Restoring a vintage knife

I found a way to turn a $10 knife into a $20 knife, using about $10 worth of brass Corby bolts and some unknown wood slabs.  This project didn’t make sense economically, but it was fun and turned out nicely.  This knife was part of a three knife set which I received as a wedding gift in 1975.  It was used in the kitchen for many years, and then as a camping knife more recently.  The blade was badly stained, and the wood handle had seen too many visits to the dishwasher.



I had been given a block of wood of unknown variety, so I sliced off a couple slabs for the scales.  I drilled holes for brass Corby bolts, epoxied it together, and trimmed and sanded the scales to fit the tang of the knife.  It came out pretty nice, considering how it started.



JMT Food Plan


Doing the JMT is easy.  Selecting the gear is easy if you have been backpacking some.  The hard part is logistics and choosing and packing food, which is the subject of this post.  For our 2016 JMT, we had a 7 day section that we’d start with seven days of food in our packs from Cottonwood.  We’d meet up with horse packers at Charlotte Lake and get another 7 days worth of food, which would last us to Muir Trail Ranch. There we would pick up 4 days worth of food to get us to Red’s Meadow.  There we’d pick up 3 days of food to get us to your exit point, Tuollumne Meadows. All food had to fit in our bear cannisters, where were BeariKade carbon fiber cans. For our later food pickups we mailed plastic buckets of our food for each section to the horse packers, Muir Trail Ranch, and Red’s Meadow, following their shipping instructions.

For lunches we had a meat, some kind of carb, Clif bars and Builder bars, cheese, a sugary drink, and snack food.  Our lunches were these items, with each week having a few substitutes.


beef jerky        7 oz for 7 days (in later weeks we had pepperoni, and loved that stuff)

dates                9 oz for 7 days

Clif Bar            1 bar per day

Builder Bar     1 bar per day

Gouda cheese 5 oz (one wheel per 7 days)

yogurt raisins   8 oz for 7 days

dried mangoes  7 oz for 7 days (some weeks we had dried peaches)

Candy bars       1 per day for Jim, I didn’t have any

Triscuits             1 box for 7 days (other weeks we had Ritz crackers, or tortillas)

Sugary drink like Tang or Wylers, one L per day, plus several Crystal Lite envelopes per day

Every time we stopped I ate something and and drank lots of water. We didn’t pack up 7 individual bags for each lunch, to save space in the bear cannister.  But each day I’d put my lunch food for the day on the back zippered pocket of my pack, so I never had to get in my pack all day.


For the first two sections we had 2 oatmeals per breakfast (each), just to save space in the bear canisters. Also 2 Via coffees, 2 packs of sugar for the coffee for me (not Jim), and dried milk for the coffee for me (not Jim). In order to get on the trail earlier I’d have the two Vias in one cup, and the 2 oatmeals in one cup.  We had some raisins to add to the oatmeal.  Next time I’d add nuts, cranberries, and brown sugar to the oatmeals to spice them up. In the sections where we had fewer days to jam into the bear canister, I had Raisin Bran Crunch and milk from dried milk, and Jim also had cereal and milk, instead of oatmeal. We packed a baggie for each day’s breakfast into a separate bag: oatmeal, coffee, mild, and sugar.


For years I have made dinners from the grocery store rather than use freeze dried meals like Mountain House. Angel hair pasta cooks in only 3 or 4 minutes, and the 1.9 L pot on my Caldera Cone stove works well for these meals.  Using the simmer ring on my stove I can simmer the pot long enough to make scalloped potatoes or Mac and cheese, without burning it on the bottom.  After many years of backpacking, I had my favorite dinners, and we just repeated them in each food drop.  At the start of the trip my favorites, in order, were those below:

(1) Packit Gourmet Big’un Burrito with 2 tortillas each.

