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Mount Baker

A Buyer’s Guide for a Novice Climber Part 1

In a few days I’ll be climbing Mount Baker in Seattle Washington. Because this will be my first major climb, I really don’t know what to expect and having scenes from the movie Everest replay in my mind is not very reassuring. With an elevation of 10,781’ Mount Baker is the third highest mountain in Washington State. Let’s hope all those recent weekend hikes in Northern New Jersey and New York will be enough preparation.

Besides preparing physically, there has been a lot of climbing gear that I’ve had to purchase. Thankfully the guides on this climb have provided a comprehensive list of the items I will need. I’ll briefly go over some items and the brand/model I ended up purchasing or renting. Hope this provides some insight when you need to gear up for your first climb. Read More

America the Beautiful Pass: Your Ticket to the National Parks is the Greatest Value in America

A Pass to See America’s Greatest Natural Treasures


This year marks the 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service. America’s 59 National Parks (called America’s Best Idea by documentary filmmaker Ken Burns) are located in 27 different states. Some of the scenes in these parks are so iconic that they can be found on state license plates (for example, Delicate Arch in Arches National Park is on Utah’s). Chances are, you live near a National Park. You may even go frequently. While the parks themselves are an undoubtedly great value, the $20-25 entrance fees can really add up.

Over the last decade or so, I’ve had the great fortune of being able to visit many parks. Right before my first overseas deployment, I was fortunate enough to visit the Grand Canyon and Badlands National Parks. For a good friend’s bachelor party, we hiked Angel’s Landing in Zion. After my second deployment to Iraq, my wife and I went to Acadia. The landscapes in all of these places are just astounding. With so much noise intrusion and pollution in our everyday lives, the golden silence just a mile from the trailhead is priceless.

I had heard of a mythical thing called an annual pass that would allow you access to these parks a few years ago. I never had the presence of mind to buy one (our trips to the parks were intermittent and we would always forget about it until we got back) and so I made it a point to research the pass before our most recent vacation this year. I discovered that for just $80, you can get a pass that will allow you unlimited entrance into the whole range of National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges. Per the National Park Service:

“A pass is your ticket to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. Each pass covers entrance fees at national parks and national wildlife refuges as well as standard amenity fees (day use fees) at national forests and grasslands, and at lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A pass covers entrance, standard amenity fees and day use fees for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle at per vehicle fee areas (or up to four adults at sites that charge per person). Children age 15 or under are admitted free.”

We were planning to visit several parks during our 2016 road trip and so I went online to the USGS website and purchased the pass. Five business days later I had it in my hands. So how did my trip go? And was the pass worth it?

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Leatherman Tread Review: 29 tools but will you actually use any of them?


29-tools on your wrist

When I first heard about the Leatherman Tread, I was super excited. TSA-compliant multi-tool that I can wear on my wrist? Say no more. I’m a gear nut and this seemed right up my alley. Even after reading some not-so-flattering Leatherman Tread Reviews I was still convinced that buying one would be the right move.

My reaction to the Leatherman Tread announcement
My reaction to the Leatherman Tread announcement

So it has been three months since I got the Tread. Was it worth it?

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Science on Swole: Weightlifting Shoes

In celebration of this week’s meniscus surgery and the hopeful return of “leg day,” I’m writing about weightlifting/squatting shoes. With the anticipation that I’d be working out again, I recently picked up my 2nd pair of my preferred squat shoes, Nike Romaleos.

Why weightlifting shoes?
Co-owner of my gym (SSPT) and innumerable time national/international champion powerlifter Sioux-Z Hartwig Gary recommends that rather than having an additional session of personal training with her, most new lifters would be better off spending the $100-$200 on a pair of lifting shoes.

A good weightlifting shoe will have a flexible flat forefoot that allows good feel, and a solid heel that allows direct power transfer between the lifter and the floor. Conventional athletic shoes tend to have too much cushioning and contoured soles, which can make them unstable under weight. Weightlifting shoes will also have an elevated heel, which allows for a less acute shin angle when at the bottom of the squat, as well as helping to keep the shoulder blades over the bar when pulling from the floor.

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How to Find the Right Golf Ball for You

Remember the time you put that brand new Titleist Pro V1 on the tee and pulled out the big stick ready to smash the longest drive of your life? Then as the ball duck hooked or sliced into the woods never to be found again you realized you just threw away about $5. Golf balls can be pricey (heck golf is expensive in general) especially for mid to high handicappers who are still prone to those random shanks and hooks. I’m an avid golfer and I’m always on the lookout for deals, whether it be for apparel or golf balls, and fortunately I stumbled on

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Polar Bottle 24 oz. Insulated Water Bottle

I’ve been training for a sprint distance triathlon. Part of the training has been going on long bike rides. Staying hydrated during these rides, especially as the weather gets warmer, is very important. Rather than wastefully pick up a Poland Spring bottle for each ride as I’ve done in the past, I decided to invest in a proper water bottle.

I never gave much thought to a water bottle. I’ve collected a few free ones over the years from participating in century bike rides, but I never liked how they made the water taste plasticky. I prefer using my Sigg bottle, but its small size and twist-off cap make it less than ideal for drinking while riding.

At a bike shop near my apartment, I came across Polar Bottle. The one at the store was 24 oz. in size, which I thought was ideal for my needs. It’s also insulated with a lining around the bottle, which keeps the water colder. I didn’t really like any of the color options there, so I picked one up with a patriotic theme. It cost $11.99.

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Running with Flat Feet

I never got a dual citizenship (US and Taiwan) because I would’ve had to serve in the Taiwanese Army. At least that’s the reason my parents provided. Now I’m not so sure I would have been able to serve anyway because I have flat feet. My feet are so flat in fact that I feel the pain on long runs and walks. Now that I know this I’m not exactly sure how I survived running cross-country during high school. That being said, I’m training for a duathlon and two sprint triathlons this year even though running with flat feet can sometimes feel awful.

So to combat the lack of arches in my feet I followed a friend’s recommendation and got fitted for some running shoes. We went to the New York Running Company at Columbus Circle and went through a series of tests including a pressure sensor that indicated your shoe size, arch height, and how you distribute your weight on your feet. This leads to an insole recommendation and for me it recommended the aetrex L420 orthotics which provides boosted arch support. Next up the shoes.

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