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  1. Today
  2. Geezer Tom

    Fly Fishing Gear

    Being new to this forum, I've spent some time reading quite a few of the previous posts. I ran across several people looking for lightweight fly fishing gear. I'm not one of those backpackers. For the last 25 years all of my trips have been oriented around finding that perfect rise. My fly gear probably could be considered luxury items to many of the backpackers I know. I try to make up for my indulgence by cutting weight in other areas. With this in mind I would like to share my fly fishing kit. I haven't dared weigh my set up. My pack weight for 9 days (all the food I can carry) runs around 42 pounds. I'm highlighting my flies in this photo. 1) box of scuds 2) mouse box 3) dries, caddis, hoppers, etc. 4) mostly nymphs, stone, etc. Rods that I carry. There are 2 because I fish a lot of areas that are very brushy along the edges of streams and creeks. 5) padded carrying case. If I pushed it, I could probably fit three rods in the case. 6) 9' 5 weight St Croix. good overall in small streams to rivers. 7) Moonshine 7'3" 3 weight. I use this for tight fishing, brush, tight back casts. I tend to stay away from expensive reels. Some might say I'm cheap. However, I would like to think that the places I fish are rough to get into and I'm always banging, dragging and dinging my gear. 8) orvis 5 weight with 50 yards of backing. 9) okuma 3 weight. no backing. And that brings us to my creeks. All the weight of my gear melts away as soon as I start flinging flies. This photo I'm using the 9' 5 weight and sporting an older vest. I love this creek because of all of the structures that hold fish...But that is for another thread.
  3. Yesterday
  4. Within the Last week
  5. Mark

    MSR Quick Skillet Review

    Like most backpackers, my cook kit usually consists of a stove, pot, spork, and mug. Sometimes I even forego the mug in a quest for simplicity and weight savings and just drink my tea and coffee out of the pot. And, inadvertently, I’ve left my spork behind once or twice and enjoyed extremely minimal and inconvenient weight savings. However, under certain conditions, I’ve been known to expand my cook kit to include a non-stick skillet and cook up meals normally reserved for car camping or the kitchen at home. Scrambled eggs, veggie quesadillas, ground beef for tacos, and chocolate chip pancakes have all been cooked up at one time or another on backpacking trips – meals that would’ve been virtually impossible to make without a skillet. The MSR Quick Skillet has been my skillet of choice for nearly ten years of backpacking and if you’re looking to expand your cooking options beyond dehydrated or freeze-dried options or simple one-pot meals, this skillet is an excellent choice. Weighing in at 5.9 ounces, this additional piece of cookware isn’t horribly noticeable when added to a backpack for an overnight or short multi-day trip. The handle is removable, which makes it easy to pack up. I use this skillet in conjunction with the MSR Alpine Spatula (given the non-stick coating, only plastic utensils are advisable), which folds up conveniently and weighs less than an ounce. Although this a review of the skillet, it is worth noting that the tip of the spatula is prone to melting when placed in contact with the heated pan for more than a few seconds, so use appropriate diligence to avoid unpleasant consequences. Aside from that, I have found this pairing of utensils to be all that is needed to cook delicious and creative meals in the backcountry. Cleaning this skillet is a breeze and only needs a minimum of water (be sure wash this and other cookware in compliance with Leave No Trace principles and pack out food scraps). For the most part, after removing any food particles, a quick wipe with a damp paper towel and some water to rinse is all I’ve found is required. The non-stick coating has remained largely intact, although the rim is starting to lose some of its coating – likely from being packed with other cookware items that rub against it. I’ve used this skillet on MSR Whisperlite and Primus Micron stoves, and on a woodstove in a fire lookout. Although the skillet is made from aluminum, one notable limitation of this skillet is that it tends to hotspot in the middle and not evenly distribute heat throughout the pan. This should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with cooking in the backcountry, but it is something to be aware of when using this skillet. I’ve been able to get around this by simply moving the skillet around in a circular motion when cooking and making sure it doesn’t sit directly on the burner for too long. This “babysitting” is a bit tedious, but I’ve found the results are worth the extra attention you have to pay when cooking with it. One of my favorite meals to cook in this skillet is veggie quesadillas. Two 10-inch tortillas (folded in half) fit in this skillet with a little squeezing (its 7.75 inches wide) so you can cook two at once. Mexican rice, your choice of backpacking spices, and jerky tossed in the skillet is a great entrée that I've found makes for a great group meal as well. When staying at lookouts or backcountry cabins, another easy and tasty meal is tacos. I cook the ground beef or turkey at home and simply re-heat it on the skillet. With none of the other ingredients typically requiring cooking, this meal cooks up quickly and with little clean up or other preparation. Pancakes with chocolate chips, fresh huckleberries, or banana slices tossed in are a great morning dish to make using this skillet. I use a fair amount of butter to prevent sticking and make sure the pan is moved in a slow circle over the stove so the pancake doesn’t end up burned in the middle and uncooked on the outer edges. Scrambled eggs are also easy to make using the same strategy and, if you have extra cheese and tortillas handy, can result in a tasty burrito for breakfast. Overall, I’d recommend this skillet to anyone looking to add some flexibility to their backpacking (or car camping) cooking options. At a reasonable price and modest weight, it isn’t a major investment after you’ve acquired your initial backpacking kit (and likely gotten tired of freeze-dried meals, or oatmeal breakfasts). Eating tasty, fresh food in beautiful locations can be a memorable experience and this skillet is a great tool to help you experience that. The MSR Quick Skillet retails for $30 – find in here at REI and on Amazon.com.
  6. Hankp

