Backpacking, Equipment Reviews, WOW! What 10 Days in the Wilderness Will Do.

My annual backpacking trip took on a new and deeper meaning this year. I pay much closer attention to my equipment, wanting to provide reviews of the products, and I am much more aware of my spiritual, emotional and psychological experiences than before. I have always been acutely aware of the physical, which have become increasingly noticeable. I have become much more reflective. For example: We were experiencing an amazing sunset by Harriet Lake, about 9600 feet above sea level, when a profound realization came over me. My nephew took a picture of the sunset, as we stood, staring into the West. Oranges, pinks, purples, sun rays, blue sky, all making for a beautiful site. But when we looked at the picture, it came to me, if a picture is worth 1000 words, the experience is priceless.

Whole living at any age includes common experiences with others. Looking at that picture of that particular sunrise on that particular day at that particular place will bring back memories of the experience for those of us who stood there together, seeing it, experiencing it, sharing it. Someone else looking at that picture might think it is a beautiful sunset, but that’s it. We will remember the scent of the campfire, the feel of the cool breeze from the snow banks, the sound of the water lapping on the banks of the lake, and the site of the colors that cannot be described or captured in a digital picture. We will recall the hike that brought us to that place, the meal we ate as we laughed together. We will smile, look at each other with feelings no-one else will have.

This made me reconsider my desire to do a through hike on the Appalachian Trail. Do I really want to do that? Some, if not a major portion, will be by myself. What kind of experience is that? No one to share it with, no one to remember it with, no one to laugh or smile with who shared the experience with me.

I still may do the Appalachian Trail, but we will see. I really enjoy these hikes with people with whom I am able to reminisce.

Our hike was great! We entered Hoover Wilderness through the Leavitt Meadows Trailhead. We parked our truck at the free parking area provided by the National Park. Our trip was planned for 11 days, but because we were not able to cross the river farther up the trail around 9600 ft, our trip was 9 days. We weren’t able to get to two lakes we intended to visit, Dorothy and Bonnie. There was still a lot of snow and mud at Dorothy Pass and the snow melt caused the river to be too high and swift for us to cross safely. Our trip can be mapped on National Geographic’s #807 map. We hiked about 5 miles in and camped by the Walker River. The next day we hiked to Fremont Lake, staying there for 2 nights. We caught several trout and believe it or not, 5 traps full of crawdads. We met a 15-year-old guide who was setting up for a group coming in by mules and horses. He loaned us a trap. We ate very well at Fremont Lake.

When we left we camped at Upper Long Lake for 1 night and ate trout there as well. Our plan was to go to Bonnie Lake, but we weren’t able to cross the river and ended up camping at Lake Harriet. Snow came down to the banks of the lake, and the mosquitoes were terrible. We ate trout there as well, though. We stayed only one night and hiked down a different trail by Cascade Falls stopping to camp at the Walker River again, just up river from the hiker crossing to get to Fremont Lake. The fishing was not good in the river our whole trip. It was just running too swift and was too high.

Now for the reviews: For clothes, I wore REI Silk One Liners, REI Lightweight Merino Wool Hiking Socks Crew, REI Classic Sahara Convertible Pants and Oboz Bridger boots. For sleeping, I used an Osprey Aether 70 pack, a Mountain Hardware Sprite 1 tent, a Thermarest self-inflating full mat, and a Teton Trailhead +20F sleeping bag. For cooking, I used an Etekcity Ultralight stove with Piezo Ignition, MSR fuel, a Primus Pot & Pan set that isn’t available anymore, a Sea to Summit collapsible coffee mug, a Sea to Summit 5 Liter Kitchen sink, and an REI long handled spoon. I ate mostly Mountain House meals, single tuna packets and single Spam packets. I use REI Traverse Trekking Poles, a Counter Assault Bear Can, a Katadyn Hiker Pro Filter, and a Spot GPS system with subscription. I also took a Helinox Ground Chair, which is a vital addition to my packing.

There are other equipment that I take, but that is a list of the items I’ll take time to give a quick review. REI socks and liners were terrific!! I had no blisters. I do change my socks and liners daily. Having no blisters might be due to the boots as well. I cannot say enough good about the Oboz boots. Great grip, comfort, fit. We had a mixture of trails, sand, dirt, granite, solid rock, snow, and sharp granite rock due to the horse traffic. The boots came out strong, no deep cuts, no separation of soul or rubber from shoe. I found my boots!!!

The REI pants were great. Much better than the Columbias I had the previous year. Those ended up with a rip in the seat. The REI are much more durable, comfortable and do not make noise when I walk in them. I will get more of these.

