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Rocky Mountain Ruck

ALDHA-W and the CDTC held the Rocky Mountain Ruck on March 14th at the American Mountaineering Center in Golden, CO
ALDHA-W and the CDTC held the Rocky Mountain Ruck on March 14th at the American Mountaineering Center in Golden, CO

Get to the hills! The Colorado hikers are in Ruck! This past weekend, ALDHA-W and the Continental Divide Trail Coalition (CDTC) completed their first Rocky Mountain Ruck attracting 85 people from as far away as Salida, Vail, Portland, and even LA! This all-day event attracted hikers in all stages of experience—from dayhikers to seasoned veterans to the long trails. No matter what level of expertise, everyone walked away having learned a trick or two, and the fellowship, fun, and beer made the event the closest Colorado has gotten to a Gathering yet (besides maybe Lawton “Disco” Grinter and Felicia “POD” Hermosillo’s wedding).

Outside demo
Outside demo

Held at the historic American Mountaineering Center in historic downtown Golden, CO, the event kicked off with speeches by CDTC Executive Director Teresa Martinez and ALDHA-W President Whitney “Allgood” LaRuffa. To acquaint everyone to the terms, quirks, and nuts and bolts mechanics of a thru-hike, Ryan “Dirtmonger” Sylva and ALDHA-W Secretary April “Bearclaw” Sylva presented a funny and lighthearted intro to What is a Thru-Hike.

Pack shake down with Allgood and Annie
Pack shake down with Allgood and Annie

After a break with food and snacks provided by Great Harvest Bakery and Whole Foods Golden, the event jumped into the ever-important ‘Everything that Can Go Wrong on the CDT’—with applications for the Colorado Trail, PCT, and pretty much every other trail. Disco and POD used their humor and wide breadth of hiking experience to present a spectrum of safety techniques for various tribulations of the trail—from grizzlies to giardia.

Outdoor fording demo
Outdoor fording demo

From here, it transitioned to winter hiking teacher Pete “Czech” Sustr’s hands-on (read: powerpointless) clinic on fords and snow travel. The troop of hikers traveled outside to a park outside to enjoy the four surrounding mountains of Golden, the 70 degree temps, and a little lightning safety position practice.

Czech demonstrated walking on a not-snow-covered hill and then gathered everyone to Clear Creek where he and a lone brave volunteer forded the creek. Passerbys from downtown Golden stopped to witness the crazy.

The view of the ford from the bridge over Clear Creek. The downtown passerbys were gathered on the bridge watching these two.
The view of the ford from the bridge over Clear Creek. The downtown passerbys were gathered on the bridge watching these two.

The morning concluded with backpacking gear presentation by expert and ultralight guru Glen van Peski. Throughout the day, hikers had the opportunity to explore manned booths and touch, try on, and otherwise drool over gear from Montbell, Gossamer Gear, Katabatic Quilts, and the CDTC. Lunch outside transitioned into pack shakedowns with experienced hikers and trail Q&A in breakout groups. Those who brought their backpacking gear for one-on-one consultations were stoked at the level of attention, helpfulness, and insight the hour of gearheading provided.

Dirtmonger heading up a pack shakedown. What a nerd!
Dirtmonger heading up a pack shakedown. What a nerd!

Corralling people back to the classroom on such a sunny day was a chore, but well worth it. Paul “Mags” Magnanti gave a highly informative presentation on navigation on the CDT with a robust Q&A. Mags proved a hard act to follow, but Allgood and I came on stage to discuss serious business: pooping in the woods. We discussed Leave No Trace trail ethics and Trail Town Etiquette—two very important topics that to-be hikers need to know before stepping foot on trail. The session concluded with a cathole digging competition with participants using their shoe, hiking poles, sticks, tent stakes, rocks and potty trowel to dig the best hole they could in 45 seconds. Needless to say, the trowel got the job done.

Cathole digging competition
Cathole digging competition

The evening ended with a killer presentation by Junaid Dawud, who thru-hiked all the Colorado 14ers as a continuous hike. A minor Front Range celebrity, as well as a seasoned thru-hiked himself, Junaid’s photos were jaw dropping and his description of pioneering a trail and the suffering that actually doing it entailed somehow just made me want to hike it even more. Junaid told us during Happy Hour that it was the first time he had given a talk about the 14ers Thru-Hike. Everyone who heard that could not believe it—his talk was so well-polished that we had all assumed he had given it to numerous clubs around the Front Range. I’m going to do everything I can to make sure Junaid has an opportunity to give his talk again sometime soon.

