Best of 2017: Books

In 2017, I read over 90 books. According to Goodreads stats, I only gave two of them five stars, 35 were given four stars and 44 were given three stars. I tend to not hand out five star review casually, although it ends up being hard to sort through the four star reviews when there were so many. Probably some of the fours should have been fives, but such is life.

An interesting stat: this year, 26 of the books I "read" were audio books. However, they tend to not get as high of ratings. I am not sure if this is because I probably do not focus as much when I am listening, or that many tend to be non-fiction, or that I just don't pick the "fun" books as audio books. Only one of the books on my list was an audio book. However, 6 of the 13 books I picked were non-fiction! Anyway, without further ado, here are my top thirteen reads from 2017 in no particular order.

You can see my lists here from 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, and 2011.

My First Summer in the Sierra by John Muir: I gave this book five stars and I liked it so much I even wrote an entire post about it! So I won't go on about it too much. In summary, it is a fresh new look at some of the places that I know and love, and it brings a new appreciation to the outdoors as well as to life itself.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi: This was the second (and last) book I gave five stars to this year. It is a true story about a neurosurgical resident who in an interesting twist of fate ends up becoming a patient himself. I liked it so much that I read it in one sitting. It is well written and you can't help but love and relate to the writer and main character, and I was rooting for him throughout the entire book.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver: Kingsolver and her family, who live in northern Virginia, decide to grow or raise their own food for one year, only supplementing when absolutely necessary and then only from local sources. I was inspired by her description of growing asparagus and raising (and slaughtering) her own turkeys. This book made we want to run out and get some baby chicks! Its a fun story and an interesting look at what it takes to be self supported, food wise.

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn: This was a late addition; I actually just finished it. It is set during both WWI where you meet the first character, who is an English spy working in France. Then it takes you to modern day, which is just after WWII, where you meet second set of characters, whose lives end up tangling with the spy from WWI. All the characters are likeable and brave and interesting and the story line is fun and informative.

To the Bright Edge of The World by Eowyn Ivey: This book is written as a series of letters and journals between an Alaskan explorer and his wife in the 1800s. I love books written in this form as you really feel like you are in the person's head and you feel like you get to know them really well.

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah: A story of a boy growing up in South Africa during apartheid who has a black mother and a white father, which was a no-no in those days. He details some of the difficulties as well as how his family got through them. He does it in a humorous way, although the story is anything but funny. I didn't realize this but he is also the host of the Daily Show, and after reading this book, I watched some of his standup, which was really funny. I like that he is a multifaceted individual, not just a funny guy.

The Year of Yes by Shonda Rimes: This was the only audio book that made the cut this year. Shonda Rimes is the writer of Grey's Anatomy as well as several other shows and I was sure this book would be another richy rich talking about their problems and how they overcame them. However, Shonda is a painfully shy introvert who hates public speaking and would rather be behind a desk writing. When she decided to say "yes" to everything, she had to step out of her comfort zone. This book is a funny rendition of the uncomfortable things she ended up having to do (for instance, give a speech where she talks about "pooping her pants.")

Here are some others that made the cut: The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick, All The Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood, Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult, Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton, Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys and The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.

What was your favorite book that you read in 2017? I am always looking for suggestions for my to-read list!


Looking Back: November

November to me means the beginning of many things: the rainy season, the holidays, the  end of the year. It is always strange when it hits you that this year is almost over! Then you start to reflect on what has happened over the last year and it all seems to be a bit surreal at times! Here are the stats.

Running: In November I ran 172.7 miles and climbed 34,108 feet. Most of my mileage was due to a couple of longer runs on the weekends as well as one race, the Quad Dipsea (QD), which has become sort of an annual tradition. The QD is a two time out and back which has about 2,500 feet of climbing for each out and each back, for a total of almost 10,000 feet. This is always held the weekend after Thanksgiving and is an excellent way to burn off those turkey calories. I also biked 41.8 miles, which brings the yearly total to 268.8 which is an average of about 5.6 miles or one round trip commute per week.

