The Boothill: Danner Mountain 600 Enduroweave


Last summer I bought a pair of these babies after a friend of mine extolled the virtues of a non-waterproof footwear for hiking in the warmer months.

I ended up doing quite a bit of off trail travel in the Cascades with the last pair, and really beat the hell out of them. They did well enough though, that I figured on an actual maintained trail, they’d hold up even better.

At $160USD, they’re not the cheapest boot, but also not gonna leave you in the poor house, and hell they’re made in America so, Yay USA!

I probably put less than 50 town miles on the boots before I hit the trail, so by the time I laced them up down on the Mexican Border I was still digging that new shoe smell…

Not too worse for wear!

MILE 112

So far so good! Some minor wear and tear, but no real damage to the boots or the soles, but at the toe, the rubber is starting to ever-so-slightly separate from the boot.

Not many people wearing boots out here in the desert, people seem to be wearing trail runners with low gaiters mostly.

A few people have asked me if wearing boots in the desert heat isn’t like rocking a pair of Easy Bake Ovens on my feet, but really the feets haven’t got excessively sweaty at all, and I’m loving the ankle support.

Houston, we have a problem.

MILE 266

The boots are getting rather chewed up now. What started as light abrasion just behind the left foot big toe is now a total breach of the outer layer.

I really dig these boots, but a reoccurring thought of mine is that they really need some extra armor over the toe box and other key points to protect against abrasion.

They’re obviously due for a replacement in the next couple hundred miles, which is a bit disappointing, having had higher hopes for this pair.

MILE 363

I decided to swap the Danners out in Wrightwood after buying a pair of Altra Lone Peak 4’s.

By this point the boots had developed a long tear along the bottom of the left boot, where the fabric meets the sole.

Although a thin inner layer remained, I felt that it was best not to change a critical boot failure out in the middle of nowhere.



Overall I liked these boots, but will not likely buy them again.

My last pair did alright over a summer of weekend trips in the cascades, but the day to day punishment of the PCT was just too much.

While there is much to like about the Enduroweave boots, ultimately I feel that for the price, there’s much better options, at least out here on the PCT.


Pratt Mountain 5099′

To many visitors, Pratt Mountain, or simply “The Pratt” as it’s called by woodland hipsters, appears to be a giant heap of talus rising from the montane forest…

…and it pretty much is.


(From Talapus Lake TH)

  • 2400ft / 730m gain
  • 10mi / 16km round trip
  • <0.5mi/0.8km offtrail



“The Pratt” composes the north east buttress of a high plateau which holds a number of popular alpine lakes just north of the I90. Especially popular on summer weekends!

The shortest distance approach is from Talapus Lake trailhead, but can be also accessed from Ira Spring TH or Granite Mountain TH, whatever way you choose, you’ll want to end up around Rainbow Lake.

Rising behind the lake is the southwest face of Pratt Mountain; the aforementioned giant pile of talus. A non technical, but talus-y ascent awaits you.

Along the trail just east of Rainbow Lake, a handful of foot paths head up through trees to these rocky slopes, where one can contour northwest along the ridge to the summit.

There’s a good view of the surrounding peaks from the top o’ the Pratt. Just south one might be able to spy hikers atop Bandera Mountain, or yonder east at the Granite Mountain Fire Lookout.

Throw them a wave, or give em the bird! It’s basically the same gesture at this distance!


A round trip up “The Pratt” can be done as a day trip, but for those who like to stretch it out, there are ample camping opportunities.

There are nine lakes of size in the area, many with established campsites. During the summer months some of these lakes can be very popular with campers, so treat your water, and plan accordingly.


Make yourself a “Pratt Bratt” t shirt to commemorate your ascent! Fabric safe puffy paint works great!

A Sharpie marker works too, if you’re a habitual half ass.

I have a strong feeling that such a shirt could even help you make friend (s)!


