Month: October 2013

Outdoor Research Longhouse Gloves

Outdoor Research Longhouse Gloves Review Outdoor Research Longhouse Gloves Review Outdoor Research Longhouse Gloves ReviewFrom OR, “a warm fleece glove with a thick pile backing for warmth, the Longhouse Gloves™ are made for casual, low-key adventures in brisk weather.”

The material is 100% polyester, heathered, sweater knit with silicon grip pads.

I got the Longhouse Gloves for a steal at $12 from the REI Outlet and a 20% off coupon code. I’ve only had these bad boys for about 3 weeks, but I can definitely say that these are one of the best $12 purchases I’ve ever made.

The Longhouse Glove is incredibly versatile with use as an outdoor and commuter glove. These seem to run fairly true to size. Mine are a size small and fit quite snugly with a ton of give so you can perform day-to-day activities without strangling your fingers or losing mobility. (For reference, I’m 5 feet tall and approximately 105 pounds)

The fleece knit material is lightweight and warm as a daily driver. The Longhouse Gloves also make a great cool weather hiking glove. Breathable and light, it provides adequate protection from the wind and cold. The fleece is a bit on the thicker side, so these might not work as well as a liner glove.

Cons? The wrist gauntlet is a little bulky and can be hard to tuck under my sleeve for seamless integration. These don’t seem to be super well made; the fingers seem to be pulling at the seams on the right hand and some of the silicon pads are starting to lift from the fabric. Oh, and the”OR” logo might be off putting for those who don’t want to be a giant brand billboard.

All in all, $12 wasn’t too bad of a price, so they still get an A in my book. Buy through Moosejaw ($30) or REI ($14.97).

Desolation Wilderness: Bayview Trail to Middle Velma Lake

Hike: Bayview Trail to Middle Velma Lake
Where: Desolation Wilderness
Trailhead: Bayview Trailhead off of HW89 (across from Inspiration Point)
Level: Moderate
Duration: 6 hours, 38 minutes
Length: 10~ miles out and back
Fitbit Steps: 29,997
Gear: CamelBak Women’s Aventura 100oz Hydration Pack, Icebreaker Women’s Tech T Lite T-Shirt, Ahnu Women’s Montara Waterproof Boot, Black Diamond trekking poles
Cost of Parking: Free on the side of HW 89 and at the trailhead

I’d been hearing all these things about how gorgeous Tahoe is in the summer, but somehow, after living in the Bay Area for the last 23 years of my life, I’d never been. Ended up googling this Desolation Wilderness place and drove out here with the boyfriend back in early September for a short weekend trip.

My first experience with Desolation Wilderness was phenomenal. This is my new favorite place.

The Bayview trail begins with mellow ascent beneath redwoods with Emerald Bay on your right up to Granite Lake on your left. This is just the first bit of picturesque freshwater bodies on this hike.

Desolation Wilderness, Bayview Trailhead to Middle Velma Lake reviewDesolation Wilderness, Bayview Trailhead to Middle Velma Lake review

After passing Granite Lake, make your way up steep granite switchbacks until you reach the top of the hill. You’ve finished the most strenuous part of the hike! Bask in the beauty of the wilderness in front of you and follow the trail down the hill to where the trail splits to Eagle Lake. Stay to the left to make your way towards the Velmas.

Traverse through open terrain until you come up to a lake on your left. This is Upper Velma Lake.

Desolation Wilderness, Bayview Trailhead to Middle Velma Lake review

From there, follow the trail across a stream. This stream feeds into Lower Velma Lake, but more on that in another post. Follow the trail until you reach another split. Stay to the right to make your way to Middle Velma Lake. I believe the trail loops around to Fontanillis, but I am not sure. I hear it’s gorgeous; it’s still on my to do list.

Desolation Wilderness, Bayview Trailhead to Middle Velma Lake review

Once the lake is near and in your sights, feel free to venture off the trail and frolick across the granite to its edge. There are some great spots to drop your pack and jump in.

Desolation Wilderness, Bayview Trailhead to Middle Velma Lake review

One thing though, the bottom is incredibly rocky, slippery, and muddy. If you’re planning on swimming, bring a pair of water booties. Your feet will thank you.

Desolation Wilderness, Bayview Trailhead to Middle Velma Lake review

Once you’re done, trace your steps back to the trail and head back home.

To sum up this hike: initial steep ascent with switchbacks, picturesque lakes, crossing a stream, granite structures everywhere, beautiful.

Here’s the EveryTrail guide I partially followed for this hike, kinda: http://www.everytrail.com/guide/backpacking-in-desolation-wilderness

Just as an FYI, these guys decided to randomly bushwhack at the top of the hill when the trail is right there! Use the trail, be happy!

Tarptent Scarp 2 in Desolation Wilderness

Tarptent Scarp 2 review Tarptent Scarp 2 review Tarptent Scarp 2 review

Am currently in the process of trying to squeeze as much fun as possible into the last bit of warm sunshine for the year, so ended up doing a brief weekend trip to Desolation Wilderness and the Velmas.

The boyfriend and I just got the Tarptent Scarp 2 for our adventures. What better place to christen it than Tahoe?

The Tarptent Scarp 2 is a roomy 2-person, 4-season tent. Forgot to take photos of the inside, but you can fit two people comfortably. And three people not as comfortably.

It’s got a nice inner compartment with two entry ways and two vestibules on opposite ends. Don’t want to wait for your slow tentmate to take his/her shoes off and get inside? No problem, because you have your own entrance. The vestibules are also roomy enough to shelter your packs from most of the elements.

Setup supposedly is under 2 minutes, but the inital tries took around 10-15 minutes to figure out all the bits and pieces and nuances of the tent. The tent has one main pole that will serve for most mild conditions (pictured above). For windy and snowy situations, optional 17 oz. cross poles are also available to stabilize the tent further.

Missing from the above photos are the cross poles. Unfortunately, we did not bring those cross poles on this trip and our tent was subject to gale force winds.

The tent does surprisingly well in cold weather, retaining some heat and keeping wind and rain at bay. I wanted to stay curled up in my sleeping bag forever as the wind howled around us.

The Scarp 2 is a fairly light shelter at 60 oz. Split between two people, it feels like nothing. It’s a on the slightly bulkier side due to size, but the weight is barely noticeable. I will sacrifice that bit of extra space for more wiggle room in the tent any day.

At $339 for the tent, it’s on the pricier end of things, but if you have the cash, the space, weight and versatility are well worth it.

Tarptents are handmade in Nevada City, CA. For full specs, please visit the Tarptent website here.