Thanks for visiting!

If the posts are old, that’s because I either haven’t been out recently or there wasn’t anything interesting to rant about!

You can view our trip photos from Obsessive Compulsive Backpackers over at

While you’re here you can view my personal web photo albums here

Here’s the link to my trips on youtube

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Colorado Skiing; 6 Day Grand Canyon Hike

Well, let’s see, since my last post, RB and I went to the Dillon/Silverthorne area in Colorado where we skied three days at Keystone, then snow-shoed twice, once with Rock Creek Annie, who lives on her ranch in Silverthorne.

Rock Creek Annie went on our Wyoming trip to the20140228_123908 Winds last August. She’s about, what, 63ish, and kicked our asses in the Winds. She ate about 3 tablespoons of granola or something for breakfast and had a freeze dried for dinner, incredible energy.

I’m going to say she was able to kick our buts hiking because she lives at 9400′ and we were coming from sea level, yeah, that’s my story.



20140228_114911At Annie’s, we snow-shoed up to an overlook above her house where she had constructed a lean-to out of pine branches. Due to the 3 or 4 feet of snow, we had to step down into it, like a pit with a pine-bough roof. We made a campfire and roasted wieners and had hot dogs for lunch. Best hot dogs I ever had…out in the snow covered forest, on a campfire, blue sky, it was great!




Initially I didn’t want to go snow shoeing because I had only brought my ski stuff and had already shipped my pack, boots, etc to Las Vegas to pick up for our follow-on Grand Canyon hike.

RB persisted, so I had to go in my ski pants and wear my timberline boots and hope for the best. But I had a good time.
The skiing was also great. Weekday skiing in Colorado is the way to go, very few people on the slopes, and no wonder, given the lift tickets at the window was over $100 per day!! Yikes!

So after we skied, we went over to the FEDEX store and shipped our skis back to Virginia (RB’s snowboard). Then drove to Denver and got a hotel by the airport.

Saturday we flew to Vegas, met everyone at the airport, took the shuttle to the car rental place, loaded up and took off for the Grand Canyon, stopping on the way out of town at the UPS store to pick up our packs. My box was completely torn up, but the contents managed to survive. We also stopped at the Vegas In And Out Burger, I thought it was only ‘ok’, and that it didn’t live up to its hype.


For the Grand Canyon trip, it was me, Juice, Mr. Clean Jeans, and Gunny in one car and RB, Fez and scenic vue in another. Which was fine, after 6 days together RB and I need some space.

We got to the park about 8 or 9 pm and checked in. Gunny had forgot about getting a room and slept on the floor of my room, pretty funny.
The plan was to hike 6 days, camp 5.

Bright Angel Trail from the south rim to Indian Garden camp, then to Bright Angel camp, then to Cotton Wood camp, then back to BA camp, then back to Indian Garden camp, then hike out.

DSC04256The weather was perfect and warmer than the same time in 2012. No snow leaving the  DSC04262crsouth rim so we didn’t need our mini-spikes like before. However, the trail was very wet and muddy from a prior rain, so it was still careful going for a mile or so, then the trail dried up.








DSC04319The hike to IG was uneventful, but still had the oooh, aaah, factor. This was only my second trip and I still felt the wonder of the canyon.
After setting up camp we took a hike over to plateau point and took our first pix of the Colorado river.


The next day we hiked down to the river and on to DSC04486bright angel camp/phantom ranch. We stopped at the beach, soaked our feet, took a break and lots of photos.

When we got to BA camp, I went over to phantom ranch to check on our steak dinner reservations for that evening, when the lady told me she had no record of the reservation I just about had a stroke! She did some checking and found out I had actually made the reservations for our second trip thru BA in 2 nights (which is what I had originally planned, but somehow got the dates mixed up in my head…blame it on getting old), what a relief!! The was about the most excitement I had on the entire trip.

Gunny and I then proceeded to have a couple of ice cold beers there at the phantom ranch cantina/restaurant.

Next day we hiked on north on the Kaibab trail towards the north rim and cotton wood camp. At the Ribbon Falls side trail, we couldn’t find a good place to ford the stream from the south so we talked ourselves out of visiting the falls.

So we hiked on and set up camp. Cotton wood was the only place we had to filter water.

DSC04678The next day, heading south back towards bright angel camp, we crossed the bridge over to the Ribbon Falls side trail from the north. The falls were spectacular! From the trail it looks pretty lame, but up close it’s massive with a huge moss build up on a gigantic rock standing up from creek. There’s also a little trail where you can walk up and behind the falls.