(3) pasta carbonara with bacon

(6) scalloped potatoes with bacon

(2) spaghetti with sausage granules

(4) Pasta with pesto and smoked salmon

(5) Pasta with tomato sauce and salmon

(7) Mac and cheese with bacon

The favorites by the end of the trip are shown in parenthesis in each line above. For the second set of 7 days we had the same 7 meals, and in subsequent food drops had the top 3 or 2 of those. Recipes for the bottom 3 meals are available if you ask me for them.

For every dinner, we started with a cup of miso soup as soon as we got to camp.  It is salty and savory, and perks one up nicely after a long day of hiking.  We always had enough for a cup of cocoa in the evening, and a cup of tea before bed. All the ingredients for a dinner for 2 were in one bag, except for cocoa and tea.



Sapphire Lake in Idaho’s White Cloud Range

I got to go with our old scout troop, Troop 100 in Boise, for an October hike to the White Cloud Range. The first night we camped at the car, and my tent was glistening with ice crystals when I went to bed. I think it got to the low 20s that night.  Below: the boys at our fire.


The next morning none of the boys complained of being cold, and I had my zero degree bag, so I was fine.  The gang below started for Walker Lake, 7 miles into the Big Boulder Lakes.


The hike in was cold, and about a mile below Walker Lake turned to snow.




We hiked in about 7 miles to Walker Lake, were we found 2-3 inches everywhere except in a rocky spot on the trail.  I pitched my tent on the actual trail, and slept on the trail, with rocks on either side of me.  But it was flat in that spot and I didn’t have any trouble sleeping.



The next day we headed up to Sapphire Lake, shown at the outlet below.  The surrounding hills were covered in snow, the sky was blue, and the white clouds completed the picture.  I told the boys that this was the most beautiful place in the world, and having just hiked the incredible John Muir Trail this summer, I had not seen a better spot on the whole JMT.

DSC06525a DSC06557a DSC06569a

Some of the guys were fishing, and caught 4 that were quite large.  They were Tenkara fishing and fly fishing, and Josh even tried worms. These fish are as long as this scout’s forearm!


SDSC06583a DSC06584a DSC06595a

The route to Sapphire is a cross country route, no trail, and there was one place where it was a little sketchy with all the rocks covered with snow.  Below we were heading down the ridge trying not to lose our footing in the snow.


We cooked the 5 keepers in foil with butter, lemon pepper, in the coals of the campfire.  Life doesn’t get any better than this.


Except when you see mountain goats on the hike out.


The Sawtooth High Route

We got to experience another trip in the Sawtooths this August.  Joining my wife Tuckie and I were daughters Ciera and Laura, Laura’s boyfriend Jason, and long time hiking boddy Kevin and his lovely wife Suzanne. Kevin and Suzanne got a head start as we were delayed by detours caused by the Pioneer fire.  They hiked toward Toxaway lake the first day, and we 5 (shown below) started the next day.


We camped at a small unnamed lake below Toxaway, and didn’t hook up with the Anderson’s until the next day. Below: Tuckie, Ciera, Laura, and Jason.  On the hike in Tuckie tripped and fell on her forearm on the rocky trail.  Between the 5 of us we had enough first aid supplies to bandage her arm, but we were lucky she didn’t break her arm. She was tough enough to keep going a bit more till we found a nice campsite.


The next day we headed to Toxaway, only to learn that the Anderson’s had pushed on to Edna Lake, the next lake on our route that would take us to Cramer Lake, and Redfish Lake.  Below, Tuckie with bandage on her arm, Toxaway Lk behind.


Below: me with my 29 day beard from hiking the John Muir Trail.


We left Toxaway Lake and headed toward Edna, in pursuit of the Anderson’s.  As we ascended the switchbacks we got a few last views of Toxaway.


At the top of the divide we headed down a few miles to Edna Lake.


Heading toward Edna we saw where all the smoke was coming from. So sad to see the air filled with smoke.


We were very glad to connect with the Anderson’s at Edna Lake.


The next day we rested a bit, and the Anderson’s showed us how to catch nice trout in these high altitude lakes.



