Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘backpacking’

I did my first Sierra Club backpack bus trip during the Labor Day weekend. About 50 of us packed a bus on Thursday evening and headed over to Upper Sage Campground near Big Pine, California. We arrived to the campground at midnight and quickly set up our tents near Big Pine Creek. Friday morning we woke up to clear skies and warm weather. The bus was scheduled to pick us up at 9 a.m. so we had plenty of time to break camp, cook breakfast and reconsider what we were bringing on the trip. My pack weighed about 30 pounds! I also got to meet the 12 other members of my group. A few of them I had hiked with before. Our trip, Group #3, was destined for Bishop Pass. I had been to Mammoth and June Lake before, but this was my first time in the Bishop Pass area. The bus was on time and we quickly loaded again. By 11:30 a.m. we were at South Lake, at the Bishop Pass trailhead (it took a long time because we had to pick up permits and drop off the other three groups at their trailheads.) The last time I had backpacked was last Thanksgiving in the Grand Canyon so several days before this trip I was worried. But I meditated and hoped that all would go well. And off we went. Wow.

Hiking along Long Lake

Hiking along Long Lake

The scenery was amazing. We passed so many lakes, trees, and mountains and the cloud formations were spectacular! I could not stop taking photos.

View of Bull Lake

View of Bull Lake

I said to myself, “Now why haven’t I been here more often?” The weather reports for the weekend said 50% chance of rain. By the time we reached the base of Bishop Pass, the clouds on the other side looked ominous. Several members who had backpacked in the area before and the leader decided to set up camp at Bishop Lake and then go over the pass the next morning.

Bishop Lake

Bishop Lake

So we set up our tents and unloaded packs. Happy hour eventually turned into cooking dinner and before we reached the dessert course it started raining. So we quickly went into our tents around 6:30 p.m. and took a nap. My tent did well against the rain. Finally around 7:30 p.m. the storm had cleared and we went outside to wait for the stars to come out. We stood around and talked and fortunately one person brought a flask of Scotch. I brought a mini plastic bottle of Sangria, but I think next time I’ll bring a flask of Bailey’s. Once I couldn’t withstand the cold anymore I called it a night. And I slept soundly. Saturday morning I woke up to a damp sleeping bag and pad. So we had to wait for our gear to dry out before we could head over the pass. My pack felt heavier since some of my gear was still damp. Anyway, off we marched over to the famous Bishop Pass. Wow! The views at the top were spectacular!

The view from Bishop Pass

The view from Bishop Pass

It was tough getting over the pass with a full pack but I did it and I enjoyed my well-deserved Snickers Bar. We took a break at the top and took pictures near the sign. Later that day we set up camp at Upper Dusy Basin lakes and did a day hike to the Lower Dusy Basin lakes.

Lower Dusy Basin lakes

Lower Dusy Basin lakes

We had wanted to go to Knapsack Pass, but again, the weather looked ominous. After we returned to camp and had dinner, several members decided to dance to the Bee Gees at 10,000 ft.

The Palisades

The Palisades

Yes, the Sierra Club has a thing about not allowing sound-generating devices on trips, but….Day 3 found us going over Bishop Pass in the morning on our way towards the Chocolate Lakes.

Tina and I at Bishop Pass, again!

Tina and I at Bishop Pass, again!

We set up camp at Chocolate Lake #2.

Chocolate Lake #2

Chocolate Lake #2

That evening we were rewarded by a beautiful sunset!

Last evening

Last evening

I slept well that last evening and I was not looking forward to the return home. So when I awoke the next morning a friend and I decided to check out Chocolate Lake #3 and hike up to the saddle to see Ruwau Lake.

Chocolate Lake #3

Chocolate Lake #3

Ruwau Lake

Ruwau Lake

I took a moment to say good-bye and thank you for a great trip.

Heading out of camp looking down at Chocolate Lake #1

Heading out of camp looking down at Chocolate Lake #1

In search of cold beer....

In search of cold beer….

And before I knew it I was back on the bus headed towards San Diego, but at least I was enjoying a couple of Mammoth Brewing brews.

Read Full Post »

I spent the Thanksgiving holiday backpacking with friends in Grand Canyon National Park.  The last time I was there was as a tourist in 2006.  Hiking and camping in the canyon was an amazing experience which I will never forget.  Although it was a luxurious backpacking trip in that we had tables, running water, and compost toilets at two of the three camping spots, carrying all my gear down and out of the canyon was a challenge.  We started our descent from the South Kaibab Trail in the afternoon of Thanksgiving Day and camped in area BJ9 where we had to set up our tents with our headlights on.  The second day we continued down to the Colorado River on to Phantom Ranch and then on to Cottonwood Campground for our second night.  It was very cool to see the stars on a clear night with a semi-full moon and to hear Bright Angel Creek.  Our third day we went back towards the South Rim and took the Bright Angel Trail to camp at Indian Gardens.  Side trips included Ribbon Falls and sunset views from Plateau Point.  My favorite part of the third day was seeing the cottonwoods with their fall colors.  And on our last day we broke camp early and continued on the Bright Angel Trail to the top of South Rim.  I had a great time and would love to go back.

