Gear: Notes, Web Links, etc

https://www.rei.com/product/896014/nemo-rhumba-30-down-sleeping-bag-womens

 

http://www.equinoxltd.com/the-gear/raingear/terrapin-regular-poncho.cfm

terrapin-poncho

Terrapin Nylon Poncho
Cut longer than most to keep knees dry. Comfortably sized hood, sculpted for peripheral vision, draws snug. Reinforced, rust resistant snaps form wrist openings and secure sides.

Constructed of durable, waterproof 1.9oz urethane coated ripstop nylon.

58″ wide. Available with or without extension to accommodate backpack (90″ long, 104″ with extension).

Weight 13oz. ,and 16oz.for poncho w/extension.

Price: $37.95 – $42.95

Trail Food

Inexpensive, yummy, healthy and ultra lightweight. These are the 4 parameters we’re all trying to maximize. Here’s one of my favorite recipes: home-dried veggies and instant rice. Very easy  but you do need a method for drying food. I have a dehydrator and I consider it part of my backpacking gear. You can also use the sun. Look on line for simple food drying methods if you’re not familiar with it.

I begin with a bag or two of frozen mixed vegetables and toss them into the dehydrator (or sun) for a couple of hours. Before drying, determine how much of the vegetables you would eat in a single sitting with a serving of rice. They will be very small when completely dried. Using frozen vegetables eliminates the mess and time required to cut them yourself. I put my food together in the weeks leading up to a trip. These packets are being prepared for an 8-day hike on the Colorado Trail next week. If I were preparing for a 2-month trip I would of course be working my food much earlier.

I have two bags going in here. The top is a Mexican vegetable mix. The bottom a soup mix. I’ll get 2-3 meals from each. Experiment. I admit that some of my concoctions don’t always please me, but they usually please me more than most of the prepared foods on the shelf.

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Those two bags dried down to 1 1/2 cups, 1/4 cup per meal. Don’t be fooled – it’s more than you think. Mixed with 1/4 instant rice it makes a very filling and healthy meal for me.

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Now comes the hard part. Mix equal parts rice and dried vegetables. Add herbs. My favorite is a mix called Herbes de Provence. Sometimes I toss the rice in tamari sauce then dry the rice. I also use Italian spices and add dried tomatoes, onions and peppers to the mix. It all works. And this is the final product:

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Dry everything completely as they will mold if they’re damp and set aside for weeks or months. I don’t worry so much when I’m planning to eat it within a couple of weeks. I also dried 3 apples, enough for one trip, and left them slightly softer than I normally would.

And now for the best part: cooking. I’m big on using as little fuel as possible. It’s a weight thing. So I carry a pint container with a leak-proof lid. An hour before I plan to eat I put the day’s dried meal packet into the container with 1 cup of cold water. By the time I’m ready to cook all the water has been absorbed and the vegetables are hydrated. All that’s required is a quick heat up.

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All that’s left to do is eat and watch the sunset. Enjoy!

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Footnote: The final product, packaged in paper envelopes rather than plastic. I’m using business envelopes cut in half and butcher paper stapled along the edges.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Glacier National Park – Check!

I’m going by myself, by train, from western Colorado through Utah, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and at last, Montana and Glacier. I have things to entertain myself on the trip but find instead that I do only three things: watch the scenery out the window, talk to other passengers and Amtrak employees, and try to sleep. I arrive at Glacier at 8:30am, in a state of jet lag.

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Journalling my Journey

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A marvelous meal in a little Asian cafe in Sacramento

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Last stop before West Glacier

The first two days in the Park are extremely challenging. I feel uncomfortably alone and lonely in the Sprague Creek campground. It’s too close to a busy road and I share the campsite with 2 young men who are as tired and un-talkative as I am. Nothing is as I expect. I must make long trips on foot and by shuttle to get fuel for my stove. Everything food-wise costs 2 1/2 times normal and the choices are extremely poor. I have no phone service or internet and I’m lonely and feel so out of place. I would leave immediately, but I can’t. I have no way to reach Amtrak and change my ticket.

So I do what I do: I go for a hike. Avalanche Lake. I hang out by Lake McDonald. I get some much needed sleep. I remember why I’m there.

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Avalanche Lake

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Lake McDonald

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Resting by the lake

On Day 3 I move to the east side of the Park, to St Mary’s. Here the climate and character of the vegetation and landscape change dramatically. The campground is large but during the day is almost completely empty and quiet as people shuttle off to the many accessible trails. More bikers show up – no hikers yet, that’s still to come.

I hike daily while here. The trails on the east side are more accessible from St Mary’s, the roads and shuttles less crowded.