Below: me and Ciera at Edna Lake.


Next day we headed to Cramer Divide and Cramer Lake for the night.  Jason and Laura are below before Laura’s blisters got severe.



The Anderson’s below at Hidden Lake, which we didn’t have any trouble finding.



Below: the Anderson’s approaching Cramer



The beautiful Shaver girls on top of Cramer Divide.



Below: the whole gang on Cramer Divide.



Below: Bob and Laura on the hike to Redfish Lake, where we caught the boat to the lodge.


JMT 2016 Gear List

My gear is ever changing, but for the JMT hike it was pretty similar to this group of gear.  This photo is Jim’s gear, which includes the tent we shared.  I carried the stove and cookset.  We both carried solar panels and batteries, also bear canisters, chairs, and similar clothes.  The base weight (gear in the pack, but no food, fuel or water) of my stuff was just shy of 20 lbs.  If you figure 2 lbs of food per day, on the stretches when we carried 7 days worth of food, my max weight would be 34 lbs, plus 16 oz for fuel, and one liter of water.


I walked to work every day for the 3 months before the hike, with weight in the pack and wearing my boots, so I was the only one of the 4 in our group to not get blisters or have food problems. Every day the pack would get lighter as we ate food, and by the end of a segment when we were out of food, it would be a feather light 20 lbs.


In the pack
REI Flash 62 pack 3 lb 1 oz
Western Mountaineering Warmlite 32 degree sleeping bag 1 lb 10 oz
Exped sleeping pad 1 lb  .4 oz
STS inflatable Pillow 2.4 oz
Western Mountaineering down coat 13.5 oz
Golite rain coat 12.5 oz
MLD rain pants 1.7 oz
1.9 L Evernew pot set, TrailDesigns Sidewinder cone and stove, salt and pepper, bic lighter, scrubber pad, simmer ring 1 lb .6 oz
Suntastics solar panel 7.2 oz
Ankar 6700 ma battery 4.8 oz
REI Flexlite camp chair 1 lb 12.9 oz
Petzl eLite headlamp 0.9
Vivo Barefoot camp shoes 12.9 oz
stuff sac with dry bag closure 3.2 oz
Cup, bowl, spoon 5.7 oz
Golite wool hat 1.8 oz
Aqua mira water treatment 3.2 oz
iphone 6 and charging cable 7 oz
Extra pair underwear 2.4 oz
Extra 2 pair socks 7.4 oz
Long underwear for sleeping 1 lb 5.2 oz
Light gloves 1.5 oz
2 oz bug juice 2 oz
2 oz sun block 2 oz
Chap stick 40 spf 0.4 oz
Nylon cord 1.1 oz
Mosquito head net 0.8 oz
Pack cover 3.9 oz
Portable bidet 2.1 oz
Extra bic lighters 1.4
Compass 1.7 oz
Sony extra lens 16-50mm 4.7
2 spare camera batteries 3 oz
Toiletries: Wet wipes, camp soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, hair brush, deodorant, earplugs, nail trimmers, sanding board, hand sanitizer, face cloth 5.5oz
First aid: scissors, tweezers, bandaids, moleskin, 4×4 pads, tape, ace bandage, Advil, motrin, needle 5 oz
Repair stuff: air mattress repair kit, ripstop nylon repair tape, duct tape 1.9
Bearikade bear canister 2 lb 2 oz
Total base weight: 19 lb 12 oz
Worn or Carried
Nylon zip off pants
Long sleeve nylon shirt
1 pr socks
Columbia hat with neck cover
Webbing belt
Sirui T-025x camera tripod 1 lb 14 oz
Handkerchief 1.3 oz
Lock back knife
1 pair underwear
Sony a6000 camera plus 10-18mm lens 1 lb 5 oz
Group stuff Jim carried
MoTro tent ( 2 lb 4 oz
Katadyn gravity filter 8.7 oz
Camera slider 1 lb 5 oz
Leki Micro Vario Hiking poles 1 lb 4 oz

John Muir Trail, 2016: Preparation

I guess preparation for hiking the whole 220 miles of the JMT started about 7 months before the start of the hike.  At that time I had to figure out an itinerary and how many days I would commit to the hike. You need an itinerary because when you apply for a permit you have to specify where you will camp each night.  Once you start on the trip, you can camp anywhere, but for the permit you need an itinerary.


