Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Gear Review: Yeti Rambler Colster

Fishing, and a cold beer.

 The Dirt:

What is it? Drink insulator (beer koozie).

Comes with: Koozie, sealing gasket, storage can.

Size: .35 liters. 4.8 X 3.1 inches.

Weight: 8.3 ounces

Price: $30.00 at REI

Let's face it. We all love the crisp refreshing taste of an ice cold beer cascading down our dry throats, especially around the campfire or on the lake. But don't you hate it when you set your beer down to do something, only to come back to find it warm and flat, and only a shadow of its former self? We've all been there. Choking down a warm beer isn't fun.

 Enter the Yeti Rambler Colster.

At first glance, paying $30.00 for a beer koozie seems like madness, but there is a perfectly good reason Yeti charges so much for their products. They are the best. In the outdoor community, Yeti coolers are overwhelmingly considered to be the best in the world. Their Rambler line of drink insulators are quickly gaining the same reputation.

Thanks to 18/8 inch stainless steel and double-walled vacuum insulation, the Colster keeps your beer ice cold for hours, even in the hottest conditions. For me, the Colster really shines when I'm on the lake fishing. In the Arizona desert, the lakes are overwhelmingly shadeless. Set your beer down for a few minutes and it's stew. With the Colster I can set down my beer and fish for an hour, and come back to a cold beer. There have been times where I've come back to my beer to find the stainless steel outer-wall of the Colster so hot I can barely touch it, but the beer inside still ice cold. Simply put, the Colster is an outdoor beer drinker's dream.

The Colster will fit both cans and bottles, but tall-boys and some long-necks wont fit. That isn't a big deal to me because I rarely bring glass into the outdoors, and most good beers don't come in tall-boys. The Colster also comes with a dummy can that looks just like a beer can, but can be opened for storage. I like to call it "the beer can stash". The problem is that I still haven't thought of anything to stash in there, so for me the beer can stash usually stays home.

Overall the Yeti Rambler Colster is a sweet little product if you like to enjoy the finer things in life. I would highly recommend it to any outdoor lover who drinks from cans (be it beer or soda), especially campers and fisherman.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Saguaro Lake Fishing

Jimbo on the hunt for a fishing hole.
 Shore-fishing. It's what I do. To find the good spots, you need to put in the miles. That's why I like it so much. It's a good mix between hiking and fishing. Yesterday at Saguaro Lake was a first for both Jim and I. A changeup from the usual location at Bartlett. Saguaro Lake is nestled in the foothills of the Superstitions, and is an absolutely beautiful location (as far as desert reservoirs go). There are plenty of fish there too, including the three main varieties of bass, which is what we were after.

I was feeling optimistic as we reached our first location. The bass were active. We could see them jumping from the water all around us. Since they were surfacing so much, we started off with topwater lures. We would cast to the same spot we saw them jump. Another angler passed by on the trail. He had caught an 8 pound bass with a popper. Our optimism increased.... But nothing took our baits. We decided to keep hiking. 

Jimbo in the water
 We reached a marshy cove where the water was so still, clear and shallow we could see the bass just sitting at the bottom. Our luck was about to change, or so we thought. We tried crankbaits, spinners, worms and frogs, but we couldn't even manage a bite. We watched our lures drift by big bass untouched. For 6 hours we fished. Determined not to leave empty handed. If it weren't for the small bluegill Jim caught as we were wrapping the day up, we would have been skunked. But I wonder, when your target are big bass, does catching a bluegill even count? Until next time.

