Hiking Report: December

by frank Saturday, December 1st 2012

Editor's Note: The Summit Hut Hiking Report is a new feature to the Summit Hut blog. Along with our typical great content (gear reviews, trail descriptions, travel stories, etc.) we will be publishing a monthly Hiking Report with a quick look at some of the key tips, gear and destinations for the season.

Let's face it, one of the things many of us love about the desert southwest is not having to deal with much of that white stuff on the ground in winter! If you love the outdoors, you undoubtedly love being able to participate in your favorite activities year-round. Whether it's cycling, hiking, climbing, trail running, or any other outdoor pursuit, you can do it just about any day of the year. As it finally starts to cool off, there are a lot of things to consider when you hit the trails during a desert winter.

Tip: Layer! Layer! Layer! Layering is key to staying comfortable during a desert winter. It isn't uncommon for a day to start out in the 20's or 30's and quickly warm up into the mid-60's or 70's. A standard layering system consists of three pieces: A baselayer, an insulating piece and a shell. Baselayers are typically form-fitting, and one of their main jobs is managing moisture. A good baselayer will transfer sweat away from your body, keeping you comfortable during high-aerobic activity and baselayers are usualy either made from wool or a synthetic fabric - examples include the Patagonia Capilene line or products from Icebreaker. An insulating piece is typically a down or fleece jacket - something like the Marmot Ares Jacket or Mountain Hardwear MicroChill Jacket. The main role here is warmth. Finally, a shell is vital, especially in situations where you might encounter rain or snow, or high winds. A shell is typically wind and rain-proof and shields you from the elements - an example here is the Marmot Minimalist Jacket

Gear: Beyond a great layering system, there is tons of gear that makes winter hiking more enjoyable. Remember, staying protected from the sun is a year-round concern, especially here in Tucson. Summit Hut is very aware of the unique local climate and is sure to keep sun protective gear, and products like shorts and short-sleeve shirts, in stock all year long. We can't talk about shopping during the month of December and not mention how great of a selection of gifts Summit Hut carries! We have one of the most unique selections of toys, goodies, gadgets and gizmos you can find in Tucson and we're sure to have something for anyone on your list. Check out our Holiday Gift Guide for some of our favorite suggestions!

Destinations: Winter Hiking in Tucson offers just about everything you can imagine. Stick to the lowlands if you're looking to keep a little warmer. Destinations like Wasson Peak in the Tucson Mountains offer a premier desert hiking experience. Since we haven't had a winter storm just yet, and daytime highs are still creeping into the high-70's and low-80's, pretty much all of southern Arizona is primed for great hiking. If you're looking to get a little use out of your jackets while it still feels a little like summer in the valley, heading up to the Aspen Loop or Butterfly trail will offer much cooler weather and great hiking!  No matter what kind of winter adventure you're looking for, be sure to swing by Summit Hut for the gear, and advice, you're looking for!

Activities | Hiking Report | News

8000M Challenge & Big City Mountaineers

by frank Thursday, July 26th 2012

Each year, a team from Summit Hut joins about 150 of our closest outdoor friends for a heart-pounding, 38-mile day hike! The goal is to summit 3 of the tallest peaks in Southern California in under 24 hours. It's an incredible physical challenge, but it's also an amazing experience. The camaraderie between stores that are otherwise competeing against eachother is a reminder of why so many of us love the outdoor industry.

My favorite 8000M memory was starting up the second, and most daunting, peak, already feeling quite defeated. The first of the 16+ miles that take you to the summit of San Gorgonio has over 1,000 feet in elevation gain, and it doesn't back off much from there. I made my way up the first couple miles and had slowed to a crawl. Behind me came two chipper hikers, I recognized them as members of a competing retail chain's team. They came up behind me, encouraging me with every step. As they caught me, they offered more encouragement, but more importantly, they offered Oreos and Cheetos! The much appreciated snacks helped me along the way but were not quite enough to push me through the entire 38 miles. I ended up having to turn back due to some pain in my knee, but that story always reminds me of the reason we all love the outdoors. We may have varying objectives when we go outside - some of us are out to log as many miles as we can, some to have a feeling of peace - but more often than not, the hikers you come across are some of the friendliest people you'll meet. 

