June 2011 Archives

On June 16-18th, my 13 year old son and I departed South Jordan en route to Marysvale. In tow, we had our massive 42' 5th wheel, two quads and my mountain bike. We were intent on participating in the Take Back Utah event at Lizzie and Charlies RV park.

We arrived Wed. early afternoon (after a nice lunch at Hoovers), staged the RV (can't camp without Satellite TV, XBOX360, Air conditionining, 50amp power and ice cubes!) and called it a day.

On Thursday, we met with the TBU group and initially participated in the ride up to Bullion Falls and Monroe Mountain. After eating dirt & dust for a few miles, we (my son, myself and Gary Eli) decided to leave the group and seek out our own adventure. Our destination: Koosharem via the 53 and 33 Paiute trails (some of the most Black Diamond rated trails in the area).

Considering we've ridden this area in years past without issue, we went with our normal half-day gear (wet weather, lunch, drinks). Normally, Marysvale to Koosharem is a 4 hour round trip. This day, it turned out to be a 9am-midnight adventure.

Why was it adventure? Let me tell you our story:

The ride up the Paiute 01 and 02 can be done in a truck; That was our initial trail up the mountain. Upon reaching 7000' elevation, we started to encounter many trails blocked by either downed trees or a combination of massive snow drifts and downed trees. Our only available trails to Koosharem were the 53 and 33. Did I mention Black Diamond rated? (BD=Extremely difficult).

Gary was in a Razr SxS while my 13 year old was in a 2wd Honda Rancher.

Both trails were not easily accessed due to the amount of trees that had fallen over the trail. We spent a considerable amount of time cutting the trees back. I initially used my trusty handsaw (never leave without it) until Gary came clean that he brought a battery powered Sawz-All. What a relief!


About 1/2 way up the mountain, we encountered our first creek crossing. Was the creek ever moving and deep. After gauging depth, we determined that creek was 2-3'. Probably not safe to cross without either taking water into the intake or having a machine pushed-over on its side. I decided to toss my winch cable across, get across the creek via a fallen tree and hook up the winch cable.

Without fail, a few feet into the creek, I found a hole and the front-end of the quad sunk to the front-rack. Quick action on the winch and throttle popped me out before I ingested water into the machines intake.

Upon arrival on the other side, I reversed the winch process and connected to Nick's 2wd Honda. He clearly didn't want to ride it across, so I tried to pull it across with the winch without a passenger. The power of the creek tried to tip the ATV over, so I quickly jumped into the creek to stabilize the machine. Water was rushing over the top of the quad, so I had to react quickly by shutting the machine off (to minimize any damage to the motor).   We got the Honda across and repeated the process with the massive Razr.

Other than fouled plugs, no harm or damage was sustained! (WHEW!).




This creek crossing process was repeated a few times while trying to make our way down the mountain.

Near the top (9800'), we encountered a trail junction: Monroe or Koosharem. The sun was going down and the trail we wanted to take was buried by a massive snow drift. Nick egged me on to try the snow-packed trail. I made it 30' into the snow drift before becoming high-centered and stuck. Gary decided he could get his machine in to assist, but also got stuck. Unfortunately, there was nothing close-by to winch to. After combining my 50' winch cable, my extra 50' nylon-coated winch cable, my 12' tow strap, Nicks 8' tow strap and a hand-winch from Gary, we were able to reach the sign post. Our fear was that we'd yank the sign out. We were grateful the USFS sunk and cemented those posts in well, because it got my machine free. In turn, I was able to winch Gary's Razr out. Another hour lost on the mountain.


By now, it was nearly 5pm. Where did those hours go? Hmm.. cutting down trees, playing in the snow.. they all added up.

Shortly after extracting ourselves from the snow, we noticed the sky was becoming increasingly black and overcast. Temperatures had dropped 30-40F and the wind was picking up.

By now, we were thinking about an exit strategy and abandoning our route to Koosharem. Unfortunately, all other routes except the Black Diamond rated 33 and 53 trails were not accessible. The safe play was to get closer to civilization. Down the mountain we continued.

We finally reached Koosharem at ~6pm. The gas station and Cafe' were still open. Gary (being diabetic) needed food in order for us to continue. As we dined on burgers and corn-dogs, the storm started raging outside. Winds were easily 60+ mph with raging rain. Temps continued to plummet.

I had no cell service, but Nick's iPhone4g had some ability to dial out. I phoned the wife and put her on standby and to start contacting Flat-bed tow truck companies in Richfield in the event we couldn't make the ~60 mile trek back to camp.

We made two night attempts back up the mountain in driving rain & wind. Unfortunately, our visibility was so low, we constantly missed the trail we needed to take. Back down to Koosharem we went. As luck should have it, the gas station owner was just closing, but allowed us inside while the tow truck arrived (ALWAYS have a PLAN B). By ~10pm, we were loaded up on the two truck and en route to Marysvale. By midnight we were unloaded and back at camp.

Quite an interesting day.. and I'd do it again without hesitation!
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After spending the previous two weekends and many long days at work, I decided to leave work early yesterday (Wednesday, June 8th) to get outside an do some hiking and riding.

My adventure started by taking my Dodge Dually offroading to the East side base of Black Rock Canyon and making an attempt up my self-named Pine Cone Canyon. This trail (loosely called a trail) is easily the most technical in the area and probably hasn't seen activity in years.

A bit of video on the way up (or down) the "trail":

Portable device security..

