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Archive for July, 2012

Paragliding Over Lake Tahoe

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Paragliding over Lake Tahoe

Who: Dave and Ryan from TMS with Ed from Daydreams Paragliding and Mitch from Lake Tahoe Paragliding

Where: Daydreams Launch above Kings Beach

When: Summertime

Gear: Smith sunglasses, Salomon Mission Shoes and a Paraglider

Whenever the wind is blowing at moderate speeds and the weather seems to be perfect, I always see 3-10 people launching off the open ridge area above my house, soaring to great heights, hanging out like a bird in the air and then landing on one of the most beautiful beaches around Lake Tahoe. These guys are paragliding and to watch from the ground as they soar and then come in for a super smooth beach landing is one of the favorite past times of many a Kings Beach local. Being a kiteboarder, these big wings that these guys use are clearly the next step as it is a very similar setup to a foil kite that I use on the snow. After stopping by the shop a couple times, it was time to work out a deal and get up in the air for my first paragliding flight.

Luckily, this past Sunday night, a couple of their booked tandems dropped out leaving room for Ryan (the TMS hardgoods manager) and I to jump at the opportunity in front of us. It didn’t take more than a second for either of us to accept the invitation of a tandem flight.

Hiking up the paraglidersGetting geared up in my tandem seat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a 20 minute hike up to the launch spot referred to as Daydreams (named after a Squaw Valley 70s era Beck Bros. movie filmed locally with some hang-gliding footage), it was timed to get geared up, roll out the wings and get ready to fly. These guys sure knew what they were doing because within about 10 minutes of getting to the launch spot, wings were rolled out, lines were checked and the first in our group was ready for lift off.

Ryan and Mitch lifting off

It looked pretty fluid to be honest and it was a lot gentler than I imagined.  After getting launched on a kite enough times, you start to understand the power of these forced air kite/wings, but because the Paraglider wing is so big, the lift off is a bit smoother and it just launches you right up. And then……………………………………………. you are airborne!

Ryan and Mitch soaring through the airRyan and Mitch soaring through the air again

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The winds were not too strong on this occasion so we did have a little trouble getting enough lift to really stay up in the air too long, but it was the ride of a lifetime and I can’t wait to go for another. Having lived in Tahoe for 12 years now, Paragliding is now on my Top 5 things to do whether you live here or are coming for a visit. Enjoy the rest of these pics and contact these guys if you are ready for the ride of your life!

Soaring over Lake TahoeSoaring over Lake TahoeChecking out the landing zoneHello Lake Tahoe

For more information about Paragliding in Lake Tahoe, you can contact:

Daydreams Paragliding at 775-720-9156

Lake Tahoe Paragliding at 530-318-1859

Patagonia Guide Hoody
Patagonia Guide Hoody
MSRP: $179.00

Down Days on Donner Summit

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Who: Julie and whoever wants to come

When: Summertime, wintertime, anytime

Where: Donner Summit

Gear: Jacket, Hiking Pants, Climbing Shoes and Gear, and good shoes

Donner Pass in Truckee is where the West meets the East. It’s the transition between Nevada’s arid high desert and California’s fertile valleys. It stretches across the spine of the Sierra Nevada and it survives some of the most severe weather coming in from the Pacific and heading East. Since the 1800′s — and likely before then — Donner Pass has seen countless travelers traverse from one side to the other and back again. It’s the eye of the needle. It’s also home to limitless recreation.

I’ve spent a lot of summer days on Donner Summit. And a few winter days too. It’s where I find myself passing time, getting strong on the rock or pushing my legs uphill on my bicycle or skiing lake runs. These days are mellow. They’re not epic long days (although that’s not meant to discount the quality of terrain). Donner Summit is a perfect spot for a couple hours, in the day before heading to work a night shift, or in the evening sun burning off energy pent up from sitting at a desk all day.

This summer, I owe my progression in climbing to Donner Summit. It started with a solid couple top roping sessions on the southwestern face of Grouse Slabs. With just a couple ropes, you can access anything from a 5’8 corner to a 5’10 slabby arrette, including one of my favorite 5’9 routes, Greener Pastures, which features a solid undercling move into one of the most perfect lieback cracks ever.

