Bob Laney

  • 10/07/2007

    Blister Prevention

    For decades, I had trouble-free feet while hiking and backpacking.' Until this year, I did not bother to shop for boots that fit.' I ordered my size from mail-order catalogs and they worked fine. Then in 2005, I had my first problems with blisters while taking many long hikes in a row with Jim Smoak in the Teton's.' I blamed it on my fairly stiff, heavy boots and replaced them with lighter, running-shoe type boots.' Then, in early 2007, I had different kinds of sore spots that rubbed raw and bled while walking no more than a mile or two when my feet were wet and wearing sandals, such as with canoeing and scuba diving.' 'Later in 2007, I went on a 6 day, 65 miles, 50 pound pack backpacking trip to Glacier National Park.' I did everything thing I could think of to avoid blisters, including taking new, thick socks and changing into dry socks 3 times each day.' Despite those efforts, I got big, trip-stopping blisters on the middle front of each foot the first half-day.'

  • 03/10/2007

    Brunton 8099 Eclipse Compass

    This advanced compass features a magnetized disk for accurate bearings and comes with helpful reference cards that store inside the compass. Magnetized disk is more accurate than conventional needles and settles quickly for fast, accurate bearings. Anti-static, liquid-filled dial with jeweled bearing features 1 degree gradations to ensure accuracy, sighting mirror for improved accuracy. Ergonomic rubber shoe on bottom of compass grips map surface and is comfortable to hold.

  • 03/22/2005

    Stasis and Symbiosis

    My usual tennis group, led by Paul Anderson, played three long sets of tennis yesterday evening in a steady, cold rain. We have done this type of thing before. Many times over the years, we have played in still falling (or already fallen and piled high) snow, sleet, rain, high wind, fog, bitter cold, whatever. But it is still instructive, nonetheless, to do it again. From season to season, I forget what it was like to do some difficult activity the year before. Maybe our mind erases the bad memories of prior painful events? It is good to be reminded of things, to practice again and to pay one's dues.

  • 02/25/2005

    Snow Physiological Thermodynamics

    Ah, life. Another snow dump in the last week of February, another trek in the woods behind my cabin on the Brushy Mountain. Christopher Robin would call it the 100 acres woods - the magical place where his child's imagination can run free, and where his best friend Pooh Bear lives in a hollow tree under the name of Mr. Sanders. I call it Dr. John Bennett's semi-wilderness tract, the magical place where I can recreate and nobody lives except my friend Mother Nature.

  • 11/05/1995

    Tennis at the Speed of Light

    Most tennis players go through cycles when their strokes alternately get better and worse. Unless the player intentionally and actively works on improving all his strokes, all the time, he will inevitably get in ruts where he loses confidence in certain strokes, and they will spiral down in effectiveness.

  • 09/01/2019


    In hiking, camping and backpacking there is a constant trade-off between pieces of gear to carry. Like most things in life, there are few [if any?] perfect answers. Most of the tradeoffs deal with size, weight, functionality and dependability. The more comfortable and functional it is, then the heavier and bulkier it is. When carrying everything you need for 5 days on your back, the extra weight and size can be a deal breaker.

  • 05/25/2019

    Virginia Creeper Trail in Spring Time

    On the beautiful, sunny Saturday of May 25, 2019, Deena Thomas and I took a spring time trip to the Virginia Creeper Trail, a converted railroad bed in near Damascus, VA. The drive through Ashe County, NC, and Grayson County, VA, was probably the most beautiful road trip on which I have ever been in my life. Every few feet we saw and smelled blooming wild and cultivated flowers: purple Catawba rhododendron, white mountain laurel, orange flame azalea, red roses, blue wild irises, yellow dahlias and on and on.

  • 05/26/2019

    New River Canoe Paddling

    On the Sunday of May 26, 2019, Deena Thomas and I went paddling on the South Fork of the New River in Ashe County. We took my canoe and parked at Zaloo’s Canoes Outfitters beside the river near the intersection of NC Hwy 16 with NC Hwy 88 east of Jefferson, NC. We planned to paddle down the river about 5 miles to the New River Wagoner Access State Park and then rent a shuttle from Zaloo’s for our canoe, gear and ourselves back to the parking lot.

  • 06/08/2019

    Grayson Highlands Twin Pinnacles Trail

    On the soggy Saturday of June 8, 2019, Deena and I went hiking in near constant rain on the Twin Pinnacles Trail in Grayson Highlands State Park. This place is probably the most scenic, well maintained and beautiful state parks I have seen. It also has wonderfully long mountain views that unfortunately were completely blocked by the fogged in conditions.

  • 06/22/2019

    Mount Mitchell Ridge Trail

    The highest peak east of Colorado! What could be more enticing to mountain hikers? Nothing, I guess. So, on the sunny day of June 22, 2019, with thunder coming and going most of the day, bringing with it the threat of rain, Deena Thomas and Ranger Bob set out to experience Mount Mitchell’s high altitude trails. In consideration of our ages, we drove to the main parking lot near the top and took the tourist route to the tower at the tippy top. In consideration of the crowd of people, we only stayed there a few minutes. Then we drove part way back down the mountain and started the real hike along the northern ridge to Mount Craig and Big Tom Peak.