Well I just got back from a 5 day (115 mile) hike and figured I would share a few thoughts and photos and a rather short and low quality video, as so many of you who follow me keep ragging on me for not taking pictures and videos of my hikes in the beautiful Redwood forest. So, this time I carried the additional 137 grams (4.8 oz) and carried along my iPhone. Sadly for reasons I do not yet understand no videos from day 4 or 5 got saved to the device, even though I know the record button was pressed. Sigh/Oh’well.
You can view my gear list for this hike if you are interested in such things.
My base pack weight was 3.22 pounds, which included the weight of the iPhone which I begrungingly took, otherwise I would have been at 2.91 pounds.
My consumables were 3866 grams (136.3 ounces / 8.52 pounds) of which 7.6 pounds where food, following my standard 1.5 pounds per day rule.
Food for this trip was primarily OvaEasy Powdered Whole Egg and Nido mixed together for breakfast, along with one packet of Nestle Carnation Instant Breakfast Essentials. Lunch and dinner was Santa Fe Bean Co, Instant Southwestern Style Refried Beans (cold lunch, hot for dinner) mixed with Roadkill Summer Sausage and dried cheese. Snacks was fresh fruit (first 2 days) and a combination of more summer sausage and a mixture of Macadamia and Cashew nuts.
Daily mileage was 27, 22, 25, 16, 24, for a total of 114 miles, plus probably another mile for side trips. Total elevation change was around 4200 feet, with one day a bit over 3,000 in elevation change. Decent mileage days consider it is the first 5 day hike for me for the 2012 season. I have done a few two and three day trips so far, but to go out and do a 5 day trip with a three pound setup is always a trial and a fun time to push yourself. With the exception of not having a wind jacket I think that the gear that I took with me was perfect for the trip. Average day time temps were 56-58 (f) and night time temps were 45-48(f) so I was able to get away with not taking a lot of heavy cold weather gear.I think that if I would have taken my Montbell Tachyon Anorak things would have been a bit nicer, as a few times some cold wind came up and I did not feel like putting on a down vest just to deal with a bit of cold wind.
I also took this trip to condition my feet some more with the Vibram Spyridon LS shoes. I wanted to see how much they would abuse my feet over a 100 mile trail, plus I wanted to see if I would suffer any blisters while wearing them on-trail. I have not had a blister in over 2,000 miles of hiking, but I sort of expected to get some hot spots with these shoes as I have only used them for around 20 to 25 miles so far. Thankfully not a single hot spot happened the entire trip. I did find I was having to clean my feet a lot more throughout the day. The trail was a bit muddy and these things let water right in and thus there was a constant struggle to keep my feet clean and somewhat dry. They are much worse at letting water in than the Inov-8 X-Talon 212 shoes I have been using for the last 1500+ miles. As for abuse on the feet. Well, when I was going through a few rocky areas, yeah, I could very much feel a few sharp points of foot impact that caused me to know I stepped on a sharp rock. However, while on the soft sand and muddy parts of the trail, wow did these things give me an amazing amount of control. The ability to really ‘feel’ with your feet I am positive allowed me the ability to hike faster. I actually found myself wanting to run and jog in these things when the trail was not rocky. Having a 3.5mm incline (compared to the 6mm of the X-Talon) was pretty amazing. First pair of shoes I have ever had that were this flat and it was truly an awakening for me. However, I am not sure that these will be a viable option for a long distance hike, at least not without a lot more conditioning (read: toughening up) of my feet. Some day perhaps.
