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Friday, February 24, 2017

Day 53 2/24/17 - Sabino Canyon Hike & Water Crossings

I headed back to Tucson from eastern AZ yesterday.  It was a wonderful blue sky day with the temperature in the low 60's.

Just the kind of weather for a hike.  Since I haven't taken a long hike with my full pack, I decided it was the day to do that and that I would hike Sabino Canyon.  

My plan was just for a distance hike with the weight of the pack, so I hiked the tram road that provides an even flat surface.  This is the road that a tram takes people to and from the far end of this beautiful canyon to the visitors center. 

At 8.6 miles this is one of my longest hikes and with a full pack.  The elevation was modest at about 800 feet.  I was gone for 4 hours although my moving time was only 2 hours 40 minutes, spending extra time crossing water.

There are 7 water crossings on this road. All were wet except one.  The highest water level was to my calf, so hiking boots alone will get filled with water.

It was a real pain to stop and take off pack, take off hiking boots and put on water shoes, walk through the water and take off water shoes, then put socks and hiking boots on again.  This took way too much time.  Experienced hikers used white trash bags with drawstrings. 

They put their feet with hikers on and put them in the bags and used the drawstrings to hold the bags up as they walked through the water.  For me I got lots of bending and stooping to take footwear off and on so many times. Not the best use of time.

This was more than enough practice using the water shoes, but I needed some practice for by backcountry hike where I will be crossing the streams.   

I had another problem too.  I forgot my towel to dry my feet between water crossings and putting socks back on, so my socks got very wet when this wasn't my goal.

The tram road is 3.7 miles each way, but I hiked 8.6 as I started my hike and had to return to the car.  I didn't set up the power to fridge in my car as I like to have it run for such a lengthy hike.

My mistake with my fridge was I was charging my LiFePo4 battery as I drove the two hours from eastern AZ to Tucson. While I was doing this I plugged the fridge in the Prius 12 volt battery so the LiFePo4 battery would fully charge without a load on it.  

When I left the car the first time I shut off the LiFePo4 charger but didn't move the power back to the LiFePo4 battery for my hike.

The mistake came to me well away from the car and I walked back and included this distance in my total distance. 

Although I had a a number of mistakes I did find out I need to bring a towel and keep it handy for drying my feet.  I also found that the water shoes hold water and I slid one on each side of the bag where I have my water bottles.  The problem was that the wet shoes leaked through the sides of the bag and got contents wet.  Note to self - don't do that again.  I need clips for the back of the backpack to hang them after use. 


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Day 52 2/23/17 - How Much Clearance Is Enough

Above is the route out of the BLM land I've been camping at for the last 5 days.

I'm often asked about my Vandwelling Prius clearance and where I can't go because of the low clearance.  This picture helps me explain how I deal with clearance issues.

I carry off-road chains for emergencies and if chains are required for snow conditions.  Emergencies are just that, if I  get stuck I will use them.  In my 3 years of Prius travels, I haven't been stuck yet.  I can take out the chains and put them in the tires or just put them under the tire for traction.  I do everything possible not to get stuck.

Take the road above.  It's dried out with a large center ridge.  I knew I wouldn't get stuck in the hardened mud, but I did rub the undercarriage of the Prius when I drove through.

Backup 5 days and this was a slippery silt mess of mud.  A Vandwelling friend had noted their difficulties in getting through this with a Sprinter Van.  If a Sprinter was nearly getting stuck, then a Prius would surely get stuck.

I didn't even trying to get there via this route.  I took the only other route around that added 50 miles and an hour to my travels.

Yes. The low clearance of the Prius limits when and where I can go to some places.  I may have to adjust my route or timing in going somewhere based on weather, and road conditions.  

I do not go places I know I'm risking getting stuck.  I have a good visual ability to tell when there may be a problem.  When in doubt I will get out of my car and walk the area.

