Gear change ups.

My medical & electronics bag started to develop holes so I’ve replaced it with a yellow bag. traditionally I’ve used yellow though my last one was orange (yellow wasn’t available).

I’m still divided between Hoka ATRs and Moab shoes. I need to check out the new Moab 3 low tops to check out the fit. The Hokas kind of get chewed up a little on the trail and I can’t kick a boot track (a path through snow) with them.

Moabs have been inconsistent in their fit. I’m hoping the Moab 3 has renewed quality control.

Picked up some black zip locks for carrying toilet paper in for “pack it out” sections of the trail.


Imusa Grease Pot

I’m checking out an alternative to the Stanco grease pot. Has a handle. Claims to be lighter than the Stanco. Cheap enough I can find out.

We are recovering from Covid-19 and will start more hiking. I’m also in an RSV vaccine trial. I think I got the placebo.

I’ve been sorely tempted to change sun hoodies. My wife used which weighs 3 ounces less than the Black Diamond pro I currently use.

I’d consider their fleece as well if I did not own a Timmermade.

Comparing hiking pants

I often use convertible hiking pants in the place of leggings/base layer bottoms to sleep in and to hike when mosquitoes are rough or sun exposure is an issue.

My latest hike I wore some REI Sahara pants I got from a hiker box. It was between them and my White Sierra convertible pants I bought in Maine on the Appalachian Trail. The Sahara’s were about an ounce lighter. So I took them.

Well. I shrank out of them on the Pacific Crest Trail. So I bought what was available at an REI. They had one pair of pants in my size —a pair of the new Saharas.

REI reinvents and redesigns the Saharas routinely.

This redesign changed the fabric to one with a DWR coating that is slightly heavier. They now weigh 12.4 ounces to the White Sierra’s 11.4 ounces.

The pants pockets have a different cut so that they are hard to use, but nothing will fall out. The zippered cargo pocket moved from the left pocket to the right pocket.

The “no sit zips” go all the way up so the bottoms completely unzip vertically. They really go on and off without needing to sit.

The cargo pockets are big enough to hold a cell phone so that you don’t need the real pockets.

The White Sierra pants have normal diagonal slash pockets. Both cargo pockets have Velcro closures. A cell phone will fit. One rear pocket zips.

The “no sits” go about half way up. They make it easier to take the bottoms off without removing your shoes but sitting really works better. There is also a Velcro tab at the bottom so you can get some ventilation without the bottoms flapping as you walk.

The fabric is untreated.

So. Comparing the two, the White Sierras cost less and are lighter. The new Saharas deal with spills better (the DWR coating works well for stuff spilled on your pants) but don’t handle sweat as well (DWR repels sweat so it does not absorb and then evaporate).

The newer design on the zip off part of the pants is neat but does not work well for just venting. Works better for taking them off. 

The pockets are a wash because I use them only for my phone and wallet while hiking.

For hiking I’ll save the ounce.


Miscellaneous thoughts.

20-24 miles a day is good for me. More and I get repetitive stress injuries. I also need about two zeros and two neros a month for recovery or I start to get worn down.

A long power to phone cord is really useful. I have some short, lightweight cords I got for backpacking but I found the cord I pulled from the shelter cove hiker box to be very useful.

Still using it.

A 10,000 mh power bank is really enough. Often I can make four-five days with my phone used for pictures, the Guthooks/Far Out app and blog entries and not use the power bank at all.

Darn Tough socks worked well. Just be aware when they are wearing out.

A sun hoody becomes a 24-7 clothing item.

Our tent.

I’m surprised at how happy I’ve been with our tent. The pole pockets make a huge difference.

Trekking pole caps

I saw a lot of Alteplex tents on the trail. I would not be surprised to see the Plex Solo replace the Duplex as the iconic tent for solo hikers.

Deer and marmots will eat your trekking poles.

5:00 to 5:30 is a good time to start the day.

I’m still working on this post. I’m updating it from time to time.

Kids put up a Low Key gear guardian for us.

I prefer to hike around places I need an ice axe.

Mountain Hardwear has a great sun hoody and a great four ounce fleece. Currently half off at REI.