Reading: I did not read as many books in November, most likely for a few reasons. One, my audio-book reading time goes down when I am not in the car or running alone and I did not really do much of either. For real books, I have been getting regular old hard backs from the library, which by the way never have as long of a hold period as the eBooks. However, other things in life are taking up precious reading time, so I have not been doing as much reading of the real books either. Here is the list in order of preference (audio-books in italics). I ended up reading 5 books.

The Last Days of Night****
Behold the Dreamers***
Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls***
The Impossible Fortress***

Travel: This month I did not stray too far from home, mostly because it was the holidays and I hosted so I stayed around for that, and then I had the Quad Dipsea one weekend so I stayed around for that. Otherwise, I did a quick weekend trip to Pomona to go to the NHRA drag race finals, which were a lot of fun even though my guy did not end up winning. Also, I did go to Marin county for runs with friends and to do the annual volunteering gig with my brother, where we sweep the course of the North Face 50 mile race. After doing it for four years in a row, we finally earned a new radio handle this year. We will heretofore be known as: Menudo!

Me and the broski, North Face 50 mile sweeps

Sunset over the Farallon Islands, Marin Headlands -- NF50 sweep

Sun setting on the Pomona Raceway. NHRA Finals.

Etc.: The garden is dead. I was thinking of planting some winter things, but am not sure I will get to it in time (or maybe I am already to late). So now it's just raking time, although I did buy a fun toy, a leaf blower, so I will probably have some fun with that in the coming days! Although I have never really used one before... Wish me luck!

San Francisco at dusk from the Vallejo steps.

What happened to you in November? How was your Thanksgiving?


Looking Back: October

October was the month of tying up some loose ends. I got my hair cut, got my oil changed and went to the doctor. I met friends I had not seen in months for a drink. I only slept in my own bed one Saturday in October, and I did not get to bed that Saturday until midnight. It was a productive month, but sometimes when you are in the midst of it, it just feels hectic. 

Running: I ran 196 miles in October and climbed 36,400 feet. Hopefully this will help prepare me for the race I have on Thanksgiving weekend! I also biked about 50 miles, which brings my grand total to 227 out of my goal of 180. Even though I have surpassed my goal, I plan to continue to bike until it starts to rain a lot, which will probably be in December. I also did one yoga session, which is a lot lower than my goal of one per week. 

Maybe due to the heat, the sunsets have been fabulous. See San Francisco in the distance.

A short trip to my parents neck of the woods.

Reading: In October, I spent most of the month getting through two books, which took me a long time. They were both good, but they were just not quick reads for me. Otherwise, I did listen to a lot of audio books (in italics). The total number of books I read in October was seven, three of which were audio books. Here they are, starting with my favorite.

Strangers in Their Own Land****
Salt to the Sea****
Norse Mythology****
Little House on the Prairie**** (re-read)
Truth and Beauty***
The Magician's Assistant**

Travel: The first day of the month found me in South Lake Tahoe, getting in just a little more high altitude fun before the snow sets in again. This year I only went to the Sierras once in July and there was still so much snow it was hard to go on the trails. I had to return once more while the snow was sparse! However, I have a feeling this winter is also going to be a snowy one!

Midtown Manhattan

San Francisco, filled with smoke.

I also went up to my parents house, unfortunately for a memorial for my friend's father. In addition, another friend of mine from high school just passed away, so it was also a chance to pay our respects to her while I was there. It wasn't the most pleasant reason, but it was good to see some of my high school friends. Lastly, I had a work trip to New York, which I tacked an extra weekend onto so that I could visit with some friends there. It was great to be in the city in the fall; however, it was so warm that the colors had not really shown up yet, which I was really looking forward to!

Tahoe area, view from Mt. Tallac, - approximately 9,800 ft.

Etc: Other than the above, I finally ripped out most of my garden and am contemplating planting some winter items. Holiday planning has started, and the weather has been, in typical Bay Area fashion, in the high 80s most days. Go figure. I went wine tasting at the end of the month and am happy to say that the Napa area seems generally better than I had expected.

October is the month for canning!

