The next day, we headed up the coast. Along the way we stopped in Bath to visit the Maine Maritime Museum.  The museum had great indoor exhibits as well as outdoor ones.  After a few hours driving through some rain, we made it to Bar Harbor.

At Bar Harbor, we spent two days exploring Acadia National Park.  We did a few hikes and drove the loop (after figuring out the experimental reservation system).  Hikes included the Beehive, Jordan Pond, Wild Gardens, and South Bubble.  We drove up to Cadillac Mt. but it was super foggy and we couldn't see anything.  Acadia is beautiful but feels more like a big city park than the massive open spaces of the western parks.

Leaving Bar Harbor, we drove south.  We stopped at several attractions, small towns and lighthouses along the way to Bailey Island.  The island is way off the beaten path but is very nice.  We stayed at a small motel, the Bailey Island Motel.  It was very quaint and had the best homemade muffins!  Since it was pretty much the end of the season all the restaurants were closed and there weren't many people there.  We did a nice short hike to Giant's Steps and visited Land's End.  I would love to visit the island again and spend more time there.

Next stop was Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  We were able to tour the USS Albacore which was really cool.  Strawbery Banke was great even though the houses were not open to walk through.  We had a great dinner at Black Trumpet overlooking the river.

Last stop was Boston.  We spent a day here to visit relatives but got in some sights as well.  We hiked the Freedom Trail from the Commons to Bunker Hill.  Many things were closed but we got into the Paul Revere House.  The Charlestown Navy Yard was closing when got there which was a bummer.  However, our flight the next morning was canceled.  So with an extra day, we headed back to the shipyard to visit the museums, USS Constitution and the USS Cassin Young.

Portland Head Lighthouse

Peaks Island gold cart

Jordon Pond

Top of South Bubble

Beehive summit

Hiking out to a lighthouse

Lands End, Bailey Island

Paul Revere House

Bunker Hill

Monday, October 12, 2020

How To Open Schools and Outdoor Activity

 One of the big debates this COVID season is how to safely open up schools. Anecdotally, the schools that have opened up have had decent results. One of the local school districts has enlisted the support of UCSD to help them figure out the risks and how to manage them.  They have some interesting points.  But the main point IMO is that there is very little risk when outdoors.  The data (at least that data that government allow us to see) shows that there are no outbreaks attributed to outdoor activity.  Maybe we should hold the governor and health departments responsible for their bad decision to close the beaches, parks and playgrounds.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Trump Taxes

Assuming the NYT has it right about Trump's tax returns, I congratulate Mr. Trump on paying so little in taxes.  The NYT is showing that it is ignorant about tax law or is so biased they willfully make false/misleading statements regarding the tax code.

Bigger Pockets has a great review on the terrible Time article. 

Note that Biden uses all the tax "loopholes" available to him to lower his bill.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Forgotton Depression of 1920

There are some great lessons to be learned from the depression of 1920.  The playbook that works is pretty much the opposite of what the government is doing now.

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Vintage Rifles at the Range

 Spent some time at P2K shooting a 03 Springfield and an M1 Garand.  The Springfield shot very nicely at 25 yards but the sights on the M1 were low.  I didn't stick around long enough to fiddle with so that will have to wait for the next trip.

03 Springfield

M1 Garand

Friday, September 18, 2020

San Diego DA Admits Protests Infiltrated

In a town hall style meeting, the San Diego city district attorney Summer Stephan, admitted that she had information that the peaceful protests were infiltrated.

According to the DA, the infiltrators were organized enough to remove license plates from vehicles and bring generators.  These were the ones responsible for the violence.  Ms. Stephan declined to mention any other details of the group but it was obvious that she had more information.

Hopefully more will come out about this "movement" and its members.

Thursday, September 03, 2020

Adventure Weekend at Mammoth

 After having many trips canceled, we finally got out of town and headed up to Mammoth Lakes for a long adventure-filled weekend.  The drive up was uneventful but the view of the Sierras from 395 where obscured by haze and smoke.  We got to the Devils Postpile and drove and found there were plenty of campsites still available.  We found a great one at Red Meadow right next to the creek.  After setting up camp, we hiked to the resort for a milkshake and headed to Rainbow Falls.  We then hiked back to camp and went to bed.

