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  2. GHSMITH76

    Wild Flowers of the Colorado Trail

    I just got back from backpacking for 3 weeks on the Colorado Trail. Here is a sampling of the wildflowers of those Rocky Mountains: Flowers and Trip Reports from the Colorado Trail I started in Durango and finished at Cottonwood Pass. Overall, I feel like I experienced the best of the CT. The Rockies are massive mountains of rock that present a unique beauty. The challenge is elevation. I spent most of my time above 12000' which really slows the progress for a lowlander Oregonian.
  3. Today
  4. One of 4 meals in the newer Outdoorsman Line from Backpacker’s Pantry, the chicken with rice meal reviewed here is a single serving meal containing 500 calories and 33 grams of protein. The meal is made by adding 1.5 cups of hot water and waiting 15-20 minutes for rehydration, and is essentially chicken, rice, vegetables, and a chicken gravy that Backpacker’s Pantry describes as “no-fuss comfort food the world over”. This 4.4 ounce (net weight) meal is also gluten-free, making it a worth a look for those with such a dietary requirement. One of the things I like about the new Outdoorsman Line is the packaging style and shape, as it seems fit more easily inside my Ursack than other meals from Backpacker’s Pantry or other manufacturers, and the rounded corners are friendly for limiting punctures to something like an OPSak liner, or other food for that matter. In any event, with our test meal here it was a bit difficult to follow step one of the directions (remove enclosed oxygen absorber) as none could be found in the package despite extensive searching through the dry contents prior to adding hot water. The 2nd step is adding the contents of the included olive oil packet to the rest of the meal – always a welcome way to boost calories in the backcountry. After adding the required 1.5 cups of hot water, and pausing from some introspection (about 15 minutes worth) the meal rehydrated well on one night of recent 5 day trip. Taste wise it was tough to make up my mind on this meal from Backpacker’s Pantry. The most prevalent component of this meal palate wise is salt, and checking the back of the meal revealed that the meal contains 1230mg of sodium or 54% of your daily intake so perhaps this shouldn’t be a surprise. However, it would have been desirable for my tastes if the sodium level had been reduced, as it would be easy to bring along some salt to add to the meal as needed, but we can’t take it out if it’s already in there. The vegetables could also be more prevalent and the chicken gravy is quite light, in fact checking out the ingredients it appears that it’s not actually a chicken gravy but is rather based on other ingredients, although this is mostly par for the course when it comes to freeze dried meals. My overall conclusion on this meal is that the sodium level should be reduced and I think the meal is in a bit of a no-man’s land when it comes to what it’s trying to be. Of all things it reminded me most of chicken fried rice…just imagine that without the egg or the frying. For more of a chicken and gravy type meal I'd say the gravy could use a boost here to add more of a southern theme – and throw in some extra pepper while we’re at it. While not a pro or a con for me, the meal is gluten-free and I can perhaps see this meal being best for those gluten-free backpackers out there that are looking for additional options to mix in when it comes to pre-packaged, just add hot water meals and who are fans of the basic components of this meal (chicken, rice, salt). The Backpacker’s Pantry Outdoorsman Chicken with Rice meal retails for about $8. Find it here at REI and on Amazon.com.
  5. Yesterday
  6. Aaron

    Petzl Actik Core Headlamp Review

    Thanks for the review - I much prefer rechargeable headlamps (and any other electronics for that matter) as well for the same reasons you mentioned!
  7. Within the Last week
  8. Glad you found some good info in the article and thanks for the information / insight on the ranger beads. Normally I use time and average pace as a close enough indicator combined with the map and landmarks, but tracking paces compared to estimating pace is an interesting - and from your GPS test results — accurate technique!
  9. jay

    Question about aged camp food.

    I am with Aaron on this. As long as the package is still sealed and it hasn't been in an extreme heat environment (example - Trunk of your car in the summer) I wouldn't have a problem using them.
  10. jay

    Worst trail foods!

    and Spam...we carried Spam as well. The best part was you could open the can and then set it in the coals to heat up. That was camp cooking for me when I was a kid. I'm glad I have improved!
  11. Aaron

    Worst trail foods!

    I did try freeze dried guacamole recently - luckily the taste test was at home. At least for now I’ll be sticking with fresh when it comes to avocados in the backcountry.
  12. Earlier
  13. Aaron

    Dinkey Lakes exploration

    Sounds like a good way to handle it...
  14. Aaron

    A bit rusty...prepping for upcoming hikes...

    That’s interesting. I’ve had the opposite experience with Darn Tough - with the right shoes I haven’t had a blister since I started wearing them. Just goes to show how much the best shoe / sock combo can vary from person to person.
  15. Aaron

    Question about aged camp food.