What fun things did you do in October? Has Autumn struck yet in your neck of the woods? What is your favorite thing about Autumn?


Looking Back: September

For the first couple of weeks in September I was traveling, and then the remaining weekends were spent doing weekend trips, so I was barely home all month! Here are how the totals added up:

Running: A lot of my running miles this month were due to the fact that I hiked the Kungsleden, a long distance trail in Sweden, and I am counting those miles! I ended up running 336 miles, 225 of which were due to the Kungsleden. In addition, I completed 36.4 miles on the bike, bringing my total to 177 miles out of my goal of 180 miles. I am slacking a bit on the Yoga front, and only did one session, out of my goal of 4 times per month.

Teusajaure Lake, along the Kungsleden, Sweden

Reading: Once again, I did not read as much as I thought I would, as I was on vacation for the better part of the month. However, as it was in August, I did a lot of hiking and by the end of the day on these days, I was pretty tired and reading was not really a priority. However, I ended up reading eight books and most of them were pretty good! Here they are, in order of preference (audio books are in italics).

Born a Crime****
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper****
The Kitchen House****
A Man Called Ove****
The Nix****
Another Brooklyn***
Do Not Say We Have Nothing***
The Association of Small Bombs**

Travel: As stated above, for my yearly vacation this year I went to above the Arctic Circle in Sweden, where I hiked the Kungsleden trail. In addition, I spent a couple of days in Stockholm, running and exploring and hanging out. It was kind of funny to be in the land of people who look just like me, as most of my travels have been to places where I tend to stick out like a sore thumb!  I also went to Santa Cruz for a day at the beach with the folks, Napa for some wine tasting with friends, and to Tahoe for a weekend in the mountains! This was definitely a "last hurrah of summer" month and as you can see, I am trying to make the most of the good weather while it lasts!

Lake Aloha, South Lake Tahoe, CA

Lake Merritt, Oakland, CA

Hagaparken Lake, Stockholm, Sweden

Etc.: The garden went a bit wild while I was on vacation and the zuchinnis are so hard they will probably last in my compost for several years. In addition, I have about 4 zillion tomatoes, but have not been home long enough to can them yet! That is definitely something I need to get a move on with, as I definitely do not want them to go to waste! I also had a few figs (eaten!) and many cucumbers and CORN! Hurray for corn. It was so sweet and good and fresh!

Get in my belly!

What did you do this September? What is your favorite vacation activity? Do you have any good recent book recommendations?


Currently: The Sweden Version

Happy Monday everyone! I just flew back from Sweden yesterday evening and it's some time in the middle of the night PDT, or lunch time in Europe, and I can't sleep, so I thought I would do a quick "currently" for my trip!

Reading:  The Association of Small Bombs, which I am about halfway through, but am not loving. It's okay, but not showstopping. On my vacation, I also read four other books which were all pretty good, but I will recap those in my September looking back!

Loving: The fall colors in Sweden! We don't get "seasons" very much in the Bay Area and being in Sweden reminded me of Autumns back home! 

Thinking: about my next vacation... just kidding! I'm thinking about how fast this last one went and how it will be to be back at work today (there are going to be so many emails to go through)! 

Frustrated: that I did not complete my entire hiking goal. However, the weather was poor and I was camping in a tent and I know I made the right decision. I just hate "giving up" without reaching my goals.

Feeling:  Hungry! When you are carrying all of your food on your back, you can only carry so much, which for me was about 3,000 calories per day. When you are hiking 10 - 12 hours per day, you just cannot keep up, calorie-wise. Ever since I left the trail, I have been carb-loading!!! Okay, really I've been overall calorie loading.

Anticipating: Going over all of my photos and reminiscing all the good parts of the trip! I did a cursory review and it's funny how I already forgot some of the early days. It's nice to recall them again and again!  

Watching: I did not really watch any TV while on vacation, but I did watch a few movies on the plane: Ms. Stone, When Harry Met Sally and Moneyball to name a few.

Working: will be interesting today. Usually September is not crazy busy, but I will have a lot of catching up to do after being gone for two weeks!

