Monthly Archives: January 2015

Backpacking 500 miles in the Mojave Desert (part 3)

In November and December of 2000 I backpacked from my house in Palm Springs to Lake Mead and back.

Part 2 can be viewed here.

Mohave 500 mile map

Sheep Hole Valley lies adjacent and north of Joshua Tree National Park, with Highway 62 as its shared border. In 1994, as part of the California Desert Act, the area was designated as an official Wilderness area.

The western boundary is the Sheep Hole Mountains, which at their highest point, rise about 1,000 feet above the valley floor. The southern end of these mountains terminates at Highway 62. The eastern boundary of the Wilderness is the smaller Calumet Mountains. Sheep Hole Valley, contained by these two small mountain ranges is an alluvial plain that slowly descends to Bristol Dry Lake. For most people there are no outstanding scenic features in the area. For me it is an outstanding area that is rarely visited; remote, and desert.

Five days earlier I had hidden 3 gallons of water and food at this southern terminus of the Sheep Hole Mountains, covering, protecting, and camouflaging them under a pile of rocks. My cache consisted of two 1-gallon containers of water, four one quart plastic bottles of water, and five days of food. The food was in an empty 1-gallon water container I had cut open and then taped shut with duct tape. All food was in Ziploc bags to protect and minimize any odors that might attract animals, rodents, or insects. There are more secure and wildlife-proof containers to protect a cache, all of which weigh much, much more. I could have left any cache containers it this point, which would have required me to come back and pick them up. That wasn’t a practical solution.

  Continue reading Backpacking 500 miles in the Mojave Desert (part 3)

My Favorite Gear of 2014

Apparently I’m late to the party.

party

Many backpackers with blogs do an end of the year review of their favorite gear. I spent most of the end of 2014 backpacking and camping, so there was no time or Internet access to write one.

Many of these bloggers’ favorite gear review includes only their favorite NEW gear of the year. And every year they have a dozen or so NEW pieces of gear to share. What’s up with that?

Alas, it has been almost two years since I purchased my last new gear item, a Victorinox “Little Vickie” paring knife for $9.95. I rarely take it backpacking; only on trips where I need to cut salami or spread peanut butter and honey. On most trips my knife is a lowly and simple single edge razor blade.

I have replaced a few inexpensive items that have worn out with the exact same thing, and I have bought a few items to repair or maintain gear: a couple tarp poles, some down wash, silicone sealer, guylines and linelocs. I call these “maintenance” purchases.

Backpacking gear is just a means to an end; the end being a safe trip with the lightest pack weight one cam assemble. I figure that if you know what you are doing and you backpack often, you don’t have time to be searching for the newest wonder gear, and you should probably have your gear dialed in so there is nothing you really need to buy.

So here is my favorite backpacking gear for 2014, which is exactly the same favorite gear for 2012 and 2013.

2014 In Review

It seems everyone has some sort of yearly recap on his or her blog. These recaps are typically interesting. So I thought I would do a little recap here. The best of 2014 actually occurred on Jan 1, 2015 when I woke up above ground. I think making it through the year intact and alive is a good thing.

In 2014 I was able to get in a lot of camping, hiking and even some biking. So it was a very successful year. Since I write about both backpacking and camping, I expect that there will be many more view of things camping related, which actually happened. But there was one big surprise…

Continue reading 2014 In Review

Wild, the book

wild

In 1995, during a 3 month period, Cheryl Strayed hiked 1,100 miles of the 2,663 mile Pacific Crest Trail. In 2012 she published Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. After an endorsement from Oprah, Wild topped the best seller lists. Cheryl became famous. She is a hero to many people.

In 2014 Wild was released as a motion picture, starring Reese Weatherspoon as Cheryl Strayed.

The online backpacking community (whatever that is) has been less than enthusiastic about Wild. Normally I don’t read these kinds of books – you know, the journey of self-discovery where nature solves all of a person’s problems.

Continue reading Wild, the book

First Backpacking Trip of 2015

My usual backpacking preference is going solo. I’m not anti-social; it just works out better. It is easy for me to just take off alone. No advance planning, no comparing schedules with hiking partners, no discussion of potential destinations.

Having said the above, there are three people who I have hiked with a few times over the past several years. Each of them is a great hiking partner and every trip with them has been excellent. It had been almost 3 years since I had gone backpacking with Ojas, longer than the other two partners, so it was time for another adventure. Our last trip had been a cold one with lots of snow. So with temperatures forecasted in the high 70’s and lows in the high 40’s (F), Anza Borrego State Park was a perfect destination.

Continue reading First Backpacking Trip of 2015