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Showing posts with label Ahnu Hiking/Backpacking Boots. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ahnu Hiking/Backpacking Boots. Show all posts

Testing Ahnu Hiking/Backpacking Boots On Mt Si

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Mount Si, the monolith looming over Interstate 90 at North Bend, is Northwest icon, Washington state's most popular hiking trail, and the proven training ground for anybody getting ready to summit Mt Rainier.


But whether you dream of summiting Rainier, skiing Mt Adams, trad climbing Mt Shuksan, or hiking/backpacking the Wonderland Trail, Mt Si is the place to test yourself and your gear.

As I mentioned in my previous post, choosing a pair of good hiking boots can be the difference between a memorable experience and a miserable misadventure.

Recently, on a typical PNW winter day, I put my pair of Ahnu's Coburn hiking boots to a grueling test through dirt, mud, puddles and snow of Mt Si's 4-mile hike with about 3500 ft elevation gain.


Having summited both Rainier and Shuksan, and thru-hiked the 18 miles  Enchantments Traverse (aka the Death March), I knew exactly what I was looking for in hiking/backpacking boots.

Without getting too technical, I'll just focus on a few specs that were especially important to me :

Whether you are a hard core thru-hiker or a casual weekend warrior ( like me ), the Ahnu's Coburn hiking boots are light, breathable, waterproof, and will work great in all weather conditions and on any terrain.

My feet get easily cold. Keeping them dry and warm ( but not overheated ) is extremely important to me. After hiking for 3 hours in mud, puddles, and snow, at the end, my feet remained warm and (relatively) dry.

Leather boots tend to be on a heavy side. Same goes for synthetic ones once they get wet, adding weight and slowing you down. And we all know that a pound on the feet is like eight on your back. Even on the way back, the Coburn boots were as light as at the beginning of the hike.

Whether you are going on a leisure hike on a relatively flat trail, or  scrambling over piles of rock, the taller ankle height is a welcome feature for hikers who are looking for greater ankle support without having to upgrade to much bigger, stiffer, heavier boots.

Non-marking, slip resistant lugs provide the ultimate grip and traction. I was especially blown away by this feature ! In winter, the upper part of Mt Si's trail is (almost always) covered with snow requiring hikers to use either spikes or snowshoes. The boots' aggressive tread was amazing at gripping both wet rocks and snow. One of my knees is messed up, and I'm always concerned about slipping/sliding on the way down, even with extra effort (on my part) it was hard for me to make these boots slide.



All in all, the boots answered all the questions asked  when it comes to choosing a great pair of hiking/backpacking boots.

Now, the last question left unanswered - " How long will they last ? "



Hiking 101: How To Choose Your First Pair Of Hiking Boots

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                                               Men's Coburn Hiking/Backpacking Boots 

Since proper fitting boots are arguably the most important item that any hiker needs, it is very important that you invest in a good pair that fit your feet well.

When I started "hiking" , I had no idea how critical a pair of good hiking boots could be, and how they would determine the quality and comfort of my time while out on the trail !

As a matter of fact, my very first time hiking one of our most famous hiking trails, Mt Si, I thought I would get away with wearing just my running shoes... in winter ! Needless to say, I was miserable...

After trying out a few pairs ( from expensive Vasque and North Face to low cost Hi-Tec and extremely cheap Walmart's brands ), I decide to look for some in-depth professional advice on how to choose the best pair of hiking boots for my future outdoor adventures.

Below I will pinpoint a few common tips on how to choose the right hiking/backpacking boots, but keep in mind that all of us have different feet… some are wide, some are narrow, some have high arches, others have low. Therefore, the best thing you can do is figure out what brand works best for you and then stick with it!

When it comes to selecting the shoe for you, forget about looks, numerical sizes, flashy features, or even what your friends recommend (unless their feet are identical to yours). The issues you should consider are: what type of hiker you are, comfort, durability, stability, weight, warmth, and water resistance.

When choosing your first pair of hiking boots, ask yourself these questions:

What Type Of Hiker Are You ?

Will the boots be used mainly on dry summer days in light terrain and low vegetation? Or will they be used on long and difficult ascents up the world’s rocky mountains? Perhaps something in-between?

- Which Material/ Boot Fabric ?

Would it be leather? Synthetic?   A common question among potential hiking boot buyers is whether to get a pair of boots that are made of real leather, or a pair made of synthetic fabric.

- Which Boot-Cut and Weight ?

Typically, hiking boots are categorized according to one of three boot-cut categories : 1- Low-Cut / Lightweight Men’s Hiking Boots; 2- Mid-Cut / Medium Weight ; 3 - High-Cut / Heavy Weight

- What About That Vibram Soles ?

Another important factor when buying a pair of  hiking boots is the sole. Depending on the type of terrain that will be explored, the hiking boots need a good grip. Even gradual slopes can become slippery when it rains. As a rule of thumb, the softer the rubber sole is, the better grip it offers. However, a softer rubber sole also means that it is less durable over time; it simply wears out more quickly as the rubber is repeatedly torn against uneven surfaces.

