Monday, September 30, 2013

Salomon Men's 3D Fastpacker Mid GTX Hiking Boots - Product Review

Leaky boots drying out in the bathroom
 I really like Salomon brand footwear but these boots have been an utter disappointment.  I bought these "waterproof" boots last winter or spring and I'm very disappointed with them. The waterproof Gore-tex lining stops under the insole and even slight damp will seep in around the edges. These boots leaked the first time I wore them. What shame, I love the way Salomon boots and shoes fit and I know what size to buy them in.

They have a nice big toe box that feels great with my claw toes. I'm thinking of trying to return them to Salomon, I need something waterproof for the winter. When my feet got wet the first time I wore these I convinced myself it was just a fluke after all I've had such good luck with Salomon over the years.  If I had it to do over again I would have returned them right away. It  looks like I am all done with Salomon brand foot wear.

But don't just take my word for it, look at what European users have to say about these boots:

Notice the rubber on the toe box is lifting up
Also I will never buy another pair or Hi-Tech brand boots.  When I bought these Salomon's  I had just returned a pair of defective Hi-Tech brand waterproof boots and I was really getting tired of messing around with shopping for and returning boots.  My Hi tech boots were a total disaster, they had a paper insole.  Luckily I noticed the paper insole and took them back to Big-5 before the disintegrated.  I really don't understand the logic behind making waterproof boots with paper insoles.  

Don't believe the skeptics,  properly made Gortex boots can keep your feet dry in cold wet weather, it's not true that you feet will always get wet from sweat. If it's cool enough my feet stay nice and dry in most Gortex lined boots.  But even the best Gortex boots only seem to stay waterproof for about four months.   So when I get new Gortex boots I only wear them hiking and I try to keep them as clean as possible in hopes that they will last longer.

I'm going to try to make a warranty claim on these boots.   I'll keep you all posted and let you know how Salomon handles my warranty claim.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Church Creek Shake Down

Ultralight hiker
but what silly trekking poles!
Just a quick social hike to the top of the Church Creek trail in the rain.  4 miles RT with 1,500 feet elevation gain.. whew, that's a steep trail, no wonder it used to always kick my butt.

  My rain gear did well except for my boots.  These particular Solomon  gortex boots were never very good, they started leaking within three hikes.

 Normally Soloman gortex boots will stay water proof for about 20 hikes.  I don't know if I want to invest in another pair of gortex boots this year, so I've been spraying silicone on the surface of the boots. So far the silicone is not helping. 

The wildlife gates shut on Monday, so I probably won't be back here for six months.

red belted conk
mycena mushrooms and
Lobaria Oregana lichen

The wet forest
woolly chanterelle (don't eat these)

Pink coral

Pigs ears mushrooms
some people eat these

woolly chanterelle (don't eat these)

King bolete

Ultralight hiker

King bolete

These were in the video the last
time I hiked here, they have grown


Today's track is in yellow

2 miles with 1,500 feet elevation gain

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Grand Opening of the Fir Lake invasive weed trail!

Ah isn't this so pretty!  Doesn't it look so fun to walk on?  Just wait until it snows, won't it be fun to try to navigate over all these root balls.  Please obey the sign and don't disturb any vegetation though.  Total hypocrisy.  What a waste of taxpayers money destroying the old roads by rototilling them and lining them with root balls and then calling them "trails".  Greenwashing!

BTW they killed a bunch of  native but S1 sensitive Tetrapolodon mnioides moss while rototilling the road. 

At least the new trail tread is nice for summer hikers and bikers who don't mind the view.
Don't step on the native vegetation that was smothered by black plastic on the lake shore..
but look in the background.. it's 3 miles of uprooted trees and churned up road courtesy of the forest service

Ugly!  And why so many twists in the "trail"
Ugly!, look at the straw, invasive weeds come in on that straw

This used to be a pretty green trail now its a wide dug up road with a layer of invasive weed seeds spread over it.

These are not forest mushrooms, they came in on the straw
These are not forest mushrooms, they came in on the straw

An invasive weed nursery placed at the new trail head
This straw is already sprouting tons of non-forest mushrooms

Sekrit Lake in the SE Olympics

Carpool spot

carpool spot

working our way up to the lake


Video of lake just coming into view
We could hear an elk and thought it might be at the lake but it was not.

There it is!

Sphagnum squarrosum  at the lake

Patches jumps right in for no known reason

Tea time and my new filter
Then it starts to rain hard,

so Critter tests out his new cuben fiber tarp

Biggest Hericium I have ever seen.

Critter in his brand new mega bucks rain jacket

Earth star puff ball (Geastrum saccatum)  nestled into a bed of glittering wood moss (Hylocomnium splendens)

Off to bag yet another sekrit lake yesterday.  This hike was short and steep.  My body rebelled, "Enough hiking for this week!"
my bones and joints screamed at me. 
But I knew I would get my second wind. 
Mornings are hard for me; hiking up hill is hard for me.  I have anemia, I’m waiting for menopause to fix that, I guess I’ve got about 5 years to go.  My mother and both my Grandma’s had hysterectomies, so I don’t know what to expect based on my family genetics.  All I know for sure is that I intend to take my uterus to the grave with me.  Bloody doctors and their female mutilation!
  In the mean time I try to remember to take iron, but I forget and it takes six months of remembering to take iron to build your levels back up.  At my last check my serum ferritin level was 5.  
I think my low serum ferritin levels are to blame for my slooooooow uphill speeds.  I get winded pretty fast.  So, I was struggling at the start of this steep hike.  But when we hit the off trail section I felt better.  The off trail section was steep, so steep that we had to hold on the blueberry bushes and small cedar tree branches to pull ourselves up the hill.  Off trail felt great, yeah I was tired, but it was exciting and got the adrenaline going.