You’ll need a Northwest Trail Pass to park at either the Talapus Lake TH or Ira Spring TH or you might get a ticket.

A self issued wilderness pemit is required for travel in wilderness areas, and is usually available at the trailhead.


Pratt Bratt pics 19NOV2018

Candy Point Trail

This short but steep hike in Coulee Dam, WA leads to some of the best views to be had of the most powerful hydroelectric generating station in North America.


  • 2mi +- (3.2km)
  • 700′ elevation gain (213m)
  • Steep trail, often hot sun, little shade
  • Great views of Grand Coulee Dam
  • Can be hiked the whole year round


Work began on the Grand Coulee Dam in 1933 as part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal”.

In 1937 the Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC, constructed the trail to the Candy Point Top to provide views of the massive dam, which was completed in 1942.

In 1991, the trail was rebuilt through the efforts of the Grand Coulee Dam Rotary Club.

Some 26 years later, in 2017, Washington Trail Association volunteers repaired sections of the trail, and cleared overgrowth from the 80 year old grade.


I can’t think of many other trails that offer as much as the Candy Point Trail in such a short distance; Nature, history and some great views of a legitimate world wonder.

Access is via two odd trailheads; neither of which really seem like trailheads at all…

One of them is along North Columbia Ave, and appears as a sign in someone’s yard. From there you walk across their lawn (I know it sounds weird, but they’re cool with it) to gain access to the trail.

The other is behind city hall at the top of Douglas Ave. Initially I thought this boot path was going to lead me to a hobo encampment or a teenage pot smoking spot, but no, this is the trail…

…or the real one is a short distance away in the same parking lot, I dunno.

This is the way I hiked it.


From behind City Hall: Follow a bootpath dipping into a brushy draw behind the parking lot. A makeshift bridge of rock and debris sometimes span diminutive Fiddle Creek which lies at the bottom of the draw.

The path then begins to head up, passing by a fenced off railroad tunnel, which a plaque describes was abandoned before it was ever even used.

The trail continues up the Fiddle Creek draw, in many places up well constructed rock steps placed by the CCC so many years ago.

Looking back as you gain, the mammoth concrete impoundment creates a surreal backdrop over the picturesque Grand Coulee old town.

From here one can fully appreciate the town’s placement as more than just a show of trust, perhaps rather trust defined.

At what seems like the top, the trail begins snaking up the grassy backside of the 1765′ point. Oh, that reminds me…

This is rattlesnake country!

Keep an eye and ear out for snakes!

Around the Candy Point top is the remains of some sort of radio equipment, and an eyeful of views of the damn big dam.

A spur trail in this area also leads over to the parking area at the Crown Point overlook to the north.

The route then begins to travel down a draw sloping to the north east, steeply traveling downward upon the CCC’s well built grade.

At the bottom you’ll find yourself in someone’s yard; “I dunno man, you sure it’s cool to cross here? I ain’t trying to get shot after avoiding all the cliffs and snakes, I worked too hard for this!”

Prepare your best “but teh internetz sed it wuz k” face, then cross the grass to the road. You might even see the sign over there. (No really, they’re cool with it!”)

You’re now on North Columbia Ave, follow it south, past the bank and into Cole Park. There, a much better bridge spans Fiddle Creek and will put you on a long, diagonal sidewalk back up to City Hall where you parked.

…or turn around and do it the other way, the world is your oyster!


Step one is to get yourself to Coulee Dam, WA, which you’ll find in the north central part of the state.

Step two is to pick your trailhead. There’s some parking up at City Hall at the top of Douglas Ave, or street parking on North Columbia Ave.

If you’ve crossed the bridge to the north side of town, you’re on the wrong side of the river.

••••••••¡click here for more pics!•••••••

Monte Pugh en Otoño

Took a jaunt up Mount Pugh 23SEP2018…

Trail was in quite good condition, with perhaps only a couple minor obstacles.

Ran into a few parties along the way; maybe ten humans and a dog in total.

