Friday, May 31, 2013

Letter to Ibex, dbBrads favorite outdoor clothing company

Ibex was first introduced to me by Sara Diers at Wander on Whidbey, one of the best little gear shops I've ever shopped at.  When she first handed me Ibex I loved it, then I looked at the price tag.  But I didn't set it down, instead I tried the sexy practical hooded garment they call 'The Shak' on and I haven't taken it off since.  Though it cost more, it's far outlasted and outperformed any gear I've had previously in 30 years of mountaineering, kayaking, bicycling and traveling.  It's warm, looks great, tough, looks great, doesn't stink and it looks great, still.

dbBrad, his Ibex Shak, and Conan on Mount Talbot, above Homer Saddle overlooking Milford sound, on the South Island of New Zealand off the Te Araroa trail and on another Freestyle adventure.

I'm so enthralled with the company Ibex, who has stood behind their gear, replaced worn garments and even provided me with additional gear in exchange for photos of ibex all over the globe, that I'm writing to them to say, I love Ibex and want to wear it everyday.  And Yessi does TuTwo and so should you!!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

TuTwo magazine

Yessi Ye (Ye Chan) works for an outdoor gear retailer chain in China called Tutwo.  When we finished our Annapurna circuit trip in Nepal, they ran an article with writings from both of us and a few pictures of our adventure.

Yessi Ye, TuTwo magazine cover we created.

Now they have requested Yessi do some more writing on her adventures here in America.  Besides her interest in outdoor gear design, Yessi is turning into quite an outdoors woman.   Beyond simple hiking and backpacking, we've started looking at climbing gear and Kayaking gear.  Though much of the gear is the same, each sport has it's special gear. This next week well be climbing Glacier Mountain and Kayaking in the San Juans.  Two of the best trips you can do in the Northwest and extra delight to be had after the grueling 210 miles of trails we hiked in Big Sur/Ventana over the last 3 weeks.

Pictures of dbBrad and Yessi, on the wall behind the TuTwo sales counters.
We both have a bit of a dream of working for TuTwo together, as a team, helping them to become the REI of China.  Improving product design, product testing, refining the selection of gear they offer, leading workshops and hiking adventures for employees and teaching them how to have fun outdoors and how to use the gear they sell, and of coarse having TuTwo promote and publish  our new book, Backpacking simplified.

dbBrad and Yessi hiking the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal in 12 days.
And if you're curious about the gear company Y-B blue products, this is Yessi and My gear company name.  It would feature the color blue and Y is for Yessi and B is for Brad.  And Y-B blue, when you can use our gear and head out into the wilderness!!

From our Book, Back Packing Simplified,  the introduction:

Yessi and I met in New Zealand.  At the time she had very little experience hiking and had never been backpacking.  I on the other hand have been hiking, kayaking, biking, country skiing and, mountain climbing for 35 years.  We met in a McDonalds the day before I was to finish a 5 month trek, The Te Araroa Trail, which is a trail crossing both North and South islands of NZ..

Yessi was the first time in my travels around the world that I’d met a Chinese woman going solo, working and hitching her way across New Zealand.  Very brave and very sexy!  We met again in Wanaka and hitched together to Christchurch where I departed for San Diego, CA.

The next 5 months was another hike for me.  This time I was hiking home to Seattle from Mexico on the Pacific Crest Trail, some 2650 miles (4000km).  Yessi followed along on my Blog.

Having finished my second major thru-hike this year, I decided I was in for one more adventure and Yessi wanted to come.   We went to Nepal each with a 10kg backpack and hiked a 300km loop called the Annapurna circuit.

There was a lot of coaching and shopping to get Yessi outfitted for this trip.  Thirty years of experience poured out of me over the following weeks as I told Yessi everything she needed for a successful trip, and why.  And we flew to Kathmandu and hiked high in the Himalaya Mountains in fresh snow and reached Throng La gap at 5413 Meters (17,800 feet). We did it safely, we stayed warm, we were light and fast and we had lots and lots of fun.  And here’s how we did it...

