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  1. 3 likes
    I saved up enough vacation this year to go on a three week road trip. The plan is to do two-night, three-day trips. I'm still working out all of the specifics because I'm trying to meet up with friends in a few places, but right now this is the plan: Start in the Needle Mountains in Southern Colorado, then head to the Flagstaff or Sedona area. Afterwards I will meet up with some friends south of Salt Lake City and find something cool to check out. Next I head to the Jarbridge Wilderness in Nevada, then North to the Sawtooth Wilderness followed by some time in the Wind River Range (Aaron, route suggestions?). Then to wrap it all up, I'm meeting my Aunt in RMNP with plans to bag Long's Peak, we already have our site reserved at the boulderfield. August can't come soon enough!
  2. 2 likes
    Hello everyone! I am new to TrailGroove! I live in the north eastern United States (New England) and i love hiking and spending time in the woods. I'm working on section hikling the Long Trail in Vermont and also hiking New Hampshire's 48 4k peaks (I have 17 done). I love hiking, thinking about hiking, and talking about hiking. Jason
  3. 2 likes
    “Looks like you’re going in circles” is a way to tell someone that they're wasting their time. Talking in circles generally isn’t a compliment either. However, walking in a circle can be a good thing for backpackers, provided they’re walking around something interesting. Think about it. Logistics become pretty easy. No ride back to the start is required. In the case of the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT), walking in a circle is a great experience. As you may have guessed from the trail’s name, the TRT involves walking around Lake Tahoe. The largest alpine lake in North America, Tahoe is 22 miles long and 12 miles wide, sitting on the border of California and Nevada and nestled against the Sierra Nevada. The trail itself is approximately 170 miles, so there is more to it than just keeping the lake to your right. In fact, much of the route is in National Forest with other parks and wilderness areas thrown in for good measure. Quite often, the lake itself is out of sight. The TRT is a great choice for the first-time distance hiker; or anyone that wants a beautiful hike with a minimum of logistical issues to deal with. If you’ve left your car at the start, it should be handy when you finish. As far as resupply, stops in South Lake Tahoe and Tahoe City are well spaced and convenient to the trail. If you’re flying to the trail, shuttles are established to either town from the Reno airport. Summer and early fall feature consistently dry weather. A permit is required for the Desolation Wilderness, but there are no quotas for thru-hikers. Plus, it can be had with a phone call and $5 or $10, depending upon your hiking speed. You’ll also need a California Campfire Permit. That one is free for passing an Internet quiz. For my spin around the lake I flew into Reno early last September and caught a shuttle to Tahoe City, which was to be my starting point. After checking into a local hotel, my first stop was Alpenglow outdoor store, right down the street. There I got a fuel canister, friendly service, and a big load of concern. The guy at the counter said he heard the trail was dry for 50 miles past Watson Lake (my first night stop). Crap! Fifty miles is a helluva long way to carry water. That much weight in my pack would be a backbreaker for me. (As I mentioned, long sections of the TRT are nowhere near Lake Tahoe. It’s not like I would be able to dip a cup in the lake whenever I got thirsty.) I made a phone call to the Tahoe Rim Trail Association and the helpful folks there confirmed that their website was correct; the trail was dry, but not that dry. Despite the ongoing drought there would be water where I was planning on it with the longest dry stretch around 13 miles. Whew. It was definitely time to head to the Tahoe Mountain Brewing Company to settle my nerves. In the morning it was a short walk through town to the trail. It immediately started climbing from the 6,225 foot elevation of the lake, but nothing terribly steep. Soon I was already getting occasional views of Lake Tahoe as the trail bounced between 7,000 and 8,000 feet for the first 20+ miles. This, and all sections of the trail, was well marked and fairly easy to follow. For planning water and camp stops I carried the Blackwoods Press Pocket Atlas of the trail and also downloaded Guthook’s TRT Guide onto my phone. Though not an exact match, they were close in terms of mileage. Once the Mt. Rose Wilderness Area was reached, the next 7 miles was a climb through open terrain to reach the summit of Relay Peak. At 10,330 feet, the peak is the highest point on the trail with some great nearby views of the lake. Another area highlight across the north shore was Galena Falls, a 60 foot cascade that was still flowing well in spite of the drought. The spot is popular with day hikers and was busy as I passed through. Traveling down the east side of Lake Tahoe was scenic and relatively easy with no