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Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!

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Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 19, 2011 08:10AM
Good morning everyone! My wife and I have decided (and a little late I might add) to try our luck with the JMT in September. More specifically, we're hoping to enter in at Happy Isles and end in Mammoth. We have your standard camping know-how and hiking experience...upper Yosemite falls, half dome, etc. Just have never backpacked it to where we are on our own and need to setup a base camp and navigate thru mountanous terrain on consecutive days. We don't have permit reservations due to this being a last minute decision so we'll have to obtain that the hard way. Any advice, thots, and knowledge would be helpful to us smiling smiley. Here are some questions that we need answered.

1.        How difficult is it to obtain a permit for the JMT the day before a trip?  We know that 40% of permits are available on a  first come, first serve basis.  Any recommendations on how early we should get to the station if the permits are available at 11am?  We plan to start our backpacking trip on Thur, Sep 1st (Labor Day Weekend)
2.       We are thinking of reserving the Happy Isles to Illilouette permit as a backup in case we don’t get a permit for the JMT (Either Happy Isles to Little Yosemite Valley or Happy Isles to Sunrise/Merced Lake).  We are looking for information on backpacking that trail….scenery, difficulty, length, etc.  Anything would be helpful as we do not know much about it at this point and have not been able to find much information online.
3.       Does anyone know a good website for giving trail descriptions?  This will be our first time backpacking and we’re trying to find as much information as possible about the trials before our trip.

Thanks again for your help and we look forward to hearing from everyone smiling smiley

John and Tiff
avatar Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 19, 2011 08:24AM
Good luck with Happy Isle to Little Yosemite Valley. That permit has the highest demand because people use that to break up a Half Dome hike, and because it comes with a permit for Half Dome. You probably want the pass through unless you really want to go up Half Dome the first day.

I'm not an expert backpacker by any stretch, but all the way to Mammoth as your first backpacking trip?
Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 19, 2011 08:38AM
We don't intend on going up half dome again...at least not during this trip. The hike from happy isles to mammoth is about 57 miles and the fact that a couple of our old friends from back in the day that had no experience were able to do it gives us confidence. I would simply ask them for their input on the topic but they're out of reach.
Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 19, 2011 09:13AM
Trailjournals.com has a wealth of info on the JMT and other trails.
Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 19, 2011 10:22AM
By August, much less September, better to start such a trip up at Tuolumne Meadows and skip the by then dusty dry trail route out of the valley. Permit and camping wise ought have less complications than a YV start.
Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 19, 2011 10:36AM
Quote
JZHiker
1.        How difficult is it to obtain a permit for the JMT the day before a trip?  We know that 40% of permits are available on a  first come, first serve basis.  Any recommendations on how early we should get to the station if the permits are available at 11am?  We plan to start our backpacking trip on Thur, Sep 1st (Labor Day Weekend)
2.       We are thinking of reserving the Happy Isles to Illilouette permit as a backup in case we don’t get a permit for the JMT (Either Happy Isles to Little Yosemite Valley or Happy Isles to Sunrise/Merced Lake).  We are looking for information on backpacking that trail….scenery, difficulty, length, etc.  Anything would be helpful as we do not know much about it at this point and have not been able to find much information online.
3.       Does anyone know a good website for giving trail descriptions?  This will be our first time backpacking and we’re trying to find as much information as possible about the trials before our trip.

You will have no trouble with the JMT - it's well marked and heavily used, and there are good mapsets for it available at REI or other outdoor stores. You'll review the no camping zones and fire regulations with the ranger when you pick up the permit. Beyond that, you can camp where you want, and there's plenty of water, and bridges over the rivers.

I would lay odds that if you show up midweek and go for first come/first serve you would get them. What I would do - show up at the wilderness office early morning on a Tuesday or Wednesday, around sunrise, and hang around waiting for the office to open, to see if there are permits for that day available. Then wait til the 10 am dispensation of unclaimed permits that were reserved for that day. If there are none that day, wait til 11 am when the first come/first serve permits for the following day are handed out. Once you have a permit for the next day, you can stay in the backpacker campground for 5/person and get an early start in the morning. They hand out first come/first serve permits for the next day, not the day of - any permits left over will be given out, of course, but you decrease your chances significantly if you show up on the day you want to start instead of the day before.

