From dust to tribe . . .

Dust and Tribe (D&T) is the experience of growth through adventure.

Our quarterly excursions are opportunities for men and women to push through the boundaries of supposed mental and physical limits into a new awareness of what we can be when we support one another.

It is where we discover what we are (dust) and what we become together (tribe).

Winter 2019: D&T Grind

On January 24th, 2019, nine men and nine women will head into
the mountains of Santa Cruz for three days and thirty miles of cold and grit. This is their story.

Monday, December 10, 2018


We should figure out what we're going to wear.

We don't want to show up on the mountain without a thorough consideration of our wardrobe. We want to be warm, comfortable, and, if at all possible, absolutely fabulous.

That's a picture of Brother Waqar. And as good as he looks, I have a few suggestions. Better blending of his foundation into the neck/chest region, for starters.

More importantly, we need to talk about layers.

The basic idea is this: we want layers that we can add and subtract throughout the day as the temperature and our level of activity changes. We're going to start at the bottom.

Base Layer

This is the layer closest to your skin, apart from whatever underwear you choose to wear. And yes. Underwear is a choice.

My favorite base layer is something in merino wool.

I took this selfie as an example:

Merino wool is super soft, regulates temperature real nice, and stays warm even when wet. And like people, it comes in all different thicknesses. If you get cold real easy, choose something thicker. Your base layer can also double as your bedtime clothes.

I really like SmartWool, but after a few years I always seem to end up with a bunch of holes. I actually think my SmartWool is being eaten. Maybe a moth or something. I don't think it's the same moth all the time. That would be crazy if the same moth has been eating my clothes for years and we haven't even met. I don't even know where to start with how rude that would be.

Some people like the moisture-wicking benefits of synthetic fabrics. If you sweat a bunch, you might like some of the recycled polyester (Capilene) offerings of Patagonia. If I had dyslexia and I had to participate in a spelling bee, this is what I would wear.

Middle Layer

This is your insulating layer. You just want something over your base layer that helps you retain heat and look fly. I was a teen in the 90s, so I generally go with flannel. Some people like fleece. Other people like those really bubbly, Michelin Man down jackets:

That dude is so mad at his mom for making him wear that bubbly crap. I can't blame him. I would rather freeze to death with my dignity. They are warm, though. And they compress nice. Fresh turd does both of those things pretty well, too. It's really up to you.

Outer Layer 

This is where we protect ourselves from the elements. You want something that will keep the wind and rain out. If you went pretty thick with with the previous layers, all you really need is a waterproof shell jacket. I'm bringing rain paints, too.

It might be overkill, but I always pack my rain pants. I never use them because it almost never rains. But once it actually rained pretty hard and I forgot that I had my rain pants. If it rains this time, please remind me to put on my rain pants.

That's really it. Now that you got your layers, you can just peel clothes off when you're feeling warm and dry, and put them back on when you get cold or wet.

You don't really need a bunch of extra clothes. I have no intention of changing clothes at any point during our time together. Or at any point between now and our time together. Or ever.


Sister Sama and I get along pretty good. We agree on a lot of things. We share similar interests and passions. I wish her the best in life and I feel safe saying that she wishes I would change clothes more often.

For all of our camaraderie, there is one small area of contention: she likes boots and I don't like shoes at all.

To be COMPLETELY honest, if I looked half as nice as she does in a pair of boots, I would for sure wear them. All the time. Like she does.

But I look terrible in boots. My feet get hot. I feel clunky and heavy. It's just a hard thing for me.

Maybe it's because I wore combat boots all through high school and listened to Minor Threat.

It was, generally speaking, a good time. But my feet were really hot.

I get the hype, though. Ankle support, protection from sticks and rocks and things that bite- boots are practical. They're not necessary, though. I'm sure that Sister Sama would agree that any good sneakers or trainers will do. Anticipate they will get wet and/or muddy so have a plan to deal with that. You could wear waterproof socks, for example.

I will probably wear sandals. I don't have to worry about my socks getting wet or my shoes getting muddy. They're light. My feet generally don't get terribly cold, but I can throw some socks on if necessary. I've been hiking in them for years, and it generally goes well. Sometimes it doesn't.

The Awaswas were the ancient people of the Santa Cruz mountains. I like to think about indigenous people when planning things like this. We have certain expectations that they never had. We expect to eat at least a couple of meals every day. We expect to be warm and dry. We expect a certain measure of comfort and ease. We ravage the earth daily in the fulfillment of these expectations.

But what if we moved from expectation to gratitude? Rather than incubating ourselves in hyper-engineered clothing and footwear with the expectation that we will be protected from the elements, why not wear what we have and hope for the best? And if we get through everything OK, we can be really happy about that. And if we end up cold and wet with terrible blisters we can accept that experience on its terms without necessarily assigning negative value to it. We can acknowledge our damp and frigid state and ask our friends politely to carry us the rest of the way.

That's my plan.

What's yours?


  1. In defense of puffy down jackets: Up until a year ago I could only think “why with the unfortunate puffy jackets?”. Last year I was at Costco and it was on sale and long-ish so I gave in and tried one out. Yes they are unfortunately ugly but they keep you nice and toasty at least more so than without. I can actually feel the cold seeping in where my jacket stops. For those with fashion sensibilities be forewarned I’m 99% sure I’ll be wearing my tastefully navy and embarrassingly metallic puffy jacket on our trip.

    1. When I envision the search and rescue people finding me alive in my puffy Costco jacket or dead in my flannel, the latter scenario seems infinitely more seductive.

  2. Great post!! I thought you would carry me ��.. way to ruin my plan ��.. Now for some of us (normal people)that like to change clothes and may not have some of the recommended items (totally me) I recommend Ebates to get some savings and cash back! If anyone else has any recommendations please share 😄

    1. Love the Ebates idea! This stuff can add up, for sure.

  3. Never ever change...
    your clothes?
    : o )

    1. I've since changed my mind. Unlike my clothes, but that could be next :)

  4. After reading your post, I went back to return the michelin-man jacket and they won't take it. They said: No one can burst these bubbles
    : o )

  5. Another excellent article, a joy to read. Your selfie shows that you are more than ready for this marathon trek.
    I also like the end of your post, which reminded me of our brother Dalai Lama who said, specially for Americans:
    Lower your expectations for being happy.
    In other words, how to be happy with what you got today. Or to make the best of what we got. Like the Awaswas did

    1. I've really let my self go since I took that picture last week :(

  6. Dope dope dope post! We all are getting knowledge up in here... Ahmed how much do you weigh? Gotta prepare to carry you the entire way through right? Let me know so I could fill up my pack ;)

    1. Just got back from a 10-day stint with the wife in Pennsylvania. I put on a few pounds.

      Working on getting back to my sub 130 fighting weight, brother. Looking forward to the carry!

  7. For the men who couldn't find moreno wool in the closet, if possible growing body hair is basically human wool. Or, like your other post said, we are all full of crap
    : o )