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Piegan Pass

 

Day 7 is moving day again. I catch the Xanterra shuttle ($10) to Many Glaciers. Once again I enter into a new world, unique. This is the Heart of Glacier. It is extraordinarily beautiful with its glacial lakes, waterfalls, flowers, rugged peaks and wildlife. I fall in love.

The hiking is easy. The trails empty of crowds before 9am. A few go before me, many more come after. I hike to Ptarmigan Pass, then to Iceberg Lake twice. I walk to the Many Glacier Lodge. Each day I walk 10-15 miles then recharge on huckleberry ice cream for lunch. It’s the best lunch available.

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Huckleberry Ice Cream at Swiftcurrent Lodge

I’m meeting more hikers here and more interesting bikers. I’m impressed with the young family biking through Glacier and the surrounding area. The little girl, Alyssa, is 5, her brother 8. She has mesmerizing eyes and long tangled curls. Their bike is quite the affair, allowing for an adult and 2 children to bike in tandem.

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Custom bikes

A little explanation about the hiker/biker campsites. They cost $5/night per person ($2.50 for federal parks cardholders). The Park will never turn away a biker or hiker. The sites can hold several people and usually have a couple of tables and fire pits. It’s a great way to meet and mingle with interesting people doing amazing things.

Photos from the Many Glaciers area . . .

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Trail to the Ptarmigan Tunnel

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Moose watching in a small lake near Swiftcurrent Lodge

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Iceberg Lake

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Bear Grass

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Bear Grass

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Indian Painbrush

This trip was a trial run at solo travel and hiking/backpacking in the US. Back home in Colorado, as soon as all commitments are out of way by Aug 19 I intend to hit the trail again. This time to Frisco, Colorado where I’ll pick up the Colorado Trail heading east to Denver. From there, if I’m feeling strong, I’ll shuttle back to Frisco and head west toward Leadville. All of this in preparation for the A.T. next year. I must first challenge myself this summer to see if I really have the stuff I need to make my dreams happen. More to come . . . . .

What a beautiful place, truly the Crown of the Continent. Visit it if you can. It’s like a pilgrimage.

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Good Websites I’ve Come Across

This is an on-going list. The hike is still months in the future and I’ll want to revisit those websites that offer me what I’m looking for.

12 Great Section Hikes:
http://wilderness.org/no-time-hike-appalachian-trail-try-these-12-easy-section-hikes

This site has embedded weather information for each day:

THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL IN NORTH CAROLINA AND TENNESSEE

35 Reasons to Hike the Appalachian Trail:
http://tacticalgear.com/appalachian-trail

Planning a Solo Car-free Trip to Glacier National Park

I awoke this morning and my first thought was, “Oh no, it’s Thursday already. Make it be Wednesday again.” Not that Wednesday was an out-of-the-ordinary day. To the contrary, it was a most ordinary day. I’m visiting Cat in north Texas. I awoke, made coffee, ate breakfast, went out for an early walk, played with Lucky, had long conversations with Cat, and all the other ordinary things we do each day. This moment induced a strange state of mind in me. A kind of grasping. I wanted time to stop, to back up. It’s passing too fast. I like perfectly ordinary days. Equally I long for the extraordinary days. Ordinary or extraordinary, each day passes much too quickly.

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On to the main topic. Glacier National Park. In a couple of weeks I’ll be heading there by train, solo, no car when I get there. I’ll have a backpack but will be camping in campgrounds. Most of the campgrounds have special hiker/biker group sites. There is a free shuttle that goes back and forth across the Park every half hour from 7am to 7pm, stopping at all of the important areas.

Yesterday I went over detailed plans for hikes, ranger talks and events while in Glacier. Some presentations are only offered every few days and may not be in a location that’s convenient. For the evening programs, such as the Blackfeet Singers and Dancers, I must be able to walk to and from the campground and need to plan my camping accordingly. And I must accept that I can’t see it all in only two weeks. Which is way more time than many people are able to spend there so I’m feeling grateful.

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A young Blackfeet dancer (photo credit http://www.visitusa.com)

I’ll have only one opportunity to see the Blackfeet Dancers during my 2-week stay there. I’m loving Google Calendar on my phone. I’m able to put planned activities in and know where I’ll need to be staying each night.

I arrive by train in West Glacier at 8am after a 2 1/2 day trip from Colorado. There is a shuttle that will take me to Apgar but not as far as the campground. However, I’ve decided to walk into town to buy food before going into the Park. This means walking 3-4 miles with my backpack, but it’s easier than riding into the Park, setting up camp, then walking out and back from West Glacier.