Next morning, we woke up, broke camp and made the short drive over to the Devils Postpile overnight parking lot.  After packing our packs, we headed.  The trail started with a steady uphill of the west side of the river valley.  We got a great view of the basalt formations on the way up.  It then dropped into the King Creek drainage.  Then the real uphill started for a few miles before leveling out before reaching the Fern Lake outlet.  At the lake, we poked around for a site and found one just barely 100 feet from the water.  The lake was very nice and spent time on a small beach near our camp watching some anglers.  Another early night for us as we read before going to sleep.

We were awoken by somebody walking nearby and talking loudly.  It turned out to be a rather grumpy old guy patrolling the lake and complaining about the other campers.  He was particularly upset about the folks camped right along the water. Pretty odd.  The hike back was mainly downhill but with a butt kicker climb out of the King Creek.  Jyoti's IT band really started to hurt but she made it back to Devils Postpile ok.  We drove over to Minaret Falls campground and found a nice picnic bench to have lunch with views of the falls.  After eating we headed into town to await our check in time.

There is tons to do in Mammoth during the summer time.  Here is a digest version of our activities:

  • Took the gondola to the top of the mountain.  On the way down, we stopped at the halfway point to checkout the information displays.
  • Checked out the earthquake fault.
  • Drove around the lakes with a stop at Horseshoe Lake; it was pretty crowded.
  • Drove down Old Mammoth Road to see some of the old mining stuff.
  • Visited the Mammoth Museum.
  • Took the bus to Twin Lakes and rented a row boat.


Jo along the trail

Atop Mammoth Mt

Fern Lake selfie

Fern Lake camp

Peaceful Protests

Here are some examples of "mostly peaceful" protests:

The stuff going on now is something different.  Certainly many supporters of the cause are peaceful and law-abiding.  But there is obvious influences that cause things to spiral out of control.  It is shameful that few people, regardless of their chosen team, can talk about it factually.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Guatay Mt. Hike

 I braved the heat and headed out to Cleveland NF to hike Guatay Mt.  This has been on my short list for a some time.  Although it was hot the weather was very tolerable and I had plenty of water.  The trail was pretty step, eroded and rocky in many place.  But it was worth with great views from the summit.

View to the north and the peaks of Cuyamaca

Tecate Cypress


Monday, July 27, 2020

Truncated Sequoia NP Backpack

I had a nice, remote 4 day/50 mile backpack planned in Sequoia NP.  My loop started at Lodgepole and went clockwise through Deadman's Canyon. However, due to various reasons (AMS, skeeters, so-so trails), I bailed after one night.  Still had a great time though.

Mandatory park sign selfie

Mountain creek

Green tunnel

Twin Lakes

Looking over Ranger Lake

Cowboy camping

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Parsons Landing Overnight

Well before current travel restrictions were in place, we had reserved a spot at Parsons Landing on Catalina Island.  However, the the boats were shutdown until right before our scheduled departure.  We took the morning drive up to San Pedro and took the 1:15 hour ride over to Two Harbors.  After checking in, we started hiking along the road to Parsons Landing.
As the crow flies, it is probably only a couple miles to Emerald Bay, but you have to traverse all the intermediate canyons and landings to it ends up being a 2 hour hike to Emerald Bay.  From there, you head overland a bit to get to Parsons.  We got there early and without shade it was kind of boring although the views were great.  All eight sites were booked but it didn't seem crowded at all.
After a great night's sleep, we slowly packed up and hiked back to Two Harbors to catch the boat back.  There were lots of people at Two Harbors on Sunday morning.  They even used a big boat to fit everyone.  We got in line early to ensure we got an outdoor spot.
Overall, it was a fun little overnight backpack.

View from site 8

Our tent

Jyoti hiking in the grasslands

No summer camp this year :(

Overlooking Two Harbors

Enivornment Pushback

A couple of interesting items in environment news.  Its seems that some folks are having seconds thoughts about the "end of the world" narrative about "human-cause" climate change.

Interesting take on herd immunity

Peak Prosperity has some of best commentary on COVID-19 and this article has some good analysis of herd immunity.  If you aren't interesting in asset prices, scroll towards the bottom.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Oregon Wine Country

Travel has opened up enough to allow us to reschedule our Oregon wine country trip that was canceled earlier in the year.
Leaving San Diego, the airport was pretty empty.  The only shop open was a coffee shop and everyone was wearing masks.  We flew on a brand new Embraer E75 which has 2+2 seating.  Couples and families occupied the same side but others were had empty seats next to them.
Once in Portland, we headed south to McMinnville, our base camp for the trip.  We stayed at a renovated old building that was very nice.  About half of the business still looked to be closed.  The restaurants that were open were doing pretty good business and were glad to have customers.
Over the next 3 days, we visited many wineries.  I overdid the tasting the first day but remembered to use the spit bucket later.

