First Look at My 2017 Zpacks Arc Haul Gridstop Backpack

In late 2013 I was “talked into” buying a new Zpacks Arc Blast backpack. As it turned out, that pack ended up being the best pack I have ever used. Sure, it was a 60 liter backpack, so not really a small backpack, but I found that I was reaching for it on any hike I went on that wasn’t in the dead of summer (which for these hikes, even my XS Zero backpack can be too big… lol!) The Arc Blast backpack fit me like a glove and it was comfortable (even with total pack weights reaching into the mid 20’s). It had all the features I needed and wanted, and none that I didn’t want (I’m looking at you hydration port). For me, it just worked. I loved that backpack, but in time I came to find one small issue with it, which ultimately would make the pack unusable for me… Continue reading

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Book Review: “Long Trails, Mastering the Art of the Thru-Hike” By Liz Thomas

A little over a month ago I came across a post (either on Liz Thomas’ Facebook page or her Instagram page… I can’t remember now) announcing that her new book, “Long Trails, Mastering the Art of the Thru-Hike“, was ready for preorder through Amazon. I didn’t even know that she was coming out with a new book, but I do enjoy reading new books about hiking and backpacking, so I followed the link to Amazon and submitted my preorder. The book was something in the neighborhood of $16, and at that time still had around 2 weeks (give or take) before it was ready to ship. Continue reading

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April 2017 Hike: The Fiery Gizzard Trail

I recall hearing of the Fiery Gizzard Trail sometime in the past, but that was all I could recall. This was the trail that Jeff Benefield (from JBen’s Blog) had planed for our April Fools weekend hike. So I did a little Googling, and what I came up with was that it is a 12.5 mile end-to-end trail along the Southern Cumberland Plateau. One could start at either Grundy Forest, or at Foster Falls, the trail is listed as “strenuous” and there are a lot of waterfalls… Continue reading

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The Benny Braden Interview (#fastestgsmnp900miler Record Holder)

On Thanksgiving weekend, 2016, my kids and I meet up with some friends for a 3 day hike in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. This actually happened to be the weekend right before the huge fires recently broke out in the park. In fact, on that Saturday night before they became uncontrollable, Benny and I sat on top of Cliff Tops (at Mt. LeConte), first watching the sun set, and then watching the (at that time) small fires smoldering across the valley on Chimney Tops.

While we were sitting atop that mountain, Benny talked to me about wanting to take a break from section hiking the AT in 2017, and instead take the new year to hike all the trails in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. He felt like it was something he wanted to do. It was somewhat close to home for him, and he had only hiked a small portion of the trails throughout the park at that time. I could hear it in his voice, I knew that he was going to complete this task… it was the manner in which he completed it that shocked us all, including himself! Continue reading

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First Look @ the Zpacks Vertice Rain Gear

As some of you may already know, at least by now, just a couple of weeks ago Zpacks added their new Vertice rain jacket & pants to their webpage. For the last couple of months I had been waiting (somewhat patiently… lol) for their new rain gear to become available. I  checked their site daily (usually several times a day), and for a while I actually thought to myself: “I’ll just wait and see what the new stuff looks like.” Then after talking with Matt & Will at the ATKO a few weeks back, and even putting my hands on a swatch of the new material (which isn’t cuben fiber at all), I got even more excited about it! The day it posted to their website I was actually driving to a hike when my buddy Benny Braden sent me a text that it was finally available! I pulled my car over and placed an order for both the jacket and the pants right then and there… Since that day I have been waiting like a kid at Christmas for the package to arrive… then today, it finally did! 🙂 Continue reading

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New Book: “Travelled Far” by Keith Foskett

Over the last few years I have shared several different posts on both Facebook & Twitter pointing folks towards Keith Foskett (aka: “Fozzie’s”) books. A few years ago, I even shared a personal review of one of his books here on my blog. Over the years, Keith has kept himself busy, whether writing a new book, updating his blog, doing interviews, or simply spending time on the trail. And while I can’t say that I know Keith personally, we have had several conversations about different things over the years, and then after reading all 4 of his books and reading his blog, I feel like I do know him, just a little bit… From what I gather, he seems like a guy I would enjoy hiking with someday (if I could keep up with him) or share a beer with. Hopefully one day I will run across him on the trail (or in a pub)! Continue reading

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