From Grouse, I went to Snowshed and attacked a line that’s intimidated me since I’ve known it’s name: Farewell To Arms. And from Snowshed, I progressed to a place where my head space wanted to be pushed.  Leading: It’s a different game when you are actually climbing at the top of a rope. But Donner Summit, (I love this place!), is the perfect spot to ease into it. Started with the aptly named Kindergarten Crack on School Rock, and graduated to Junior High Crack. Then made the move to Jellyroll Arch. And from there it felt like the sky was the limit — until I found myself off route in ’10a sport climbing territory and fell on my ankle, which has been about the size of a golf ball ever since. I’ve since been humbled to take a week off from climbing. But it won’t be long until I’m back up at Donner Summit, taking a step back, but still getting after it.

Despite what I may say, it’s not all about climbing at Donner Summit. The other night, I found myself sitting on a pier on Donner Lake at midnight. The sky was clear and the Milky Way was a cloudy streak behind the stars. Across the lake, the horizon lit up from lightning in a distant thunder storm. In a split and silent second, the sky flashed as bright as day and then turned night again, like nothing ever happened. I went to sleep and in another hour, a torrential rain hit the roof and thunder clapped the sky.

This is a place named after the worst in humanity — a group of people so desperate they ate each other. But honestly, I find that Donner Summit brings the best out of me.

Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket
Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket
MSRP: $189.
Kuhl Revolvr Pants
Kuhl Revolvr Pants
MSRP: $68.95

 

 

Drink It Straight From the Source: CamelBak All Clear

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

When getting a glass of clean water is as simple as turning on the faucet, it’s easy to take water sources for granted. It’s not until I’m looking for water to brush my teeth with in a cheap, third-world city hotel room, or when my mouth is parched from backpacking in remote, high country that I want assurance the water I’m drinking will nurture my body, not make me sick. With CamelBak’s new All Clear water bottle, which takes UV purification and makes it simple and portable, I can rest easy and drink as much purified water as I need anywhere and everywhere.

All you have to do with the CamelBak All Clear is fill it up (if you are in the backcountry, you might want to get the pre-filter to get all the twigs and debris out of the water), press the button to turn on the UV light, agitate the water as the timer counts down from 60 seconds, and voila, 3/4 of a litre of purified water. It’s designed to be sturdy and survive travel. The UV bulb is tested to be just as effective from day one to the end of its lifetime, which according to CamelBak is about 10,000 cycles (as in three bottles a day, everyday, for nine years). And you can recharge the battery with any USB power source.

Tahoe Mountain Sports Owner Dave Polivy took the CamelBak All Clear out on a backpacking trip earlier this month and put it to the test. Here’s what he had to say:

I have wanted to try this bottle/device since it first showed up at the shop. With a backpacking trip planned, it was finally time. I’ve used traditional water filters like the MSR Miniworks for years, enjoyed many a bottle of water flavored and treated with Iodine tablets, and used the Steripen Classic on a number of trips as well.

My first impression of the CamelBak All Clear was it’s weight. It is a bit heavy when compared with a Steripen. But when you realize you are carrying the bottle and the purifier in one package, it seems to be an OK weight range, though still not the super lightest. Other than that, it looks just like a normal water bottle, just with a bigger top.

A couple of usage tricks I figured out: You only need to hold the button down for about 2 to 4 seconds or until the timer starts counting down and gets to 58 seconds. If you hold it longer than that, it will flash with an “E” for error and stop working. If you don’t hold it down long enough, it won’t even start counting down. After I did this a few times, it was easy to hit that sweet spot. Once the timer is counting down, that is pretty much it. Flip the bottle up and down a couple times to “agitate” it. Then wait for the UV and the check symbol and you are good to go.

We went backpacking with four adults and two kids for two nights and this was the only system we used for all our water needs, including drinking and cooking. We filled it up, purified it for 60 seconds, dumped it into somebody’s water bottle or dromedary bag and repeat. It worked perfectly the entire time and we probably did about 20 to 30 treatments throughout the weekend. The battery life only lost 1 bar, or a quarter of its power during that time.

