Saturday, January 18, 2014

HB Tune Hand Band Review 01-18-2014

Running Tip of the day: You can significantly improve on how you carry your cell phone with you when you head out for a run! Check out this HB Tune HAND Band! It may be time to ditch your basic old-fashioned all-kinds-of-annoying arm band and take advantage of HB Tune's unique design which has proven to be the perfect mix of comfort, functionality and flexibility.

I have logged more than 1,100 miles over the last 12 months and more than 2,700 miles over the last few years. My cell phone has tagged along on almost every single one of those adventures. The vast majority of those events involve me grabbing a zip lock bag, stuffing my phone into it and then carrying it in my hand throughout the entire duration of the run. 2 miles, 5 miles, 12 miles and even 16 miles... and I've dropped that phone exactly zero times during those runs. It wasn't a perfect method, but it worked pretty reliably.

Then... I got an armband. The ones that everyone else seems to already have. It looks like the phone sits so perfectly still and accessible but I quickly learned about the variety of downsides to this method. It didn't stay on my upper arm, it twisted around to the back side of my upper arm, tried to slide down over my elbow, the phone would only fit if I removed the protective case, the touch screen usage was dismal and it was a pain to get the phone into and back out of it. It was surprising how much less hassle there was with my tried and true zip lock baggie method.
As it turns out, there is a better option that completely outperforms the others: the HB Tune Hand Band. Yes, HAND band. It fits over your thumb. Your phone sits right in the palm of your hand. There is a velcro strap to tighten the fit, but really, gravity does much of the work to keep it in place.

This thing has it all! My phone fits in the HB Tune easily, even with the bulky Otter Box cover on. Seriously - no need to remove it!

The touch screen completely works while my phone is in the HB Tune, and it also works with those fancy 'texting' gloves; I've done it.

Running Apps? Work like they are supposed to without having to hold my arm in weird positions to read a rotated screen on my upper arm... my phone is in my palm right where it is when I'm not running! What more could you ask for?

Well... you could ask for an armband in case you don't want it in your palm (not sure why you would but it could happen) or you could ask for a way to stash small items of importance such as identification cards, credit cards, cash or a car key or maybe you could ask that it be durable, water resistant and sweat resistant. What the heck, while we are day dreaming, let's also ask that it be accommodating enough to fit over running gloves for those cold weather runs.

Have a seat so you don't fall down: the HB Tune Hand Band has ALL of those features! I've personally tested them all and its no joke, this thing is the bee's knees!

Unfortunately there are two things that this product can't or won't do.
First, it is not waterproof. Resistant, yes. Waterproof, no. If you are running 12 miles in a classic northwest Washington downpour, it is possible for water to come into contact with parts of your phone. In those severe weather situations you may want to consider your zip lock bag supply, just in case. Use common sense, check the weather forecast before you run. The only other downside is that the HB Tune won't actually run any miles for you.

Visit the HB Tune website for a lot more info, including specifications for the small size vs the large size and a number of informational videos which demonstrate exactly how to use this product.

In summary, I highly recommend the HB Tune Hand Band!  Even if you already have an armband, you owe it to yourself to give one of these a test run!

Thanks for reading this review.  I'd love to have your insights and opinions in the comments section for this posting!

Happy Running!



Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a HB Tune Hand Band for free from HB Tune as coordinated by Deep Creek Public Relations in consideration for review publication.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Mt Baker's Huntoon Point 12-19-2013

On December 19, 2013 I dropped Mikayla off at school and then scuttled my way to Maple Falls where I met 11 other Mount Baker Club members for a 'short notice' snowshoe trek to Huntoon Point.

Huntoon Point is easily accessible in the summertime via a short one mile easy hike from Artist Point (which is located at the very end of the Mount Baker Highway #542).

A visit to Huntoon Point in winter is a completely different trip.

The Mount Baker Highway is closed at Heather Meadows (the upper lodge of the Mt. Baker Ski Area) so you'll need snowshoes or ski's to get there.

The winter route is about 3.5 miles round trip and between 1,000 and 1,300 feet of elevation gain.  The route follows the ski area boundary (snowshoes and sledding are not allowed in the ski area) beyond Austin Pass up to a spot just below the Lake Ann trail head.

From this point it is easy to notice that the paved road heads off the left, providing a gradual elevation gain, but many fail to recognize the increased risk of avalanches along this route.  Steep slopes above the road often become wind loaded and are subject to sun exposure - great ingredients for an avalanche potluck.

The alternative route is to proceed straight ahead, ascending a steep slope nicknamed 'cardiac hill', or 'a$$burn hill' by others.  It's a steep slope and it's not easy but it's generally the safer option between the two routes.

In the 10 years that I've been snow shoeing up here, it wasn't until today's outing that I've ever taken the road route (and that was on the return trek).  On the way to Huntoon I took the 'Cardiac Hill' route while the rest of the party took the road route both directions.

