Thursday, March 24, 2016

Need a fix? We're posting hiking photos every day.

Would you like to see where we go? Reminisce about old trips? Relive fond memories? Be sure to visit our Facebook page. We've been posting hiking and travel photos every day. Some photos are silly, like this one of RW head guide Ken Fuhrer hoisting the cheese during our picnic lunch in Italy.

Other photos capture the grandeur of the mountains and the many adventures that we've enjoyed during more than three decades of organizing tours. 

Like this photo, taken during a private hiking tour through the Alpstein region of Appenzell, Switzerland. Or this one of our group making the final push over the Sefinafurgga after a 4,000 foot climb from the Swiss alpine village of Griesalp. 

Take some time out of your day and have a little fun. Wander over to our Facebook page, enjoy the photos, and hit that like button if you haven't done so already.

By the way; how many wheels of cheese do you think Ken Fuhrer digested during his twenty years of employment with Ryder-Walker? We'll do the math and post the answer on Facebook. Stay tuned…

We're also on Instagram.

Photo cred: Ken Fuhrer | Appenzell, Switzerland

Friday, March 18, 2016

More Photos From Patagonia

There is a reason that we use the phrase "Hiking Argentina's Lake District" when referring to our Patagonia hiking tour.  Looking at these photos, you might think we were boating around Norway, Iceland or Montenegro. In fact, we hire a boat to access the exceptional hiking around San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina. The lake in the background is called the Lago Nahuel Huapi and it's HUGE.

We use to the boat to access some really great hiking and views.

Here's a shot of our group enjoying a sunny March day. Hiking in South America is very nice thing to do.

You can see more photos of Argentina by visiting this previous post. All images by Ryder-Walker trip leader Dave Gruss.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

We've posted a lot of water photos lately; Argentina, Montenegro, Iceland, etc. We'd be remiss, however, if we didn't post something for IRELAND. 

Karen Walker shot this photo while hiking our self-guided Dingle Way. The cliffs and shoreline hikes are amazing. Enjoy the photo, and Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Photos From Patagonia

Dave Gruss sent these photos from our guided hiking tour in Patagonia which is going on right now. Look at the awesome wood carvings in the next photo. 

Patagonia is a HUGE place and is shared by the countries of Argentina and Chile. Within Patagonia you'll find grasslands, steppes, deserts, and the Andes Mountains, the longest continental mountain chain IN THE WORLD. The Andes mountains stretch 4,300 miles / 7,000 kilometers through seven different countries including, Venezuela, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. Our hiking tour takes place in Argentina.

We chose Argentina because the hiking is similar in style to the inn-to-inn hikes that we love so much in Europe. The food and the towns are exciting, while eccentric mountain huts and country inns color the mountain landscape with tasty refreshment and sumptuous local specialties. In the above photo, our group stops for liquid restoration at a hut with incredible views. 

Argentina is not Europe. It is a country with its own customs, colors and spin on the world, yet it shares the same blood that courses through all mountain communities across the globe. Climbing a mountain is one of the best things that a person can do in life, and Argentina is a great place to do it. It's also a nice place to hang your hat!

Speaking of hats...Look at all those fashion-forward Ryder-Walker adventure caps. We give them to our guests, but you can order extras by emailing our office.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Help! My Leki trekking poles are stuck. How do I get them loose?

The old screw-type expandable trekking poles from Leki are notorious for getting stuck. Preventative maintenance helps, but what do you do if it's too late for maintenance and your poles are already jammed?

Here are a few tricks for getting Leki twist-style expandable trekking poles unstuck.

The first step is to make sure that you turn each section in the right direction. I’m right-handed, and I’ve found that I like the pole tip on my left hand side, with the pole grip on the right. With this orientation, I grab the lower shaft (the narrower one) with my left hand and the upper shaft (the fatter one) with my right. To loosen, spin your left hand away from you while holding firmly with your right. If this doesn’t work, then it’s on to step two.

Get a pair of pliers. Channel lock pliers work best, but needle nose pliers will work in a pinch, (and they’re common on most Leatherman tools).  Vice grips, like those shown in the photo, will also work, but be VERY careful not to crush or deform your pole tip.

With your pliers, lock onto the plastic tip of the left-most shaft. Again, don’t squeeze too tight, or you risk crushing and/or deforming the shaft. Also, don’t ever grab the metal part of the shaft with the pliers. Again, you can crush the metal, and at the very least, you’ll scrape up the finish.

With your pliers fixed gently but firmly on the plastic barrel, proceed with the same twisting motion mentioned above. Keep the fatter pole steady, while you gently twist the skinnier pole with your pliers. This usually does it for me.

If you’re still having trouble, then grab another pair of pliers and lock on to the plastic barrel on the right side shaft. Now, instead of gripping both poles with your hands, (and giving yourself crazy blisters), you use the pliers to twist instead. I’ve done this a few times and it always works. Note: It is possible to break the plastic barrels loose. If you have to twist this hard, however, then you have other problems that are much harder to address.

Serious problems.

Sometimes your expanders will get stuck in the shaft and the poles won't come loose no matter what you do. This happened to me two summers ago. Thankfully, it only happened to one pole, but I had a heck of a time getting it loose. I ended up pouring Liquid Wrench into the shaft and letting it soak for a couple of weeks. I almost gave up, but then it suddenly broke loose.

Praying helps.

Click here to see what the expanders look like inside your trekking pole.