At the RTR the grader was grading the road.  There was a dirt ridge down the center of the road.  I knew I could make it over it but I would rub underneath and I did.  I also found the grader had made the off road access difficult to get to the RTR parking area as the grader created a ridge on the road edges.  Getting over the ridge required me to get out of the car and knock down the loose dirt with my foot to make it easier to enter without scraping the Prius bottom.

There are places I wish I could go on like poorly maintained Forest Service Roads, Roads with large amounts of sand, through washes that are rough or water is too high, or over cattle grates that have a large drop off on the other side.

I could go these places with my 4x4 Tacoma Truck or even a higher clearance SUV/Crossover, but I then trade off stealth, mileage, and my Prius as a generator, air conditioner, and heater for comfort.

There is no perfect vehicle to give you all these things with off road ability, and the Prius mileage, but the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid comes the closest.  The only problem as one of the blog followers sent me a video about is that the hybrid version is no AWD but the non hybrid is.  AWD app rears to give better traction than the hybrid.

Those that have been following me know I don't seem to miss out on much having a Prius, nor do my full-time Prius friends, David and Suanne.

We all get to see the real beauty of nature in our Prius's. 



Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Day 51 2/22/17 - Dealing With Spare Time

Here I sit in my Prius this am, out of the tent I will be using for my backcountry trip.

This brings up the fact that I've been awake since 4:15 am listening to prerecorded podcasts on my old phone, now used for that purpose.  

After 3 hours of laying in my sleeping bag listening to podcasts it is now warm enough to get out of the tent.

Since it is in the 30's and 40's at night I wait until sunrise at 7:00 am to try to get some thermal heat to warm up.  

When I'm on my backpacking trip I will be ready for bed when it gets cold after dark and in the tent for about 12 hours.

I sleep about 7 hours.  Fires are not allowed where I am going on the hike, so it is not possible to take up time by sitting around a warm fire for a few hours before bed. Therefore, I have about 5 hours of dark and cold to pass the time in my sleeping bag listening to podcasts in addition to the 7 hours of sleep.

I can only hope I get more than 7 hours sleep so I have less time to have to pass by being awake staying warm in my sleeping bag listening to podcasts.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Day 49 2/20/17 - Testing Out Full Backpack

Today was the day to test my new backpack at full backcountry weight, now that the rain has given way to beautiful blue sky's .  

I don't have a scale to yet weigh my pack full.  I will see if I can get it weighed at REI at one of my stops.

This pack has a zippered pocket on the top for easy access to snacks, etc.  There is another zippered pocket in the bottom for easy access to some supplies.  On either side there is room for water bottles that I can access without taking the pack off.

Hanging on the back is my solar charger that charges batteries that can power USB items.

Heavenly, the technical sales associate at REI in San Diego, worked with me to select a bag that met my needs.  After I selected the bag she set the adjustment system on the pack to sit at the right spot on my hips and back.

The backpack carried the weight exactly as I would want and it wasn't long before I wasn't thinking about it.

I walked 4.6 miles through desert sand that is tough to walk on, and I used muscles that I don't usually use.

Next is to test the tent, sleeping bag, and mattress. 


Day 50 2/21/17 - Sleeping Outside Prius

Those that follow my blog know I don't wish to sleep in a tent, when I have my bed in the Prius. 

I used to carry a 2P (2 Person) tent in my Prius but never used it, so I switched this year to this 1P from Walmart leaving me more space.

On day 37 I reviewed this tent and it is my current choice for my backpacking tent in March at 3 lbs. 5 oz.

The tent fits my new lightweight sleeping bag, lightweight mattress, and there is still room for keeping my backpack inside with me if I don't hang it from a tree.

The tent is fine for my trip, as to save a pound, a new lightweight tent would cost $300.00 and that isn't worth it.

I have now slept in my new lightweight sleeping bag for one night.  The temperature got down to 34 deg, and it was warm enough for me with long sleeve tee and pants/socks and fleece cap sleeping in the bag.

