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  1. Yesterday
  2. RGM

    Can waterproof spray work?

    I'm going to Ireland soon and I hope someone could help me with this question. I have a decent pair of Merrell hiking shoes. They are not waterproof. If I buy a waterproof spray for suede and synrlthetic, will this help? Ireland is known for its pop of rain. I hate to have to buy all new waterproof hikers.
  3. Fairly new hiker here. Been hiking and rock scrambling for a bit- informally. Going to Ireland soon. Hiking a bit there. Should be amazing. Cheers! I will appreciate all the feedback I get in the Forum questions.
  4. John B

    Sabrina Basin

    Your experience at dingleberry lake brings back memories. We spent two nights there two years ago on a failed attempt to climb picture peak. We were also bedeviled by misquitoes!
  5. My wife and I have hiked something more than 2500 miles in the Sierra Nevada and other parts of the West. We've backpacked for years and years, and we are as experienced a pair as you are likely to find on any given day on the trail. So what could possibly go wrong? Well, on our last trip, just as an example, we had a few misfortunes. My toothbrush broke. It was a source of some amusement to see me trying to brush my teeth holding the stub of the brush with both hands and still reach the teeth in the back of my mouth. And my sunglasses also snapped above the ear. No worries, we had packed duct tape--except that for some reason I had switched lip balms, and the supply of duct tape was wrapped around the old lip balm tube, not the new one. That's OK. We also have adhesive tape in the first aid kit. In fact, that tape came from my parents' first aid kit...and let's mom passed away how many years ago? So It was tape, but it wasn't adhesive. hmm. Luckily, we still had a few small band-aids, and a couple of them, wrapped around a twig as a splint, fixed the sunglasses at least enough to get him home. Just a reminder that it pays to make sure all your gear is newish...and that you've also got a back up!
  6. For sale is a gift certificate good for one CA state Golden Poppy Pass, the annual pass to all CA state parks. The value is $130.95 (pass plus tax), and I'll pass the code over to you for $110. You can find more information about the pass here ( I don't visit the state parks much, so I'm hoping to pass it to someone who will!
  7. Within the Last week
  8. balzaccom

