Green Micarta Knife

Green Micarta Knife

Bob Loveless is the guru of knife making, and he says that is you want a quality knife you don’t put wood handles on it. I finally tried his go-to handle, micarta. Micarta is resin with different kinds of material embedded in it, such as denim, canvas, linen or others. This is green linen, and it came out nice. The knife is a kit from knifekits.com. Read more

How to Bribe your kids when Backpacking

How to Bribe your kids when Backpacking

When my oldest kids got old enough we started going backpacking.  I started a myth with them that I had put 2 pops in the outlet of various, or all, of the lakes in Washington.  As we hiked up the trail I would say to them that “those pops sure will be good!”  When we got to the destination lake, I’d tell them “I think those pops are over that way.  You guys look over there near the shoreline of the lake, and I’ll go over the other way.” Read more

MountainSmith Mountain Shelter 2

MountainSmith Mountain Shelter 2

We were able to spend 6 nights in the Sierra Nevada with the MountainSmith Mountain Shelter 2.  

It was summer, windy at night, temps in the low 30s, and some cloudiness.  The elevation of our trip was 8000-11,000′. This shelter is a tarp held up by two hiking poles and 13 stakes.  I set it up 5 times, and it became easier each time. It weighs 1 lb 15 oz and costs around $100.  It packs up very compactly, and sleeps 2 comfortably.  Its a really good option for a light and cheap shelter, and I’d recommend it. It doesn’t have a floor, and you would need to get a ground cloth, which might add 6 oz to the total weight.   Read more

Backpacking with Kids

Backpacking with Kids

If you want to get your whole family into backpacking, you can do what we did with our kids, Jim and Ciera. When Jim was 6 and Ciera 11 we took them on their first overnight backpack, a 2 mile hike to Baker Lake near Ketchum.  They carried their own packs, and we didn’t carry Jim once. His pack contained not much more than his lunch and a raincoat. I was carrying quite a load, including his sleeping bag. In those days we had traditional external frame backpacks, and a heavy tent. Read more

Cooking in the Snow

Cooking in the Snow

Cooking when winter camping is different from cooking when backpacking.  My favorite setup is to make a bench seat, and sit on a foam pad, with another foam pad under the feet for insulation. Then cut a bench conveniently right in front of the chef on which to put the stove. Lay a thin plywood panel on the kitchen area, on which to place the stove. That way it won’t melt into the snow. With the stove in easy reach, you can heat water, melt snow, and cook a meal. Read more

Cottonwood to Shepherd Pass, 7 day Sierra Hike, 1969

Cottonwood to Shepherd Pass, 7 day Sierra Hike, 1969

This would be called a section hike today, because we hiked on a section of the famous John Muir Trail.  We called it a Sierra hike in those days, because we tried to avoid the JMT, and enjoy lakes and valleys not on the JMT.  When you hike the JMT you rarely have the energy to get into these areas, and just have to focus on doing the JMT mileage.  We fished, climbed peaks, goofed off, and explored.  We cooked bread and fish over open fires.  Below: view of Langley from the Cottonwood Lakes. I swear this tree is still there in 2016, 45 years later.

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Making a Folding Knife from a kit

Making a Folding Knife from a kit

 

My go-to knife for backpacking of late has been a lockback folder which our scout troop gave me. It is etched with the words “Bob – Thank you for your Service to Troop 100.”  What a nice gesture, and it turned out to be a fantastic little knife which is a pleasure to carry.  Its perfectly adequate for any task on a backpack.  Based on my experience with the BSA knife, I wanted to try my hand at making a folding knife, so I bought a folding knife kit from knifekits.com. The model was the “Sheriff.” Read more

John Muir Trail 2016, 2nd Section: Rae Lakes to MTR, northbound

John Muir Trail 2016, 2nd Section: Rae Lakes to MTR, northbound

JMT 2016: Second Section (7 days), Rae Lakes to Muir Trail Ranch

Day 9: I was reminded all night that I would prefer to sleep in my long underwear, but the night before I had washed ALL my clothes.  I was in my sleeping bag nekkid. My clothes were draped over every branch of all the trees around out camp, so it looked like the Beverly Hillbillies were camped here. They had not dried much overnight, and were still quite damp.  I put on my damp clothes, and had some oatmeal and coffee before we hit the trail. We took one last look at the Rae Lakes and peak called Painted Lady. Read more

John Muir Trail 2016, 3rd Section: MTR to Reds Mountain Resort

John Muir Trail 2016, 3rd Section: MTR to Reds Mountain Resort

JMT 2016: 3rd (4 days), Muir Trail Ranch to Reds Resort

Day 15: Our camp was in a backpacker pigsty about .25 miles from Muir Trail Ranch (MTR).  It was a pigsty because behind every tree was a cluster of toilet paper and poop. Absolutely gross. We had breakfast, and headed over to the MTR entrance. MTR has a fence around it, and a gate that said “Open at 8, closed at 5” or something like that. We were on time, so we walked in. There were several log buildings there which were a shed for managing hiker buckets, an office, a dining hall, and a residence and some employee dorms. There was also a grassy area with a table and a shade tarp, and benches on one side with buckets filled with donated food from hikers. Read more

John Muir Trail, 1971, Preparation

John Muir Trail, 1971, Preparation

1st week of hiking: Tuollumne Mdw to Reds Resort

In 1971 my younger brother Mike and I planned a 28 day trip on the JMT, with 12 people. Some people might be interested in our trip as a view into backpacking practices, philosophy, and technology in those days. Current travelers on the JMT have seriously lighter loads than we could accomplish in the 1970s, and they cover many more miles per day than we did, but one thing different about our trip was that we climbed 17 Sierra peaks, did a lot of fishing, and had layover days.

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John Muir Trail 1971 first week: Tuollumne Mdw to Reds Meadow Resort

John Muir Trail 1971 first week: Tuollumne Mdw to Reds Meadow Resort

1st week: Tuolumne Meadows to Reds Meadow Resort:

By late afternoon, we had all regrouped and departed from the trailhead near the Tuolumne Meadows campground. We were filled with anticipation of the adventure that lay ahead and yet also trepidation as to whether we (and our equipment) were up to the challenge. There were no cell phones, and many times during the trip we would be as many as 24 hours away from assistance. Read more