Sustainable tourism article by Sam of Fair Marquit, a dbBrad feature article.

All last year as I hiked my 5000 miles across 3 different countries on 3 different Continents, I thought about hiking as a means of travel and I thought about sustainability.  I observed the condition and the uses of land, the tourists I met, the poor locals juxtaposed against the traveling rich kids, hotels vs. backpackers, cars vs. bikes, conservation vs. our need for raw materials and I thought to myself 'This year of hiking, carrying my shelter, my kitchen and my wardrobe everywhere I go, eating simple foods and spending my time looking and learning rather than stressing and driving like most tourists, probably has to be the most sustainable trip ever.  All year I collected my garbage and generated less that 20lbs for the entire year (not including worn out gear), far under our American average of 4lbs per person, per day.

My little pile of gear starting out on a one year, 5000 mile backpacking trip.  Though gear was replaced as it wore out and discarded when carrying it's weight outweighed (no pun intended) its benefits of use, I essentially carried these items all year.  And for my favorite product used all year long, IBEX merino wool is it!

Interesting then that recently I received a request from another sustainably minded individual currently writing about tourism, it's impacts, and how changes are making it more sustainable.  Here is his web page which has some great information and here is his article on...

Photo from Fair Marquit web page.
Eco-Friendly Buildings

In the course of my time as a commercial and independent contractor, I have had many experiences in working with companies and businesses that are seeking to become certified in LEED. This includes purchasing and installing materials that are beneficial to the environment. As I work for certain individuals and businesses, I am interested in the implementation of eco-friendly initiatives. Although celebrating LEED certification is important, I believe there is a lot more that can be celebrated in terms of being eco-friendly.

In the continent of Asia, there has been a lot of focus and recognition of green initiatives. The Wild Asia Responsible Tourism awards, which is focuses on tourism in Asia has recognized a number businesses and individuals. Recognition is given to those who focus on keeping the community updated and involved. In addition to this, recognition is for those who have sought to protect the culture while guarding and maintaining portions of land and the animals, birds and insects that live in them. Furthermore, focus has been given to the proficiency of using available resources.

Being proficient at using available resources can include serving foods that are local to the area as well as installing showerheads and faucets that have valves that can shut off automatically. Las Vegas, which is a popular destination for many people around the nation and world, has sought to have many of their buildings and operations receive LEED certification. An interesting fact is that the Las Vegas Palazzo Resort recently has been named the “Most Eco-Friendly Hotel in America.” Some of the reasons for receiving the award are that the facility has self-governing systems as well as being able to recycle the waste that it produces. In addition to this, there are New York City hotels, similar to the ones in Las Vegas, which seek to be more sustainable. Some hotels have become intentional in reducing the carbon footprint that they make by recycling waste and to install self-governing systems. The Ink 48 Hotel, which is located in New York City, has created a group that focuses on how to benefit the earth in a good way. The program, Earthcare, provides a platform where members can come together and discuss different ways they can become more sustainable.

I must say that seeing people make buildings that are self-reliant is quite wonderful indeed. As an experienced contractor, it is amazing for me to have a part of this kind of special work.  It is important for workers in Las Vegas to know that the city receives 40,000,000 visitors each year, where they stay in 124,000 hotel rooms. Because of the amount of traffic Las Vegas receives, new green Las Vegas hotels are constantly going up. This is an extremely encouraging sign and must be duplicated in other parts of the world. If everyone does their part, the positive impact will be sign by future generations.

Muir Redwoods, a wonderful little forest just half an hour from San Francisco.

One of my favorite big tree experiences is the Muir Woods in Marin County.  Just a short drive from the never ending traffic of the Bay area, and you'll be on curvy little roads running through the foothills along the coast.  It feels like a mountain desert, hot and parched.

Yessi's view from backseat as we approach the Golden Gate Bridge headed south on 101.