Light snow started after the knife ridge, at about 6100′.

At the summit there was an inch or so of snow, and a vista socked in by water vapor.

Views began to give way on the trip down, when the cloud level finally rose a couple thousand feet off ground level.

Fall colors were in abundance.

Besides the humans and their canine, a few pikas were the only wildlife to note.

☆☆☆☆Klick for more pics!☆☆☆☆

Fungus Debriefing #1

2018SEP16: The preceding weeks brought some rain to the western mountains, a good sign to the savvy mushroomer.

Vine maple leaves were beginning to turn; reds and yellows. Sometimes the clash of colors appeared like a still life wildfire burning up the hillsides.

Manic weather dumped a few solid sheets of rain before ebbing into a mixed nebula of moisture. A benevolent window opened up later in the day, seemingly rewarding all those who rode it out.

My first finds were some soggy lobster mushrooms; not impressive, but at least I knew they were out there.

“Missed ’em by a week!”

This was a repeating phrase I heard in my head as I started the hike to another area I knew to be productive in the past.

When I got there I immediately ran into more soggy lobsters poking up out of the duff.

“Told ya, missed em by a week!”

Not far away, at the base of a young Douglas fir, I spotted a large cauliflower mushroom. The outer lobes seemed clean and free of infestation.

Harvesting only the choicest parts of the big mushroom, I thought it best to leave much of the fungal mass remaining to do it’s thing.

After that it seemed my luck took a little upturn and I scared up a few lobsters in prime shape. I also discovered a pair of chantrelles; one yellow and one white.

No big wildlife sightings, but the ruffed grouse were abundant.

More pics: Fungus Debriefing


LOC: A-1,2

The Fat Bike Diaries #1

“Gravity Bullseye Monster”

No, not the methamphetamine charged energy drink only available from the mysterious corners of the Darknet or self proclaimed micro states floating in international waters, I’m talking ’bout my new “fat bike”!

What’s a fat bike, you ask… Well, it’s basically a mountain bike with huge tires…

In this case 4 inch wide trail tearing, holy f#!÷&ing $#!+ ripping, vulcanized fury!!!

Sorry, that was the other Gravity Bullseye Monster talking…

A case of these things showed up a couple days after the bike, must have been a mix up! I thought they banned this stuff in the states… Oh well, down the hatch!


The bike was simple to assemble and required very little tuning to get it running nice. I’d never ridden a bike with tires so wide, and some differences became immediately apparent…

PROTIP: You know those suburban curbs that are gently curved? They will try and throw your ass right off one of these things if you’ve got the tires too low! Watch out!

Aside from almost getting curb hurled, it was a pretty enjoyable first ride, but jeez, lugging those big wheels around is a real ‘b’!

Then, when I got home and pumped the tires up to the correct pressure…

it was like riding a whole different bike! Much, much more fun, and no lugging!

Protip: Correctly inflate your tires.


Took the bike to Japanese Gulch to ride with my friend J-Bird. It did awesome on the trails!

We got down to the access road along the ballast, which is basically a long mixed gravel hill which parallels a railroad spur.

J-Bird pulls away so fast that it’s clear to me that he no longer has any regard for his life. I’m timidly feathering my brakes as he disappears around the next bend like a low flying cruise missle.

I was taking a slightly more sane approach, and it was going just fine for me. That is until I started into a patch of really chunky, loose rock. Suddenly it was as if I was riding a mechanical bull hurtling downhill in a shopping cart.

I knew I was screwed, so I ditched before being tossed a dozen feet down the railroad embankment.

The crash landing left me a crumpled mess of man, bike and rocks, but better off than at the bottom of the ditch. As I began to unfurl from the wreck, I smiled and waved at a woman and her dog, who were gawking from a short distance away.

“No, really! I’m doing this for fun!”

The rest of the ride went better, except that my right pedal started twisting out of its thread, most likely due to my mechanical ineptitude. When we got back I was able to reset it, however it had suffered some damage to the threading.