Would I impale myself on devil's club? Would we get cliffed out?  Would we find the lake?  Would we get hypothermia and die out there?  Fun stuff.
Well, we made it to the lake just fine, we found a route that ran between the cliffs and delivered us right to the lake.  The lake was beautiful and untarnished (unless you count the high mercury levels in the sediments), no fishing lines or toilet paper, no rusty old cans in fire pits and BIG fish!  I did not fish, but Critter cast his rod a few times.  Then it started to rain and I had to get back to deal with my helpless family, so we left.
We took a different route down and it was a better route, but still, it got the adrenaline pumping... would we end up on top of a cliff and have to backtrack up the slippery hill?  Would we get sucked down into the outlet stream and not be able to climb back up?  Nope, we had an easy time of it and got back on the trail exactly where we left it, in a huge thicket of devil's club.
Now I’m going to rest up until Friday.  On Friday I’m going back to Church Creek, but with an old friend.  Maybe we will slay some dragons up there.
3 miles with 2,100 feet elevation gain

Track and elevation with no map
Cortinarius violaceus (I think)

Mossy goodness

Monday, September 23, 2013

Sawyer Mini Water Filter Initial Review

The new Sawyer mini water filter is here!  I was given a free filter in exchange for writing a product review. 

Here is a very rough video of my MSR filter compared to the Sawyer Squeeze, I might make another one comparing my MSR with the new Sawyer squeeze mini.  I've been told that my MSR filter might have something wrong with it and that it really is supposed to work better than it does in this video:

Remember this video shows the standard sized Sawyer Squeeze but I am reviewing the new lighter Mini Squeeze in this blog post.

Sawyer has come out with an entirely new type of filter technology.  The MSR uses a heavy ceramic filter.  Sawyer uses a proprietary hollow fiber membrane filter.  The hollow membrane filter works really fast and I understand that it does not clog as fast.   I'll find out for sure when I get this filter out into the field tomorrow

I've only tested the Sawyer Mini Squeeze it with my tap water for now.  I will start testing in the field tomorrow. 

For fun  I performed a blind test on both my daughter and her father and they were both able to immediately distinguish and ID the filtered water from our foul tasting tap water.  Wow!   They said the filtered water tasted much better than our tap water.   So.... I had my housemate perform the blind test on me and....... I failed..  LOL.. I said that the nasty tap water tasted better.. oh well.

The mini filter comes with the filter element, a straw, a bag for holding water and a syringe for back flushing the filter.  The filter element when dry weighed 1.3 ounces on my scale, when wet it weighed 1.8 ounces.  I let the water drip out of it but did not shake it very hard or blow on it.  It might be possible to get a slightly lower wet weight, but who cares?

Dry Weight
Wet Weight

When wet, the entire set up with bag, filter straw and syringe weighed just 4 ounces on my scale!

Wet Weight

That is one light filter and it works very fast with my tap water.  If it works almost as fast with river water I just might take it on all my hikes.   Since this filter weighs so little, and cost so little,  why not bring it along? 

There was one time this summer that I had to drank water that I to funneled into my bottle with my she pee YUCK!  Well urine is sterile they say, but I'd have been much happier if I had this filter with me.

There have also been a few times when I drank from tiny little trickles of water that might have been questionable.  And now I've been told that in the winter there are huge piles of elk poo everywhere on the snow at Sundown pass..  YUCK, that's the head waters of the Skokomish river!

Then there are the times that Patches has beat me to the water and I had to move on and find another water source because I don't care to drink water that my dog has bathed in.  Well with this filter I guess even dog bath water will be safe to drink.

But anyway, I digress.  This filter works either by squeezing the water bag or bottle or by gravity or by sucking water through a straw that connects to the filter.  The filter can also be connected in line with a hydration bag like the the platypus or camel back.    All these options make this a very versatile filter.

I know that some people have had trouble with the Sawyer bag breaking but I am confident that I won't have that problem since I take very good care of my gear and I know not to squeeze the bag too hard.  Also I understand the bags have been upgraded a bit.

I am impressed with this filter and I'm pretty sure I would have bought one if I had not been given one.  That's saying a lot when you consider that I don't normally filter my water.

I intend to do like most hikers do and find a water bottle that I can screw this filter on to, I doubt I will use the bag or the straw.  Then at most my water filtration will only cost me 2 ounces.

  I'll give this a good test in the field and let you all know how well I like it in a couple of weeks.

What Others Are Saying:
Here are what a few other hikers have had to say about the Sawyer Mini:

John Abela-
Will Rietveld -
Erin “Wired” Saver -
CoolBreeze -
SticksBlog -
MossWalks -

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Mount Rose

Well thank goodness that mood has lifted a bit!  I went up and down Mount Rose yesterday.  I'm very close to breaking my yearly mileage and elevation gain.  I don't know why I thought I was so far off on elevation gain, that made no sense considering all my trips up and down Rose this year.

I'm a bit over 50 miles from my record and only 6,000 feet.  Mount Rose twice will get me over my elevation record.

I don't have many pictures from this hike, but I'll see if I can find something to post.

7 miles 3,500 feet elevation gain

These Russula Brevipes look a likes  made me smile
They are hiding under the Hylocomium splendens moss

Russula Brevipes Not very good to eat

Wormy Poison Toadstool