My lightweight battery powered toothbrush finally died. I had about 3-4 thousand trail miles on it but now it no longer seems for sale at Amazon.

I really like the removable cover on my trekology pillow. Makes easier to wash without damaging it. And the newer (about 2-3 years old now) interior does not seem prone to rotting. Finally a pillow that goes more than two years without catastrophic sudden failure.

I like using a pump sack for my pad and having a pack liner for my sleeping bag.

MSR groundhogs are really an improvement over what I had (titanium shepherd hooks and v-stakes). Since I’ve done about 1400 or more trail miles before the change I’m surprised at how much I like it.

I kept my old stake bag.

On bear canisters. I just have a hard time spending almost three hundred dollars to save seven ounces. Tempted though. If I could carry one of the horizontally in my pack I’d be sold.

Bearicade 9×14.5 inches. 900 cubic inches. Almost $400. BV 500. Under $90 from REI. 8.7 x 12.7 inches. 2.5 pounds (40 ounces). 700 cubic inches. Blazer is 750 cubic inches. $358. 33 ounces. 9”x12”. All of them appear to need to be carried vertically if inside a backpack.

At least a Hyperlite is just a tiny bit too small to fit one horizontally.

Gaiters really made a difference for me.

About altitude sickness and acclimation

My trail diary/blog uses the WordPress software on my phone so that I can type an entry without internet connection and upload it later.

That is very useful. I only wish that it would accept full sized images without choking on them. I’d have more pictures.

Being out of cell service for more than a few hours (instead, it is a few days) is relatively common on the PCT. Yes, you will hit a peak or saddleback with service sometimes in that stretch but not where you plan to sleep or stop.

I’m on the trail to hike the trail, not to seek out shreds of cell service.

Speaking of which. Often there are places that show up as 1-3 bars but have no effective throughput. They struggle even with a text message.

September 14th. Month 3 starts. Altitude sickness.

This—altitude sickness—caught us by surprise.

Yesterday it was an easy, flat nine miles out of Tuolumne Meadows. We started at the store and walked back to the trail, then on.

We had a saddleback (Donahue Pass) to cross over at a little over 11,000 feet. Then down to our planned tent site. Altitude training is as effective when you are asleep as when you are working out.

It was at this point Win started to get really sick. She took took a half tab of Diamox. By morning she wasn’t doing well. I had a slight headache that faded. As much from glare and rain as altitude.

On this trip Win has done better with altitude than I have. By the time we left at Tuolumne Meadows we were both solid with it.

But we needed off trail. Red Meadows was 20 miles, 17 by the shortcut. We did our first five miles in three hours.

As we dropped altitude we did better, and after second breakfast we did very well.

Surprise. There is a drive up campsite on the trail (as in you walk through the parking lot).

We met a trail Angel who was leaving early due to health issues and he gave us a ride to Mammoth. I am very grateful.

We will go home. Recover. Spend time with grand grandchildren and regain our altitude acclimation.

The trail will be there next year.

Sept 11, visit family, Sept 12, travel.

So. We camped out the night of the 10th, drove to Cora’s on the 11th, visited with family and got up at 5:30 am on the 12th.

Drove to Oakland to return the rental car, caught an Uber to Amtrak. Took Amtrak by train to Merced and resupplied at a Dollar General.

Dinner at In & Out Burger and then the Amtrak bus to Yosemite.

We should arrive at 8:30 pm or so and we have a room at the lodge. Then we will try to hitch to Tuolumne Meadows as the bus there now only runs once a day instead of three times.

So breakfast at the lodge then on our way.

With luck we can get to Tuolumne Meadows at 942 and get in at least fifteen miles. Great campsite with water at 927 and at 926. Would be at elevation so there would be altitude training while sleeping too.

That would be great. Get us moving along after the rain.

September 9

So. We got off the ferry and two sweet ladies offered us a ride to Leavenworth.

There, Allen and Megan who we met in Lee Vining offered us a ride to Stevens Pass (and the bus to Seattle) and a bed for the night.

My brother offered us apple crisp for tomorrow morning.

From Stevens Pass we caught the Amtrak bus to Seattle. From downtown we took the airport link rail.

