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I’ve got Cabin Fever

March 27, 2011

I love to backpack.  A lot.  Alas, lots of things conspire against me when it comes to this hobby.  Right now it’s that whole winter snow pack thing.  I only went backpacking once last year– and I got injured.  I was trying to break up a small tree into firewood, caveman style, and the tree quite resented that.  The net result is that I tore all the ligaments in my left thumb and dislocated it over 10 times.  That, and the resulting surgery, killed my chances for backpacking for the rest of the season.

12,200 feet up in the Rocky Mountains.

But it’s a whole new year, and my thumb has mostly forgiven me.  I have that itch, and it needs scratching.  Big time.

My last major trip was about 2 years ago.  It was a 3 day, 2 night, 27 mile trek with two cool guys.  We started at the Copper Mountain ski resort and went 27 miles to the south west.   About 3 or 4 miles of this was above 12,000 feet above sea level. Here’s a cool picture from near the top, click on the images to embiggen.

The only way I can do treks like this is to make my backpack as light as possible.  Many people who do this have backpacks that weigh as much as 60 pounds, although 40-45 pounds is more average.

For this trip, my pack weighed just 24 pounds, including 8 pounds of water and 3 pounds of food.  If you do the math, that leaves just 13 pounds for clothes, shelter, sleeping bag, stove, water filter, etc.   That’s not a lot, although I know of guys who backpack with even less.

My Small But Super-Light Tarp

One way I can get the weight down is to not use a tent.  Instead, I use a tarp.  On this trip, I used a tiny 8′ x 5′ tarp.   Net weight, about 8 ounces.  My trekking poles were used to make the tarp free-standing.

Another way is to use the Bush Buddy Ultra Stove.  This is a really cool wood gas stove.  Basically, it burns wood but in a very efficient way.  You put in small sticks and it heats up the wood so hot that it turns into a gas– and the gas is then burned.   The net result is very little smoke and ash.

With this type of stove I don’t have to bring along any fuel, as would be the case with a normal backpacking stove.  Stove plus pot weight about 11 ounces.  Unfortunately, this year has already been bad for wildfires, and it’s very likely that wood burning stoves will be banned in our mountains.  If that’s the case then I’ll be using the Jetboil Sol.

But of course, the main reason for backpacking is the scenery.  It’s awesome.   So I’ll close out this blog post with some eye candy for you all.  Click on an image to explodify.

Cool Waterfall

We're going where?!?!

Fly Fishing (on a different backpacking trip)

I am sooooo ready for summer to get here!

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