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  1. #1
    Forum Member Boolie's Avatar
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    Jul 2014
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    Tom Bihn Goes to the Olympics (Not Those Olympics)


    I ordered my Aeronaut 45 in December 2014 to use as my main travel bag but it had been sitting idle for a year and a half. Not because I didn't like the bag but because I wasn't taking trips. Understandable at first, as our cat Emma died soon after and left me broken-hearted, then we adopted our youngest cat Trixie and there was much work to be done getting her introduced and accepted by the others. And in the winter of 2015-2016 my project at work left me too tired to want to drive anywhere. But mostly I was just not dealing with the daily stresses of life as well as I should have.

    So in April I decided it was time to put things to right and planned my first hiking trip of the year, a short visit to Olympic National Park in the northwestern corner of Washington. More than anything I wanted to visit the Hoh Rain Forest when it was raining, which you wouldn't think would be too hard given that it is an actual rain forest. But for me the Hoh has always been the Hoh Rain Adjacent Forest, as on a handful of visits over the years I've gotten drenched in many parts of the park but the rain always stopped before I reached the Hoh. This time I waited until rain was predicted for the weekend, made my reservations, and loaded up the Subaru. Keeping the Aeronaut company on its maiden voyage were my camera bags and duffel bag plus my other Bihn bags: my ID messenger bag and The Guide's Pack backpack. With the car packed I was ready to set off from our house in Portland and …

    "What about the rest of us?"

    "What?"

    "You only mentioned the big bags!"

    "No one wants to read about every single …"

    "You said you wished you had o-rings in your arms so you could attach Key Straps to them!"

    "Yes that's true but it's not a matter of how much I love the …"

    "You said Stuff Sacks were a basic human need, just after food, water, and shelter!"

    "I know but brevity is …"

    "You said the Travel Tray was a better invention than electricity!"

    "I was being a little facetious, but …"

    "Key Straps! Execute attack profile Bravo Alpha Delta Bravo Oscar Oscar Lima India Echo!"

    "What are you doing? Tying my hands?"

    "And your feet!"

    "You'll never silence me!"

    "Stuff Sacks! 1! 2! 3! 4! Gag his mouth!"

    "OK, OK, I yield. What are your demands?"

    [Let's try this again]


    Keeping the Aeronaut company on its maiden voyage were my camera bags and duffel bag plus my other Bihn bags: my ID messenger bag, The Guide's Pack backpack, two packing cubes, a Tripod Quiver, a Travel Tray, a Side Effect, three 3D Organizer Cubes, and a small army of Key Straps, Stuff Sacks, and Organizer Pouches, all appreciated for their thoughtful design, quality construction, and non-violent ways. It poured rain on the drive to the Olympic Peninsula and I stopped first at the Quinault Rain Forest to hike a couple of short trails that I hadn't visited in a while, with a visit to the Hoh Rain Forest planned for the next morning. As I put on my rain pants and walked to the trailhead, the rain stopped literally as I stepped onto the trail. Did Mother Nature think I was amused? In truth I was, wondering if I'd get rain the next day or if the Hoh was to be my Wet Whale.


    I had been drenched in the Quinault before so the suddenly dry skies weren't too much of a disappointment and I started up the Maple Glade Loop Trail and the Kestner Homestead Trail, stopping at the homestead to photograph this dilapidated old moving van with trees growing inside, an old favorite from a previous visit. They keep the area around the truck mowed but are letting nature reclaim the truck. Ashes to ashes, dust to rust. As I photographed the truck I was caught off guard when the rain began pounding down once more. I took a few more pictures before retreating to a covered picnic area. I ventured out for a few more pictures but suddenly realized my biggest mistake in my desire to pack lightly, as I hadn't brought a backup camera or lens. The camera is weather sealed but the lens isn't and makes them both vulnerable where they connect. So mostly I just stood there and reveled in the rain, soaking it in in case tomorrow dawned dry.

    The next morning I drove to the Hoh, knowing the weather was going to improve throughout the weekend, if improve means more and more sun, so I wasn't sure if I'd finally get my rain. As I drove towards the park in a heavy overcast, the sun suddenly appeared and I said out loud, "You are not welcome here!" It quickly disappeared behind the clouds and, a bit surprised and a little terrified at my sudden powers, I continued on to the trailhead as a gentle rain began to fall.

    At long last, rain in the Hoh.


    I used one of my Stuff Sacks to cover the camera and lens while hiking, and when taking pictures the material is pliant enough that I could lay the bag over the top of the camera and keep rain from hitting the lens. The outside of the bag was damp from the rain, but it was drops of rain I was worried about. That worked fine and kept the gear dry both days it rained.

    The next morning the sun rose and never yielded, but I had fun visiting a few beaches, two of which I had never been to before, then began the drive back to Portland. I was already thinking about my next trip when my Sitka Forum Gift came up and sat on the seat beside me. This was also its first trip.

    We talked for a while, especially about the giant Sitka spruces in the rain forests, before it grew silent. "What's on your mind?" I asked.

    "I know you voted for Zest."

    "Oh I see," I said, not taking my eyes off the road ahead.

    "It's OK", it said, "I know you think I'm beautiful too."

    "I really do. You all were."

    "And after all, no Sitka is an Island."

    "I'm glad you can joke about it. So we're cool?"

    "We're cool."

    We sang along to some R.E.M. songs before it got tired and headed back to join the other bags. As I walked to the train station the next morning to go back to work, still reveling in three days of hiking in such a beautiful place, I couldn't help but reflect on the many blessings in my life. A couple of months later we all went down to California to hike in the Redwoods, then in July on a visit to family I took my first flight in years, and my first time ever with carry-on only, courtesy of the Aeronaut and ID. Next up in the fall I think will be a short trip to Mount Rainier and a longer one to Yellowstone.


  2. #2
    Forum Member Amy's Avatar
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    Fantastic post.

    Sent from my SM-N910T using Tapatalk
    Don’t make something unless it is both necessary and useful; but if it is both necessary and useful, don’t hesitate to make it beautiful. — Shaker Philosophy

  3. #3
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    Engagingly written and great photos, @Boolie! I wish there had been a "love" button. :)
    "Do one thing every day that scares you." - Eleanor Roosevelt
    "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." -Ferris Bueller

  4. #4
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    Oklahoma but I'm a native Kansan
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    You have excellent taste in photography equipment and accessories. :-) Many years ago, I took a photo of an old blue truck that had quite a lot of rust on it; your essay reminds me to see if I can find that in my digital files.

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this! I hadn't thought of that use for a stuff sack though.

    Thanks for putting those photos in there at a size that I can enjoy them, so many here are very large, so people must have much larger computer screens than mine. I may go over to Flickr and see if I can view more photos from your trip ---

  5. #5
    Forum Member Pokilani's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing your adventures with us! What a lovely read and gorgeous pictures.

  6. #6
    Forum Member bchaplin's Avatar
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    That is an amazing photo! Hilarious essay, too.
    I know you voted for Zest.
    We need a "LMAO" button!
    ----
    All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.
    Edmund Burke

  7. #7
    Forum Member bubmum's Avatar
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    That was a treat! Thank you for sharing your essay and photos! :)

  8. #8
    Forum Member haraya's Avatar
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    Awesome post and pictures!! Very punny. ;) I can see why all the bags wanted to ride with you!!

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