major climbs or drops, but water was definitely a concern. Side hikes to water hydrants added to the mileage. I had access to water each day, but there were dry camps. After 80 miles and five days of hiking I reached South Lake Tahoe. The town can be accessed by walking a couple miles down a steep road or catching a $2 bus located at a stop a short side hike off the TRT. Take the bus. South Tahoe is a great town to resupply with hotels at any price point, Sports LTD for fuel and other equipment, a grocery and plenty of restaurants. And, they are all within easy walking distance of the transit center. There’s even casinos across the street in Stateline, Nevada if you’re so inclined. I stayed at the Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel. It was a tad pricey for a hiker stop, but very nice. In addition, it was next door to the transit center, had a laundry on site, held a resupply box for me and had a $2 happy hour. Hard to beat. With rain scheduled for the next day I took a zero. It rained for 15 minutes and was cloudy much of the day. It would have been a great day to hike, but my legs weren’t complaining about the day off. It turned out that my zero day had the only significant cloud cover of the entire trip. Bring sunscreen. After catching the first bus of the morning it was back to the trail. Although I was at the southern end of the lake, I continued walking south. This is where the TRT picked up some mileage by continuing past the lake for another 25 miles or so. Through the area, the views were not the lake but mountains, impressively still holding snow in mid-September. From there on out, lakes and snowmelt streams were abundant enough that running dry was no longer a concern. At mile 109, the trail turned back north, and also joined with the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). The two trails shared the tread for the next 50 miles. I met a few southbound PCT hikers on that stretch; all noticeably faster and younger than myself. Mile 121 provides another opportunity to resupply and get ice cream at Echo Lake, if you arrive before Labor Day. All I could do was stare through the window before shuffling on into the Desolation Wilderness. Here was the section that required the permit and it was worth the price of admission. The mountains and valleys had been scoured by glaciers that emptied the area of topsoil. The most dramatic spot was Aloha Lake surrounded by stark granite shorelines and snowy surrounding mountains. The great views continued as I headed north. Several beautiful lakes beckoned me to slow down, but I kept moving. There was more great scenery ahead. I did take a long break at Dicks Pass where I dined with marmots. At 9,400 feet, there were remarkable views in every direction. Shortly after Desolation Wilderness, there’s Granite Chief Wilderness with tremendous views of its own including Twin Peaks. It was near there that I made my last camp. It was a cool, clear night followed by a sunny day; the same weather I had on every day of the trip. The main difference was the start of fall color as I began the final drop into Tahoe City, where I had begun hiking eleven days and 170 miles before. At that point I was only a half mile from my hotel which was holding a change of clothes for me from my earlier stay. In the morning, a shuttle arrived right in front to carry me back to the Reno Airport. Logistically, this was one of the easiest hikes ever; just go in a circle. However, with a trail and scenery that rivaled any I’ve seen, it was no waste of time. Information: A great source of information to start planning is the trail’s support organization website. Two permits are required to hike the entire trail. A California Campfire Permit can be had for free by passing a short test. This is required even to use a camp stove. (Campfires themselves are prohibited through most of the Tahoe Basin.) A Desolation Wilderness Permit can be obtained at recreation.gov. However, there are quotas in place during the busy season. Thru-hikers can avoid any limit by calling the Forest Service directly at (530) 543-2694 no more than two weeks before the date they plan to enter the area. My permit for two nights cost $10. Best Time to Go: Generally the trail is snow free from Mid-July to Mid-September. However, with the large snowpack this year, it would be a good idea to contact the Tahoe Rim Trail Association closer to your planned hike to get an idea of how the “melt” is progressing. Water and mosquitoes both become more scarce as the season progresses. Getting There: From Reno, NV to Tahoe City take I-80 West to CA-89 South. From Reno to South Lake Tahoe take US-395 South to US-50 West. Both cities are served by regularly scheduled shuttles from the Reno airport. More information on shuttles is available here and here. Books: Tahoe Rim Trail by Tim Hauseman is a complete guide and endorsed by the TRT Association. Maps: Maps are available to download here. On the trail I carried the Tahoe Rim Trail Pocket Atlas by Blackwoods Press, and a Tom Harrison map is also available. In addition, I downloaded Guthook’s TRT Guide onto my iPhone.