Grateful: that I get as much time off of work as I do. Technically I get about 20 days off (4 weeks) and I am required to take ten of the days consecutively, which I don't have much of an issue with! I know some people do not get very much PTO and I feel very glad that I do!

Listening: To audio books: A Man Called Ove, and next up Kitchen House. I did not really use my phone on the trail as I did not want to run down the battery in case I needed it for an emergency, so I didn't really listen to much!


Wishing: the floors would clean themselves. How is it that I clean everything before leaving on vacation but when I come home, there is still dirt everywhere? I blame the house elves.

What did you do this weekend? What are you currently wishing for? What are you anticipating? 


Looking Back: August

August was a good month! As usual, it was filled with lots of outdoor activities, family and friends! I love summer!

Running: In August I clocked 197 miles. About 122 of those were in the Wind River Range, and another 31.5 of them were from the Tamalpa Headlands 50k. Other than that, I actually had a couple of "easy" weeks! I actually biked about 41.6 miles though, which brings me to a total of about 141 miles, which is 78% of my 180 mile goal for this year! This month I kind of fell short on the yoga front, and I only did 2 sessions.

Reading: I thought I would read a lot on the hiking trip, but usually we were so tired that we went right to bed (sometimes as early as 7 pm). So, that plus the driving took out about 10 days of reading. However, thanks to audio books, I did "read" 5 books in August (sorted by preference / audio books in italics).

Her Every Fear ****
Think Like a Freak ****
Dreamland Burning ****
The Light of Paris ***
The Body of Death ***

Travel: I was not really home for even one weekend in August! The first two were spent in Wyoming; the third near San Jose and the last in Marin County at my grandma's 85th birthday! It was a busy month of events and travel.

Haystack Mountain, Wind River Range, WY
Wind River: Looking northeast from Chimney Rock @ 12,000 ft
The Eclipse. I didn't look at it, I swear!

SF Giants game with Dad
SF Giants game with Dad

Etc.: The garden is in full swing. I have tomatoes coming out of my ears! Speaking of ears, the corn has ears now too! I am not sure when they will be ready to pick, but it's so exciting to have a new vegetable in the backyard. Also ripening are the figs, cucumbers and zucchini. Still pending potatoes (maybe) and hot peppers. Interestingly, this year I had a lot of volunteer squash and tomatoes (aka, they replanted themselves from seeds from last year) and they are actually bearing fruits! I have canned regular tomatoes and tomato salsa and will probably do another batch of canning next month, likely tomato sauce and/or more plain tomatoes.

I think this qualifies as a plethora.

Snack Time! 
How was your August? What is your favorite in-season fruit or vegetable?


2017 Goals: (Better Late Than Never) Mid-Year Check In

In January, I posted nine goals and it's time to do a mid-year check in to find out where that I need to focus on getting my bootie in gear!

1. Run a 100 mile race -- Done June 2017. Bryce 100M is in the books!

2. Run 2,400 miles / Climb 450,000 feet -- In progress / on track. Stats mid-July = 1,300 miles (54%) / 244,000 ft. (58%)

3. Conquer the hills -- Needs work! (A lot of work)!  The goal was to PR on the following:
(1) Marincello: Goal = beat 15:41 total or 10:53/mi -- best so far = 16:36 total or 11:31/mi
(2) Bobcat: Goal = beat 21:33 total or 10:39/mi -- best so far = 23:19 total or 11:31/mi
(3) Regular 12: Goal = beat 1:45:00 total or 9:03/mi -- best so far = 1:57:51 total or 10:09/mi

4. Read 52 books (with at least 4  of them off my home shelf) --  Done June 2017. Stats mid-June = 57 books. Also, as of mid-June, 6 of them have been off of my own shelf and I have given away 4 of them after I have finished them.

5. Bike or Run Commute once a week to work -- In progress / probably on track. The rain finally stopped, but then I got a flat tire and then I got lazy. I need a total of 180 biking miles (1 round trip per week = approx 3.5 miles). Stats mid-July = 35.4 miles (19% done). I have not run commute even once this year.

