Risk's Ultralight Hiking

The skills involved in setting up a light backpack serve well for both hiking and touring. Learning what is really necessary and then finding high quality gear that meets my honest needs leads to much less carried and more fun. I hope this journal is as much fun to read as it is to write.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Conjunction of Venus and the Green Grass Moon

this is an audio post - click to play

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Jupiter's Travels

I have just finished reading Ted Simon's "Jupiter's Travels." Written in the late '70s, it is a fascinating 450 page romp through the world.

Ted was about 40 years old when he began his 40,000 mile ride around the world. His travels took him the length of Europe and Africa, before taking a ship to Brazil. Thence, he rode through Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and the Andes backbone to the northern end of South America.

He traveled through Central America, Mexico, the SW US, and then took off for Australia, the Malay Peninusula, India, and the Pakistan/Afganastan/Iran/Turkey path back to Europe.

What is remarkable to me about the journey is not the accomplishment of the trip, but the people and the stories and the writing that makes it all come to life. Precious snippits of truely wonderful writing pepper the entire book - from the section that starts out: "I first thought of becoming a god as I was riding north from Madurai..." to the conversations with Truckies in Australia.

Ted has a self effacing way of describing the incidents and the life of being on the road that made me feel like I was there - and many times glad that I was not there!

I understand from his website that he has done it all again in his 70s... The book will be coming out next year. See:

Along the way, Ted has learned great lessons of what is needed for a bike trip and what is not. Mostly, it is a matter of what is carried in the skull, not what specific spares are carried. For me, much of the book's attitude and humor is summarized by it's first paragraphs:

"When the fuel reserve ran dry too, and the engine choked and died, I guessed I was ten or fifteen miles from Gaya. The thought was disagreeable. It might mean spending the night there, and somewhere I had read that Gaya was the dirtiest town in India.


I tucked my gloves into my helmet and stood by the bike looking up and down the country road and across the field of green wheat wondering who was going to help me this time, and what it would lead to. I did not doubt that help would come, and with it most probably some unexpected twist in my fortunes. It had taken years to achieve that measure of confidence and calm, and as I waitied I allowed myself some pleasure knowing it."

Monday, April 17, 2006

Excerpt from Pierson's "The Perfect Vehicle"

Here is a wonderful reading from a book that I have just finished re-reading. These paragraphs make the whole idea of the freedom of riding come alive for me. I hope you enjoy them.

this is an audio post - click to play

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Remainder of the Pennsylvania Walk

Unfortunately, the audio posts from the second half of the week did not post. They have gone missing in the black hole of audioblogger.

Suffice it to say that Chainsaw, Backwards, and I had a great hike with wonderful weather. After the first two days, the temperatures warmed up considerably. We had some overnight rain on Wedneday/Thursday, but no rain during the day until we had a little on Thursday and then Friday.

Our hiking coverered about 100 miles of the trail - from Pen-Mar, to the crossing at 325 after descending from Peter's Mountain.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Notes from the Darlington Shelter

this is an audio post - click to play

Monday, April 10, 2006

Notes From the Alec Kennedy Shelter

this is an audio post - click to play

A Cold and Clear Night at Birch Run Shelter

this is an audio post - click to play

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Palm Sunday, North of Pen-Mar

this is an audio post - click to play

Friday, April 07, 2006

Walking with Freedom

I had the pleasure of watching Michael Daniel's "Walking with Freedom" DVD last night.

This is a very nice travelogue of the AT, with the best assortment of nature photography I have seen. From bears to newts to chipmunks to flowers - it is all there.

It is also one of the best sets of pictures of the many states of the trail. Here he chronicles the smooth paths, the mud, the rocks, the climbs, and the summits.

Michael walked the AT in 2003, the rainy year, and the video is full of rain pictures and soggy hikers.

He does not go very far into his feelings or what he is learning in this film. If I have any critique, it is that here we see a set of photos that remind me of what I saw on the trail, but not much about the personality of the people along the way.

Lion King on the top of Mt Washington

Is the film worth watching? Absolutely! It is wonderful to see the work that can be produced by a professional photographer as he travels the trail.

It is never mentioned, but I would guess that all of the filming and the carrying of equipment was done by Michael Daniel without much support. This is something to consider, especially given the rainy season he hiked through.

For more information and for buying the film, please see the website:


I'd also like to thank my hiking buddy, Michael K for lending me his copy of the DVD.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Koomer Ridge and Hidden Arch

On Tuesday, I took a motorcycle trip from Dayton, Ohio to Red River Gorge, KY. The air was a little chilly (about 50) and I needed warming pads inside my gloves. I traveled down the Warrior Path (US 68) to Maysville and then by Ky 11 to Slade, KY.

Slade has both the Red River Gorge and Natural Bridge State Park on either side of the Mountain Parkway. It is a fantasticly beautiful spot.

I found the Koomer Ridge Campground in Red River Gorge and spent a nice evening checking out my ultralight camping equipment and new down hammock. The temperature only dropped to 44, so it was not much challenge staying warm.

On Wednesday morning, I took a short hike from the campground to see Hidden Arch, where I called in and left the audio blog also on the site. I was sitting at the Hidden Arch when I made the call:

I drove a loop through the Gorge, including 10 miles of gravel road to see Chimney Rock. My bike worked very well for the whole trip with a pack side saddle across the seat and a couple saddle bags - empty most of the time.

After the whirlwind trip through the Gorge (remember to put lights on low for the Nada tunnel - otherwise it is hard to see - I drove the two miles to Natural Bridge and made my obligatory trip up to the bridge:

The trip home was completed with no problems and no frustrations.

This is a great little get away from Dayton. It took me about 4 hours to drive the 170 miles each way, stopping for a couple cups of warming coffee and gas each way. There are plenty of services all along the route. Gas prices were 15 cents lower near Winchester than anywhere else along the route.

Audio Blog from Hidden Arch

this is an audio post - click to play