Monthly Archives: January 2022

Ski Gear Thought Experiment

Reading Time: 4 minutes

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So, I put this together to send to the Blister team, since they will give you gear recommendations if you are a member.  They’re great; I highly recommend their reviews as well as a membership.

However, I decided what I really needed was more reps, not more gear.  So as of now, I have not made any new purchases, but am considering another guided backcountry trip.

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I have been building out my ski gear lineup over the last few seasons; making an investment or two each season.  Where would you recommend investing for this season?

Here is my current gear lineup, built over the past five seasons or so, while living mostly in Ohio but skiing Colorado quite a bit.  We’re currently in Park City, Utah.

Skis (In Order of Acquisition):

  1. Dynastar Slicer (175) – I bought this ski back in 2016 and really love it.  It is my daily driver and I generally have to look for reasons not to ski this ski.  It inspires confidence.  It’s my baseline for the rest of the skis below.
  1. Dynastar Distorter (179) – I bought this setup off season in 2016 at a price that made it sort of impossible not to purchase.  I use it as a “beater” ski, when coverage is less than ideal.  We will occasionally cruise through the park, but that’s not where I spend significant time.  So generally this ski doesn’t do anything better than my other skis.
  1. Head Supershade iTitan (163) – Purchased this ski in 2018 and have learned to enjoy it early season and days I want to work on short turns / carving.  The ski has helped me progress.  It is obviously a short length and a carving ski, but I have found it to be way more versatile than I expected.  Matched to the right conditions and objectives, I always enjoy this ski.
  1. Line Sick Day 104 (179) + Atomic Shift Binding – Bought this at the end of the season in 2020 based on Blister reviews and as a 50 / 50 ski as I have started touring a bit.  Touring was all we could do at the end of 2020.  I also use the ski on softer inbounds days.  I find it seems to require a bit more attention than the Slicer and that I need to “drive it” a tad more to inspire the same level of confidence.  But that could also be conditions or my own shortcomings as a skier.

Boots (In Order of Acquisition):

  1. Nordica GPX 110 – Call this my first real ski boots that fit properly.  I have a narrow heel and my prior boots would fall more into the comfort category.  After a bunch of work, this boot and I get along just fine.
  1. Atomic Hawk 120 XTD – purchased with my Lines at the end of 2020 season for my touring setup.  I have been impressed with the boots and the fact that I’ve actually not had them worked on at all and they feel pretty good (only 2mm BSL difference between my boots).  I could use a punch or two.  I mix and match them a bit with my other skis depending on my mood.  They ski significantly better when you remember to take them out of walk mode.

Personal Details & Ability:

I am 46 years old, 5’ 11”, 160 lbs and am reasonably athletic (D1 track and field).  I’m not a super aggressive skier, and maybe take a little bit more playful approach.  I am a late to life skier, having grown up in Florida, but can ski 85% of the Canyons comfortably.  Steep bumps and deep powder are areas I need to work on in particular.  I spend most my time trying to keep up with my nine year old daughter, who is a natural skier (this will be her sixth season).  She skis the Atomic Bent Chetler in 133 because Santa likes her more than he likes me.  My ski lengths are probably conservative.

We skied ~85 days last season.  Mostly inbounds at the Canyons, or early season at PCMR, and ~5 days night skinning PCMR, and ~5 backcountry days.  Backcountry was a touch scary around here last season, but hope to do a bit more this upcoming season and did my AIARE level 1 in March at Snowbird.

2021 / 2022 Season:

My goal would be to continue to progress as an all-around skier and would prioritize any investment along those lines.

Here’s what I have been considering:

  1. Powder Ski: I lean toward something like the Moment Wildcat, Blizzard Rustler 11 (length?)
  2. Dedicated Touring Setup: Raven (length?) + ATK Raider? My spirit animal is the Raven, what is yours?  I am really just looking for an excuse to buy this setup.
  3. Updated Daily Driver: Something a bit firmer (Masterblaster, QST 99?). I honestly would consider getting the Dynaster Menace 98 in longer length before you can no longer find it.
  4. Invest elsewhere – Newer boots, other, etc.  For boots, I would probably be looking at the Nordica Pro Machine in 120.

What would you recommend?  And I welcome any other reactions to anything I wrote above.

Family Adventure: Camping Over Thanksgiving

Reading Time: 5 minutes

We finally got our van back from our builder in early November and decided to take her on a fully built maiden voyage down to the Bryce Canyon National Park area over Thanksgiving.

This was our first trip to the Bryce area.

Day #1

We drove down to Kodachrome Basin State Park Wednesday knowing that we‘d be fighting some holiday traffic…and we did.  The wind was kind of nuts as well.

Kodachrome Basin S.P. is about 30 minutes east of Bryce Canyon N.P. and so by the time we arrived at the Bryce View Campground, we decided on a short bike / hike to Shakespeare Arch / Sentinel Trail.  Note: Shakespeare Arch is no longer, but we knew that going in.

Day #2

The first full day of our trip, we went to Bryce Canyon N.P. We stopped by the Visitor Center, went to Sunset Point, and hiked the Queen’s Garden / Navajo Loop (modified for Winter hiking).  Worth it.

And, then stopped by Mossy Cave on the way back to camp.  If pressed for time, I would tell you to skip Mossy Cave and spend that time elsewhere.

These were all pretty popular sites, but since it was our first trip to the park, we wanted to get an overview.  We talked to a Park Ranger who recommended the Fairyland Loop for a bit less populated trail.

Day #3

We had originally planned to try to do Bryce N.P. and Zion N.P. in the same trip, which seems like a relatively common strategy.  But since our campsite at Kodachrome Basin put us approximately 30 minutes east of Bryce, that made the trip down to Zion close to two hours and more windshield time than we wanted to spend given our relatively short stay.

