Wednesday Sep 03, 2008

When did that happen

So a couple of updates... and trying to re-jumpstart myself to get back into blogging... I have ended up community building on twitter lately (@dlacher). So I thought I would share some updates on what the heck I have been up to, what I am doing and some general catch up.

My team has been working on getting the next release of Sun HPC ClusterTools, should drop any day now. With in some testing for follow I have been working with getting ClusterTools up in I have to tell you, I love pkg and I can't wait for caiman.

On a personal note, my backpacking / hiking season has more than likely ended for this season, since I don't winter backpack. Turns out that a knee injury from a few years back has come back and is not subsiding this time. A few year back I found that the meniscus in my right knee has two tears in it. Then the pain went away and all was back to well so nothing was to correct the tears... could be now is the time for the corrective methods, I will find out more in a couple of days. So my backpacking partner knows all of this and is not allowing me to go with on the trek that we had planed for North Manitou Island again this year. I just hope that rehab if the knee has to go in for corrective measures heals fast and I can still make the 20 mile day hike in November.

So that is the catch up, I thought I would leave you today with a simple yet wonderful recipe for marinated tomatoes.

Marinated Tomatoes
  • 3 large tomatoes sliced
  • 1/3 C olive oil
  • 1/4 C red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 Tbsp basil
  • 1 Tbsp parsley
Shake well & chill. Pour over tomatoes. Enjoy

For what it's worth.

Thursday Mar 13, 2008

Day Pack review

It is that time of year again, time for me to start telling you all about my love of backpacking. This year we are going to try to get a couple day hikes along with the multi day trips. The first one that we have planned is a 19 mile day hike... So to enter this new endeavor I picked up a day pack. No for those light weight packers this will not be the pack for you, even though it is a day pack it still weighs in at 3 lb 14 oz. I am going to feel it out for a few days and then make the final call to keep it.

First impressions of the Bigelow Day Pack:

  • positives
    • side load as well as top load the main compartment
    • built in rain cover
    • small strap above the water bladder compartment to help the bladder up even as it becomes empty
    • nice cross tightening straps to keep the load tight and secure (load should be minimal for a day hike, but could be use if I can find out how to use this for a short multi day, or multi day pack for my wife when I carry my full pack)
    • nice venting in the back panel
    • full waist belt for load control
    • top lid even in a day pack
    • big back and side stack pockets for the times you don't want to get into the main compartment
    • two large mess pockets
  • negatives
    • weight... there are lighter day packs on the market
  • undecided observations
    • small stack pocket in the waist belt

Time to hit the trails...

For what it's worth.

Tuesday Oct 23, 2007

Jordan River Pathway (take four)

This is the fourth year of the JRP late hike. We moved this years up from mid-November to late October. The first two years [1] [2] were great, the third year we did not make it and this year cannot compare. So the trail is the change so here are the changes that made this years great:

  • fall color in late October is far superior to that of mid November (duh)
  • we hike it the opposite direction 10 then 8, make the 10 mile day seems a lot easier
  • deadmans hill at the end of day two is daunting, only took 7 minutes to climb with full gear strapped on
  • weather was wonderful, 50s at night, 70s during the day
  • ponds below dead man's hill are a great place for the dog to swing and play fetch while you soak in the views
  • tons of day hikers on the short loop on Sunday
  • same feeling of having the back country to yourself, very few full loop hikers
  • extra energy at the end of day one lead at least 3 miles of day hikes after the 10 mile hike in

Well, closed down backpacking for the season. My main hiking buddy is off on a mission trip to Haiti and we should have our second child coming along at the end of November.

For what it's worth.

Update: Pictures from the hike, mostly of the color.

Tuesday Oct 16, 2007

Upcoming Trek

So this up coming weekend looks to be the last planned backpacking trip of this season. With the birth our second child sometime in late November the mid-November trip was pushed up to late October. We are going to be hiking the Jordan Valley Pathway. It has been a while since we hiked it and we plan on hiking the loop in the opposite direction as we have in the past. Back on the main land this time so the dog is coming along and sounds like a new hiker as well... we have talked another into wandering with us.

For what it's worth.

Monday Oct 01, 2007

Backpacking North Manitou Island

Last weekend I headed out with my backpacking buddy Dave and we had to leave Nuba home this hike, she was a depressed doggy from what I am told. We headed out for a three day hike on North Manitou Island. Before heading up there I had warned my wife that the ferry only runs on Friday and Sunday so if I miss the ferry I was going to stuck there for a week. We joked about this the week leading up to the trip and she joked she was going to check my pack to ensure that I did not pack a weeks forth of food and claim that "I missed the ferry".

