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Thomas Trebisky
(trebisky)

Locale: Southern Arizona
A trip on the move! on 01/20/2010 17:56:53 MST Print View

Reading this article for the second time. It confirms my new philosophy of ultralight packing. The whole point is to be out there and on the move (however, at this point I only get up before dawn when there is a peak to be climbed). I used to carry a lot of the stuff I used to carry for "comfort in camp", or something like that which was never clearly articulated. Now I avoid carrying stuff to achieve "comfort on the trail" and am so much more happy! Nothing like traveling light and covering ground.

As for the article, I would be interested to see mileage per day as food for thought (but given 120 miles and 10 days the math to figure the average ain't all that hard. Also, it would seem that less than half of the days were "off the trail". This is fine, I like the mix.

Don Wilson
(don) - MLife

Locale: Koyukuk River, Alaska
Re: Sierra Prime: Off Trail in California's High Country on 01/20/2010 18:07:13 MST Print View

Hey everyone -

Thanks for all the feedback. Some responses and comments below:

Andy is correct that MS Excel is definitely part of our planning toolset. The tools we mentioned here were probably more focused on route selection and planning, which is only part of overall trip planning. We use Excel for gear lists, food calculations, and mileage estimates. As mentioned in the article, we took our daily food weight down below what we use on most trips, and we tried to get our calories per ounce as high as we reasonably could. It worked out pretty well. I normally carry a lot of food - I have the metabolism of a hummingbird, and I don't like being hungry. But it worked out well, and I'd be more comfortable on future trips with lower food weight. That's one of the benefits of an experiment like this - you learn and fold it back into your next trips.

Andy is also correct that a good chunk of our trip followed the SHR. I have a copy of Andy's SHR mapset, and I'd highly recommend it to anyone doing all or part of the SHR. He does a fantastic job of putting alot of info into his maps and other material.

I don't think we mentioned it in the article, but this was also the first trip that Alan and I had done together. We've known each other for years thru BPL, but had only met face to face on one occasion prior to this trip. That's a nice little side benefit of working with BPL, or being a member of the community here - lots of great folks you can connect with.

Kevin - Alan should be able to comment about the details of the auto updates from his sat phone. That process worked nicely and was enjoyed by our families at home.

We had fun doing the videos, but we also learned a few things. We didn't take enough candid shots, which would have blended nicely with the little vignettes we did. All of the video sessions were spontaneous - just us talking off the cuff. There were some nice outtakes and bloopers :-) Also, on several occasions I got too close to the camera and you can hear some heavy breathing. Sorry about that. In the future, we would use a small tripod more often. Taking field video is so easy these days and we plan to do a lot more in the future. All of the video in the article was shot on my Canon SD960IS. It does a pretty good job for a little point and shoot. It's amazing how fast video cameras are advancing. Here's a pic of the 960.Canon SD960IS

Edited by don on 01/20/2010 18:08:00 MST.

Alan Dixon
(alandixon) - MLife

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Blogging with Iridium 9555 phone. on 01/20/2010 18:08:58 MST Print View

>I'd love to know how you got Iridium messages to automatically post. I'll be skiing the JMT this winter and will be bringing my 9555 along.

First, it helps to have a son who is PhD student in computer science.

Second, it involves using a surrogate email address to send SMS messages to, WordPress, and a WordPress utility, "postie," that pops email from the surrogate address and imports it into the WordPress Blog. We can even convert a 6 digit UTM location shorthand (embedded in the email) into a Google Map location like SPOT does.

There is also an option to post voice mail "blogs" from the Iridium phone as well. Although this is not via WordPress.

Contact me on my BPL address if you need more details...

-A

Edited by alandixon on 01/20/2010 18:59:48 MST.

Alan Dixon
(alandixon) - MLife

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Improvements to Backcountry Video - external microphone on 01/20/2010 18:18:26 MST Print View

>We had fun doing the videos, but we also learned a few things. We didn't take enough candid shots, which would have blended nicely with the little vignettes we did. All of the video sessions were spontaneous - just us talking off the cuff. There were some nice outtakes and bloopers :-) Also, on several occasions I got too close to the camera and you can hear some heavy breathing. Sorry about that. In the future, we would use a small tripod more often...

EXTERNAL MICROPHONE:
I would also add that in addition to a light tripod to avoid the shakes, I would definitely take a video camera that has the option to attach an external microphone. An external mic that was closer to the speaker (or sound source) and that had a windscreen on it would make enormous improvements in sound quality. By far the greatest culprit for creating outtakes was poor sound quality and ever-present wind noise--not camera shake or image quality. -A

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Post deleted on 01/20/2010 18:24:34 MST Print View

Post deleted.

