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The long run

The long run

A sponsored link popped up in my Facebook feed with a video of a bunch of crazy people running across the desert over a span of 7 days gaining more elevation than Mt Everest, spanning a distance of 273 Km across every landscape imaginable. At first thought, this had to be the most terrible idea in the world, yet as I continued to watch it was everything I dreamed of, I wanted this. I quickly shared the link to broadcast to the world I would take on this challenge but I put a disclaimer in there. I said, 2018, with a big question mark behind it. Seemed like a good goal, far enough out I could learn to run or even chicken out where no one would remember the crazy idea I once had. Yet, as I watched the video over and over again I decided that I should pursue this now, today. 

Fast forward nine months and I am off to a good start and I on my way to my first Ultra Marathon. The first one being just eight months away, i took to the trail with a distance of 20 miles in mind. I grabbed a quick bite, laced up the shoes, and headed for a pretty cool spot near my home that had 6 mile trail loop. I set up at the trail head and took off down the trail.

Mile one, I started to doubt myself, my shins tightened, heart began to elevate, everything felt foreign. My steps felt rough, and my energy low. I stopped at an outlook and thought why am I doing this. I should be fishing, paddling, something other than this, but with determination out weighing my thoughts, I slowly headed my way to the next mile.

Mile by mile I begin to loosen up, into a zone I began to move. With each passing mile, my will became a rhythm. On loop three, well that's where my determination kicked in. I began to see a goal turn in to reality. I passed some kayakers, a gator, and a few sightseers. I passed a lot of things but fatigue I could not. I stopped at mile 15 and took a snap shot of my GPS and headed to my cache of supplies just 2 miles in the distance. Pain begin to set in and fatigue was real as I approached mile 17.

Though I didn't reach my target distance I did reach a milestone, I just ran longer and further than anytime in my life. I PR'd my pace, time, and distance and it was then I knew that i could do this.

- Daniel Underbrink



There is something about a hammock that conjures up the image of complete relaxation, But taking one along on a multiple night stay in the backcountry can present its own challenges. With our recent nights strung between two trees I must say they were quite restful but the conditions we faced played the biggest roll in that comfort. Hot steamy nights under the canopy is where these began their evolution. Humid night, low wind, and high temps allow the hammock shine where most tents, bivys, and some tarps setups fail. First off, hammocks need sturdy trees or post to secure the setup, which begins limiting places for their use (Though with proper gear and training they can be secured to cliff faces, boulders and by other means.) Second, a full set up for all weather conditions (tarp, bug net, insulation) can become just as heavy and volume consuming as a tent. This, along with being wrapped up like a caterpillar waiting for it's wings in stormy conditions can make for lonely hours or days when weathering out a storm. Gear storage becomes another issue, the rain flys/tarp are typically designed for maintaining dryness in the hammock, not so much under it; so storing gear to keep it out of the elements just isn't going to happen. Lastly, when the mercury falls added insulation will be mandatory or specialty bags and quilts will be useful to maintain warmth throughout the night. Though these are things to be noted when planning to use a hammock as a primary shelter. They do have many benefits that can outweigh some of there drawbacks: Quick and Easy setup, changing configuration quickly when conditions do change, and they can be one of the most comfortable shelters you have that accounts for restful nights which lead to feeling refreshed in the morning. So if your choosing a hammock for the first time start with looking at the major brands like eagles nest outfitters (ENO) look at their specs on material, weight, and accessories and use them as a base line to pick the price point that works for you. There are great hammocks out there for budget minded folks all the way to set ups that will run you a couple hundred dollars. One is not necessarily better than the next but they all have there draw backs so do some research or shoot us a message and we will be happy to help!

Backcountry food the ever evolving question.

Most of us have lost the art and knowledge of foraging for seeds, fruit and roots in the places we explore. We become reliant on ready made meals to fuel our excursions that usually end up wrecking havoc on our bodies. Over the years I have utilized many different food products, brands, and whole foods. Some have been great and others not so much, with a bit of ingenuity, research, and preparation food can be just as much part of the experience as is the journey itself.  Whole fresh food is not totally out of the equation if you know how to prep and handle the food. On our most recent trip we brought steaks on a multi night trip in 100 degree weather. To do so we planned in advance, vacuum sealed, wrapped in paper towel, and foil and packed against our water bladders (we froze our water bladders too). This allowed for a slow and delayed thaw while being slightly refrigerated. Result,  fresh ribeye after a hard training hike on the trail. When your trip doesn't allow this method due to the length of stay outdoors or having to keep a minimalistic pack. Finding companies like Heathers Choice or dehydrating your home cooked favorites allow for comforting, great tasting, healthy foods not loaded with preservatives and high doses of sodium that can truly make an already uncomfortable situation worse. (Hint, stomach issues)

Daniel Underbrink

Luke Kulbeth on our WAT training hike

Luke Kulbeth on our WAT training hike