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That stuff I do when not wrenching, writing or traveling
225.31 miles 479,333 steps 34,315+ elev – Look at that fat bastard (photo love from Chris Van Loan). Motivation for a change came from that photo, taken in mid-December of 2015. Denial is a place I rarely visit, but it was in full force then. I’d been quietly ignoring the inches gradually being added to my jean size for a couple years. In my twenties and early thirties I wore a 32 comfortably, by December 2015 I was barely squeezing into a size 35. Change came in the form of the 52 Hike Challenge, which I stumbled upon from my friend John Graham’s Instagram feed when he finished his challenge that month. He started his second series, the 52 Hike “Adventure” Challenge, and I hit the trail for my regular challenge on January 5th, 2016. A year later I weigh in at the same 180 pounds I did when I started, but it’s all muscle now. I’m back comfortably into a size 32. More than that, having to consistently hike that frequently was the push needed to get “over the hump” and finally get out on foot and cover some real distance—an ability I’ve desired for decades. Lugging 50 pounds of gear for several miles to get the shot just doesn’t seem like a big deal anymore. Health aside, that’s the gain I’m most grateful to have achieved. #Beyond52 Will I do another 52 Challenge? Probably not, but I’m glad I did this one. I’m also glad it’s over: I’m looking forward to hiking on my own schedule now, for the sake of the hike, and not because I need to hit an arbitrary target…I simply enjoy hiking too much now to place that kind of stress on it.… 52:Later
57.12 miles 121,073 steps 8,633+ elev – 41. Top of Quartz Mountain, via Wolverton from Highway 89: 7.75 miles 42. Prescott Christmas Parade, Tree Lighting Ceremony, and a bit of antiquing: 2.4 miles 43. Classified Location—location scouting and photo shoot: 2.15 miles 44. Red Bridge Trail: 7.65 miles 45. Centennial Trail: 1.99 miles to see thousand-year-old graffiti on a rock in a gated community 46. Unknown Trail: 4.24 miles 47. Granite Mountain: 8.67 miles, 1,819 feet of climb over two miles, and one celebratory pint from Granite Mountain Brewing 48. Christmas Eve Snow: 3.34 miles, 6 inches and counting 49. Christmas Snow Hike: 1.7 miles chasing the headwaters of Willow Creek, through 18″ of snow 50. Falcon Hunting (photographically speaking): 3.57 miles 51. Javalina Firewater: 4.19 miles 52. Spruce Mountain: a very foggy 9.47 miles A Hike Every Other Day Well ok, 31 days in December, it isn’t quite that much. The Twelve Hikes of Christmas? Regardless, my 52 Hike Challenge is now complete, and I’m never hiking again. Just kidding. In fact, I’m probably going again tomorrow…… 52:December
17.87 miles 37,878 steps +2,459 elev – 38. Sierra Prieta, easing back in with familiar terrain: 4.62 miles 39. Bell Trail / Wet Beaver Creek; Rimrock, Arizona: 7.15 miles 40. Sierra Prieta, first snow of the season: 6.1 miles Tendons Get Better With Age? All that momentum in September pushing me one hike shy of caught up. One early November morning revealed the tell tail sign, blood surfacing to the skin near my hip joint. A few hours later the pain arrived, hip and knee…no hike for me that day. We caught it early, fortunate there was no serious damage, and after a few weeks taking it easy I’m back on the trail. Three hikes down this week, five weeks left to finish a dozen more. Let’s do this.… 52:November
31.35 miles 65,541 steps +5,241 elev – 32. Spruce Pack Trail, Sierra Prieta: 5.35 miles 33. All of the Sierra Prieta trails I’d not done before…and a nap: 9.5 miles 34. Pott’s Creek Trail #327. Because, rain…and forests: 5.29 miles 35. T37 Purgatory: 7.48 miles, uphill both ways 36. Abandoned fort, location classified: 1.62 miles 37. Watson Woods Riparian Preserve, Prescott: 2.11 miles Efforts & Expectations I’ve been self-evaluating heavily this month, dwelling on that ever-evolving concept of excellence and striving to purge anything that doesn’t make the cut—such things become ritual when your religion is “curator.” The latest mass culling has included things like unused gear, designs that lack that “pop,” photos that are only “good enough” (I carry the heavy DSLR on hikes now), poor vendors (oh, hey there Wells Fargo), and any perceived slothfulness in the day-to-day. That last one is tough to measure using less-than-excellent gear: I’ve been hiking harder and faster to push past unexpected exhaustion on recent hikes: hikes with cumulative elevation gains supposedly in the mere hundreds of feet. I mean, I live a mile above sea level, and started out this 52 Hike Challenge thing with hikes featuring thousands of feet in gain…the fuck is wrong with me? My inner nerd was screaming “Is the cable plugged in?” so I decided to do some testing. Low and behold: MapMyFitness has been “recalculating for accuracy,” supposedly from USGS source data, and cutting the cumulative elevation gain from my routes by an average of 40% (my last hike was logged at a whopping 20% of the actual gain). Sorry MMF, but your super-accurate “correction” method sucks. What doesn’t suck? The results achieved when you bite the bullet, put the point-and-shoot away, and haul that heavy DSLR kit ten miles up the mountain in the rain:… 52:September