The first two nights will be in the Apgar Campground, in the hiker/biker area, $2.50/night for seniors and I’ll likely meet others to hike with. I hope :). Day One will be spent getting set up and oriented. There’s a Native American Speaks program at 8p in the campground, a good way to spend the first night. The next day I’ll take the shuttle to Logan Pass and will hope to join the Morning Highline Stroll, a 3-hour ranger-led hike starting at Logan Pass. I may continue on along the trail rather than returning with the group or return and enjoy some other activity.

Day Three: Move camp to the Avalanche Campground, a few miles beyond the Lake McDonald Lodge. There’s a hiking path that parallels the road between the Lodge area and the campground. I plan to spend the day hanging out in the Lake McDonald area, seeing the lodge, hiking up to McDonald Falls and just generally soaking it all in. At 4pm I’ll join a ranger-led 1-hr walk titled ‘A Walk Through Time,’ a historical walking tour of the Lake McDonald Lodge and the surrounding area.

Day Four may find me on the Avalanche Lake Trail on another ranger-led hike. I have no idea how crowded these hikes will be. If I find them annoying crowded then I can always walk ahead or drop behind. I’m not expecting a lot of wilderness experience in Glacier. I’m not going into the backcountry and honestly I’m not fond of grizzly bears. I mean, I like them well enough from a distance and with a lot of people around but don’t want to meet one alone. I did hike solo in Yellowstone without too much fear. I’m assuming the main trails in Glacier will be similarly crowded with other people so it’s usually easy to be near others.

By the fifth day I should be ready for the Highline Trail. I’m going solo but will find someone to go with and/or tag myself to other hikers at the trailhead. This is a fairly level 15-mile hike which begins at 6,646′ Logan Pass.

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Highline Trail (photo credit: http://www.outsidemedia.com)

The next day will be a moving day. I’ll move from Avalanche Campground all the way to Many Glaciers, where I’ll settle in for four nights. Once again the first day is a day of shopping, laundry, shower and a meander through the visitor center and the shops. The next two days I’ll do the Heart of Glacier hike and a boat ride and hike to Grinnell Glacier. The last day there will begin with the Early Morning Bird Walk followed by a day of whatever.

Leaving Many Glaciers on Day Ten and heading to St Marys. I’m not as excited about this area though I understand there are some interesting places to see. Of most interest to me are the Blackfeet Dancers who will be performing there, my only chance to see them. I’ll also hike Piegan Pass, another long hike and I’m certain there’s another interesting hike there.

My last two days, Days 12 & 13, are open. Day 14 will be spent getting organized for the return train trip which leaves the West Glacier platform at 8pm. 2 1/2 days and I’ll be back in my own bed. That fast. It will be interesting to see how closely my plans will match the reality of the trip.

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W Glacier Amtrak stop (photo credit: http://www.wikimapia.org)

 

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Okay, time to get serious

I’ve now read Bill Bryson’s book, A Walk in the Woods, once and watched the movie three times. I’m ready to begin my own adventure. I fear if I watch it one more time I’m talk myself out of going. As a line in the movie goes: Why hike it? You can see the whole A.T. in 4 minutes on the internet.

I’m not sure that keeping up with the adventures of others is a good idea. Many of the adventures are not that pleasant. But honestly, whenever I mention it to friends and family I get the same reaction that Bryson got – upraised eyebrows and concerns about my sanity. The only place I find any sympathy or understanding is from other A.T. wannabes. Not quite true. I’m encouraged to follow my dreams, sometimes cautiously (Are you sure that’s a good idea?), other times with modest enthusiasm and a kind of if-you-plan-it-maybe-I’ll-come-along-for-a-week response. I need to buy the book about Grandma Gatewood to continue to inspire me when I weaken.

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Grandma Gatewood (natureworldnews.com)

After all, the A.T. is unlike any trail in the world. It’s its own beast, its own brand of Americana insanity. I’ve heard it described as a moving city that’s 2,200 miles long and 6 feet wide, with a population of about 3 million supported by all that they need to survive their ordeals: grocery stores, hostels, hotels, shuttle services, medical facilities and outdoor gear shops, to name just a few.

I’ve just arrived in northern Texas from my home in western Colorado. While not exactly like the climate of the southern 1000 miles of the Appalachian Trail – the portion I intend to attempt first – this climate gives me a feel for what I’ll be facing. Yesterday it rained. Not the soft rains of western Colorado that are a delight to walk in. No, these rains are deluges, as if the sky were an ocean with the bottom ripped out. It doesn’t rain, it pours. Standing inside and looking out it’s awe-inspiring.