  4. 2 likes
    The grand canyon presents an early season opportunity to enjoy summer conditions. My friend Tom and I did a "hit and run" one night backpack trip in the canyon March 24 to March 27. Tom drove from Denver area to my home in Montrose Thursday, March 23. We left Montrose Friday, and camped at Monument Valley (just into Arizona off of US 163). I had never been there before, and found the area very impressive--had great sunset and sunrise views. Saturday found us up early, and witness to several hundred ultra runners taking off at 7am for 50 mile or 50 kilometer races. After a great breakfast, we were off to the south rim of grand canyon, arriving at noon, picking up our permit for one night in the canyon. We took off from grandview point down the grandview trail at 2pm, arriving at our camp area (horseshoe mesa), which is about halfway down from the rim in terms of vertical. The south rim has an elevation of 7200 feet, and we dropped 2400 feet to our campsite. Got intermittent rain during our hike down, but nothing substantial enough to bother us much. Arrived at campsite 4pm, at which point the wind decided to welcome us. We had 35-40mph winds until midnight or so, at which point they quit just as if someone had flipped a switch. The wind didn't prevent us from hiking from our campsite out to the end of the mesa, which has great views both east and west along the canyon. We had an excellent overlook of an area called granite canyon. Sunday morning arrived with perfectly calm weather, and not a cloud in the sky. We agreed that a return hike to the end of the mesa was a perfect way to start the day. Returned to our camp for breakfast, broke camp, and had an invigorating climb back up to the south rim. We spent the afternoon exploring the tourist viewpoints along the rim, and camped for the night at Mather campground, which is adjacent to grand canyon village. I had not been back to the canyon for 45 years, and must say the degree of development since then was pretty astounding. In spite of this, getting down from the rim on any of the numerous trails down to the Colorado river soon solves the tourist issue! We were up early Monday morning, and decided to just drive straight back to my home in western Colorado--it's only a 6 1/2 hour drive. What a great preview of summer hikes to come! Here are a few pictures: link to all pictures: pix.sfly.com/sJ0QD5pu
  5. 2 likes
    Over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that a one-sized fits all approach to gear simply doesn’t work for me – whether it is a mountain bike or a sleeping bag. Finally in 2015, after many years of utilizing a men’s sleeping bag (which dominate the higher end sleeping bag market) I decided to learn from my mistakes, branch out from the mold, and purchase a down sleeping bag designed specifically for women from Seattle-based manufacturer Feathered Friends, who currently offer 9 different women’s-specific models in their complete sleeping bag lineup. I opted for the 10 degree rated Petrel. As a cold sleeper who mostly overnights in the nearly always chilly higher elevations of the Rocky Mountains, I hoped would allow for a better night’s sleep than the 20 degree down bag I’d previously utilized. The Petrel 10 Degree Sleeping Bag is the warmest 3-season women’s sleeping bag that Feathered Friends offers, and as you might expect from the name of the company, it is a down bag made from 20-21 ounces of 950+ down fill. It features a cut with more room in the hips and less in the shoulders to fit the average woman better than your average men’s or unisex bag. Feathered Friends however, does state that their women’s cut has been well received by men as well. For their women’s models, the company also adds a higher proportion of down fill to the bag and with more targeting the footbox. The bag comes in two different versions – the Petrel Nano features 20 and 30 denier outer/lining fabrics, while the Petrel UL reviewed here features 10 and 15 denier fabrics to save 2-3 ounces. In all cases, the shell fabric is breathable but water resistant. All versions of the Petrel are offered in multiple colors and small (fits up to 5’3”) and medium (up to 5’9”) sizes. The medium size UL here is listed with an average weight of 33 ounces – weighing an actual 33.5 ounces on the scale. The first thing I noticed about the Petrel is just how lofty this bag is – we are talking about a 10 degree bag after all – which goes a long way towards warmth at night, but it can make packing a bit of a challenge. However, with a little work I’m still able to get this into an Exped Schnozzel (Feathered Friends does include a standard stuff sack and storage bag), and a 13 liter Sea to Summit UltraSil Dry Sack is also a great size that makes compression a bit easier to fit into my ULA Circuit while still keeping things dry. At night is where the loft pays off though. For my maximum comfort, I’d rate the bag warm into the 20s, but again, I sleep quite cold and have been known to stock up on the hot Nalgene bottles on chilly nights. Experiences with the rating will vary. However, to get it to the 10 degree mark I would indeed be adding in additional insulation, including thermals, hat/mittens, and a down jacket. If you’re a warmer sleeper and/or backpacking in warmer locales, the Feathered Friends Egret 20 (see a review of the Egret Nano 20 here in Issue 31) is also worth a look. The two way zipper rarely snags (when a little care is used) and the snap at the top of the bag is an especially nice feature – no Velcro or fasteners to touch your nose and wake you up at night. The hood fits nicely, but seems a bit smaller than previous bags that I’ve owned. The bag’s draft tube and collar both work to seal in heat. While the overall fit is indeed a benefit, there are no more cold spots in the hips and too much cold space in the chest. However and oddly, the medium is rated to fit up to 5’9” and at 5’8” the bag does seem just a bit short lengthwise and I do have to remember to get my feet all the way to the bottom of the bag to have an ideal amount of room in the hood. As such I would really say it’s a 5’8” bag, and unfortunately this is the longest women’s bag that is offered by Feathered Friends. While with a tent over my head the odd spill and condensation are the main water issues to worry about, the shell fabric DWR and water repellency does a good job at keeping your insulation dry and warm till morning. While there are a few nitpicks regarding the bag - and the price tag is something to think about - as a cold sleeper I’ve greatly enjoyed backpacking with the Petrel and find that the women’s specific cut helps increase sleeping comfort and eliminates the cold spots that I’ve previously experienced with other men’s or unisex bags. The bag is on the bulky side which should be considered if you’re low on pack space, but taking the time to get the bag into an appropriate stuff sack and a little work – or taking the right pack – can mitigate the issue. Also, if you’re 5’9” or taller, this bag may not be the right fit for you. In the end though I’ve been very happy with the bag and staying warm at night goes a long way towards being ready to start the next day! The Petrel Nano retails or $430 is the Nano version and $510 for the UL seen here. Find both here at FeatheredFriends.com.
