Be Prepared: Key to Going Ultralight

On one hand, you can argue that if you forget to take something, you’ll be lighter on the trail. But you may also be sorry. I have a detailed backpacking list. Yet, sometimes you need to check and double check. On my recent trip to the John Muir Wilderness, I found that I had left behind my spork and stove. Luckily, my backpacking pal, Wild Bill, was willing to break his plastic spork in half and give me the spoon half and he didn’t forget his stove. How did this happen?

Well, we were car camping first, had all our stuff out of our packs and all over the back of the car, then the next morning we were trying to pull everything back together. I should have pulled out my list and done a quick check. A a few extra minutes to check your gear before heading into the wilderness is a simple, but worthwhile habit to follow.

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

Sweet Solitude-America’s Least Visited Places: Revealed by the Crowds

One of my ultralight backpacking partners, Wild Bill, and I just completed a quickie and butt-kicking 16-mile hike in the popular Ansel Adams/John Muir Wilderness in the Eastern Sierra.

I’ll do a trip report shortly, perhaps with video. But first I want to comment on an article in the latest issue of Backpacker Magazine with the special report: “The Wildest, Quietest, Darkest and least-visited places in the lower 48.” The list is impressive. But you don’t need to go far to achieve the same effect.

We had planned on a short 3.5 mile hike to hugely popular Shadow Lake with day-hiking to Ediza, Iceberg, Cecelia and Mineret Lakes. Alas, we got to the ranger station and were told, sorry guys, the trail quote of 25 is filled, better go somewhere else.

So we pick the Fern Lake-Ashley Lake-Holcomb Lake loop that started and finished at Devil’s Postpile Ranger Station. Ranger Scott tipped us that it was a pretty trail and much less used. In fact, after seeing a few parties in the first two hours, we saw no one until the next day toward the end of the trip. And this is peak season in an area where the PCT and John Muir Trails cross. It’s a backpacking superhighway in summer, yet we had a wonderful night on a peaceful lake and empty trails. The lesson: ask the rangers for their tips on where to get away. We might have only been a few miles from hundreds of hikers, but felt like we were in some of the darkest, more quiet, more remote areas on Earth.

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

PS – if you can, plan ahead so you have reservations for the hike you really want!