Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ultralight A-Z Video Series - YOU Help Make it Happen

UPDATE - This project has been funded. Thanks very much to all those who contributed.

READ QUICKLY - TIME IS WASTING. Please contribute to a good cause.

As a favor to Hendrik Morkel with the great UL backpacking site Hiking in Finland (http://www.hikinginfinland.com/) I wanted to pass along a great project he's working on which I'm really hoping will gain your support. To be clear, the support I'm looking for it not only your moral support, but your financial support. Please keep reading because there is very limited time to get this done (days, not weeks) and every dollar (literally, every $1) helps. If the goal is not met, this project cannot be completed.

First and foremost, I'm not one to solicit for money. If you check my blog history, I have however written about the importance of giving back to the backpacking community whether that be towards environmental causes, cottage manufacturers, or those that can be more proactive than you and I. I personally take great joy in contributing towards groups like the Sierra Club, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, The Nature Conservancy, as well as many other grassroots efforts with lesser notoriety or individuals pushing to live their dreams. This is in addition to other worthwhile causes which I'm driven to support, whether that be St. Jude's Children's Hospital, diabetes research or others. Bottom line, I have yet to meet anyone who hasn't found deep personal satisfaction from giving towards the inherent human condition.

Hendrik is working on a project which will directly support the very industry you and I both cherish - ultralight and lightweight backpacking. Probably like you, I too research this industry quite heavily in an attempt to gain practical knowledge, experience, and guidance on what works, what doesn't, and to also get some insight on where my gear money may be best spent.

Ultralight A-Z is a series of 26 video episodes about lightweight backpacking philosophy and principals. If you've spent any time at all on http://www.hikinginfinland.com/, you'll likely agree that Hendrik is an educated and well spoken guy who puts out quality information, quality pictures, and quality videos. He doesn't waste my time - which I appreciate.

The purpose of Ultralight A-Z is to introduce information about this great industry with the same humor and educated resourcefulness that Hendrik offers throughout his blog. More importantly, it will off insight into both knowledge and skills, but also safety and comfortably in a variety of conditions. If you are new to this hobby, want to learn more, or simply want to help push this industry in a positive direction, consider contributing.

Hendrik is using the funding platform of Kickstarter (http://www.kickstarter.com/), the largest funding platform for creative projects in the world. For this project to be successful, Hendrik's goal must be reached before time runs out - or NO MONEY WILL EXCHANGE HANDS.

The goal is $6000. As of the date of this posting, there are 18 days to go, 43 people have contributed, and $1,824 has been raised. Although any amount will be accepted, contributions of $25, $50, $75, $150, etc. each come with it an additional "thank you" consisting of stickers, DVD's, t-shirts, etc. depending on which level you choose.

Be a part of something great. If you're like many, you toss money at many things which ultimately give you little return for the investment. Whether it be a cup of coffee from an overpriced vendor or another trinket you probably didn't need, you probably have a few bucks to spare. This is different. This is worthwhile. This fuels the very industry you love and is your chance to be more personally involved. Please contribute.

Go to http://www.kickstarter.com/ and type in "Ultralight A-Z" into the search bar.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Partners in Crime

I'm a solo backpacker for the most part. I get the pleasure of setting my own schedule, sneaking up on wildlife, and getting the first choice ofshelter sites. I don't need to share my food and no one sees when I'm sprawled out in the middle of the trail from pure exhaustion. Yet truth be told, hiking with others is far more enjoyable. The miles seem to roll by quicker, experienced backpackers offer great insight, the mood seems always chipper, resources can be shared, and things I may have otherwise missed are pointed out. Also, nothing beats the chatter and comradery that comes from fireside groups.

I can't really say I choose to be a solo backpacker. The reality is that my trips into the wild are often planned only when the situation presents itself. I've learned all too often that family and work has a habit of finding every single vacation day I've scheduled which was initially set aside for backpacking. I also don't have the luxury of having many friends nearby after moving to a fairly secluded area three hours away from where I grew up. In as much as I appreciate the solitude of a hike to reflect on life and my own thoughts, I prefer to go with others.

In a pinch, many of us know about Meet-Up (http://www.meetup.com/) which allows like-minded people to find one another through their passions and hobbies to ultimately "meet-up" at some point. This is an excellent resource for the backpacking community. Unfortunately, there aren't a ton of offerings from Meet-Up and I've also noticed that many aren't very well run. Also, trying to find a "scheduled" hike is often problematic for me because frequently the groups that I belong to often have the activity in the middle of the week or with such short notice that I simply can't make it. Then there are the hikes where 30 people signed up (no thanks) or those that repeat the same trails that I've literally done dozens of times. But, it is a resource and has a lot of value for those of us looking for folks to share the trail.

Well, how about a similar resource - just for backpackers? Wouldn't that be nice? Fortunately, we now have options. Check out Come Hike (http://www.comehike.com/). Using a similar format as Meet-Up, but exclusively for backpacking, Come Hike just might be the niche you and I are looking for. This site is VERY new, so much so that you may find nothing in your area. But like with many good things on the front end of development, it may take YOU to get involved to start a group and to rally the troops. The best part, unlike MeetUp.com, ComeHike.com is F-R-E-E.

Happy hiking.