Gear Review – Altra Lone Peak 4 Trail Runners

I’m back!  I kind of lost interest in the blog over the winter and made the (mistake?) of purchasing Red Dead Redemption 2.  That game is a HUGE time suck but amazing and I don’t regret it.

I also got hooked on some new YouTube channels* over the winter and it’s rekindled my desire to be outdoor more often.  I already enjoy cycling and kayaking but haven’t really been camping/backpacking/hiking since I was in Scouts.

After a long winter of watching these channels I could not help but be ready for better weather and a chance to get outside again.  Several of the YouTubers are through hikers and have either hiked the Appalachian trail or are in the process.  While I think that would be an amazing accomplishment It’s not something I see myself doing in the near future.  I’m just fine with shorter adventures.

A piece of gear that’s critical when hiking is footwear.  I’ve always worn traditional hiking boots.  They provide great ankle stability but they’re heavy and, if waterproof, make your feet hot and sweaty.  They also really suck if you happen to get water IN them.

A new category of footwear called the “Trail Runner” was introduced to me over the winter.  These are a hybrid between a boot and a running shoe.  The most popular appear to be from a company called Altra and the model mentioned more than anything else was the Lone Peak 4.

Altra Lone Peak 4

After a few hikes around Indy in my traditional hikers and a pair of low rise boots I realized my feet were going to be an issue.  I already have a pair of custom orthotics that I wear in some of my shoes but they’re not very comfortable to walk in for miles at a time.

A review in Outside Magazine help me decide to purchase these shoes and then it happened…  REI had one of their big sales & I was able to pick up a pair of Lone Peak 4’s for 30% off!  I wasn’t the only one taking advantage of the sale.  REI was selling these things like deep fried Oreos at the State Fair.

In the store the Lone Peak’s felt a little weird at first because the front (toe box) of the shoe is very wide and they have what’s called a “Zero Drop” which puts your foot level with the ground vs raised in the back.  They also fit different and I ended up going 1.5 sizes larger than I typically wear.  I was a little concerned this was going to be an issue and worried about blisters which I got a lot in Scouts with traditional hiking boots.

Altra Lone Peak 4

Following the advice in the Outside review I ordered a couple of pairs of Merino Wool Socks for breathability and the ability to keep your feet warm and dry.  I’ll detail it more in an upcoming trip report but let’s just say the combo worked better than anything I have ever tried.

I decided to try the Altra’s out on a 6-mile rugged loop at Turkey Run State Park (I’m planning on a trip report soon).  As soon as I started walking I could feel an immediate difference.  The Merino Socks were a little slippery and the shoes were “Squishy” (technical term).  

After the 2nd mile on the trail I was a fan.  My feet felt amazing and the rock guard build into the sole kept the bottoms of my feet protected and comfortable.  I usually have issues with rocks (gravel especially) bothering the balls of my feet when trail walking.

Then came the ultimate test.  Time to get my feet wet as the trail went up, through, and along a stream (several in fact).  The Outdoor review was totally right.  As soon as you leave the water the shoes pump the water out and the wool socks help you feet dry out and stay warm.  I’ve NEVER had so much FUN getting my feet wet!  Normally this is something you want to avoid when hiking but I was stomping through the water like a little kid and enjoying every minute of it.  

Traction was excellent and after finishing the loop my only complaint was some knee pain which I later found was a result of descending the numerous hills, and something I can help with some more conditioning and maybe some better insoles.

I’m pretty much sold on the Trail Runner concept and I look forward to putting a few more miles on these shoes this weekend. If you’re looking for an alternative to the traditional hiking boots you should give these a try. They make different versions for different situations but I’ve found the Loan Peak 4’s to be a great all around shoe for my needs.

*The YouTube Channels that hooked me (in no particular order):
Outdoor Adventures
The Outdoor Gear Review
Dan Becker
Homemade Wanderlust
Darwin on the Trail

92 County Geocaching Adventure

Just got back from a 2-day adventure with my son in Southern Indiana collecting Geocaches in 2o new counties. The goal is to visit all 92 Indiana Counties and log a Geocache in each one. After this trip we only have 16 counties left to complete the challenge. We were hoping to complete the challenge this year but we’re not going to make it.

Only 16 more counties to go after this trip!

It took quite a lot of planning for this 2-day trip. With so much ground to cover we needed to be as efficient as we could be but still have some fun. After a lot of research I identified 20 Geocaches that had multiple “Favorite Points” as voted on by other Cachers. This usually means a Geocache is something special and not just a 35mm film container (or pill bottle) in a bush. I was hoping that by choosing favorited caches we would have more fun and my 15-year old son would stay interested in our goal.

The Plan…

Of course when the day came we had rainy (but WARM) weather. We ended up with Rain on day-1 and a cold front in the afternoon of day-2. Considering this was between Christmas and New Years I was really happy with the overall 50-degree conditions.

Below is a gallery of the photos taken during the trip. We had a great time and are already planning to get the remaining counties in the next few weeks (if the weather cooperates!).

Evansville Sunset
Fire Tower!
West Baden Christmas Tree

Did You Know Purple Paint = No Trespassing?

Effective July 1, 2018 Indiana became the 12th state to enact a “Purple Paint Law”. I spent a couple of days Geocaching in Southern Indiana last week and saw a lot of property marked with purple paint. Luckily I remembered hearing about the law but this was the first time I had seen the paint being used in leu of the traditional No Trespassing signs.

