First order of business: A little package from Crazy Legs (Terra, from our last trip on the AT) arrived the other day.  A very nice gift and card, though I gotta say the girl’s pissing me off BIG time!  She mentioned in her note that she got a cool new ULA pack (ULA makes awesome gear) AND she’s getting ready to head to Chile and Patagonia.  Really?  We’re talking the freakin’ Andes Mountains.  What the heck?  I want her job.  Actually, she’s a very interesting, sweet girl and Loonie and I are very happy for her.  What an amazing opportunity! We shared some great conversation the short time we were together on the AT.  Hopefully our paths will cross again.  You can follow her adventures at terrajames.com.  She’s sure to be doing some exciting stuff soon!  Update: She has since arrived in Chile and is spending some time surfing.  Ughhhh…..

I got around to going through some of the pics from the trip back in October and put an album together of those (featured pic is from that trip).  You can find those here.  They’re kinda all jumbled up and I haven’t had a chance to go through all of them yet so don’t expect much.  Loonie’s still pulling her hair out over the focusing issue and, as it turns out, there’s a defect with one of the lenses that came with her camera.  Go figure.  So, we’ll be trying to get that fixed or replaced.  It’s obvious from most of the pics I threw in the album that there’s a problem.  We’ve got a LONG way to go.  It is worth mentioning however that I looked at the same images using Google Photos and they were MUCH better.  Picasa just plain sucks.  So you can bet that as soon as Photos gets the same albums and sharing flexibility that Flickr and Picasa have I’ll be switching over.

In related news, Loonie decided to hold off on the Rokinon 14mm for the time being and go with the Sigma 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 Macro OS (TOTALLY different direction but we can never make up our minds about anything).

Sigma-18-250mm-F3.5-6.3-DC-Macro-OS-HSM

Sigma 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 Macro OS

It’s supposed to be a great all – around travel lens at a good price point and the reviews look good.   She played around with it in the store for a bit and was impressed.  The big advantage for us when backpacking will be having to carry just one lens.  I guess there are tradeoffs but we’re total amateurs anyway so this is probably a step up from either of her current kit lenses.  For the time being we’ll be at the mercy of Bubba’s good graces if we want to do anything with a wide angle lens.

She did pick up a ball mount as well.  We wanted something simple, durable and lightweight.  She ended up getting a Joby BallHead X, about as simple as it gets!

The Joby BallHead X

The Joby BallHead X

This little thing will support up to 11 lbs, so more than enough for what she’ll be using on it.  We could have just gotten the Joby GorillaPod Focus which has the mount already on it but we decided to get a dedicated one for her carbon fiber tripod. We’re not even sure yet if we’ll bother with trying to haul a tripod along on backpacking trips anymore but if we do we don’t want to monkey with changing the head from one to the other.  The GorillaPod Focus would be nice to have along for macro shots of wildflowers or long exposure shots of waterfalls and such.  We’ll see.

Now then, if I can just get past this sinus infection I’ve been dealing with as well as figure out what’s up with the new meds they’ve got me on for the essential tremor, I’ll get my butt up and moving in preparation for the upcoming AT hike with Deep Woods.  I’ve been walking around like a zombie for weeks now and it’s getting REAL OLD!  I can’t take much more of this.  I really want to get back to the shape I was in last time around so I need to get movin’ soon.  As for any updates on new uber-ultralight gear for that trip…well, that’s all top secret for now (in other words, I haven’t had one single brain cell sufficiently active enough lately to put any thought to it).  I would love to pickup either a Six Moon Designs Deschutes CF or ZPacks Hexamid Solo (tarp only) or make something myself.

Six Moon Designs Deschutes CF

Six Moon Designs Deschutes CF

The minimalist design suits my hiking style and only having to carry 7 oz’s worth of shelter (not counting ground sheet) would be sweet.  But I just don’t see it happening anytime soon.  And I’m probably not going to try and tackle making a heavy-hauler pack for when Loonie and I go together.  Making what amounts to an 8-10 oz cuben stuff sack with shoulder straps is one thing but I’m leaning towards getting something from Osprey or whoever for the bigger pack.  I’ll be doing good to get her pack and quilt made before spring gets here.  SERENITY NOW!!!

And to wrap it up, the sister-music group SHEL, who Loonie and I have been following for several years now, had a link on their twitter feed to the Kickstarter project “Born Wild“, which looks interesting.  Pumpkin Head should really enjoy seeing this.  And, just in case you missed it, check out the latest commercial featuring a SHEL tune.  How cool is that?

More to come…

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