In August of last year, my family and I moved into a new home we had built over the summer. We had been discussing it for years, and with the size of the family we just needed more room. It was a hectic and crazy time, and I unfortunately didn’t get to the opportunity to do much backpacking throughout the course of 2019. Videos on the channel were few and far between. But, I did manage to slip in an epic trip to Colorado unlike anything I’ll probably be doing anytime in the near future. To see the four-part series, hop over to my YouTube channel.
The new house is amazing, with more than enough space for me to create videos. In fact, with permission from the wife I have constructed a glorious YouTube studio in the basement, complete with 3 point lighting, a green screen, and more. This will be my primary indoor filming location when I absolutely can’t get outside (which is about five to six months out of the year here in Ohio). For outside filming, I have a beautiful back yard with woods for all of my filming needs. While I still would love to have acres and acres of wooded land, this is about as close to my dream as I can get until retirement.
Jump to winter of 2020. I had big plans for being outdoors, including another trip to Colorado and multiple backpacking trips. Then, the COVID pandemic hit, and everything got thrown out the window. After a fun but cold (and short-on-backpacking) trip to Oil Creek in Pennsylvania, I spent the remaining months of spring socially distancing in isolation. I was finally able to get back outside again in May with a trip to Lake Vesuvius. I don’t think it ever felt so good to be outside. Nothing stinks more than being forcibly stuck inside when it’s beautiful out. Fortunately (or unfortunately), it was a crummy spring with tons of rain and extremely below normal temperatures. Now that we are in early June, the weather is finally starting to act more like it should.
So, what else have I been doing to keep myself busy during the quarantine? Well, I got back into biking, for one. The wife and I replaced our boys’ cheap WalMart bikes and bought them some very nice Jamis Trail XR’s. These bikes are nice. I quickly realized, in order to be able to ride with them, I’d have to update my 25-year-old Trek. I found a fantastic deal on a used Cannondale and it has become my pet project while being locked inside all spring. I’ve parted out much of the bike and turned it into more of the touring/bikepacking rig I’ve always wanted. It’s still a work in progress, but it’s coming along nicely. Now, just to get out for a bike packing trip (soon)!
As far as other new gear for 2020, the biggest piece of “backpacking” gear I acquired was a new camera for the channel. I am now rocking the Canon M50, and have to say, I love this camera! The vids on the channel are so crisp and cinematic now, and with the 22mm “pancake” lens I am using I’m able to get that beautiful depth-of-field bokeh effect I’ve always wanted. Goodbye, GoPro!
I did also replace a piece of my “big three” with a Burrow Econ top quilt from Hammock Gear. Finally, I have a quality down top quilt instead of a ridiculously heavy and bulky synthetic bag. This is a game changer. I plan to invest in a UGQ zero-degree quilt as we get into the cooler months again.
So, what are my plans for the rest of the year? Well, I really don’t know. I am planning a backpacking trip to Seneca Rocks/Spruce Knob in West Virginia (a place I’ve always wanted to go). Beyond that, who knows. With the pandemic still alive and kicking, it’s really hard to tell what will be acceptable and just how far I can travel. I would absolutely love to get up to Pictured Rocks in Michigan in the fall, but only time will tell if that can happen. And, my trip to Colorado? Well, that will have to wait until at least next year.
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