Hiking in the San Gabriel Mountains

Three guys from Minnesota went backpacking in February, and you won’t believe what happens next…

I hate that stupid teaser.  You see it on every Facebook/ Buzz Feed post and every unimportant story on the web.  But I’m going to steal it at the same time I mock it.

We just got back from the first adventure of 2014, a 3-day excursion in Angeles National Forest just east of Los Angeles, California.  Awesome timing to get away and an incredible trip with the Puchtel brothers.  Check out the video above documenting our crazy time.  I love how easy it is to bring an iPhone to take pictures/movies, then use the iMovie app to quickly create and upload the video.  #technologywin, #canthepalmpredothatyet?

The Ultralight Backpacker Challenge

My experience with backpacking has come a looooong way.  When I think back to that first trip backcountry with Michael Fineman in 2002, I laugh at the naive boy I once was.  After going through Tom Neiman’s survival packing list (and ignoring the big disclaimer at the top that it was NOT intended to be an all-encompassing list, but rather suggestions to individually consider) … my pack for this first trip probably weighed 60 pounds.  Everything from jeans, to cotton sweaters, multiple swim trunks, water shoes, campground shoes, repair kits, extra fuel canisters (yes multiple) … you name it, I packed it.

Ah, what bliss these past 10 years have brought!  With each trip back to Montana, I evaluated the “necessities”, realized I never used those extra tent poles last time … and lightened my load considerably!  By my 2008 trip to Glacier Park with El Benno, Maximus, and BK Broiler, my pack weight was down to a cool 50 pounds.

And then Max set a challenge.

And as we all know, I do not back down from a Max challenge.

For our 2011 trip to Yosemite, Max and I were going to attempt Lightweight Backpacking.  Officially, lightweight backpacking refers to base pack weight (the weight of a backpack plus the gear inside, excluding consumables such as food, water, and fuel) of 20 pounds or less.  After months of preparation, weighing, cutting, weighing, filing, weighing, buying, sewing, and again weighing … I hit the trails with 24.6 pounds on my back and an additional 9.2 pounds in food/water.  I was 33.8 pounds lean … and that was for winter camping which included 4 lb. snowshoes!  If you subtract the snowshoes, I was at just under 20 pounds and it was fantastic.

But now a new bar has been set.

This summer Max, Gelperin and I will hit the trails again in a much warmer climate, and my base pack weight will be under 10 pounds as I attempt the Ultralight Backpacking experience.  I’ve been doing my homework, reading my books, and following the Gossamer Gear blogCome July 4th, I’ll be 10 pounds or less and running laps around Max. 

Bring it on.

“Would you please put some pants on? I feel weird having to ask you twice”

Did, umm… did Caesar live here?

Well, its that time of the year again.  Hello Neiman is off to Vegas, and who knows if I’ll return.  Maybe I’ll strike it big and move to Maui, maybe I’ll lose big and get buried in the desert … or maybe I’ll wake up in a Presidential Suite at Caesar’s Palace with a missing tooth, tiger in the bathroom and baby in the closet.  Hey, its Vegas … you never know.

Even though Alex just bought a car, I’m about to buy one, Fineman has a wedding to plan for, and Mikey V is … well, he’s a Vegas Virgin, I think it will be a trip for the ages.  I can already see the screenplay for The Hangover 2 in the making.  Of course, we all know who would be which character, but I felt it necessary to depict the group in an artistic rendition of the original cast.  Mikey V is the comedian (that isn’t allowed with 200 yards of a school … or Chuck E. Cheese), Sasha is the pretty boy sweet talker who steals money for children, and obviously I’m the straight shooter toothless wonder who thought he was going to Napa!  Oh, and Fineman?  Fineman is Doug.  We all know how he can play the disappearing act like no other, and well … he is the one getting married.  For the sake of the photo, though, I felt the baby needed a new head too.

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!  … except for…

Europe 2009: 1, 2, 3 … CANYONING!

In 2004, Michael Fineman (Invest-Banker-turned-Venture-Capitalist) returned from Europe with a story tale of wonder, a tale of intrigue, a tale of adventure … a tale, of Canyoning.  I had never heard of this extreme sport before then, but I never forgot it after (probably because our scrolling marquee in the living room said “1, 2, 3 .. canyoning!” for the next 4 months).

Now that I am finally headed to Europe myself, a trip to the Swiss Alps was necessary.  Interlaken, Switzerland is known as the extreme sports capital of Europe, so why choose Canyoning over hang-gliding, base-jumping, or sky-diving?  Well, mainly because of the hype from Fineman all those years ago, but also because it just looks incredibly stupid!  And if you know me, you know I love stupid.  As their website claims, canyoning lets you “rappel, slide, and jump down rocks and waterfalls into the white water filled Saxeten canyon”. 

So let me get this straight?  1/2 rappelling, 1/2 water-slides, 1/2 white-water rafting swimming … and I get a free drink before I start?  Umm, yeah, I’m doing that.  We have a few days to blow our Swiss Francs, and this kid knows what’s first on the list.  Check out the video above and get ready to yell … 1, 2, 3, CANYONING!!

(if I die, Ben can have my DVD collection, but Henry gets “The Beach”)

Europe 2009: Rome’s Ultimate Party

20 Euros, 100 people, 6 bars, no pants

Today starts the first of my European Vacation planning posts.  Since I will be hard pressed to post blogs about what I am doing while on my travels, I can at least prepare for my trip by telling you what I plan to do – plus it gets me excited for my upcoming adventures!