As a general rule of thumb, it may be worth spending a little extra on quality, considering the unpredictable nature of the outdoors.

The right hiking footwear will carry you far, fast and comfortably. It should be as light and comfortable as possible for the type of hiking you're doing, while also keeping your feet dry, warm, and well-protected.

Not all brands or models are created equal. Recently, Ahnu footwear has been generous enough to provide me with the Men's Coburn hiking/backpacking boots. Specifically designed for hiking/backpacking, wet and dry weather conditions, these mid-height hiking boots are equipped with a breathable eVent® waterproof bootie, wicking away moisture for optimal foot comfort.

I haven't gone hiking for a long time, and can't wait to give these bad boys a fair try !


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Ski Washington - Mission Ridge

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I got my "Bucket List" idea to ski at every ski area in Washington when I got a job at Summit at Snoqualmie 3 years ago. Since then I've visited 6 out of 12 Washington ski areas...

Just a week before New Year, I added another one to my list - Mission Ridge.


I was really looking forward to this trip. I read/heard a lot about great powder snow conditions and "300 Days of Sunshine"...

With its motto of "Family Fun in the Powder and Sun", my visit to Mission Ridge ski area was...surprisingly disappointing.

Snow/weather conditions were absolutely horrible ! If you've ever heard the expression "Cascade Concrete" ( bad/icy snow conditions ) that's what I got during my visit.

You can't really blame the weather, but the least the resort could do was to mention the bad snow conditions on their Facebook page. But I guess they don't really care about their customers, many of whom are, just like me, out of town visitors who take time to drive for 12 mile to visit their resort.

Proximity to downtown Wenatchee is the only advantage this Washington ski area has...

Well, ( I have to admit ) that and the stunning views from the top...


The Best Way To Learn Climbing In Washington

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The best way to learn climbing ?  One thing for sure, you won't learn it by watching videos or reading books ( believe me, I've tried). So, like they say:" Practice makes perfect".

If you are a beginner and not sure if rock climbing is for you, don't be in a rush to join a local climbing gym. If you just want to get a feeling of "rock climbing", try REI's flagship store in Seattle first. For just $25 you'll get a pair of shoes, a harness, a bunch of pictures of you climbing ( now you can tell your friends, that you are a climber and can show the proof) and a belayer ( somebody who holds the rope while you are climbing). If that felt like a thrilling experience, next step is learning the basics and getting your own "belay card".

What's a belay card? Belaying is the safety technique used to control the rope and keep the climber safe while they climb. A belay card allows you and your friends to belay each other on any climbing wall. But it's not a card you are after, since different climbing gyms have their own belay cards, it's the knowledge and skills. Every time you go to a new gym, they will ask you to take a "belay test". Good thing is, once you've passed the test (belay test ) at one climbing gym, you will be able to pass it anywhere else.

The best way to get "belay " checked ? Take a lesson! I took mine at the Edgeworks climbing gym in Tacoma. You don't have to be a member ( or have any experience) there to take a class.
For just $ 29, you'll learn everything you need to pass a test ( anywhere):

the basics of indoor climbing equipment
how to tie into a top-rope
how to belay effectively and safely
take ( and pass!) their belay test and get the card for their gym

You can rent the necessary equipment ( shoes $5 and a harness$3 ) right there at the gym at an extra charge.

After you've passed you test and got your card, and you still have doubts, you can opt for a day pass ($15).

The hardest part of climbing is not just the risk associated with this sport. The hardest part is to find a reliable partner, preferably, somebody who has more experience ( and patient enough ) to teach you, and eventually take you outside to climb "real rock".

"Exploring" Washington by bike.

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Has it ever happened to you: you plan to go hiking/biking/backpacking to one destination and then end up somewhere else? If you think about it, that's what adventure is all about- you don't know what awaits you.

I didn't know that a short bike trip to a nearby state park , would turn into a "biking journey". Well the word "journey" might be a bit strong, it's just after reading about all these "around the world/state expeditions" and other adventures, I've been itching to go on my own, event if it would be a short one. It's true what they say :" Be careful what you wish for".


Dash Point

It started as a short ride from my home in Federal Way to the Dash Point State Park, which is 7.9 miles one way. I've been there a couple times before ,and though I knew it was a very hilly area, I hoped it wouldn't be that bad. And it wasn't on the way to the park, but to get back...


No biking trails


View from the top of the park

Always have plan B ( or something like that ). I had a King County Bicycle map ( that I got for free at a library ) and according to it I could turn on an adjoining road and get back to Federal Way. I guess I missed it...

