Posts Tagged ‘Mountain Hardwear’

Mountain Hardwear Skyledge 3

Posted: March 12, 2014 by Jeff Fabiszewski in blog, Gear Reviews, Tents
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One of my oldest pieces of gear is my 1997 Mountain Hardwear Skylight” tent. I love that tent, it has been my best companion on epic backpacking, and kayaking adventures; my five-year-old son loves the headroom and pockets. My only gripe about the “Skylight” it only has one door. Surprisingly it also still looks new, so it was difficult to convince my wife that I needed to upgrade it.

1997 Mountain Hardwear “Skylight” tent

1997 Mountain Hardwear “Skylight” tent

Luckily, I upgraded my tent in 2011 with the purchase of the “Skyledge 3”. It is seven ounces lighter and does fit three people (two adults, and a five year old). Over the past three years I have found that the tent offers plenty of ventilation during humid Florida rain, excellent headroom, pockets, and extra space due to the two large vestibules.  This free standing tent design is easy to set up by myself on sleeping platforms, sand, on hard terrain, and during a rain storm.  During the hot buggy Florida nights the mesh kept the breeze moving and the  ripstop canopy did shed a light drizzle one night.

I discovered during some strong winds on unprotected spoil island that this tent held its shape.  Mountain Hardwear uses Atlas UL poles reinforced by Evolution Tension Arches to provide outstanding strength in stormy conditions. And the super-light details like molded grommet tabs, fly hook attachments and 1/4″ webbing further reduce weight yet maintain strength in strong winds.

With strong winds comes strong rain.  Rain some times moves sideways.  With many tents, no mater how low the fly is puled down water finds a way into the tent.  This is not the case in the Skyledge.  This tent has a tubbed floor that kept rain, pooling water, and blowing sand out during a heavy storm.

It is easy to see why this tent has become my new favorite companion.  In time, I suspect that the 58 inch by 88 in floor will become small as my son grows. With past success of the “Skylight” the “Skyledge 3” should easily survive fifteen to twenty years of adventures. More than likely when it is time for my son to move out of the “Sky Ledge 3” he will happily travel with my old “Skylight”.

tarp 1a

My last thought is if a person wants one tent that will survive sand, saltwater, rock, high winds, heavy rains, mud, and et cetera then they should buy a Mountain Hardwear tent.

– Jeff

 September 18, 2011 – Let the Journey Begin!!

LEE COUNTY- Two men are to begin their expedition tomorrow to raise money for the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Trail and Clinic for Rehabilitation of Wildlife.

(From http://www.fox4now.com)

Sean Fitzgibbon and Jeff Fabiszewski are experienced kayakers from the Tampa Bay area who have formed Team Sweetwater. The two plans on paddling the 190-mile marked and unmarked paddling trail in Lee County.

The Team is paddling to raise awareness for the Paddling Trail and the Clinic for Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) which is on Sanibel Island. The public is encouraged to visit www.liquidrhythmkayaking.com to make a donation to both organizations. The expedition blog will be updated daily.

Team Sweetwater will return to Lee County on November 4-6 to teach a rescue class and speak about the expedition during the Great Calusa Blueway Paddling Festival and Symposium.

The expedition starts tomorrow, September 19th at 8 a.m. and goes until October 2nd.

Check back for updates on their paddle.

(Posted 22:00)

September 19, 2011 – They’re Off

Today is the offical first day of the trip and everything went well. The overnight pre-departure camping went without incident and they launched from Caloosahatchee Regional Park, which is located near Alva. Their first planned detour from the Caloosahatchee River was the Hickey Creek. Hickey Creek is actually a mitigation park implemented by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conversation Commission (FWC). This mitigation area gives developers an alternative solution to creating mitigation areas on their development site. For additional information and a map of the area check out the Hickey_Creek_Information brochure.