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

San Gorgonio Overnight

A couple friends and I headed up to the San Bernadino mountains and San Gorgonio Wilderness for a long awaited return to backpacking!  The plan was to drive up to Forsee trailhead and hike to Trail Forks and camp for the night.  Then, hit the summit and see how many of the 9 peaks we could bag before camping at either Shields Flat or Trail Forks again.  Next morning, quickly hike down and drive home.  Things didn't go quite as planned.


The weather this trip was the most difficult I have had to deal with. It was lightly raining the entire drive up.  Then at the trailhead, it was sunny and warm.  We sweated the first several miles.  Then a bitter cold wind started up.  By dinner time, it was very cold (low 40's) and windy (~20 to 30 mph gusts).  Thing is none us were really prepared for much colder temperatures.  Night was nice for a while until the wind picked up again.  We estimate it was mid 30's by morning.  At the summit, it was even colder and we only stayed for a few minutes to take pix before rapidly heading down to find shelter among the stubby pines for lunch.


Everyone had forgot some piece of needed gear.  I forgot my rain jacket (grabbed my rain pants by mistake) and took my warm weather quilt.  I would have been fine in warmer base layers but don't own any; that might be my next gear purchase.
The Ray-way tarp did great.  I pitched it perpendicular to the wind at the lowest I have pitched it.  I avoided most of the wind and didn't get any flapping.
I carried my BV500 in my new Zpacks Arc Blast.  It fit nicely and wasn't a bother.  I think the arc in the pack does a great job of keeping the hard plastic away from your spine.  I did get some rubbing along my hip bones but that always happens.  Overall, the Arc Blast is welcome replacement pack.


I have been keeping in good shape during the lock down but nothing compares to alpine hiking.  Rich and I bagged the summit and Jepson but were too beat to try any other peaks.  The ups and downs along the ridge trail between Anderson and Dollar Saddle were tough.  There were also many snow patches to cross which slowed us down some.


I found a great website for backpacking recipes run by a nutritionist: Backcountry Foodie.  It is vegetarian focused which I am trying more and more.  I also enjoy the thought put into each recipe and the instructions.  I tried out the Garlic Parmesan Ramen and White Chocolate Coconut Pudding.  They were very good.  I highly recommend getting a subscription.

Get the gear!

Crossing a snow field

Above the clouds

At the summit

Extra low tarp pitch

Trying to keep our stoves out of the wind

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Tucson Road Trip

We finally got out of the house and made a road trip to visit my parents in their new home in Tucson.  it is a bit of a drive but not too bad.  The weather was hot but quite nice with cool mornings and breezes.
My parents' house backs up to Tucson Mountain park and they get quite a bit of wildlife passing by.  We saw deer, quail, coyotes and many types of birds.  They have seen bobcat and javelina as well.  We did some hikes in the park, played games and had a good time with my parents and my aunt and uncle.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Getting Back Outdoors

As the "curve" is getting squashed, it is time to start planning to venture out again.

What is open?

Contrary to popular beliefs and reporting, much of the California backcountry has been open albeit to various extents.  National Parks have all been pretty much closed.  Most Forest Service lands have been open to hiking but established campground and facilities have been closed.  All state lands have been closed.  County and city lands don't provide much in the way of long distance hiking so aren't a concern for this discussion.  One tricky aspect to permitting is actually getting your permit.  Inyo NF is taking reservations starting June 1 but if the ranger stations are still closed, there is no way to get your permit.  SEKI is accepting permit applications but they don't guarantee a response.  Some districts will issue permits via email so those are a safe bet.  Be sure to check the websites of the land manager where you plan to hike for the latest information.

What is safe?

Everyone has their own opinion on this (whether fact-based or not).  Andrew Skurka is putting up a great set of guidelines for judging risk and safety for backcountry outings.  Skurka is focusing on guiding groups but his principles apply for solo and Scout groups as well.  The data shows that outdoor activities is very safe, especially the farther you get from the road.  I predict coming across other folks but will have a buff for face covering as appropriate.  My current short term planning is to hike within a tank's worth of gas therefore I won't have to stop anywhere along the way between home and the trailhead.  If trends in the data continue, then I will consider dropping this restriction from summer which means getting to the Sierras.