I also went out with the Gossamer Gear Murmur backpack (which I wrote a review for recently) to give it some more trail time. Overall I was highly impressed with the comfort of the backpack. I never once felt shoulder strain and never used the hip belt. I used the sternum strap on the first day when the backpack was at full pack weight but I do not think I used it at all after that. My previous frustration with the lid of the backpack only become more of an issue for me each day that I was on the trail. By the third day I almost cut off the lid. Suffice to say, for me, the whole design of an over the top flap-style lid just does not make sense and totally annoyed me. ZPacks has this whole issue of how to close a backpack nailed. Take a simple piece of cordage and loop it through the top and calling it done and over with. As I mentioned in my review of the backpack, “I suspect what is going to happen, should I decide to keep using this backpack (and the only reason I can see that I would not keep using this backpack is this whole lid/closure system) is that I will just be cutting off the entire lid and than running some spectracord through a loop sewn into the top.” Having now used this backpack for 8 days and almost 175 miles, I have come to the conclusion that there is no way I will take it out with me until I do modify the backpack and get rid of this closure system. Aside from my issues with the closure system, the backpack performed amazingly well. It is crazy easy to get on and take it off. It is really easy to loosen and tighten the straps. The comfort is unbelievably amazing. The side pockets I absolutely fell in love with – perfect height and perfect angle for getting the Platty 1l softies into. The backpack was serious overkill for this trip though. As I think I mentioned in my review, using this backpack for a XUL hike is just illogical. I did not even have one third of the backpack filled with my BPW gear and less than half of it filled with the consumables inside of it. I could have easily taken my 1,000 cubic inch backpack on this trip and had enough room. But I wanted to put this backpack through some more testing. I am glad I did. Other than my utter frustration with the lid I feel in love with the rest of the backpack.
This was also my first 100+ mile hike with the Black Rock Gear Vest. This is an insanely light weight vest. 119 grams for mine. That is 4.197 ounces, of which 2.2 ounces of it is 900 loft down. I am not really sure what all to say about a vest – this is my first one I have ever owned. What I do know is that I am glad I did not take my full down jacket, it would have been totally unnecessary at the temperatures I encountered — day time temps were 56-58 (f) and night time temps were 45-48(f). I put it on when I hit camp at night and took it off right after my first break the next morning, which is usually around 25 minutes after I start hiking (just long enough to build up core-temps). Once I loose a few more pounds this vest is going to fit me perfectly. The shoulder region held up really well and the neck area was very nice to have.
Though I took a tarp (0.34 cuben fiber, 6×9) I never used it. At night I just threw down my ground cover, pulled out my sleeping bag and called it a night. I went without a sleeping pad because I knew there would be plenty of canopy debris that I could gather together to soften up things – and there was. Once nice part of living in the middle of the Redwood forest. I also did not take any bug netting and thankfully I did not need it. I did use the Gossamer Gear SitLight pad to help as a pillow. It will never go with me again on any hike though. As a backpack pad it just caused major sweating on my back – I do not even want to think about how this would be really bad if it was 100+ degrees. I did not take any poles with me, nor did I take any Ti stakes with me. I figured if I did need to setup my shelter I could just find some sticks and tie off to some trees. Saved me nearly two ounces by not taking stakes. And I have pretty much gotten to the point where I hate hiking poles. I used them for a good three our four seasons, but any more I find pure freedom in not having my hands tied-up holding poles.
My medical kit at just over an ounce was probably overkill. I suspect one of these days I will lighten it up a bit, but just have not had the will to do so.
My cook kit was a simple one. It was 59.37 grams (2.09 ounces). Just a Zelph 2-cup flat bottom pot and a Suluk46 Ti Windscreen (custom sized) than a custom made 5.6 gram spoon that Rob Kelly made for me, and a small wire stand. I used esbit tablets, two per day.
Things I Learned:
I am a big believer in trying to learn new things while out on the trail. On this hike I learned a few things. First, I re-learned the lesson that sometimes trying to push the extremes (ie: sub three pound setups) has consequences. By adding in another 2.3 ounces for the Montbell Tachyon Anorak I would not have suffered some core-temperature regulation issues that I did on my second day. Second thing I learned is that by using the Vibram shoes, I did not have a good way to attach my Simblissity LevaGaiters, so I did not take them, and that was a mistake. I have got to find a way to attach some gaiters to these shoes. Walking through as much ferns and low bushes as we have in the canopy floor of the Redwoods resulted in my ankles getting a fair number of cuts on them. It also highly increased the risk of tick exposure (and the area of California that I live in has the highest rate of ticks with Borrelia burgdorferi (lime disease) of anywhere in the State of California.) I was constantly checking my legs for ticks every time I stopped. Normally I never worry about it, as the gaiters put together with the Montbell Dynamo Pants provide almost perfect protection. So, very much going to have to figure out how to solve that issue if I want to go out again with the Vibram Spyridon LS shoes – and I do.
A Short Video:
Here is a short video of the hike. I had two days worth of video not get recorded (thanks iPhone) for reasons unknown, so this is mostly short clips that I have pieced together from days 1 through 3.
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