    Sabrina Basin

    With only a few more days before school starts, we wanted to get one last trip into the Sierra, and headed for Sabrina Basin. We'd hiked out of both North Lake and South Lake, so this was the last of the three trailheads for us to explore. Day One: It was a long drive from Napa over Echo Summit and Monitor Pass to the Mono Lake Ranger Station, where we got our permit at about 1 p.m. There were still plenty of spaces available for both Monday and Tuesday, so we felt sure that it wouldn't be too crowded. After a quick bite at the Lee Vining Mobil Station, we drove down to Bishop to buy a few last minute supplies (a dinner for that night, a hair clip for M, and an extra bottle of Advil for our aching bones) and set up camp in the Sabrina Lake Campground. There were still places available here at 5 p.m. and we took a short walk around the area and settled in to an early night. Day Two: We packed up and parked Le Vin Blanc on the road right outside the campground, then hit the trail by 9 a.m. Fishermen were already on the lake as we slowly climbed up past the trail to Lake George and onwards to Blue Lake. We got there in time for an early lunch, and probably should have taken a short rest at that point. But we didn't. The mosquitoes were not too bad in the middle of the afternoon, and we pushed on past Emerald Lakes to Dingleberry Lake. There were a few campers on the granite ledges above the South end of the lake, and we half-heartedly looked for a campsite on the North end. But that was pretty rugged terrain. We wandered along the creek beyond the lake, and finally settled on a campsite overlooking the two fords of the creek: one for hikers, one for stock. It was a pretty spot, with shade in the afternoon for our nap, and nice views all the way around. We set up camp, napped, fished, rested, and generally felt a bit worn out after only five miles of hiking. But that comes with age, we suppose. That night the mosquitoes made their presence known in spades, and we turned in early to escape them. Still, it was lovely country, and the weather was perfect: warm in the sun, cool in the shade. Day Three; instead of packing up, we left our camp set up and day-hiked up to the lakes above. After fording the creek, we ran into a wilderness ranger doing trail work. In addition to sharing our experiences working on trails, we got our permit checked and had a nice chat. On our permit we had initially named Topsy-Turvy Lake as our destination, but we were happy with our campsite at the fords. And when we saw Topsy Turvy Lake, we were even happier with our decision. While it was beautiful, there didn't seem to be many campsites at Topsy Turvy amid the vast fields of talus--although there might have been a few above the lake on the South side--and they would have been very exposed. We like shade. From there we continued on to Sailor Lake, and then topped out at Hungry Packer Lake, which had apparently earned the name Hungry Mosquito Lake this year. The bugs were absolutely fierce. We were hiking in headnets and DEET, and it really helped to keep moving! Which we did. Lots of people camped around here, by the way. We hiked cross-country over to Moonlight Lake and had a nice rest and snack sitting among the huge talus blocks above that lake. Then we continued down the granite slabs to Sailor Lake again, and back down to our camp. It was interesting that the ford, which was about 75 feet long over a long string of rocks, was drier later in the day, and wetter earlier in the day. Clearly the snowmelt was taking twelve hours to get down the creek to the ford. After lunch and a nap, we decided we'd explore Dingleberry Lake some more. While much of the shoreline was rugged, we did manage to find a route down from the trail to the North end of the lake, where there was a lovely pool, and a series of campsites further out above the canyon beyond the outlet stream. This would make a nice base camp, and it seemed to get little traffic. Back at camp that night, we dodged and swatted the bugs, ate our dinner, and again headed to the tent just about dusk, leaving the field to the pesky mosquitoes. Day Four: We'd heard that Donkey Lake had fewer mosquitoes, and since that was also on our itinerary, we headed there next. The trail back down to Blue Lake is really beautiful, and we enjoyed it much more in this direction. Once at the junction, we took the trail towards Donkey Lake, and were surprised to see a second junction only 1/4 mile later to Baboon Lakes. On our topo map, and on the Tom Harrison map, this junction is much higher up, right where the trail crosses the creek. Hmmm. Oh well. Nothing like confusion! We continued on to Donkey Lake, absolutely loving the scenery of the creek as we followed it up the canyon past pools, cascades and rapids. And Donkey Lake was charming. We set up camp and went to explore a bit, doing some fishing, filtering water, and getting a feel for the place. The lake was so clear and there were so many trout on the surface that at times it looked like an aquarium. After lunch and our usual nap, we headed back down the hill 1/2 mile to pick up the trail that was shown on our maps to Baboon Lakes. What a bushwhack! We followed cairns and blazes; struggled, clambered, and finally found a section of trail that looked reasonable. After about an hour, and at least one conversation about turning around, we topped out on the crest of a ridge, and there was Baboon Lake. Spectacular! We wandered around the lake for quite a while before exploring different routes down. We could not believe that was the only trail! But as we explored, we found an easier down to the trail, and as I watched our progress and took in our surroundings, I suddenly exclaimed: "Donkey Lake is right over there!" I was right. It was just 75 yards from where we had found the first real section of cairns to follow...and the whole first part of our hike up to Baboon Lakes had been a complicated and unnecessary circle. For those who are interested, if you find the small round pond just West of Donkey Lake, you can follow a series of cairns southwest up that ridge, over into the next chute, and at the top of that chute the cairns will lead you into the main chute that takes you up to Baboon Lakes. It's steep, but passable and clearly marked. And while it took us just over an hour to get up to the lakes, it took us only 25 minutes to get down, once we understood the geography. (BTW, the other, signed trail to Baboon Lakes from near Blue Lake must take a very different route---but we never saw it, even though we looked for that trail up at the lake itself. We assume that it stays west of the creek the whole way up...) Great fishing that afternoon in Donkey Lake for brookies and rainbows from 6-10 inches long...and almost non-stop action. That evening we fought the bugs one last time, finally giving up around 8 o'clock to get into the tent. Day Five: It's always easier downhill, unless the steps are really tall. So we were back at the trailhead by eleven a.m., knees a bit sore from all the steps, but happy enough with a really magical trip. We drove into Bishop, grabbed a bite to eat at the Burger Barn, and then drove back to our cabin above Sonora in time for fresh salad, sushi, and showers. What a great trip. The full photo report is here:
  9. balzaccom

    Where do you eat / food hang?