Obviously if it was warmer less clothing and colder I would need a liner inside the bag.  

The sleeping bag is lightweight and relatively warm.  It is a comfort level of 30 deg with a lower level of 19 deg.  Don't go by the lower number.  My bag is good for 30 deg.  This should be fine for the backcountry trip.  It is not a winter bag.

For other features to save weight the bag is narrow and not much room in the lower leg area, but it is worth the trade off for weight. 

Being a mummy bag, as the night turned colder, I closed the mummy hole eventually the size of my nose to keep the heat in.

The sleeping bag was so light and as advertised I could blow it up in short order.  It also has a great insulation rating so the cold ground never bothered me.

To get the weight of the pad down it is the size of the mommy bag. Overnight I noticed my leg area of my sleeping bag were off it at the bottom of the pad.  It is also slippery and slides on the tent floor.

I will using the sleeping pad but would like a way to keep the bag on the pad for the night.

I'm trying it a second night but to tell the truth I like sleeping in my Prius.  When morning comes I start the Prius and the heater is set for 72 deg.  

When I wake at 5 or 6 am it's cold in the tent and I try to wait for sunrise.  I would like to have it a bit warmer for the overnight temperatures but it's 2 nights in the backcountry and I will settle for no rain.

To entertain myself in the tent I listen to podcasts I download and often fall asleep to some part of them. There is no cell service where I currently am without using my cell phone amplifier.  I will need to download many podcasts for my backcountry trip before I head out, as there is no cell service there either.

Yes.  Almost tine to head in for the night.


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Day 48 2/19/17 - Desert Dwelling In My Prius

After leaving Tucson yesterday (Saturday) I stopped at McDonalds for all the downloads I could possibly put on my old phone and then went to a library to work on some things in the internet using a fixed table.

I then stopped at Walmart to restock my fridge and I headed to the higher desert of eastern AZ to organize my new 50 liter backpack and start to do some hikes with the newer larger and heavier pack. 

The goal is to utilize all the equipment and figure out cooking dehydrated food as I have not cooked or eaten it before.  The serving size says 2.5 but if I'm burning calories I probably will need a bag per meal.

The rain I had run away from in San Diego made its way east and I had showers yesterday and today to a less of a degree.  You can see from today's evening picture at the top of the post we still have light showers in the area.

I came to this spot last year for a few days and I have AT&T cell service. If I get on a sand dune I can get a bar or two of service, but where I park my car there is no service unless I'm using my cell phone amplifier.  The cell amplifier takes no signal and is giving me 2 bars of LTE.  This is why I'm able to post while I'm here. The amplifier is working great.

I ate my first dehydrated/rehydrated meal and it was actually very good.  I expect I will carry 4 days of dehydrated food on this hike even though it is a 3 day adventure, to ensure there is enough food.

I won't be eating my daily salad and fruit but where I'm going is worth it.  I can have all that when I get back to civilization. 

After the rain showers pass I will be putting up my tent and sleeping in it with my new sleeping bag and mattress, as I will when I'm on my backcountry hike.

The desert is a great place to test out the equipment for the hike and the Prius is packed to the gills with stuff for this side trip.   


Saturday, February 18, 2017

Day 47 2/18/17 - What's In A Name

Above is the Mc/Mac Aloney, McAlonan, McAlonie Descendants Facebook Page.

I have utilized my travels over the last 4 years to meet many cousins across the United States.  Last November and in January I traveled to Canada to meet cousins as well.

Growing up all I knew about my name was from my grandfather who made sure that we knew were Scottish.  In the 1980's when I had gone to Edinburgh, Scotland to research MacAloney, there was no records of the name.

I knew from my family that my great grandfather was born in Nova Scotia along with his children and then immigrated to northern Massachusetts with his family in the very early 1900's.

It wasn't until I learned about my cousin Sandra, in Nova Scotia, who was documenting the Mc/Mac Aloney families in Nova Scotia, who my ancestors were back to Northern Ireland.

