Quick Review

Not too much snow but enough to cause a wipe out or two!

Not too much snow but enough to cause a wipe out or two!

This week we got a tiny bit of snow out here, nowhere near enough for my snowshoes unfortunately, but I’d say the ideal amount for YakTrax! I purchased the Walk Model which cost $20.
When putting on YakTrax you simply slip your toe in as you can see, and then stretch around to the heal shown right.

When putting on YakTrax you simply slip your toe in as you can see, and then stretch around to the heel shown right.

The heel

The heel

These worked pretty well on the ascent of todays hike, not so well on the descent though, I think as the temperature rose from 20 degrees to 28 some of the snow melted making the ice more treacherous. I believe the  YakTrax certainly have a place in every cold weather hikers pack, but for more severe conditions you may want to look at a pair of crampons. One of the major advantages of the walk YakTrax is their weight, at just 2.0 – 4.0 ounces depending on your size, you’ll never even notice them, they fold down to the size of my hand which makes packing them easy, and for the wide variety of conditions you run into hiking in early or late winter, they’re well worth it. They’re available pretty much everywhere, I got mine at a local outdoors shop but you could also purchase them on the YakTrax Website. I suppose I should throw in the disclaimer: I do not have affiliation with YakTrax or any other company whose product I review on this site. I pay for all of the gear on my own and am in no way forced or suggested to say great things about these companies.



How do you keep your grip in winter?

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Day Hiking

Sorry it’s been so long since my last post, I’ve been pretty busy with school starting up. Anyway todays post is all about day hiking. Day hiking is one of my favorite things to do in fall with the weather being absolutely perfect. One perk of living in New England is the fall foliage, I used to laugh at people who came here specifically to look at the trees.

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Then I moved to Tennessee for a year and realized how beautiful it is up here compared to the Nashville area. One major issue I do have with it however is mountain biking, gorgeous yes, but the fallen leaves hide all the roots and pot holes on trails! Makes for some very bumpy surprises. Anyway on a typical day hike I’ll go 10-20 miles. I’ve had plenty of 30 mile days too and also plenty of 5 miles days, but 10-20 seems to be the average and also the most comfortable. The local trails for me are usually no longer the 5 miles per trail. But there’s plenty of them connecting together. There’s a fantastic post on 8 steps of how to be a badass day hiker on the trail Sherpa website trailsherpa.com. Definitely worth reading, he really knows his stuff. Today I came out to the Holyoke Mountain Range which isn’t much of a mountain range but for Western Ma it’s awesome. The highest peak for the mountain range is a mere 1,106 feet.

20131020-125603.jpg There’s also a sort of, “cave” along the trail I’m on today which is actually where I stopped to make some lunch and write this post. I tried a new stove setup today and it sucked. I’ve read about tons of people love the tea light stoves, but I had to refill it twice just to boil water. Not what I had hoped would be the case. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong but so far I’m 1 for 3 on fuel types. Love my MSR Pocket Rocket, can’t get the esbit tabs to boil water efficiently or even at all sometimes now, nor the tea light stove.

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Although the white box stove – heet combo works well with an average 6 minute boil time. When you talk to most people about day hiking they only bring snacks with them, usually no form of a stove to make food. I always bring a stove because I really like hot food and I’m not the type of person to be trying to spend every second hiking. I just like to enjoy the scenery. I do go on very fast hikes from time to time, a friend and I would go about 20 miles right after school, usually 3 times per week. It would only take us a few hours at the most, but that’s because we only carried a water bottle or two, some snacks, and extra clothing if it was going to get chilly out. Now on almost every day hike I take a few more items. Like I said I love taking a stove, I always have my sundries kit, and I usually wear shorts but bring pants just in case along with a wind breaker. I’ll be doing another post on just my sundries kit if you’re wondering what’s in there. Anyone who likes the outdoors would definitely enjoy day hiking, it can be as strenuous or leisurely as you’d like. It’s also a great way to get outside with pets, my dog is too old to take out now but I know lots of people who won’t go hiking without their dogs. I’ve never met an aggressive dog on the trail either. I’ve taken my friends dog out a few times, never on a leash, and never any issue. I think they’re more interested in all the smells than they are in othe people/dogs. Anything you’d like to add or think isn’t nessacary?

Why I love fly tying.

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Fly tying is something I truly love and enjoy. Since I started fly tying about a year ago I loved it! It’s definitely what attracted me to fly fishing in the first place. The greatest part about fly tying, in my opinion, is the satisfaction of catching a fish on something you made. It’s especially gratifying if it’s a pattern you came up with on your own (or at least never saw before).