Verdict: While this might not be the lightest setup for everybody, it works and it works well. There is no room for user error like with a Steripen, and it is way easier than a pump filter and about equal the weight as a MSR Miniworks. I would highly recommend this for the avid traveler and for the backpacker who is concerned with performance and ease. Again, not the lightest purifier on the market, but an affordable one that works.

CamelBak All Clear
CamelBak All Clear
MSRP: $98.95
CamelBak Antidote
CamelBak Antidote
MSRP: $34.95
CamelBak Eddy Water Bottle
CamelBak Eddy Water Bottle
MSRP: $14.95

 

 

 

Summer Gear Giveaway with Lake Tahoe North

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Enter to win Summer Giveaway

A huge stash of prizes is just two clicks of a mouse away — seriously. Tahoe Mountain Sports and Lake Tahoe North have teamed up to give away more than $1,000 worth of swag to one lucky Facebook fan. All you have to do is “like” both Tahoe Mountain Sports and Lake Tahoe North on Facebook and a Nemo Tent, Deuter backpacks, two pairs of Smith sunnies, and more could be all yours.

Here’s a little more info on the sweet prizes we’ve got:

Not one, but TWO Deuter backpacks — one for yourself and one for the man or woman in your life. The Men’s Deuter Spectro AC 24 ($128.95 retail value) and the women’s Deuter Spectro AC 28 SL ($138.95 retail value) are great day-hiking backpacks both featuring the AirComfort Back System that is designed to reduce perspiration by 20 percent.

Two pairs of Smith Optics Sunglasses: The men’s Smith Prospect Polarized Sunglasses with a black frame and grey-green lenses ($119 retail value) and the women’s Smith Shoreline Polarized Sunglasses with an apple tortoise frame and brown gradient lenses ($109 retail value). Both have function and fashion for the active Tahoe lover.

A Nemo Obi 2 Person Tent ($390 retail value), so you can take your two Deuter packs and Smith shades into the woods and go camping. This Nemo backpacking tent is lightweight, with no wasted material and every feature and detail driven by purpose and strategy.

When you get home from that backpacking trip, might as well go jump in the lake. Take your lucky significant other paddle boarding with two full day stand up paddleboard rentals ($160 retail value) with Tahoe Adventure Company.

And for the cherry on top, Tahoe Mountain Sports is adding a $50 gift certificate. Just in case there’s anything else you need for your summer backpacking/paddleboarding/hiking/camping/whatever adventure, stop by the Tahoe Mountain Sports shop in Kings Beach or visit our website. We’ve got you covered.

Enter to Win the Summer Gear Giveaway Worth Over $1000

Why are we giving away all this awesome free stuff? Because we like you. And we want you to “like” us.

So here’s the deal, visit the Lake Tahoe North Facebook page to enter. Remember to “like” Lake Tahoe North and Tahoe Mountain Sports. And even if you’re not the lucky winner, you’ll still get to be part of an awesome community of like-minded Tahoe folk and stay in the know about sweet deals on gear and some of the best events in town.

Deuter Spectro Backpack
Deuter Spectro Backpack
MSRP: $128.95
Nemo Obi 2 Person Tent
Nemo Obi 2 Person Tent
MSRP: $389.95

 

After Summiting Denali, Reflections on Training for the Climb

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Brad Miller and Clay Kimmi of Adventures for Action set out last May to climb the West Buttress of Denali (Mt. McKinley) to raise awareness and funds for the International Health Partners of the United States and Tanzania (IHP-TZ). This blog post is the third in a series Brad and Clay are writing for Tahoe Mountain Sports, who is helping to gear them up for Denali. In past posts, Brad mused on the difficulty of big mountain training and how they were training for the summit.

Anyone who participates in a big mountain expedition inevitably gets asked the same few questions over and over again. One of which is this one:
“Did you train hard enough?”
In the case of Clay and I the answer is yes and no.
However, when it was all said and done, we were definitely prepared enough to get up Denali, which we did in a very respectable time. After being stuck in weather for 4 days at 17,000 feet, we were able to summit on day 12 and were down on day 15. We were definitely up for the task.
Climbing Denali is definitely not easy. We both had times where one of us would crash and were hurting by the end of the day.  More than once I had to fight tooth and nail just to stay awake in camp long enough to quickly choke down as much food as possible before passing out in my sleeping bag.
Most amateur climbers occasionally have a few of those days where you think that you should have trained harder because you feel like you just can’t go on.  But, those days are one of the reasons we all get out there in the mountains.  Those days are the tests we seek; they are the proving grounds.  During the times when you feel like you are at the end of your reserves, you have the opportunity to grit your teeth, dig deep and find the hidden strength to succeed.  And, after all, that is what big mountain climbing is all about.

