Equipment and Supplies

This section is for my own future reference, although anyone interested is welcome to read it, of course.  As I had recently done the Arrow Peak backpacking trip my equipment this time was based on that, which should be referred to.  Only differences are noted here.  The backpack, tent, sleeping bag and pad were the same.  I bought a couple new small stuff sacks and this time carried the tent in two small stuff sacks (tent and fly separately; I didn't use the fly) with the stakes and poles separately in their own sacks.  This gave me more flexibility in packing although I'm not sure it really helped that much.  I then used the original tent stuff sack for my extra clothing (essentially the same as I brought to Arrow Peak) which fit perfectly and thus became an excellent pillow.  I furthermore if I put my pillow a little above the 3/4 pad, even though there was a gap it was fine and I could keep my feet on pad with perhaps a slight bend of the knees.  So the 3/4 pad seems just fine.  Temperatures only went down to the mid or high 40s (around dawn) at the two spots I camped (8500 and 8100 feet).  It was quite comfortable.

Shoes and socks.  I threw out my old New Balance shoes when we moved, since they were getting quite worn out.  Even though I've only had them for two years while my first pair of hiking shoes lasted 7 years, I hiked a lot more in the last 2 years than the previous 7.  I was going to get another pair of New Balance running shoes but traffic and parking at the New Balance store in San Jose were terrible and I gave up visiting; stores around Palo Alto didn't carry NB trail shoes.  So I ended up buying a pair of Vasque Blur shoes at the new REI in Mountain View, the same shoes I was considering 2 years ago but didn't get since they weren't in stock!  I liked them right away.  I walked 4 miles home and then a little more to break them in, and they were so comfortable they didn't seem to need breaking in.  Unfortunately this wasn't the case as I ended up getting some blisters as mentioned in the main text.  Still I like the shoes a lot.  The soles are more stiff than the New Balance trail runners were, which seemed to help going downhill on rock, an area I've had trouble with before.

I brought my relatively new Smartwool and Thorlo socks, wearing the former the first two days (I didn't bother to wash them as they didn't seem too dirty and were still soft), and the other the third day.  I washed the first socks after the second day but they didn't dry so I carried them in the kangaroo pouch on the pack.  I didn't bring liner socks and regretted that--they might have helped with the blisters.  I brought the Chaco sandals again which were terrific and again seemed worth the weight.  I'll try to find a lighter alternative for next year, but sandals are a great idea and I noticed most other people had sandals strapped to their packs as well.

Food.  I brought my complete kitchen:  the Snowpeak titatium mug and spork, a newly-purchased small Snowpeak gas cannister (which fits inside the mug), and my Primus stove (which also fits inside the mug, and I stuck a bandana in there as well).  The stove had a lot of trouble igniting at the campsites (8500 and 8100 feet), even though the wind was low.  I'd think of trying a lightweight windscreen next time or maybe buying a Snowpeak stove to see if that works better.  The Primus is quite old by now.  Once it got going it worked fine at least.  I brought my Ursack and plastic liner but as I did the Rae Lakes Loop I had to rent a bear cannister and left them in the car.  The Wild Ideas Weekender rented for $7 for the two nights and although heavier and bulkier than the Ursack still managed to fit into my pack and worked great. It would have cost $225 to buy so I'm glad I could rent it!

I got the food just about perfect this trip, ending up with a little leftover at the end.  Since it was 2 nights I brought 2 Mountain House dinners (my favorites beef stroganoff and chicken and noodles) which were my main meals.  For breakfast I brought 4 packs of oatmeal and 2 of hot cocoa (the good Swiss Miss mix this time) but only used half this since I didn't have a hot breakfast the last day.  For snacks I had a half bar of cheddar cheese again (maybe a little much for such a short trip), two giant slim jims and one other similar stick (which was better than the slim jims--the giant ones tend to be too tough and I only hate half of one of the others), trail mix (from Trader Joes--a very good one this time which just had nuts and peanut brittle), dried cherries (bing, which were much better than the rainier ones last time), nature valley granola bars (3 I think--I only ate 2), cheez-its (something I'd craved last trip and was happy to have this time--I only brought a very small bag though and should bring more next time), and gatorade powder (in packets this time--I only used 1 of 3 I brought).  I also had 2 packages of Cliffshot bloks (for times when I needed quick energy--I used both) and one package of Meiji kajuu gumi as a special treat (I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would, though!).  The cheez-its are especially good I think because unlike all the other food I bring they are something I eat normally at home, so they had a sort of comfort value.  I typically would eat the same snacks every day--I should plan to have different things each day for variety in the future.

I brought 1 Nalgene bottle to hold water, plus two 2.5 liter Platypus collapsible containers.  I only needed one of the latter but brought both since I didn't have the second nalgene bottle (which I also didn't need) and since they weight very little and take up little space.  I thought I might need to carry a lot of water in case I needed to make a dry camp, but for one person 3.5 liters of water at camp is more than enough.  On this trail I only needed to carry 1 liter of water at a time nd did so.

Miscellaneous. Pretty much the same as before but no trekking poles and different stuff sacks.  I used fewer ziplock bags too since we didn't have the quart ones at home.  I brought along a book on the Riemann Zeta Function since I miss math after having not done it all summer, but as I should have known I just looked at my maps (I brought both Kings Canyon and Kearsarge Pass) before going to bed each night.

I weighed my pack including almost everything including 1 liter of water and the Ursack and it was about 26 pounds.  As the bear cannister is about 2 pounds and I think I added a little (such as the cheese) after weighing, I'd guess the starting weight was 28 pounds.  I could probably save a pound or two with some pruning next time, but I wanted to be on the safe side this first solo trip.