You will want to be prepared for temps at night into the 20F range, possible snow or rain showers, and study up on food storage regulations and follow them to the letter.

You should not make that trip your first. Very, very, very, very much recommended that you do NOT make a long trip your first. You need to have shoes and gear that you KNOW will work without issues. I suggest using the backpacking gear on at least one overnight prior to your trip. You'll also want to read up on first aid issues in the wilderness and know what symptoms of high altitude sickness are and what to do about it - that and dehydration or hypothermia are the biggest threats to your well being.

I have done that section before. You need to know that the shuttle to the ski resort will shut down in mid September, and YARTS bus routes and other places in the high country start to shut down as winter approaches as well - study the YARTS schedules, the Mammoth shuttle schedules, and understand the parking regulations for Reds Meadow before you go. It's a long, long walk out on the road to Mammoth.
Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 19, 2011 11:31AM
I'm not planning on doing this particular trip but I just had to say that every once in a while, I'm struck anew by the vast collective knowledge of this board's participants and people's huge generosity in sharing advice, answering questions, producing annotated maps, posting vast amounts of photos and so on. I just wanted to say a big THANK YOU to all of you who make this board such a cool place to hang out!

--David
Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 19, 2011 11:38AM
And I have to agree with David, BIG TIME. Thank you or everyones help with planning this. Almost there - you brought up a very valid point as to us being field ready for our trip. We will plan a small one or two nighter to test out our gear and make sure we're properly prepared.
avatar Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 19, 2011 02:33PM
Quote
AlmostThere
You should not make that trip your first. Very, very, very, very much recommended that you do NOT make a long trip your first. You need to have shoes and gear that you KNOW will work without issues. I suggest using the backpacking gear on at least one overnight prior to your trip. You'll also want to read up on first aid issues in the wilderness and know what symptoms of high altitude sickness are and what to do about it - that and dehydration or hypothermia are the biggest threats to your well being.

My big worry would be about the possibility of a problem (sprained ankle, bear taking out the food source, etc), and how far one might be from getting extricated from the wilderness. I thought the experienced backpacker can account for those eventualities, but it might be tougher for the newbie.

When I made my newbie trip, I figured that I would be no more than 9 trail miles from a road, and I travelled on some heavily used trails.
avatar Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 19, 2011 05:00PM
First of all, Taking Dave's advice regarding departure from Tuolumne Meadows would be a very smart decision. Secondly, with that in mind, have you attempted to get a reserved permit out of Tuolumne Meadows on the Lyle Canyon trailhead? For you I would also recommend spending the first night at the Tuolumne Meadows backpacker's camp for some altitude acclimation.

Thirdly, please take heed of the advice regarding ripping off such an agressive trip on your first or even second intro to backpacking. Trust what you are being told. You are attempting what most would consider a major backpacking trip at some of the highest altitudes in the Sierra. You are going to be attempting something you have never done before in an environment down to 20% less oxygen than at sea level. By the time you go over Lyle Pass your leg muscles will be talking to you. Staying properly hydrated will be extremely important.

Somebody mentioned having the right shoes. I can speak from personal experience that having the proper shoes (for you) is the most important equipment issue to consider. There is no way you can determine whether or not you have the right shoes by simply breaking them in on day trips or even a single overnighter. The High Sierra trails place huge demands on your feet, especially if your pack weight is too heavy, another common newbie mistake. Everybody is different but I found that a mid-weight hiker works best for me. You also need to do some research on blister prevention and subsequent blister care on the trail. Feel free to Private Message me if you would like more details on that subject.

I got back into Yosemite backpacking two years ago after being away from it for almost 35 years. On my first attempt my pack weight was too heavy, I hated my tent, and I got blisters on the back of my heels. Last year was a blazing success after changing shoes, pack, tent, bear canister, plus a number of other changes pertinent to pack weight and foot care. There is a learning curve to hiking the High Sierra.

Good luck, get plenty of practice, and shake out equipment issues before heading down Lyle Canyon for Mammoth.
Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 19, 2011 06:14PM
Quote
y_p_w
Quote
AlmostThere
You should not make that trip your first. Very, very, very, very much recommended that you do NOT make a long trip your first. You need to have shoes and gear that you KNOW will work without issues. I suggest using the backpacking gear on at least one overnight prior to your trip. You'll also want to read up on first aid issues in the wilderness and know what symptoms of high altitude sickness are and what to do about it - that and dehydration or hypothermia are the biggest threats to your well being.

