Trying Lightweight Hiking Socks

I tried lightweight socks on my most recent backpacking trip and really liked them. I’ve been wearing thick wool socks for backpacking since the 1970’s. I stopped using liner socks a decade or two ago, but I had never tried lighter main socks like the thru-hikers wear now.

The forecast was for continuous soaking rain, 48ยบ temperatures, some steep trails, and a fair amount of idle time waiting for the next participant patrol to come to my area. That’s a good sock test, with a nice chance to have cold, wet feet, plus blisters. But less sock means less wet sock, right? And if I get a blister on a two-night outing, I can deal with that.

I grabbed some light socks at REI, Wigwam Merino Airlite Pro. They are roughly one third each of merino wool, stretch nylon, and polyester, plus a smudge of cotton. There is no cushioning, just a nice smooth fit.

Here they are with my previous socks, SmartWool Trekking, 77% merino wool and probably one of the heavier socks you can find.

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I tried out the new socks going work a couple of times and on neighborhood walks. My hiking shoes (well-ventilated trail runners) are my everyday go-to-work shoes.

They also passed inspection by Loken.

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Getting to the point, the socks were great. It did rain almost all Saturday, so they were soaked. The trail from base camp up to the ridge could use some switchbacks and general trail maintenance. It was a tougher test than expected. The trail down from the ridge needs a double black diamond sign. It goes straight down the fall line and was muddy and covered with wet leaves, perfect conditions for rubbing hot spots on your feet. I was planting my poles hard and practicing my trail glissade. In between, I spent two hours under a tarp waiting for patrols to visit my activity, and an equal amount of time in camp observing them set up and cook.

The socks slide a little bit in the my shoes, but that is OK. First, the shoes are sized for thicker socks, and second, I’d rather have the sock grip my foot and slide rather than the sock slide against my skin and cause blisters.

I wasn’t planning on saving weight in my pack, but these thin socks are meaningfully lighter. The heavyweight socks I’ve been wearing are 100 grams per pair, and these are 50g. When I carry two pair, that saves 100 grams, over three ounces.

If you haven’t figured it out, I’m now a thin sock hiker (the sock on the right). They even look good enough to be dress socks.

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Does your dog ever get to play?

When we are out with Loken and he is working (he is very serious when he works), people sometimes ask (in a worried tone) whether he ever gets to play. The answer is “yes”. This is from our vacation to Oregon.

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Happy Birthday to Loken (and me)!

Last Friday Loken was three and I was fifty plus Loken’s age. We both had lovely birthdays, though I think Loken’s days are all pretty fine.

Loken got some fine presents, a new bone (from Kevin), a new toy (from Kevin’s class), and a new Public Display of Affection from the whole family. Can you spot it in this picture?

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As a bonus, I only had to wait 20 minutes at the Los Gatos DMV office to pick up the new plates. Without an appointment.

Loken is learning the “go to Kevin” command. On Saturday, he did it impromptu, no big setup or chance to smell the treats. Kevin told him “Loken, here”, so I slipped Kevin a couple of dog treats and gave the command. Loken was there at light speed, a big difference from the casual (but obedient) pace we are used to.

Loken continues to be Kevin’s best friend and the best dog in the world. Just ask Kevin.

Underdog!

Tina made an Underdog costume for Loken. You can’t see the blue cape in the photo, but it is there. Loken is a little confused by having fabric on his legs, but he’s putting up with it. The “U” is carefully modeled on the cartoon Underdog. The one in the live-action movie looks different.

In this photo, we see that Underdog has just captured a criminal. There’s no need to fear, Underdog is here!

Loken as Underdog

Big Dog Party!

I always love the “big dog party” up in the tree at the end of Go, Dog. Go! You can make a reasonable facsimile of that with a backyard pool, twenty-five dogs from Canine Companions for Independence, and enough toys for each dog to carry one at all times.

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My (edited) photos from the party are at Flickr, in the CCI Dog Pool Party 2008 set.

For us, the most exciting part of the party was that when Loken needed a friend, he came to Kevin. This first year with Kevin and Loken is critical for their bond, and this was the first time he showed that Kevin was his best friend.

Loken had a good time, but he eventually got a bit overloaded by all the strange dogs sniffing him and and the energetic play. I was sitting with Kevin in a somewhat quieter spot to the side, and Loken found us there. You can see him looking squinty and stressed in this photo. After a bit, he put his head on Kevin’s lap. This is the same as the “Visit” command, but we didn’t give the command. It was Loken’s idea.

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Kevin gave him a hug (I did suggest that).

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Then Loken decided to hide behind Kevin, where he would be safe.

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It was wonderful that Loken went to Kevin. I was right there (taking pictures, duh) and Tina was right on the other side (you can see her in the pictures). We are big safe people and he trusts us, but Loken chose his boy when he needed a hug.

Favorite photo of Loken

This really isn’t going to turn into a 24/7 Loken blog, and it is not some conceptual art piece about cat pictures on blogs. Right now, Loken is a big change in our lives and pretty danged important to our son, so he is getting all the ink.

This is a photo that I keep mailing to people — Loken’s puppy raiser, the caretakers of Loken’s sire and mom, and so on. At some point, it makes more sense to post it.

There is a bit of trivia which makes this photo more fun for us. I’m the only one in our family who can raise a single eyebrow (either one), which somehow gets more attention that you think it would. As you can see, I can share the glare of the Klieg lights with Loken, who also raises one eyebrow.

This was taken on the patio of our CCI dorm room, the first afternoon that we took Loken back to our room. Click on the photo for the full-resolution version, or check out the original, uncropped photo. The full photo was projected as the “title slide” for our class graduation. Kevin was the first to notice that a picture of Loken was up on the wall.

Loken on the patio