Sports: August 2009 Archives


August 25, 2009

Sorry for the unadvertised absence but I've been gone hiking the Appalachian Trail John Muir Trail.

Here's the executive summary: the JMT starts at Happy Isles trailhead in Yosemite Valley and nominally goes to the summit of Mount Whitney, 211 (208? It's remarkably hard to get accurate numbers here) miles away. Because there's no road that goes to the top of Whitney, you then need to hike out to the trailhead at Whitney Portal, for a total distance of 218 (222?) miles. I left Yosemite at about 10 AM August 13th and arrived at Whitney Portal at about 2 PM August 23rd. More specifically:

Day  Camp Site Distance  Cumulative
1 Upper Cathedral Lake 17 17
2 After Donohue Pass 20 37
3 Reds Meadow 21 59
4 Squaw Lake Outlet 21 79
5 South of Selden Pass 24 103
6 Sapphire Lake 21 124
7 Upper Palisade Lakes 22 146
8 North of Glen Pass 22 168
9 Tyndall Creek Crossing  21 187
10 Guitar Lake 16 203
11 Exit 15 218

Note: numbers are approximate and don't include detours, places where I accidentally went off the trail for a little bit, etc. The cumulative and distance numbers don't add up perfectly due to round off error.

It's traditional, I suppose, to do some sort of day by journal, but honestly you don't want to read that "Day 5: walked another 20 miles. Ate another 9 PowerBars. Stunning scenery. Very tired." More interesting, I think, is to talk a bit about planning, gear, logistics, etc., so I'll be doing some of that over the next few days. I'll also post some more pictures once I get them uploaded, sorted, etc.


August 1, 2009

Recently there have been a number of theme travel shows, where the host flys around and checks out how they do X in various countries. You may have heard of "No Reservations," where Anthony Bourdain checks out local foods. Fight Quest has a similar concept, except that the hosts travel around the world learning to beat people up (there's a similar show called Human Weapon that I have yet to check out). The stars have MMA experience, but mostly explore traditional arts like Wing Chun, Kung Fu, Muay Thai, etc.

The format is basically the same in each show: they split up the stars (Jimmy and Doug), with one of them training with a more traditional style (typically out in the country somewhere), with the other training in a more gritty urban style. The instructors torture them for five days and then they each have to fight with a chosen fighter of the relevant style. The concept mostly works out, but a lot of the interest is watching them try to adapt to whatever artificial rules are imposed by the style they're fighting in. In several of the episodes, they pretty much clobber their opponents but "lose" anyway because they didn't comply with those stylistic rules. This works out in some cases, though; it's hard to argue with a knockout. As Terence pointed out to me, you kind of do want to see these guys say just once "this is the stupidest martial art I've ever seen", but they're unfailingly respectful.

The one exception here is Krav Maga, where there basically aren't any rules and a bunch of stuff that's prohibited in MMA (eye gouging, groin strikes, etc.) so one might say that this is a case where it's MMA that has the artificial rules that don't apply to a real fight. Unfortunately, we don't get to see any one-on-one fights, only one man fighting a group, where he pretty much gets pummelled, so it's hard to see how effective these techniques are. On the other hand, in a real fight one might expect your opponent to pull out a gun and shoot you, so I'm not sure how to gauge artificial here.