    Depends completely on the region/location. In the Sierra Nevada in California, we are required to keep food in a canister or within arms reach at all times. But our bears are now relatively wild and shy--and we're trying to reinforce that. Bear incidents in Yosemite are now down over 95% over 20 years ago. But grizzlies are different. And so is Alaska. Local rules and regulations always apply.
  10. Aaron

    Hello from PA

    Hi Jett and welcome to the forum! Sounds like an exciting trip coming up - let us know how it goes!
  11. Hello everyone! I'm wondering if anyone could please share your experience with where you eat and hang your food bag while backcountry camping? I am aware that this is an incredibly basic question and I do know the "correct" answer. Don't eat at camp and hang 100 yards from your tent. So far, we've stuck to this general premise. However, I admittedly got interested in backpacking from watching several backpackers hike the triple crown trails on youtube (Homemade Wanderlust, Darwin on the Trail, etc) and I've noticed this seems to be inconsistent for most of these hikers. I often see them eating near/around camp, and some shelter areas even have picnic tables right outside the shelter which people eat at, as well as bear boxes/cables that seem rather close to camp itself. We've only ever hiked by ourselves, so I haven't gotten a firsthand look at how anybody else manages this. I'm mostly just wondering if I'm being a little TOO cautious with my food? Also, I'm not sure if it matters, but I'm mostly talking about black bear territory. I don't think I could be convinced to take any risks in Grizzly territory lol. Any thoughts are appreciated! Thanks in advance!
  12. Jett

    Hello from PA

    Hello all! My husband and I started backpacking in preparation for a trip in the backcountry in Denali State Park, AK that will be happening in two weeks! Still, we're fairly new and I'm hoping to meet some friendly hikers and acquire some knowledge from the community, as well as share what we've learned.
  13. PaulGS

    Mosquito repellent

    Do you live in Canada Richard Lee? If so, you can purchase mosquito repellants with a maximum DEET concentration of 30%. I use Watkins Insect Repellant Lotion (28.5% DEET) and it has worked very well for me in the Rockies. You can purchase it at MEC and sometimes Costco. You also might find using a head net useful too.
  14. PaulGS

    Mosquito repellent

  15. Has anyone put together a lightweight, but secure setup for carrying fly-fishing gear while backpacking?
  16. Earlier
  17. John B

    Chain Lakes

    Nice--as you say, the wildflowers were gorgeous.
  18. Dogwood

    Tips for Hiking in Mosquito and Tick Season

    With most of the combined herbal products I personally find I may have to apply them more frequently for skeeter repellency efficacy than DEET but herbal products can work but have to be applied more often. Almost all studies compare one product or approach to one other product or approach. One may be able to stack approaches offering cumulative efficacies that surpass DEET alone. We already do this with sleep systems, apparel layering systems, shelters, consumables(food, H2O) and other multi tasking pieces cumulatively integrating systems.
  19. Dogwood

    Issue 42 Released

    Thx to Trail Groove and Susan Dragoo for teaching us(me) about the Wichita Mts in her Oklahoma Hiking article, a place I was ignorant.
  20. balzaccom