Oh well, what are ya gonna do?

Think I’ll crack open another can of Gravity Bullseye Monster and work on the pedal for ten hours… man, these things are good… so much energy! Gonna go disassemble the shed and count the nails!

Tune in next time for The Fat Bike Diaries #2

“Mine Tunnel Hill”

Once again I was pouring over some maps and saw something that piqued my interest: “Mine Tunnel” written above a little adit symbol, and well off the beaten path…

As lonely as a Sears parking lot


Not far beyond the long, low bridge spanning the Carbon River at the same named entrance to Mt.Rainier, there is a logging road branching westward just before you reach a huge shooting quarry. This is the de facto trailhead for this trip.

Logging roads zigzag Burnt Mountain, if you follow the correct combination (think up and east), it’ll put you on the highest, furthest eastward landing. From here it’s offtrail to the ridge.

You may occasionally see flags, but it’s pretty much game trails through trees and brush. A couple wide open areas of scree/talus are hidden in the trees and can make a good place to ascend.  

There are also a few rock outctops hidden on the hillside that you’ll probably want to be avoiding. 

Burnt Mountain Pond, maybe.

Once atop the ridge I started coming down broken snow on the other side via an easy contour clearly visible on the map. 

A tea stained mountain pond (Burnt Mountain Pond?) lies at the base of the contour as does another logging road. 

Other amenities include; the remains of some aluminum lawn furniture, pieces of a TV and a fire ring.

From this small camp it’s a little less than three and a half miles to “Mine Tunnel” Oh Joy!

Hill 3361′ aka “Mine Tunnel Hill”


Again on logging roads, the hiking is non technical but you’ll really want a map out here. It’s a maze!

Much of my walk was amongst low clouds this time around, but I got a clear view to Tacoma at one point, and there were some interesting basalt columns in a roadside quarry. 

Eventually a rather large hill appeared a distance away, “Mine Tunnel Hill” presumably. 

Before reaching the hill, the correct way makes a hairpin turn and is marked by an orange gate. Shortly thereafter the road crosses a railroad flatcar bridge spanning a fork of Gale Creek.

Right around where the “Unsolved Mysteries” vibe begins


Just up ahead was the site. I won’t lie, my expectations were low. I figured there probably wouldn’t be anything at all, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there was in fact a hole in the ground!

Right along the road, half covered in crap is a little adit, pretty much exactly where the map said it’d be. It’s not too deep, maybe ten feet if you really tried to stretch it. 

Peering into its depths I could see such historic artifacts as; a few discard plastic bottles and a half buried piece of wood. 

“Well that was that, time to walk my ass back up the hill!”

Well I’ll be damned, there really is a tunnel. Sort of.


  • Approx 7.5mi; 6.5 mi on logging roads, 1 mi off trail (One way)
  • Map or navigational device is a must.
  • As a historic mining site, probably not worth the time to all but the most devout. Good destination for wandering esoteric types.
Untold riches my ass!


    On the way up the roads on the south side of Burnt Mountain I ran into a fella up at the landing before jumping offtrail. 

    He told me about other trails in the area and we both agreed how strange it was to see another person on Burnt Mountain. 

    The fellow wanderer also mentioned that the logging roads on the north side are sometimes accessible from Wilkeson with a high clearance vehicle… So if you’re interested in a logging-road road-trip, there’s an idea for ya. 

    There’s a nearby area on Gale Creek marked “falls”. If for some reason I’m ever out here again, I’d probably check it out. 

    Off trail in yellow


    Mines and mining ruins are inherently dangerous and should NOT be entered.

    ¡STAY OUT, STAY ALIVE! & Happy Trails!

    Zig Zag Fuel Truck

    “I was able to take this picture before the truck caught my scent and fled back into the forest

    Took the short, reasonably steep hike up to see the old truck on top of Zig Zag mountain.