My big worry would be about the possibility of a problem (sprained ankle, bear taking out the food source, etc), and how far one might be from getting extricated from the wilderness. I thought the experienced backpacker can account for those eventualities, but it might be tougher for the newbie.

When I made my newbie trip, I figured that I would be no more than 9 trail miles from a road, and I travelled on some heavily used trails.

On that particular route, as long as they're out there while shuttles are still running and services are still open in Tuolumne Meadows, there will be oodles and oodles of dayhikers. We started seeing dayhikers in the Shadow/Ediza drainage, and saw a ton of backpackers around Thousand Island Lake and going up/down Donahue Pass. Also quite a few horse packers. For an extra layer of security they might consider a SPOT or PLB, but that's a pretty populated area in season.

I think that is actually not a bad choice for a first long backpacking trip - IF they have done sufficient trial runs with the gear and with their intended load at elevation approximating their planned trip, and IF they go before the end of summer season. Following the food storage rules will keep bears from stealing the food. The bears harass the canisters at the popular camping spots, but can be scared away with shouting and waving.

I had a guy who had dayhiked most of the summer join us, when we did that leg of the JMT - he started at Tuolumne Meadows and did not get four miles (the FLATTEST four miles of the trip, I might add - up Lyell Canyon!) before having issues and needing to turn back. He had assured us he was ready and it turned out he had never actually loaded up the backpack and hiked with it! Also turned out that the REI clerk had mis-measured him, given him a large pack when he needed a medium, and in addition, he excitedly packed and repacked and then overpacked because he kept thinking of things he wanted to take "just in case." And then once he got back to Tuolumne Meadows he got lost in the maze of use trails there, until he ran across a ranger! Poor fellow missed out on a really scenic trip.
avatar Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 19, 2011 10:14PM
Quote
AlmostThere
I had a guy who had dayhiked most of the summer join us, when we did that leg of the JMT - he started at Tuolumne Meadows and did not get four miles (the FLATTEST four miles of the trip, I might add - up Lyell Canyon!) before having issues and needing to turn back. He had assured us he was ready and it turned out he had never actually loaded up the backpack and hiked with it! Also turned out that the REI clerk had mis-measured him, given him a large pack when he needed a medium, and in addition, he excitedly packed and repacked and then overpacked because he kept thinking of things he wanted to take "just in case." And then once he got back to Tuolumne Meadows he got lost in the maze of use trails there, until he ran across a ranger! Poor fellow missed out on a really scenic trip.

On my **solo** trip I probably made several pretty lousy noob mistakes. One was overloading my canister for a 3 night trip. I had the full-sized BearVault and still managed to fill it up. Another was the poor choice of clothing - namely my shorts. I wore a pair of board shorts with a drawstring. It was this thick 1/8" round cord. That was coupled with my pack, which rested against my waist with this padded plastic pad. So half the weight of my (35 lb) pack is pressing against the drawstring. After a few hours I already had this itchy red welt on my back at waist level. I tried padding it with a pack-towel, but it was already itchy.
avatar Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 19, 2011 07:41PM
John and Tiff,
Where do you live? If you're anywhere that has some altitude and perhaps where you could do an overnighter loop that would be handy.



Old Dude



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/20/2011 12:01AM by mrcondron.
avatar Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 20, 2011 12:35AM
How surprising, a post about backpacking and not whining/complaining about scalpers, what a pleasant change.

Anyways, JZ, I have to echo the advice given by Almost There as it is excellent. That is a long trip to try and do for your first one. Its kind of like driving a car. When you first learn how to do it, its better to drive around the block a few times instead of starting off by driving from the Bay Area to Los Angeles. I'm not saying that you can't or shouldn't do that trip this summer, but that you should build up to it. Try a few overnighters or two night trips throughout the summer to get a feel for your comfort level with your mileage and gear. It's a lot easier to deal with problems a few miles from a trailhead as opposed to 25 miles in. You certainly have plenty of time to get used to your gear and figure out what you like and don't like between now and september.