I have been using my Sprite 1 tent for 5 years, great easy to set up, very little condensation, plenty of room for me. Lightweight, durable, no holes or leaks over the years.

The Teton Trailhead sleeping bag also has been going for 5 years, keeps me comfortable even when we experienced temps in the 20’s. Does get warm, though in temps above the 70’s. Lightweight and easy to pack in compartment in my backpack.

The jury is still out on the Thermarest self-inflating mat. It is better than the inflatable I had 2 years ago. That one was noisy when I rolled around. This one isn’t and gives me some comfort on the ground.

The ultralight stove I use…I have had it for 5 years. I spent about $10 on it. I bought 2 more this year for $18 total, thinking that this inexpensive (cheap) stove might quit on me this year. NOPE!! I packed an extra stove for nothing. These are the best, most reliable, best packing away stoves on the market. I can pack my stove, medium size MSR fuel cylinder, and collapsible coffee cup in my Primus camping set, and put it in the sack provided for the Primus. Compact, lightweight and durable. You cannot go wrong with this.

The Osprey Aether 70 is a great pack. I am not sold on the way the top section is attached so you can detach it as a day pack, but it did well. I like the bladder compartment being on the outside. It held all my gear and packed well. My bear can is big, so it is a tight fit, but does go down in the pack. If I ever buy another bear can it will be slightly smaller.

I love my Sea to Summit kitchen sink. I used it multiple times for multiple reasons. You are able to get water to wash dishes, your body (body parts like feet), put out the fire and other uses. My tent is big enough, I have a towel and wash rag, that I was able to wash each morning in my tent using bio soap, staying away from mosquitos and the cold. The water was cold though. You are able to dump the water on the ground or in the fire ring instead of the stream or lake.

My poles are also 5 years old and going strong. They are the twist to lock style. Never any problems. Easy to adjust. And my Katadyn filter, no need to review it, plenty has already been said about how great they are.

The only piece of equipment I was total disappointed in and only used it once, because of its total ineffectiveness was my Thermacell. I was so excited when the backpacking version came out. I ran and bought one at REI. I used it and got eaten up by mosquitos. I had to bath in Deet, just like any other time. I would not waste my money on the new backpacking version of the Thermocell Mosquito repelling apparatus.

Well, that’s it. I will include my own backpacking equipment and food checklist for those of you who want it. I will do that in the next few days.

Remember, whole living must have shared experiences.

Narrow to Most Enjoyed, Cycling, Outdoor, Travel


I have discovered, being an adventure/risk-taker junkie, that I often find myself strung out, because I have so many things going on, or I am trying to do so many things I enjoy. Whole-living isn’t filling every moment with an adventurous, risky, adrenaline-rush causing, or satisfaction-promising event, hobby, or effort. Whole-living begins with relationships, which also sustains whole-living. Whole-living does include those activities that you “MOST” enjoy, not all the activities you enjoy. Narrowing down what you do to the “MOST” enjoyed will give you down time and spiritual renewal time, much needed for whole-living.

Sometimes we fill our lives with too many activities, events, efforts, or other enterprises that take our time, energy and focus. Balance. Moderation. Two words often used, but seldom heeded. Maybe it’s actually, Priorities–Relationships (God primary), Enjoyment (as opposed to exhaustion), Renewal (spiritual, mental, physical, emotional). And the time for Relationships to be built, enjoyment to be had, and renewal to take place, making up your whole-life.

I have recently narrowed (this is an ongoing process) down the activities and hobbies that filled my life–flying (private pilot) scuba (dive master), sailing, traveling, cycling, fishing, kayaking, backpacking, RVing, running, Triathlon competing, cruising, and brewing beer. On tope of all this, I taught school, planted a church and directed a nonprofit benevolent organization that operates in Honduras, Mexico and the U.S. Here is where I am so far: I sold don’t fly (sold my plane and am not directly associated with any flying organization) my tri-bike, sold our RV trailer, sold my scuba equipment, did not buy the sailboat, resigned from teaching and cutback on the type of travel we will do.

My focus: cycling (running during off-season), backpacking & kayaking. We will travel twice per year. I will focus on the church plant and nonprofit, combining the two after December.

Narrow down, focus on the activities you most enjoy and that your spouse (others you have relationships with) most enjoy as well. My wife enjoys cycling, traveling, traveling and the church plant as well as the nonprofit. That still gives both of us time for individual activities we are able to enjoy.