    Chain Lakes

    We wanted a short escape before school starts, and stopped in at the Summit Ranger Station in Pinecrest to see what they might suggest in the Emigrant Wilderness. (A lot of Carson-Iceberg burned last year in the Donnell Fire and is still not open to hikers.) But since this trip was for P's birthday, we wanted something where we wouldn't run into much of a crowd. That excluded Kennedy Lake (there are lot of people up there right now) as well as the usual suspects out of Gianelli and Crabtree Trailheads. Gem Lake, in particular, was mentioned in a recent magazine story (just possibly because P suggested it to the editors) and now Gem Lake is the icon destination of Emigrant Wilderness. Sigh. So where else could we go? P asked about Chain Lakes. Nobody there. The trailhead, Box Springs, is a long drive on a difficult road. Not ideal for most hikers. It sounded perfect for us. And it was. The road into the trailhead was really quite rough--absolutely not recommended for passenger cars, although our 2wd 2008 Ford Escape managed it with careful driving. It took us almost two hours from the Ranger Station to the trailhead, and that was a total of ten miles on Highway 108, 20 miles on paved County Road 31, and then 7 miles on rough dirt to the trailhead. That last 7 miles took us more than 45 minutes to feel our way along... And then we got to the trail itself. While it is in fairly poor condition, with lots of downed trees, quite a few trail re-routes around the biggest ones, and some swampy areas, it was also chock full of the most amazing displays of wildflowers. Like walking through a botanical garden. And it is only two and half miles in total. It took us longer to drive to the trailhead than to hike the hike! Chain Lakes themselves are really just one large lake (fishless, with no inlet or outlet stream) and three smaller and swampier ones. But boy was it peaceful. And we had only one other group for company, and they camped far away---there are tons of good campsites in this area. The weather was perfect, and mosquitoes were only about a 3 on a ten point scale. Perfectly manageable. The next morning, we hiked up to the top of the nearby granite dome, for views of most of the Emigrant Wilderness, and even a distant view of Mt Hoffman to the South in Yosemite. And the road out seemed just a little better, since it was downhill, and we knew that it was passable the whole way. A really nice way to spend a birthday... The photos are here:
  21. balzaccom

    Packing Dehydrated or Freeze-dried Foods

    I agree with Aaron. But if you want to dehydrate some meals in advance, you can store those in sealed bags in your freezer for months. At least we have done so with good results.
  22. Hey James - definitely going to depend on the headlamp. For most of the regulated lightweight headlamps I take along on trips you're looking at minimal usage on the highest mode - perhaps in the range of an hour or so but dozens of hours on lower modes, or even days on the lowest settings. Using a mix of these modes in actual usage, I'm usually able to fit an entire backpacking trip in on one battery / charge. Shoulder seasons and winter where there's less daylight would be an exception however, and you may find me taking along a spare battery during those times of the year.
  23. Aaron

    Packing Dehydrated or Freeze-dried Foods

    If two weeks is the goal I think you should be very much good to go. I've had success using various dehydrated vegetables (commercially dehydrated however) for much longer periods of time, kept tightly sealed and in a cool dark place. Basically the food remained fine but I do notice that it tends to lose some of its flavor and can start to taste stale over time. Same experience with freeze dried - although I do like to use freeze dried meats a lot faster as those do seem to have a shorter shelf life once the packaging is opened in my experience before the taste starts to decline - I like to use everything within a couple weeks of opening there.
  24. Aaron

    Hello from the Philippines

    Welcome to the forum DustOff and best of luck getting back out there. Let us know how the trips go!
  25. jay

    Scaring off bears at night?

    This is actually a great topic for me, personally. I have a trip planned into bear country soon and to be honest, I have not really had that much experience with bear country. Virtually all of my trips have been in bear free areas. Thanks for bringing this up, its one of the reasons I like this site so much.
  26. DustOff

    Mosquito repellent

    Aaron's article on avoiding mosquito and ticks what he shares is also applicable to chiggers. Great article with some good suggestions. In the tropics mosquito protection takes on a more important role as you are avoiding malaria and dengue fever. That is where I find Jungle Juice very effective. There are also anti-malaria medicine that may be worth checking into if traveling in areas of known malaria problems. Dengue Fever, which was known as Break Bone Fever by WW II soldiers, is a whole other problem If not treated and proper ancillary life support taken it can be fatal. So the lowly mosquito is something to be taken seriously. They can prove to not only be a nuisance, but cause severe medical conditions. Zika comes to mind. Know the conditions where you are traveling.
  27. Dehydrated or freeze-dried food is an ideal choice for backpacking supplies. I intend to bring some food that I have dehydrated on a two-week backpacking trip, but I do not have a vacuum sealer. How long can dehydrated food last when it is not vacuum sealed? Does that differ for freeze-dried foods?
  28. Aaron

    Mosquito repellent

    Hey Richard - and just to follow up on DustOff’s post above we also had a post on the topic a while back over on the blog that might be worth a read:
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