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Tag Archives: backpacking

A Walk from Onion Valley to Road’s End

In the middle of October, after having finished an amazing L2H hike with two great guys (Bulldozer and Abram), I was looking at wrapping up my season and heading back to Portland to spend the holidays with my mother.

But it was driving me crazy that I hadn’t finished my Sierra High Route hike. I walked around Mt. Williamson, summiting two 14ers to compensate, and I made some excuses, but still it was driving me crazy when I wasn’t trying to put it out of my mind. I’m not sure I’d ever feel right if I didn’t complete the SHR in one season as I intended.

LoveNote showed up in Lone Pine and planted the seed again, a few days later. When I told her my excuses, she (and her dog) gave me this look:

And that did it. Next thing I knew I… continue reading

Making Steve Roper Proud

The Sierra High Route is a 195-mile long route charted through the backcountry — and along some existing trails — of the High Sierra Nevada. It was devised by noted Sierra climber and historian Steve Roper, and originally, discreetly, published in book form in 1982. I first learned about it in 2013 during my thru-hike when the wonderfully thought-full hiker “Manchurian.” Manchurian hiked a section of the Sierra High Route between Reds Meadow and Tuolumne, I’m not sure how much of it he conquered but I remember him telling me it wasn’t too hard, and that the only sign of humanity he found out there was a deflated helium balloon.

When the Pacific Crest Trail and it’s burgeoning “culture” totally disenfranchised me earlier this year, I made a rather knee-jerk decision to ditch the PCT and instead tackle that remote and “not too hard” Sierra High Route.

The only… continue reading

SHR me and the muir hut

Sierra High Route Part 2: Taboose Pass to Piute Pass

Day 1: Taboose Pass to Taboose Pass

August 16th. I started the day having leftover apple pie, cinnamon rolls, and fresh hot coffee with LoveNote and Burly White’s wedding party near South Lake. This was a beautiful wedding, a marriage of two great people who met while hiking the Continental Divide trail and fell in love. They crowned their hike and sealed the deal by adopting a puppy together, and this great dog, “Huckleberry,” dug holes between the two as they voiced their oaths. Behind them the backdrop of the Inconsolable Range and Bishop Pass Mountains Mt. Goode, Mt. Johnson, and Mt. Thompson seemed only painted on canvas — it was that perfect. I was watching them get married and looking at familiar High Sierra at the same time.

I was something of the “wedding crasher,” having not only just met the couple weeks before, but also under the circumstance… continue reading

Lowest To Highest

The Lowest to Highest Trail (L2H) is a challenging route that runs from the lowest point in the contiguous USA (Badwater, Death Valley, -282 feet) to its highest, Mount Whitney (14,505 feet), across 130 miles. This distance is achieved via the popular running/cycling route, run yearly as an ultramarathon, and also by an . There are also other L2H routes plotted by other parties — there are a lot of ways to get from Badwater to Whitney. Typically it is walked in the late winter (February-early March) or early fall (late September-early October); otherwise sweltering heat in Death Valley and snows in the Inyo and Sierra ranges can hinder completion. The hiking route is largely comprised of 4×4 roads, use trail, well-worn trail, and when those aren’t available, very simple straight-line backcountry (e.g. Badwater and Darwin Plateau).

When I hiked in October 2015, I found the most difficult aspects to… continue reading

Sierra High Route Part 3: Piute Pass to Reds Meadow

Day 1: Piute Pass Trailhead to French Canyon

July 24th. This hike was kicked off with a pleasant hitch in a big truck from a fellow named Kelly. Kelly had just dropped his niece “Sierra” off at Mt. Whitney so that she could summit, and was headed back to Bishop where he was visiting family. Kelly and his niece had just finished the John Muir Trail (JMT) and had themselves hitch hiked, so he was eager to “pay it forward.” He was not only super fun to chat with, but he stopped by Great Basin bakery in Bishop (so much better than Schatz FWIW) and bought me a coffee, a muffin, and a baguette to pack out, AND he drove me all the way to the Puite Pass trailhead. With such luck and grace in the morning, it was inconceivable anything could go wrong.