Then it was on to BA/phantom ranch. This part of the park is more desert and more ‘open’. But when you leave BA camp headed north you walk a few miles in a canyon called ‘the box’ with steep walls. The trail parallels bright angel creek the entire way.
The walk was much warmer than before, t-shirts and shorts (if you brought them). After setting up camp, Gunny and I did another recon of the cantina and made sure the beer was still cold, simply amazing!

That evening we gorged ourselves at the steak dinner meal at phantom ranch; steak, salad, DSC04767cornbread, fixings, chocolate cake, wine, beer, ice tea, yum! Now that’s what I call roughing it!

Then it was back up the devils stair case and to Indian garden camp. No more downhill hiking, now we have to hike up for the next two days to get out of the canyon, here we go, let the fun begin!

DSC04856Just before we got to Indian garden, when we were on a section of trail with a steep wall on our left and a cliff of about 30′ above a stream on our right, we meet a convoy of horses and riders heading south down the trail.
I’m at the back in my usual spot, the group in front press themselves against the wall, but the only spot I could lunge for was a small clear area between the trail and the cliff. When the first mule got to me, and with our group pressed between the other mules and the wall, the lead mule with the wrangler stopped and wouldn’t go. The wrangler after a few tries with the mules asks me to hide my red bandana, which I hold behind my back, still no luck but after several tries, the mules decides to go on. That was the highpoint of our excitement that day.

The following morning, and last day, we get up early, in the dark, eat breakfast by headlamp. I want us to get an early start, so we can go slow and easy and before it warms up.

The sun rises while we’re walking so we get great views of the canyon in changing light as we gain altitude. Gunny and I hike with Juice and Mr. Clean Jeans, slow and steady, straight on up. Victory!

RB, Fez, and Scenic Vue hike on in front of us and reach the rim about an hour before us, never waiting for us so we’re denied a victory group high fives and photos. They go and eat and are already finished by the time we arrive, denying us a group victory feast, which I’ve always regarded as the best way to finish a hike….’together’ being the operative word. I just hate it when this happens, so I was more than a little pissy.
RB and his group then left for Vegas, while the four of us checked in to bright angel lodge then did some leisurely sightseeing and a little shopping on the south rim.

Next morning we hit the road about 6 am, had a good drive to vegas, turned in the car, shuttled to the airport where we said our goodbyes, and that was that.

A very nice trip, very smooth, no issues, and lots of beer at the bottom of the canyon.

I’m considering doing this annually. The only drawback is the permits max out at 6 to a group, so you have to squeeze into the campsites. I tried to get us permits for the group sites and 8-10 people, but that seems harder to get, so we had to down size to 6. Scenic vue was able to get his own permit for 2 so we pretended to not know each other due to park rules (buts that’s another story).



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What Do I Like About Backpacking?

I was thinking today, what was it I like so much about backpacking?  I think, for me, it’s not just about getting from point A to point B.

I really enjoy all the preparation, the planning, the special technical planning for winter hikes or hikes out west to the mountains.

I love preparing the maps, the routes, creating way points, studying the terrain, the weather, the water sources, the special features of a certain route and camping area.

I’ve always thought that all the skill sets we learn in backpacking are naturally suited for mountaineering; as in map reading, foods for trips, stove selection, water purification techniques (summer vs winter); knot tying, which boots to wear, type of pack, type of sleeping bag, is it going to be a ‘dry’ trip or is there a possibility of rain or snow, is it going to be super hot, is sunburn a possibility, how far are we going to be from rescue if someone gets hurt, special navigation tools, the study of hypothermia and prevention, etc., etc., etc.

But I think the thing I enjoy the most is walking and talking with friends, and debating or telling tall tales around the campfire.  The campfire is where genuine friendships are formed.  I also love the after hike ‘feasts’.  I can’t tell you how much I love telling hiking stories and hearing stories.  Sometimes this can be such a hoot!

I was trying out a new chair, one with only 2 supports on the back, stabilized in the front with your legs, well I was able to provide a few laughs for everyone as I was figuring out the best ways to use the chair and in the process took more than a few tumbles! It was great!

Any hike where it was ‘so cold’, ‘so wet’, ‘ so buggy’, although a challenge at the time, have always provided fodder for the next camp fire.  “you should have been there when we endured…(fill in the blank)!