CLAY

Once on the mountain, Clay found that there was a distinct hole in his training regiment that left him hurting up to 14,000 feet.  When I asked him if he thought his training was adequate, his to-the-point reply says it all:
“Overall . . . no.  It was quite simply the lack of sled training that kicked my ass.  Not living and training at altitude was a small part of it, but the lack of strength training with the sled was what really affected me.”
No matter how much altitude you do with a heavy pack, everything changes when you pull a 70 lb sled. You have another item to deal with that is constantly trying to foul and trip you up.  You use different muscles than when just packing loads on your back. And combining all of this with skis makes everything that much more difficult.
In Kansas, Clay focused on stair climbing and running. While those activities certainly helped prepare him for the mountain, he neglected training with a sled and paid the price. Having trained up to 70 lbs with a pack while in his hotel stairwell in Kansas City, he felt fit and prepared. However, adding another 70 lbs on a sled that constantly fought upward progress showed him just how possible it is to take yourself to the end of your energy reserves while hauling heavy loads.
In addition to the hard work of pulling a sled up, Clay, a Kansas dweller, was not able to practice skiing downhill with a pack and sled. This missing skill set was desperately missed on our descent.  Add to that bad breakable crust snow conditions, the descent was a constant fight instead of a pleasant cruise back to base camp.
In reflecting back on how he trained, Clay said that aside from obviously adding a heavy sled element, he would have focused more on interval training in place of long distance running as he feels the intervals were more beneficial.

BRAD

For my part, training in the Tahoe region served me well.  Throughout the summer months I was able to pack very heavy loads to altitudes of 10,000 feet on a regular basis.  The winter months allowed me to train in a manner that exactly reflected the work we were to undertake on the mountain.  Being able to work up to a 65 lb pack and 70 lb sled while skinning  up and skiing down packed forest service roads helped my mind and body comprehend and prepare for the task ahead.  Doing all this work at an altitude of over 6,000 feet made me that much more fit and I feel like Clay underestimates how much working out at 700 feet set him back.  Although he spent a week in Colorado before flying to Alaska, I don’t think this “acclimation trip” helped him much.  To access Denali’s West Buttress route you fly in to base camp at 7,200 feet. While my blood was already accustomed to this “daily living” altitude, Clay had to immediately started acclimatizing and so was handicapped from the start.
I agree with Clay that interval training was very important, surprisingly so in fact.  It is counter-intuitive to think of interval training as preparation for mountain climbing because there are no sprint-rest periods like in soccer or football.  What we discovered, however, was at 17,000 feet and above, a simple slip or stumble that requires a fast movement to correct constitutes a sprint.  These snap reactions skyrocket your heart rate and breathing and intervals definitely helped in recovery during these situations.  Intervals also greatly helped me lower what I call my working heart rate — the heart rate level I maintain when slowly slogging up the hill in a pace where I can climb for an hour or two without stopping to rest.

Mammut Alyeska Jacket
Mammut Alyeska Jacket
MSRP: $698.95

Kid-Friendly Hikes on Tahoe’s West Shore

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Growing up on the West Shore, hiking in Lake Tahoe’s woods and spending afternoons wading in high altitude lakes were things I took for granted. In hindsight, I was one lucky kid to have the endless trails in Tahoe just out my back door and I realized it as soon as I moved away. (Which is why I moved back home to Tahoe immediately after college.) Tahoe offers a plethora of scenic trails in the woods for both the avid hiker and the young family. For this post, I thought I would outline a few of my favorite family hikes in Lake Tahoe from when I was a kid. These easy-to-moderate trails are great day hikes with excellent destinations. Some are more crowded than others. But they all offer spectacular views, and most a nice cool body of water to dip your feet — or for the kids, to splash in feet first.

