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Monday, April 1, 2013

Spot II Personal Tracker


The Spot II personal Tracker has been on the market for a while now but after getting out into the wilderness last year and hiking through Yosemite with ZERO ability to call for help should the need arise, I decided that I would invest in a little bit of piece of mind.

There are a lot of TERRIBLE reviews for the Spot II but being as that very few people actually take the time to give things that work well a positive review, I went ahead and bought a unit used on Ebay.

Once I got the device I was happy to see just how small it actually was.  It easily fits into that palm of your hand and really takes up very little room and weight in a pack.  I just look at it as an extra piece of 1st aid gear.  The Spot II takes 4 AAA lithium batteries but the website claims that it should last a long time on standby, 19000 check-in/update messages, and like 72hrs on SOS.  More than enough to actually get the word out.

I activated the Spot II after having it forspring because you purchase in 1 year time frames.  The activation was simple and took maybe 10 minutes.  Just to activate and have functionality you need to purchase the $99/year plan that includes everything EXCEPT for tracking.  I chose to NOT get the tracking function because it only updates a spot eery 10 minutes and really there are TONS of apps for most smart phones that will track better for free.  I also opted for the $12 supplemental rescue insurance. This is a supplimental insureance policy that covers you up to $100,000 in search and Rescue costs.  So after it was all said and done, $112 for 1 year of service.

Spending the next 30 or so minutes looking through the website and customizing the messages and contacts so that when I press certain buttons it sends different messages to up to 10 contacts, via email or SMS.

Then it was time to take it out in the field and see what it had to offer.  Our first trip where I got to use it was on Mt. Baldy.  Once we got to the parking lot I decided to see if it worked.  I turned it in and sent a check-in/ok message.  I had set two of the contacts as my cellphone and my email so that I could see if I was getting the messages and if they had gone through.  Of course out in the Mountains there was no cell service so I could not see if I got the message. (later I once we got reception the messages came through).   Every message that I sent had made it that day.

There are reports of people who don't get the messages, or that they send them out and then they never get received.  Basically, I found that if you just leave the unit on and let it run its course, it sends just fine.  Dont worry about batteries and just leave the unit on while it sends the message.  There really is no indicator of a successful send unless it cannot get a GPS location.

Pros:
  1. light weight and small
  2. relatively small price for the cost.
  3. piece of mind for freinds and family and yourself
Cons:
  1. Not really clear at first until you use the devise for awhile
  2. Auto renew for service 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Mt. Whitney Successful Lottery Notification

Today I got an email from recreation.gov saying that my lottery application for 2013 was successful!  We have a weekend date in mid July for 2 nights!  The plan will be to pick up our permit on Saturday, head up to horseshoe meadows campground for Saturday night, relax there, acclimate to the altitude, and MAYBE a short hike.  The next day, pack up, head to Whitney Portal, and begin the 2 day trek. 

The plan will be to hike to trail camp, spend the night, the next day, hike to the summit and then back to trail camp where will we relax and spend the night again.  The next morning, break camp and head home!


So now that we have a date, it is time for all the planning, prepping, and training!!!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Upcoming 2013 Trips

So its been awhile since I have updated this blog.  I have been slowly getting back out on the trail after the short days and the long cold nights have hindered my time on the trail.  I left a few posts back talking about all the plans the new year had to offer.  Here are where all the plans stand as of now;

First up on the list of adventures is possibly making the summit of Mt. Baldy this weekend!  While I have already done this hike last year, it will be early in the hiking season to attempt this 4200' Elevation gain.  I am excited and I know that I can do it, it's just a question of if I take my full pack or opt for the simple hydration pack.

My hiking group and I have Submitted applications for the Mt. Whitney Lottery so we are all anxious to hear back from that sometime this week.  We chose dates heavy on the Monday's and Sundays hoping that we will have a better shot to get our preferred date.  Our group chose to attempt it in 2 nights so this is going to be a 4 day adventure; one day at Horseshoe meadows, the next day at trail camp, summit the following day and spend the last night at trail camp, then return to the car and home the next day.  I have found a great deal of  information and useful trip reports along with a live webcam of Mt. Whitney at Whitneyzone.com

Coming the 2nd week in April will be our Zion National Park trip.  We have campground reservations for the 12-15 and in that time we are going to hike angels landing, maybe take a trip up the 15 to Bryce National Park, and then camp the last night and head home!

Our entire hiking season is basically geared around training for Mt. Whitney.  To name a few of the hikes that are going to hit, San Jacinto, San Gregonio, White Mt.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tar Creek in the Los Padres National Forest

Starting the 2013 hiking season off early this year we decided to go and check out some of the nearby Los Padres National Forest outside the Fillmore area.  This hike took us up to the edge of the Sespe Condor Reserve so we were hopeful that maybe we would see a California Condor.  This hike also promised some natural pools where, if you were brave enough, you could jumb 20' or upt  80'!

After a 20 or so minute drive along a dirt road that is used to get to oil drilling sites we arrived at the parking lot.  We got our gear together and started up the trail. The hike would start out uphill to get to the top of the ridge but then start to descend into the valley towards the creek bed. 

Our Group getting ready to go!
Here are some of the views that we saw along the way.


The trail is very easy to follow but a little washed out in some areas.
Washed out section of trail.  Trail continues in upper right of photo


 Once we got down to the creek bed we followed it for about 15 mintues till we found the first set of pools
.Rock Scrambling down we were able to look back and the cascades.
Then another 20 minutes further of rack scrambling and hopping we got to the 80' falls.
Then we hiked back.  The way back was not as difficult or time consuming as expected since we basically knew the way back and already had done the route once.  There is rumored of a 200' falls further down the creek but that will have to wait for the next trip out there.