Hikes where we, as Bones says, “had to embrace the suck” are the ones we laugh about and take pride in during the next hike.  I think this so into the human nature, overcoming adversity and surviving to laugh about it later.  Any adversity, no matter how minor,  creates the future bonds of a group norm.  Adversity is really the cement that bonds the group experience.

Once a group has bonded together, and norms established, there is indeed a certain spirit or elan that provides a confidence that says, we can do it, come on, weather or terrain – bring it!

This confidence is not bought easily however, the group dynamic, brings a shared experience that realizes another saying we joke about; “If I only had that one thing” my trip would have been better; I wouldn’t have been so cold, my boots wouldn’t have gotten so wet, my shoulders wouldn’t be so sore, I wouldn’t have been so tired, or hungry, etc..

These shared experiences are piled upon each other, slowly but surely building a basis of confidence and group expectations.  The more I hike with friends, the more confidence I have, not only with my abilities, but also the abilities of my companions.  I also feel the burden of not wanting to let the other members of the group down.  So I faithfully do all the things I love to do anyway, I train for hikes, I make sure I plan, have the maps, that my equipment works and is appropriate; I not only don’t want to let my self down, I don’t want to let down the members of my group.  This is part, in my opinion, a feeling of responsibility and solid group dynamics/norms.

When you have these dynamics, I believe it’s easier to spot people or situations which may be outside the group norm.  I have noticed that those who are more likely to accept the group norms are inherently more apt to be happy, to enjoy the trip, to help, to share, and try to make those around us more comfortable.  They do not shun conversation, they do not isolate themselves and they try to be responsible (like keeping tabs on where everyone is on the trail – and – realize that we are all looking out for each other!)

What’s not to like!

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Texas Ranger Woodrow Call doesn’t tolerate rude behavior!

Texas Ranger Woodrow Call, doesn’t like rude behavior in a man, in fact, he won’t tolerate it.

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Tar Jacket Ridge Backpack, 17-19 January 2014 Trip Report, Notes, Rant

Tar Jacket Ridge Backpack, 17-19 January 2014 Trip Report

View trip photos here:

Sixteen people signed up. Fifteen showed up and suffered through extreme cold temps Friday night.  Two bailed out Saturday morning.   Thirteen intrepid souls, many on their first winter backpack (yikes!), hiked the almost 8 miles on the snow covered AT to the shelter.


Temps below 10F Friday night and also at the shelter Saturday evening.

Snowed 2-4” Friday night.

People standing around the campfire in the meadow at Hog Camp Gap needed to be aware that they needed to keep their down jackets dry as the snow started

Looked like over a case of beer was consumed around that campfire the next morning.

My best buddy Gunny had a beer waiting for me.


Stored 2 water bottles in my tent, right side up and covered with nylon, partially froze, but because they were upright, massive freezing on the lids, almost did not get one open.  Second night, stored bottles upside down and covered with nylon bags, in the tent, out of the wind, and was able to open both bottles, only minor freezing (frozen water).

Saturday night stored water in my stove as a last resort, to enable direct thawing on stove (jet boil), covered it with rain pants, in vestibule, out of wind, only minor freezing on surface.

Water froze in canteens on Saturday’s hike, plus couldn’t get lid off.  Sunday, turned bottle upside down in pack side pocket while walking, the top surface froze but was able to open lid to drink.

Tough to get a flame out of almost empty fuel canister,when only warmed with hands, for Saturday breakfast inside tent, under vestibule.  Sunday, put canister in sleeping back about 2 hours before rising, canister was completely warmed and had full flame.

Zack had his jet boil plastic bowl/pan base cover freeze to the unit and had to borrow my stove.


Two people bailed out of the trip Saturday morning because of the cold.

Several people walked too fast on Saturday and sweated, causing drastic cooling once they stopped walking when reached the shelter, no backup dry clothing, that must of sucked.

I didn’t sweat at all, at least to the point of making my clothes noticeably damp, However, socks were damp and I warmed up fast once I put on dry socks and heavy long john bottoms in camp.  Walked all day with rain paints on due to the vicious “slight breeze” that was absolutely killer in those low temps, but pants didn’t seem to get damp, at least I didn’t notice it.

Spring was flowing great.  Used my steripen to treat the water.  Had my gravity filter, but using it was out of the question.

Put my tent up on a slight incline and kept sliding down hill on my nylon air mattress, extremely annoying!

Used my Kelty zero bag, worn thermals, shirt and thick pile sweater, and extra thick balaclava, and a buff, I was only “ok”, Saturday night I could feel the temps dropping, but clouds came in, it snowed a little and warmed up a bit.  Temps dropped again in the morning when the sky cleared up.