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I have three main flies that I tie; Killer Bug, Sakasa Kebari, and the Balloon Caddis. I tie some zebra midges and wolly buggers from time to time along with one other streamer pattern but not very often. This morning I tied up 3 dozen Killer Bugs, more than I ever tied in one sitting. I never thought I could tie them so fast, but I read about a few tips and one of them worked flawlessly for me. I read about commercial tyers who tie in stages, whip finish or make dubbing loops by hand, always hold your scissors, if the thread is being cover by a material don’t worry about it being perfect, seperating materials, keeping your tools all easily at hand, and just simple things like that. According to what a I read about the scissors, you would tie around 1-2 dozen less flies in an 8 hour day by not holding them the entire time. So now when I tie my flies I always hold my scissors, started a bit goofy feeling but now it’s normal. On killer bugs I keep my ball of yarn right next to the vise along with a spool of 0.020 lead, hooks on the vise base, and whip finisher to the right of the vise. When I tie sakasa Kebari I have my feathers all separated next to the vise where I would keep the yarn for killer bugs. I keep my rotating hackle pliers on the right next to the whip finisher. For the balloon caddis I cut yellow foam into a few thin strips ahead of time and set them behind the vise. I have my deer hair to my left where I usually keep materials, dubbing next to that, hooks on the vise, and a spool of copper wire with the materials. For tools I have my whip finisher in its usual spot, another pair of scissors I use for the deer hair, and a hair stacker.

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I think with these three flies I have it pretty much figured out as far as organization goes. I can tie all of them quickly if I want to or kick back and relax. All depends on the kind of day. When I’m tying the flies I’m very organized, but my materials are currently all thrown together in a basket. The only things I have separated are my thread, hooks, and capes. It’s like a scavenger hunt when I’m looking for anything else. I think it’s getting to the point where I should look for a new desk with a bunch of smaller drawers rather than 1 huge one and 1 smaller one. Ideally I’d like to have drawers for the different hooks; dry fly, wet fly, sakasa Kebari, streamer, saltwater. I’d have a drawer or two for beads and barbell eyes. One drawer for dry fly dubbing and one for the wet fly, or just one drawer with a divider. Have a shelf for all the capes and tails. I’d throw all the synthetics into one or two drawers. Keep all my hair in another. Set up a few thread racks for anything on spools. And have my tool block in the middle with the vise and lamp.

So that’s what I enjoy about fly tying, what do you enjoy about it?

White Mountains Overnight: Midtrip Thoughts

My First Real Backpacking Trip: Thoughts on Day 1:

So I decided to take a long 5 day weekend and go backpacking in the white mountains.
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I left my house around 7am this morning and embarked on the 3-4 hour journey up to Franconia Notch State Park. I kept an eye out for a trail head parking lot on Route 3, parked the truck, and set off. On the drive up I contemplated turning around due to thunderstorm warnings, and to be honest, yeah I’m a little nervous. It’s really my first night backpacking for real. Still not sure that I’ll make it the entire 5 days but even if I’m only up here for one or two nights, it already seems worth it. I met a few cool people who are thru hiking, a few heading north, and a couple heading south. I got to a place I really wanted to camp, right on the the pond, and then found out its not allowed. So I tried to continue south on the A.T. however my plan was interrupted by a moose! Just feeding in the middle of the trail as myself and a day hiker tried to watch and not bother it. This moose was rather young but still a good size. I waited for at least an hour and the moose was still feeding, so I turned around and headed north to camp out along the stream. Not sure if this is a good idea or not yet, but I love the sound of the water so hopefully it works out. On one of the streams I ran across earlier today, I decided to throw a line in. I brought my 9′ Soyokaze with me, a few lines, and jam packed fly box. The stream is very narrow so I used a shorter line with a size 14 Utah Killer Bug. I also gave this terrestrial a try, only got one with it though.
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I caught a gorgeous 6″ wild Brookie first cast! Then I caught another one a few minutes later. I think the fish learned after that though because they weren’t even looking at it. I moved upstream a bit and caught the biggest of the day, 12″. Nothing huge but still a very nice fish. The colors were beautiful! I’ll try to get a few pictures of then tomorrow! That’s all for today, time to get some sleep, I’m exhausted!

Morning Day 2:


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It’s about 6:30 in the morning now and I’m still tired! I didn’t sleep very good due to the tarenchle down pours that started around 11 last night. When setting up my hammock I now know I didn’t pull the rain fly tight enough on one side. I slept almost the entire night without getting wet, but this morning rain started trickling in on one side. It wasn’t that big if a deal just a little bit of water. Plus the wool blanket took up some up the water and is now virtually dry. As far as the hammock itself goes though, I’m very happy with it. Very very comfortable, felt no need for a pillow of any kind, and it was super easy to set up. The thing may be a tad bit heavier than some UL tents, but with it I don’t have the need for a sleeping pad so I save some weight there and also save space in my pack. One thing I really like about this hammock is the organizer in the middle. It’s at the top so you know it’ll never get wet and it’s perfect size for things like a phone or notepad, headlamp, wallet, and I kept my sunglasses there too. Just a couple things I didn’t feel good about leaving on the ground and knew could be handy. And what a surprise, it’s pouring again! So happy I brought long johns, wool socks, and my north face jacket! May even have to wear the underarmer cold gear turtle neck too. I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to do today now. There’s a pretty big fly fishing shop I may go check out, and go find some more fishing spots, but who knows.