Angora Lakes

Photo Credit: Ktpdancer/Flickr Creative Commons

A gradual two-mile-or-so hike takes you to the two Angora Lakes, which are located above Fallen Leaf Lake. Both lakes are beautiful, but it’s the upper lake that you should hike to. Nestled in a glacially carved basin surrounded by Echo Peak and Angora Peak, the upper Angora Lake features a sandy beach, cool waters, and rocks — even large cliffs for those more experienced — to jump off of. You probably won’t find complete solitude on this popular hike, but you will find fresh-squeezed lemonade and paddle boat rentals operated by Angora Lakes Resort, a string of rustic cabins that have hosted guests since the 1920s.

Directions to the trailhead are a bit confusing, and I can’t guarantee signs. But take Fallen Leaf Road off of Highway 89, turn left on Tahoe Mountain Road, and then right on Angora Ridge Road. Follow Angora Ridge Road until you reach the parking area where the trailhead is located.

Eagle Lake

If you just have an afternoon (preferably on a less-crowded weekday), Eagle Lake is a great place to take the family. Located on the edge of Desolation Wilderness, this lake is very popular, and rightfully so. It’s a quick hike that’s not too steep. And the setting is spectacular with views of Emerald Bay on the way up and plenty of beach next to the lake. Bring your dog and throw a stick in the water. And don’t forget your bathing suit. You’ll find the trailhead in Emerald Bay. This is also one of the biggest access points to Desolation if you’re feeling like a longer hike and bigger adventure.

Vikingsholm and the Rubicon Trail

Take a stroll down history lane on this trail. Start at the top of Emerald Bay and walk down a wide dirt road to the famous Vikingsholm Mansion, where the infamous Mrs. Knight spent her summers and entertained guests in the early 1900′s. This Victorian mansion looms over the beach of one of the most famous landmarks in Lake Tahoe. A few hundred feet off shore sits the island, where Mrs. Knight hosted afternoon tea. There are plenty of trails that weave around the mansion, and you can walk up to Eagle Falls from here. But for those with a full day and more energy, I would highly recommend the Rubicon Trail.

You’ll find the trail weaving its way north from Vikingsholm. It follows one of the most dramatic shorelines in the Basin between Emerald Bay and Bliss State Park. Hikers pass secret coves and azure waters, and meander above gigantic cliffs that jut down hundreds of feet below the surface of the water. This is a great trail to set up a shuttle and park a car at Bliss and Emerald Bay if you don’t want to hike back.

Platypus 1 Litre Bottle
Platypus 1 Litre Bottle
MSRP: $16.95
Deuter Speed Lite 20 Backpack
Deuter Speed Lite 20 Backpack
MSRP: $88.95

 

 

High Sierra Music Lovin’

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

For this Adventure of the Week, TMS Blog Editor Julie Brown writes about the High Sierra Music Festival, which took place in Quincy over the Fourth of July weekend.

Who: Julie and lots of friends

What: High Sierra Music Festival

Where: Quincy

When: July 5 to 8

Gear: Tent, sleeping bag, sunscreen, water bottle, sunglasses

For years, my friend has always told me that I should go to the High Sierra Music Festival. But being on the Fourth of July weekend, I’ve always had to work and made excuses. Not this year. I finally put my foot down and bought my four-day ticket to this little festival with a big heart. And after four whirlwind days of solid music, dancing the night away, 95-degree-cool temps, camping in stables with an endless crew of friends, and immersing myself in an eclectic community of music lovers, I’m sitting here writing this and thinking: Did High Sierra really happen? I’ll definitely be attending the High Sierra Music Festival again next year, and for years to come after that.

The town of Quincy is small and quiet. But for four days, the High Sierra Music Festival transforms this sleepy town into a pulsing city of tents that never goes to bed. When we arrived, camps were set up in a matter of minutes. Shady Grove, the most popular camping area, was filled to the brim immediately. Good thing our friends beelined to the stables, and reserved a nice area under the shade. Conveniently located next to the Vaudeville Tent where dozens of bands played all day, this was our home sweet camp for the weekend. And we filled it with friends of friends of friends from Tahoe and Davis and Reno and SLO and beyond.

