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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

GSI Microdualist: The Perfect Cookset for Couples

Hello all,

Sheepish preaches more truth.

GSI Microdualist: The Perfect Cookset for Couples 



For many, a camping cookset conjures images of a cast iron pan, a dutch oven, or a footlong steel fork, and while few can argue with the great taste of confections that come from these implements, they aren’t very practical for the backpacker that has to carry all of his or her gear into the backcountry while hiking or camping. New lightweight pots made of anodized aluminum or titanium shave pounds off your load in your pack and are compact enough to minimize bulk, but most of these solutions are aimed at the solo hiker. Being married with a young son, I recently decided to supplement my old trusty titanium ‘bachelor’ mug with a new GSI Microdualist.

The GSI Microdualist is a very cleverly designed kit with components that nest perfectly together to provide a glamping-style outdoor culinary experience for two at thru-hiker weights. At the core, there’s the 1.4L Microdualist pot made of a proprietary GSI hard anodized aluminum alloy called Halulite, which means there’s no coating to scratch off- you can even clean it with sand and a clean cloth. The lid of the pot has strainer holes for draining water from cooked pasta or vegetables, and incorporates a high-vis heat-resistant handle. Nesting inside the pot are two nesting sets of cup and bowl, one set orange, one set blue, with heat-insulated sleeves on the cups and sip-lids to keep you from spilling your Swiss Miss all over your self. Included are two color-coordinated telescopic “foons”. A stove sack is included in the set to keep your stove and fuel canister from rattling in your pack. Even the outer stuff sack pulls double duty, with a welded, waterproof interior you can use as a sink for washing or for carrying water.

The entire set weighs 17oz, but you can leave behind any pieces to fit the needs of the trip you’re planning to save weight. On our recent trip to Cumberland Island, Georgia, I lamented not having a small bowl to mix food in and eat from since I only use my titanium mug to boil water in; this kit will serve me well when my family comes along with me on adventures. Check out the Microdualist at Sheepleg today.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Shepherd does the Warrior Dash

Hello All,

I am a bit behind on this, but better late than never right?

So as I ride the wave of my potential midlife crisis, I completed another physical challenge this on June 23rd.  The Warrior Dash in Lebanon, KY.

I had a great time, but that was mostly due to having great company.

I was a little disappointed in the execution of the actual event.  I find it hard to believe it was planned poorly given how many of these things they do every year.  I think they were just a bit off on putting their plan into action and/or being quick to respond to anything that went wrong.  But I'll get to that in a minute.  Let's start off with a positive.

As it turns out, all the running, Tough Mudder workouts, and P90X routines are really paying off.  The most difficult part of the course was weaving in and out of the folks on the course who were clearly not there to break any land speed records.  The course was so narrow at times we could only go two or three wide and of course we would get bogged down by walkers.  But I kept trying to tell myself it was for fun and don't get frustrated.

Funny how my brain says that, but my legs went off to the side and through branches sticking out in order to pass the slower folks.  There must have been something lost in the translation there.  Oh well.

The first obstacle (after a mile of running/weaving around people) was an easy run through some tires.  Smooth sailing so far.  It was the second one that was the hardest physical obstacle of the day.  They call it "Deadweight Drifter" and you are supposed to "trudge through waist deep water and over the logs".  Yeah, waist deep after the first step in, then swimming after that.  After being kicked in the head a few times by the lady in front of me and returning the favor to the guy behind me, I made it across.  Once I got over the initial funky smell of the pond we jumped in and catching my breath from swimming, we started jogging again.  The wet clothes were a welcome addition to the jog, as it was fairly warm the day of the race and running soaking wet didn't seem to bother me all that much.  Of course it is not like I have not run in the rain before.

That was short lived though.  At some point in the next 2 miles I made the comment to my friend that I could not understand how the water in my shirt could feel hot.

Of course I have to throw a plug in here for my favorite shoes, the Vibram Five Fingers Bikilas.  While most people had wet socks and heavy shoes, I had a nice foot glove on that didn't slow me down and also seemed to help on the traction once we were all muddy.  Even though I soaked and washed them...then soaked and washed them again they are still a bit stained from the mud/red clay.  But that is fine by me.  I figure it is their badge of honor. 

