If I wasn’t cheap, you’d be looking at a picture of a pig on a leash.
A quick tale of gear regret in the hopes it may help you avoid the same.
For the past two years, I’ve been coveting a pair of trail running shorts. But as is my parsimonious practice when it comes to gear, I tend to wait until a thing has been marked down. Then marked down again. And usually a third time.
There was a pair of trail running shoes with neoprene uppers that Nike came out with about 15 years ago. Initial price: $120. After three years of diligent monitoring, I nabbed them when they dropped below $70 — and were being replaced by something more hi-tech. A North Face vest I’d coveted for four years I finally got for half it’s original price (though by then what I really wanted was a Mountain Hardwear puffy vest, which would come into my possession in another three years, once the new micro vests were popular). Every tent I’ve bought, pretty much every hiking boot and running shoe — if it’s been on the market for at least three years, it’s new to me.
And so silly, because once I do buy a piece of gear, I use the life out of it.
About two years ago, the Patagonia Baggies entered my consciousness. My running buddy Chuck wore a pair; on the surface, they looked like most other trail shorts — with one key exception: they have a rear pocket that comfortably holds an iPhone.
This is important not because I need to be in constant contact with my bffs on Facebook, or because my thumbs must constantly be texting. Rather, one of the ways I make a living is by making people want to get out and explore. And one way to do that is by visually capturing those moments on the trail that either make people, chuckle, gasp or say, “Dang, I wish I were there!”
Moments such as spotting the first copperhead of the season stretched across the trail. Or coming upon a thin layer of fog over Umstead’s Big Lake — with brilliant blue sky above. Or yesterday at Lake Johnson, when I encountered two girls who had strung a hammock across the trail (mid-teens, I assumed, their minds still wrestling with the concept of common sense). Or the two runners who stopped to do dips on a bench (nicely illustrating, for GetGoing purposes, cross-training).
Those misses I could live with. But not a pig-on-a-leash.
On the same run at Lake Johnson I glanced up the trail and thought I was seeing a yappy, micro lap dog, the type becoming increasingly common on the trail. Then I looked again. I reached for my camera phone. Rats!
That was it: I’m not missing another leashed pig. That afternoon I drove to Great Outdoor Provision Co. and, full retail be darned, made sure that the next leashed pig I see on the trail, you will see as well.
I took my first Baggie run at Umstead yesterday and happened upon this secluded lake deep in the park, off the Loblolly Trail. Thinking of you, I reached into my rear pocket. It may not be a leashed pig, but I think I know what you’re thinking. Dang. I wish I were there.read more
The forecast for this weekend?
Here in the Triangle, the high is expected to drop from a high near 80 today to 57 on Saturday, with a 50 percent chance of rain. Sunday, the high is only supposed to hit the mid-30s, with a 70 percent chance of “wintry mix.” The outlook is similar in Charlotte, the Triad, and the Asheville area.
We understand your reluctance to venture out ion the roads if Sunday’s “mix” turns toward the wintry side. But if the roads are just wet, you shouldn’t let a little cold drizzle keep you from enjoying an otherwise … invigorating adventure. You just need to know how to dress for it. That said, we direct you to two previous posts on topic.read more
In March, I wrote about the joys of hiking in the rain — provided you have the right gear to keep you separated from that wonderful rain. I spoke glowingly of rain pants, of a rain hat, of water repellant boots, of wool socks. I was less ebullient about rain jackets. “Despite advances in breathable rain gear, I have yet to hear anyone rave about a particular garment,” I wrote. “If the temperature’s much above 60, there’s a good chance you’ll produce more sweat than any miracle fabric can vent.”
That led Mark Clements to write and ask if he could pen a salute to the poncho. Mark says he developed an appreciation for the poncho as a kid when the family would go on forced marches, downpour be danged. That he now represents McCampbell Enterprises, a maker of rain gear, put me in mind of George Castanza’s impassioned salute to the brassier when trying to land a job as a bra salesman.
And yet, there was a sincerity in Mark’s request. OK, kid, I said, you’ve got 300 words — make me a devout poncho wearer. So now, Mark Clement’s 300-word salute to the poncho …
“As a kid, I hated hiking. I always complained the entire time, and when it rained I had more to complain about. That is, until my mom busted out the rain ponchos. They kept us nice and dry, and turned my complaints back to the bugs. I’m really beginning to enjoy hiking, and on each and every trip I remember to pack a poncho. Here are the pros of packing a poncho in your backpack or back pocket the next time you go hiking.
“1) If it rains, you are going to get a little wet. No rain wear item is going to keep you perfectly dry, unless they create a personal bubble that blocks elements and lets you choose the temperature inside of your little environment bubble. Since that seems like it’s a ways off from happening, a rain poncho will protect you from the elements just as well as any other rain wear product. Our ponchos, and most ponchos, have a hood to protect your head, and they go down to the middle of your thighs. This enables you to move freely and stay dry in the process.
“2) No rain wear is going to be incredibly breathable. If they were, they wouldn’t be able to keep rain out. My recommendation is to keep a rain poncho in the package in your backpack, or back pocket and break it out only if it rains. If you need to wear the rain poncho during your entire hike, they are paper thin (yet durable), and have snaps on the sides that let you open them up for a little air. Typically when it rains, it cools down as well, so the chances of a thin poncho that weighs much less than a T-shirt making you sweat are very slim.
“Rain ponchos are an incredibly cheap option compared to some of the rain wear items I’ve seen on various hiking websites. Two hundred dollars for something to keep you dry while hiking?!? Purchasing rain wear from an online website like ours can run you about $6 for a reusable and durable PVC rain poncho. Enjoy the trails!”read more
Note: This post was amended on Sept. 23, 2015, to reflect my more recent discoveries in great rainy day gear.
I awoke to gray skies, a steady rain and temperatures in the upper 50s.
Perfect day for an off-trail hike.
Alas, only nine other folks shared my feelings for Rod Broadbelt’s annual Wilderness Hike at Umstead State Park. The hike, 98 percent of which is advertised as being off-trail, has in the past attracted more than three times as many hikers. Through the Raleigh Recreational Hikers Meetup alone, at least 25 people were signed up. Yet the prospect of 10 miles in the rain off-trail apparently dampened the spirits of the masses. The weather only made me that much more excited. There’s something more intimate about the forest when it’s dripping wet, especially in winter. The season’s drab brown leaf-littered floor takes on a coppery glow, gray tree trunks take on a metallic sheen and the close, wet air adds an intimacy, a coziness if you will that makes hiking the woods a more personal affair.read more