Good luck, have fun and be safe out there.
Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 20, 2011 01:16AM
You will find a lot of information and advice on any aspect of JMT on http://groups.yahoo.com/group/johnmuirtrail/
Good luck. We are attempting to do the entire trek this summer, snow permitting. smiling smiley
Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 20, 2011 06:20AM
It would be easier to hike from Mammoth to Yosemite. Permits for Devils Postpile and Reds Meadow trailheads are more abundant.
Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 20, 2011 06:39AM
Good morning everyone! Again, thank you so much for everyones opinion on the matter. My wife and I live in Long Beach, Cali so we arent acclimated to the altitude. We are still relatively young, in good shape, and are ambitious (too much sometimes) so altitude hasn't really had an affect on us when we hike all day in mammoth and Yosemite. Not to say it wouldnt affect us on a few day back packing trip carrying an extra 20lbs than I normally carry...it's just to give you an idea. I think we've decided to spend a couple nights in the Frazier Mountain area to field test and break in our equipment. Plenty of switch backs, steep terrain, and hot weather give us some idea on what we're truly capable of.

On another note...are there any decent internal frame back packs you guys recommend? I know it all depends on what feels comfortable to me and what fits my frame but I'm looking for positive reviews on reliable packs. Borrowed my friends Gregory Baltoro a couple of times and that was super comfortable. Only thing is that I'm reading a few terrible reviews about the hip strap having a tendency to snap. Thus leaving you to deal w/ all the weight being on your shoulders. I have a 6'3"- 200lb frame. Hitting up REI to only try on some packs and get fitted but don't intend on buying from them lol...

Thanks again!
Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 20, 2011 07:21AM
REI had no problem exchanging my son's Gregory pack when the hip belt broke. Others have reported that REI just exchanged the hip belt. I would definitely buy from REI with their excellent return policy, but not everyone feels the same.

The participants on the Backpacker Magazine forum offer consistently good advice about gear; you'll recognize some of the names of folks from here. There are several other backpacking forums that also offer good feedback about gear.
Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 20, 2011 07:44AM
Quote
NacciNW

The participants on the Backpacker Magazine forum offer consistently good advice about gear; you'll recognize some of the names of folks from here. There are several other backpacking forums that also offer good feedback about gear.

I would steer you toward backpacking.net rather than Backpacker.

The trouble with packs is always going to be the fit vs. your gear, and whether the pack is comfortable with everything in it - get the gear figured out, then the pack. Which is tough when we're telling you go try out gear on the trail, but renting first (or borrowing) makes that possible.

I would also steer you away from heavy two person dome tents, though with two people sharing a tent, that cuts the weight in half. Probably one of the better tents for two people is a three person MSR Carbon Reflex - hefty price tag, sub 5 lb weight, tons of room and awesome design... But note that I adhere firmly to the buy once - save money philosophy with things you intend to use often.... I've gone through four backpacks, six pairs of boots/shoes, multiple shelter systems (these days I have four different shelters for various destinations and purposes) and a number of stoves before finding "the right gear." I spent top dollar on backpacking quilts and trekking poles, and got nearly everything else on sale (or free, in the case of the stoves) to make up for that. But I backpack every month. If you intend to go once a year and share the weight every time, you may find your perfect shelter to be an REI Half Dome, which can be had on sale. The REI garage sale or shopping online at Sierra Trading Post or Steep and Cheap can help you cut corners on clothing.

Look at http://www.verber.com/mark/outdoors/gear/index.html and backpackinglight.com for reviews of all kinds of gear.
avatar Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 20, 2011 07:50AM
A useful design in a pack is to have zippers down both sides along the back edges so that you can either (1) reach in to pull out something "hiding" near the middle or bottom without emptying the pack or (2) peel back the zippered flap to conveniently access everything inside. There aren't many models with this feature out there, but they do exist.
avatar Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 20, 2011 08:01AM
Quote
szalkowski
A useful design in a pack is to have zippers down both sides along the back edges so that you can either (1) reach in to pull out something "hiding" near the middle or bottom without emptying the pack or (2) peel back the zippered flap to conveniently access everything inside. There aren't many models with this feature out there, but they do exist.

