Trip Report: Willie McBride & Jeff Boggess Fastpack Yosemite to Tahoe

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willieRunner, adventurer, and owner of Portland company Animal Athletics, an outdoor coaching and training business, Willie McBride has been stretching his limits this summer with first, a fastpack trip from Yosemite to Tahoe with friend Jeff Boggess, and then a strong finish in the inaugrial Tahoe 200 ultra race.

Both men are talented ultra runners, however their summer fastpacking experience was a first. Willie came to ultra running within the last decade after spending most of his life on the rocks as a climber and mountaineer. A 50 foot fall at the end of his college career “changed his relationship with risk taking,” and he slowly found a new outlet in running.

“I was never really a runner,” he commented. “I started doing marathons, read Born to Run, and thought I wanted to do more on trails, so started doing these epic, off the cuff, semi-fastpacking adventures in a totally irresponsible way.” Willie found his outlet among the granite slabs of Yosemite, attempting 70 mile loops without much training. “I would get out there and think ‘what am I doing?’ it was death march style.”

When he founded Animal Athletics with ultra runner Yassine Diboun in 2011 he began climbing again, taking clients up Mt. Hood and other peaks, and dove even deeper into the ultra world.

Fellow adventurer and owner of the Portland company Trail Butter, Jeff Boggess had done a considerable amount of trail running, but was new to fastpacking as well. Since Willie wanted to train for the Tahoe 200 later in the year and Jeff had grown up in the area, the two decided to fastpack the 200 miles from Yosemite to Tahoe in 5 days.

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Discover Long Distance Trails - Grand Enchantment Trail & Great Divide Trail

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You have completed your ultralight set-up, now it’s time to hit the trail, but unless you have had your sights set on a particular long distance trail, where to go?

We will periodically cover some of some lesser-known long distance trails in our blog. From a week to a few months, these hikes will help you scratch the backpacking itch and stretch your legs. Do you have a trail you think backpackers would want to know about? This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  and we’ll spread the word.

getGrand Enchantment Trail, 770+ Miles, Southwest U.S. 

Have you tried hiking a route instead of a trail before? If following trail markers and tread aren’t requirements for your outdoor adventure, the Grand Enchantment Trail (GET) is a premier example of a route with a wealth of resources you might find on an established trail.

GET Founder, Brett Tucker, spent countless hours pouring over maps, hiking, flagging, and maintaining sections of the trail to create the route which pieces together an existing network of trail, 2-track roads, drainages, and cross country travel. Conceived in 2003, the Grand Enchantment Trail spans 770 miles of desert terrain in the Southwest U.S. from Phoenix, Arizona to Albuquerque, New Mexico.

A desert route of this magnitude has limited weather windows: one, for the extreme heat of the summer and the deep snowpack found in the high country in the winter, and two, the lack of potable water during the summer and winter months. Many choose to hike east in the spring while the weather is milder and snowmelt can provide more water sources, or west-bound in the fall after the summer monsoons have abated and before the snow starts to fly.

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10 Questions - Chris Townsend

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christownshendandfusion60We reached out to Chris Townsend, outdoor writer and photographer, passionate wilderness enthusiast, and regular contributor to British outdoor magazine, The Great Outdoors, for our next installment of 10 Questions.

Townsend has written over 20 books in addition to hundreds of articles, and has a new title coming out this November, Rattlesnakes and Bald Eagles: Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, about his 1982 Pacific Crest Trail hike. He used the Fusion 65 on the 2 week TGO Challange across the Scottish Highlands this year.

How did you get started backpacking?
I grew up in the countryside and enjoyed playing in the fields and woods from an early age. Then I discovered hillwalking and camping and then several years later backpacking. The discovery that I could move on each day and carry my gear with me was a real revelation.

What is your favorite piece of gear?
There have been many over the years. Pacerpoles, Tilley Hat, and Caldera Ti-Tri stove have been favourites for many years. The Six Moon Designs Fusion 65 is a favourite this year.

What is your favorite hike?
An impossible question! I can’t pick just one. For really long distance hikes I guess it must be the Pacific Crest Trail which is magnificent in every way. For shorter hikes one in my home mountains – the round of the five 4,000 foot summits in the Cairngorms.

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Dealer Profile: Mountain Shop in Portland, Oregon

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mountain shop tentsSpecializing in carrying cottage-industry lightweight gear brands, the Mountain Shop in Portland, Oregon has carved a niche out of the competitive outdoor retail industry in the Pacific Northwest. The specialization that started 77 years ago with founders Everett and Ida Darr selling their custom-made sleeping bags, the Nestle Down Hike Sleeper, along with custom-made backpacks and climbing equipment, now continues with brands like Six Moon Designs, Feathered Friends, and Hyperlight Mountain Gear.

“Our best selling brands are always the smaller companies that make light-weight equipment,” said Steve Korpi, the Mountain Shop’s hardgoods buyer. “We've carried Six Moon Designs for about 15 years. We carried them when they were a fringe thing, and now it is our dominant brand.”

Korpi should know, he has been at the Mountain Shop since 1998 and has seen the evolution of the ultralight gear philosophy grow from nonexistence to mainstream. “When I started working here over 15 years ago light-weight was rarely an aspect that people were looking at,” he explained. “The words you would hear a lot were “bomber” and “storm-proof” and even Ray Jardine mentioned in his book about that era that the gear was made to survive the worst possible weather.”

Years later when light-weight products were introduced to the market it was so far from the mainstream it was a “fringe element” in the outdoor industry. “It took a special person to use gear that [would require] more care and fits in a lightweight pack. Years ago the pendulum swung to the Ray Jardine style, to the absolute minimum,” Korpi explained.

“Recently it swung more to the middle where average people were looking for more light weight options, and today there has been a mainstreaming of lightweight. [One year] the idea of a tent that sets up with trekking poles was something only the small cottage-industry brands made, and next year it’s something just about every brand has.”

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International Sales Guide

If you're an International customer and are looking for information on local dealer, calculating shipping cost or to what contries we do and don't ship. Check out the rest of this article.

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