Reflections on Old Fart Backpacking

11:22 a.m. on August 23, 2018 (EDT)
ppine
73 reviewer rep
4,108 forum posts

Just returned from a few days up by Carson Pass, CA.  After some injuries it was my first time out this year.  The whole process is so familiar.  I miss the rituals of using specialized equipment.  We accessed the area on the PCT but then wandered off the trail into a place no one has probably ever camped.  Blue skies and clear weather in the late summer in the Sierra. 

Night before last at about 0200 the most raucous pack of coyotes went through the valley right below us screaming, howling and yipping.  My dog was on alert, but never made a sound. Around 0600 an enormous old tree crashed to the ground that was audilbe for miles.  We had frost and someone said that it was 29 degrees that night at 8,400 feet.  After we packed up and headed out of camp through a dense stand of lodgepole pine and Shasta red fir, we ran into some fresh bear scat with gooseberries in it. The scat was about 400 yards from camp.

If felt like we were gone for two weeks. 

2:22 p.m. on August 23, 2018 (EDT)
Tipi Walter
295 reviewer rep
1,436 forum posts

I'm sitting around waiting for a new pack to arrive and it's been 52 days since my last backpacking trip---which is a record for me---but once the pack arrives I'm outta here.

3:13 p.m. on August 23, 2018 (EDT)
ppine
73 reviewer rep
4,108 forum posts

Even after a rough summer, I am physically able to handle the elevation and climbing which is a relief.  Now to find a new sleeping pad that can handle colder weather. 

3:36 p.m. on August 23, 2018 (EDT)
LoneStranger
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
10,075 reviewer rep
1,625 forum posts

Tipi Walter said:

I'm sitting around waiting for a new pack to arrive and it's been 52 days since my last backpacking trip---which is a record for me---but once the pack arrives I'm outta here.

 Wow I thought I had problems, but now I feel bad complaining about being stuck at home for a few weeks. At least you are avoiding the heat :)

10:59 a.m. on August 25, 2018 (EDT)
ppine
73 reviewer rep
4,108 forum posts

What a revelation to be back out there.  It will be hard to give it up. 

Without talking about it first, my hiking partner of 30 years and I brought no alcohol on this trip.  We had some CBD in the evening.  We split up for a few hours each day to contemplate the Eminent Radiance of the Cosmos.  I mostly thought about our Earth Mother and the joy of being a part of it. 

We both brought chairs. That was a first. Next I am updating my sleeping pad for something warmer and more comfortable.  These are wonderful concessions to aging that make a huge difference.  How has your backpacking changed as you have added a couple of decades to your experience?

9:50 p.m. on August 25, 2018 (EDT)
whomeworry
125 reviewer rep
3,550 forum posts

I hike much slower.

I never was a big drinker, but now my meds preclude more than delicate sipping.  

I used to haul huge 90 pound packs on a regular basis.  This required reinforcing the shoulder strap with leather gussets where the shoulder grommet is mounted.  I no longer do expeditionary style trips and nowadays try to keep the weight under 60 pounds on long trips.  Long gone is my espresso brewer, the 4X5 large format camera, tripod and various camera accessories; the gas lantern long ago replaced by a LED camp light; wool garments replaced by fleece articles, and blue plastic rainfly has been replaced several times by progressively lighter materials.  I've gone from having three changes of clothes packed to two sets (I don't like living in my dirt and stink, and don't like doing laundry every other day).

I have been replacing equipment with lighter gear. 

My shelter system weighs a fraction it used to.  I normally sleep under the stars, cowboy style on an inflatable mat atop a ground cloth.  I bug proof with a mini 2 pole dome bug net canopy.  My foul weather shelter used to be a free standing dome.  When camping with others I'd also bring a rain fly to hang out under, versus everyone hunkering down in their own tents.   I lightened sheltering weight by replacing the fiberglass poles on the bug net with carbon fiber poles, cutting the net weight by more than 50%.  I replaced my coated nylon ground cloth with a  dyneema article; replaced the nylon dome tent with a dyneema pyramid tarp, and replaced the rain fly with one made of dyneema fabric.  The total shelter system now weighs less than 3 pounds, including 8 stakes to batten down the pyramid tarp for full on storms, and 8 stakes to set up the cook fly.  This conversion also reduced the bulk of this gear to ⅓ the former volume.

I replaced nylon belt straps used to lash gear to my packs with 2.0 mm Z-Line (braided UHMWPE fiber).  My bear hang used to be a 50 yd ¼" kernmantle nylon rope; I replaced 100' of that with the same z-Line (I had to keep 50' of the nylon rope because the Z-line was too hard on the hands for the haul end of the bear line).  Lastly I replaced the roughly 100' of nylon parachute cord used for the cook fly with 2.3 mm polyester reflective cord.  All of these modifications, including an extra 75' of Z-Line, resulted in a final mass weighing about ½ the mass of the original bear hang line, and taking up less space than the original bear hang line.

I replaced my three layer hard shell tops and bottom with two layer articles made from lighter fabrics.  I replaced my crampons, ice axe, helmet, skis, and ski boots with lighter equipment, now weighing about half what they replaced.

I replaced my walking staff with a DYI two piece telescoping carbon fiber staff, that also doubles as the mast pole for my pyramid tarp.  This staff weighs ½ as much as my old staff, less than a set of the lightest pair of trekking poles.