At the airport we picked up a rental car. That gets us headed south and eventually we will pick up our bear canisters and head south to the bus to the Sierras.

On the rail link we ran into PoodleBee and WoodMaster again. We had met them before near Truckee. They had previously offered Win a trail magic beer.

We ran into Crusty on the Amtrak bus and some other hikers we know. Everyone was evacuating. They were all headed to the airport but didn’t follow us to the rail link. So we didn’t see them.

Budget rental gave us a Kia Sol which is surprisingly nice. We will drive it to my brother Mark’s place in Portland.

After that visit, we will pick up our bear canisters and then I hope to see Ben and Cora and the redwoods on the way south.

The storms currently in process should clear the air and a bus trip to Tuolumne Meadows is in our future after things set up.

More hiking to come.

September 8, Plans/Update

Taking the shuttle to town. Stopped at rainbow falls.

We are hoping to be able to catch one of the three ferry trips out of Stehekin and across the lake to a transport hub. We are both feeling the smoke and pretty congested when it hits.

Smoke rolling in.

It is hard to plan since there isn’t phone or cell or internet service.

Since we are coming back next year to do the Lionshead closure and to finish the trail at the terminus monument this seems like the way to go. Will see how it works out.

Got into town. Checked at the booking agent.

We’ve got reservations for tomorrow, killed some time by washing out the hiker box and getting everything arranged and sorted and will ask the ferry captain if they can change up our reservations and fit us in today.

That is something they can do if the cargo allotment isn’t full. They have life jackets for 150 and seats for about fifty. If cargo is light they can set up folding chairs and be within their safe load.

The ferry.

Currently we want to take our time when heading south and get to Tuolumne Meadows on the 12th of September because there are hurricane spun off storms headed into the Sierras and a heat wave that was in the news because a hiker died.

We would like to be in the Sierras after the rain and flooding are finished, but before the October snows close it down.

The terrible heat wave is crumbling away as a part of the weather system causing flooding and water issues in Southern California. We would like to be south after the heat wave and after the floods. That means the 12th is a good date because we also want out of the Sierras before October 1.

We will see how it all works out.


Update. Everything (all three ferries) was full until tomorrow but they were willing to squeeze us in so we are on the Express leaving at “12:30”. It is within weight tolerances but some standing room for the two and a half hour trip.

On the Express.

“Officially” only one of the three ferries had space and only for tomorrow. People are leaving Stehekin in a flood.

For lunch we are our pastries from the Stehenkin Bakery. I bought Win the last Diet Coke from the general store (they tossed in a cup of ice since it wasn’t cold). As I write this we are boarded and sitting center line.

The smoke just keeps rolling in. Can’t see the sun or the mountains on either side now. Not hot yet but some ash has fallen.

The view from the front of the ferry.

It is time to quit eating like I’m on the trail until I am on the trail again. The Ranch had excellent meals. The pastry was wonderful. I just had a Diet Coke instead of more food.

Staying at the Ranch was good for us. It let us clear our heads and plan with internet access, long showers and clean laundry. Reflect without pressure on our options.

The truth is that while you can hitch out of Rainy Pass you are pretty much stuck at a trail town. Getting back to the trail there is hard. Stehenkin is isolated but three ferries run each day and they run to places with $3 bus service to an Amtrak hub.

The ferry usually has internet service start about an hour on the water. We are going much slower than the usual speed and keeping our bearings by using one of the shores. Not sure when we will get service.

The smoke is so heavy. Visibility is probably around fifty yards.

The ferry is filled with people that said they were hiking to Hart’s Pass or Rainy Pass yesterday. The heavy smoke blocking out the sun and the mountains got to people.

So much fire 🔥 on the trail this year. Talked with a kid from the Czech Republic who was looking for shampoo in the hiker box. (There wasn’t any, but Win had some in her backpack). She got hit by the fires in California and Oregon and is now ending her hike because of the fires between Stehenkin and the border.

When Win gets the fire report from Garmin it just rolls on and on—mostly 0% contained. Probably up to almost twenty fires from nothing.

We can return next year. PCT Trail Days. Lionshead in Oregon. Stehenkin to Canada (and hopefully an open border again).

I feel for those who don’t have that option.