Entering the Mt. Whitney lottery

Permit applications – the struggle is real

When two friends (Critter and Garbelly – check out their awesome blog here!) mentioned hiking the John Muir Trail this September, I was instantly all for it. I have been itching for another long-distance hike since Camino last year, and taking a few weeks won’t interrupt life too much.

I heard rumors from pals that hiked the PCT and CDT that for trails out West, you usually have to apply for a permit. I figured I would hop online, fill out a form promising to not burn down forests or pet the bears, pay a few bucks, and then call it good.

I was so, so wrong.
Continue reading “Entering the Mt. Whitney lottery”

UPDATE on Granite Gear Crown2 60 pack

Summary: NeverWet is never working – bring your pack cover

Back in September, I wrote a post about the process of selecting a new pack, and the pros and cons of the Granite Gear pack I chose. One of the big selling points for me with the Granite Gear pack was the NeverWet liquid repelling treatment (a Rustoleum product). A pack cover can weigh 5-6 ounces, and not needing one was a plus for me.

The Granite Gear website says:

  • 100D High-tenacity nylon with NeverWet liquid repelling treatment
  • 210D High-tenacity ripstop nylon with NeverWet liquid repelling treatment

Based on this information, one could infer that a drizzle or light rain should be no match for this pack, at least when it is brand new. As with most gear, I would fully expect this pack to need waterproofing after a lot of wear and tear.

Due to my injury in early December and the proceeding exercise restriction, this past weekend was the first chance I had to get back into the woods – and only the third time out for my new Granite Gear pack. The forecast called for rain. I decided to put my new pack to the test and not use a rain cover. I did have the foresight (a.k.a. lesson learned the hard way) to pack my sleeping bag and camp clothes in a Sea to Summit compression dry sack, and to line my pack with a garbage compactor bag.

From the trailhead to camp, there was about six hours of drizzle, no rain, light rain, back to drizzle, no rain for a bit, and so on. At no time was there a heavy rain or downpour. And when it did rain, it wasn’t for an hour straight or anything close to that. I opened my bag multiple times to pull out snacks, and each time I found more moisture inside. This is a roll-top pack, and I know it wasn’t coming in through any open pockets (there are none) or the top. At first I thought it might just be a little bit of damp or condensation, but there was just too much moisture for that. This pack was wet.

When I got to camp, there was a light rain. I set up my tent and pulled my pack inside after shaking off as much water as I could. I used a microfiber camp towel to dry the outside and inside of the pack, and the towel was sopping wet after I was done.

I am still happy with my Granite Gear pack, and I stand by my selection. It’s a great fit for me, very light, spacious, rolls down to the size I need, and lots of other great things. I’m just disappointed with the lack of water repellent or resistance. I’m going to try treating it with Nikwax or another waterproofing agent and see if it improves.

[It’s important to me that if you read my gear reviews, you know for sure I’ve tried this stuff and will share the good, the bad, and the ugly! That’s basically the only perk of not receiving free gear from companies. 🙂 ]

Gear Review: Big Agnes UL Fly Creek 2 (original model)

home sweet home

[Disclosure: Big Agnes has come out with a newer model of my tent called the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2. I have not yet reviewed this model. If Big Agnes wants to hook me up, however, with this newer tent, or a Copper Spur 2 Platinum…]

When I started backpacking, I was surprised at the role mental and emotional factors played in a successful and fun adventure. There’s always the primitive, instinctual need for shelter, of course; but I found there’s also a craving for a sense of “home” when you are out for more than just a few nights.

Enter the Big Agnes UL Fly Creek 2 tent. Most nights, after 20+ exhausting mountainous miles, I would get to camp, do my “chores” (which included tent setup), and eat a hot meal. Once ready for bed, I would unzip my tent door, crawl inside, read for a while or map out my next day, and fall fast asleep. It was my home.  Continue reading “Gear Review: Big Agnes UL Fly Creek 2 (original model)”

8 Reasons to hike El Camino this spring

Hike The Way in May!!!

I know winter is just beginning, but it’s the perfect time to start planning your el Camino hike! May is a lovely time to go, and this gives you a few months to plan the month off work or post-semester trip you desperately need.

Here are 8 reasons to hike the el Camino de Santiago (as if you needed convincing)…  Continue reading “8 Reasons to hike El Camino this spring”

Trail Tips: 6 ways to stay warm in winter

Baby, it’s cold outside!

Excerpt from A.T. journal entry, May 6, 2016: “It was freezing cold, and as I ascended Whitetop Mountain there was snow already deep on the ground, hail, freezing rain that stung my face, wind gusts of 30-40 mph, icy rocks, deep cold mud, and most of the trail had become a freezing cold stream. I could barely see 50 feet in front of me.”

During my hike, I experienced a variety of weather and temperatures. You learn very quickly how to prepare for cold weather – either from others’ advice, or from personal mistakes. I’m about 50/50.  Continue reading “Trail Tips: 6 ways to stay warm in winter”