I had done the whole JMT in 1971, and had a fair write up of each day, so that helped. Based on recent hikes, and some wishful thinking I figured I could average 10 miles a day.  That would put our trip at 22 days.  Some online research led to some excellent resources, such as:

Inga’s Adventures  :great analysis of the permit process, gear lists, food ideas,

Ray Rippell’s JMT book

Tom Harrison maps

JMT Facebook group

Elizabeth Wenk’s book “Essential Guide….John Muir Trail”  Amazon

I spent lots of time on all those sites, and bought the maps and Wenk’s book for my Kindle.  Exactly 6 months before the start date of our trip (the earliest date possible) I signed up for a permit for 2, myself and my son Jim (age 20). That trailhead and date of departure showed that 27 spots were still available for that date. Within a few days our neighbors determined their two boys wanted to join us, and they got their own permit.  We also made reservations for an overnight stay at Muir Trail Ranch on the day we projected we could get there. I contacted a person to get a shuttle ride from Tuollumne to Cottonwood, and I called a horse packing outfit to reserve a date for them to haul a food drop to us by mule.

The common way to do the JMT is to start at Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley, and end by hiking over Trail Crest at Mt. Whitney.  I decided to start at Cottonwood Campground south of Whitney, and end at Tuollumne. I had hiked from Cottonwood before, and wanted to see the old route, and thought we’d climb Whitney from the west side, without the full packs. We’d end at Tuollumne, and skip the 2 day section of crowded trail to Yosemite.  This would make our transport to the starting point a lot easier, and the sun would be at our back the whole trip.  Where the southbound hikers camped at high lakes below the passes, we’d be camping on the less crowded other side of the passes.DSC04174ases.

So our group  would be me, Bob Shaver, age 66, Jim Shaver 20, Ian Willnerd 15, and Luke Willnerd 17.  Our actual itinerary would prove to be close to our planned itineray, and the actual schedule is shown below.

Day of trip Date Camp at end of day Miles elevation gain
-1 July 16 Drive from Idaho to Tuollumne  0
0 17 Drive to Cottonwood 0 0
1 18 Long Lake 5.8  1100
2 19 New Army Pass, Rock Creek 7  1200
3 20 Crabtree Mdw  10  1620
4 21 Climb Whitney 16  6000
5 22 Wallace Lake  8 1765
6 23 Lake near Tyndall Crk  8  1637
7 24 Over Forester to Vidette Mdw 12.1  1673
8 25 Food drop above Charlotte Lk, Glenn Pass, camp at Rae Lakes  8  2493
9 26 To near Sawmill Pass trail 10  1680
10 27 Over Pinchot, camp on S. Fork Kings River 11.5  2791
11 28 Over Mather to Palisade Lk  10  1640
12 29 To Big Pete Mdw  12  1200
13 30 Muir Pass, to Evolution Lake 12  1970
14 31 To Muir Trail Ranch 15  200
15 1 Zero day at MTR 0  0
16 2 Selmer Pass to Marie Lake 8 3236
17 3 To Above Quail Meadow 12  880
18 4 Silver Pass to Tulley Hole 10  3060
19 5 To Reds Mdw 18 734
20 6 To 1000 Island Lake 7 1800
21 7 To Donahue Pass to Lyell Canyon  10  1362
22 8 To Tuollumne Mdw, drove to Idaho  6  0


Ultralight Camera Slider

Jim and I wanted to make a camera slider that was light enough that we could take it on the JMT.  We made one that weighed about a pound (1 lb 5 oz), and works well with cell phones and gopro cameras.  It cost $25 for the motor at Servo City. Here is the slider being explained when we were at Crabtree Meadow while hiking the JMT, and a few examples of videos made with the slider.