27.53 miles 58,376 steps +4,800 elev – 25. Devil’s Slide, Pacifica: 1.98 miles 26. Land’s End, San Francisco: 1.99 miles, 2437 stairs 27…was a bust: the “trails” were roads, but at least the Foz got some dirt time. 27a—Searching for White Rock Water: 0.17 miles; 27b—Glen Oaks Mine: 0.29 miles; 27c—Mount Francis Summit: 1.1 miles 28. Willow Creek to Granite Basin #347: 2.36 miles 29. Poland-Walker Tunnel: 4.32 miles 30. Watershed Trail / Deer Lick Spring: 6.13 miles, 13 tadpoles 31. Groom Creek Loop: 9.19 miles, and one fantastic sunset Perspective It’s taken over a decade, but I might just be over my desert phase. There are some trees—some greenery—up here in Prescott, but each trip out I’ve been wandering toward taller and taller mountains, wetter and wetter climates. Running up the coast this month didn’t help, I feel the grey skies and cold mist of the sea calling me home. I’m not sure where we’ll end up next, but I sense a change in the wind coming…… 52:August
16.45 miles 34,876 steps 3,190+ elev – 22. Venezia #381: 3.25 miles 23. Spruce Pack Trail aka West Spruce #264, via Porter Spur #300: 5.67 miles 24. West Fork Oak Creek, Coconino NF #108: 7.53 miles Reflection A photog friend of mine once gave me a tip on shooting sunsets: “Don’t forget to turn around.” It’s good advice, whether taking pictures or applying it to life in general. Not dwelling in the past—just taking a quick glance to make sure you’ve held on to what’s most important, and are living up to your own goals.… 52:July
12.16 miles 28,905 steps 1,915+ elev – 19. Woodchute Mountain: 7.4 miles 20. Sierra Prieta #327: 2.64 miles 21. Sierra Prieta #366: 2.12 miles Moving Forward I planned ahead when I started this thing. This is Arizona. We may have trees and water up here in the highlands, but in the summer heat I want to be sitting in a brewery with an ice cold pint, not watering said trees with sweat while I climb eight miles up a mountain. During the winter I was getting an extra hike in each month, saving up as it were for the summer months—it simply wasn’t meant to be. Motivation to catch up through the summer heat will have to come from the enticements of my hiking partner and stunning sunset vistas.… 52:June
4 miles 8000 steps 549+ elev – 15. Watson Flume Trail: 2.0 miles 16. Downtown Prescott: 2.0 miles Distractions A time for work, a time for health: it’s a balance I’m still learning to maintain, something I barely have a handle on when things are going well. At the beginning of April I was faced with the decision between letting a company die, or picking up someone else’s slack. 80+ hour weeks ensued and fitness goals went in the bin. Lesson learned: always have a backup plan—especially when relying on others—and always include room in that plan for maintaining your own goals.… 52:April
24.11 miles 51,134 steps 3,447+ elev – 11. Wolverton Mountain via Aspen Creek on Prescott 48: 4.59 miles 12. Wandering the Sierra Prieta via Prescott 366, FR9707T, 327, and FR9401J: 7.42 miles 13. Prescott 393 and 327: 8.58 miles 14. Prescott 37: 3.52 miles Horizon Views like this remind me why I left the city. That’s not haze, nor dust or smog. It’s distance…some 80 miles of it between Wolverton Mountain where I’m standing and the snow-capped Humphrey’s Peak outside Flagstaff. With no traffic on the road it would take almost two hours to get there…or 30 minutes in a Subaru.… 52:March
13.46 miles 29,049 steps 1,856+ elev – 06. Watson Lake, Flume Trail: 1.4 miles 07. Little Granite Mountain Loop: 7.06 miles 08. Aspen Creek: 1.2 miles 09. T37 Sunset Timelapse: 1.7 miles 10. American Adventurist Desert Rendezvous Trash Cleanup: 2.1 miles and immeasurable squats Increasing the Load Somewhere along the line the bright idea to start shooting time lapses on these hikes became default. I’m not one to tie up the DSLR for hours on end, so this involves hauling a whole other set of gear up Prescott’s particularly mountainous terrain. I’m glad I started this while there is still snow on the ground. Difficulty Bonus: February’s hikes were done with an extra 20 pounds of gear. I still haven’t decided on a backpack…… 52:February