Please let me know how it works out, or if you have more questions. I'm happy to help.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Book Recommendation | Feed Zone Portables: A Cookbook of On-The-Go Food for Athletes

By Allen Lim and Biju Thomas

As a hiker and a cyclist, I’m always looking for good food that I can eat on the go, so I was pretty excited when I stumbled upon Feed Zone Portables by Allen Lim and Biju Thomas. Lim and Thomas developed this book for endurance athletes, but you don’t have to be a sports star to enjoy the recipes in this book. In fact, anyone looking for a delicious portable snack will benefit, especially hikers.

If you’re like me, then you don’t always want to pack a full lunch when you head out on a hike. Call it lazy if you will. Sometimes I just want to grab something quick, throw it in my pack, and go, especially if I’m only going for a short hike. Sometimes I don’t know how long I’m going to hike, so I throw a little food in my pack “just in case.” Fresh fruit works, of course, but it doesn’t always satisfy, especially if I hike longer than expected. Ditto for veggies. I’m easily hungry twenty minutes later. Gorp is an old staple, but I burned out on that long ago. What’s left? I usually default to energy bars, which certainly have their place, but I’m burned out on those too. Plus, energy bars hurt my stomach when I push the pace in other activities like cycling, so I’m ready for something different. 

Enter the portable.

I like this book because it’s based on the simple premise that food should be made from simple recipes that make you feel good and perform better.

It should be noted that these recipes do tend to be heavy on carbohydrates because that’s what endurance athletes burn. This is not a recipe book for sedentary couch potatoes or desk jockeys. It’s a book for people who are active, working hard and sweating. Hikers certainly fit the bill. That said, if you are the type of person that grabs a cookie or a candy bar for a mid-afternoon snack, even when you’re not exercising, then this book will give you a somewhat healthier alternative. The recipe for Thomas and Lim’s Apple Two-Bite Pie, for example, uses a lot less sugar than you’ll find in a store-bought equivalent.

The recipes in this book also have A LOT more moisture content than you’ll find in pre-packaged energy bars. It makes perfect sense. Energy bars need a long shelf life, but the tradeoff is that you have to rehydrate them once they’re in your gut. It might not a big deal if you’re wandering at a leisurely pace through the woods, but things can get rather uncomfortable in the lower quadrants when you push the pace in the heat, on a climb, or with your Tuesday night cycling group. From personal experience, the added moisture in these recipes has, for me, been the biggest thumbs up, and this book is filled with recipes for just about every taste.

Allen Lim made a name for himself by supplying delicious, portable rice cakes to cyclists on the pro circuit in Europe. There is a whole section on rice cakes including, Denver Rice Cakes, Swiss Rice Cakes, Blueberry & Chocolate Rice Cakes, and more.

The book also features baked egg portables with recipes for a Potato and Leek Frittata, Rice Soufflé, Spinach & Zucchini Frittata and Crispy Rice Omelet.

If you think that portable eggs sound gross then think again. Eating a baked egg portable is almost no different than stopping for an omelet at an alpine hut during one of our alpine hiking tours. Omelets are a great hiker’s repast, and the Mushroom & Swiss Frittata in this book tastes great on a cold and rainy afternoon.
There’s also a sizeable section on two-bite pies, (both sweet and savory) with recipes for traditional piecrusts, warm dough and quick crusts. Thomas and Lim present some pretty interesting shortcuts for making gluten-free crusts too.

The recipe for gluten-free chocolate cakes is one of my favorites. The cakes have just the right amount of moisture. They taste good, and they’re not overly sweet. In fact, you get just the right amount of chocolate without the sticky sugar mouth that you get from traditional recipes. You can bake the cakes in individual muffin tins, or in an 8” square pan divided into the size of your liking. Throw a batch of bars in the freezer and you're good to go for a couple of weeks. 

A fresh batch of portables in the freezer—ready for the next adventure. 

Rice cakes and omelets probably don’t sound very portable, but trust us, they are. These recipes were developed for pro cyclists and endurance athletes so they had to be able to fit into jersey pockets and fuel belts, unwrap easily and resist crumbling. Sound perfect for hiking? They are!

My only complaint with this book actually has nothing to do with the book at all. My frustration has to do with the scarcity of something called “Nonstick Pan-Lining Paper” by Reynolds which Thomas and Lim recommend for wrapping up their portables. I found pan-lining paper once while traveling in the Midwest. It’s basically aluminum foil on one side, and parchment paper on the other. It works brilliantly and much better than the non-stick aluminum foil that is so ubiquitous. I’m hooked on it, but none of my local grocery stores carry it, so I’m back to nonstick foil. If you buy the book, and you run across pan-lining paper, then stock up. Who knows how long it will be around. Regular aluminum foil works, but it tears, and it’s just not as nice.  

Thomas and Lim also put together some really nice chapters on nutrition and the science behind these recipes with sections on hydration, calories, gastric emptying, glycogen storage, osmotic pressure and more. It’s probably overkill for the average hiker, but there’s some really good stuff in there. You’ll really love it if you’re a cyclist, a runner, or you compete in any kind of endurance event. I was quite shocked when I read the section on calorie consumption. I’m one of those guys who aimlessly stuffs away calories just because I’m exercising (naively thinking that I’ll burn them off). After reading Feed Zone Portables, I’m convinced that a lot of us eat way more than we need. 

In closing, here’s a quote from the book.

“Nourishment is something much greater than calories or individual ingredients. It’s the soul in a great dish, pursuing a goal with close friends and family, and taking care of our entire being.” 

And another…

“The practice of making real food is not always easy, especially when our lives are busy and stressful. But when all is said and done, we still need and want healthy, fresh and simple portable foods to keep us fueled and nourished when we’re on the move.”

Amen to that.