A walk in the woods

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Roger George Brown

10 September 1951 – 9 November 2016

Dear Followers,

It is with great sadness that I write this piece for you all. My father Roger passed away from cancer a few days ago. To be honest I am not sure how much people knew of his illness. I know in typical dad style he tried to play down how sick he was even to me, when I was standing right in front of him. I guess this was the last gift he wanted to give us – hope.

14938375_10210768271021036_1485095742720825552_nDad loved this website, and he loved the community here. It was his little space in the world where he shared his love of the outdoors. Before he died, he pestered me (uncomfortably so) to promise to take care of it for him. So here I am.

My first consecutive day hike with dad (I think) was when I was 5. He took my brother and I to climb Mt Kosciusko during the summer holidays. Being the highest mountain in Australia it’s probably not the most obvious choice to introduce a 5 year old to hiking. But that was dad. When I complained about having to go uphill, he told me there was a cafe up top. To this day, I have never climbed a mountain with a cafe on top of it…

Leading up to this trip I remember telling dad that I thought it was amazing that Santa knew I needed a pack for my upcoming trip. This is probably my first memory of my dads enthusiasm to buy me outdoor gear. From that moment on, if it was hiking related I was (mostly) allowed to have it.

The good gear times really started to roll, once my brother and I were old enough to use his old gear, enabling him to buy new stuff. His passion for geeking out on hiking gear was always there. In the early days I think we got the gear reviews while on trips with him. Interestingly, he was also the one who taught me the saying ‘all the gear, no idea’.

I have spent my life following his hiking boots. Which I note have gotten lighter over the years due to his love of lightweight hiking gear. In his final days, he was still determined to get up and go walking. Everyday, he would ask me to take him for a short walk. Everyday, as every other day before us, we went outside and put one foot in front of the other.

In July I came over from Australia to spend 6 weeks with him while he was going through chemo. During that time, we would go for daily meanders through the woods and we did one overnight hike which he documented here. I was fortunate enough to be able to support him on this trip. The sun was glorious and dad was in his element. This trip was about 8km over 2 days, a far cry from the 20-30km days he had brought me up with. We joked that we were serious thru hikers now. It was good to see him joking again. During this hike I got to witness his sheer happiness by being back in the outdoors. With everything that had been going on with his health, it was clear how the outdoors recalibrated him. He was happier, calmer and freer.

Dad always told me he wanted to be hiking till he was 100. I know he is now in a place where he can hike for eternity, sit in his camping chair and watch the world go by. Totally at peace.

I will meet you in the woods Dad, we can go for a hike some time.

Love Kylie x

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Posted in Australia, Coastal Walking, Denmark | 25 Comments

Gossamer Gear Gorilla, and a modification.

During 2009, I used a Gossamer Gear Gorilla for a number walks and was impressed with it, and wrote briefly about it here .

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However, with trips requiring bigger loads planned I moved away from the Gorilla to bigger tougher packs, ultimately preferring the Hyperlight Mountain Gear Porter packs.

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Life has changed and in 2016 I have been seeking out a light 1 to 3 day pack as the Porter is overkill for my needs, and my Lowepro Photo Sport pack is a bit small for overnights. Throughout the years I have continued to follow the development of Gossamer Gear packs and with the older 2015 model of the Gorilla being updated the 2016 Version 2, I decided to obtain a 2015 Gorilla at a discounted price.

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Upon receiving the pack my first observation was the evolution in the carrying harness and feature set since 2009, whilst the basic design remained the same including;

  • a big meshfront packet,
  • side pockets,
  • the inverted U frame inside the main bag,
  • as well as the foam pad pocket fr the.

It was also noticeable that the shoulder strap and hip belts were narrower and thicker.

The inverted U frame which was an innovation in 2009 is still being used in 2015&16 packs incorporating similar methods of attachment as the 2009 model. However, the connection method to the hip belt has changed significantly for the 2016 Version 2 hip belt. The 2016 model has the “2 legs” of the inverted U frame exiting the back panel of the pack just above the hip belt attachment point and inserting into the hipbelt stay coupler on the stiffened hip belt.

Perhaps the downside to the 2016 design, in my view,  is the removable top lid (aka Brain) which is something I would prefer not to have, but the new shaped and stiffened hip belt is a desirable feature especially if you are carrying maximum loads (13 kg). I soon set about wondering how the the u frame connection could be used on the pre 2016 Gorilla packs. (Note the new 2016 hip-belt will fit all Gorilla and Mariposa packs from 2011 to 2016.) A quick search on the internet soon solved the problem of retro fitting the 2016 hip belt to the 2015 Gorilla.

Modifying older Gossamer Gorilla’s to take the 2016 hip belt.