On the trail

I don't plan on making any changes to my gear for the trail.  I will be taking extra water in the car so I don't have to fill up from municipal sources which may be closed.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

COVID-19 Data

It has taken governments quite a while to get their data together and start reporting it in a meaningful way.
Here is the latest and best sources for San Diego county and California:
Updated with latest sources.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Lockdown reading

  • Crashes and Crises: Lessons from a History Financial Disasters by Connel Fullenkamp
  • San Dieguito Heritage by Maura Wiegand
  • The Secret Token: Myth, Obsession and Search for the Lost Colony of Roanoke by Andrew Lawler
  • Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape Our Universe by Martin Rees
  • Aircraft Carriers Vol. 2: 1946 - 2005 by Norman Polmar
  • Labyrinth of Ice: The Triumphant and Tragic Greely Polar Expedition by Buddy Levy

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Something I agree with SANDAG on

After a dysmal job report, SANDAG Chief Economist Ray Major had this to say:
"The reality is that hundreds of thousands of San Diegans have lost their primary source of income," said SANDAG Chief Economist Ray Major. "We hope this report gives regional leaders a broad understanding of the impacts and will help in developing protocols to allow people to safely return to work and restart the region's economy."
I agree completely.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

San Diego County COVID-19 Metrics

As governments say they are going to use science and data to tell them when to restore our rights, very few have the guts to actual share with us what data and metrics they are using.  For example, the governor of California has release a set of guidelines with no actual measurements.  I tried exchanging emails with a state government staffer but did not get a response on how these metrics are to be met.
But San Diego County health director Dr. Wilma Wooten has taken the time to enlighten the masses on the county's metrics and her take on the state's.  Kudos to Dr. Wooten.  The following is copied from the San Diego Union.  I am not just linking because I don't want it to disappear (my comments in red):

Federal recommendations:
  • Log a downward trajectory of influenza-like illness reported within a 14-day period: Met — In the last 30 days, the percentage of emergency department visits for influenza-like illnesses has dropped from 10 percent on March 16 to 3 percent on April 15.
  • Log a downward trajectory of COVID-like syndromic cases reported within a 14-day period: In progress — Since April 4, the trend has varied.
    These first two bullets are very similar although I am not really sure why the difference matters.  It is much better to track actual cases of the people with the disease then just test results.
  • Log a downward trajectory of COVID-19 cases OR a downward trajectory of positive tests as a percentage of total tests within a 14-day period: Met — Since April 6, the county has seen a downward trajectory in the percentage of positive cases.
    Very important to make this not just a function of the number of tests given and even better to see it trend down.
  • Have the ability to treat all patients without crisis care: Met
    Hospitals have plenty of room right now due their hard work. But one side effect is that people needed "non-essential" procedures are having to wait and many of these are truly worthwhile and not frivolous.  Also, hospitals are losing revenues as they sit under-utilized adding to the economic distress.
  • Establish a robust testing program for at-risk health care workers, including antibody testing: In progress — The county has created a testing task force to increase the region’s testing capacity.
    Why health care workers aren't first in line is beyond me.  Latest reports have the county up to 3000 tests per day but many testing facilities are reportedly under-utilized.  Hopefully the task force can get things going faster.
Notice how the federal recommendations have actual measurable metrics.  Now contrast this with the state...
State recommendations:

  • The ability to monitor and protect our communities through testing, contact tracing and isolating, and supporting those who are positive or exposed: County officials are continuing to increase the region’s testing capacity, which now sits at more than 3,000 tests per day. Officials have also created a testing task force and an action plan to increase contact tracing. More than 1,700 hotel rooms have been obtained to help isolate people who contract the virus, and a University of California San Diego dorm stands at the ready to house COVID-19 patients on the mend.
    The ability to do something is much different than the actual implementation and results.  How about use some under-utilized state employees (or the unemployed) and have them work on manual contact tracing.
  • The ability to prevent infection in people who are at risk for more severe COVID-19: Health officials already strongly recommend that people stay at home if they are older than 65, have chronic medical conditions or have a compromised immune systems. The county is also prioritizing testing for vulnerable populations, hospitalized patients, people in long-term care facilities, health care workers, and essential workers like first responders.
    One of the few hard facts about COVID-19 is that the elderly and those in poor health are greatest at risk.   Again, the ability is there to monitor those that are better off staying home.  How about using under-utilized state employees to check up on these folks.
  • The ability of hospital and health systems to handle surges: Health officials said the number of hospitalizations is decreasing and there are enough beds, staff members and supplies to go around.
  • The ability to develop therapeutics to meet demand: County officials aren’t working on this one at this time.
    Does these mean we need to have effective treatment and in some quantity or that we just have to be working on it?
  • The ability for businesses, schools and child care facilities to support physical distancing: The region’s health order mandates physical distancing in these facilities and requires that social distancing and sanitation protocols be posted at all open businesses. A newly created economic advisory group is working on specific plans to help businesses reopen.
    Done.  Every place I go to has this figured out, except the wide open areas like beaches are deserts for some reason.
  • The ability to determine when to reinstitute measures, such as stay-at-home orders, if necessary: County health officials are continuously monitoring numbers related to the COVID-19 pandemic and are working on determining specific criteria for increasing or decreasing restrictions.
    It would be nice to have a way to figure when you are going to imprison your population and destroy the economy but that might be too much to ask.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Don't Rely on Government Bailouts

Why?  Thy government does not care about you unless you happen to be a Wall Street insider or big bank or big corporation.  How can you tell?  Here are some reasons:
The small business loan programs ran out of money in days.  Much of the paltry amount of money they had to start with went to big companies who are now being shamed into giving some back.  I have not heard of the Fed running out money yet (mainly because they create it out of thin air).
The government thinks you can live on $1200 for a indefinite period of time after they took your job away.  Not only is that amount of money insulting, it is taking the IRS months to dole it out, that is if you can figure all the rules attached to it.  The Fed, by contrast, can get billions to any one of its cronies in seconds and its programs are detailed in short little memos.
What's great is all this is in plain sight.  There is no conspiracy, nothing is being hidden.  The fact is, most Americans don't care, don't understand and think the government is out to help them so they aren't outraged.
Lets take a closer look into one of the new Fed programs as an example.  The "Primary Dealer Credit Facility" (PDCF) is a program started to "support the credit needs of American households and businesses."  That is a direct quote and not something from the Onion.  Keep in mind that a Primary Dealer is the exact opposite of  an American households or business.  The dealers are the banks that the Fed does direct business with; the list is very short and does not include you and I.  Next, Read the memo (pdf) that describes the "terms".    Don't worry, its only 2 pages long with lots of white space. This document effectively states the Fed will buy a bunch of the dealer's debt (except for foreign currency backed debt) for an unspecified amount of time (it actually says 6 months with the caveat "or longer, if conditions warrant").  Nothing in here says anything about how this helps American households or business.  It is basically a way for big banks to unload crappy debt onto taxpayers.  This program is like the king giving gold to his nobles and expecting them to hand it out to their serfs.  This is just one of several programs cooked up to "help" the American people.  Feel free to peruse them, they are all basically the same.
As a libertarian, I don't think it is the governments job to promote business and hand out free money.  But when you compare the handouts to bank to those to regular people it makes you wonder what side they are on. I guess Ron Paul is right.
What the government should do (and I agree with Chris Martensen) is compensate all citizens due to the hardships caused by government actions.  No crazy rules or strings. And let all the companies that piled on debt for no good reason go under.  If they were in a worthwhile business, the next generation of entrepreneurs will provide those goods and services in short order.  And forget the banks, they got their chance 12 years ago and blew it.  Bring back sound money and finance.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Building America

Marc Andreessen make some good points on rebuilding America.  It would wonderful it we can get back to building but too many interests are opposed to it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Contact Tracing

Contact tracing looks to be a main part of any government effort to restoring our freedom.  It looks like folks are already way ahead of the curve in developing systems that track contact but retain privacy.  I am pretty sure the government and big tech will do something that does neither.
Bruce Schneier commented on the same.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Nikki Haley Has Guts

Too bad most of the other execs at Boeing won't have the guts like Haley to quit and admit they chose to enrich themselves and their buddies instead of making planes that can actually fly.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Fed Fraud

What is Fidelity hiding?

My company uses Fidelity for its 401K platform.  Along with a host of technical issues, they have decided that you can't handle seeing how much your account value has been crushed.