6. Try 12 new things -- In progress / probably on track. This can be a new place, a new food, a new activity, or...whatever! I have definitely added a few to my list but need to keep finding new things to try!

7. Spend less money than last year -- In progress / on track. As of the end of Q2, I have spent 26% less than last year. However, I did buy a car last year in March, so it's not surprising that the first two quarters this year are lower. It will be interesting to see how this shakes out after Q3, as I bought a lot of new backpacking gear this quarter.

8. Complete my yard project -- In progress / probably on track. In the front, I have done about 90% of the project. I still need to finalize the drip system and add rocks to one grassy area, but I am waiting for it to dry up first.

9. Complete my wall art / photo project -- In progress / probably on track. I did finally put up some photos! However, this is only about 75% done. I have to pick out a few larger photos to print and then hang them, which is something I tend to put off!

So I am done with two, on track with two, probably on track with four and need serious work on one!

How are your 2017 goals coming along? Have you spent more or less money than last year?


Wind River Range -- Part Two -- Logistics

Planning a week long hiking trip is fun, if you are an excel nerd, or maybe a chemist, or an outdoor enthusiast. Okay, never mind, it is actually fun no matter what! For me, planning is part of the package that makes up the perfect gift, a trip of a lifetime. I am not going to go into that here; you will be able to read more about that in part three, the trip report. For now, I will just say that the work that goes into something, be it the planning or the hiking or the sweat and the tears, or the cold nights and long days, makes the reward all that much more sweet.

The Plan: So the first thing I had to do was figure out where I wanted to go. I had been wanting to hike the Sierra High Route (SHR), which is an off trail route in the Sierras, for some time. However, it is about 200 miles long and at my estimate, I could hike about 20 miles per day, which would put me at 10 days, or too many days to do the trip on a one week vacation. So I looked for other options and found the Wind River High Route (WRHR), which is in the Wind River Range of Wyoming, very close to Jackson, Yellowstone and the Tetons. However, I will admit, I had never heard of this section of the Rockies before. However, this route, which was also off trail, was closer to 100 miles, which I figured I could do in one week. So, I invited my ultrarunning friend Dr. G and the planning began.

The Route: We used the Andrew Skurka guide, along with CalTopo maps and the app "Offline Maps" which has USGS topo maps that you can download to use offline. Skurka gives you a few GPS way points but the route is not mapped out for you. Dr. G loaded the waypoints into the Offline Maps as well. We also had a compass and paper topographical maps.

The Big Three: Next, it was time to get my gear list together. Luckily, I have a skeleton list already made out for other trips, so that part was not too much reinventing the wheel. However, this time, I wanted to finally buy some of those elusive lightweight items that had been on my wish list for so long. The main one was a sleeping bag. They say that there is a "big three" of hiking: the sleeping bag, the sleeping pad and the tent. These items, aside from food, are generally the heaviest in your pack. I had been shopping around for a lightweight but not super expensive sleeping bag for years and had even bought one once which turned out to not be warm enough. This time I bit the bullet and spent a little more in the hopes that this time I would have the sleeping bag of my dreams (see how I did that?)

I bought the following and will likely review them at some point: Western Mountaineering Ultralite 20 degree sleeping bag (29 oz), Hyperlite 2400 Southwest Backpack (28.6 oz), and the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite Small size (8 oz). Dr. G carried a two man tent, which weighed about 2 lbs (32 oz). Therefore, my big three + my backpack only weighed about 4 lbs, or if you include the weight I carried to compensate for not carrying the tent, it was about 5 lbs. To put it in perspective, my old backpack, which I love and have used a lot, weighs about 5.5 lbs empty. Yes, I said empty!

The Clothing: For clothing, my plan was to wear the following: running shorts, short sleeved running shirt, underwear, bra, socks and Saucony trail running shoes (Nomad). I would carry the following: Mountain Hardware windbreaker, long sleeved running shirt, Montbell rain jacket, rain pants, beanie, buff, gloves, MH down jacket, sleeping shirt (long sleeved), NorthFace tights, extra underwear, socks & bra. All of the clothing I carried (not counting clothing worn) weighed about 39 oz or 2.5 lbs.