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Note: I use this app on my HTC Thunderbolt phone and on my Samsung Galaxy Tab. Outstanding way to secure and locate your device.



How I saved my butt after losing my phone

Lookout allowed me to locate my missing phone on a map and to emit a loud "scream" from the device.

(Credit: Screenshot by Elinor Mills/CNET)

A few days ago the unthinkable happened: I lost my smartphone and truly realized how lost I am without it.

I know it's not the end of the world and it happens every day to people. But it has never happened to me, and I was shocked at how helpless and vulnerable I felt. And how angry. One minute it was in my lap in the car, and the next it was gone forever.

Fortunately, I had the screen locked and my data backed up. But if that hadn't been the case, it could have been a disaster. Anyone who picked it up would have been able to read my personal and work e-mails and text messages, see my photos and get to all my contacts. I could have lost many photos that I've been too lazy to download to my computer. And someone could have run up charges calling premium sex-line numbers or something. Not good!

Instead, my story has a happy ending, and I even got to torment whoever found the phone and wasn't answering my calls or trying to return it to me. Not every story ends so well, though. Here's what happened to me and some tips on what to do if you find that your phone has gone missing.

Track and scream
The last time I saw my HTC Evo in its shiny red case was while it was plugged into my car charging. I remember unplugging it to take it with me as I stepped out of the car and entered my home. A short while later I went to use it and couldn't find it in the apartment anywhere, in the car or on the street or sidewalk where the car was. I sent a friend a chat message via Gmail asking him to call my number and didn't hear it ring.

At first I panicked. But then I remembered that I had recently started locking the screen and that I use a security service from Lookout, which offers anti-malware, backup and contact restoration as part of a free service for Android, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile devices. But I use the paid service, which includes remote tracking, lock and wipe, as well as other features.

I logged into my Lookout account and was able to locate my missing phone on a map using data from GPS (Global Positioning System) satellites and cell towers. I saw that the phone had traveled six blocks away and was stationary on my very street. I rang and rang but no one was answering--the first sign that I wasn't likely to ever get it back. I then remotely locked the phone so no one could access the data if they somehow managed to get past the screen lock.

If I had a spycam app installed I could have gotten a glimpse of whoever had the phone, just like this MacBook owner who was able to remotely take photos of the person who he believed stole his laptop. But alas, my phone had no hidden camera app.

I might not have been able to snoop, but I had the ability to harass. Lookout's premium service includes the ability to remotely trigger a siren on the phone, called the "scream" feature. I've heard it before and it's an awful experience--an incredibly high-pitched sound that lasts for about a minute. I made the phone scream a few times, mostly to draw attention to it so someone would answer it. But I cannot lie--I took a perverse pleasure in being annoying. I also checked lost-and-found listings on Craigslist and posted an ad about my lost phone, but nothing came of that.

With the realization dawning on me that I wasn't going to get the phone back, I toyed with the idea of hitting the scream button punitively at intervals through out the night but decided against it primarily to avoid affecting innocent bystanders.

If I had been thinking clearly I would have planted myself outside the building where the phone was pinpointed on the map (Lookout is accurate to within about 24 feet). I could have used a friend's phone to log into my Lookout account and then make my phone scream. But it was late by the time I thought of that and by the next day the phone's battery was dead, making any more tracking or screaming impossible.

Silent and untethered
Going without a phone, even for a mere 24 hours, was tough. I don't have a landline anymore so my cell phone is my main link to the world. And with some friends I text more than talk on the phone because of reception issues with their iPhones on AT&T.

I found myself instinctively reaching for my phone to check for texts, e-mails, and Facebook and Twitter posts. Gone were my trusty travel watch and alarm, as well as a way to take quick snapshots without lugging my camera around. I wondered who might be calling and leaving me important messages. I felt oddly cut off from the rest of the world when I roamed the streets away from my office phone and my laptops. I was reminded of people who go on Vipasana meditation retreats and don't speak or use technology for a week at a time--something that doesn't appeal to me in the slightest.

On Monday, I went to the Sprint store to get a new phone and bought the most affordable Android they had--the LG Optimus S. Already I like it better than the much more expensive HTC Evo I had. It's smaller, lighter, has better battery life, and I like the interface much more. It's also not pre-loaded with a bunch of apps I don't want like the HTC Evo was. And with Lookout, I was able to restore all my data to my new phone.

There are some things you can do that will make life easier for you if you lose your phone. First, lock the device with a PIN or screen pattern lock. I also highly recommend a service like Lookout, or apps like Where's My Droid and Apple's Find My iPhone, which also enables map-based tracking, an alarm feature for locating it nearby, as well as remote lock and wipe. Make sure you use a backup service or backup your mobile data on your computer regularly.

Verizon offers a Backup Assistant service for preserving contacts and includes Mobile Recovery with alarm, location, and remote lock and wipe features as part of its subscription-based Total Equipment Coverage. T-Mobile suggests setting a PIN for the SIM card to prevent anyone from making or receiving calls, and the company offers a free Mobile Backup service for storing contacts.

Once you have verified that the phone is lost or stolen (and not just hiding behind the dresser or under the car seat), carriers recommend that you report it stolen to them and police immediately to suspend service and prevent anyone from running up charges on it.

And if you end up ignoring my advice to use a service that helps track missing phones you can always fall back on Lookout's Plan B. It's a free Android app that you can remotely install on your phone over the Web through the Lookout Web site after you lose the phone. It sends a text message to the device and uses cell towers and GPS to locate the device, even if GPS is turned off.

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from June 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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