Day One:

As it generally starts out for a backpacking trip with me is an early rise and departure off to our hiking trailhead. We left Midland shortly after 5 am and off to Leland, MI. After a very scenic drive that could have been more if it would have been in the day light we arrived in Leland shortly after 8 am. Checking in to see if the Manitou Island Transit was open yet.. which it was not. So up the docks we headed stopping into the Village Cheese Shanty to ask where where we could get the best breakfast and were informed that there is only one place, The Early Bird Restaurant right up at the corner. Great breakfast special and bring your cash, no credit or debit. As were are sitting eating breakfast we noticed a trunk pull past with a trailer full of backpacking gear... I was a little worried that we were going to be swamped on the island. Shortly after bus roll in from Lansing Christian School, ah so we placed 1 and 1 together... turns out all 29 of them were headed to South Manitou Island for a seniors weekend. Picked up the tickets and paid the park fees.. all aboard. Turns out with the way the wind was blowing the day we headed to the south island first and then to the north which meant that we were on the boat that much longer... a 3 hour boat ride. No motion sickness here but I can't say the same for some of the high school students.

After finally reaching the north island we disembarked and headed down the dock to the shore to check in with the ranger on duty. After a quick orientation with the ranger about the island and a warning that the ferry may not be able to make it on Sunday if the weather is not right but to check in on Sunday about 9 am for a status... note we might be on the island until Monday. With that we headed out but not without watching where the others went. All of the groups headed straight for the north or center trail so we headed south, take not folks you might not always want to follow the crowds. After a very pleasant hike south on the main train we took a side tail to see the cemetery and the Bourniques homestead. After meeting back up with the main trail we headed west across the bottom of the island and set out to camp at Fredrickson Place. Wow, there was a great clearing with a gorgeous campsite on the north side of the field. The site had a wonderful view over the bluff and onto Lake Michigan. After dinner we had a short stroll down the dune and to the water to collect up water for the next day. We then hiked down the shoreline south to reach Donner's point, the geographically southern most part of the island. While hiking down we watched an amazing Michigan sunset that was wonderful blues, white and orange as is sank down on Lake Michigan. Now to hike back to camp in the fleeting daylight and off to bed. End of day one and 10 miles under the feet.

Day Two:

Now Dave and I are really not ones to sleep in on the mainland but we slept in soundly until 8:30. After a leisure breakfast we broke camp and headed north on the main trail. We turned off into the woods to check out Swenson's barn. Not finding right away the secondary trail down to the shore we blazed a bit... well we are glad we found the secondary trail since our blazing was a bit rugged and tight. As we approached the back side of the dune we scared up two canadian geese... where Dave resounded with "that is reason to upgrade right there" in referring to his camera which has a 3 second delay in turing on instead of an instant on. As we crested the dune we were presented with an magnificent site a huge sandy shore that seemed to go on and on and a very blue Lake Michigan. No need to say but we grabbed the camp chairs and had lunch on the beach right at the waterline. We snapped some great shots of the Crescent dock ruins and of the scenery. After a relaxing lunch were headed back across the marsh on the secondary trail back to the main trail and onward north. In enter the opening just north of Swenson's barn we were reminded of several other hikes we had taken on the mainland until we turned around to a panaraminic of the open field and Lake Michigan in the backdrop. As we entered in deeper now into the forest started to encounter mosquitoes... no problem right? Right, unless both of you forget mosquito dope. That is right, we both did not pack the good stuff and faced the hike without protection from the little buggers. After a quick stop at Stormer camp where we thought we would end for the day we were being plauged with those nasty little buggers so we headed Bennon's Place where they were worse... so down the trial to Lake Manitou. That is an amazing site to see the largest lake on the largest freshwater island in the world. Heading up the hill a bit we found a clearing four our site. We setup our tent quickly without the rain flies just to get inside and away from the mosquitoes. It felt great to lay there an let a gentle breeze blow through as I relax, napped and watch the chipmunks forage. After trek back down the hill for water we decided to have dinner and finish setting up camp. After that we headed back down to the lake to just sit and soak it all in. As we were chatting there and the light fleeting more and more, something caught my attentions behind us. Turning my head around slowly I noticed a doe deer 15 to 20 feet behind us walking very slowly out of the woods and toward us and the shore line. We watched her behind us with our necks twisted around as to not spook her. After just sniffing us out for a while she walked up the other hill and off into the woods. After a that we headed off to the tents. Shortly after getting settled in the wind picked up and boy did it pick up. It was like a freight train rolling through the trees. You could hear it start on the east side of the island and roll all the way across in waves. It was soothing enough in an odd way that I fell fast asleep until about 12:30 when at least two deer raced through our camp scaring the ... out of me and keeping me awake for a while. End of day two and 10 more miles under the feet.