The Other Stuff: I also had to bring toiletries, kitchen items (pot, pan, spoon, bowl, fuel, matches etc.), first aid, dry bags, water purifier, electronics (phone, charger, headlamp, camera etc.) and other utility items (knife, rope, compass, trash bag, whistle etc.). All together these weighed about 4 lbs.

Base Pack Weight: This is all things, excluding consumables, which include food, water and fuel. My goal was to keep this weight under 20 lbs, as I estimated food would be about 1.7 lbs per day x 6 days, which would be about 10 lbs, and I wanted to keep my pack under 30 total lbs. My total base weight ended up being about 11.5 lbs!! I was very excited about this.

The Food: This was the most fun but definitely the most time consuming portion of the planning. Oh my, I just said "portion." Ha. Seriously though, the goal is to carry the most amount of calories in the least amount of weight. We planned to try to have approximately 3,000 calories per day worth of food, which would hopefully be no more than 1.7 lbs per day. This sounds easy, right? You just load up your pack with Top Ramen and PowerBars, right? Nah. My goal was to have food that: (1) is nutritious, (2) tastes good, (3) is inexpensive (no $8 Mountain House meals), (4) can just have hot water added to it to cook and that (5) has some variety.

So I did a lot of weighing and calorie counting and math and came up with this food plan: Breakfast consisted of either muesli or oatmeal with milk, nuts and freeze dried fruit. Both were about 700 calories. There would also be coffee, with powdered milk and sugar, which would be about 80 - 100 calories. Lunch and snacks would consist of various nuts, bars, jerky, and dried fruit and would consist of about 1,200 - 1,600 calories per day. Dinner would consist of a curried top ramen dish, a mashed potato with bacon dish or a rice and beans dish, each clocking in at a little over 700 calories. I also brought olive oil to supplement, which is about 100 calories per serving. All in all, the goal was about 2,600 - 3,000 calories per day.

The H2O: I brought a 1.5L bladder and a 0.5L soft flask for water. Each liter of water weighs about 2 lbs, but my plan was to try to carry the least amount possible and fill up frequently, so as to keep the pack weight down.

Total Pack Weight: My food ended up being about 1.4 lbs per day. This, plus an estimated liter of water, would bring my total starting pack weight to about 23 total lbs. HOWEVER...Dr. G carried the tent and I carried some of his food, which brought my total up by about 4.5 lbs bringing my actual starting pack weight to 27.5 lbs.

The Verdict: This is the lightest I have ever been when doing a multi day backpacking trip. I lugged over 40 lbs up Mt. Whitney for a one night trip. I will (hopefully) never have to do that again. The pack felt comfortable and even when climbing up a steep rock or going through a tight squeeze, it was not too cumbersome.

A couple of things I would probably leave behind: the olive oil (it leaked plus we never used it), the all purpose soap (I did not shower, bathe, or use soap to do dishes or clean clothes like I thought I might), my sleeping shirt (I slept in my hiking clothes, although it is nice to have a possible dry shirt if needed), sports bra (I wore one and brought a spare and ended up wearing neither in the end) and my just-in-case tank top (it was never warm enough).

A couple of things I might bring some of / more of: gauze (I had tape but no gauze and I got a pretty big scrape which could have used a bit bigger of a cover), socks (I brought one spare but having wet feet is a pain), a different water carrying system (more on that in the trip report) and a different/newer charger (my solar charger is old and ran out of juice fast, plus it was not sunny so I could not recharge it).

A couple of things I could not have lived without: this Picaridin bug lotion (NO bug bites when applied, even with mosquitoes SWARMING), Advil, Neosporin / Bandaids / Leukotape (as mentioned above, I got a scrape and it was nice to have something to clean it), earplugs (my tentmate was a snorer, plus the sleeping pads are loud) my new sleeping bag (fabulous! We spent one night in a snowstorm and I was not cold at all), maps/compass/GPS (after all, this was an off trail trek), Garmin 910ST, camera (I took about 800 photos), Yaktrax (I almost left them behind), and nuts (fat, protein and carbs all rolled into one, which keeps you feeling more full throughout the day).