Some of what was in my pack:20130813-142048.jpg

After trip thoughts:

So this trip was a great time, I’m positive I want to get into backpacking more, and I’m not longer nervous about being out in the wilderness alone. Some huge victories there! Unfortunately I picked an awful weekend to go, after I packed up I went over to the lonesome lake hut to check out what the weather would be like. It was nothing but pouring rain and major thunderstorms for days so I decided to just head out. Definitely a disappointment, but was still worth it. That afternoon a friend and I decided to go surfing down in Rhode Island, it was my first time going so I wasn’t exactly that successful. I still had a blast though! I also got to go do some rock climbing at a different rock gym than I’m used to. It was the Central Rock Gym in Worcester, and I thought it was okay, pretty small and not too much variety on the bouldering wall.
So, how was everyone else’s weekend?

Got my bike!

Finally have my 2013 Specialized RockHopper 29er mountain bike.

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I am very happy with it, even though it was on the lower price range at $800, it’s a great quality bike that will last me a long time I’m sure! I’ve had the bike for week now and I’ve already ridden it about 75 miles. This bike is definitely going to get a ton of use! I am a little bit disapointed with the grips though, they’re very comfortable but are already starting to wear down where my thumbs are. Other than that everything is holding up nicely. There’s a few things I really need to buy for it though. Today I bought a water bottle and holder so I don’t have to carry a backpack with me! I also picked up a small 69 cubic inch saddle bag to hold various things like; wallet, keys, tire patch kit, first aid supplies, tire levers, chain links, multitool.

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Since I bought the bike with the intention of doing some rather long distance rides, I’ll be looking into panniers as well, I want something that’s a decent size to carry my clothes, random odds and ends, and probably food. Also preferably insulated so if I want to ride over to the super market I don’t have to rush back with cold items. Plus the insulation seems to me like it would aid in keeping things dry. Like I mentioned in my last post, I’ll be towing my kayak with the bike too. I plan on keeping the bulkier items like; the Hammoch, sleeping bag, fishing gear, and things of that nature in the kayak when in tow. When I’m just going for an overnight ride I’ll strap those items to the luggage rack that’ll support my side bags. I may also look for another small bag kind of like a saddle bag to hold a spare tube or two and maybe a tire. I’ll also definitely need a small pump for quick flat repairs on the road. I’m really looking forward to organizing all these things on the bike when I get them. I’ve been reading about lots of people who travel the world all the time. It’s got me thinking, is it possible to just go around the world having fun (for me, going around on my bike)? I know there are programs where you work on farms with families that will put you up and give you a few bucks for your efforts. Has anyone used this type of thing to live around the world? Sounds like it would be an absolute blast! I’m sure I would meet some incredible people and learn tons of different skills along the way. Europe definitely sounds like the place to start a bike your, they cater to cyclists better than anywhere else I’ve read, although Australia and New Zealand are great places for cyclists as well. Who knows where the bike will take me. What sort of adventures have you biked on?

Awaiting my bike!

So this weekend I went out, test road the 2 bikes I have been looking at for the last 5 months, and put down a few bucks to hold the last in stock Specialized RockHopper 29er!

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I’m super excited about this bike for many reasons. The biggest reasons are; saving on gas, getting in shape without having to run, and getting back to something I used love. Before I got my license I road my bike everywhere! I had a single speed redline BMX bike. Tough to pedal uphill, tough to maintain downhill speed gain, super uncomfortable to pedal sitting down, and not great for going long distances. The furthest I remember riding in one day was 20 miles each way to the “mountain bike” trails and riding probably something like 7-8 miles of trails. A few of my friends made the ride on bmx bikes but most of them were on mountain bikes. The bmx bike handled the trails ok but not great. The mountain bike I will soon own is going to be pretty good on all but the tightest trails and will also handle nicely on long rides. I’m hoping the bigger wheels will make each mile a little easier than on a 20″-26″ bike. When I took it out to test ride it I only got to do a couple laps around the shop but I could tell the bike was definitely for me. The brakes are super responsive, the riding position was very comfortable, the ability to lock the front forks while riding seems convenient, and it felt pretty solid on the gravel/grass area I rode on. I definitely plan on doing some long distance rides with this bike, hopefully frequently, so the front fork lockout feature will be a wonderful thing! Also with this bike, I intend to tow around my kayak on a trailer system either from WIKE trailers or I’ll build something similar. The biggest advantage to this will be not having to carry my kayak a mile or two down to launch at this one spot I really like. What I currently do is drop my kayak in about 2 miles away and paddle over. That wastes a lot of time that I could spend either fishing there, paddling around looking at the wildlife(this spot is the quietest area with the most to look at), or biking through all the scenery. I think being able to ride my bike and then go kayaking will be great on those longer distance rides. If nothing else it will serve as a secure area to hold my camping gear, clothing, spare parts, etc. I’m absolutely a beginner when it comes to long distance riding so any advice will be greatly appreciated. As far as spare parts and tool kit, I’m planning on taking these items; two spare tires(probably going tubeless right away), a few chain links, 2 cables, a few spokes, hand pump, spoke wrench, chain tool, a few various wrenches for fixing on the road, and of course, duct tape. I’ll have my new bike within a month, hopefully sooner though, so check back to see what I think of the bike once I get to ride it for a few miles. Also check back for the trailer idea, I will probably end up building my own to save some money but who knows. If anyone have any input on trailers or distance riding, I’d love to hear from you, shoot me an email Sean.Dziedzic@gmail.com.