The "simplified" version normally shows your account performance.  Maybe they didn't want to be responsible for mass suicides.
Anyway, it is good I moved my stuff to cash awhile back.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Bin Laden Raid Air Operations

Cool War Zone article on the OBL raid with more details on the air operations. It would be nice to get the entire story someday, but we probably never will.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Climate Change Stance

I have been grappling with the climate change debate lately to try to sift through all the muck.  I found this article which sums up my current understanding pretty well.
It is written as a rebuttal to a rebuttal but does a good job of explaining the data as over long periods of time.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Winter Book Reading

Shelter Quiver

Following the lead of Paul Magnanti, I am doing a post on my quiver of camping shelters.

First up is our family tent, an Alps Mountaineering 5 person nylon cabin.  We don't camp as a family anymore, but this giant-sized tent might come in handy as base camp shelter.  It is a typical house tent but packs pretty small.

Next up is my one person tent, an Alps Mountaineering Mystique 1.  I call it the "coffin" due to its shape and small size, but I really like it.  For my size, I have plenty of room in it.  It is also quite weatherproof having used it rain and sleet without issue.  I don't take it backpacking anymore but use it on troop car camps often.

My "go to" shelter is my handcrafted Ray Jardine one person tarp.  I have taken this on most of my backpacking trips and absolutely love it.  It is very lightweight at barely over a pound.  I can also adjust the pitch to match the conditions.  The only drawback is entry and exit must be done at the ends which can be tight if the tarp is pitched low.  I have put this tarp through some pretty nasty storms in the Sierras so have no qualms using it on any 3 season trip.  I would like to try it in snow one day.

For Philmont 2017, I got a Tarptent MoTrail.  This is a very light weight (~2 lbs.) two person shelter.  It handled the rain and wind and Philmont very well and I use it often, especially on couples backpacks and scout backpacks.  I got the pole set with it since I don't use trekking poles.

For winter camping with the Specialist groups, I have been sharing a North Face 4-season tent.  But I have experimented with using a Go-Lite Shangri-La as well.  This tarp shelter has nicely sloped sides to shed snow.  It is very lightweight as well.  I sometimes use this on backpack treks to mix things up.

Lastly, I want to give a shout out to the "green monster", a vintage canvas tent from my childhood.  This Sears behemoth was my family tent when I was growing up.  It is massive in both weight and volume. I got it patched and the zippers replaced and we used it as my family tent for a while.  It is quite easy to set up once you had practice.  The drawbacks were that it didn't handle wind very well and it took up a lot of space.

I would like to mention the REI Quarter Dome 2 I purchased in 2014.  I bought it for hiking the Kalalau Trail with my brother.  This is a great, lightweight backpacking tent.  2 adults are very cozy but for one it is very spacious.  I took this to Philmont in 2015 and loved it.  Unfortunately it was stolen from my car a few years ago.

Voice of Reason

Can we vote for this guy.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Everyone sacrifice (except for us)

It seems that some Oxford students protested that the university should divest itself of its current fossil fuel investments.  The school treasurer responded that he couldn't do that but offered to turn off the gas heat in the dorms.  The students were predictably put off by the notion of making a sacrifice themselves.  They were undoubtedly sulking with their electrically powered smart phones under electric lights in their cozy fossil fuel heated rooms.
If you have a WSJ subscription, the article is pretty funny.

Joshua Tree Jumbo Rocks

For this year's troop outing to Joshua Tree National Park, I secured some sites at Jumbo Rocks campground.  We headed up Friday night, set up tents and had a nice campfire in the cold.
The next day, we did a nice 5 miles hike to some old mining sites.  The weather was perfect as explored the Mojave desert.  Sunday was a quick breakfast and then headed home just avoiding a storm that was rolling in from the west.

Joshua Tree in Joshua Tree

Pinto Wye Arrastra

Rock formation

My tent

Boulders and scouts

Monday, January 13, 2020

Domelands Campout

After many trips to Anza-Borrego, we finally got to the Domelands (aka wind caves). We drove up Friday night and since the area is just outside the park boundary and under BLM jurisdiction, there were some shooter already in the prime spot.  So we flopped right at the trailhead.  The next day we did an awesome loop hike.  We first headed down some washes getting cliffed out a couple times.  We then headed up the slot canyon having to avoid the erosion pits.  We eventually made it up to the caves where another troop was there and setup to camp there for the night.  We stopped to eat lunch huddled next to a small bluff to stay out of the wind.  We hiked bake to camp to rest for a while.  After a bit we decided to head back.


Lots of shell fossils in the area

Desert landscape

Overhanging cliff

Entrance to slot canyon

Fossilized urchin


My tent