Joe's Ultralight Backpacking

Updates / Comments

17 Aug 2012:

Hi All! Last night I discovered that my JMT Thru-Hike trip report and photos were missing from the site. Fully restored now, in case you're looking for some inspiration to get out of the cubicle farm.

I'm cleaning up all the links on the site this weekend, plus some other maintenance and site navigation updates. Hard to keep up with it when there are places like Vancouver Island to explore instead. :-)

28 May 2012: And just when it seemed that spare time was finally within my grasp, along came the masters degree. Yes, some on a wild whim get a tattoo, others road-trip for White Castle burgers. I dove back into college. Lately I'm convinced I should've opted for the burgers. But hey at least my kids and I can now take our study breaks together. :-)

Summer break is a few weeks away and I've got a list of website upgrades, plus a full trip report of our OTI JMT section hike between Onion Valley and Bishop Lake trailheads last summer, during which my oldest received his trail name and is heretofore known as "Entwise" - woohoo! Given the snowpack it was well-earned, with the north side of Mather Pass a suncup extravaganza, which of course means more reasons to enjoy life.

Alright folks, back to the lab. Still holding down the day job through all of this, but I've been a lot better at answering email. Exciting stuff ahead for the ol' website. :-)

So where are you headed this summer?

29 Jan 2011: Alright everyone, what do you get when you cross raising a family with a demanding career and a ceiling-to-slab remodel of your home? Two months of camping in the backyard, two years of living in a construction zone, and five years of no time to update your website. :-) Oh yeah, and I finally learned to play the guitar, a big item on the ol' Bucket List. Judy and I have been busy getting the kids ready for the world, every year fills up quickly with travel and adventures, exploring everything Playground Earth offers us all. Everything in its season, and dusting off the HTML editor feels good.

As always, thanks for all the kind words and feedback despite the blackout.

So what's in store? Now that I have a new (and far more friendly) web hosting service and a few spare hours in any given week, it's back to gear reviews, trip reports, and odd anecdotes.

Last spring we explored Zion National Park, joined the OTI gang for a long overdue trip to Havasu Falls in the Grand Canyon, and my oldest son and I backpacked the Weminuche Wilderness in the San Juan range of southern Colorado, a real gem of the backcountry. This year it's teaching the kids parallel turns on the ski slopes, a family camping trip to California's High Sierras, a graduation trip with our second oldest, and a JMT section hike with our oldest. Life - Enjoy it while it's here!

Along those lines, I've added a little blurb on the secret to Recession-Proof Happiness.

In the meantime I need to finish getting the website migrated over, settle into the new domain provider, etc. I've got a backlog of email that borders on the absurd, my best option is to distill the questions into FAQ #2 and post shortly.

New gear tidbits: The MSR Pocket Rocket has been my favorite stove the past few years, and during our Weminuche trip Kyle and I put the Mountain Hardwear Lightpath 3 tent through its paces. It is now my favorite tent for 2-person outings, even edging out my longtime favorite (and no longer available) Sierra Designs Clip3 CD.

29 May 2006: Howdy all, apologies for falling terribly behind in my email. I'm still working through the backlog but one question keeps coming up - where to find Cream of Rice? It turns out the usually has some for sale. Enjoy! (Search for it in their Gourmet Foods section if the link goes stale.)

Earlier this month I was able to sneak in a great Grand Canyon trip (Mary on South Kaibab there) with friends Ardith, Mary, Bob and Jeff - thanks guys! Hope we can do more of 'em. Saw a momma mountain goat with youngins along North Kaibab, and a lazy rattlesnake coming up Bright Angel Trail above Indian Garden. My backcountry time has been scarce so far this year, but I've got a few escapes up my sleeve. Until then I'll need to live vicariously through all your reports.

07 Jan 2006: Happy New Year everyone! I've been dodging a number of life's curve balls the past few months, pardon the absence. Plenty of new stuff to cover though, which I promise to do after I get back from some weekend sunshine.