I've been using this pack for a few years. It's not too heavy and is very comfortable. I'm 6'4" and 230lbs.
http://www.trailspace.com/gear/gregory/reality/

For a lighter pack I've got lots o miles with this:
http://www.ospreypacks.com/detail.php?productID=94&colorCode=543&tab=description

This is the most comfortable pack I've used but its nearly seven pounds empty:
http://www.sierratradingpost.com/p/311,85858_Gregory-Shasta-Backpack-Internal-Frame-For-Men-and-Women.html



Old Dude



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/20/2011 08:06AM by mrcondron.
avatar Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 20, 2011 08:25AM
It is also desirable to have several zippered pockets on the outside and/or a top pocket that you can use as a small daypack.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/20/2011 08:33AM by szalkowski.
avatar Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 20, 2011 08:18AM
In addition to gear prep, I think getting into decent physical shape is very important. Check with your doctor. Three things:

1) To get into top physical fitnes, my doc recommended 30 mins per day at sustained target heart rate, 6 days per week, for 3 months. I stuck with this in 2007 and summited Kilimanjaro (19.340').

One target heart rate calc is here: http://www.stayinginshape.com/4trover/libv/d21.shtml

Of course, maybe you don't need *top* physical shape - I had little problem getting to the top of Whitney (14,250') last August after sticking with that program for just two weeks. Specifically, it was:
3 days / week - 30 minute bike ride, with 500' gain in elevation
3 days / week (alternating with biking) - hike super-steep trail, at first with backpack and no weight, increasing to full weight.

2) Acclimatization: allowing 2-3 days at elevation (T Meadows) before heading up to 10-12,000' will help A LOT.

3) Hike slowly at a pace you can sustain for long periods without having to stop and catch your breath frequently. See the sixth link here:
http://kilimanjaroexpeditions.com/faq.aspx

Have Fun!



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/20/2011 08:54PM by vdrummer.
avatar Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 20, 2011 10:02AM
JZHiker,

The first pack I had was the Gregory Baltoro which I agree is amazingly comfortable. It's also insanely heavy! It weighs nearly 6 pounds empty. I ended up converting to the REI Flash 65 which weighs half that much. I also discovered I could live just fine with the slightly smaller storage capacity.
avatar Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 20, 2011 11:20AM
Smaller is better, If you get a pack that is too big you end up being tempted to fill it and make it even heaver!
smiling smiley
avatar Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 20, 2011 05:51PM
I too love to talk gear. First I have to say, I echo the point on REI. I love REI, great people work there and their return policy is excellent if you ever have any issues. Also, their annual 20% off sale is going on right now, so if you want to buy gear now is the time to do. Sometimes you pay a little more there, but they stand behind everything they sell.

I have 4, if not 5 packs sitting in my garage. I echo the sentiment expressed that if you carry a bigger pack, you will fill it up. My last pack was an REI brand, which was great except for the fact that it weighed 5 pounds. I invested in the GoLite Jam Pack last season after seeing it in person and I could not be happier. http://www.rei.com/product/793639/golite-jam-pack It is a quality, reliable pack that is under 2 pounds. However, you're not going to be able to carry everything and the kitchen sink in it. Most ultralight packs you have to be very delicate with, this is not like that. Although I have only had it for one season, I have beaten the hell out of it and it literally still looks new. It almost seems like a miracle to get a pack that light and that durable.

On the exercise front, there really is no substitute for spending time at high altitude to acclimatize your body, but if you're in good shape you can definitely minimize altitude's affects.

Almost There is dead on, on his buy once and save policy. If you are willing to spend money one time, you can get gear that will last for years and you will use regularly. Many times when you go cheap, you end up paying more in the long run when you have to upgrade the next season, or find you hate what you bought. That doesn't mean you can't look for deals: REI's 20% sale, used on Craigslist, end of the season close out and other deals, but quality gear is worth the money. The difference of being warm and toasty in the backcountry vs being cold, wet and miserable is priceless.
Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 20, 2011 06:57PM
Quote
oakroscoe

Almost There is dead on, on his buy once and save policy. If you are willing to spend money one time, you can get gear that will last for years and you will use regularly.

I learnt the hard way - spent a lot more on gear than I had to, by thinking I could save money buying cheap sleeping bags. You can get really good deals on some really good gear, but for sleeping insulation? If I could jump in a time machine, I'd go straight to high quality down gear, Western Mountaineering or Montbell, or one of the many quilt makers. And if the first bag/quilt didn't work I could turn it around, sell it for a little under what I paid, because everyone looks for good deals on the quality gear.

