Mikael Kennedy and I spent a week in November field testing Woolpower baselayers as we camped our way up the California coast.
Pt. 1: Partington Ridge, Big Sur, CA
After a few days of seeing friends in the Bay and slowly walking around the Presidio, I took a painless shuttle bus from San Francisco to Monterey. Noel, whom I met two summers ago while on a backpacking trip down the John Muir Trail with the kind folks from Juniper Ridge, picked me up and drove us back an hour south to her home on Partington Ridge in Big Sur.
Upon arriving, Noel's husband, Fletcher, who was also on the JMT trip, showed me to their guest house - an old converted Dodge bus - that would serve as my living quarters for the next few days. I settled in, then walked back down to the house for a beer, a bowl of homemade vegetarian curry and a large basket full of Fletcher-grown persimmons. We talked and caught up for several hours, and as the clock neared 11:15, I stumbled back to my humble abode and fell asleep.
I woke up early and spent most of the morning admiring Noel and Fletcher's home. (It's featured in the ubiquitous Handmade Houses that I guarantee you one of your friends has in their bookcase.) I had been trying to make it to the ridge since the moment I met them at a campsite in Tuolumne Meadows, and had there not been a rockslide last winter, this wouldn't have been my first visit.
When I could ooh and ahh no more, we left and spent the rest of the day hiking to the Lookout Tower on Cone Peak, the second highest point in the Santa Lucia Mountains. Fletcher was on a quest to find a small amount of sap from a rare local fir, and after a long day of looking, just as we finally reached the short spur that lead to the tower, he found it.
I spent a few moments alone at the peak, quietly laughing before we all hiked back down to the car under the light of a nearly full moon. We warmed ourselves in the truck then drove south on Highway 1 to the Los Padres National Forest campground. From there, we parked, put on headlamps and hiked a mile or two to a friend's off-the-grid cabin, nestled back on a trail through the redwoods. The evening concluded with an indoor fire, more vegetarian curry (total coincidence) and an early sleep as last moments of solar power kept the stereo going.
We woke up at sunrise and put our boots on, first slowly walking by the site where our host, Tom, had spotted a mountain lion at the beginning of the month. He lead us up the steep trail behind his house, climbing above the redwoods to take in a few moments of sun and ocean views before hiking back down to meet Mikael on Partington Ridge.
Photos by Mikael Kennedy
About Woolpower:Ullfrotté Original is the material developed by Woolpower AB in Östersund in the early 1970’s in collaboration with the Swedish military, scientists, doctors and survival experts. The textile is highly wear resistant and consists of fine Merino wool, polyamide/polyester and air. The material is knit so that one side is smooth, and the other has terry loops. The lofty terry loops, in combination with the crimp in the wool fibers, creates a knitwear capable of trapping a lot of air. Up to 80% of the material actually consists of air, which means that the material has an excellent capacity to trap body heat. The more air you can keep still around the body, the more heat you can retain. The company employs about 70 people and the entire production is in Östersund, in the northern part of Sweden. Approximately 80% of the sales are exported to about 25 countries all over the world.