Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Jacket Review

by Kirsten Wednesday, December 11th 2013

The Ghost Whisperer Jacket is hands down the most used piece of clothing in my closet. This jacket is super warm, versatile, comfortable, comes in great colors, I have the women’s blue and it always gets compliments. To give you some context before reading on, I am an avid hiker, backpacker, climber and work at the summit hut! I get very cold easily as I grew up here in Tucson and I tend to be a little rough on my gear. 

The Ghost Whisperer is a great technical piece. This jacket is perfect for backpacking because it is so light and so warm. I keep it in my pack or tent until the sun goes down and then throw it on over my t shirt or under a shell if it is really chilly. It is perfect to throw in a day pack to use while belaying and small enough to take (or keep in your pack) just in case the weather turns. Disclaimer: you do not want to store it in its pack pocket as the down will settle and be compressed – make sure to “fluff” it often if you are storing it this way for multiple days without use. 

The Ghost Whisperer is also an awesome everyday option. When I go to sporting events that are outdoors I always throw this jacket in my medium sized purse – I have been extremely thankful to have it on several occasions. In the warehouse at the hut winters get pretty chilly! When spring hit last year we had a get together with some co-workers and one co-worker actually said “You look great, it is odd to see you without your blue down jacket on!” 

Yes, I wear it that often. 

 

I think nearly half of the staff at Summit Hut owns this jacket and it is a customer favorite as well. Mountain Hardwear did a wonderful job with this piece and I think it stands above similar choices because of the quality, weight, color choices and fit. If you are looking for a piece like it, defiantly come in and try it on!

Check out the Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Jacket on our website!

Gear

Pass Mountain 26k Race Report

by Richard Thursday, December 5th 2013

November 16th marked the second race of the season, Pass Mountain 26k at Usery Park in Mesa.  Four of my friends and Summit Hut co-workers (Dave, Charles, Ryan, Kirsten and Maddie) joined me for this race which was great!  For this race we decided to go up the night before and camp at the park.  Usery Park was busy but had great facilities including hot showers.   Charles arrived a little later and got this great picture of the campsite at night.

The evening was nice and cool and the following morning we woke up and started preparing for the race.  The forecast was calling for temperatures in the high 70’s and a small chance of rain.  It turned out to be a perfect day.  It was cloudy most of the day with a fabulous cool breeze. 

Maddie and Kirsten sporting their Selk and Dream walker sleeping bags first thing in the morning

The course was much flatter than Cave Creek and made for some fast times.  The first few miles were on dirt roads and I worked hard to turn in fast mile times. 

Fast miles approaching the first aid station, you can see the lead pack in the distance

(Left to right) Charles, Dave, Kirsten and Maddie looking very strong

After the first aid station we turned down a single track trail and started running back toward Pass Mountain.  The trail was pretty flat until just after the second aid station where it started to climb up to the pass to the east of Pass Mountain.  I had started ahead of my friends but most of them caught and passed me between the second aid station and the highpoint of the course.  It was hard to watch them run away from me but ultimately it was a good mental challenge for longer races to come.  Just before the top of the climb a runner had fallen a few minutes ahead of me and took a pretty good blow to the head.  There was a measurable amount of blood on the ground but it was great to see that five or six other runners had already stopped to help.  I decided to start moving toward the next aid station to let them know.  The injured runner did eventually finish the race and was smiling when he crossed the finish line. 

Climbing to the pass looking east

View to the north at the top

The back side of the climb was smooth and fast as it descended, winding back around Pass Mountain and started heading back toward the finish line.  There were several very short drops and climbs as the trail crossed small drainages. 

 

With around 2 miles to go I realized that I had gained on Dave and tried to put my head down and catch him.  He had no idea that I was there but he still managed to stay out ahead of me.   We passed the last aid station and had just over a mile to the finish line.  The course was mainly a loop with a short out and back to and from the start/finish line.  On the way out, I hadn’t noticed how downhill and sandy the road had been but I was definitely feeling it on the way back up.  The sun finally came out and made the last half mile seem really tough as I watched Dave pull away and finish a minute or so ahead of me.   I crossed the finish and was overall happy with my time.