BTW, I am frequently mistaken for a guy in person too. But only because I wear loose fitting clothing and short hair. winking smiley
Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 21, 2011 07:35AM
Quote
AlmostThere
Quote
oakroscoe



BTW, I am frequently mistaken for a guy in person too. But only because I wear loose fitting clothing and short hair. winking smiley

Ha, 25 years ago, when topping out on the Bear Ridge switchbacks, a lady said to her child..."Let the man pass." I was a little shocked. I had waist lenth hair in a braid and a bandana on, and my clothes were a bit more feminine than the ones I wear now, but I did have a Norman Clyde size backpack....

I'm not getting any purdier either.
avatar Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 20, 2011 07:41PM
Ahh, almost, my apologies on the "his/her" mistake. I did not mean to offend you.

I hear many good things about Western Mountaineering and Mountbell. In fact, I have a buddy who just bought a W.M bag and he loves it. However, I am fiercely loyal to Marmot. The prices are up there, but you get what you pay for. I have a 0 degree down Marmot Coulair for winter and a 30 degree down Marmot Arroyo for summer. Both have been stellar bags, and have been through the ringer. Neither were cheap, but I would happily buy them again. I've run into numerous people who have Marmot bags that are over a decade old. I was at Wegner Lake in the park in October a few years back and the temperature dipped down to the single digits in the middle of the night and I had neglected to carry a tent and was laying on an inflatable pad, and I was warm and toasty all night. However, it was rather annoying having my canteen freeze solid when I was thirsty in the middle of the night. But I was very very very happy with my choice in sleeping bags that trip.
Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 20, 2011 09:30PM
Not a big deal.

Lot of people like Marmot bags too. I don't like any bags - don't like feeling trapped. My quilt opens out like a blanket or snugs up around me close, and doesn't restrict me at all, yet I can be warm at 9,000 feet in November.

Having a plastic bag or two along helps - you can put wet stuff like shoes in, stick them in the footbox, keep the bag clean and keep the stuff from freezing so when you get up in the early morning to get the coffee on, you're not trying to stuff your feet into glaciers. Always good to keep your water filter from freezing too. And getting pictures means keeping the camera battery warm...
avatar Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 20, 2011 11:02PM
Quote
AlmostThere
. . . snip . . .Having a plastic bag or two along helps - . . . snip . . .

YES! I've gotten in the habit of always making sure I have a couple of large garbage bags with me.
Good for . . .
) putting over the backpack at night in case it rains
) as a stuff bag for things
) emergency rain poncho
) double/triple/quad bagging the WAG bag! ( peuwwwww! ) I've actually had good luck doing this and then putting it in the bear canister. I don't like things flapping around the outside of the backpack!
) put messy garbage in
) ? lots of possibilities!
Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 21, 2011 06:52AM
Quote
qumqats
Quote
AlmostThere
. . . snip . . .Having a plastic bag or two along helps - . . . snip . . .

YES! I've gotten in the habit of always making sure I have a couple of large garbage bags with me.
Good for . . .
) putting over the backpack at night in case it rains
) as a stuff bag for things
) emergency rain poncho
) double/triple/quad bagging the WAG bag! ( peuwwwww! ) I've actually had good luck doing this and then putting it in the bear canister. I don't like things flapping around the outside of the backpack!
) put messy garbage in
) ? lots of possibilities!

... pull them up over your legs to wade slow but wide, sandy bottomed water crossings....

If you use the contracter (55 gallon) size, a footprint for a single person tent or bivy or just cowboy camping.

Pack liner...

Wave it around to make unusual (to the critter) noises and look bigger, to scare off the mountain lion/bear.

throw pack in and inflate, then tie off tightly, float pack across (if still water tight) - haven't tried it but it might work.

Impromptu sled! Wheeeeee!
Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 21, 2011 07:54PM
JZ, I haven't had time to read the many replies you got here, so it is possible someone else has already suggested this same thing. I saw that some people suggested you start from Toulumne Meadows. That would be a good option if you can get a permit through Lyle Canyon, but that's a very popular trail, so it's hard to get one. Last year I tried getting one myself but eventually gave up. Instead, I got one for the much less popular trail that starts from Dana Meadows, near the Tioga Pass entrance to the park. That one goes over Parker Pass (ver easy) and Koip Pass (a bit of a monster). Very few people on this trail (as opposed to Lyle Canyon, which is practically an ongoing parade). Fantastic views from Koip and beyond. Great lakes to camp on the other side of Koip, and from there it's an easy hike downhill to Mammoth.