    Hello from Illinois

    its a small pond, don"t think its deep enough for the fish to make the winter.
  7. Geezer Tom

    Hello from Illinois

    Sweet photos! Of course, I'd like to know if there are any fish in the pond.
  8. Hankp

    Photography 2020

    The other photography tread is a couple of years old, so I thought I would start a new one. I will photograph just about anything that catches my interest, I use an older Canon 7D and a assortment of lens. You can see more of my photos here: https://hpopik.myportfolio.com/
  9. Hankp

    Hello from Illinois

    I am an amateur outdoor photographer, I do it for fun and to get out of the house more of my images can be seen here: https://hpopik.myportfolio.com/
  10. Geezer Tom

    Hello from Illinois

    I would be up for a photo thread. I've got a few great images and a whole mess of mid-range photos. Brooke learning how to find fish. Until this point it was pure 'magic' and fish just appeared when the rod was lifted. Trail buddies come in all configurations. This is a Kern River Rattlesnake. The cousin to this snake is the Mojave Rattlesnake. These snakes are basically pink and blend well with Sierra granite. Here's the kicker...this snake was around 13". Great Blue Heron on the Manzana River. The top knot is flattened in this photo. Great idea to post photographs. Let's get a few more here and start re-generating interest. Brooke posing on a local trail. Packs have her food, bowl and some medicine. This is what I call "dog tired". Poor Brooke is game to follow me anywhere. However, I missed a junction and we ended up doing 14 miles. Not being UL, we were both worn out.
  11. While backpacking during an all-day rain presents its own challenges when it comes to staying dry – or as dry as possible – protecting your gear and the items in your pack that must stay dry comes with its own set of considerations. Having a dry jacket, clothes, and a dry sleep system at the end of a long rainy day is not only backpacking luxury, it’s also critical to our safety on the trail. And whether rain is in the forecast or not, in most backpacking locations we still need a strategy to keep our gear dry in the case of an unexpected dunk during a creek crossing, or even in the event of a leaky hydration reservoir inside our pack. Pack Covers Most backpacks themselves are only water resistant – many packs are made with a PU coated fabric that is waterproof to start but becomes more water resistant over time, and even when new, with backpacks that are made from waterproof materials the seams and zippers (if so equipped), not to mention the huge opening at the top of a top-loading pack, are still waterproofing weak points. In reality, true waterproof backpacks are quite the exception and are often targeted more towards those who prefer to paddle instead of walk. A traditional solution is an optional or aftermarket waterproof pack cover that one can deploy over the outside of the pack. This is a decent solution for a rainy day, but won’t have coverage on the backpanel of the pack, and isn’t the best solution for an unexpected dip. Perhaps the biggest downside of the pack cover is that it must be deployed and undeployed – making it one more task to deal with on a rainy day compared to a set and forget system. Dry Bags / Pack Liners In contrast, a pack liner goes inside the pack and is always used – so if a sudden rain shower pops up during the day you likely only have to worry about donning your rain gear and not protecting the contents of your pack. Pack liners can be anything from a dedicated solution (most are like giant dry bags), to a trash compactor bag (twist the top closed and tuck to secure) that is a budget replaceable option. Due to lack of durability, normal trash bags are not recommended. Either way this option protects from rain water intrusion quite well and even from a brief underwater dunk as well. Smaller, separate roll top dry bag stuff sacks can be used in place of, or in conjunction with a rain cover / pack liner approach. This technique offers redundancy and also allows for some more refined compression of your gear. In recent years one other option has become popular with the rise of the ultralight inflatable sleeping pads – the combination dry bag / inflation stuff sack. As long as it is a completely waterproof, roll top option, this makes for a great dual use item and this is how I personally store my “must stay dry” items during the day – sleeping bag, sleeping pad, jacket, and any other spare clothes. Whether you go with a pack liner, cover, or dry bags I like a “pick any 2” approach to waterproofing and especially as all my insulating gear – sleeping bag and jacket are both typically down. For example a trash compactor bag or pack cover combined with ultralight dry sacks for those items of greatest concern is great insurance, or a pack liner on its own if you have a particularly waterproof pack (roll top design utilizing hybrid waterproof Dyneema Composite Fabric for example). Some other techniques that can be helpful is a (often overlooked) large enough shelter or double walled tent solution – a shelter large enough gives you room on high condensation nights so your bag isn’t making contact with tent walls covered in condensation. Your sleeping bag DWR will help for the occasional brush against a wet tent wall, but will eventually wet out. Carrying a small bandanna or camp towel is also helpful here. On humid trips that feature multi-day precipitation events this is quite important since your gear will have very limited opportunities to dry in these conditions. If you gear does absorb some moisture and is packed away first thing in the morning (into a waterproof system that will now not allow anything to dry), make sure you take an opportunity over lunch to get things out in the sun if possible and / or get everything out to dry immediately upon arriving at camp. Odds and Ends For any other odds and ends that might not be stored in the main compartment of your pack, I stick with the same pick 2 approach for waterproofing and luckily, these items will likely be few such as your map and any electronics you might carry. Quart to Gallon Ziploc bags were almost tailor made for waterproofing maps – even waterproof maps will have ink run or stick together after getting wet – and any electronics from cameras to smartphones. For an upgrade, one could also utilize smaller roll top dry bags – either the waterproof nylon or Dyneema varieties. I also like to store these items in something like a water resistant bag such as the ZPacks Multi-Pack for that additional layer of waterproofing. A couple other safety related items should always stay dry as well – like your fire starting solution and nobody likes a soaked first aid kit or toiletry type items. These however, are stored in the main compartment of my pack in their own dry bag. Rain ahead: A dialed-in system offers peace of mind when your drive to the trailhead looks like this. Different approaches (and price ranges) exist, but whether you go with trash compactor bags and Ziplocs, opt for top of the line Dyneema roll top dry bags, or some combination in the middle, once dialed in that system will ensure that our critical gear stays dry and offers peace of mind no matter the forecast. And from the occasional water crossing incident to trips that feature consecutive days of precipitation, there’s not much that can compare to crawling into a dry and warm sleep system at night on those types of days while keeping the rest of the gear you need to stay dry, dry along the way. For more on overall strategy on backpacking in the rain, take a look at this article in Issue 38.
  12. Hankp