Here is my bike. I ride a 2013 Defy 1 with an Ultegra gear set. I have a TomTom MultiSport Cardio with a bike mount. I upgraded the seat with a Cobb Plus. Since I have narrowed down, I have been able to focus, get back on my bike and ride. I rode over 100 miles this week and will continue to ride, building up to be able to ride the 100 K at HHH in Wichita Falls in August. I joined USA Cycling and will ride officially as a Category 5 male racer. I am looking forward to this. My wife and I will be together, she will ride a shorter distance, and we will be with her sister and brother-in-law. We enjoy being with them, building life-long, meaningful relationships while we all enjoy riding together and the whole experience.

This week we will be at Concan, TX staying at Neal’s Lodges on the Rio Frio with family. Again, taking time to build relationships, with an outdoor experience, getting away from the daily pressures and obligations, to rest, recoup, and enjoy. I will be taking my bike!! I will enjoy riding the cool river on an inner tube. I will enjoy a few games of 42 (dominoes). I will enjoy good food, late nights of great conversations, and being with my family.

Narrow down, build relationships, find whole-living.

Life is Too Short

Gloria and I relaxing with a view
I don’t have a bucket list, I have a “life is too short” list. Life is too short to worry about things you cannot change. Life is too short to worry about what others might think, even when you are seeking to do the best you are able. Life is too short to worry about what someone “heard” you said or did. Life is too short to worry about someone else’s fears and imaginations. Life is too short to live in a “squat,” to avoid risks, to miss seeing those right in front of you, not to say, “I love you,” not to take action, not to learn something new, not to taste something different, not to drink coffee on the back porch or take that trip to….

Life is too short not to live every day for Jesus, experiencing his grace and love, living with hope and purpose–whether working, serving, playing, or relaxing. Whole living after 50 is living in Jesus, enjoying life now, living without fear, taking care of yourself so you have quality of life, mentally, physically, relationally, sexually and most of all spiritually.

That is why, I have committed once again to full-time pastoring and serving in focused ways.

Backpacking in Emegrant Basin with Family
This is how God has gifted me and empowered me, therefore I find fulfillment and health in exercising these gifts faithfully–preaching/teaching, pastoring, leading and equipping others.

Heart to Heart Christian Fellowship
That is why, as I serve in this way at Heart to Heart Christian Fellowship and Co-Partners for Christ, I will also continue to build on my relationship with my wife, family, church and friends. I will also seek to eat in a healthy way and find supplements that are beneficial and not detrimental to my health. I will have active hobbies such as backpacking, road cycling, running, scuba diving, traveling, and beer making. I will have an active lifestyle that includes time with family, friends, believers and unbelievers.

You will be reading about many of these adventures. When I first started this blog, I intended on keeping my identity anonymous, but I decided, I will be an open book, so to speak, or an open blog.

I just returned from Honduras, where I began a ministry called Hogar de Esperanza. The trip was a great trip. We are making a major transition giving the lead over to Pastora Lorena Urbina and her family to develop and expand the current ministry there–from currently feeding 140 children 2 times per week and having 1-2 mission trips per year, to in the future having a church, a school, a clinic and a rehab center on location, all exalting Christ.

I am beginning my full-time role as Pastor and Director as I am transitioning out of my full-time English Teacher role at Brookhaven Youth Ranch School.

I am preparing for another trip to Honduras to continue working on the transition.

I am preparing for a family reunion in Texas as well as a backpacking trip in the Sierra Nevadas at the end of July. The backpacking trip will begin at Leavitt Meadows and be a 9 day trip.

So, hang on, I will let you know how my life at 59 is whole and full.

Feeding Children in Honduras
Hogar de Esperanza, Junquillo, Honduras 140 children and mothers.
Children Finishing the Great Adventure Bible Study

I’ve Been to REI

I just purchased Sahara convertible pants, silk one liner socks, and a backpack Themocell mosquito repeller. I also purchased refills for the Themocell. I have used silk one liner socks on my last 6 day hike in the Sierra Nevadas. I am going for 11 days this year from July 23-August 2. I will be wearing my Oboz boots, using my new Osprey pack, and all my other equipment. Most of my equipment is already field tested, but I haven’t tested my new Choco shoes, Thermocell mosquito repeller, or my new Osprey pack. I will post pictures of my recently purchased equipment soon.

Also, I have recently made a life decision concerning my daily commitment. I have committed to giving my full attention and time to Co-Partners for Christ and Heart to Heart Christian Fellowship. I will serve the poor, widows, orphans, disadvantaged, remote and hurting. I will show God’s grace in Jesus Christ to all who will receive. I will be traveling to Honduras, India, Mexico and other countries sharing God’s grace. I will will be leading Heart to Heart Christian Fellowship to sharing God’s grace with nearby neighbors. This is part of having a whole live after 50, finding meaning and a greater purpose for your life. This is mine.