  6. 2 likes
    Update: I got my multipack and it's absolutely perfect!!! I tried many different products: A Cotton carrier shoulder holster, CC hip belt holster, a LowePro top loader, a peak designs clip, and 2 different weird brand neoprene covers. All were horribly uncomfortable for my 3lb camera. The zPacks multipack blew them all away. Super comfortable on my chest, much less bulky, waterproof, lighter, and a really flexible design with all the different mounting options. The one option I haven't tried yet is the cotton carrier chest mount. Maybe one day I'll give that a shot. But for now I'm more than happy with the multipack. Full disclosure, zPacks is one of the sponsors for my backpacking YouTube channel, (YouTube.com/hamsterfish) and I received the pack for free. With sponsored gear I'm always nervous, because if I don't like it, it would be an awkward conversation for me to say "Thanks but I don't like it and won't show it in my videos". Hence why I started this thread to gather more insight first. Luckily in this case the multipack truly blew me away!! Thanks guys for the input! Trailgroove is awesome, and I expect I'll be checking out your forums more often.
  7. 2 likes
    I know this is an old post, but I noticed that there were no factual data posted about the safety of aluminum cookware. As a critical thinker and an REI employee, I believe that people should make informed decisions based on facts from credible sources, not someone's own personal beliefs. (Disclaimer: This post in no way represents the opinions or recommendations of REI and I am not posting as an employee, but as a private individual.) According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), aluminum is safe to cook with. Aluminum is naturally present soil, water, and the air, but account for minimal exposure in humans. Primary exposure (about 7-9 mg/day) is via ingestion of aluminum containing food, including baked goods and goods containing anti-caking and coloring agents. Aspirin contains 10-20 mg. of aluminum and antacids have 300-600 mg of aluminum hydroxide, very little of which is absorbed. Most of the aluminum ingested passes through the digestive system and leaves the body in the feces. Smaller amounts that enter the bloodstream are voided via urine. Aluminum is applied topically via cosmetics and antiperspirants. Aluminum poses no health risks in these very minute exposure because healthy individuals do not store aluminum. However, some people who have kidney disease do store aluminum that enters the bloodstream as the kidneys fail to remove it. Some studies show aluminum in high levels are correlated with Alzheimer's; but other studies contradict that finding and there is no scientific consensus of a link between aluminum and Alzheimer's. The CDC recommends that concerns regarding typical aluminum exposure should be addressed by reducing or eliminating aluminum containing processed foods and avoiding cooking acidic foods in aluminum pots, although the levels of aluminum found in food cooked aluminum pots are safe. From here: https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/phs/phs.asp?id=1076&tid=34 With regard to anodized aluminum, according to Clemson University, anodized aluminum is hardened to prevent reaction to acidic foods cooked within, but storing acidic foods in the pot does cause pitting like non-anodized aluminum contact with acidic foods. From here: https://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/food/pdf/hgic3864.pdf Since it's uncommon for backpackers to cook or store acidic foods in their cookware, I would suggest that unless you have kidney disease you should be fine with aluminum pots, whether anodized or not, and would be better off basing your decision on factors other than safety such as weight, cost, and durability. Here comes my "gear nerd" answer: Titanium is chosen primarily for weight-saving and strength, but is generally much more expensive than aluminum/anodized aluminum. Aluminum is an excellent heat conductor making it a more efficient metal for cooking. However, the difference in heat transfer is negligible because even though titanium is more of an insulator than a conductor of heat, its greater strength allows for extremely thin walls which pose little barrier for heat to pass through. This is why I can't hold my titanium pot filled with boiling water with bare hands and why it's as efficient as an aluminum pot. Whether it's worth the added cost is really an individual choice. I am personally very happy with my 600 ml titanium cup that weighs 88 grams and can easily boil 2 cups of water. But I would also greatly consider anodized aluminum as an alternative since the weight cost is negligible and the cost is much less. The GSI Hallulite Minimalist is a 600 ml anodized aluminum pot with a cover, folding plastic spork (useless, IMO), a silicone pot gripper, and an insulating sleeve for 177 grams. If you ditch everything but the pot, you're down to 92 grams, only 4 grams heavier than titanium for (currently) $9 less. Hope that helps anyone considering new cookware or replacing old cookware.