Why kayaks are great for everyone, especially fishermen

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Kayaks are a fantastic way to connect with the outdoors. I think the two biggest advantages of kayaks are their size, and their price. Yes I know some kayaks like rockpool or tiderace kayaks for example go for $3000+ but there are a plethora of options for under $1000, or even under $500. It all depends on what you intend your kayaks purpose to be and what features you really want. If you’re looking for a touring kayak you’re probably going to want something that’s long, smooth, narrow, and has ample storage space. Most people who get touring kayaks are using them in the ocean so searching for a sea kayak is a great way to do research on these. In the summer/fall 2011 issue of Kayak Angler they have a small article about Kayak Kevin. He’s a kayak fisherman who likes to take long distance trips. The kayak he uses is a sit on top ocean kayak manta which is heavy and slow, but it works well for him and plenty of other people I’m sure. Ocean kayak makes an incredible product and I’m sure his will last him a very long time. That just goes to show that any kayak can work for long distance, you just have to work with it. If you’re looking for fishing specific kayaks you’re going to find their price to be around $1000 on average fully set up. Jackson kayak makes quite a few kayaks for all sorts of purposes including fishing and they really work with you on what will work best. Other angler specific kayaks include; Wilderness Systems, Hobie Kayaks, FeelFree Kayaks, and the list goes on. Something I think is innovative about the FeelFree kayaks that definitely sets them apart is their wheel in the keel. It’s simply a plastic wheel in the rear of the kayak to allow you to roll it through the parking lot, down the trail, or in your driveway at home. Great design feature from them! One thought on fishing kayaks for anyone with a low budget or anyone who just can’t bring themselves to spend $1000+ on a kayak, build one. Something everyone used to have to do. Kayak fishing hasn’t always been a big thing. It wasn’t until somewhere around the early 2000’s that you could even find info on the sport let alone gear. Nowadays there’s magazines, competitions, forums, and people everywhere fishing in kayaks. So how do you build a fishing kayak? First place to start is with the kayak you can use any kayak you’d like, a cheap one from a sporting goods store, a nicer one from a more specialized outdoors store, or a really nice one that you’ll find in a kayak specific store. There’s only a few things that you’ll need to do to take a day tripper kayak and make it into a fishing day tripper kayak. You’ll absolutely need at least 1 rod holder, although I’d get 2-3. I currently have 2 flush mount rod holders on my kayak.

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Another type of holder is one that can be clipped around the cockpit which is great if you don’t want to drill holes. The cheapest and most helpful upgrade would have to be a paddle clip, if your kayak doesn’t come with one, so you’re not fumbling with your paddle and trying to reel in a fish. Anchors and anchor trolleys are very helpful when fishing in windy conditions or in a strong current. A lot of people really like drift socks for slower currents. Everyone I see who fishes from a sit on top kayak has a milk crate in the rear with a few rod holders, tackle box, radio, and other gear bungee corded down. If you get those few items, which costs less than $100 easily, you’ll be ready to fish all day with no issues. There is definitely other things that are nice to have. If you’re fishing in the ocean you may want a gaf or a lip gripper. Some people like nets but I see no need for them really. Another great thing to add to any kayak is either a flag or beacon so you’re visible to boats. If you’re going on long distance trips a compass is a good thing to invest in, make sure there is no metal around where you mount it though. And there ya go, a kayak that is fishing ready and safe for probably $400-500 if you get a half way decent kayak to build off of.
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I try to take good care of my kayak and you should too by washing it after most uses. I just use some car washing soap and give it a good scrub down. Depending on the kayak you may need a specific type of soap but it works fine for my kayak. What upgrades have you done to your kayak to make it better for fishing, touring, or general day tripping?