I can’t give you an exact rundown of this and that. It’s all blurred together in a mesmerized medley of color and eclectic people and dancing and hot sun and good music and late nights. But I can give you a couple glimpses of favorite moments:

Like watching Tahoe’s hometown band, the Dead Winter Carpenters, kill it on the Grandstand stage in front of hundreds of patrons.

Stumbling upon a silent disco at 3 am, where to the observer people danced in silence, but to the participant, a massive dance party could be accessed via head phones.

Falling in love with new music — the folksy Elephant Revival, Rubblebucket whose lead singer is full of rad personality and jumped into the crowd to dance with the rest of us, Delicate Steve, Kids These Days, David Garza… there was so much!

Rediscovering music legends like Toots and the Maytals. And getting to know the bands I already listen to. STS9 put on one crazy light show.

Destroyed guitars and crowd surfing.

Lotus drew me right up front. And I spent the last few late night hours of the weekend with Paper Diamond and Big Gigantic, closing out the festival with some sweet beats and jams.

High Sierra sold out this year. And I am very happy that I got to be part of the celebration. It was my first time at High Sierra Music Festival, but definitely not the last.

 

Snow Peak Spork
Snow Peak Spork
MSRP: $9.95
Eagle Nest Single Hammock
Eagle Nest Single Hammock
MSRP: $54.95

 

Tahoe’s Ultimate Frisbee Tournament: Lay Out Sky Dive

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

WHO: Lis and 5 team-worths of ultimate players

WHAT: Lay Out Sky Dive Hat Tournament

WHEN: June 16, 2012

WHERE: Tahoe City’s North Lake Tahoe High and Pomin fields

GEAR: Lole Movement shorts, water bottle, Patagonia cap 1 jerseys

Last weekend Tahoe’s ultimate frisbee community had a rare treat: a tournament in our own backyard! Organized by Tahoe local and UNR student Morgan Paulson, Lay Out Sky Dive is an annual hat tournament, which means players sign up individually and are placed on a team according to their skill/athletic level. Hat tournament teams tend to be pretty equal in skill with beginners and advanced players spread among the teams, so it makes for some fun play.

I got lucky and was placed on a particularly skilled team that went 4-1 for the day, winning the finals round in the end. Here we are pictured on the line below about to “pull” to our opponents (I’m hands on knees at far right). Our fans (er, hecklers) are on the sideline enjoying the finals BBQ while we sweated in out in a heated battle for the title.

This is a must-play event for any ultimate fan. The finals take place at Pomin field at Lake Forest, which affords a dip in the lake after playing. Doesn’t get much better than that!

Lole Movement Shorts
Lole Movement Shorts
MSRP: $59.95
Nalgene Tritan OTG Bottle
Nalgene Tritan OTG Bottle
MSRP: $8.95
SmartWool Microweight Tee
SmartWool Microweight Tee
MSRP: $59.95

 

The North Face Shoe Modeling – Spring 2013

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

The North Face came to Tahoe last month to train its team on the Spring 2013 line. Turns out they needed a pair of feet to model some shoes and mine were just the right size! I showed up at the Resort at Squaw Creek not sure what to expect and in an hour found myself strutting a catwalk (images 2 and 5 above) with 3 other Tahoe locals. The place was crawling with TNF employees and gear. Even the lobby’s hallways were not spared, with the latest tents popped up on display (image 6).

While they dressed us up in full North Face clothing, our feet were the focus. You can see the impressive lineup of shoes in image 4 above and just how big our feet got on the giant screens to show the audience closeups of the shoes (image 1). I had to quickly change into some 15 pairs of shoes, with clothes changes thrown in there as well.

It was hard to keep track of all the shoes I tried on, but there were some standouts, including the cool retro Back to Berkeley hiking line (hightop pair shown in image 3), the new design of the Base Camp ballet flats, and the new North Face water sandals (image 7) that feature ultra lightweight synthetic strapping versus the typical webbing you find on Chacos or Tevas.

I scored two pairs of Spring 2013 The North Face shoes to take home: a Back to Berkeley low-top hiker and a pair of ultralight running shoes. Love the colors on these!

The North Face Verto Approach Shoe
The North Face Verto Approach Shoe
MSRP: $109.95
The North Face El Rio Sandals
The North Face El Rio Sandals
MSRP: $54.95

 

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