I was wondering about how this might be a problem with color blind individuals but it turns out Purple was chosen because it can be seen by most people with that condition. There are, however, people that see no color and that couple be a problem.

A new Indiana law went into effect on July 1st, that may help you mark your property boundaries more efficiently to prevent trespassing. The “purple paint law” is found in Indiana Code IC 35-43-2-2 and stipulates that appropriately applied purple paint can be used to mark your property with the same legal effect as using a No Trespassing sign. Landowners attempting to protect their property from trespassing have often been frustrated by the need to post signs and replace signs torn down, vandalized, or rendered unreadable by the elements. Marking boundaries with purple paint should provide a more efficient and inexpensive option, as well as eliminating placing nails in your trees.

Purdue Extension Blog

According to the law, HB 1233, the paint must be:

(A) on a tree:
(i) as a vertical line of at least eight (8) inches in length and with the bottom of the mark at least three (3) feet and not more than five (5) feet from the ground; and
(ii) not more than one hundred (100) feet from the nearest other marked tree; or
(B) on a post:
(i) with the mark covering at least the top two (2) inches of the post, and with the bottom of the mark at least three (3) feet and not more than five (5) feet six (6) inches 19 from the ground; and
(ii) not more than thirty-six (36) feet from the nearest other marked post; and

HB 1233

The 11 other states with Purple Paint Laws are:

  • Maine
  • Texas
  • Illinois
  • Missouri
  • North Carolina
  • Florida
  • Idaho
  • Arkansas
  • Montana
  • Arizona
  • Kansas

I think the biggest issue with this law boils down to education and awareness. It’s only in effect in about 20% of the country and it’s not very apparent what the paint means. As a Geocacher that goes in a lot of off the grid locations it’s something I’m certainly going to have to keep an eye out for. People who hunt and fish are other groups that need to be made aware of this law for everyones safety.

Be careful out there!

Saturday Morning Rides

I’ve set the alarm nice and early these past few Saturday mornings and getting some miles in on the Road Bike.  The weather last weekend was 100% humidity and super foggy around Geist Reservoir.  Lucky for me there are some great paths to use and avoid the vehicular traffic in the area.

Yesterday morning was about as good as it gets.  68-degrees, light wind, sunshine.  It made for a great 30-mile loop through Carmel, touching Noblesville at 146th St. and back to Fishers via 96th St.  The Flowing Well Park is always a nice place to stop for a snack and top off the water bottles.  I’d love to know how many visitors this place gets a year.  I’ve never been there alone. There are always people filling up dozens of water jugs at all hours of the day and night.

 

While riding along the River Trail in Carmel I had to stop and take a picture of how the trees line the trail and make for a nice shady stretch.  As usual traffic was light and riding on the streets posed no problems.

If there’s a path along a road and it’s in decent shape I’ll happily ride it.  Unfortunately a lot of the paths in Hamilton County are starting to deteriorate to the point where it’s dangerous to ride a stiff road bike with skinny tires on them.  The road normally offers a smoother surface and when everyone follows the rules (cyclists included) can be safe for everyone.

It’s nice to see that 99% of the drivers out there give you the legal right-of-way (3-foot minimum) when passing.  I think the “Share the Road” signs help remind people that cyclists are allowed to be on the roadway the same a cars and trucks.  The only exception I’ve witnessed this year has been pickup trucks on country roads and soccer moms that pass a little too close in their mini vans.  Not much you can to about a close truck pass in the middle of nowhere.  Hand gestures could result in a confrontation where the cyclist is at a distinct disadvantage.

When riding the back roads I’m more concerned about dogs than anything else.  They can come out of nowhere and if they have any size to them can outrun a cyclist who is caught off guard.  Normally they are more bark than bite but I’ve had a few close calls over the years.

Right now I’m 300-miles into my 1000-mile goal for 2018.  I’m looking forward to passing the 1k mark and setting an even higher goal for 2019 (2k?).  I have a cycling trip this summer in Northern Ohio that should produce some fun photos, I’m looking forward to it!

Weekend of Activities

If you know me you know I have a lot of hobbies.  Some would say I have too many…

This past weekend I took the boy to Ohio and introduced him to Briarwood Sporting Club in Bellefontaine and a really amazing  Loose Meat sandwich at the original Maid Rite sandwich shop in Greenville.

Briarwood is located on almost 500 acres of immaculately cared for property and offers 16 lakes with 11 different fish species as well as hunting opportunities in the fall.  I was the lucky winner of a discounted 1-year membership at a Ducks Unlimited auction last fall.  It’s not a cheap membership but after spending some time there I think it’s going to be a place we escape to many times a year.

Greenville Ohio is the home of Kitchen Aid and it has an amazing store that carries just about every make, model, and color the company currently makes in its factory down the road.  It also has a little museum in the basement that helps tell the history of the infamous mixer the company is known for.  I always have to stop in and usually end up bringing a new product or accessory home.  This time around I picked up some replacement parts for my stand mixer as well as a cold-brew coffee maker (future review in the works).

The Maid-Rite restaurant is about as old school as it gets.  Loose Meat sandwiches, chips, and drinks are the only things on the menu.  Somewhere in its history people started sticking gum on the building and after all these years it’s practically covered in it.  A little gross but it’s a tradition evidently.

Although the weather wasn’t the most cooperative we really enjoyed our day-trip to Ohio and are looking forward to the next one!