Backpackers are an innovative lot and it does not take long to find ways to modify gear and the 2016 Gorilla hip belt retro fit is no exception.
A comprehensive series of photos of undertaking the modification.

The steps I took are similar to this in the photos and are described below.

  1. Removed the sit light pad, but left the frame inserted.
  2. Marked a spot 1/2” up from the stitching.
  3. Using an electric hot knife cut a cross at the marking.
  4. Punched a hole into a piece of self adhesive velcro (this is what I had) but some form of sealing will be required to stop the tearing of the fabric  on the back panel around where the frame exits the inner tube.
  5. Carefully secured the velcro onto the back of the pack
  6. Then passed the frame through the holes and into the help belt, a 15 minute job max.

The finished result is shown below.

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All that remains is to reassemble everything , here I recommend watching Bob Cartwright’s excellent video on inserting the frame into the 2016 hip belts.

Comparative weights
According to the GG website the average Weight Fully Configured Medium (pack, belt, frame, lid and pad) for the 2016 Version 2 of the Gorilla is 33.6 oz / 954 g

Whereas my modified (see below for detail) Medium 2015 Gorilla with a large 2016 hip belt is 840 grams.

I have not carried sufficient weight in the gorilla yet to test the load transfer but overall it fits well and feels snug. I can see me using this pack for many future trips.

Other commentaries on the 2015 and 2016 Gossamer Gear Gorilla

For a detailed review of the 2016 version 1 of the Gorilla see here (note that this pack was removed from the market and replaced with the “floating lid” version).

Barefoot Jake provides a review of the 2015 version of the GG Gorilla  as well as describing how to update the pack hipbelt to with the 2016 version which can be found here.

 

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Posted in Gear, Gossamer Gear, Modifying, Packs | 1 Comment

Why I prefer Klymit mattresses, updated.

In early 2015 I wrote of my appreciation for Klymit mats, which has been the most visited gear post on this blog.

At that time of writing the features of the Klymit mat which appealed to me were

  • The mat is rectangular in shape so I am not forever trying to keep my legs on the mat.
  • The body mapped baffles make it one of the most comfortable mats I have slept on
  • There is no tendency to “roll off” as there is with the Xlite range from Therm-a-Rest

The main disadvantage of the Klymit mats is they tend to be heavier than the equivalent offerings from Therm-a-Rest but weight is not everything, especially when a good nights sleep is required.

I felt it was time to update my views and usage of Klymit mats.

Nowadays, I use the Insulated Static V lite all year round, which has the same dimensions as the Regular Insulated Mat, but weighs 560 grams on my scales, a saving of 144 grams, whilst retaining the same US R value of 4.4.

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The weight saving is achieved through the use of 30 denier Polyester fabric as opposed to 75 denier Polyester on the regular mattress.

In use, as I always carry a short CCF sit mat and place it under the hip area of the mattress to provide a little extra insulation and cushioning when I am side sleeping. The CCF pad also helps to limit the  sliding of the mattress on the tent floor.

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Posted in Klymit, Sleeping, What works for me. | 7 Comments

An evening above Furesø

It was a warm and calm evening and seemed like the ideal time for a wander and a camp as well as to read more of Chris Townsend’s book Out There

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Posted in CampingnotHiking, Furesø, Tarptent Scarp | 2 Comments

Furesø, waiting for sunrise

I set off after dinner and headed to one of the many camping sites adjacent to Furesø (lake). Locating a spot I settled down to relax, drinking tea and enjoying the evening.

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Posted in AsTucas, CampingnotHiking, Denmark, Furesø, Tarptent Notch | 6 Comments

Calm after the storm

The thunderstorms and heavy rain had passed, so I set off to one of my favourite lakes, Farum Sø. Soon I had located a campsite and was relaxing enjoying the late evening sunshine.

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Posted in CampingnotHiking, Farum Sø, Tarptent Notch | Leave a comment

Camønoen: Møns Geo Centre to Klintholm Havn

Summer had finally arrived in Denmark and with a visitor from Australia it seemed like the ideal time for a short overnighter along the coast. Coincidently I had recently been made aware of Camønoen, a collection of trails around the three islands of Møns (famous for its UNESCO World Heritage recognised White Cliffs), Nyord and Bogø. Given there was so many sections along the coastline, it seemed like the ideal location for a short overnighter.

After 2 hours on public transport we arrived, with many others, on the bus at Møns Geo Centre  a place worth spending time at, but as it was peak season it was rocking with many day tourists taking the opportunity to explore the area and visit the displays.

We quietly slipped around the back of the centre and onto the board walk which would take us westwards towards Klintholm Havn.

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Posted in Camønoen, CampingnotHiking, Coastal Walking, Denmark, Tarptent Notch | 2 Comments