The end blocks are 3″ x 1.75″ x 10.5″, styrofoam covered by coreplast, glued on with Gorilla Glue.  The poles are aluminum tent poles.  The legs under the end blocks are tent stakes. The motor is a 12v 1 rpm motor from, part number 638150, $25. I think next time I’d try a 2 rpm motor.  The motor is attached with zip ties as shown below.  I put a guide bar on the top of the block to feed the line onto the middle of the drive shaft.  There is a rubber washer on the drive shaft to keep the line localized on the center of the drive shaft. The camera platform is a single thickness of coreplast, 7″ x 5″.  The ball joint is held on by three plastic bolts. I already had the ball joint, so it didn’t cost anything.  Total cost to me, $25.

DSC04993 DSC04995

Using the Mask feature of Photoshop for better exposure


Monarchs of Colchuck Lake

Marc Dilley of Marc Dilley Photography showed me a technique in Photoshop which is advanced for me, easy for him.  Here is how Marc uses the Mask feature.

(Marc) I am using this image of Colchuck Lake in the Cascade Mountains of Washington to discuss some basic elements of exposure, composition and how those two field skills relate to processing an exposure (or, in this case, two exposures).

Let’s begin with exposure. Note that every element of this image is properly exposed: you can make out detail in the mid tones such as the boulders, trees and driftwood but also in the brightest parts of the sky and the shadowy areas. If you have shot much in the mountain environment, even with a top quality full-frame DSLR, you know that blocked shadows and clipped highlights are unavoidable. The dynamic range of the scene, that is, the brightness range from the darkest shadows to the brightest highlights, is too great for the sensor to record. If you expose to get detail in the shadows then the highlights will be hopelessly overexposed in a white, confused mass. You have all seen this – with their tiny sensors, phone cameras are quite susceptible to this (there is a direct correlation between sensor size, or more precisely pixel size, and image quality). Conversely, if your exposure is made for detail in the highlight areas of the scene, then the shadows and most likely the dark mid tones will be black or disturbingly dark.

Unlike the old film days, with digital photography there is a way to mitigate this issue. As above, make two exposures, one correctly exposing the highlights and one correctly exposing the shadows. Note that these two exposures absolutely must be shot with a tripod, or on a boulder. Now, here is where you need a good working knowledge of Adobe Photoshop. I am not aware of any other photo processing software that would allow a photographer to manipulate exposures in the following popular and well regarded technique, and that includes Adobe Lightroom.

One more digression before we move along. If your camera will output images in Raw, you should take advantage of this feature. I’ll leave a talk on Raw for another time but suffice it to say that shooting in Raw will give you unmatched potential over jpeg, period. Another absolute: get on the website and sign up for Lightroom or Photoshop. It will cost you about $25/month and if you are serious about photography it will be the best $$ you will ever spend. There are good reasons why Photoshop is the gold standard for all photo artists – don’t shop around for competing software. The learning curve is steep, but You Tube has hundreds of helpful videos; if you seek truly professional instruction look up

On to the technique:  Photoshop allows you to “stack” distinct exposures -one on top of another- in the same work file. Just like a stack of cards, only the exposure on the top can be seen. But… Photoshop provides a neat and incredibly powerful structure that rides along with each exposure – the Mask. The Mask controls how much of it’s respective exposure will be visible. A pure white mask allows all the exposure to be seen; a pure black hides all the exposure; a neutral 50% gray mask makes the exposure ghostly half-transparent. After I stacked the cloud exposure (the darker shot where the bright highlights were exposed properly) on top of the land/water/cliff exposure, I took my paintbrush tool and carefully painted black pigment over the land portions of the cloud exposure mask, hiding all of it’s darker areas and revealing the well exposed parts of the land/water/cliff exposure below. I then painted back and forth with various shades of gray to adjust the blend then moved on to contrast and color adjustments, finishing off with dust removal, some minor chroma and noise.