  8. 1 like
    Spring has sprung and in Colorado that means drying trails and couloirs packed with stable, hard snow. In go the ski boots and from the closet come trail shoes and mountaineering boots. Sadly, my last pair of shoes died a grizzly death at the hands (feet?) of my extra-wide pinky knuckle because I was too lazy to lace them correctly. Below are my tips on funny looking lacing for funny looking feet. My 2016 Lone Peak 2.5's - ready for the trash bin thanks to a 2" long hole. Fresh Lone Peak 3.0's - they look so helpless! Since it was about time to get down to it I figured I'd share what works for me and add in some resources at the end since everyone's feet are different. I generally have two problems with shoes - my wide right forefoot and slippery heels. I have learned to address these issues by lacing my footwear to reduce tension in the front of the shoe and lock down tension at the base of the ankle. First I'll show what I do on my Altra Lone Peak trail shoes, then move to mountaineering boots since boot lacing tends to be different than glorified sneakers. Keep in mind, lacing techniques only go so far and still require a lot of in-store fitting with various brands. The first technique is straightforward - simply skip some laces where the shoe is too narrow. The tension will still pull down on the front of your shoes but allow some extra width. If this doesn't add enough width, you can try leaving the lace looser there by tying a surgeon's knot (begin by looping your laces together as if you were starting to tie your shoes, but wrap around an extra turn) at the top to allow you to tighten only the upper laces. Skipping loops can add width where you need it. Next I want to address my heel slip by tying a heel lock. The idea is to bring tension from the base of the ankle down through the heel to prevent the foot from moving up and down in the shoe. Regular lacing only brings tension into the sides. I start by lacing the shoe up to the top hole: Next I make a loop: Then pass the opposite lace through the loop: Tension the laces and you should notice more downward pressure on the top of your foot instead of the usual sideways squeeze. I also have the same problems on my mountaineering boots (Scarpa Charmoz), which use a different lacing system and come up higher on my ankle. The first step is easy enough - simply find where your foot is too wide for the boot and skip the nearest laces: The heel lock is a little trickier since these eyelets are open at the back. We can get a similar effect by skipping the laces closest to where your ankle starts: Then loop the opposite laces through and tightening up: That's what I do, but you likely have much different issues so here are some resources that might work better for your funny feet and hopefully something here works for you: A great video covering the heel lock and several additional techniques, endless combinations available on Ians Shoelace Site, and lastly a more British approach to locking down the heel. If not - post in the comments!
  9. 1 like
    Lots of ventilation and airflow will help reduce or eliminate this problem. Of course the possibility always exists depending on the weather conditions.
  10. 1 like
    Hello fellow outdoor types, I like to use nature to wash clean all that nasty suburban living stuff that us modern people do. My name is Steve, but that's just useless trivia you'll never remember. What you should remember is that I love virtually anything that gets me out of the house. With my wife, I have two young children (4 and 2) that I am attempting to coerce--I mean gently teach--to appreciate the outdoors, which at times is easier said than done. I am a former accountant who abandoned stuffy cubicles a few years ago, though I still do some part time accounting work. That's because my new calling in life, freelance adventure and travel writing, isn't exactly a license to print money. But in my view, if you're doing something for the money, you're doing it for the wrong reason. I live in Colorado, and while I'm not a native I got here as fast as I could. I'm usually too busy climbing 14ers, fly fishing, skiing, and hiking to live an ordinary life, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Thanks for listening to my story and I'm looking forward to getting to know y'all around here. Cheers.
  11. 1 like
    Between family things and trail maintenance projects in the Los Padres NF, my calendar is pretty full. I get another week of paid vacation this year so I should be able to carve out some time in the Sierra Nevada late summer.