The first time I went to Muir I was asking myself as I drove along the roads, 'where are these redwoods'?  A forest of trees, some reaching over 300' tall--wouldn't you tbink you could see them.

dbBrad in front of a big tree at Muir Wood Park in Marin Co.
The reality is you don't see them untill you drop off the hillsides into a little valley and park your car.  And then there they are, these huge trees in a forest that feels like it could go on forever.  And it just seems to pop out of no-where.

dbBrad and Yessi at Muir Woods
As one wanders the paths deeper into the forest, time begins to slow down.  Scale begins to change.  No longer is parking the car and whats locked in the trunk important, for the magnificent trees and boardwalk trails purge these thoughts, replacing them with wonder, splendor and appreciation for organisms that have been alive for over 1000 years.

Yessi Ye and a Green Giant at Muir Woods redwood

Indeed, this little patch of redwoods in the middle of no where, juxtaposed against the highly developed Bay Area less than 20 miles south, is a place not to me miss.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Challenging trails at Big Sur!

In a quick note to my mom via my iphone, I summarized our first loop in the Big Sur, Ventana wilderness.

Big Sur, Ventana Wilderness, Los Padres Forest, Coast of Northern California.
Brutal hard trails.  Overgrown and very difficult to follow.  Going is very slow.  Rained Sunday so we've been cold and wet for 36 hours.  Ran out of foodthis morning so hiked hungry all day to get to the highway by dark.  Yessi is exhausted and not feeling good.  The trails, or perhaps routes is a better word, are challenging to say the least!  And with the mountains and coast line enveloped in fog, the views have been less than spectacular.  All in all, the last two days--not fun.  But were making the most of it, which is really all one can ever do.

Brad & Yessi, Big Sur, Ventan Wilderness, hiking for GreenTrails maps.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

PCT kick off 2013

PCT kickoff 2013

Brad and Yessi with packs on trusty BMW R1100RSL
Yessi and I are off to hike in the Big Sur, Los Podres National forest and in the Ventana wilderness area, just south of Montery.  While last year I hiked 20 miles a day for what reason I cant quite recall, other than to finish the PCT in 6 months, this year I'm getting paid to hike.  Yippie!!

From L 2 R, Kristo, Knees, Yessi (shirpa) and Freestyle (dbBrad) at PCT 2013 kickoff

This year I'm hiking professionally, recording and assessing  trails for a new map published by GreenTrails Maps.   I've used GreenTrails maps for years in Washington.  They have the best hiking level detail maps available for Washington and Oregon and are expanding to California and Arizona.
Vendors at PCT 2013 kickoff
But first, a road trip to PCT kickoff 2013 with Knees, Kristo, Yessi and me, Freestyle. I missed the Kickoff last year since I was still on the Te Araroa trail in New Zealand and am excited to see what the buzz is all about.

Cariunoso Taco Bell jams!
The Best Taco Bell ever, right on the Ocean!
On the way but out of the Way, headed to PCT kickoff 2013
As it turns out, it was just about what I expected and not much more.  A bunch of vendors showing off new gear, a bunch of new hikers running around making last minute changes to gear, and a bunch of seasoned hikers sitting around watching and drinking beer!

PCT kickoff 2013
Probably the most exciting thing to happen was a very large oak tree falling in the campground.  It happened to be near the Andersons (trail angels extraordinaire) where many Pct'ers from 2012 were camped out.
The miracle of 2013 kickoff-this huge oak tree fell amongst several tents in the middle of the night.  It sounded like a giant bucket of ice being dumped.  Remarkably, no one was seriously hurt though Viro, PCT 2012 class videographer and hiker got an unexpected ambulance ride and a crappy breakfast at the hospital

As it turns out, about 6 tents were close enough to be touched by leaves and two tents were torn from branches.  But there were no tents, thank god, under the larger branches and trunk which would have killed anyone underneath them.