WP Franklin Lock

After completing the creek and finding their way back to the Caloosahatchee, the journey continued downstream until they reached their first obstacle, the WP Franklin Lock and Dam. These locks were constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1965 and are located approximately 33 miles from the Intercoastal Waterway. Their primary purpose is for flood control, water control, prevention of saltwater intrusion, and for navigational purposes. This is one of five locks the Corps constructed and maintains along the 152 mile Okeechobee Waterway.  Unfortunately they were not able (allowed) to pass through these locks, so this became the first portage of the trip. Camping at Rock Creek Resort.

Trip details: Day 1: Caloosahatchee Regional Park to Rock Creek Resort via Hickey Creek.  Miles covered –  20.1

September 20, 2011 – Downstream and Into Open Water

Picnic Island

The journey continues by heading downstream to the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River and beyond. The destination for today is Picnic Island. Picnic Island located about three miles southwest of the mouth of the Caloosahatchee and about 1.5 miles southeast of Saint James City on Pine Island. If you are tracking their progress on Google Earth, it can be found at latitude 26°29’23.46”N, longitude 82°02’57.20”W.

For the most part it was a very uneventful day on the water, although their paddle was interrupted by an afternoon Florida rain shower. Both Jeff and Sean were surprised by the variety of marine life they encountered today and hopefully photos will follow when they return.

Trip details: Day 2: Rock Creek Resort to Picnic Island. Miles covered 19.1

September 21, 2011 – Heading North

A highlight of today’s trip was the bald eagle they saw during today’s northerly trip. Otherwise the trip was uneventful except they had to perform some minor repairs to the boats. According to Jeff, the skeg on his kayak was sticking and would not function properly. The skeg on his kayak is rope operated and its mechanism is a combination of rope and bungee cords. So to resolve this issue he exited the kayak, flipped it over, pulled the skeg mechanism apart, washed it, and then reassembled it.  He also said Sean’s boat, being a custom two piece design, needed to have the bolts tightened that connected the two sections together. Since this was not critical and since they did not have tools for this repair, they opted to delay repair until the end of today’s paddle.

 

If you are interested in tracking their journey you can go to Google Earth and download their software. Once you have the program running Lee County Parks and Recreation offers a free KML plug-in that overlays Google Earth with the all of sign posts on the trip. You can either access the Lee County Parks and Recreation site and look for the KML files or click here to download them directly. Trip details: Day 3: Picnic Island (54) to Sun and Moon Inn (83). Miles covered 11.2

 

September 22, 2011 – Heading North

Heading off around 9:30 a.m. this morning from the Sun and Moon Inn, Jeff and Sean were headed for their next destination, Bokeelia Island by way of marker 99 in Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park. Marker 99 is the northern most point of the Calusa Blueway Trail and is located in the southeast corner of Charlotte Harbor on the mainland. Just a note about the park itself, it is not simply one land mass but rather multiple land masses that encompasses some 42,000 acres in Lee and Charlotte Counties. Unfortunately with weather moving in the northern leg of today’s journey was cut short when a decision was made, somewhere between markers 96 and 97, to head directly for Bokeelia Island. If you are following the journey on Google Earth and have downloaded the plugin from the September 21st posting, there is no actual sign post number giving you the location of Bokeelia Island. Bokeelia Island is located at the northern most tip of Pine Island, which is at the south end of Charlotte Harbor.

Arriving around 5:00 p.m. all is well and they will be staying at the Jug Creek Cottages for this evening. The next leg of the journey is to be to Cayo Casta; however, with the forecasted weather there is some discussion about making the trip tomorrow or whether a “weather day” would be in order. As of this blog no decision has been made. So at this point they are on schedule and where they should be. All of the boat repairs have been made and everyone is safe.

Trip details: Day 4: Sun and Moon Inn (83) in Matlacha to Jug Creek Cottages on Bokeelia Island. Miles covered 8+.

 September 23, 2011 – Off to Cayo Costa

They left Jug Creek Cottages on Bokeelia Island and have traveled west to Cayo Costa State Park. During their trip they saw dolphins and a variety of other marine life. When they arrived on Cayo Costa they came ashore on the northeast corner of the island. The park service was gracious enough to provide ground transport for them to the Gulf side of the island. So for the next couple of days they will be enjoying the sun and fun of Cayo Costa.