There weren't any avalanches during our trek as the conditions weren't too risky, thank goodness.

However... while in my solo ascent of Cardiac Hill, there were four back country skier's in front of me who began pelting me with insults and everyone's favorite four letter words because I was following their tracks up the hill.

Generally speaking, snowshoer's are supposed to try and avoid tromping in ski tracks because they claim it make their skiing too hard or dangerous or something.  Generally speaking, I try to follow that rule.

However, Cardiac Hill is steep and it's not really feasible to head 'straight up' the hill.  It's easier to traverse from one side to the other and switchback your way up.  Like I have been doing for 10 years and like snowshoers and skiers have probably been doing for many years before that.  Today, I did the same thing.

For some reason, the skiers today felt they owned this track and wanted me off of it.  I tried to stay off it as much as I could to appease them, but those efforts often caused slabs of snow to sluff off and cover their tracks entirely so I really doubt that was what they wanted either.

Up at the top of the hill I caught up to one of the skiers and he explained they they hoped to ski down the Bagley Basin bowl and then climb back up Cardiac Hill for a second run.  Doing so would be a lot easier if they could just retrace their tracks up Cardiac Hill and having snowshoers track on top of it would make that more difficult.

I explained that in all the years of my ascents up the hill it has always been a shared track and if there was room for a second route up Cardiac Hill I gladly would have made it or taken it.  Unfortunately, there is only room for one route up.  So be it.  Sure, I could have taken the road... but so could the skiers.  "Buck up, Buttercup".

This was the second time I've had skiers bully me.  The first time was way back in 2008 at Lk. Keechelus.

Anyway, on the way back down I followed the rest of the MBC group, taking my chances on the road route.  I noted skiers and snowshoers ascending Cardiac Hill on our return.  Just like they always do.

Winter weather up here can, and does, change frequently and quickly, and the route passes through a number of areas which can pose an avalanche risk in some scenarios.  Please don't attempt this trip alone and please be prepared with proper avalanche rescue/survival gear and back country knowledge.

Here is the route map for today's antics.

Happy Hiking (or snowshoeing)!


Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sharpe Park - Montgomery -Duban Headlands 10-25-2013

Located on Fidalgo Island located 'between' Deception Pass and Anacortes, you can find a hidden gem of a park.

This is actually a Skagit County Park with a number of trails that will lead you to a beaver pond and a couple viewpoints of Oak Harbor, Deception Pass State Park, Lopez Island and other Rosario Strait lumps.

My route covered most of the trails here, but not in a very organized manner.  Total hiking distance was about 3 miles and included about 700 feet of total elevation gain.  The elevation gain results from hiking down to the headlands, then back up and back down to other headlands, and then up to an unremarkable high point and finally over to Sares Head.
 Lots of large mushrooms in a state of decay... lots of mold along with them.

My specific route went from the parking lot to the beaver pond where I found a dead-end to the right.  Backtracked to the left and made my way down in the most direct manner to the northern most point closest to the water.  This point is actually a fair bit above the water at some cliffs.  Water access is not possible (or not wise).

From here I headed south for a ways before the trail headed uphill and back toward the north where I followed it up to a high point over the beaver marsh before circling back to the main trail, resulting an a figure 8 route.

Some neat Madrona Trees in the area too.

From here I made my way back down to 'near' the water before heading back uphill and finding (finally) Sares Head.

By all accounts, Sares Head is the highlight of this park.  Bring a camera and a picnic lunch.  Enjoy!

The name is a bit of a mystery.  Is it Sharpe Park?  Montgomery Headland?  Duban Headland?  Or is the whole combination the actual name of the park?  Another mystery is what did Sares do to get excluded from the park name?

Feel free to post your informative (or gibberish) answers in the comments section.

Directions (from WTA):  From Interstate 5 at Burlington, take Exit 230 and head west on Highway 20. After 12 miles, cross the bridge to Fidalgo Island, and in a few more miles, turn left at Sharpe's Corner to follow Highway 20 south toward Whidbey Island. After driving by Pass Lake, turn right on Rosario Road, and the park is on the left in 1.7 miles

Happy Hiking!


Friday, December 27, 2013

Face Of Mt. Pilchuck 10-20-2013

Sunny Fall days are the prime time to visit the Lookout on top of Mount Pilchuck.

Due to the late date of this trip report and the number of previous Pilchuck reports on this blog, this post is mostly just eye candy for those of you already tired of winter.

Some highlights from this trip include the cloud layer below us, blue sky at the lookout, sunlight illuminated fall colors, no bugs and of course the face of Pilchuck  which seems to stare at me every time I visit.

5.2 miles and 2,100 feet of elevation gain.  Pure awesomeness.  Round trip.


Happy Hiking!