Catch of the day.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Destination: Superstition Mountains

Weavers Needle
Superstition Wilderness. Weavers Needle in the distance.
Arizona’s aptly named Superstition Mountains conjures up more tales of woe and images of yesteryear than any locale west of the Mississippi. It is a place mired in myth and legend… and history. In ancient times, the Hohokam and Salado peoples eked out a living in this desolate landscape, leaving behind haunting ruins carved from cliff walls, and impressive petroglyphs depicting the many desert animals that roam these mountains. During the “old west”, the few who settled here lived a harsh existence. Homesteaders like Elisha “Old Hermit” Reavis farmed and hunted in the eastern Superstitions until his body was found “half eaten by coyotes” in 1896. The Superstation’s real claim to fame however is the tale of the Lost Dutchman’s gold mine. Every year fortune seekers venture into the Superstitions hunting for the lost gold mine, and many have died in the desert sun, thirsty and hot… and broke.

The Superstitions (or “The Supes” as the locals say) isn’t just a great place to explore the past, it’s a great place to explore. From jagged volcanic peaks to haunted canyons, to the myriad of flora and fauna, the Supes have something for everyone, and at less than an hour drive from Phoenix, is easily accessible.

Lost Dutchman State Park
Superstition Mountain in Lost Dutchman State Park
Check out Lost Dutchman State Park for easy car camping in classic Sonoran Desert terrain. Lots of big Saguaros at lower elevations. Trails from the campground provide easy access to the tallest peak in the range, Superstition Mountain (5059’). Feeling ambitious? Take the Siphon Draw Trail all the way to the Flatiron on top of Superstition Mountain. This ball-buster goes straight up the mountain, gaining nearly 3,000 feet in 2.5 miles, so you better be in shape. Much of the route is a scramble so expect to use your hands. The payoff? A jaw dropping 360 degree view of the Sonoran Desert. Feeling adventurous? Bring a tent and camp at the top.

The Superstition Wilderness boasts over 170 miles of trail within its 160,200 acres. With all that space, the Supes cater to a variety of experience levels. Want to explore the past? Overnight in a canyon near ancient cliff dwellings in Angel Basin, or sleep in the shade of apple trees after you explore the ruins of Reavis Ranch. Feeling ambitious? See them both on a 3-day 24-mile loop starting at Rogers Canyon Trail. Be sure to have a high clearance vehicle as the 17 mile boulder-strewn forest road to the trailhead is not maintained, and can be impassable after rain. Be sure not to disturb any historical sites and leave any artifacts you find alone.

Rock Climbing
With so many cliff-faces and rock-walls, the Supes is a playground for climbers. Try the iconic Weaver’s Needle. This famous peak plays a key role in the Lost Dutchman legend, as the shadow it casts at a certain time of the day is said to reveal the location of the lost goldmine. The 1,000 foot high rock column is a class 5.6, and will reward you with amazing views of the Superstition wilderness. If you’re looking for more variety, try the 300 foot Bark Canyon Wall. says it offers “some of the best multi-pitch climbing in the Phoenix area.” Just remember, bolting is strictly forbidden within the wilderness.

Backpacking in the Superstitions
Flora and Fauna
Expect to encounter a variety of cacti from the vicious jumping cholla to the iconic giant saguaro. These and other desert plants can make foot travel a challenge, but are beautiful when admired from a distance. Because of the variety of prickly plant life, hike in pants, even when it’s hot. You won’t see many trees except in the eastern Superstitions where cactus meets juniper and ponderosa pine. The area hosts a surprising variety of animal life as well. Expect to encounter several lizard species on the trail. If you’re lucky you might see a desert tarantula, which look scary but are very slow moving and therefore easy to admire. Watch out for rattlesnakes and scorpions, especially under rocks or in woodpiles. If you are really lucky you may see a Gila monster. These large lizards are extremely venomous but very slow, so don’t panic. Just take a photo and move on. Javelina are also common. These pig-like peccaries travel in herds but are usually bedded down during the day.

A Word of Caution
Water is extremely scarce in the Superstitions. Be sure to contact the ranger station for the latest water report before any hike. Shade is often hard to come by, so protect yourself from the sun and stay hydrated. Finally, DO NOT attempt to hike and/or backpack in the Superstitions during the summer months. YOU WILL DIE.