    The trail is in decent shape, though a pair of loppers and a hand saw could be put to some good use in sections.

    Snow began at about 3300′ and soon become continuous to the truck. The snow was easily navigated without spikes or snowshoes however. It was snowing intermittently at 4000′.

    Mountain Goats were out doing their thing!  One goat was seen grazing on the slopes of Middle Mountain Mountain (MMM Ridge) and a group of four was encountered at the hairpin corner at around 3300′ on Zig Zag. 

    No other hikers were encountered on this trip.

    Passing under the old Milwaukee Road


    • Trail is snow free to about 3300′
    • Goats were encountered.
    • A pair of loppers and a hand saw could be useful to clear overgrowth and blow down. 
    • Zig Zag is part of a large collection of homebrew trails and old logging roads. Lots of room to wander! 
    • 3mi to truck, 2800′ gain
    Squint your eyes and use your imagination. Voila! Goats!

      Happy Trails!

      Surprise Gap Snowshoe 

      DAY ONE

      Weather predictions were promising for the weekend, though you’d never be able to guess by looking out of the rain spattered windshield as Nealbob and I drove by Skykomish.

      In little time we were at the Surprise Creek trailhead, a few cars were parked near the kiosk. Wandering patches of rain and chilly spring temperatures persuaded me to throw on my rain gear.

      Right off the bat I was wondering how long I’d be giving my snowshoes a piggyback ride up the hill, but before long the grade gave way to boot packed snow. I happily untethered the snowshoes from my bag and kept them on my feet the rest of the trip. They’d be totally indispensable later! 

      Avalanche heaps bedecked the open slopes of the lower Surprise Creek Valley and a particularly large one reached down the eastern slope far enough that the footpath was forced to cross it’s undulating surface. 

      Beyond the slide we passed two parts of a single party with about 15 mins in between them. Both had turned back at/or around the climb up the outlet stream. Another party we encountered along the way said they’d been to Surprise Lake and not much further beyond.

      The climb up the hill was straightforward, but required crossing some decaying snow bridges and skirting a drop off or two which kept it fun. 

      At Surprise Lake (4508′) we consistently started hitting deeper snow that made travel without snowshoes very difficult, which limited the further travels of Nealbob on this outing. 

      Home is wherever you find it.


      Adequately traveled for the day, we set up camp in a patch of trees near the outlet of the lake. 

      After boiling up a bit of hot tea and some post hike conversing, I donned my snowshoes again to see if I couldn’t catch a break in the clouds up at Glacier Lake (4806′). Nealbob’s canine companion Dora decided to join me on the relatively short journey. 

      In about a mile over crusty forest snow, the dog and I arrived at the north end of the lake. Conditions had improved to reveal views to Surprise Gap (5800′) but with a constant cloud cap right around the 6200′ level. 

       Jack London Calling

      DAY TWO

      The night was cold, but after throwing on all my layers and wrapping tight in my 30°F bag, it wasn’t unpleasant. 

      Above me, transient morning clouds were glowing with the promise of a sunny day as I fired some water for coffee to get the day caffeinated. 

      Snores were coming from Nealbob’s tent as I ambled out of camp on my morning tour. Dora wasn’t far behind. 

      Glacier Lake was the first destination and made for some stunning scenery as the clouds had now broken and let the blue of the sky tantalize us earthbound mortals.  

      Trees are the view so saith the bumper sticker

      Dora and I trammeled the untouched snow along the east shore of the lake, snapping pics and plodding along in the general direction of Surprise Gap. 

      In a clearing we encountered a set of weathered ski tracks, the only tracks I’d seen since Surprise Lake, but opted not to follow.

      Breaking out of the trees and into the vast avalanche bowl at the head of the valley, the change in contrast was blinding. 

      I plopped my butt down near some squat trees right at the base of Surprise Mountain and took in the views and some nourishing trail sustenance. Dora tried to eyeball me out of my mixed nuts and granola. “I already gave you my jerky!”