Trip details: Day 5: Jug Creek Cottages to Cayo Costa State Park: Miles covered 10

 September 24, 2011 – Day Off

Today was a planned day of rest with an extra day on Cayo Costa. This is their fifth day on the water and of promoting the Clinic for Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) and the Great Calusa Blueway Trail to all they have met. Overall the response to those they have spoken has been excellent with many wanting additional information. In case you don’t know about CROW, they rely 100% on your charitable support. Their mission is to save wildlife through compassion, care and education. Donations and more information about CROW can be found at http://www.crowclinic.org.

It rained last night and much to their amazement they found that Jeff’s tent leaks around the skylight. However since there was no mention of how bad the leak was or if they were going to try and repair it, it’s probably not bad but rather an inconvenience. When I spoke with Sean he was quick to point out that his hammock and tarp combination were dry but he also had a concern for this accommodations. It appears a nest of bees has appeared relativity close to the entrance to his hammock, so he is being very careful when he enters and exits his hammock so as not to disturb his new neighbors.

During the day they have met some of the other tourists and campers on the island. One couple was kayaking around the island geocaching. “Geocaching is a real-world outdoor treasure hunting game. Players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using GPS-enabled devices and then share their experiences online.” If you want to find out more on geocaching, click here.  Another group of five individuals was celebrating one of their members birthday. Being tourist to the island and festive, they extended an offer to Jeff and Sean to partake of their hospitality and libations.

Jeff is teaching Sean how to play a game called Hive. Not quite sure if this is a board game or a card game. Check back on tomorrow’s blog for an answer and maybe how it’s played.

While not a long or particularity treacherous trip thus far, they are finding that day six away from family brings with it thoughts of missing kids and family members.

Tomorrow’s float plan is to break camp in the morning and head for the northern end of Sanibel.

Trip details: Day 6: Staying put.

September 25, 2011 – Turning South and on to Sanibel Island

They are on the move again and heading south. A special thanks to the park service on Cayo Costa for transporting Team Sweetwater (Jeff and Sean) back to their boats on the east side of the island. Heading south their destination is Sanibel Island. Along the way they will also pass North Captiva Island and Captiva Island. A brief history of the islands states “… these barrier islands were dominated by the fierce Calusa Indians.” “The [Spanish] conquistadors nearly wiped out the entire Calusa population in a series of battles and enslaved the remaining few in Cuban prison camps, where they eventually died.” Jose Gaspar also used these islands for the repairing of his ships. It is rumored that Jose may have buried his treasure on Sanibel Island.

Castaways Beach and Bay Cottages

They arrived on the north end of Sanibel Island earlier today without any on water incidents. The only comment Jeff made was that it was HOT!! Temperature, according the Weather Underground, was in the high 80’s day.

Dinner was at the Lazy Flamingo Restaurant again. They have managed to stop at two of the four locations. Can they find the other two? Only time will tell. As for lodging, they will be at the Castaways Beach and Bay Cottages this evening. The Castaways is located just a stone’s throw from Blind Pass Bridge.The Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) was established on the island in 1968 and is towards the other end of the island from the Castaways. “It is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of sick, orphaned and injured wildlife. C.R.O.W. has a complete wildlife hospital at the middle of its 12.5 acre sanctuary. The clinic focuses on education in an effort to prevent injuries to animals caused by human interference. Guided presentations are given year around.”

Facts and Figures: Today’s travel was 16.2 miles and it took them about 5 ¼ hours. This amounts to an average of 3.1 mph, which has been about the average thus far for the trip.Trip details: Day 7: Cayo Costa State Park to the Castaways on Sanibel Island: Miles covered 16.2

September 26, 2011 – Visiting CROW and Hitting the Road

Welcome to CROW

Most of today was spent visiting at the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW). As mentioned previously CROW is located on 12.5 acres on Sanibel Island, south of the Castaways Beach and Bay Cottages, on Sanibel-Captive Road. While there Jeff and Sean were given a tour of the facility and met some of the current patients, which included raccoons, turtles, and birds.