    I should add that I can personally verify this as well - I take meals from Mountain House that show they’re expired on the package (but are within the new retroactive shelf life range) on trips all the time - don’t notice a difference. While I definitely take a few other brands on trips as well to mix things up, with Mountain House it is nice to not have to be as mindful about taking the oldest meal(s) you might have and using them before they expire.
  16. balzaccom

    Dinkey Lakes exploration

    I certainly made them aware of it... I don't know if they were aware at first. I encouraged them to read their wilderness permit.
  17. Aaron

    Dinkey Lakes exploration

    Was surprised to hear about the drone. Just curious, where they aware it’s considered motorized / mechanized and wasn’t permitted in a wilderness area?
  18. Aaron

    Fly Fishing Gear for Backpacking

    Sounds like a nice fly box solution. While I carry a selection that will cover just about any situation, when it comes down to it...a few old standby type patterns are usually all I need and end up using in the backcountry.
  19. Aaron

    Question about aged camp food.

    Sounds like you may be good to go! You'll just have to check the manufactured date - Mountain House has changed to a retroactive 30 year guarantee on shelf life so long as it was made after 1985: https://www.mountainhouse.com/m/shelf-life.html
  20. balzaccom

    rx: nature

    We loved this video our niece in Spain sent us. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bf5TgVRGND4 There are more on the nature-rx.org website
  21. Willo419

    Question about aged camp food.

    I have not camped in several years and am preparing for some trips this fall. While I was getting my equipment out, inspected, cleaned arc. I found several Mountain House meals in my box. These are the kind that you open at the camp, add boiling water, stir let sit then eat them. But they expired about 6 years ago. They are kind of expensive so just throwing them away bothers me. I am wondering if you all think that they would be safe to eat. I thought those things were like MREs and would last “forever”, then I saw the “best used by” date. Interested in you thoughts.
  22. Aaron

    Review: Gossamer Gear LT5 Trekking Poles

    I've been using the LT4 version for quite a while. I can see how the newer design would be a bit more convenient when stowed, but looking at the pictures I think my favorite feature might be the measurement scale to make shelter setup (for those shelters that utilize trekking poles) that much faster and easier...as well as for finding the perfect setting while on the trail. Thanks for the review!
  23. balzaccom

    Dinkey Lakes exploration

    Hoping to sneak in a few days of hiking before the big crowds of Labor Day, we drove south to the Dinkey Lakes Wilderness and found just what we were looking for. Day One: it began a long drive down to Courtwright Reservoir with stops in Madera for lunch at a Chinese restaurant (forgettable) and Prather to pick up our permit and get the latest Tom Harrison Map of the Dinkey Lakes Wilderness. As usual, during the hike we noticed a few differences between the USGS topo maps and the Harrison map—and in this case, the Harrison map was a bit more accurate. We camped at the PG&E campground at Trapper Springs, even though we could have camped right at the trailhead. But the campground had vault toilets and drinking water. We paid $24 for that! After dinner we climbed up on the nearby dome for wonderful views of the reservoir and surrounding peaks. Day Two: With my wife’s foot still a question, we’ve been aiming for shorter hiking days, and this was no exception. Our goal was Cliff Lake, less than five miles from the trailhead. The first three miles was a cakewalk, with quite a few bugs in the middle, but the last third climbs up to Cliff Lake and was about as much as her foot could manage. We were at the lake by lunchtime. After our PB&J sandwiches, we set up our tent in a quiet spot a bit back and away from the lake and took a nap. With most of the afternoon still ahead of us, we set out cross-country to find Christenson Lake, which was lovely and quiet. We hiked around it, then went back to Cliff Lake to catch a few brook trout. Boy are there a lot of campsites at Cliff Lake. Most of them are huge, too close to the water to be legal, and completely cleared of anything organic—just rocks and sand. That night we were joined by two couples—one quiet couple camped far away on the other end of the lake, and the other couple camped between us and managed to shout, hoot and holler most of the evening as they played some kind of game through the forest... Day Three: This was going to be an easy day, just up and over the pass, and then another mile to Island Lake. We took it slow up to the pass, and then the trail drops very quickly to Rock Lake. The trout were rising like crazy at about 9:30, but we continued on to Second Dinkey Lake, and then took the more rustic trail up to Island Lake. This is marked as not suitable for stock, but it is really only difficult in a short section—one that was also complicated by a massive treefall. Once we detoured past that it was easy, and we arrived to find only two people there—and they were leaving that day. We found a nice campsite perched up behind some huge boulders on the west side of the lake, and set up camp. We explored around the lake for the rest of the morning, and then after lunch we climbed the small dome north of the lake for some absolutely stunning views of the other lakes in the area, plus the whole Sierra crest to the east. Fabulous. We also met a group of about six or eight guys, one of whom was flying a drone around. A few cross words were exchanged at that point. Grrr. And once back in camp, we decided to cross-country over and down to Fingerbowl Lake—another absolute jewel of crystal clear water set into a granite bowl. Wonderful spot. And while there were no fish in the lake, it would have made a very nice and quiet campsite. Next time. Day Four: We thought we would leave Island Lake to the flying droners, so we got up early and left for Second Dinkey Lake and Rock Lake. Since the fish were rising there the day before, I thought it might be worth fishing there this morning. It was, for 8-10 inch brookies. We didn’t set up our tent at Rock Lake though, because we really weren’t sure about our plans. We waffled about this all day long. After fishing, we decided to day-hike down to Little Lake for lunch: a short, steep trail that led to another amazing lake. There was a perfect (and perfectly legal!) campsite there, and we ate our lunch out on the peninsula underneath the towering Dogtooth Peak. Had it not been for the steep climb back out, we might have gone and fetched our packs and camped here for the night. After a lovely lunch (we didn’t see another soul on this trail) we got back to Rock Lake where I fished a bit more. A group of three guys had set up camp on the far southeast corner of the lake, and we had staked our claim to a nice spot on the ridge to the northeast. They skinny-dipped while I fished, and luckily we weren’t too close to each other. But as the afternoon progressed we started thinking about the hike out the next day…and my wife was worried about it. So we decided to hoist our packs and hike back up over the pass and down into Cliff Lake. But this time we camped at Christenson Lake instead, and we had the place to ourselves. It was a really lovely spot, with views from the ridge behind our camp to the far Sierra, and towards the lake and this side of Dogtooth Peak. Idyllic. Day Five: This was an easy one, just about five miles, almost all downhill. But we were surprised by the number of hikers we met. We had seen an average of six people per day for the previous three days, and now we were meeting real crowds hiking up to Cliff Lake on Sunday. We made it back to the van to discover that the parking area (which had had only five cars in it when we started our trip) was now packed to the gills with at least thirty cars. In fact, I moved the van before we had packed up so that a late-arriving hiker could park in our place. What struck us about this area was that it was really quite easy to access, and yet we hadn’t met that many people. Sure, some of the lakes were heavily impacted by campsites and fire rings, but all in all, it was everything we could hope for in a trip that didn’t require long miles on the trail, and still delivered everything you’d want in a backpacking trip. The photos from our trip are here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/udpzeV8tqaidNYSXA
  24. Dogwood