Day Three:

Knowing what the wind was doing during the night and heeding the rangers warning, we enjoyed a light breakfast and took tally of the food we had remaining and were confident that we make it if we had to stay over until Monday. I generally break camp fairly fast after breakfast and get my pack ready for the trial, well this morning Dave challenged me and we set out to fast pack as if it were raining. As both of us packed up with a decent pace we finished in almost a tie, I would like to think that I finished ahead but we will leave that up to the judges. After that we broke camp and headed out for the village area and the dock. After a short hike out we reached the village area around 9:15 with no word on the ferry posted from the ranger, well that makes you stop and think. The ferry is suppose to leave dock at 10 if it is coming for the day. So all the hikers were sitting around talking about their treks and waiting to hear from the ranger what the work was. We could look out on the lake and see some swells that were nice sized. About a quarter after 10 the ranger came on by to tell us all that the ferry would be coming and would be in at 11:15. After pick us up at the north island it would head the the south and then back to the mainland. Fair enough, were were headed home and many prayers had been answered. I was ready to stay another night if need be but I did want to make it home on Sunday for various reasons. As the boat became visible off in the distance we all grabbed out packs and headed out the dock. End of day three hiking and 2.6 miles under our feet. As we climbed aboard and stowed our gear I mentioned to the ranger that I thought a group f three that we had chatted with on the ride out had not made it back... sure enough after a head count the ferry was three short. The captain blew the horn and off we went. Now in talking with these three I gleaned that they were experienced hikers, been to North Manitou numerous times and did plan on going home Sunday and not staying the week. We can only speculate what happened with them or if the really did plan on staying the week... I think the ranger would have known that though. Rumor has it that if you miss the ferry the ranger will be glad to take you back to shore in the small boat that he has at a charge of $300 payable to the state of Michigan... don't miss you ferry folks. So as we cruise on down to the south island there were some nice 6 foot swells and the boat was certainly rocking. After picking up the group from the south island we headed for the mainland on a bit of a different route based on the weather. There were again several of the seniors that were not in the best of shape riding the waves. After coming ashore and getting our gear packed up we sought out a place for some lunch. We stopped back into the Village Cheese Shanty and were going to ask for directions to a place when we noticed that they had a great selection of hand crafted sandwiches server up on fresh baked pretzel bread, oh yum. I had the Third Coast sandwich. After a fabulous lunch we hopped into the ride and headed for home, almost. We took a different way home so that we could swing by and pick up some cider donut and cider.

After dropping Dave off I finish down the block to home to be greeted by my loving wife and daughter yelling "daddy, daddy, daddy". That is a welcome home.

Wow, three days, 22.6 miles, six hours on a ferry and a huge hug from my family. That was an awesome hike and weekend.

For what it's worth.


Update: Pictures from the hike.

Thursday Sep 27, 2007

Off to the island

Tomorrow morning very early I am headed out for the second to the last backpacking trip of this season. Dave and I are headed for a three day hike on North Manitou Island about 6 miles off shore in Lake Michigan. If you are a follower of my hiking adventures you will know that I normally also take along the furry hiking buddy (my dog) but there are no dogs allowed on the island... guess she has to sit this one out, she is going to be depressed and confused when I leave with the pack and without her, sorry girl there is another one coming up in mid-October that you can come with.

After I get back I will post the pictures that we get. I hear there are some awesome sights and Dave love his camera so I am sure that there will be some great photos to share.

For what it's worth.

Tuesday Oct 24, 2006

Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Day One:

I am back and all in one piece. This last weekend I hiked a portion of the North Country Trail here in the great state of Michigan. We through hiked about 24 miles from the Marilla trail head to the High Bridge trail head. We started by dropping all of the gear and two of the guys at the Marilla trail head and then Dave and myself dashed the over vehicle to the other end and got back to the start. We figured the other two had about an hour lead on us. We had man plans for the lead group to stop and wait for us so we knew we could catch them. The trail was in good condition, very leaf covered but that was to be expected. The main portion of day one I have hiked before when I did the loop with the Manistee River Trail. After meeting up with the other two we continued on, the plan for the day was at least 8 miles with the late start. As we were approaching Red Hill Outlook we started to search for a camp site... someone thought they knew where a great one was located. I had found one just south of Red Hill and overlooking the valley but we decided to keep on... we ended up in a nice little valley back about 300 ft. from the trail. It was a nice site that I doubt anyone had camped at for a long time. With it being cloudy we did not mind being under tree cover since we were going to miss the meteor shower anyways. We had a nice small fire, a warm mean of tuna and couscous. It was an early night for us all.