Patient

The clinic is fortunate to receive donations of fruit and vegetables from the local markets. While this helps to reduce the cost of feeding their patients, they still need tax deductable donations to purchase the mice and fish protein that is needed. Some of the new arrivals included several seagulls. According to the staff the birds fell out of their nest and were brought to the center in a McDonalds’ happy meal box.

So hitting the road, not paddling, they find themselves on San Carlos Island this evening. Transportation was courtesy of a fellow kayaker who was kind enough to drive them off the island and shuttle them to the San Carlos RV Park and Island Resort (marker 44).

Once at the RV park and island resort the next major decision of the day was food. Do they head next door for the all you can eat blue crabs at Maria’s Backwater Bar and Grill or venture to the Nuauti Turtle. Just for those of who are were wondering, Team Sweetwater will not be visiting all of the Lazy Flamingo locations, they skipped the one on the southern tip of Sanibel.

Just a great thanks to the San Carlos RV Park and Island Resort for rescuing Jeff and Sean from the downpour last evening by upgrading them to a SUPER RV. They really enjoyed watching television while sitting on nice comfy (dry) furniture.

They are back on the water tomorrow and headed for Koreshan State Park. Koreshan is located upstream from Estero Bay.

Trip details: Day 8: Sightseeing and shuttle ride

September 27-28 2011 – Koreshan State Park

Mound Key

They arrive at Koreshan State Park early this afternoon. The plans for tomorrow include staying at Koreshan State Park for second night. This does not mean a day off the water, but rather a chance to go and visit Mound Key Archeological State Park. Mound Key is located near the mouth of Estero River and is believed to have been the capitol for the Calusa tribe.  More on Mound Key tomorrow.

If you are tracking Team Sweetwater’s trek on Google Earth you can look for markers 24, 25, and 25a. Can’t find the markers, download the plug-in here. Thursday will have them moving to Big Hickory State Park.

Trip details: Day 9: San Carlos Island RV Park and Island Resort (44) to Koreshan State Park. Miles: 11.1 Averaged 3.1 mph.

September 28, 2011 – Day Off

Team Sweetwater (Jeff and Sean) spent most of Wednesday the 28th, exploring the sights, sounds of Koreshan State Park.

Trip details: Day 10: Explore Koreshan State Park.

September 29th, 2011 – Onto Big Hickey Island and then Home

Today we find them back on the water and headed for Big Hickey Island with a planned detour to Mound Key Archeological State Park for some exploring.   The wildlife on and around the water was abundant with the sightings of manatees, dolphins, roseate spoon bills, night herons, and loons. Upon reaching Big Hickey Island they both commented on how new the campsite was as it was recently cleared and still contained piles of ashes from the clear cutting and burning.

Tomorrow will mark the end of the trip when they take out at Imperial River boat ramp. What to know more about the journey? Come to the Calusa Blueways Paddling Festival, November 3rd to the 6th off the beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel. Check out the schedule of events and be part of the festivities.

Please don’t forget about Team Sweetwater’s sponsor of choice Clinic for Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) and how desperately they need donations of either money or supplies. If you have the opportunity and have some spare time volunteer at the clinic.

Trip details: Day 11 Koreshan State Park to Big Hickey Island via Mound Key Archeological State Park. Miles: 8.44. Averaged 3.1 mph.

At times gear is the key to comfort.  Unfortunately, it can be a costly venture finding the right gear.  It takes time to research, to save up money, and then redo everything when your first purchase did not meet your expectations.  This is my problem when it comes to shorts.

