Building a Snow Trench for Winter Camping

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 is expected, and if you are going to set up a base camp are considerations.  A covered snow trench can made in a couple of hours, and protect you from 40 below temperatures. Read more

Gear Shopping Advice for Folks (adults) new to Backpacking

Gear Shopping Advice for Folks (adults) new to Backpacking

This is a guide for adults who are new to backpacking and want to get gear for this fun sport.  This advice comes from me having started backpacking in 1967, been active in mountain rescue, nordic ski patrol, peak climbing, backpacking and mountaineering, and teaching college classes in backpacking for 12 years.  I don’t do much climbing anymore, but have 48 continuous years of backpacking, and I still love to get out. Read more

Craters of the Moon Backpack

Craters of the Moon Backpack

Doing a spring backpack to Echo Crater in Craters of the Moon is becoming a regular hike for Troop 100.  We had 12 scouts and 8 adults head out there, each with at least 3 liters of water.  There is absolutely no water out in that desert route.  Before the hike Tom B. gave a short class on map reading and orienteering, and the scouts divided up into 3 patrols and set out with compass bearings of a route on which there were 7 checkpoints, with a poker chip for each patrol.  All three patrols came back with all their assigned poker chips. Read more

Echo Rock Hot Springs

Echo Rock Hot Springs

We planned to take the scouts on a hike along the Owyhee River in mid November, but the weather was predicted to be rain or snow for Saturday, clearing by late Saturday.  We woke up to snow on the ground in Boise, and 6 of our 12 scouts dropped out.  Were they the smart ones?  Maybe.  We decided to risk it, and six adults and six youth headed out on the trip in cold windy weather.  Its about a 2 hour drive to Leslie Gulch in Oregon, then a 3.5 mile hike up the Owyhee River.  This part of the river would be under the water of Owyhee Reservoir in the summer, but now its easy going on a well traveled road. Read more

Rapid Lake backpack with the Scouts, September 2013

Rapid Lake backpack with the Scouts, September 2013

Troop 100 was scheduled to hike to Box Lake, a popular lake off Lick Creek Road, but as the departure date approached, the roster was becoming too large for the limited camping at Box Lake.  We picked an alternate destination to Rapid Lake, also near McCall, a 4 mile hike from the Boulder Meadows campground.  Leaders for the trip were Mt. Fujino and Mr. Mick. Read more

High Uintas Backpack, July 2013

High Uintas Backpack, July 2013

We are planning a backpack to the Uinta Range of Utah for July next summer.  The pictures below show the scenery to expect.  The land is high elevation, with gentle terrain and lots of nice lakes.  Looks like we’ll need a big fry pan, and some lemon pepper for the fish.  The trip is scheduled for July 13-20th.  If some scouts coming home from summer camp on the 13th want to go on the Uinta backpack, we can probably arrange for a group to leave on the 14th, and catch up to us.   Read more

Bonneville Hot Springs in Winter

Bonneville Hot Springs in Winter

Winter camping with scouts, or with anyone, is better when there is a hot springs around.  A few hardy scouts and Todd and I as leaders headed to Bonneville Hot Springs for a snow camp. We hauled our  gear in about a mile, and set up tents for sleeping.  The boys sledded most recklessly using the sleds we used to haul our gear in.  Then we had some chile for dinner, and headed to the hot springs just before dark.  They did not disappoint, and Todd declared they the best natural hot springs he has visited. Read more

Loon Lake, Oct 19-20,

Loon Lake, Oct 19-20,

Loon Lake has become a regular with our troop as a late season and early season hike.  It is about 6000? elevation, so is snow free when higher mountains are snow covered.  Of great interest to the scouts is the crashed D-23 bomber.  The bomber crashed in a winter storm in WWII days.  Three of the 8 crewmen hiked out, and reached a phone in a forest service cabin and called McCall.  The crewmen that stayed with the plane were rescued by a plane with skiis that landed on the frozen lake. Read more

The John Muir Trail – South Lk to North Lake

The John Muir Trail – South Lk to North Lake

Ever since I hiked the John Muir Trail with my brother and friends in 1971, I hoped to do it again. Doing it with my kids would be a dream.  In August 2012 I set off with Kevin Anderson, a participant on the 1971 trip, who has been joining my son’s scout troop on backpacks for 4 or 5 years.  We also had with us Josh Edvalson, and 4 scouts including my son Jim. Read more

Grand Gulch, southern Utah

Grand Gulch, southern Utah

Bounded by 700 foot high cliff walls, the sandy canyon bottom of Grand Gulch in southern Utah was once again our destination for a spring break backpack.  The group I was hiking with included 6 younger scouts, from 11 to 13 years old.   Our group started hiking at Collins Springs, and exited Grand Gulch 6 days later at Bullet Canyon.  Our group also included 5 adults, and the six scouts proved themselves to be tough and durable hikers. Read more

Wood River Magic Rocks

Wood River Magic Rocks

Tom, Erik and I recently went on an exploratory trip to the Wood River about 10 miles above the town of Shoshone Idaho.  This area is a sheet of basalt covered by a little dirt and sagebrush.  The Wood River that drains Magic Reservoir flows over this land, and has cut a gorge about 20 feet deep into the solid basalt.  In some places its 15′ wide, sometimes its 2 feet wide.  In the narrow spots there are often huge chock stones as big as a car that are jammed into the slot. Read more

Scout Parents Guide to Backpacking Gear

Scout Parents Guide to Backpacking Gear

This post iswritten for Scouts and their parents who are new to Troop 100 or new to backpacking. The target audiences is the parent of a young scout who is new to backpacking.

The main point to note about buying equipment for your Scout is to not rush out and buy a lot of the wrong types of equipment. What I place as important goals in this effort is

  1. buying the right equipment, so that the parent doesn’t have to turn around and buy another piece of equipment unnecessarily.  The goal is to buy the right equipment the first time

2. buying light and compact equipment, in order to keep a young scout’s pack weight down, and so the gear fits in a small pack

3. buying only the necessary equipment, and delay buying the extra stuff

Sleeping Bag:

If there is one piece of equipment that a parent should try to get right to first time, that is the scout’s sleeping bag. When your son starts scouting he might be a small guy of 11 years old and may weight less than eighty pounds. It is incredible how these boys grow during the next four of five years.  The right sleeping bag will serve his needs throughout his scouting years and into his adult life.  The alternative is to buy several bags as he grows.  Of course the first method is way cheaper. Read more

A Stove Comparison: Alcohol (Caldera Cone) vs Canister (Jet Boil, Pocket Rocket, Giga Power)

A Stove Comparison: Alcohol (Caldera Cone) vs Canister (Jet Boil, Pocket Rocket, Giga Power)

We had a chance on our 8 day backpack to do some comparisons between some stoves, namely my Caldera Cone with a 1.9 L Evernew titanium pot, an MSR Pocket Rocket, a Snow Peak Giga Power, and a JetBoil.  The latter 3 stoves are canister stoves, and the Caldera Cone is an alcohol stove.  Each of these stoves were cooking for 2 people.  It should be noted that all of these stoves are reliable and they all work fine for heating water.  Some are better in certain situations, and this review compares them for use on an 8 day trip fall, each of them cooking for 2 people. Read more