DSC04027 DSC04078

Used 2 chemical hand warmers in the foot of my sleeping bag Saturday night, I couldn’t tell you if they worked or not, I guess you have to have contact with them and they don’t really radiate that much.

Really didn’t get to know any of the first timers.  Everyone was so bundled up, you could only see people’s eyes and there wasn’t a lot of chit chat standing around the campfire Saturday night.  Kudo’s to whoever got the fire started.  It was already getting started by the time my slower, and last, group arrived.

DSC03953 DSC04088

Now some ranting.

Sadly, the fast of group of 4, departed by the time my group reached the trail head, not sticking around to say goodbye or to see that we all made it back in one piece or that everyone could get the cars started.  No goodbye, no fuck you, no nothing.  And when we arrived at Vito’s in Amherst, they were getting in their car leaving after finishing their lunch, and didn’t even make an attempt to say hello or good bye or fuck you.  So I went over to invite them to join us, but alas, I guess they were in too much of a rush to socialize.


I find it constantly incredible that people would go on a “meet up” and never socialize one bit. Oh, they may be friendly when addressed, but otherwise will not ever try to start a conversation, will purposely hike far ahead of the main group **, never wait at a trail head, never say they are leaving the camp and heading out, and just leave when done, never thinking that the host might just wonder if someone had a broken leg and was freezing in the forest. The huge reason meet-ups are so popular is that people are looking to meet and have fun with other people, duh!  One guy even boasted how extremely few people hike with him a second time, and almost no one a third time, and I’m thinking, what the fuck dude?  Are you bragging about that?

**Ok ok, I know some people have a fast hiking pace, in fact almost everyone I know hikes faster than me, that’s not my point at all.   Hiking fast is not the reason for not waiting at trail junctions or leaving the forest without the courtesy of informing the host, who believe it or not, may just show some responsibility and worry that everyone gets out alive.

I had to make it a point on Saturday at the shelter to ask everyone to out of courtesy to let me know when they were departing camp so we wouldn’t be wondering if anyone was lost, especially in that cold weather.  I had already made it clear that no one needed to hang around waiting for others, once they were packed up and ready to go, because otherwise you would just be standing around freezing; but hey, be smart, let somebody know when you’re leaving, and how about this, be smarter, and let the trip host know where you are, because most of the others are not concerned about where you are.

DSC04148 DSC04120

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Grand Canyon Backpack March 2012, The “lost video clips”

A very short vid of our last hike (and first) hike in the Grand Canyon.  I think I was more concerned about saving my batteries for photos and not very worried about video.

Anyway, here’s the youtube link:

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Getting Ready for Tar Jacket Ridge (AT), Skiing at Keystone, Grand Canyon 6 day backpack, and another Winds Trip?

Getting ready for the next weekend’s winter backpack to/on Tar Jacket Ridge, on the AT.  However the weather’s predicted to be not-so-cold, maybe low 20′s, at least no rain is predicted yet.  This will be TJR hike number 5 or 6?  highres_246741902I got sick just after the last trip, ‘gastro’ thing (’nuff said), thought I had giardia.  Went to the doctor’s about a week or two after the trip and did have a gut infection.  Had to take cipro for 10 days, this was in Jun/Jul, but I got rid of it the day before our trip to Grayson Highlands.  We’ll camp at wiggens spring and take the AT 7 miles to the seely shelter, camp, then hike back, eat and go home.

Then, I need to ship my pack to Las Vegas, where 8 of us will meet at the LV airport and drive to the Grand Canyon for 6 days, 5 nights on an easy out and back, easy if you don’t DSC02431count the 3000′ hike out from indian garden on the last day, then it’s 1 night at one of the lodges followed by a drive to Vegas on Saturday with flights back to Virginia that same day.

But, on the way to the GC, Red Baron and I will meet in Denver, drive to Dillon and stay a 028week to ski at Keystone, probably for me only 3 days, before driving back to Denver and flying to LV to pick up that backpack I shipped earlier. (Don’t break a leg!).

Then back to planning another trip to the Winds in August.  This will probably be a ‘by invitation only’ hike, not posting it on our meetup group, need to avoid the ‘first timers’ DSCN2752and hiking with strangers thing.  Not that I mind hiking with strangers and making new friends, but that needs to happen on the weekend trips where we can get past the ‘group dynamic stuff’ in an easier, less remote scenario.

I need to put this away and get on the treadmill.


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