Keep posted. Some interesting posts and pictures coming!!

Have 2 Batches of Beer Brewing, Hobby & Stress Relief

I discovered beer brewing through Mr. Beer, a company that produces and supplies all that is needed for beginner and easy home brewing. I found that brewing beer is a great hobby and a stress reliever for me. Using Mr. Beer, keeps it simple, but gives me enough freedom to develop my own recipes. I just bottled 2 different batches that are my first attempts at my own recipes.

I will share more about Mr. Beer and my recipes, but the reason I am writing this blog is to share one aspect of relieving stress. Stress is a killer in my life. I let it build until I am not able to think straight or I have an outburst of anger (really frustration). There are a few activities that help me, stop my routine, give my mind a rest, and have some enjoyment that also provides some sense of accomplishment (can’t get too serious or it’s no longer a stress reliever). Brewing beer, riding my rode bicycle, running, backpacking, and believe it or not, playing Halo on my xBox are some activities that help relieve stress. These either give me time to exert energy, to “not think”, to loosen stress-tight muscles, zone out, or time alone to think. It just depends on what I need to get rid of the stress. This doesn’t include the spiritual aspect. I will deal with that at another time.

So back to my brewing…

Mr. Beer offers kits to get a quick start, or you are able to purchase each item separately customizing your brewing operation. I chose to purchase my items separately, because I wanted glass bottles with swing tops, so I will be able to use them over and over. I ordered the plastic brewing keg and a few other accessories.

I also chose to order the items separately so I was able to order the type of beer I wanted to drink, not the type that came with a kit. I started by brewing the Bewitched Amber Ale first. I tried a few other kinds, before I put together my own recipe–I started with Bewitched Amber Ale Extract, added Brewmax DME smooth, Cascade hops and I used Safale S-04 Dry Ale Yeast. The other recipe I developed started with American Classic Ale Extract, Brewmax DME pale, Cascade hops and Safale S-04 Dry Ale Yeast. I follow Mr. Beer directions with some modifications: I add the DME while boiling for 5 minute cook with hops. I remove from heat and add the Ale Extract. I remove the hops before I pour the mixture into the brewing keg. I follow the brewing, bottling, and conditioning instructions Mr. Beer provides.

Part of the process for me, also includes inviting a friend over to have a beer or two, while we bottle the batch that is ready. We grill a steak, catch up on what’s knew in each other’s life, drink a store-bought beer or two, and laugh about the last time we bottled beer together.

My Classic Ale is in the refrigerator conditioning. My Amber Ale is bottled in a dark cool place carbonating. I hope it taste good, but it really doesn’t matter to me, it was the process. Stress relief. Enjoyment in life. And maybe, just maybe, some good beer to drink.

New Hiking Backing Boots, Oboz Bridger Mid BDry

I bought a new pair of Oboz Bridger Mids. I purchased them for my backpacking, hiking and daily wear. The last boots I bought were Ahnu, before those I purchased Merrells. I am anxious to see how these work. The Merrrells were terrible for me, I ended up with blisters on my first day of an 11-day hike that began in the Sequoia National Park. My Ahnu’s were great, they lasted two years of 7-day hiking in Emigrant Wilderness, the mountains of Honduras and daily use.

I have a wide foot with a high instep. These boots have a special insole called BFit soles. Here is what Oboz says about their insoles on their website, “BFit Insoles: Align feet biomechanically. Every pair of Oboz comes outfitted with a supportive, quality insole—on par with premium aftermarket insoles, but engineered just for our shoes.” I think this will be helpful for me, with my high instep and wide foot.

The boot is what Oboz calls BDry (waterproof), because of these three components, “The crux is our proprietary tape-sealed polyurethane film bootie, which waterproofs shoes but still lets sweat escape. Second, all of our BDry shoes come with hydrophobic upper materials, meaning the rest of the shoe won’t absorb water. And finally, the textile lining inside BDry boots wicks sweat away, so feet stay dry from the inside out.

They also have BFit lacing that helps lock in your heel to the molded heels the boots have. All these features along with the outsoles called Granite Peak, caused me to believe these will be the hiking boot for me. The Granite Peak outsoles are described as, “The quintessential hiking outsole, featuring a nylon shank for stability, toothy side lugs that hug off-camber trails, and 4mm directional lugs studding the sole. A lightweight TPU chassis boosts stability and prevents stone bruising without inhibiting flex.”

I started wearing them immediately, to break them in, which seems unnecessary. They have been comfortable and with a great feel from the day I put them on. I wear them daily for about 8 hours per day.

