For the first time since March, I’ve been home for an entire month straight. It’s been awesome, with much more time to spend with Amanda, to take care of the business’s backend, and to run and hike in Boulder’s open space.
In specific regards to the latter, I’ve been climbing Green Mountain (8,144′) several times per week, spaced apart by easier efforts. From my front door, it takes 60-ish minutes to run the 5 miles and 2,650 vertical feet to the summit. When I want to hike it, I drive to the iconic Chautauqua Meadows because I don’t have the patience to walk the first 2 miles and 500 vertical feet, especially while carrying a 45-lb backpack loaded with bricks, which has been my MO.
If I keep up with this training, I should be well positioned to boggie on hikes later this month and next, my final guided trips of the year in September, and my elk hunt in October.
I wanted to share three items that I’ve been especially happy with during this training:
Shorts: Salomon Light Short
I wear the Light Short daily, and not because I don’t have other shorts to wear. In fact, I now wear them into my post-hike shower so that they will be clean and ready to go tomorrow.
What distinguishes these shorts is the waistband, which is 3 inches wide on the inside of the short, versus the normal 1-1.5. This results in a wonderfully snug fit and supportive liner; loose liners lead to uncomfortable bouncing and between-leg chafing. The exterior face fabric is light and dries quickly, not dissimilar from other well designed running shorts.
The 4-inch inseam is longer than my other running shorts (that I also use for hiking), but I don’t find that my stride is constricted, and they’re also a bit more modest than split shorts with a 2-inch inseam.
Shoes: Salomon Eskape Aero (Ellipse Aero for women)
For a budget-minded shoe, the Eskape Aero performs surpsingly well. I’ve worn it on most of my backpacking trips this year, including in Big Bend, three Appalachian locations (NC, WV, NH), and Colorado, plus all of my training hikes. Great fit, durability, and breathability; good underfoot protection, traction, and weight. In wet conditions, they absorb water, but not noticeably more than most other hiking shoes.
In sandy environments (e.g. Escalante), I’d advise a different model because sand pours into the airy mesh. Likewise, I’d avoid other Salomon shoes featuring the Quicklace system for sandy places, as the fine sand grains fray the laces.
An elk isn’t a small animal, and I knew I would have to look outside the normal backpacking brands to find a pack that would “comfortably” carry a 100-pound load if I were successful in putting down an animal. But I still didn’t want it to weigh much because I expected to do a lot of hiking before I ever got to use my rifle.
I found what I wanted with Kifaru, founded by Patrick Smith (of Mountainsmith) and based down the road in Golden. The Bikini Platform Frame + Highcamp Bag dedicates almost all of its 4.5 pounds to hauling weight: two super stiff stays, oversized and generously padded body/pack contact points (lumbar, hips, back shoulders), and reinforced reinforcement points everywhere. In shorts, it’s a beast, and it swallows easily the 45-lb load of bricks that I put in it. By UL standards, it’s overbuilt and has a mess of straps, buckles, and daisy chains, but I think for this application the enhanced versatility is ultimately a plus.
Disclaimer. I am given a lot of gear to use and test, including the items discussed above. I don’t promote all of it; in fact, very little of it, and only the things that I genuinely would recommend.