Shasta as we head south to PCT kickoff '13 from Seattle
So while all the new hikers are frantic with questions of bears, mountain lions, scorpions, tarantulas, heat, exhaustion, sun stroke, rattle snakes, dehydration---all the things you read about in blogs which make a new hiker fear for his life---I have some real safety advice for PCT'ers.  Watch out for falling trees and don't sleep in campgrounds!!

Yessi at PCT kickoff 2013, Lake Marino
Probably the largest risk for a PCT hikers is getting hit by a car while walking along a road.

Above Lake Marino during PCT kickoff 2013
It was a long ways to travel for a weekend, but the nostalgia of seeing the new and old hikers, hearing stories of last year and re-living a bit of the excitement one feels when they head off for their first day on a 6 month journey, as well as reconnecting with old friends, made it very worth wile.

Knees, Yessi and Kristo at reststop during PCT 2013 kickoff roadtrip

One Year, 3 Continents, 5000 miles hiked

2012, a year of hiking summarized.

Recently I completed a year of tramping.   In November 2011 I closed my sustainable design build business and took a year to travel, think, look and learn.

In one year of Tramping all over the globe, the Cascades in Washington State are still amongst the best places to hike.
During this year I hiked the TeAraroa Trail in New Zealand, 3000km of amazing people and magnificent terrain; the Pacific Crest Trail, 2650 miles of trail from Mexico to Canada; and then the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal, 144 miles of Buddhist Himalayan Magnificence.

A lake, one of many, along the PCT in Washington
I also started a fundraiser along the way, for the American Heart Association and the Pacific Crest Trail Association called Heart on the Trail.

Leave no Trace thru hiker Mc Sasquatch meets (no pun intended) leave lots of trace multi billionaire Ronald McDonald somewhere along the PCT.
I am unsure where my professional future lies, but it will involve design.  Perhaps teaching at a university, doing product design for outdoor gear companies or helping to solve the worlds housing needs with Habitat for Humanity.  I continue to look at all options and opportunities involving sustainable design.
New Zealand, far north end of South Island, Queen Charlotte Sound, the first track of the Te Araroa  on the South Island.

This summer, I'm blessed to be working for GreenTrails Maps maping our public lands for current and future users.  All last year I told myself, 'if only I could get paid for this (hiking)'.  Well now I am.

Signs along the Te Araroa.  Hand made and not sanctioned by DoC, they are still lovely and in a perfect place, half way along the Te Araro trail  between Cape Reigna and Bluff
All this started in 2011 with needing a break.  I closed up shop for a couple weeks and did some hiking in Washington on the PCT headed the wrong way (south).  This turned out to be the right thing to do since I met so many PCT thru-hikers along the way, headed north.  

Annie, PCT 2011,  quoted 'I hate hiking, but I love the people.'
This quote will be with me always.
Until this point in my life, I carried a 50 lb pack and thought that 12 miles was a long hike for one day!  And until then, I also thought I was the only one on the trail that hated hiking.  But then I met Annie.  She shared briefly with me, but as I hiked on this cold rainy day, her thoughts stayed with me, resonating a clarity--sometimes we do things for other reasons.

Boots (2011) and Freestyle (2012), pct hikers from different years meet in Washington.  We shared tobacco and beef jerky with two elk hunters, then marched on.  This picture is the most popular picture I've ever posted apparently, given its continued high ranking on dbBrad related Google searches.

Annie hikes to meet the people and in fact I do too now.  You just never know who you'll meet on the trail -- dirty, smelly, and needing a shower and a new shirt-- A doctor, an architect, cop, game designer or even a Cartographer for your favorite map company.

Green Trails Maps
The trails are my office and
my iPhone is my computer.

So this year, swing on by my office and lets talk design, trails, or education.  Just follow the Greentrails Maps to your nearest Trail Head and look for me, dbBrad!

Along the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal, 2012

The crew from 2011 Te Araroa, shown on a beach 2 days from our finish in Bluff,
It's too bad Madelein and Philipia and Brian and Annie weren't here to make the Photo complete!
dbBrad, (Freestyle) draws another heart along the PCT for Heart on the Trail.