 
2009 8000M Challenge - Team Summit Hut  

This hike is supported by the outdoor team over at Jansport and is a benefit for Big City Mountaineers. BCM mentors under-resourced urban teens through transformative outdoor experiences to enrich lives, broaden horizons and instill critical life skills. This organization does amazing work with youth across the country, and for many of the children they serve, these programs offer their first experiences in the outdoors. If you're reading this blog, you have some sort of passion or interest in the outdoors, and you can almost surely remember the first night you spent under the stars, or the first peak you bagged. Those experiences are not only what spark the passion for the outdoors, they are what make us who we are. Please consider making a donation towards our efforts to raise money for Big City Mountaineers by donating online

Events | News

Section 17 Saguaro Census

by frank Monday, December 19th 2011

On December 8th, a group of four Summit Hut volunteers joined two community volunteers and two Park Services employees on a Saguaro Census. We met at the Saguaro East visitors center and made our way to the Mica View Picnic Area. Our fearless leader, Irene, gave a brief overview of the history of Saguaros in the park, and of Section 17, a section within the park that was first inventoried back in 1941. Just after the establishment of Saguaro National Monument, there was a tremendous decline in Saguaro population that could not be explained. There were many theories and attempted remedies but none proved successful. Because Section 17 was well established and has been counted previously, it makes for a great study in the current population and how it compared to that of 1941. To learn more about the plot’s history check out Irene’s webpage.

After the history lesson, we made our way to the plot we would be measuring, Plot D5. We were given a quick clinometer lesson and paired up with a Saguaro measuring veteran.

DSC_0187 
Summit Hut Assistant Manager, Meaghan, setting up the clinometer.

We split into two groups that would work along the plot side by side. Once we reached the end of the plot, we swapped sides and double checked the other group's inventory to ensure no Saguaro went unmeasured. We then swept back a third time retrieving the flags marking which saguaros had been measured.

DSC_0204 
The largest saguaro our team measured.

We worked for about four hours and measured a total of 139 saguaros ranging in size from .4 meters up to 9.4 meters! The largest saguaro we measured also had 24 arms!

DSC_0192
Summit Hut Merchandiser, Carolyn, measuring a saguaro.

The next day, a group of 8th graders from Paulo Freire Freedom School completed the second half of plot D5. The results of our inventory can be seen here.

The general trend is the number of tall saguaros has diminished tremendously but there are far more small saguaros than there were during the 1941 census. Irene explained that much of this is due to the fact that there are far more trees in the park than there were in 1941 which provide shelter and protection to the young saguaros.

This census is an ongoing project and just about anyone can volunteer simply by emailing Irene. We had a great time and truly felt that we were participating in historic research. Who knows, maybe 70 years from now a group of volunteers will be counting the same plot and comparing their results to ours!

Events

Top 10 Holiday Gift Ideas

by frank Monday, December 5th 2011

Here at Summit Hut, we are known for our amazing selection of gear, a wall filled with shoes and a staff that offers tremendous service. But something you might not know about us – we have one of the most unique selections of toys, games, ornaments and treats in Tucson around the holidays!

If you’ve ever stopped by either of our Tucson stores around the holidays, you were sure to notice the amazing job that our merchandiser, Carolyn, does with our displays. This year both stores feature two Christmas trees filled with amazing ornaments. One tree is all locally inspired products.

Our second tree features some great outdoor-related ornaments, including skiing Santa and glittery tents, and more!

Through all of this, and our regular stock of incredible outdoor gear, I have compiled my top-10 list of gifts for the holidays. No guarantees, but I can’t imagine anyone on my list that wouldn’t love something from this list!

10. Strider Bikes – Shopping for the little ones? These bikes are built for 18 month olds to 5 year olds and teach children balance and coordination. Plus they come in really awesome colors!

Strider Bikes

9. Bacon Flavored Candy Canes – Need I say more?

Bacon Flavored Candy Canes 

8. Life Is Good Gear – We just started carrying Life Is Good again, and we’ve got shirts, mugs, pajamas, hats, stickers and other amazingly optimistic goods!

Life Is Good Shirts 

7. Acorn Slippers – Who couldn’t use a new pair of slippers for the holidays?

Acorn Slippers

6.Divide 55 pack I just really wanted an excuse to post this hilarious video again – here’s a few Summit Hutters showing off the awesome pivoting hip belt of this pack – and they’re 20% off through December 31st!

5. Synergy Clothing – This is a great brand that makes really fun and unique clothing – for the “fashionista” on your list!

Synergy Clothing

4. Be Kind To the Earth Ornament – This ornament, from Tucson's Ben's Bells Project, reminds us to be kind to everything and everyone around us – and it looks pretty awesome too!

Ben's Bells Project: Be Kind to the Earth Ornament

3. Inov-8 F-lite 195/230 – ok really, just about any Inov-8 shoe would make a great gift.

F-Lite 230

2. Party Rats – As the packaging says they’re “ideal for night blogging”…well, I write most of my blog posts during the day, but I’m sure I’ll find some other entertaining stuff to do with these little guys!

 P1050266

1. Contour Camera – Because what’s cooler than having 1080p HD video of all the awesome stuff you do with your new gear!?

Contour GPS Camera 

For other great holiday gift ideas, be sure to check out our 2011 Holiday Gift Guide! There are over 100 of
our favorite gifts for the season as well as 18 special Holiday Deals valid through December 31st.

Did my list not cover your favorites? Share your wish list with us.

Gear

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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