We took a somewhat abbreviated backpacking trip out past Ostrander Lake June 25-27 to try out some of our new gear. The short version? We love it, and we had a great time. I also learned and re-learned a lot of stuff about backpacking. For a first trip, it was just right.
We left Thursday night around 9pm after getting off work and cooking up a yummy dinner the comfort of our own home, and hiked out to Horizon Ridge before setting up camp. In some ways I like hiking in the dark – it’s usually very quiet and peaceful. Plus, this was an out and back trip, so we got to see the scenery, and the flowers that we walked past in the dark on our way out.
In the morning we finished our somewhat circuitous route to Ostrander Lake, and circled around to walk along Horse Ridge. It was a lazy day, filled with many stops and a bit of napping. We had plenty of water so we camped high with a bit of a breeze and fewer mosquitoes, filling up when we hiked down in the morning.
For more random notes about our trip, in no particular order
• Quick Oats are a good breakfast alternative for me. More convenient than regular oats, but tastier than the instant oatmeal packets. – even if you do forget the raisins that you bought especially for the occasion. We were able to cook the oats in our Orikasa bowls just by pouring boiling water over them and waiting for a while.
• The Caldera Keg performed brilliantly, but goes through alcohol faster than I had thought. For longer trips, it would be nice to have a second bottle. Also, I’m now eager to try out the Ti-Tri. Although it’s heavier and less space-efficient than the Caldera Keg, I think having the non-stick pot increases our options in a nice way, and Tom tells me that he thinks that it is more efficient than the CK, which would also help the alcohol last a little longer.
• We didn’t break out the Esbit, but we carried three blocks and the Gram Cracker stove. At just over 2 oz. it was more than worth the peace of mind when we were recalculating the amount of alcohol that we brought.
• Our new Double Rainbow tent rocks for fair-weather Sierra camping. I’d still like to pitch it in the yard and subject it to a bit of water from the hose to see how it would take a solid rain, though.
• My legs are at a whole new, previously inconceivable level of out-of-shape. Planning to change that.
• It was a good trip for violets. It’s always been a slight irritation that the violets that we see are yellow, instead of purple, and we were delighted to see violet violets on the Ostrander Trail – Western Dog Violets (Viola adunca). We also saw a white Macloskey’s Violet (Viola macloskeyi) in Summit Meadow where the Camas Lilies (Camassia quamash), and some kind of Shooting Stars (Dodecatheon) are blanketing the meadow in color.
• I am surprisingly afraid of talus slopes. I hadn’t expected that. But a hug and a good cry can get me over the hump.
• I was slightly too hot in the Marmot Hydrogen sleeping bag – with a thin pair of thermal pants on and a down jacket. The night before, Tom was a bit cold with the same set-up. More testing is needed.
• Although we CAN stuff everything we need for a weekend trip into a 33L and 30L pack, we shouldn’t. They don’t carry well that way.
• The Asian Curry freeze-dried meal is actually too spicy for me and should be mixed with some couscous or something to make it palatable. Tom and I shared a single bag, and I couldn’t even finish my half. Fortunately, we weren’t out for very long, and face it, these days I can more than afford to be a little calorically deprived for a few hours. It does make me nervous about the Spicy Lousianna Red Beans and Rice meal though. Since when have freeze-dried meals gotten TOO flavorful?
• I think the somewhat raucous gray birds that were hanging out at the top of Horse Ridge were Clarks Nutcrackers. Bold, noisy, and social, they were fascinating to watch.
• Always carry a monocular/binocular. It would have come in handy so many times on this trip.