    Hello from Illinois

    Hey, thanks seen a photography post, but its a couple of years old wonder if there would be interest in a new one..
  13. JHaveman

    Backpacking Glacier National Park

    Mark- I am thinking of planning a trip out there this year. What time of year did you go?
  14. Earlier
  15. I finally got to hike the 31 mile, FloridaTrail, section of the Big Cypress National Preserve. We camped 3 nights. The biggest challenge is the muck, after about 20 miles things get very wet and muddy, after all, it is a swamp, and the stuff will suck your shoes right off. At this point of the hike, I averaged 1 mile per hour, it was tough going. I found mesh NB running shoes with liner sock and girly gators worked best for drainage. This hike is like a dessert concerning water. We found water, to filter, only in the most center of some cypress domes, many were dry. Carried a back up Saywer Squeeze filter luckly, as my first failed. My trekking poles were very useful to prevent falls, I slipped, stumbbled and staggered though that muck, but finally made it to I-75 Alligator Alley rest area. Yes, I raided the snack machine, a tradition. Video to come, that's my brother's area.
  16. LouF1957

    Yes I'm OK

    Thanks for responding. After all the brainstorming I've done I haven't come up with a better idea than what you've suggested. And I figure if I'm not grimacing, I'm not pushing myself hard enough! : ) take care
  17. John B

    Hello from Illinois

    Welcome!
  18. balzaccom

    Trail Geezers

    Exactly. And it doesn't have to involve large navigation problems like yours...just working out where to camp, what to eat, and what to do each day is a level of intimacy that we don't have at home, where we each often have our own separate interests and activities. And in the wilderness we are free from the usual distractions from phone calls and emails to television and shopping. True quality time!
  19. Geezer Tom

    Trail Geezers

    Balzaccom...A slight jump in topic. You mentioned quality time with your favorite trail partner. About 5 years ago my wife and I took 2 weeks to do a loop trip. Part of the trip was cross-country across Italy Pass. It was a tough trip for us, but we still talk about the trip. The thing that you triggered with your comment was how we worked together through the no dotted line area. It was such a couples bonding/problem solving exercise trying to determine routes. She and I still have relationship skills that we reinforced on that trip. .When she has time off we are on the trail together
  20. Hankp

    Hello from Illinois

    Hi I am new to backpacking, but I have done some camping, looking for a way to expand my outdoor photography from the world everyone else sees so I guess I am here to learn, and share my experiences of this coming spring and summer.
  21. balzaccom