  12. 1 like
    It is doubtful that T.S. Eliot had backpackers in mind when he wrote that “April is the cruellest month”. Literary context aside, I’ve found this observation to be unpleasantly accurate in regard to outdoor recreation in Montana. After the short days and cold nights of winter, April tantalizes eager hikers with longer days, blue skies and mild temperatures in the valleys. The skis are put away, but the trails are either too snowy or too muddy to provide much enjoyment. Conditions on most rivers, not to mention the combined water and air temperature, are lacking in the eyes of all but the brave and the bold. Even though snowline is only a few miles from the mouths of most canyons in the mountains of the Northern Rockies, the temptation to get out and backpack is difficult to resist. I yielded to such temptation on a recent April weekend and headed over to the east side of the Sapphire Mountains to a low-elevation trailhead for the Welcome Creek Wilderness. Unlike Glacier National Park or the Beartooth Mountains, the landscape of Welcome Creek Wilderness does not draw visitors from far and wide – or even many visitors from nearby. Without lakes, waterfalls, or much in the way of alpine scenery, Welcome Creek Wilderness comes up short in the scenery department when compared to its neighbors. Despite its lack of scenic highlights, this wilderness offered me a decent place to stretch my legs fairly early in the season and solitude was guaranteed almost as surely as sunset. As long as asphalt isn’t involved, I’ve never been overly critical of most landscapes, opting instead to simply enjoy the subtleties of nature when the superlatives weren’t available. I planned to hike about five miles up Welcome Creek to Carron Cabin, a shelter built during the mining days of the late 19th and early 20th centuries that I’d visited two years prior on an equally ill-advised early season outing. I arrived mid-day at an empty trailhead, strolled across Rock Creek on a nifty suspension bridge, crossed the swollen channel of Welcome Creek on a downed tree, and a few steps later passed the wilderness boundary sign. Things would go figuratively downhill from here, although the trail gradually gained around 1,000 feet of elevation in the five miles to the cabin. Perhaps a mile in I hit the first of many snowdrifts, each with their own charm, at the base of talus slopes. The snow was packed down in places by previous visitors and didn’t provide much difficulty (that would come later, when the snow deepened), but it did require that I slow my pace a bit. I continued on at a decent stride, with the soundtrack of rushing water, chattering squirrels, and chirping birds distracting me from the inconveniences of the footpath. After crossing Welcome Creek on a well-built and rustic log bridge, roughly the halfway point of my trip to the cabin, I took a break to drink some water and have a snack before starting a section of trail which I had found to be especially pleasant on my prior trip. Traversing the hillside about 100 feet above Welcome Creek, this section of trail was less brushy than the creek-bottom trail that preceded it and afforded more expansive views of the steep canyon. No more than a quarter-mile into this stretch of trail I hit snow and could see where wiser but less determined hikers had turned back. Short on wisdom and overflowing with determination, I started a slog to the cabin that saw me postholing in knee-deep snowdrifts, scrambling over and under downfall, enjoying a few hundred feet of snow-free trail, then repeating the order with limited variation for the next two miles. The workout of postholing through snow with a backpack, climbing over a downed tree, then postholing some more is one that no machine in a gym can emulate. A combination of exertion and anticipation led me to see mirages of the cabin after about an hour, with every dark spot and cluster of downed trees manifesting itself as the outline of the linear needle in the organic haystack. Just as I started to wonder if this trip had been a good idea after all, I reached the cabin and set down my pack. Dilapidated but still retaining its basic structural elements, the Carron Cabin has an intriguing presence. A quintessential “relic of a bygone era”, the cabin seems to embody a simultaneously charming and haunting corner of Americana that is worthy of a more eloquent and thoughtful description than I can provide in this humble narrative. While not exceedingly well-documented, a collection of papers at the University of Montana Archives (the Bud Moore Papers; Moore was a trapper, forester and general outdoorsman in Montana for much of the second half of the 20th century) contains several journals from a person who spent a significant amount of time trapping, hunting and hiking in the area – with the permission of the optimistically named mining claimant Lucky Hancock – prior to it becoming a designated wilderness area. Additionally, there are several digitized photographs of the cabin from the 1970s available online as part of the Montana Memory Project. While the cabin would provide some shelter to an exceedingly desperate hiker, an absolutely ideal campsite is situated beneath a stately Ponderosa pine behind the cabin. Sheltered from the snow, this spot was bone dry in many places and only slightly damp in others – a much more preferable alternative to setting up camp on snow or taking my chances trying to get cozy in the cabin. Camping in a “rustic” miners cabin has a certain charm to it, but my sober analysis of the situation dissuaded me from doing this based on the following points: I didn’t have enough Ibuprofen to deal with the headaches I would have from hitting my head on the low doorframe when going in