A final note: some of you may use or may have heard of the HDR technique. HDR, or High Dynamic Range photography, is to some degree or another an automated process whereby three or more exposures (in register) are shunted into HDR software and pops out a fully cooked image with good tonality in all areas of the scene. HDR images have a unique look to them and you either like it or you don’t. They are distinct enough from traditionally made images that most photo forums place HDR images in their own category. HDR has it’s place but for full creative control you must jump in and learn to use layers.

Depth Of Field Blending

Marc Dilley, of Marc Dilley Photography has been nice enough to try to teach me a little about the technical end of photography.  Here are his thoughts on how to get incredible depth of field in a photo, such as that seen in the photo below.


Photoshop layers can also be used to improve the depth of field in the final image, in addition to improving the dynamic range. In this image, shot pre-dawn in a meadow of Camas Lilies in North Central Washington, I wanted all of the flower heads in the field to be in razor-sharp focus, as well as the horizon. The flower head at left is very close to my lens, so getting it in focus meant most everything else in the scene would be blurry. An additional complication was that the meadow was much darker than the sky, or in other words, the dynamic range of the scene was way beyond the capability of the camera sensor.

To solve these issues, I worked on one at a time:

1) Depth of field: With the camera rigid on a tripod, and the controls set to expose well for the meadow (petals on the high side, but not too bright, washing out the color), I took a series of shots all at the same exposure, varying only the focus distance. For this particular subject I shot five times, each shot focused slightly more forward of the last. The final shot was at infinity.

2) Dynamic range: Sky exposures – if the sky is clear, one shot may be enough, but if it is an active sky with lots of clouds and sun flecks, multiple exposures may be needed. For this image I got by with one… but I hedged my bets as always and bracketed the exposures. Note that if you only shoot one exposure, and in processing you find that you need more exposure latitude, you may be able to “multiple process”. This technique simply treats your single exposure as though it is many exposures: you process it once in Camera Raw and shunt it into Photoshop, then return to Bridge and process the file in Camera Raw again to your new requirements and shunt this second copy to Photoshop as #2 in the stack. And so forth.

Back in the office: Take all of the meadow exposures and process them exactly the same. At this point you will want to get color temperature, tint, exposure and petal color reasonably close. As always, process conservatively; at this point your shots should be saturated but on the low side of contrast. If you are familiar with histograms, you want neither right or left toes touching the vertical end bars of the graph. Once you are satisfied, return them to Bridge.

Back in Bridge, highlight all of them. Then choose Tools>Photoshop>Load files into Photoshop layers. All of your exposures will appear in a stack in Photoshop. Highlight the entire stack (click on the lowest one, hold down the Shift key and click the top layer). Then go to Edit>Auto Align Layers…>Auto   Next,  Edit>Auto Blend Layers>Stack Images  Photoshop recognizes out-of-focus pixel clusters, those with the greatest circles of confusion, and masks them out. Once you are satisfied with the result, flatten the stack. You can then return to Bridge and process the sky exposure(s) and bring them into Photoshop as a layer in the Lilies file. Before proceeding, make positively certain that you are done with your sky file in Camera Raw, because the next step will permanently sever the bond and there will be no returning. Reason: the flattened Lilies layer and the Sky layer must be Auto-Aligned before they can be blended together. However, Smart Objects cannot be aligned, so they must be rasterized first, which strips them of the ability to return to Camera Raw. To do this, simply hover over the comment (right-hand) part of the layer banner, right click and choose rasterize layer from the menu. Add a mask, and you now have all of Photoshop’s tools at your command.

Alice Toxaway Loop in the Sawtooths

This loop hike in the Sawtooths is a classic, and I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it.  I got to visit the area with the Fujino family, friends from when our boys were in scouts together.  Starting at Petit Lake, we hiked over the hot dry hill to join the Hell Roaring trail, and from there on past Farley Lake, to a small lake just short of Toxaway Lake.   There is a great waterfall at this little lake, and we enjoyed a restful evening there.


