Corn Spork – Good for Oatmeal, But Not Pasta

field-test.gifI discovered a “green” spork (combination fork and knife) made of corn, totally biodegradable and about a half ounce. In our recent trip into the Granite Chief Wilderness, ultralight backpacking companion Wild Bill and I ate two breakfasts and two dinners with the corn sporks. They were sturdy and held up to heat and washing. Our only complaint was that while digging into pasta, our hands got covered by smoked salmon and olive oil. Continue reading

Field Test: SteriPEN Adventurer

field-test.gifA few months back I wrote a review of Hydro Photo, Inc’s new SteriPEN Adventurer water purification system — innovative ultralight backpacking technology that uses ultraviolet light to give you a liter of virus and cryptosporium-free water with a single 2 1/2 – minute dose. My comments were based on my positive experience with earlier generations of the device and some kitchen testing. In the Granite Chief Wilderness north of Lake Tahoe June 13-16, it proved itself a worthy, trail tough companion. Over three days, three of us used it exclusively to purify about 35 liters. It worked flawlessly and the lithium batteries held up fine. It’s so light (3.5 ounces with batteries or 4.5 ounces with carrying case), I hardly noticed it on my belt during our day hikes of 8-10 miles. This is a must-have system.

Granite Chief Wilderness – Small and Beautiful

Granite Chief WildernessJust returned from a three-day trip to the Granite Chief Wilderness near Truckee, California and Lake Tahoe. The PCT cuts through the area, no doubt adding to the foot traffic in summer. Right now, except for day hikers (which we didn’t see until hiking out on Father’s Day), we had the place to ourselves. Although a few patches of snow remain, the trail is mostly dry and mosquito free. We hiked in 2.5 miles (steep for about the first two miles, then flattening out) to the largest lake in Five Lakes Basin. A pretty spot with red fir, jeffrey pines and some lodgepole. Some wildflowers. Since you can camp no closer than 600 feet from the lake or 200 feet from the stream flowing out, we tucked ourselves away from trail where there was abundant downed wood for a fire. Days were around 70 degrees and nights about 40. With my ultralight backpacking companions, The Duke and Wild Bill, I explored the Whiskey Creek area (there’s a old cabin used now by rangers) and we headed south along the PCT, which in the tall trees was too deep in snow still to comfortably follow the trail. From our basecamp, we hiked about 10 miles a day with lots of ups and downs. But we took our time, stopped to check out flowers, marvel at a view or enjoy the shade a big pine and a warm breeze.

Be light. Be safe. Be one with the pack.

Whiskey Creek Trail Cabinfive-lakes.jpg

Hand Warmers – A Summer Treat

I head off soon for a backpack in the Granite Chief Wilderness near Lake Tahoe. With some snow still on the trail and nights at 8,500 feet expected to dip into the 30’s, a hand warmer isn’t such an odd suggestion as an added comfort for very little weight. As a kid, I had a , small polished metal heater that comes with a felt bag and lasts all day on a single fill of lighter fluid. There’s no flame, but lots of heat. What got me thinking about this was when I donated blood yesterday and the nurse gave me a disposalable hand warmer — a tiny pillow filled with some unknown material — to keep my hands warm so she didn’t have to squeeze a cold finger really hard to get that drop of blood needed to test my iron. A smart idea and made me think that it would be ideal for the “essentials bag.” If nothing else, you’ve got them for an emergency.

Be light. Be safe. Be one with the pack.