In the end, I ate every speck of my food, except for the olive oil and one packet of Justin's Peanut Butter. I also used everything in my bag, except for the few things mentioned above and any emergency items (rope, knife, first aid). There was nothing that I really missed or really felt was dead weight. I felt that the packing ended up being pretty much perfect. I may try to compress a few things down a bit more with a compression sack so I can fit a little more if I am hiking for more days. I also need to figure out my water system and probably configure one extra pocket on the front of my pack (my pack has two hip pockets but no chest pocket). Otherwise, things are looking pretty good!

Have you ever planned for a long hiking or backpacking trip? Or maybe a long vacation? What is your logistical planning strategy?


Wind River Range -- Part One -- Trail Conditions

At the beginning of this month my friend Dr. G and I went hiking in the Wind River Range in Wyoming. It was hard for us to find online information regarding weather etc., so my trip report is going to consist of three parts: (1) Weather Report / Trail Conditions, (2) Logistics and (3) Trip Report. This way if anyone needs trail info, they will hopefully be able to find it here. If you are reading this and don't plan on hiking, you can skip part one and wait until part two or three come out! 

A taste of what's to come

I will go into this in more detail later, but most of our hike consisted of traveling on the semi-charted and very informal "Wind River High Route." (See here for the Skurka version or the Wilson/Dixon version) Described by Andrew Skurka as being approximately 66% off trail, it consisted of a lot of boulder hopping, stream fording, snowfield crossing, bushwhacking and route finding. This was a huge challenge as well as being a lot of fun. However, there were some things that it would have been nice to know beforehand. 

First and foremost, there was A LOT more snow than I expected. Most of the route is above 10,500 feet and much of it is even in the 12,000 foot plus range. I knew there would be some snow; I knew this year was more snowy than others have been. However, there was still even more snow that I expected even after taking certain factors into consideration. I brought Yaktrax and Dr. G had micro-spikes and we used them a lot! However, depending on your expertise, I would even say that some sections warranted crampons/ice axes or at least trekking poles, especially if you are inexperienced or faint at heart. 

Wilson/Dixon descending the south side of Alpine Lakes Pass in 2013 (source)

Dr. G ascending the south side of Alpine Lakes Pass Aug 2017

Dr. G ascending the south side of Alpine Lakes Pass Aug 2017 (he is the tiny speck beyond the tiny rock)

Foodwise, I ate ALL of my food. When the hike was done, I had one packet of peanut butter (180 calories) left over. I had eaten every other scrap of food that I brought. I will go into more detail about this in the logistics portion of this series, but basically my takeaway is that I forgot how much the altitude and constant movement can burn up those calories!

In addition, of the seven days we hiked, five of them had rain, hail or snow. One night, as we were camping at about 11,000 feet, we got snowed on and woke up to the sound of the snow sliding off the top of the tent to the ground. The next day there was a beautiful layer of new snow, which was priceless, but it was hard to see the rocks underneath to see where to step or to determine where the best path was. Needless to say, I wore pretty much everything that I brought, even the "just in case" layers, and I was mighty glad to have bought a new sleeping bag before setting out. Also, if you do not have a waterproof backpack, I suggest dry bags or at the very least a trash bag pack liner. 

Rainy but never gloomy!

New snow! Beautiful but hard to get traction! Looking north from Europe peak.

Due to the above and probably other things such as route finding errors and variability of the route in general, the hike took us a lot longer than expected. The total route is supposed to be 96 miles, so we thought it realistic that we would take five or maybe six days to complete the route. However, due to a few wrong turns and snowy days, it took us seven days, we only averaged about 15 miles per day AND ended up with a total route distance of 114 miles. 

If you have any questions, I am happy to answer them! 

For my normal readers, have you ever gone off trail when hiking? Have you ever heard of the Wind River Range?