14.82 miles 31,443 steps 1,933+ elev – 01. Watson Dam, Flume Trail: 1.8 miles 02. Constellation Trails: 1.13 miles 03. Willow Lake, Red Bridge Loop: 3.85 miles 04. Mount Union: 6.94 miles 05. Pioneer Park, Unexpected Hike-a-Bike: 1.1 miles Onward and Upward Unfamiliar with the 52 Hike Challenge? You can read all about it here… For me, it helps maintain the momentum of motivation necessary to burn off that growing gut and stay in shape. It’s also good way to balance out the other exercise I do (like running and biking), and finally start exploring the local trails. I’ve been in this town five years, but until Hike #4 I’d never seen this view…… 52:January
Geeking-out with a ground-up build. – As you can see above, I have a pet Dalek that handles all my color calibration needs. Ok, not really, but “CALIBRATE! CALIBRATE!” was the first thing that popped into mind when I set about taking the newly-calibrated workstation for it’s first edit run after an absurdly long, four-monitor calibration process. But, I’m getting ahead of myself… Many of you know I’ve done photo edit for a certain premium magazine for the last few years. Unfortunately, due to some recent eye-health concerns, I need full control over my environment (especially lighting) to get any significant amount of time at a computer—a difficult feat in an office space shared with a half-dozen other employees. I had access to a fairly decent workstation on-site, but it had three fatal flaws: The iMac’s built-in monitor is notoriously difficult to properly calibrate. Note: none of the Apple displays offer wide gamut or accurate color reproduction. The Mac OS, from Lion to Mavericks, is horribly bug-ridden and inefficient (Yosemite isn’t half bad). It wasn’t mine, so I couldn’t exactly move it to a dark cave during edit sessions. My creative consulting business picked up around the same time, and as generously accommodating as the magazine was: working for Client B while on-site at Client A’s facility is just plain awkward. A home studio was the answer, and that new studio naturally needed a new workstation at the center of it. Some of HP’s latest offerings sounded enticing, but a $5,000 investment before approaching the specs I wanted did not…time to go custom. Things haven’t changed much since I last built. Things have change a lot since I last built. The last time I did a chassis-up build AGP was the standard for performance graphics. Other than my custom notebook—which was really just a matter of swapping drives, memory, and wireless cards—my last custom build was over a decade ago. That’s a lot of time for old technologies to die off, and new complexities to be invented. Fortunately, the new hardware is more forgiving of incompatibilities, and there are great sites like PC Part Picker to help minimize such issues before purchase. The best change I’ve noticed? It’s easy to find blacked-out hardware and components. Here’s the PCP Build Sheet, but in a nutshell: Liquid-cooled Intel Core i7 4790K 4.0GHz quad-core processor (running at 4.4GHz) 32GB of DDR3-1600 memory Twin EVGA GeForce GTX 750 Ti “For The Win” Edition (I couldn’t resist) video cards 250GB M.2 Samsung 850 SSD for boot and apps… Workstation
Shining a little more light into the foyer – Most of my time was spent working on the Discovery, but our New Year’s Weekend shenanigans resulted in some productivity around the house as well. The kitchen is mostly finished (at least until the wood-burning stove and pantry get built), and we finally have some light in the new foyer. The chandelier is made of three industrial caged ceiling light fixtures connected together by half-inch conduit sections. The conduits, connectors, fixtures, and cage components are covered in alternating Rustic Mist (bronze) and Carbon Mist (ironish) Rustoleum metallic paint. Middle-sized Edison style bulbs sit in the completed light—brighter than expected but they still put out a cozy warm glow. Update: The Finished Product… Industrial-look Chandelier
Wine and liquor storage for the media lounge – This weekend’s project was inspired from browsing Pinterest in search of more random upcycling ideas (recycling junk into newfound purpose). Most folks have seen the pallet-chopped-off-horizontal-wine-and-glass rack that runs anywhere from $80 to $120 on Etsy and the like. As I’m a fan of not just wine, but rum, tequila, and bourbon—and I happen to have pallet fragments left over from building the media lounge—I decided to build my own with extra storage for a few bottles of liquor.… Upcycled Wine Rack
Upcycled pallet sofa, chairs, and tables – I blame the internet. This project originally started as a simple coffee table idea (which wound up being the very last item built), but it wasn’t long before browsing how-to articles led to a pallet wall article and the inspiration to go big. At long last, what started as a huge pile of dirty pallets in my driveway and a few scribbled measurements in a notebook has been transformed into our new living room media lounge. Now to load it up with pillows…… The Media Lounge