Back to the race.  All the obstacles after the swim were a breeze.  Perhaps it was because we had been training for them for months as part of our Tough Mudder training or maybe they just were not tough.  It is hard to say for sure, but they were still fun to navigate over, under, but never around.

As we rounded the final turn and saw the fire, we knew it was the end so as our standing racing agreement goes, the training partner mentality went out the door and we took off running to see who could finish first.  We jumped the fire together and hit the mud pit at the same time.  Lucky for me, my buddy got a face full of mud that also went in his contacts and he had to swim / run the last 50 yards or so half blind.  So I won this one.

We took a few minutes to clean up and waited for the rest of our group to finish.

After taking some pictures of them crossing the finish line we all wandered around a bit to take it all in, had our free beer, and left. 

Now for the bad.  Because the event had been moved (it was scheduled to be just 3 miles from my house originally) fairly last minute because they did not realize we were not a full wet county and our illustrious city personnel were too lazy to give it the old college try to speed the liquor license process up.  I assume that the change of location must have caused some sort of calamity of errors afterwards because the shuttles that were to take us to the event were few and far between.  Since there was no on site parking, we had to park 20 minutes away (for the low low price of $20 per car) and take a shuttle.  Ok, I can get over the $20 just because that money goes to St. Jude, but asking people to show up at the event 90 minutes before their heat and making them wait for an hour for the shuttles is a bit frustrating.

So we got to the actual course about 5 minutes before we were supposed to run greeted by signs stating you HAD to run in your allotted heat with no exceptions.  That seems like plenty of time until you have to get your race packet, pin your number on, take a whiz, check your bag, and forget about stretching.  So much for the mental preparation.  We rushed to the gate just a minute or two late and proceeded to just stand there for about 15 minutes or so just waiting.  Talk about a dump of energy. 

When we got finished everything seemed fine until we wanted to get in line for the showers.  Holy crap that line was long.  I truly think they only had one shower going.  Keep in mind we ran at 10:00.  Only 2 heats before us, a maximum of 1000 people.  And given the number of people we passed on the way and there being no way our heat was full there was no reason for the bottleneck at the rinse station.  We said screw it and left.

Little did we know that we would be sitting on a gravel road waiting on our shuttles to arrive for over a half hour.  As it turns out, there were so many people desperately trying to get to the event on time since the shuttles were not adequate that people were riding in on hay wagons, in the backs of pickup trucks and some even tried to walk.  With all the additional traffic on the lane and a half country road, of course there was an accident, thus causing the road to be closed.

As we sat there knotting up and bleeding energy by the minute nobody came along to offer water.  The event staff just sat under their tent and chilled while hundreds of just ran in the 90 degree heat participants sat on the road and waited.

We watched a couple of injured Warriors get carted down the path on golf carts.  It really sucked to get hurt that day.  We later found out that a lady we knew was hurt pretty bad later in the day and since they had no ambulances on site, she had to wait for her parents to go through the long bus line, get their car, drive back to the course, pick her up and then drive her an hour to the hospital.  I can't imagine having to sit there with everything below one knee broken and having to wait that long for some medical attention.

We also learned later that they ran out of water for finishing participants and were left only with beer.  I can neither confirm nor deny this, but given the shenanigans I personally witnessed; I can believe it.

Rather than leave on a negative note, I will still like to say that it was fun.  Any time I get to be outside challenging my brain and/or body there is a certain level of enjoyment that even poorly executed events can't take away.  I would not discourage anyone from doing the Warrior Dash if for no other reason than it supports St. Jude.  I also have to imagine our event was an anomaly rather than the rule or else they would not be nearly as successful as they are.  Most of all, the day left me with more eager anticipation of the upcoming Tough Mudder, where simply finishing is the goal...and getting that headband.

Anyone have any tips for training?  We have constant debates now on how to do it.  Gloves or no gloves?  Are the monkey bars greased?  How far do you have to carry the log and do you get to pick your own log?  Any other thoughts are welcomed to helping Sheepleg become One Tough Mutton.

The Shepherd.