Saturday, March 24, 2018

My GoPro Documentary Rig

I wanted a small light video camera to take backpacking, so I bought a GoPro Hero 5 Black. With all the upgrades to picture quality, I thought it could make a pretty good documentary camera on it's own.

I found the audio quality of the built-in mics ... okay ... But wind noise can be bad. I saw several vloggers on YouTube testing external microphones, and decided to try the Rode VideoMicro. It noticeably improved the audio, especially in wind with the "dead cat" in place.

But the GoPro Hero 5 & 6 requires a USB-C adaptor cable with a big box that the mic plugs into. My first attempt at a rig was like many of the vlogger setups on YouTube. The mic attached to a cold shoe on top of the camera frame, with the adaptor and cable wrapped around the mic shoe.

A few of them noted problems with dead cat fur showing up in the top of frame, and I had that problem. I needed to raise it up somehow.

And I really hated the dangling box...

Back on the YouTube, one guy had built up a wad of Sugru - a kind of moldable, flexible glue - to mount the mic adaptor to the frame latch high enough that he could get to the camera's top button, then mounted the mic on top.  That inspired me ...

(More after the break)

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A Bureaucratic Solution to Appalachian Trail Thru-Hiker Issues*

The number of hikers starting Appalachian Trail thru-hikes in Georgia have increased each year such that shelter areas and campsites are beyond capacity. Hikers with scant hiking experience trash the trail with garbage, and are impacting wildlife with poor food-handling and personal hygiene practices. The impact to the trail threatens its viability, while hikers engaging in spring-break pack mentality in trail towns tests the townspeople's hospitality. At the other end of the trail, thru-hikers who fail to comply with Baxter State Park's regulations have resulted in threats to kick the AT off the iconic Mt. Katahdin.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC, has taken steps to spread out thru-hiker start dates, to encourage non-traditional hikes, and to educate them on Leave No Trace (LNT), trail ethics, and specific park policies.  Compliance is currently voluntary.

As a certified bureaucrat, I propose taking it up a notch.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

2184.9 Miles! (give or take)

That's the cumulative milage of hiking the AT in five sections. At least the way I did it. Last June I got back on the trail at VT11 in Vermont, where I got off from my 2012 southbound section, and 76 days later I hiked into Harper's Ferry, WV where I got off the previous year. Thus connecting the final two dots in the 4 year odyssey.

All the geeky details, including why that number doesn't match any Official ATC Numbers, after the jump!

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Whole Is Greater Than the Sum of the Parts

And it's making me crazy!

After spending the winter going over my gear list, measuring items to make sure I had the right weights, and stuffing it all in a big tub, my spreadsheet said my kit would be 15 lbs base weight!

Oh blissful Nirvana! With 4 days of food and a liter of water, I'd start out with a comfortable 25 lbs on my back!

So, with a week to go before hitting the trail, I packed my bag w/o food or water, put it on, and got on the bathroom scale.  Together we weighed 217.4 lbs, and alone I weighed 197.8 (ugh). Subtracting the latter from the former yielded 19.6 lbs. Yikes! The whole was greater than the sum of the parts by 4.6 lbs!

Where did that 4.6 lbs come from?

628 Miles To Go ...

Next week I'll start the final leg of my Appalachian Trail section hike. I'm meeting Blue Jay in upstate New York, and we'll drive up to the trail crossing near Manchester, VT where I got off in 2012. From there we'll hike south to the Connecticut border where we'll likely part company. I'll then continue to Harper's Ferry for the big finish.

We may be doing some kind of car cross where he drops me off, drives south to the next road crossing, hikes north until we meet, hands me the keys, and then I'll drive up to pick him up when I get to the car. Rinse and repeat as necessary.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

On becoming a 99.968% pure, flip-flop, flip-flopping, blue-blazing, slack-packing, long-assed section hiker!

Before I started my hike I had logged way too many hours on, and knew I was gonna be a Purist!* Well mostly pure. I mean, I wasn't quite so anal that when I hitched into town from the south side of the road, then hitched back and got out of the car on the north side, that I'd feel compelled to walk back across the street to the south side to put on my pack and walk back to the north side so as not to miss 30 ft of "trail." If faced with a downed tree blocking the trail, I wouldn't push my foot under the tree as far as I could, then walk around the tree and push my foot in to touch the other footprint like some whose puriosity was decidedly greater than mine.

But I'd take the same trail out of a shelter area as the one I took in. I'd never blue-blaze*, never slack-pack*. I'd always leave my campsite better than I found it. And like any good purist, I'd loath yellow blazers*.

Friday, May 15, 2015

My New Bug Suit

Back when I was first planning my AT hike, I outlined my completely rational fear of Ixodes scapularis - aka the Deer Tick, aka the Black Legged Tick - The most common vector for Lyme disease. I had explored various strategies to avoid having those nasty hitchhikers latch on to me, and decided to use a combination of deet, and clothing treated with permethrin by Insect Shield. Such clothing protects one from insects thru 70 washings, vice do-it-yourself treatments which last 2-6 weeks, and 6 launderings.

Several major manufacturers of outdoor clothing offer such clothing, but I couldn't find any at my local outfitters. I turned to online vendors, and I outfitted myself with an ExOfficio Bugs-away Halo shirt and a pair of Columbia Bug Shield Cargo Pants - Both utilized Insect Shield treatment. I wore those thru several sections of the AT and experienced no ticks, nor any mosquito bites on areas covered by the fabric. I did have a tick latch on to my sock and crawl down inside.

I hadn't heard of Insect Shield treated socks ...

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Virginia Is Not Flat!

I had two goals for this summer. To complete my hike of the Appalachian Trail in one, long-assed section. From where I got off last summer, to where I got off in Vt back in 2012. And to do it without injury.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Slackdown at Jim and Molly's!

"Blue Jay 5" and I had been hiking together for several days through Shenandoah. Well … we’d been camping together. He’d leave camp early and stop early. I’d leave late and get to camp right about at sunset. I was on my annual section hike towards completion of the trail. He was on his annual section hike with no particular goal, having previously completed a thru hike.

From the moment we met, we were in near constant competition as to who was the most Slack - While being fully aware of, and not struggling at all with the inherent contradictions therein.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

How cold could it get?

My next Appalachian Trail section hike is from the James River Footbridge, to Manchester Center, VT in early June. Hoping to keep my weight down, my summer-weight equipment plan sports a 50 deg top-quilt, a 40 deg under-quilt, a lightweight merino base layer, a goretex rain jacket, light merino glove liners, a merino buff, and a windshirt.

Thought I better make sure that's gonna be sufficient. After all, it's still gonna be spring in the mountains...