Day Two:

Ah up bright and early to stumble around to get the dogs food and feed her... she like to eat way to early for the trail. Just before sunrise we all crawled from our tents and had a nice breakfast, how good instant oatmeal tastes on the trail... and only the trail. Of course I had coffee, I shared a large press pot of Black Cat with the other Dan on the trek. After cleaning up camp and getting everything packed away of the trail we went. I figured that we would not run into anyone on the trail and only minutes after thinking this we cross a group of three just packing up their camp and heading the direction we came from. Okay that is going to be it right... wrong later in the day we cross five mountain bikers and a young solo hiker. Young Dave was on his first hike. He turned 18 and wanted to take up backpacking. Young Dave was hiking with borrowed gear from his uncle, no map... well a photo of a map on his digital camera, flip flops, jeans and a t-shirt. He was straight hiking as we were (in the opposite direction) and was hoping to hitch hike back to his car when he reach one of the road crossing on Sunday. I hope he did all right on Sunday, I am still getting to that part. The portion of the NCT that we hikes on day one and the beginning of day two does not really cross any water so you need to be aware of how much you have, how much you need and where to get some. We opted to take a side hike down to this gorgeous inland lake to pump. After a bit of hike down the steep banks to the waters edge we sat on a mirror lake and watch some long neck geese fly by as we pumped out water... AWESOME. We had some nice lunch (jerky, gorp, cheese) and headed off down the trail. It was a very leisure hike. We found nice camp site in large clearing right on the bend of the Manistee River. Just about the time we picked a spot it started to lightly sprinkle. So we quickly setup camp, found some wood for a fire and then started to explore around. There was a small feeder stream right behind our camp in which we saw no less than four large salmon attempting to swing up stream. The sprinkles did not stop but only increased until sometime around 11 pm the sky just opened up and the wind came howling in... thank goodness for the rain fly.

Day Three:

Lying awake in a toasty sleeping bag with the dog curled up next to me listening to the rain, ah it was a good nights sleep and a good way to wake up. Around 6:30 or 7 we started talking between tents about what the plan was for the day. We came to the decision since it was not letting up to pack, eat, and hit the trail. I got dressed in the tent, packed up my pack (as much as I could) from inside the tent and then got out to retreive my food bag. After a quick breakfast in the rain I finished packing my food and tent up. After all of us were packed up we hit the trial. We did not have that far to go so we headed out with the end in sight. As we headed down the trail we ended up broke into two groups of two (and the dog). Dan, Nuba and I were out in the front pack and treking at a very comfortable pace. After a nice long section of walking the river bank the trail heads back in the woods and hills. It was right at this point where I slipped on a section of board walk and placed one of my feet into a stream. Ugh. Well time to finish with one soaked foot. At the base of the stream there is a section of tight switch backs that take you right up the side of a nice sized hill across a small plateau and then up another nice sized hill. It seemed like we circled the top of the second hill and hiked off the ridge right close to where we had come up. The rain has not let up and won't for the rest of the day. After some time back in the wood we end up back on the edge of the hill and hike back to the rivers edge. We passed by the historic high bridge and could see the destination off in the distance. After a short distance on the marshy bottom we popped out right on the road and our parking spot. Treking over to the vehicle we opened it up and quickly changed into the warm and dry cloths awaiting us. I like to ride home in clean fresh pair of street cloths. The other two partners where only 20 minutes back so we had the vehicle warm and waiting for them.

It was a great hike and I would do it over again. We are going to head out next time (spring) to do a new section of the NCT and the goal is to hike all of it in Michigan (at least). The next trip in few weeks is back tot he Jordan Valley Pathway for out "before deer season" hike. Happy Trails.

For what it's worth.

Update: Stitched together map is parts from this website.

Thursday Oct 19, 2006

Time To Stretch The Legs

Off for a long weekend all to hit the trail with my dog and three close friends from church. We will be doing about 20 to 25 miles of the North Country Trail here in Michigan. We are starting just north Hoden-Pile dam and heading south. Looks like the weather could try to catch us on the last day... everyone think warm thoughts for me. Happy Trails and I shall see you all Monday.

For what it's worth.

Wednesday Aug 30, 2006

Practical packing

Just found a new podcast for my hiking passion. Head over and check out Practical Backpacking podcast.

Don't forget to check out all of the podcasts that I am subscribed to. It also looks like I am going to be able to get two more hikes in this season... a three day two night in October, and a two day one night in November. If you are interested in hitting the trail with me let me know.

For what it's worth.




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