I replaced my BearVault canister with a larger model Bearikade canister, saving 3 oz weight while gaining almost 30% more storage capacity.

Ed

 

11:58 a.m. on August 26, 2018 (EDT)
ppine
73 reviewer rep
4,108 forum posts

Thanks Ed.  I am carrying around 30 pounds these days instead of 45-50 in the old days.  I am slow on the uphills especially at high elevations (above 8,000 feet), but walk around the same pace on the flats and downhill.  We are lucky to still be able to get out there.  At 68, very few of my friends are still backpacking.

I bring one set of clothes. If they  don't not smell right I rinse them out.

Mostly I do 3 day trips.  Then I can use the ULA pack and keep the weight down.

As a forester, I get distracted constantly by all of the wonderful miracles in wild country.  Fortunately my main hiking partner also has great interest in geomorphology, forest succession, wild flowers and wildlife. Last week we had a discussion on whether our hiking area had been glaciated or not.  The conclusion was that we were in a grabben with eroded basalt cliffs, and that alpine glaciation was expressed at slightly higher elevations in the surrounding mountains.

2:45 p.m. on August 26, 2018 (EDT)
FlipNC
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
4,360 reviewer rep
1,607 forum posts

I'm officially eligible for AARP this year so feel like I can comment although a few years behind you all...similar adjustments to aging and weak or injured knees include lighter pack (base weight around 15 to 20 depending on season) for an overall load in the low 20s for a weekend walk with good food, full size air mattress, trail chair, and a large shelter (although light) for hanging out in the rough weather that I like to hike in sometimes. Alcohol has always been controlled to just a dram after dinner but I would miss it. Trekking poles for the knees and a fantastic knee brace for the torn up one.

3:05 p.m. on August 26, 2018 (EDT)
LoneStranger
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
10,075 reviewer rep
1,625 forum posts

FlipNC said:

...and a fantastic knee brace for the torn up one.

 Oh? I'm always looking for a better knee brace. None I've tried are comfortable after wearing them for a few long days. Please feel free to share a review or at least the name of this magical device :)

4:17 p.m. on August 26, 2018 (EDT)
FlipNC
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
4,360 reviewer rep
1,607 forum posts

Working on it now actually...stay tuned.

5:37 p.m. on August 26, 2018 (EDT)
ppine
73 reviewer rep
4,108 forum posts

Thanks Phil. You are making all the right moves. 

11:25 a.m. on August 27, 2018 (EDT)
ppine
73 reviewer rep
4,108 forum posts

Backpacking is so familiar.  It requires some specialized equipment.  It gets us out there which is the real blessing. I really like being out there with the wildlife and no people around.  My whole outlook has improved since last week's trip. Today I am going to Reno to visit some stores and update some equipment.  Now is the best time of the year in the Sierras until snow at the end of Oct. 

11:05 p.m. on August 30, 2018 (EDT)
NorthWestWanderer
27 reviewer rep
51 forum posts

If a tree falls in the woods and ppine isn't around to hear it, is it really a tree?

3:41 a.m. on August 31, 2018 (EDT)
whomeworry
125 reviewer rep
3,550 forum posts

NorthWestWanderer said:

If a tree falls in the woods and ppine isn't around to hear it, is it really a tree?

"Ripple in still water,
When there is no pebble tossed,
Nor wind to blow."

-Greatful Dead.

Sometimes even first hand witnessing fails to provide a full accounting.

Ed

10:53 a.m. on August 31, 2018 (EDT)
ppine
73 reviewer rep
4,108 forum posts

You are talking my language Ed. 

Grateful Dead is the most recorded band in history.  The lyrics of most of their songs are poetry.  I have recited them many times as benedictions before club meetings. 

I have seen where the wolf has slept by the silver stream 

I can tell by the mark he left you were in his dream

Ah, child of countless trees, 

Ah, child of boundless seas

What you are, what your're meant to be

Speaks his name, though you were born to me,

Born to me,

Cassidy

10:54 a.m. on August 31, 2018 (EDT)
ppine
73 reviewer rep
4,108 forum posts

delete

12:43 p.m. on September 10, 2018 (EDT)
FlipNC
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
4,360 reviewer rep
1,607 forum posts

LS - I finally finished a quick review of the knee brace here...I got it out this weekend on a long day hike with a lot of rock scrambling and its still working as good as new.  You always want relief from a brace after a couple of days but I wore this one for two weeks straight except for a day when I switched it to the other leg.

https://www.trailspace.com/gear/other/incrediwear-knee-brace/#review39238

12:52 p.m. on September 13, 2018 (EDT)
ppine
73 reviewer rep
4,108 forum posts

Last Saturday night we had some blissed out moments listenting to Melvin Seals and the Jerry Garica Band at Gull Lake. Gazing across the lake at the giant buttress of Sierra granite and a ponderosa pine forest, a golden eagle and several osprey flew overhead as the sun went down.  I sang along to Uncle John's Band, and during the 6 minute intstrumental, I closed my eyes and was transported back to a time when we were all young, skinny and bulletproof.  Back when I could walk 20 miles in a day.  Good ol Grateful Dead. 

May 25, 2020
Quick Reply

Please sign in to reply