    Trail Geezers

    Love this topic. And love the photo. My first trip was when I was twelve, and I wore Converse tennis shoes! My wife and I are in our mid-sixties, and we still consider our backpacking trips as the best "quality time" we have. But you are right, our trips tend to be shorter now (3-4 days...not so many that are a full week!) shorter days as well (4-8 miles usually. No more 12 or 14 mile days) But that still doesn't keep us from getting out into the backcountry many times over the course of a summer. And while we do more car camping and day hikes, and less long treks, we still get out on the trail whenever we can. The idea of a base camp does appeal to us as well...
  22. Geezer Tom

    Trail Geezers

    When I started backpacking I could carry anything, and usually did. My packs were made of canvas and were filled with weight. My equipment and I have come along way. I have enough stories and memories to qualify me as a Geezer. Most of my trips throughout the years have been solo. Now I am a couple of years away from my seventies. I am wondering how long I can keep going. My pace is much slower, my tent has more cushion and I tend to carry warmer clothes. I still enjoy the world from a trail view. The fishing is better than ever. Where am I going with this thread? I would like to hear from other "aging" backpackers and any adjustments they have made and future plans. I am looking at some day having to rent LLamas and maybe have someone horseback me into an area and pick me up after a couple of weeks. Above: me on the left, brother on the right in 1969 at the Mosquito Flats trailhead. External frame packs with our coats draped over the packs. Boots and bluejeans? Brooke and me on the Manzana River during the drought. I do some packing in this area during the winter to try and stay in shape for summer/fall fishing trips.
  23. Geezer Tom

    Backpacker/Fly Fisherman from CA

    I fish some lakes. Mostly the inlets and outflow. When I first started flinging feathers my delivery was awful. I found that my casting (or lack of) skill worked better on streams. Over the years my casting has become very good. However, I developed stream and small river techniques early and stuck with them. A typical trip is to find a campsite and set up for 2 nights. On the layover day I will fish upstream for a half day, have lunch and then fish downstream all afternoon. Plus...Brooke (on right in photo) has learned to find fish (on left of photo) in streams. Harder to do in lakes.
  24. Aaron

    Backpacker/Fly Fisherman from CA

    Welcome to TrailGroove Tom! I'm also one that tries to combine flyfishing with my backpacking trips when possible. Just curious, any reason you tend to target / prefer the streams as opposed to backcountry lakes?
  25. Geezer Tom

    Backpacker/Fly Fisherman from CA

    Very new to this forum and website. Very much a veteran of back country travel and have been backpacking since 1968. All of my trips nowadays are centered around obscure, weird little streams that are potentially full of fish. Almost all of my trips are solo. While I don't consider myself an ultra-light type, I do try hard to keep my pack weight down, especially the older I get. I joined this site because, while I go solo (most of the time), I enjoy other trail people and I am always interested in sharing, or stealing, good ideas. My photos are from the Sierra and is Brooke (4 legs) and myself (2 legs) on one of my great fish finds. There were trout almost every cast. The second photo is me on the way to the upper Kern River and Junction Meadows (by way of New Army Pass). I hope to read and acquaint myself with other members here that are as passionate as I am.
  26. Adrienne B

    Misc. Backpacking Gear for Sale

    Hi there... is your Kelty pack still available?
  27. Allison Johnson

    Hiking in Yosemite: Waterfalls and Winter Solitude

    Thanks Mark. Yes, that was the greatest thing about going in December. I've heard horror stories about Yosemite summer crowds, but it was a quiet winter wonderland while I was there.
  28. Mark

    Hiking in Yosemite: Waterfalls and Winter Solitude

    Great pictures and writing. I've always enjoyed winter trips to popular areas since you can often experience popular landscapes with fewer crowds and in the beauty of snow and ice.
  29. Mark

    1/2 of the AT in a month?

    It could certainly be done, but given that you all do not have any experience background in long-distance endurance hiking, I would say that it is unlikely that it could be successfully done by you guys while maintaining even a modicum of comfort. Being in great shape for the activities you mentioned is helpful, but they don't prepare you for putting on a 10-15 lb backpack (assuming you are traveling fairly light with modern gear) and hiking 40 miles over uneven terrain with lots of elevation gain/loss. To do this for 40 days without a day to rest would just not be anywhere close to enjoyable in my opinion and I think you guys would be setting yourself up for a pretty tortuous trip and a high potential for injury. I'd suggest cutting the distance in half and ensuring you have time to savor the trail and the experience and not rush through it. If you end up working up to longer distances per day, that's great -- maybe you get 2/3 of the 1,170 miles done in the month. But I think starting out at 40 mile days without coming from a background of long-distance hiking would be a mistake and could potentially ruin your summer if one or both you got injured.
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