Foot-based travelers unite! My friend Mary is raising money for her Breast Cancer Walk, a 3-Day 60-mile (97km) urban trek and fundraiser for breast cancer research and treatment. If you're interested please consider surfing over for a US tax-deductible contribution. Even $5 or $10 helps. Thanks! And yes I've contributed too. :-)

Two bits of great news from Ursack. First, Tom switched to using Vectran to overcome the shortage of Kevlar so supply issues are resolved. Second, effective 27 Oct 2005, the new Ursack Hybrid bear bag has been conditionally approved by SIBBG. The Ursack Hybrid is a regular Ursack with an aluminum liner (which still has some compressability). Total weight is 20 ozs for 650 ci (0.56 kg for 10.7 liters). Not as light as a "pure" Ursack, but for High Sierra travel it's nice to know you can get that much storage (and a little compressibility) for under 1.5 lbs / 0.6 kilos.

I'll have my Bear Can page updated with the new info by the end of the weekend. More to follow! Sunshine calls!

01 Sep 2005: Just got back from a solo 112-mile loop through Kings Canyon National Park. Entered/exited via Bishop Pass and included my favorite section of the JMT (Mather and Pinchot Passes), plus Paradise Valley (gorgeous) and Granite Basin/Granite Lake. Trip report to follow after I catch up on a few things. And yes I brought the camera so expect a few dozen of the 200+ photos as well. :-) It was nice to break out the tarp-and-bug-bivy combo again. Slept under the stars all but one night though, weather was perfect. Stepping off at the trailhead I was just over 22lbs/10kg including food, fuel, BearVault Solo bear can, and even a favorite book but not water (yes I resupplied halfway through). Never had to carry more than a liter of water at a time, gotta love the High Sierras!

Important Tyvek note - Reader and longtime backpacker Jeff reports that his piece of Tyvek ended up a frayed annoying giant debris-trapping spider web during his 80-mile trip. As best he can figure it may be due to washing the Tyvek, he put a little detergent in but we don't know if that was a factor or not. So if you're washing your "hard" Tyvek to soften it up, best beware. Or you can order the soft Tyvek (see my Tyvek page which I've just updated to reflect Jeff's experience).

09 Aug 2005: It's now 1am but I've finally finished updating my Gear List and Detailed Weights pages. Yes, you can expect flocks of soaring pigs to cross the sky any moment. :-)

Also Jas (aka "Chilli Bistro") has put together a trip report of our High Sierra Trail trek, with a little extra background and perspective for those of you looking to wander the route (or just escape your cubicle for a few minutes). I'm fond of "The Blair Witch Deer" photo myself. :-) Thanks Jas!

06 Aug 2005: I've put together a list of shelters that I like. Just something to use as a starting point, plus a chance for me to experiment with HTML tables. I'm slow but I'm persistent. ;-) Metric weights included. I also updated a few pages: Common Items and Ultralight Solutions, Bear-Resistant Containers, Tents vs. Ultralight, and Food. More updates to follow!

19 Jul 2005: Just finished putting together some photos and rough notes of our High Sierra Trail trek. Enjoy!

18 Jul 2005: Nothing like 7 days of backpacking with great friends across the High Sierra Trail to take the edge off of a busy year! Just got back, tales to follow. Pictures turned out good so I'll have some of those to share as well. We met some wonderful folks and had many an adventure.

Anyone heading to the Sierras should note that the mosquitos were epic, nay biblical, in some spots. According to the local area papers it's the worst 'skeeter hatch in 10 years. That 1.0 oz mosquito head-net will be worth more than your sleeping bag! Though Alaska/Minnesota/Canadian residents probably won't be fazed. ;-)

Also if you're headed to the Sierras before the end of July, consider the water crossings to be... interesting. Heavy snows have given way to fast water. Most were just tricky but a few were downright fiendish. Know your stuff and be prepared if you blow it. Very significant snow melt, we were fortunate to be in the right place and right time to save a fellow who was dragged down. Watch yourselves out there, and don't forget your hiking poles. A river crosser's best friends.

To see the complete update history and running narratives, visit the Updates Archive.

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