The next day we headed to Toxaway Lake, an easy hike from our little unnamed lake.  Sunrise from Toxaway was pretty nice.


The next day we headed over Snowyside Pass, and got a view of Twin Lakes on the other side of the pass.



The peaks around Alice Lakes have to some of the best in the Sawtooths.




This was my first hike using my new Sony a6000 camera, and the hike was the last time I could hike before my awesome hike of the JMT with son Jim, 220 miles in 22 days.

My Preferred Cooksets and Stove System

I’m on about the 4th Caldera cone cooking system, and maybe the 10th stove I’ve used overall, so I thought I’d share what is the best of all the stoves I’ve used in 45+ years of backpacking.  The Fusion Sidewinder Ti-Tri split cone stove system, made by Trail Designs, the maker of Caldera Cone stove […]

Read the full article »

Building a Quinzee for Winter Camping

If the snow is not deep enough for a snow trench, a quinzee is another option for a snow shelter.  A quinzee requires about 5 times as much work to make as a snow trench, but its somewhat fool proof.  If all the snow you have is 8″, you can still make a quinzee.  Some […]

Read the full article »

Nemo Dagger 2 Freestanding Tent

Jim (my son) and I got to use a Nemo Dagger 2 on a 6 day trip in the Sawtooths, and I also used it on a 5 day hike in the Sierra with Tuckie.  Here are my thoughts. The tent without the fly is shown below.  Most “two man” tents are really very roomy […]

Read the full article »

Gifts for the Ultralight backpacker

Buying gifts for the ultralight backpacker can be difficult, because you don’t want to buy stuff that she/he won’t like.  So here are my picks for cool things for the ultralight or lightweight backpacker, or for a person heading in that direction. Petzl e+LITE headlamp: One always wants a 300 lumen flashlight, but we also […]

Read the full article »

Building a Snow Trench for Winter Camping

If you are camping in the winter, a shelter made of snow is tremendously warmer than sleeping in a tent. Different types of snow allow different kinds of snow structures to be built.  One very practical shelter for when the snow is deep is a snow trench.  How much time you have, if a storm […]

Read the full article »

Sierra Nevada, Thousand Island Lake

We had a family backpack in 2015, in which wife Tuckie, son Jim and girlfriend Jenna, myself, Kevin Anderson and his daughter Jenna, and Kevin and my old hiking partner Conrad participated.  The destination for the first day was Thousand Island Lake, in the Mammoth area.  We were reminded of how out of shape we […]

Read the full article »

Swiss Army Knife project

Swiss Army knives will do about anything, but they aren’t good hammers.  My friend Sill used his as a hammer one time too many, and both handles had broken.  This was a knife given to him by his mother 40 years ago. Sill just finished hiking the Camino in Spain, and posted his thoughts on […]

Read the full article »

The Best Backpacking Meal – Pasta Carbonara

This meal displaces the previous best meal I had known of, which was scalloped potatoes with bacon and asparagus pieces.  The new best meal is pasta carbonara, with bacon.  The ingredients and directions for a meal for two are: 5 oz angel hair pasta (more for big eaters.  I can eat 2.3 oz, Kevin can […]

Read the full article »

Keeping Your Devices Charged in the Field

I recently had a chance to try out the TinyCharger5, by  The TinyCharger5 is a lightweight solar panel that has more surface area than a lot of other solar panels for travelers, and its very lightweight.  I used it in conjunction with a soundlogic XT power cell (battery pack), and the solar panel charged […]

Read the full article »

Big Boulder Lakes, Idaho

The White Cloud Range is the neighbor range to the Sawtooths, and the WCs have some places that equal or surpass the more famous Sawtooths. The Big Boulder Lakes are a gem in any range, and Sapphire might be the most beautiful lake I have seen in Idaho. The photo below is of Sapphire Lake, […]

Read the full article »