Here is a link to the run on Movescount:  http://www.movescount.com/moves/move21365450

I challenged myself on this run to try to drink less water.  I have always struggled with the amount of water I’ve felt compelled to consume on long runs and this seemed like a good chance to try something different.  Normally I would have consumed 70-90oz of water for a distance like this but I was able to only drink 40oz this day without any problems.  My next race is the McDowell Mountain Frenzy on December 7th and I’m going to try to continue to drink less.  McDowell will be a bigger challenge as I plan to run the 50k but there are a few more aid stations so if things start to go wrong it will be easier to catch back up on fluids.   I’m hoping I can continue to need less and that will make for a lighter kit for OP50 in March.  The Holiday season is upon us and finding time to train is going to get harder but I’m hoping I can keep the mileage up and stay healthy.  

Activities | Events

Exped Dreamwalker Review

by Kirsten Tuesday, December 3rd 2013

Summit Hut has a very unique bag from Exped called the Dreamwalker. We love carrying it because it is a big conversation starter and most people, including myself, get a good giggle out of it the first time you see it.

Before you laugh too much and write it off, think about how never having to get into a cold sleeping bag again sounds.  How about waking up in the middle of the night when nature is calling, but not having to get out of your bag?  What about sitting in a chair by the fire –IN YOUR SLEEPING BAG – and still being able to stand up to roast a marshmallow?  If those sound like ideal situations, you should consider replacing your down jacket, scarf, gloves and hat with this amazing bag.

I recently took a Dreamwalker to a 24hour race in the McDowell Mountains.  I get cold easily, and I was just super eager to put this puppy on, so we had them out early in the night.  While the sun was going down I remember laughing as Summit Hut Co-Owner Jeremy went to get some water in his Dreamwalker, he was stopping some foot traffic! I couldn’t laugh long because all those folks were walking past the Summit Hut tent a few moments later to find me proudly waving from inside my insulated cocoon of awesome.

Let me tell you though, when 10pm hit we were not getting goofy looks – people were pretty envious. One girl saw us sitting by the fire and said “I bet her FACE is so warm!” Uhh yeah, it was.  It hadn’t even occurred to me that I did not have my hat on because the dream walker has this awesome insulated hood and collar that cuddled my face and kept my ears nice and warm.

In conclusion, I LOVE this bag and its versatility.  Beyond the features I got to use, it can unzip into an awesome blanket to use on warmer nights for yourself or to share with a companion.  You can sleep with your arms through the sleeves to easily adjust your pillow, read or if you are a side sleeper you can still use your arm pillow! You will be the center of attention for a few moments but just remember that you giggled a little too – before you thought about what a great idea it really is!

P.S. My second favorite camping piece is my ENO Hammock… but it does get chilly sometimes with zero insulation… unless I wrap the dreamwalker around the hammock!

Check out the Exped Dreamweaver on our website!

Gear

Cave Creek Thriller 31k Race Report

by Richard Monday, November 4th 2013

My running season officially started Saturday October 19th this year with the Cave Creek Thriller 31k put on by Aravaipa Running.  This is the first of 7 races that Aravaipa will put on between now and March.  I’m signed up for all them as well as the Old Pueblo 50, my first 50 mile race.  I like to arrive early to races so I can take my time getting ready and try to get myself mentally ready for the day.  The 31k started at 7:30am, I was in the parking lot by 6:45.  On my way in I was treated to a hot air balloon launching.  It was just one balloon at first but soon there were over a dozen inflating and rising from the desert. 


First balloon rising of the morning


I ran most of this race last year but I had to drop out after about 20k because of an old injury that flared up.    My plan this year was to run the race in three stages.  The first six miles were relatively flat so I was going to try to push a little.  The next 6-7 had a lot of short steep climbs and finished with a mile or so of downhill and through here I was going to try to move quickly but be mindful of not pushing too hard.  The last 8 were going to be tough for me so I had decided to walk most to all of the uphill sections and really listen to my body and not push too hard. 