Well, a couple things could go… continue reading

Sierra High Route Part 4: Reds Meadow to Tuolumne Meadows

This ~50-mile stretch of the Sierra High Route took me four days. I left from Reds Meadows near Mammoth Lakes on a Wednesday afternoon at 12:30pm and came out in Tuolumne Meadows on a Sunday at 11:00am with heels on fire – I wanted to make breakfast at the diner!

Day 1: Devil’s Postpile to Superior Lake

July 15th. It began with a pleasant enough jaunt along the PCT/JMT towards Devil’s Postpile, a mind-bogglingly geometric statue sculpted by no other force than Mother Nature. Mostly hexagonal (44.5%) and pentagonal (37.5%) rock posts — some of them near perfect — arise out of the ground up a couple hundred feet. They cracked into this shape when a mass of volcanic lava cooled slowly gazillions of years ago, and then were smoothed off by glacier movement at the top to show their angles. It was great to take this short side-trip loop… continue reading

Sierra High Route Part 5: Tuolumne Meadows to Twin Lakes

This 23-mile stretch of the Sierra High Route took me almost three days. I left Tuolumne Meadows Saturday June 13th at 7am and came out at Twin Lakes on Monday the 15th at 4:30pm. Granted, I’m usually able to hike 23 miles in one day, that’s when there’s a trail and I don’t have three unusually steep mountain passes to get over. Over three days I had my ass handed to me by this route and once finished, tentatively decided to not continue hiking it.

Day 1: Tuolumne Meadows to Cascade Lake

June 13th. I was originally set to leave on June 5, and was posted up in Tuolumne acclimating to the elevation, but rain came in and wasn’t letting up so I postponed. I’m actually glad it worked out this way, because I not only avoided rain but snow, too. I spent a week waiting it out in Mariposa… continue reading

Lighthouse Surrounded by Trail Trash

The Best Ultra Lightweight Sleeping Bags

Ultra lightweight sleeping bags are purpose-built for long-haul treks where space is at a premium and weight is counted in grams, but they can also be used on your ordinary family camping trips. I call that win-win!

The sleeping bag is part of “The Big Three:” your backpack, your tent, and your sleeping bag. These three items comprise the most weight, and take up the most space of all your gear. Also, they are items (aside from food and shoes) that can make–or break–your hike or tour. Be prepared to shell out good money up front (and not have to re-purchase something better later). This is an investment you’ll be putting to very good use. A sleeping bag is a camper’s best friend.

Considerations Bag girth and length. You want enough room to be able to roll over in your bag but not so much that you are… continue reading

Stoned Boners May 14 2013 in Wrightwood

Backpack Choices for a Thru-hike

Here is a run-down of all the popular backpacks on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Also included are a couple pack comparison charts for you, looking at a range of the most common and reasonable packs for normal people. I hope this helps your selection. Please correct any mistakes or omissions in the comments below.

Index

Common Packs Outliers Other Ideas Considerations 55-60L Comparison Chart 65-70L Comparison Chart

Common Backpacks of the PCT

Here is a list of packs that would fall in the expected range seen on average PCT thru-hikers. One sees these being carried happily and successfully on trail, every day.

Osprey – For women the Ariel 55/65 and Aura 50/65 are most popular, and for men the Atmos 50/65 and Exos 58. Ultra-Lightweight Adventure (ULA) – The Catalyst (big),… continue reading

Pepper Flake stretches out his back at Sunrise Trailhead trough

My Portraits of the Pacific Crest Trail

I was super excited to find this excellent photo gallery of PCT hiker photos over at Outside Online today (thanks Pacific Crest Trail Association for the link). How cool is it that an unwitting trail angel became a documenter of some of the 2014 personalities? I met a few of those hikers (Justin, Blanco, Far Out, Sarah!, Namaste) , and maybe met a few others before they got their trail names, and got teary-eyed looking at their beautiful portraits. But it made me remember that I took some 2014 PCT portraits myself, and still haven’t shared them beyond the ephemeral Instagram base. So here you go:

Hiker Apache. Now I’m partial to this guy because I hiked a few miles with him in 2013, and he’s just sweet and mellow. Here he is back again in 2014 to see how far he gets…. continue reading

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