That right, Northern Ireland not Scotland.   

Sandra also had found that the Mc/Mac Aloney's were McAlonan's in Northern Ireland and changed their name back to McAloney upon arrival to Nova Scotia.  We have theories but no conclusive reason for this.  There are 11 independent Mc/Mac Aloney families that came to Nova Scotia, but there are no records to positively tie them together through revords but we all believe we are all one ancestry of the family.

To make this more confusing is that in the late 1800's all the families spelled their name Mc Aloney, not MacAloney.  In the late 1800's religion caused a split in families with Catholic families using Mc and Protestant using Mac. Some families had splits in their families with some using Mc and others using Mac.  My family used Mac, but regardless of spelling we are all one family heritage. 

Enter Graeme Macaloney who's family didn't go to Nova Scotia from Northern Ireland to Scotland.  Yes, Graeme's family spells the name with the second a uncapitalized.

I was always told growing up that Mac and Aloney are separate words and this is how my family writes it.  Where Mac = son of and then Aloney.  A two word last name causes problems within our digital world so I use MacAloney often to prevent confusion when digitized forms are used.

Graeme has been researching the MacAloney's in Scotland and our connection to the Cameron Clan.  He initiated the Family Tree Y-111 DNA testing that matched us as of the same ancestry although it is about 200 years ago most likely in Northrrn Ireland.

We have now a female McAloney who is carrying her father's Y DNA that also matches with Graeme and me.  We are each seperated by only two DNA markers each, which is out of 111 markers.  2 markers being different is expected, with one marker separation for each 100 years.  This means we have 3 different lines of MacAloney's with no exact ancestor tie are now tied by DNA.  We are hoping that all MacAloney and various spellings to be tested to prove our theory.

In the meantime Graeme is continuing his study of MacAloney's in Scotland and what he has found is that our name was spelled differently over time due to the Scottish brogue that wasn't a written language and anglification of what was heard.  It also has to do with how Scottish names were formed.

Here is Graeme's comments on this.

Maelanfaid is an ancient, early medieval Irish and Scottish name that first appears in the annals and manuscript genealogies around 700 AD. It is Gaelic for Prince or Chief of the Storm. There was also a Saint Maelandfaid circa 600 AD at Molana-Dairinis abbey, Ireland. The Scottish names Macaloney, MacAloney, McAlonie, MacGillonie are anglifications of Mac-Maelanfaid. The Irish names Malanaphy, Malamphy, Molamphy, Mellamphy, Mullamphy, Melaniphy, Molanphy are anglifications of Maelanfaid.Other Irish Maelanfaid names are O'Lemon, O'Lemmon, O'Dugain, Doogan, Duggan (but not Duignan, Deignan or Dignan), O’Conliagain, Cunnigan, O’Cuineagan. The ancestors of many modern-day Scottish, Canadian & U.S., Aussie / NZ., Macaloney's, McAloney's, McAlonie's changed their name from McAlonan, McAlonen when they left Northern Ireland in the 1800's, where they had been 'Ulster-Scot planters'. It is believed these people 'Irished' their name from Macaloney etc to McAlonan etc., after they moved from Lochaber, Scotland (some via Islay) to Northern Ireland, and then back to Macaloney etc when they left Northern Ireland. Therefore, many McAlonan's / McAlonen's are also Maelanfaid. The McMartin, MacMartin, McPhail, MacPhail names originating from Lochaber in the Scottish Highlands are recorded in the Scottish Gaelic Manuscript dated 1467 AD as being of the blood-line of Clan Maelanfaid, and therefore are also Maelanfaid

I started out with "What's in a name?"

From what we know is that at one point in history there were no MacAloney's as they had changed their names to McAlonan.  Something also caused these same MacAloney's to remember their roots and bring the name back.  We hope through DNA testing we can pull more pieces of the MacAloney's together and our tie to the Cameron Clan.

What is your family's name story?