and out, I couldn’t remember if my tetanus shot was up to date (the cabin could be included as an outlier on the Rust Belt due to the abundance of rusting tools, nails, and other artifacts), and I didn’t want to take my chances with getting hantavirus from its resident rodents. I set up camp quickly, stretched, and then leaned back against the pine and watched the black shadows of trees stretch out onto the perfectly white canvas created by lingering snow on the steep talus slope on the opposite side of Welcome Creek. As twilight settled into the canyon I did some of my final stretches for the evening and cooked dinner, enjoying pasta and tuna with spinach and mushrooms. I didn’t feel like struggling to start a fire, or struggling in general, so I wound the evening down with a few sips of scotch, some music, and some tea candles. The photocopied pages of the guidebook I brought along contained a few paragraphs titled “Lawlessness on Welcome Creek” which described the bust of the nearby gold boomtown of Quigley, the resulting horse thievery, and an outlaw named Frank Brady who was killed by sheriffs near Welcome Creek in 1904. Watching gray clouds float through the dark sky while “Jack Straw” by the Grateful Dead drifted through my ears allowed me to ponder how the song paired perfectly with the history of the area. The lyrics about crime and desperation in the West seemed to almost come from the mouths of the ghosts of the men who had lived, worked, thieved, and died in the thousands of places in the West with rugged landscapes and rugged histories, of which Welcome Creek Wilderness was just one: We used to play for silver, now we play for life One’s for sport and one’s for blood at the point of a knife Now the die is shaken, now the die must fall . . . Leaving Texas, fourth day of July Sun so hot, clouds so low The eagles filled the sky Catch the Detroit Lightning out of Santa Fe Great Northern out of Cheyenne, from sea to shining sea Gotta get to Tulsa, first train we can ride Got to settle one old score, and one small point of pride . . . Jack Straw from Wichita cut his buddy down Dug for him a shallow grave and laid his body down Half a mile from Tucson by the morning light One man gone and another to go, my old buddy you’re moving much too slow I entered my tent to go to sleep just as a crescent moon rose above the mountainside and slept the type of deep sleep that is a luxury any time, but especially so when backpacking. I felt fortunate to awake feeling well-rested, as I wanted to start hiking before the sun came out and warmed the snow up too much. I enjoyed some coffee, read a chapter or two in the paperback Western novel I’d brought along, and generally just enjoyed being alive and breathing in fresh mountain air for a few minutes before packing up. Other than the distinct pleasure of putting my warm feet into damp, cold boots the hike out was relatively unremarkable. I was able to get into a good rhythm hiking through the tracks I’d made on my way in and made decent time. As is always the case with backpacking trips, I arrived back at the trailhead in greater spirits then when I had left and without an ounce of regret. However, the postholing and sloppy conditions of the trail did remind me that there is such a thing as "too early" in the season for backpacking in certain landscapes. Whether or not I will remember this lesson next April is anyone's guess.
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    Never used a lifestraw, but I have tried the sawyer mini. I wasn't really a bit fan. It's great because of how light it is, but I struggled to find a bottle that had a large enough volume with threads that matched the filter itself. Sawyer says that is uses universal threads, but that's not the case. Maybe if I was on trails with plenty of water, like it sounds like you will be, this would be a good option. I used to carry the Katadyn Hiker, but after a few times of having to replace the filter for almost the same cost as a new filter I decided to explore other options. Also because the hiker clogged up on me in the field and there is no way to backflush. After trying the Mini and the Hiker I picked up one of the Platypus Gravity Works filters and this thing is the bomb! Back flushing is super easy (after a bit of a learning curve), it's pretty lightweight, and virtually involves no work. Just fill the dirty bag and hang it from a tree to let gravity do the rest. If you are wanting to get into backpacking, in my opinion, this is your best option. It comes if a few sizes and you can pick and choose what parts you need to carry on the trail. For example, I only carry the filter and the dirty water reservoir then I just run the clean water straight into my bladder/bottle. This literally cuts the weight in half to about 5 ounces. My guess is that you will love overnighting and will eventually talk family and friends into coming along on a trip. You will want something like this when that time comes, but it's still light enough to carry hiking solo.
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    I use the MSR Guardian. Pricey yes, but water sources can be iffy in my neck of the woods. The $400 cdn price was worth not risking getting sick from potential contaminated water sources to me. Been there, done that, no thanks! The high water flow rate and compatibility to dromdary and large nalgene's was also a plus.
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    This is what I've used for years now. I bring tablets or aqua-mire as a backup. I love the SteriPen. Quick, easy, takes up hardly any room and while not as light as the Squeeze is still ok. Like Wishful_Hiker mentioned there is no filtration unless you cover your bottle with some kind of cloth.