Soon, I found myself on Marine View Dr going towards Tacoma. I've been here before. If you are ever in this area, one must see/stop by place is the Cliff House. I would call it " The Jewel " of ..where ever I was. It doesn't look very impressive from outside, but inside... ( to be more exact, the outside of the inside). Besides panoramic views of Mt. Rainier, the Puget sound and the Tacoma city skyline, they feature amazing northwestern cuisine and regional wines. Fine dining wasn't on my plan , but I did stop for Happy Hour $3 beer.

It was getting late and I had to get back home before 8pm. But going up those hills..?
I decided to proceed further forward.
I think many explores were at the point where they kinda knew they were lost, but instead of turning back, they continued into "the unknown". Like Columbus (" Where the hell are we?" " Who cares. We've discovered something")


Port of Tacoma from HWY 509

If the first part of the trip was nice and enjoyable, can't say the same about biking along HWY 509 S. Besides pretty heavy traffic, the surrounding views are far from scenic. You pass by old recycling plants, dusty saw mill, rusty scrap yards...

Soon the sign points in the direction of City Center. That was my first time entering Tacoma from this direction. Right in front of you, you see Tacoma Dome, Glass Museum, Union Station. It's sure different than when you are in a car. Though, the smell ( "Tacoma aroma") is still the same.


Downtown Tacoma

I had two options" take HWY 99 back home, or take a bus to the FW transit station.
I chose the easy one. It's been a while since I took a bike on a bus, and I felt kinda nervous about handling that bike rack. But it all came back.

I honestly forgot, how much fun bike/bus commuting was. Good thing I had $ 2 for bus fare.

Now I have a new motto:" I can't get lost. Because I don't care where I'm going".

Ski to Sea 2009

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In my last post I wrote about almost all major events that would take place in our state over the Memorial Day weekend. All, but two. The two biggest, most famous, (for some people) most important events of the year- Ski to Sea relay and Sasquatch.
What can I say about Sasquatch- three days of camping, music ,comedy,and a lot of drinking.That's pretty much the whole event.Despite of the fact, that it has very little to do with the outdoors ( I guess you can call beer drinking an activity, as long as it's outdoors ), the event was mentioned in the latest issue of the Outside magazine, as one of the biggest music festivals in US.

Ski to Sea ? Not a word. Well, Outside, I guess I would have to cover that event myself.



One of the most popular team multi sport events in the nation ( sometimes called Bellingham's Olympics ), for recreational to elite athletes, Ski to Sea is a relay from the slopes of Mt Baker to the shores of Bellingham Bay. The race has seven legs: cross country, downhill skiing, running, road biking, canoeing, mountain biking and kayaking. Each leg represents a recreational segment of Whatcom County.

Ski to Sea relay is not just another sporting event. It's a celebration.The celebration of life in the Northwest. The celebration kicked off on Saturday 23th, with the traditional Ski to Sea Grand Parade that traces its heritage to the first Tulip time Festival Parade in 1920.
Traditional marching bands,community floats, firefighters and veterans were all part of the fun of the Parade.


But the actual fun begins on Sunday morning, after a blast sets a mass of up to 500 cross country skiers in motion from the Ski Shop around various points of the ski area. After XC skiers ski their leg, they pass the timing chip to the downhill skiers/snowboarders.

This leg is not so much about skiing as it about the climb up the mountain. The 1,000-foot climb is the most challenging aspect of the leg.Then the chip is passed to the runner.



2200 drop in elevation and 8 miles down the Mount Baker Highway is a lot of pounding on competitors' feet, ankles, shins, knees and hips.This is the most painful leg of the race. Blisters,cramps,shin splints and a lot of sweat await athletes during this leg.

Next is the longest leg of the race- 38.5 miles of back roads of Whatcom County. Besides being the longest leg, road biking is the most dangerous one, as at this time the highway will be open to traffic. In Everson Park the bikers pass the chip to the canoeists.

The Nooksack River is considered class 1 (on a 1 to 6 scale ), but there are plenty of deceptive hazards due to logjams, undercut trees and other obstructions. That's where team effort plays a very important role. Otherwise, a chill swim down the river is inevitable.


The mountain biking leg, this year, was slightly changed. The new course is five miles longer and has something to challenge just about everyone. About 65 percent of the course is off roads with lots of traditional obstacles,barricades to climb over and bridges to cross.

Finally, kayaking across the Bellingham Bay and ringing the bell rounds up the Ski to Sea relay.

Now it's time to celebrate.It all ends in historic district of Fairhaven. That's where an athletic competition turns into a block party with fun for all ages and tastes, featuring live music, arts and craft vendors, ethnic food and of course a beer garden.

But you will not entirely get the spirit of this event until you actually get to be a part of it. And it is not about the race, time, records or awards ( though for some people it is ). Its about having fun, challenging yourself, team work and being part of the great historic race.

I want to thank my teammates for their support and the chance to be a part of the greatest team. Sorry for not being able to share that joyful moment at the finish line, but I hope it won't be our last race together.