These will be the boots I wear for my 11-Day backpacking trip from Mt. Whitney to the Sequoia Nat Park. (I will be doing a couple 3-4 day hikes before then as well).

I will let you know how they wear and feel after my Mt. Whitney trip which will be in July.
OBOZ WEBSITE

Stay tuned: I am planning a 21-Day Backpacking Trip in Wyoming’s Wind River Mountains in 2018 and I have started long-range planning for my Thru-Hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2019 or 2020.

Supplements I Take

I did a lot of research before I started taking any supplements or vitamins. At 58, I have different needs than when I was 38. I also have high cholesterol and high blood pressure, so I wanted something that would help in those areas as well.

*Magnesium Oxide, for heart health. 1 400 mg capsule per day.
*Glucosamine Chondroitin MSM, for heart, joint and muscle health. I buy theVitamin Shoppe Specialty combination that has 500 mg Glucosamine, 400 mg Chondroitin, and 500 mg MSM, a bottle of 360 capsules. I take 3 capsules per day.
*L-arginine, for heart, muscle and sexual performance. 3 500 mg capsules per day.
*Maca, for testosterone and sexual health (weight control, energy). 1 500 mg. capsule per day.
*Omega 3 Fish Oil (300 EPA/ 200 DHA) for blood and heart health. 2 1000 mg soft gels per day.
*ONe Daily Men’s 50 theVitamin Shoppe multivitamin supplement. 1 per day.
*Tribulus Terrestris Extract for testosterone and sexual health (weight control, energy) 1 625 mg capsule 3-4 times per week. (This product may cause headaches or sweating).

These are very helpful and have increased my energy and help me with weight control around my midsection. The energy and other effects have improved my physical exercise and sexual health.

I either swallow these with coconut milk (Silk) or I make a shake or smoothie emptying the capsules into the shake. I still have to swallow the Fish Oil and Multivitamin. Below is my recipe that includes two other supplements that have great health benefits. I will write more on the benefits later. I just wanted to get these out in from of you for now.

I start with a Ninja Tumbler that holds 2 cups. I fill it 3/4 with crushed ice. I empty all my capsules onto the ice. I put one scoop of body strong 100% Egg Protein and one scoop of Magic Matcha Green Tea (scoops provided in products). I then pour Silk Coconut Milk (unsweetened) until almost full and add 1 tablespoon of local honey for sweetener. I blend until thoroughly mixed and the mixture is a smooth shake. I drink it and use it to take the fish oil and multivitamin.

BodyStrong 100% Pure Egg Protein

Magic Matcha Green Tea[/caption]

I am going to begin the blogging

I will begin now. I opened this account and made my first post last year. As with many, I was very excited and enthusiastic about blogging, until I got started. Blogging is a real commitment, but you also have to have something worth writing and being read.

I believe what I will be writing will be worth writing and being read. I am 58 now. I am active and want to continue being active. I am a triathlete, a 1/2 marathoner, an endurance cyclist, a backpacker, a scuba diver, a RVer, and a vacationer. Along with this I have grandchildren, teach High School English and am a director of a nonprofit organization.

I want to be able to continue to be active with a high quality of life–physically, emotionally, psychologically and sexually. I will write about the training I do, the supplements I use, the deals I find and the products I use. I will let you know of great places to go for all these activities and how you will be able to stay healthy for them with a busy schedule that limits the time you have. Right now, I ride my road bicycle when I am able, run when I can and swim at the YMCA at 5:00 a.m. before I go to work at school. It’s all about time management, moderation concerning food and beverage, and use of proven supplements.

I will blog on a consistent basis beginning today.

Coming Soon!! Posts for Men over 50 Wanting to Live Fully

I am 57.  I want to be active in a healthy way where I am able to enjoy every aspect of my being, physical, emotional, spiritual and social, until I pass from this existence.  I want to be able to enjoy music, hiking, running, bike riding, swimming, holding my grandkids, sex with my wife, financial peace, social relationships, walking through downtown, a stroll in the park, you name it.  All those things that make life on this earth enjoyable, worth living.  And I want to be able to do those things without the aid of others or medications.  How will I be able to do those things?  How will I be able to bend down and pick up my grandchild without wincing in pain?  How will I be able to run down the sidewalk without hobbling like a “57” year old?  How will I be able to have sex with my wife…?   How will I be able to….well you fill in the blank.  This blog will be my journey, the activities I do, the products I try, the processes I find that will help us men really be able to have Whole Living After 50.  Stay tuned and keep watching.  I will have a learning curve as I figure out how to do this blogging thing as well as the researching I will be doing.

This will be fun and this will be worth the trip!!!!