      Surprise Mountain slide

      UP THE GAP

      Refueled and rewatered, the two of us set off up the gap. The scenery grew wider with each crunchy step up the hard frozen snow. 

      Along the east side of the bowl I again noticed the set of ski tracks, a small avalanche had covered a portion of the otherwise unbroken line. 

      We headed for the shady side to make our ascent, crossing the ski tracks as they switchbacked to the top.  

      At the top of the gap a light wind was blowing from the south, it felt good after the trudge. The ski tracks curiously continued on down towards the Deception Lakes. 

      Wonder where they were headed…

      Descending the gap


      By the time Dora and I returned to camp, Nealbob had already broken down his kit and was snapping pics of the much improved scenery. 

      I put on one last pot of coffee as I started packing my little home back into my bag. The light of the sun was now filling the entire Surprise Creek Valley, and turning the snow into mush. Glad I had my snowshoes! 

      Just after descending the steeper section of the route, we passed a determined fellow headed up the hill in a pair of shorts and high tops. 

      “How far is it to the lake?”, he asked. 

      Oh, ya got maybe another mile or so and a bit of gain.” we answered “Good luck!”

      With that, he postholed through the slush and off into the trees…


      • Trail is snow covered for most of its length. 
      • Snowshoes were helpful, and necessary for travel beyond Surprise Lake. (Unless you love to posthole)
      • Beware decaying snow bridges. 
      • Be mindful of ever changing snow conditions.
      • Avalanche is a very real danger in the mountains, educate yourself before traveling in avalanche terrain.
      El lobo y el lago


          A camp site conversation touched on the possibility of adding instant apple cider mix to some oatmeal. Nealbob and I agreed it could be a winner.

          Happy Trails…

          Build your own #10 Stove

          Familiar with DIY rocket stoves? Sometime ago I wrote a semi coherent rant I called “The Hobo and the Rocket” in which we dove into some tin can stove history and design.

          Give it a read to get a little background, or read on… 


          I’m not going to tell you that I’m the first guy to have this idea but it just hit me the other day…

          So, I was holding a #10 can… You know, the giant cans that are usually filled with something wonderfully obscure and industrial… like butterscotch pudding! 

          Anyway, my mind always wanders to Rocket Stoves around #10 cans, so I says to myself:

          “Look jackass, if you turn it upside down, pop a hole in the lid and on the side there, that’s all you need!”

          …and I was right! (but like I said I’m not EVEN trying to own it)

          So. Ya. That’s pretty much it. Pop a couple holes in that son of a gun. 

          One of two tools you will need


          • Gloves, PPE etc.
          • Adequately strong tin snips
          • Can opener
          • #10 Can or Coffee can

          HOW TO BUILD IT

            1. Open the can using the can opener. (Optional step: Binge eat contents)
            2. Remove lid. On the other lid, use the can opener to cut 1/4 to 1/2 way around.
            3. Bend the lid into the can at 45-90°ish angle. This hole is the chimney.
            4. Use tin snips to cut out an opening to preferred size (3″-4″ish square) opposite the chimney on the open end.  (This will be the fuel/air intake and your delightful fireside view)
            5. Get a fire roaring and burn out the toxic can lining before cooking with the #10 Stove. 
            Turn the dial to “11”

            THE VERDICT

            Shoot, I wish there was more to write, but I think this is it… 

            The #10 Stove is simple to build, cheap, and it gets the water boiling fast with just a few handfuls of kindling. Try using a handy dandy firestarter to really get it going! 

            Construction is much less complex than an insulated rocket stove and the results are just as good, at least on the #10 can size scale. 

            No extra parts means extra ease if you decide to drag one of these babies out to a favorite secret camp spot or wherever. 

            Give it a try and you’ll probably agree!

            Simplicity is a good thing! 

            HAPPY TRAILS!