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    I use the Sawyer Squeeze Filter. It's good for 1-2 hikers but not more. I have heard of the squeeze bag breaking if pressed too hard. Always carry the plunger to reverse rinse the filter of debris or it can plug up. For a larger group, Sawyer and MSR have a great gravity system bags that filter several liters without any effort or if you want the workout, use a pump filter. My buddy who spent a tour in Afghanistan used the SteriPEN over there without problems, but it does not filter out debris. It doesn't kill bugs either just makes them sterile unable to reproduce in your gut. Good for clean spring or river water. In freezing weather, sleep with the filter in your bag to keep it from freezing.....same for your clean water bottle.
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    Along with the clothing recommendation, I would suggest what Marathon runners use: Body Glide Anti-Chafe Balm, which they sell in small 1oz sticks. Formula for men, women and feet. No body glide? In a pinch use chap stick or tape the area.
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    I have had a Katadyn Vario for a couple of years now and am very happy with it. It's reliable, can be used with dirty water sources and does a really good job of improving the taste of otherwise skunky water sources. Its geared toward supporting a small crew (maybe 4 or 5 people) so its bigger then other water filters out there, but it does fill up a 3 liter bag quickly. If the water source is dirty you can switch to longer life mode which forces the water through a cleanable porcelain filter, or you can switch to faster flow in clean water which uses the paper filter and activated carbon only. Pros: Great for groups (up to 2 quarts per minute) Improves the flavor of water by using Activated Carbon Reliable The downsides Bulkier then other products Costs around $80 new Replacement filter cost ~$40 Filter can freeze if it gets to cold If you are hiking in the mountains with consistent access to clear water you could try using a UV purifier. They are quick and light weight. On the downside they rely on batteries, and won't work if the water is cloudy.
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    I usually wear long compression shorts or synthetic underwear to protect the sensitive spots where my thighs tend to rub together. They dry quickly and do a pretty good job of moving the moisture away from my body. Several brands make them including Under Armour. They can be pricey but well worth the money if it makes your hike more comfortable. Also a quality pair of pants would be a great addition. Something made out of Nylon or Nylon mix will help keep the moisture away and prevent chafing. I have a pair of 5.11 Taclite Pros that I originally bought for work but have ended up using them for backpacking. My son and I did 20 miles last weekend and I didn't have any problems with chafing. They are lightweight , dry quick and are durable. You should be able to get them for less than $50 A light dusting of gold bond powder can help as well.
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    Issue 33 of TrailGroove Magazine is now available! Click the preceding link or the cover below to take a look: In This Issue: Jargon: Freestanding Trail News Trail Tip: Trail Time International Appalachian Trail Vermilion Cliffs National Monument Dehydrating Your Own Meals Steve and the Long Haul MSR WindPro II Review Gear Mash Ramen Curry Chicken Media: In Praise of Guidebooks On the Offtrail 122 free pages dedicated to backpacking and hiking. Special thanks to all of our readers and contributors for your support and contributions towards the latest issue! If it's your first time viewing the magazine, we suggest starting on Page 1 for viewing tips and tricks. Prefer a different format or want to view the magazine offline? A PDF is also available individually or included with a premium membership. Your input is highly appreciated. Let us know what you thought about Issue 33 here on the TrailGroove Forum, or contact us anytime. Thanks for reading and keep an eye out for Issue 34, due out later this spring.
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    The default term “tent” is no longer accurate to describe the various shelter options used by backpackers. Tarp-tents, tarps, bivy sacks, hammocks, and tents generally cover the gear used to seek refuge from the elements, but each have further sub-categories that merit examining and understanding when making the best decision about what you will put in your pack. In the case of tents, the difference between “freestanding” and “non-freestanding”... In Jargon 33, @Mark details the functionality and meaning behind this design feature you'll find on many options in the backpacking shelter market. Find the article in Issue 33: Jargon: Freestanding Issue 33 Page 1
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    Glad to hear it worked out for you Chris, one of those simple items that's everything you need and just seems to make things easier!
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    I just finished 5 days in the Superstitions. I'll probably only do about 2 or 3 long weekend trips this summer. But late summer early fall might be 7 to 10 days on Isle Royale or another large section of the NCT in the UP.
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    Imagine standing in a circular tube of smooth stone around 30 feet high with emerald green pools of water at your feet and golden, glowing light shining through the entrance of this natural wonder. This would be the destination of the Subway hike in Zion National Park. Especially during the fall color season of early November, the Subway hike should be on your short list. You’ll need to be prepared for a rugged, backcountry day hike that requires some route finding but the rewards are quite high, especially when you arrive at the surreal Subway itself... In Issue 28, @DustyD heads to the Subway in Zion - take a look at the full article below: The Subway: Backcountry Adventure in Zion National Park Issue 28 Page 1
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    First, I've ever heard of any health concerns of Ti cookware used under typical backpacking/camping scenarios. I'd like to see the research to which this REI Associate was referring to substantiate any such claim.