“Out of Office” is a series of stories that recounts my adventures, whether they’re just around the corner from home or beyond. I’ll highlight my experiences, lessons and the interaction with the gear that comes along with me, and that will most certainly include a watch on wrist. Out of Office is an escape. It’s about finding an opportunity to put the world on pause, whether it’s the few minutes you take out of your day to read this article, or its the couple of hours you dedicate to getting out there. It’s where our experience meets our enthusiasm. Let’s go on this journey together and see where it takes us.
It was still dark outside and for the moment, the world remained silent. The cool morning air felt invigorating on my face and in my lungs with each breath. The stars shone brightly above. There was not a cloud in the sky. It was shaping up to be a perfect day for another duty of Dawn Patrol. There’s no better feeling than being up and at it before the sun rises. It’s an early win and a perfect way to squeeze in a little adventuring before the day gets started. Having a cup of coffee first thing after getting up at 4:45 AM on a Saturday was much needed, but that wasn’t a luxury available to me as I was planning to enjoy that freshly brewed cup while sitting atop Pyles Peak and watching the sun rise above the city.
Before I hit the trailhead to meet up with my hiking partner, I went through my gear one last time. All the essentials for that much anticipated coffee including the Moka pot, Amicus stove and my trusty Yeti mug were nestled at the base of my pack. The head torch lit up as expected and in the event it didn’t turn on, the extra batteries tucked away in the inner pack pocket were ready to be used. I slung the pack over my shoulders and glanced down at my wrist. Strapped over my jacket sleeve and on a gray NATO was the Sinn 104 St Sa I. When I think of Sinn, my mind immediately thinks, “Hardened tool watches and bold German design.” Sinn has developed a reputation for using their innovative technologies to make their watches virtually indestructible. It’s the watch that you would want to be wearing when performing any type of difficult task. Just throw it on and forget about it. That’s the spirit of a Sinn and I had no doubt that the Sinn 104 would take on anything I threw at it without breaking a sweat.
In true adventurer fashion, packed and all ready to go was my good natured pal and hiking partner, Payton. He’s my usual adventure partner since he’s always down to be a part of any crazy ideas that I pitch to him and he has enough outdoor experience to be dubbed a rambler. Interestingly enough, he recently graduated from the Fire Academy and asked me which watch he should get to celebrate the accomplishment. He wanted a tough watch. One that would withstand the rigors of wildland fire fighting and his current occupation as an EMT. I immediately responded, “Get a Sinn.” I knew that Sinn made watches specifically for these types of professions, and this was just another reason why it made sense (Sinn in German translates to sense in English) to have the Sinn on wrist.
With our headlamps on and packs secured, we started up the trail. Our early morning trek would end at Pyles Peak, however to get there, we would have to hike up Cowles Mountain, the highest point in the city of San Diego at a modest 1,593 feet above sea level. After reaching the top of Cowles, we would then have to hike down the side of the mountain until the trail levels off only to start the Pyles Peak trail which meanders through Mission Trails Regional Park and culminates at a peak that sits respectively at 1,379 feet. I rotated the bezel, aligning the zero marker with the minute hand to start tracking our time on the mountain. The bezel layout with its Arabic numerals marked at every five minutes and hash marks filling in between has a way of making me want to get outdoors and time myself doing something. The Sinn 104 at its core is a pilots watch, but its design and aesthetic makes for a watch that looks the part on wrist when adventuring overland and its 200 meters of water resistance will make it a more than capable dive watch.
Aside from the few flickering headlamps up the way, it seemed like we were the only ones keeping the mountain company that morning. The occasional wind howl drowned out the repetitive squish-squish from the soles of our boots meeting the trail. The incline remained steady throughout. The trail shifted back and forth between a defined path and wide open areas with various sized rocks spread throughout and the occasional boulder to scramble. Our headlamps darted side to side to avoid any loose rock or a misstep off of the occasional wooden plank. Reaching the halfway point, we took a second to watch as the darkness started to lift, giving way to the blue, pink and orange tones of twilight.
As we trudged our way to the top, we made our way through the handful of switchbacks that peppered the side of Cowles Mountain. The local lake located at the base of the mountain was now clearly visible and also coming into view towards the horizon was my home beach break. Again, I glanced down at the Sinn and the syringe hands and stark white dial markers told the time unmistakably. We were making great time. Once we made it to the top, we took a second to sit and soak in the view. I hydrated while Payton unpacked a training rope and practiced his survival knots. After a few minutes, we packed back up and made our way down the other side of the mountain towards Pyles Peak.
The descent down the mountain was welcomed, especially after hiking on an incline for the better part of an hour. The thought of having to do this whole trail in reverse never ceases to creep into my head, but that was something to deal with on our way back. We paused a couple times to shed some layers as the combination of sweat and the sun peeking through the valley made it uncomfortable to move in the gear we initially started out with. With the newfound lightweight and the airy feel of just a t-shirt and jacket, it made it easier to move around.
In an attempt to readjust the NATO strap as we continued to descend the mountain, one of the spring bars popped off, leaving the Sinn 104 dangling from the NATO and hanging on for dear life. After the gear check for spares earlier, an extra spring bar was something I did not foresee the need for (Note to self: avoid cheap aftermarket spring bars). On the bright side, this just confirmed the value and practicality of having your watch on a NATO during any sort of activity where the watch could get snagged on anything within the immediate environment or loose gear. The trail continued with the occasional twist and turn, and unexpected inclines. We kept moving forward and every so often I’d glance down to make sure the Sinn was still hanging on. Towards Pyles Peak, there were no switchbacks. Instead, it was a straight shot to the top and those attempting to reach the summit have no choice but to blast through it. Our conversations were put to a halt as we huffed and puffed our way up to the peak.
A bit tired, but more so relieved, we had made it to the top. It’s tradition at this point to touch the granite monument perched on a steel frame located at the summit, or else the whole climb didn’t count. We searched for an open and flat rocky space to set up our little makeshift coffee station. I unscrewed the Moka pot top off, poured water into the base and sprinkled the grounded coffee beans into the circular metal compartment. With the stove coming to life, I placed the Moka pot on top and waited for the magic to happen. Within seconds the aroma of coffee started to fill our little space. The sun was now above the horizon and the peak was already heating up. Down below, it seemed like the neighborhoods and highways started to awaken, but it was still quiet at the peak. The momentary silence was broken as the pot started to boil and fresh coffee gushed out of the spout. I already knew the cup of coffee was going to be worth all the work.
The coffee tasted bitter, but the hot beverage soothed my soul and the caffeine rushed through my bloodstream giving me new life. I sat there appreciating the view and reflected on this little adventure into the hills with the cup of coffee in hand and the Sinn 104 dangling from my wrist. I thought about the importance of taking the time to find that little escape and to appreciate the challenges that come with it. I looked around at my pack and the miscellaneous things scattered around me … nothing else puts a smile on my face more than seeing my gear properly get put through its paces.
We packed up and made the long trek back to the trailhead. It would be another micro-adventure for the books. As I settled in at home, I felt the lower leg and back soreness starting to kick in. Battle scars from the morning’s adventure and a reminder of what was accomplished. However with time, the muscles would mend but the Sinn would still hang around and serve as a reminder; find the time to get out there and give your gear life, and maybe you’ll come back with a learned lesson (or two) and a story to tell.
We would like to know how our readers are finding time to get Out Of Office. Where are you going and what adventure awaits? And more importantly, what’s going to be on wrist? Let us know in the comments below and while you’re at your destination, take a moment to snap a wrist-shot and tag us on Instagram: @wornandwound