Instead we pivoted to a day in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument (GSENM).  For more on the different types of public lands, check out That Wild Country by Mark Kenyon.

Initially, I had some trouble figuring out where GSENM was located.  This is because the GSENM is close to 1.9 million acres.  It turns out, Kodachrome Basin is surrounded by GSENM and a main access point is very close to the entrance of the State Park.

Our first stop in GSENM was Grosvenor Arch – a super impressive double arch.  Highly recommend stopping to see it if you are in the area.

Then we got our first taste of slot canyons by hiking the Cottonwood Narrows.  This is a non-technical (i.e., no rappelling or rock climbing) option that is good for families.

Back at camp we did the Panorama Trail on bikes.  Very worthwhile.

And found the showers at the … campground.  The showers are really nice. Like, really nice.

The weather was finally warm enough to spend a bit more time outside at night and the stars were absolutely amazing.  I tried for a few pictures, but didn’t have any that turned out good enough to post.

Day #4

For our second day at Bryce Canyon N.P., we decided to hike the Fairyland Loop trail.  This one met all the important criteria: beautiful scenery and not heavily trafficked. 

And then we drove out to the south end of the park, did a short hike, and took in some of the vistas.

Day #5

In some of our earlier trips, we tended to have pretty ambitious plans and go pretty hard.  This resulted to a couple of events that we less than affectionately referred to as Daddy Death Marches.  I have tried to learn from these experiences.

Unfortunately, we had another one in Red Canyon.

We decided to hit Red Canyon on the way home.  Red Canyon is essentially one canyon before you get to Bryce.  And since it is in a National Forest, not a National Park, they allow mountain biking on some of their trails.  

We chose the Thunder Mountain Trail.  I had done a bit of research on the trail ahead of time and read the descriptions in a couple of guide books.  I am pretty sure none of the author’s of those guide books have ridden this trail.  A few factors made it not the trail we should have picked this day.  It turned out to be a bit longer than advertised.  It was most definitely an expert level trail (should have a black diamond rating). And there’s a fair amount of climbing and some pretty difficult technical bits – including one stretch along an exposed ridge line with consequential drops on either side.  All in all, just not what we wanted to get into.

But, we did it.  Walked a bit more than intended.  

I would recommend the trail for serious riders, who want a serious ride.

Then we drove home Sunday evening – fighting holiday traffic most of the way.

Final Notes

Overall, an excellent trip.  We enjoyed the area quite a bit and have a list of things we would like to do when we are back in the area including more time in GSENM, getting over to Zion, and possibly catching a meteor shower.

Check out a few prior adventures:

Influential Reads – December 2021

Reading Time: 2 minutes

“The roads not seen almost always matter more than the potholes we hit along the way.” – Seth’s Blog

Another relatively low volume reading month. I did try to clean out my article “Read Me” folder a bit and you see that reflected in my article count.  Book reading was a different matter.  I need to figure something else out there.

Focusing on a few positives (possibly a New Year’s goal).  I had a goal of increasing my writing & posting and posted 45 new updates to the site in 2021.  For those of you who know how many weeks are in a year, you will notice that it was not quite weekly but much better than my prior cadence.  Ignoring the fact that I am pretty sure 98% of my site traffic is North Korean bots, overall site traffic was up 76% over 2020.  Thank you, dear North Korean bot, for reading…

And by the way, Happy New Year!

Here are my most influential reads – in no particular order:

  1. Nervous Breakdowns Can Be Good – “This got me thinking that maybe we need to bring back the nervous breakdown, to protect the nation’s collective reserve of nerve force at a time when it’s stretched so thin. What would the modern version of a culturally accepted, nervous-breakdown-precipitated time-out look like?”
  2. Credit-Driven Asset Price Inflation – “Consumers simply have more borrowing power now when it comes to homes than they have on record in this data series”
  3. The 43rd Lesson – ” The law of karma puts a person at the centre of responsibility for everything he or she does and everything that is done to him or her.”
  4. Where Are Workers Going? Long Covid Prevents Millions From Returning to Work“Doing some back-of-the-envelope math, that’s 4.6 million people. “
  5. You Have Not Missed It – “Thus, I think we are out of the 2-percent-as-the-center-of-the-distribution era, and into an era where the middle is more like 3%.”
  6. Slow Holidays – “If we want space, we have to create it intentionally.”
  7. Why Small Habits Make a Big Difference – “Habits and mental disciplines are controllable, offer enormous opportunity for returns, have extremely low risk, and you can use them for the rest of your life.”
  8. Dave Barry’s 2021 Year in Review – “Because nobody knows what 2022 will bring. Will it suck as much as this year? Will it suck more? Or will it suck a LOT more? These appear to be our choices.”
  9. Getting ahead vs. having enough – “You don’t have to participate in a game that will constantly pit you against the competition (i.e., everyone else in the world). You can opt for simple satisfaction instead. “
  10. How Writing Daily Wins Can Help Rewire Your Brain for Confidence and Energy – “Our brain has a negative bent, often referred to as negativity bias.” SMS: I thought it was just me.

Note: This is based on when I read the article, not necessarily when it was first published.  Unfortunately, my backlog of things I would like to read always seems to dwarf the amount of time I can devote to reading.

Top clicks across the site last month:

  1. Financial Model vs. Operating Model
  2. Influential Reads – November 2021
  3. Three Key Take Aways: That Wild Country
  4. Excel Template: Football Field Chart
  5. EBITDA Is Not A Good Proxy For Cash Flow

Updated stats:

Read ArticlesBooks
January654
February491
March643
April532
May970
June542
July1061
August1032
September1192
October911
November800
December1050
Total98618