Seeing it's your first long hike, this might be a great option. Easy permit to get, less uphill than Toulumne Meadows (a LOT less than from Happy Isles), great open views everywhere, and no crowds. I think you won't be disappointed.

Fede
avatar Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 22, 2011 06:50AM
There are 24 advanced reservation permit slots allowed for the Lyle Canyon trailhead. JZ, have you checked to find out if an advance reservation opening is available for your particular September trailhead date?
Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 22, 2011 09:00PM
Well now that we're on the subject of gear, cAn anyone recommend some good hiking boots??? I know a pair is only comfy to me once I try them on and break them in, but I would like some suggestions so I have something to go off of. Thanks!!
avatar Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 22, 2011 09:16PM
Quote
JZHiker
Well now that we're on the subject of gear, cAn anyone recommend some good hiking boots???

Better to ask for a recommendation for a spouse.

Do you want a boot or will a hiking shoe do? Hiking shoes are lighter and generally less expensive but work very well under most circumstances.



Old Dude
Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 22, 2011 09:37PM
Lol. Was leaning towards boots for the added support but if hiking shoes feel better then thats what I'll go with.
Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 22, 2011 10:25PM
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JZHiker
Lol. Was leaning towards boots for the added support but if hiking shoes feel better then thats what I'll go with.

They have to feel better to you.

I never had full boots - ankle support is a myth in anything other than a full boot. What you are going to need is protection from all the rocks and roots in the trail, which means the sole/shank under your foot needs to be adequate to the task. I use trail runners with aftermarket insoles, rather than getting a leather boot that needs breaking in. I ignored the clerk's sizing device and tried on shoes until I found one with room to wiggle the toes, and didn't let the heel pop out of the heel cup. I ended up with a trail shoe two sizes larger than the size I wear in street shoes. The end result is a long period of nearly-weekly hikes with zero blisters - I use wool socks in the appropriate weight for the season to manage moisture, and comfortable feet after a fifteen mile day in granite strewn landscape.

None of the lightweight synthetic shoes or mid height hikers need a break in period - if they blister or otherwise fail you after a day hike, you need a different shoe. The only way to know what works is to keep trying on different ones. Some people like boots better, some don't. Do what is comfortable for you.
avatar Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 23, 2011 10:41AM
I began with the Osolo Powermatic 200 boot but found it too heavy and it gave me blisters just above the heel. After trying several others I ended up with the Osolo FSN 95 GTX one size larger than I normally wear. They still call it a boot; I call it a mid-weight hiker. REI presently has this boot on sale at 29% discount thru 5/30. Personally, I would deal only with REI because you can get a 100% refund if the shoe proves not right for you.

I also now have a pair of Salomom XA Pro trail runners strickly for day hiking where I'm not carrying a lot of weight. A few backpackers swear by trail runners for backpacking but I found they don't provide quite the latteral support I need on the trail. Trail runners, if used heavily, also wear out much quicker than a boot.

If you feel you need a boot, try to go with the lightest weight boot you can find provided it works for you in all other respects. Boot weight is a considerable fatigue factor in hiking. Using a 2.5' stride (just for example) would require over 21,000 steps on a 10-mile hike. If you have boots that are only 1-pound heavier than necessary, that's 10.5 tons of lifting motion that are unnecessary on a 10-mile hike!
Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 23, 2011 11:40AM
Quote
tomdisco
I began with the Osolo Powermatic 200 boot but found it too heavy and it gave me blisters just above the heel. After trying several others I ended up with the Osolo FSN 95 GTX one size larger than I normally wear. They still call it a boot; I call it a mid-weight hiker. !

I have FSN 85s for SAR (the non-goretex version of the 95). They are a good compromise - the soles are stiff and provide good protection in rough terrain.

But for backpacking, it's trail runners all the way, for me. I don't carry more than 35 lbs (that's with a week of food). I don't have foot issues with a good trail runner. The only time I have ever turned an ankle was when trying out some of the Vasque boots - someone recommended them, I hated them, took them back to REI and got some Keens.
avatar Re: Need Backpacking Advice!!!
May 24, 2011 11:17PM
Trailrunners and REI, way to go.
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