The first six miles went really well.  It was about three miles, mostly downhill, out to an aid station and then back.  The trail winds through a wash making several rocky crossings and it was easy to lose if you were running with your head down.   The three miles out went really well and when I reached the aid station I felt good.   I grabbed some ginger ale and pretzels and headed back.  The next three miles were a little tougher as the course headed back towards the hills. 


The view looking back towards the race start at mile 6.


Looking up the trail at mile 6

I worked hard to get to the saddle and catch the next few runners and took a moment to enjoy the view to the north.


Looking back from the top

It was about 3 miles of rolling trail with steep short climbs and descents to the next aid station, a total of 6 miles from the last aid station.  I had run this section last year so I did my best to bomb down the trail when it allowed and I wasn’t too hard on myself on the climbs.   The next aid station came quickly enough and I was feeling pretty good overall.   The next 3 miles were a gradual climb to the last mile of downhill and back to the start/finish line to begin the next lap. 


Heading downhill

I always struggle with races that run through the start/finish line.  There is something about running past the spot where I’m going to finish that really gets in my head and slows me down.  Up until this point there were quite a few people on the course.  The 50k distance had started 30 minutes before us and the 19k 30 minutes after but once I got a few minutes past the start/finish aid station I was on my own and didn’t see anybody until the next aid station about 4 miles away.  It didn’t take long and I started to feel the previous 12 miles.  I realized that I hadn’t been keeping up on electrolytes and I started to cramp.   I started taking salt caps and gels but it was too late and I had to really slow down.   The last aid station came slowly but I was able to enjoy the scenery and the great weather. 

The finish line eventually came and I finished within my goal time range.   As always Aravaipa puts on a great race with well stocked aid stations, well marked trails and great competitors.  Everybody has a fantastic attitude and encourages each other along the way.  The next race is Pass Mountain 26k on November 16th and I’m looking forward to it. 

Notable Gear I used

Ultimate Direction SJ Vest – I’ve been running this since last year and it is great.  The fit is good enough, the pack space is usually more than enough but allows for long unsupported training runs and the bottle pockets are great.  My favorite feature has to be the small pockets beside the bottles.  They are perfect for gels, food, and trash.

Merrell Mixmaster 2 – I’m on my third pair.  They have minimal cushion and a 4mm drop with a rock plate in the forefoot.

Superfeet Carbon -  I’ve recently added the Superfeet Carbon footbeds to my shoes and they have really extended the life of my shoes while adding some rock protection from the arch back.  They work well in every shoe I’m currently running.

Activities | Events

The Authors

Dave BakerDave Baker

I'm Dave Baker, founder of Summit Hut, an independent outdoor retailer based in Tucson, Arizona since 1969. As an experienced and passionate hiker, climber and backpacker, my blog is intended to be an informative and interesting look into the outdoors and the outdoor industry.

Dana Davis

Dana Davis

I’m Dana Davis, co-owner of the Summit Hut. I mostly enjoy hiking and road biking though I often do other things to keep it interesting (mountaineering, motorcycling, backpacking, climbing, you name it!) My biggest challenge is sometimes finding the balance between career, family, and fun but it’s working out so far!

Dan Davis

Dan Davis

I'm Dan Davis, after retiring from the National Park Service as a Ranger and manager, I worked for the Summit Hut until 2009, then retired for good (maybe). I'm now spending my time traveling around the southwest writing and working on my nature and fine art photography business.

Emily Gindlesparger

Emily Gindlesparger

I’m Emily Gindlesparger, a member of the Summit Hut floor staff. Since moving here from the Midwest, I’ve been taking advantage of all possible adventures in Arizona: rock climbing, mountain biking, backpacking, whitewater kayaking, caving and trail running; I’m always excited to see what’s next!

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