I officially leave for Europe in 10 days, and the first leg of the trip brings me to Roma, Italia.  Well actually, we have an 8 hour layover in Amsterdam … but nothing that goes on there is safe for posting to the online world.  Rome is my favorite part of this trip, and actually what we based the entire itinerary around.  Since the Da Vinci Code breakthrough a few years back, I started reading as many “Vatican Conspiracy” stories I get my hands on:  The Confessor, The Third Secret, Angels and Demons, The Last Templar, etc.  I can’t even name all the Papal mystery novels I’ve read, but the bottom line is that I have lived in Rome through print long enough and it’s time to see it for real.  Will I relive the path of the Illuminati?  Probably not, but will I spend a night getting wasted with the locals and pretending we are Robert Langdon on a Opus Dei witch-hunt?  Oh hell, why not…

Therefore, bring on the Spanish Steps Pub Crawl.  Wait, before I begin, I better read their website and make sure I qualify.  Lets see, “there are two main conditions we require from our customers when they join us – speak a bit of English and like drinking.”  DONE AND DONE!  Can’t wait to find the yellow t-shirt staff, get my free pub crawl shirt and let the party take it from there.  Multiple bars, free shots at each, and a free hour of drinking to start it off … yep, it puts the Boots and Northface on Lyndale pub crawl Nicollet Mall Flip Flops and Tank Tops pub crawls to shame.  Though, I still remember Kieran’s birthday pub crawl on campus in 2003 like it was yesterday, I don’t plan to remember this one the next day at all…

Eurotrip? Hello Neiman!

So funny story.  First it was the Appalachian Trail (sorry Benjie), then Australia, then almost Hawaii, and finally settled on Europe.  This September, Hello Neiman is finally adding “dirty American scum” to my list of personality traits.  Last night we finished finalizing the plans for my 4 country, 10 day European vacation with Mirra.  Rome/Vatican, Interlaken/Switzerland, Paris, Amsterdam … yeah its a lot in a little time, but after 28 years, its about time I saw the red light district.

Basic itinerary is set (meaning trains and hostels/hotels booked), but I’m looking for fun things to do and since everyone else I know went to Europe without me, fill me in on the must see’s and do’s while there!  I’m thinking I’ll have to relive the path of the Illuminati in Rome, kill a Caesar at the Colosseum, go Canyoning in Interlaken, buy a hotel in Bratislava for a nickel, drink a bottle of $500 French wine and pass out spread eagle in front of the Eiffel Tower, and at minimum … kick 3 robot dancers in the balls.

I’m ready for Europe, but is Europe ready for me?

Back from NY, if only in body

Well, I’m back from NY and in DC again for the week before finally heading home this Thursday.  It’s tough being on the road and going on a trip for the weekend, I feel like I haven’t been home at all this month (and to be honest, I probably haven’t been there for more than 6 or 7 days since my birthday).  But, if I have to go somewhere for a weekend there is nowhere I can imagine going other than New York.  How it has taken me 28 years to finally experience NY is beyond me, but all I know is that I need to go back.  And soon.  Check out the photos of the trip at the Facebook album,  (a great perk of the Palm Pre is that it instantly uploads the photo to Facebook after I take it, nice way to create a picture scrapbook of the trip).

G-Money and Nubian 3 headed to the NYC

“Fascinating! Semmi, look at this! America is great indeed. Imagine a country so free, one can throw trash on the streets!”

It’s been a long week here in DC, but I’m headed to the big apple tomorrow with Grant to show those Yankees (Hage, that is a historical, not baseball, reference) how well the Midwest Movement can party it up in the big city.  Going to see Letterman and Fallon, hitting up every Kosher deli in walking distance, hit up Broadway, check out the infamous NY club scene, pop in on some old family and friends, and basically have the usual weekend debacles … only this time drinks are twice as much, the streets are twice as crowded, and my 3 am Big Mac run will be twice as delicious.

New York City.  Since I’ve never really been there, I am sure I will fall in love and want to move there.  It happened with DC, it happened with Chi-town, it’s bound to happen with NY.  I think the bottom line is that I just can not be happy in a small-town wannabe downtown city like Minneapolis.  It’s time to see what a real night on the town is like in the city that brought us Gordon Gecko, Peter Parker, and Ninja Turtles.  Cowabunga NYC, let’s do this!

Camping in Northfield

This weekend Lindsey and I are joining the Hage family for a couple days/nights of camping and hiking in Nerstrand State Park.  Best known for the waterfall scene above and the “Second Strangest Tree in Minnesota”, this should be a good time … as long as the weather holds up.  It may be my only time out in the woods this summer (besides the mega trip with Benjie in September), so we’ll definitely do what it takes to enjoy ourselves – rain or shine.

Still haven’t seen LOST yet, but my “4-toed statue” post got 105 hits yesterday so me thinks that it was a huge part of the finale.  Can’t wait to find out why later today!!

Where the Hell is HelloNeiman?

Well well well, after 5 glorious days on the beaches of Ft. Lauderdale, I am back to the dullness of Minneapolis.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to be back home … but after spending a week in Florida, I have to ask myself why would ANYONE choose to live in Minnesota??  The ground is covered in snow, the people are covered in unnecessary clothing … really, what is the benefit of living in cold?  Or for that matter, what is the benefit of living in one place?  I love traveling, and I love trying new climates and cultures, and I love trying the local drink specialty of new places.  Have you seen wherethehellismatt.com?  This guy is a testament to all the dreamers and travelers out there who don’t want to be stuck in skyways and snow-pants.  If I could live in one place, it would be an international airport.  Then, I could send myself to the next exciting destination when the current one gets too cold, too dreary, or too ordinary.  Sure, I love my family, and I love being with Lindsey and my friends … but wouldn’t it be great to be Matt for just one year?  (And don’t worry, Matt brought Melissa on his travels with him).  Two words that have never described me are “ordinary” and “stationary”.   It may be time for an adventure of my own…

Watch the video for inspiration (and the music rocks too!)