Cathole competitors put on their game face.
Cathole competitors put on their game face.

The night ended with a raffle of gear valuing thousands of dollars including backpacks from Gossamer Gear and others, numerous pairs of Altra Zero Drop shoes, DVDs of the Walkumentary and Embrace the Brutality, downloads of Guthook’s trail guide apps, Sawyer filter, a Montbell jacket, Katabatic gear bivy, a Hennessey Hammock, and much more. Nearly everyone walked away with some schwag (and everyone who came to the event walked away loaded down with giveaways from Probar, Whole Foods, Tecnu, and Dr. Bronner’s). We all gathered for a Social Hour and Q&A with beer provided by Colorado Native Lager.

The Gathering is about food, fun, and fellowship.
The Gathering is about food, fun, and fellowship.

It’s the end of Ruckin’ Season. Soon, hikers will hit the trail. But with the help of the Rocky Mountain Ruck, we hope that everyone will set foot on trail—whatever that trail may be—feeling more prepared for the journey ahead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Worried Hiker Moms: Get your kid Justin Lichter’s new book

Justin Lichter’s new book <a href="<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0762790202/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0762790202&linkCode=as2&tag=lizthoadvhik-20">"><em>Ultralight Survival Kit.</em></a> 106 pgs, Falcon Guides. Available in<a href="<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0762790202/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0762790202&linkCode=as2&tag=lizthoadvhik-20">"> paperback</a> and <a href="<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00INIPLZU/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00INIPLZU&linkCode=as2&tag=lizthoadvhik-20">">e-book format.</a>
Justin Lichter’s new book Ultralight Survival Kit. 106 pgs, Falcon Guides. Available in paperback and e-book format.

Justin Lichter, aka Trauma, is well respected within the hiking community for doing some crazy things and not dying. In his second book, Ultralight Survival Kit (Falcon Guide), he condenses down 35,000 miles worth of hike-and-learn knowledge into a pocket-sized 4 oz book. Jam packed with useful information and no fluff, this mini-manual is a perfect gift to give your son/friend/niece/co-worker/hiking buddy who just decided to go hike a long trail for the first time (and doesn’t really know what he/she is getting into).

Every year, tons of people hit the Appalachian or Pacific Crest Trail with little knowledge of how to deal with problems in the outdoors (even if they think they are prepared). Having once counted myself among these yahoos, by the time the situation gets severe, the internet or heavy survival guidebooks that would have been really useful are hundreds of miles away on a bookshelf. Lichter’s book offers an ultralight alternative to carrying that heavy book or finding onself totally SOL in a sorry situation.

Lichter’s book has a nice combination of everyday problems all hikers experience—dealing with blisters, scaring off bears, tying knots—down to the type of experiences one hopes to never have in life: dealing with big scary attacking animals,  making your own sunglasses, and running from dueling banjos. The book’s hand-drawn diagrams, step-by-step knot instructions, and plant ID make it a useful on-trail companion to read in-sleeping bag by headlamp each night—even if you aren’t in a fix. Although I would strongly recommend reading Lichter’s first book, Trail Tested: A Thru-hiker’s Guide to Ultralight Hiking and Backpacking, before starting a thru-hike for the first time, his new book is a short and sweet reference that every worried mom sending her kid off to hike the AT should slip in his/her pack at the top of Springer.

Trauma loves chocolate milk!
Trauma loves chocolate milk!

More experienced hikers might also appreciate Lichter’s book as a sneak peak into the hiking style that has served him well for so many miles. Hiking skill has a learning curve, and most “experienced” hikers might be familiar with 80% of the stuff in Ultralight Survival Kit, but will find some surprises. As a three-season hiker, I appreciated Lichter’s extensive sections on winter camping and winter layering systems.

The book also dispels some “old wives’ tales” that get passed down in the hiking community, such as how to deal with poison oak, properly ford rivers, or not to follow waterways when lost.  Long distance hikers should make an effort to refresh outdoors skills every year, and this is an easy 106-page way to do it. When the weather is too gross outside to hike for everyone except Justin, reading Ultralight Survival Kit is a nice way to get the mind in the hiking spot without getting wet.