I have worn multiple types of swim suits, surf trunks, quick drying shorts, rock-climbing shorts, and hiking shorts.  The recurring problem is chafing, a desire for a quick drying material, and the look of professionalism.  I have had problems with chafing in the groin and where the back band connects.  My goal has always been to find a system that I can easily wear multiple days on the water, around camp, function well under the hip-belt of a twenty pound pack, provide a great range of motion, and look presentable when I am walking around town.

It has been a long and arduous quest filled with a drawer of many failed attempts to find lasting comfort.  Until now, I can empty my drawer donate all of my old shorts to the needy and replace those shorts with one pair of Mountain Hardwear Wildlands Shorts.

These shorts made by Mountain Hardwear feature a patented, micro-chamois lined seamless conical waist.  Thus the design eliminates pressure points where a back band of a kayak and a backpack would rest.  The cloth is 100% nylon and coated with a DWR finish that sheds dirt and moisture.  I will admit that the shorts do become stiff after a few days of being in and out of salt water.  However, the stiffness has not produced chaffing.  The shorts are available in ten and twelve-inch inseam lengths.  I chose the twelve-inch inseam just because I liked the look.  There is a down side to the shorts.  It has small pockets in the front.  Consequently, when sitting in a kayak it is nearly impossible for me to get anything out of my front pocket.  Then again, I wear a skirt over the cockpit and why would I be wanting to get into my pocket.

  • Overview statistics of the Wildlands Shorts
  • Updated hand pockets and integrated belt
  • Micro-Chamois™-lined seamless conical waist for comfort under a pack
  • Integrated webbing belt with buckle closure for easy fit adjustments
  • Lots of pockets for storage
  • Mesh drain panels in pockets for river crossings and spontaneous swims
  • Full length inseam gusset for mobility
  • DWR finish sheds moisture
  • UPF 50 sun protection

All in all these are great shorts.  I have them in khaki, and I now plan on purchasing a pair in cigar brown, stone green, and black.  If you have too many clothes at home and you are looking to simplify then replace all of your shorts with this pair, for it does it all.  Happy paddling – Jeff

Every spring Sean and I go to James Island County Park, in South Carolina, to be a part of the East Coast Canoe and Kayak Festival (ECCKF).  We have enjoyed the lectures, on-water classes, demonstrations, and enjoyed finding bargains. Every year has been a little different due to the roll we have taken at the festival.

When we began going almost ten years ago we were employees of Osprey Bay Outdoors.  And we had one goal “to become one with all of the information to become better guides and instructors”.  We accomplished that mission.  Now when I go to ECCKF I am working as an instructor for H2Outfitters; whereas, Sean is offering technical support at ECCKF to Sweetwater Kayaks and networking with prospective sponsors.

The weather made things a little challenging this time at James Island County Park.  Some weather fronts blew through Saturday and the wind was a distraction to teaching on the pond.  The wind was so strong that I saw a stand-up-paddle-boarder appear to be levitating off the water.  They went splash and I helped them get back to their board.

Sean had a similar experience at the Sweetwater Kayaks tent.  The wind was so strong that it pulled one of the stakes anchoring the tent out of the ground and bent two of the poles.  The pole jumped about 12 inches & Sean jumped onto the upright to keep the tent from flying away.  The H2Outfitters tent did suffer some wind damage to the poles and they did move five inches.

Beyond the wind the weather also presented me with a chance to test my new sleeping bag.  I recently purchased a Mountain Hardwear down Flip 35/50 degree sleeping bag.  The 50 degree rating side kept me comfortable even when the temperature dropped to 45 degrees. What also helped to stay comfortable was that I found it easy to adjust the draw cord top to make it work like a mummy hood. This is a very smart design.  And I see this bag as a new best friend.

Sean tested some new kayaks and maybe he will write a post about some of the new boats.  Speaking of boats, NDK has produced some stunning gel coats for their fiberglass kayaks.  The pictures speak volumes.  I like the simplicity of the green and yellow Greenlander pro.  And then there is the unique NDK logo on the deck of a Kevlar kayak.

Wow.

All in all ECCKF is a great way to start the spring. – Jeff