Mornings are much cooler these days. Fall arrived in Carson City, Nevada a week or so ago. Even with the cool weather, some mornings the Girl and I get out early anyway. With a light base layer, I’m plenty warm. (She only gets cold if she’s still. But I’ll get her a jacket soon anyway.) But my preference on cooler days is to walk in the afternoon when the light is pretty.
The cottonwoods along the Carson River are showing their fall colors. That makes a beautiful hike even better. So we’re taking advantage of the warm afternoons and beautiful fall colors to make the ending of the day special.
Soon the leaves will all be gone and the shorter, colder days will arrive. The seasons turn, a reminder of the cycle of life. Life is good…
Yesterday, the Girl and I hiked about eight miles along Clear Creek Trail. We didn’t make it all the way to Knob Point, which was about two miles farther than our turn-around. In the end, I’m glad we stopped when we did.
The trail was wonderful. It was a little warm on our climb away from the staging area with the morning sun on the east side of the hill. But the grade was easy and we kept the pace up.
The Girl hunted for lizards, ground squirrels, and rabbits. She’ll chase a cottontail rabbit, but knows that the jackrabbits can easily outrun her. She might take a few steps in pursuit, but it’s always halfhearted and she breaks off quickly. I love to watch her and I keep my eyes and ears open for rattlesnakes. I’m confident in her aversion training, but I want nothing to happen to her because of my inattention.
We passed a couple of draws and I marveled at the cool air flowing down from the ridgeline. It was cool in the shade of the granite outcrops and a nice contrast to the warm morning air.
Before long we passed our first pine tree. Soon we were in a pine forest near the north end of Jacks Valley. The ranch below was beautiful in the morning light.
We hiked on another mile or so. When we were about two miles from Knob Point, I decided to pause, drink a little water, offer some to the Girl, and turn around. We were four miles out and that would make an eight-mile hike, which would be our longest to date. I didn’t know how either of us would feel on our way back. The prudent part of me thought it best to turn around. The adventurer part of me wanted to go on to the point.
The prudent won.
So we started back. Along the way, I paused a couple of times to look around. I found a benchmark hidden (sort of) in a cluster of boulders. I’ll bet it was difficult to setup a tripod over that mark. I’m confident that electronic surveying methods were used, but it was still a difficult setup.
When we were about a mile from the rig, the Girl started showing signs of heat. She will pause, paw some sand up under a shady sagebrush, and lie down to cool off. It was about 80F, but I think the combination of temperature and sun get to her. She’d had water, so I knew she was hydrated. She was just hot.
So, we double-timed a good part of the last mile. She doesn’t like me to get ahead of her when I’m moving. Heh… So off we went.
It took us about 15 minutes to make the remaining distance back to the rig. She drank the water I offered. Then she hopped into the back and crashed in the furniture blanket I use to hide the contents of the rig. It was OK.
We made eight miles yesterday… our longest hike yet. I think I had another mile or two in me, so I know that I can make the Knob and back. But, I also know I’ll have to wait for cooler weather or we’ll have to start much earlier to avoid the heat. The Girl just can’t handle the heat and I want to protect her from heat exhaustion.
When we’re walking early by the Carson River, I’m sometimes startled by the light on the Prison Hill ridge. On this morning, the puffy white clouds provided a counterpoint to the warm sunlight on the mountains. It was enough to capture my eyes and my heart.
I’m truly thankful for such sights as these. I’ll never tire of seeing the sunrise on the mountains.
The Girl and I are out and about almost every morning. At this time of the year, the best time to walk is very early. When we get out at dawn, the temperature is in the mid- to upper-50s. It’s chilly to start the walk in shorts and a t-shirt, but I do. Of course, the Girl is practically naked (Naked Girl!!!), but she’s always on the move and doesn’t seem to mind her nakedness.
I’m blessed by the cool morning air, the exercise, and the opportunity to see the sunrise. On those mornings when there are a few clouds, the sight can be breathtaking. The morning I made this capture is one such morning. I was listening to my morning meditation while walking along with the Girl. My steps provided a cadence for focus. My eyes were up and looking around at God’s creation, thankful for witnessing the waking of the world.
About a year ago, I bought a surplus MOLLE Generation 2 3-Day Assault Pack. I wanted a pack to use as a day-pack so I could carry some water, a few emergency supplies, a camera, and repair materials for geocaching. I have come to love day hikes. I love geocaching in more remote areas — those that are more difficult that park-n-grabs.
I did some reading before selecting a surplus pack. I did not want to spend a lot of money, at least not initially. I know that military packs are developed to meet specific requirements, but I also know that materials are top-notch as required to stand up to the rigors of combat use.
From many perspectives, this is a great pack. There’s lots of room in the main compartment and a separator to keep the plastic stiffener apart from the contents of the main compartment. The main compartment is zipper closure (with a weather flap) and the zippers are high quality. You can put a lot of stuff in the main compartment. I keep a 3-liter Camelbak in there as well as a cover if I start out cool or think it might turn cool. There is much room left over.
There are two additional pockets on the front of the pack, a large compartment with zipper closure (and weather flap) that could hold food or necessaries that are too large for the smaller front pocket. I can put a couple of bushcrafting books in there and have room for some additional things.
The smaller front pocket is velcro closure (good velcro too) and has room for all of my geocaching tools, replacement logs, and plastic bags. I could keep a decent size pocket notebook in there as well.
The straps are thin but wide. I would say they could be good for loads up to 20 pounds or more, depending on your tolerance for discomfort. I get tired of the straps after five miles with a 20-pound load.
I’ve learned a lot using this pack over the last year. I carry my load a little high. I don’t like the load hitting me in the ass. So the straps are fairly tight and the bottom of the pack sits in my lumbar regions, just above my hips. Because of that, the insertion points for the end of the straps poke me in the back. For short hikes this is just annoying and I can ignore it. For anything five miles or more, it’s uncomfortable. I suspect that if I was wearing the FLC and plates, that the straps would not dig my shoulders or poke me in the back.
I’d also like a separate pocket for my Camelbak. I know they are tough, but I’d like my water separate from my other gear.
The MOLLE is wonderful! There are tons of pockets that can be added to MOLLE-equipped gear. I like have cubbyholes to put things instead of a dump into the main pocket. So, my replacement pack will have MOLLE and I will use surplus MOLLE pouches to add pockets to my new pack.
There are many things about the MOLLE Assault Pack I like. But I need a pack that is comfortable to wear with the loads I carry. This one is not going to work for me.