On the South Kaibab Trail

Hiking out of our first night camp in BJ9

Phantom Ranch

Resting in The Box

Moon over Cottonwoods Campground

Ribbon Falls

Beautiful cottonwoods!

View from Plateau Point

Another view from Plateau Point

Sunday morning view coming out of the Grand Canyon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Last weekend was my first time camping in the snow.  I have hiked and snow-shoed in the snow many times, but I had never spent a night outdoors while it was snowing.  Now I can cross that off my bucket list.  This outing was part of the Sierra Club’s Wilderness Basics Course.  After doing a car camp and two weekend backpacking trips the final outing is a snow camp trip to Mammoth, CA, a popular ski resort in northern California.  There were four snow shoe trips and two ski trips.  I chose a snow shoe trip as I do not know how to ski.  Each trip has 15 students with two trip leaders.  A week before the trip, we brought our snow camp gear and the leaders checked to make sure we had the proper equipment.  When I heard the weather reports, (windy, 18 low, snow showers, 1-2 ft. of snow) I purchased some last minute winter clothing and snow boots.  I’m glad I did.  We left San Diego on Friday afternoon on a chartered bus and arrived to Mammoth High School at midnight.

Loading gear onto bus

We spent the night in the gym and the next morning at 6:30 am the lights were turned on.  Breakfast was served at 7:00 am.  I’m a breakfast person and that was probably one of my favorite parts of the trip.  They had muffins, croissants, bagels, bread, bananas, coffee and orange juice.  I ate a larger breakfast than I usually do because I knew I would be burning lots of calories due to the weight I would be carrying and the cold conditions.

Outside of Mammoth High School

At 8:00 am we left the high school for the trailheads.  Once we reached the trailhead we put on our packs and snowshoes and hiked into camp, which was only a mile and a half away.  That was the easy part.  The hardest part of the trip was withstanding the cold.

Looking for a campsite

Once we found a site with minimal wind, the leaders showed us how to set up our tents.  After we completed that task, we got together and built the camp kitchen and snow potty.

Building the snow kitchen

Fortunately, we were able to set up our tents and build the kitchen and potty before the storm arrived later that afternoon.  We took a break and then went for an afternoon stroll around the area.

Afternoon stroll

The storm had gotten worse so the leader cut short our afternoon hike.  Since the snowfall was too heavy, we weren’t able to have dinner in the snow kitchen.

Our home for the evening

Front door view

Our neighbors

My tent mate and I had dinner outside of our tent in the vestibule.  Dinner consisted of Tastybite lentils and green pea soup.

Dinner is almost ready!

Fortunately I was able to borrow a friends’ 4-season 2-person tent for this outing.  My tent mate and I didn’t sleep a wink, but at least we were not freezing to death.  I had to sleep in many layers in my 15 degree sleeping bag and with foot warmers.  Those are indispensable!  On Sunday morning we woke up to frozen water bottles, condensation, and a winter wonderland.  The storm had passed and the sun was out early in the morning.  We had breakfast in the snow kitchen and I heard the other campers laughing in the kitchen as my tent mate and I packed our gear away and disassembled the tent.

Sunday brunch

We had to meet the buses at the trailhead at 12:30pm so we left camp at 11:00 a.m.  The leaders were rather disappointed that the students didn’t have the experience of having dinner in the snow kitchen.  But maybe I’ll experience that next year.   After breaking down the kitchen and the snow potty we hiked out.

Hiking out

Once we reached the trailhead and the main lodge I drank water like a fish, as I didn’t drink enough water on Saturday.  We had half an hour to change and use the restrooms before the bus took us back to San Diego.  We did make a stop in Bishop, CA for a quick dinner pick-up.  My tent mate and I went into the famous Erick Schat’s Bakkery for strudel and bread to take back to our family.  We arrived in San Diego around 8:30 pm, gathered our gear, said our good-byes and sleepily drove back home.  This was a great experience as I learned many new backpacking skills.  I’m considering taking this course again next year.  And if you are interested in hiking/backpacking, then you should take this class as well.  It’s worth it.

Read Full Post »

Textbook for Sierra Club's Wilderness Basics Course

One of my resolutions for 2012 is to get back into backpacking, which I did a lot of during my graduate school days in Indiana.  If I want to upgrade my hiking trips this year, then I need to get out my dusty backpack and refine my backcountry skills.  The Sierra Club offers a 10-week course, the Wilderness Basics Course, for those interested in hiking, camping, and backpacking.  Once a week some 200 outdoors enthusiasts meet for a few hours and through lectures, slides, videos, presentations, and demonstrations learn about fitness, nutrition, sanitation, first aid, gear, navigation, trip preparation, animals, weather, and much more.  A car camp, desert backpack, navigation trip, and a snow camp are planned for students of varying levels.  So far I’m enjoying the class and looking forward to the trips.  I’ve never camped in the snow before so it will be a challenge.

Read Full Post »