Tag Archives: Hiking

RMH I — Day Four : Devils Thumb

The Colorado Days left for another engagement today, leaving me alone in the condo. There’s a kind of quiet that I’m simply not used to. Even when Becky leaves for an event for a week or so, there’s still three canine companions to make some level of noise. Here, it’s quiet, except for the occasional train rolling down the track.

I decided to make today a resting day, with only a trip up the hill to the Devils Thumb trailhead planned. Warren had taken me up there on Friday, and I liked what I saw, but had no camera with me to capture anything, so I figured that’d be a nice quick trip today.

Driving there brought me through stunning vistas of vast river valleys and tall pine forests. It was wonderful. I walked around at the trailhead — once I finally found it! — and captured images of pinecones and needles, in and around the fresh ice and old snow. And with all the cycles of freezing and thawing, the water was raging down the hill. It was remarkable to see that much water flowing like that, all from the winter’s snow beginning to melt.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take my tripod — why, I have no idea — and didn’t get a lot of usable images. Guess that means a trip back up there tomorrow!

New Gear : Tracks Sherlock Travel Staff

Last week’s hike in slightly sloppy conditions pointed two things out to me. There was beauty to be found in the mud, and I needed a hiking staff of some kind. Late in the hike, I slipped in some mud and almost went down with my camera and backpack of lenses. That wouldn’t have been good.

I did some research this week to find out more about staffs. I knew I didn’t want trekking poles (pairs, used like snow skiers use their poles). I’d seen a ton of wooden ones while we were out west a couple of years ago. Those looked nice and would make a good home for the hiking medallions I’ve been picking up during our travels, but I wasn’t sure that that would be the right answer for something versatile in the field.

The more I looked, the more I realized that there weren’t great differences from one staff to the next. My needs were pretty simple — adjustable height, spike on the bottom for sloppy conditions, and a basket to keep from sinking up too far. With that in mind, Becky and I went to the Alpine Shop in our neighborhood to look for a staff. We were helped by Andy, who made me feel right at home, and frankly, was built like me, so I figured he could give me some real world advice about what I was getting into. He did, and I ended up walking away with a Tracks Sherlock Travel Staff.

This is a pretty slick tool with some nice features above what I was looking for. First off, it breaks down into three component pieces, and comes with a sack to carry them around. For the long haul trips I’m used to, that’s a great feature. A wood hiking staff wouldn’t be collapsible, meaning I’d have to find some way of carrying this long pole in the Jeep. With the Sherlock, no problemo.

The Sherlock sports a walnut knob for gripping the top of the staff. While that’s nice, what’s nicer is that it screws off, revealing a kinda long 1/4″-20 screw for mounting a camera atop the staff for use as a monopod. My only complaint here is that the screw thread is long, perhaps by as much as a quarter inch. That length is probably needed for the knob, but seems a little dangerous for a camera. I’d hate to keep up with it, but it might make sense to carry a little washer as a spacer when using the staff as a monopod.

The Sherlock also has a removable foot, revealing the spike I was looking for. The foot’s kinda neat, leaving a paw print behind as you move along, and seems useful for hard surfaces. The spike is ginormous, and appears to be quite useful as a weapon should your need to stab something or for picking up trash along the trail.

This thing really seems to hit all my design points, and then some, and I believe it’ll be quite a nice addition to my hiking!