    Where do you eat / food hang?

    I suspect some take Skurka's food protection approaches including his general disdain for bear bagging and hard sided canisters as an excuse not to protect their food or employ legal mandatory food protection while ignoring the greater context of his overall situations.
  25. Dogwood

    Where do you eat / food hang?

    The reason why there exists wildlife unnaturally habituated to established CS's and trail shelter areas is because human behavior born out of the convenience to prepare, consume, and store food and other smellables where we sleep. I tend to prepare, consume and store food and other smellables away from where I sleep in black bear areas AND mostly stealth LNT camp away from established CS's while not introducing a new established CS. A big part of the reason why I personally don't have many negative wildlife problems with food is because I dont stick to established CS's. In our human hubris we dont usually readily examine the negative extent humanity's behavior has on the environment. FWIW, after sleeping somewhere it would take a professional tracker to know I had passed through as I dont leave much of a trace ...AT ALL. When someone like Skurka says he sleeps with his food it HAS to be taken in context he does several things to reduce problems with wildlife including largely camping where others previously have not(he does some rather remote hikes), not sleeping in the clothes he ate, and not always eating where he's sleeping. BTW, camping with several NP Rangers in different NP's where bear issues exist the Rangers have taught me to prepare, consume and store food away from I sleep
  26. Aaron

    Sabrina Basin

    Sounds like you were able to do some pretty interesting exploring. Had a recent trip where the bugs ended up being near constant companions as well - they’re out late this year!
  27. I don't think you can be too cautious, whatever works for your comfort level while complying with the regulations for your particular destination. I always eat at a separate location and hang or use an Ursack some distance from camp.
  28. jay

    flame Wars of the Orange kind

    Exactly, so, Aaron. Others with bright colored gear does actually give me and advantage, though. If I can see them, I am too close! I much prefer to be solo out in the backcountry. Solitude is a good thing for me, it heightens my appreciation for all things wild.
  29. Aaron

    flame Wars of the Orange kind

    I prefer gear and clothing in natural tones as well (other than during hunting season where I go the opposite route). I've heard a lot of people say that bright colors make for better photographs, and I can see that perspective in regard to contrast but I have plenty of great photos with a grey or olive tent, in fact I prefer that the view be the star as opposed to the gear. I even prefer non-reflective guylines for my shelters (although I do like a bright color just for lines as a compromise to limit trips). However, I do know some hikers who like to wear bright colors just because, well that might be their favorite color which might make a trip more enjoyable for them, and there's something to be said for that as well.
  30. jay

    When was the last time you checked...

    I am terrible about replacing miscellaneous stuff that I have used on a trip. After leaving myself missing stuff because of this, I have finally trained myself to do a quick inventory of all of my small repair and first aid stuff before heading out. Running out of the little things can make me fairly miserable at times.
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