August 19, 2014

University Peak

University Peak

Okay, I thought this one was supposed to be easy. When it comes to accurately sizing up a route’s difficulties, I’m beginning to fear either I’m a hopeless optimist or else I’ve gone soft because lately everything seems like a thumping (more…)

Posted in Hiking, video | 2 Comments

August 15, 2014

Sony A7S

Sony A7S

Here is what I remember most about film: not the waiting, to get your slides back, but the anticipation. Film added something to every shot, a twist of scene or color or light, a dash of magic that took the mundane and made it art. Digital is not like that. We’ve gained in many ways incomparable advantages by switching to ones and zeros, but in those quantized bits surely anticipation has long since given way (more…)

Posted in Gear | 0 Comments

August 10, 2014

Waucoba Summit Panorama

Waucoba Summit Panorama

I returned this weekend to Death Valley National Park to take care of some unfinished business, and let me say now, if you like to be alone, have I got a mountain for you! Sheesh what a cruel bastard of a climb this was: no trail, thorns, cactus, brush, and no view aside from great looks at the next pine branch just before you get a stick in the face (more…)

Posted in video | 1 Comment

August 5, 2014

Salomon X Ultra Mid

Salomon X Ultra Mid

Salomon is well known for cutting-edge trail runners, but can they make a Mid? Yes—and it’s a good one. The X Ultra Mid GTX is rugged, stable, and very light. I admit I absolutely obsess over hiking shoes—and in particular, the mid category. Many of us prefer hiking in the lightest shoe possible, but still need the support of a heavier shoe for bearing overnight loads, scrambling over talus, or crunching vertical (more…)

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July 27, 2014

Inyo Mts: Squaw Peak

Inyo Mts: Squaw Peak

At first, I thought it was simply a case of guidebook error. Later—hours later—when I was beset by flies, and covered in scratches and pine sap, when my legs were doing the sewing-machine shake, when I saw the fresh cat tracks, when I knew I was going to run out of water—in Death Valley, of all places!—when I was long past the point of anything resembling fun and deep into this is stupid (more…)

Posted in Hiking | 5 Comments

July 24, 2014

Mountain Hardwear Optic

Mountain Hardwear Optic

Let’s call Mountain Hardwear’s Optic 3.5 a car-camping tent with backpacking aspirations. The Optic isn’t light, but it is abundantly livable. You get 45 square feet of floor space and a 48-inch interior height. Combined with the Optic’s innovative marquee feature—a 180° view—all that space makes for a very comfortable interior, downright roomy for two adults, and easily big enough for three (more…)

Posted in Gear | 0 Comments

July 19, 2014

Mount Diablo

Mount Diablo

Rising a decidedly non-devilish 3,849 feet above sea level, Mount Diablo is not quite the highest summit in the Bay Area, but it is Contra Costa County’s highpoint, and, thanks to its remarkable prominence, Diablo offers not just fine views from San Francisco to the Sierra, but in fact one of the largest viewsheds in the western United States (more…)

Posted in Hiking | 3 Comments

July 11, 2014

Where’s Your Sierra?

Where's Your Sierra?

I have a distinct mental image of “The Sierra”—and this isn’t it. My Sierra is heavy on Owens Valley and fourteeners, with lots of dry, dusty, austere granite brooding high above sun-baked desert. I’m generally aware of other, wetter parts, such as Yosemite, but like the beach some two miles from my house I tend to forget it exists unless it’s right in front of me (more…)

Posted in Hiking | 2 Comments

July 1, 2014

Kearsarge Peak Panorama

Kearsarge Peak Panorama

Great views but beware the mining trail! Kearsarge is described in Jay Anderson’s Climbing California’s Mountains as “possibly the quickest-to-reach significant summit on the entire eastern side of the Sierra.” With that kind of billing, who could resist? In keeping with my loop-or-bust tradition, I decided to ascend from the west, via Lilly Pass, with a planned return via that wiggly line (more…)

Posted in video | 4 Comments

June 24, 2014

Sony RX100-III

Sony RX100-III

Is it possible the closer we get to perfection, the farther away it seems? The updates to Sony’s third-edition RX100 digital compact are practically a wish list of the impossible. How about a wider, brighter 24-70mm Zeiss lens, for starters? How about a bright, high-resolution pop-up electronic viewfinder? And how about Sony’s Bionz-X image processor engine, which confers the holy grail of HD video (more…)

Posted in Gear | 0 Comments

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