Edited by ouzel on 01/20/2010 18:42:07 MST.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Sierra Prime: Question for Kevin on 01/20/2010 18:39:25 MST Print View

Skiing the JMT: in a new thread perhaps....


edit: ...and thread stub started in Trip Reports

Edited by greg23 on 01/20/2010 19:12:03 MST.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Sierra Prime: Question for Kevin on 01/20/2010 18:41:22 MST Print View

You're right, Greg. Sorry about the hijacking, however well intentioned.

Devin Montgomery
(dsmontgomery) - MLife

Locale: one snowball away from big trouble
Re: Re: Sierra Prime: Off Trail in California's High Country on 01/20/2010 18:52:50 MST Print View

>We had fun doing the videos, but we also learned a few things. We didn't take enough candid shots, which would have blended nicely with the little vignettes we did. All of the video sessions were spontaneous - just us talking off the cuff.

It's funny you say that. I just came to the same conclusion this weekend, when I took my first substantial video of a trip. I definitely need to take more "b-roll" to fill in between spots where I'm blabbing to the camera. :)

Alan or Don: where did you get the background music you used? I thought it was pretty good. I'm guessing it may be royalty-free stock stuff?

Don Wilson
(don) - MLife

Locale: Koyukuk River, Alaska
Music for videos on 01/20/2010 19:11:31 MST Print View

The music came from Garageband (from Apple). With some practice, you can generate a lot of different music fairly easily. I supplement the built in loops with their World Music Jam Pack, which gives you hundreds more loops and short sections from which you can build more complex and longer music.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Re: Re: Sierra Prime: Question for Kevin on 01/20/2010 19:16:02 MST Print View

Tom
NBD. It's just that things are convoluted enough as it is.
Hopefully Kevin will pick up.

Don Wilson
(don) - MLife

Locale: Koyukuk River, Alaska
Re: A trip on the move! on 01/20/2010 19:22:42 MST Print View

Tom -

We probably spent just about half the trip off trail, maybe a bit more. But we definitely did more miles on trail, as some of the off-trail hiking was pretty slow. We walked about 20 miles per day on day 2 and 3. And we did very few miles on the day we climbed Mt. Sill - maybe 5 or 6 miles. I'm not sure what our total mileage was at the end. We also explored a little bit off trail in the Humphreys Basin near the end of the trip. Overall, I thought the trip was a pretty moderate pace. We pushed harder in the beginning, then gradually slowed things down.

Mileage wasn't really a goal, and I think we were both content to explore at a slower pace, especially while we were in the most remote locales. We definitely took it slow while in the Ionian Basin, and were plenty content to stop early and hang out in such a fabulous area.

Don

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Sierra Prime: Off Trail in California's High Country on 01/20/2010 19:52:33 MST Print View

Nice report.

Great ideas about food. Was glad to learn that I share one of your favorites: Trader Joe’s Honey Sesame Sticks.

Good planning info, too. Very helpful. I have the Roper book and Skurka's mapset. Both excellent references. Sooner or later I will work out my trip.

Thanks for the good work!

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Sierra Prime: Question for Kevin on 01/20/2010 20:44:17 MST Print View

"Hopefully Kevin will pick up."

Well, you've dangled the bait out there. Now let's see if we get a nibble. :)

Madeleine Landis
(yurtie) - MLife

Locale: Central Oregon
did you really leave no trace? on 01/20/2010 22:27:04 MST Print View

Thank you for your article. Nice photos... but I have to say, I was dismayed to see in your first photo you have a fire with blackened granite rocks. You say you had them 'where allowed', yet also say you were at 11,000' and in a heavy use entrance area. I do believe fires are not allowed at that altitude in the Sierra.
I was also dismayed to see your two tarps set out on grassy, soft earth close to Lower Palisade lake. That is a fragile spot! One of the first rules of LNT is to camp at least 200' from water and use hardened off areas, like the plentiful sandy benches in that area (also don't want to be seen from the JMT if possible, as it sets a further bad example.)
I hope there are good explanations for this as I thought the members of BPL were light in impact on the wilderness, not just in their gear. Thank you.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: did you really leave no trace? on 01/20/2010 22:53:04 MST Print View

> your two tarps set out on grassy, soft earth close to Lower Palisade lake.
Well, yes, but if you look at the other photos you might realise that there is very little space around some of these lakes where sleeping is remotely possible. Me, I do not< like sleeping on large lumps of scree!

Would one night's camping (in a UL manner) really harm the grass? My experience is that when I remove my tent from such a place all traces of my passing are gone in half an hour. The ecosystem may be fragile in one sense, but that stuff takes the winter snows and storms quite happily. In another sense that environment is quite robust as long as you do not break the tangle of interlocking roots which support the vegetation.

Cheer

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
lnt. on 01/20/2010 23:12:21 MST Print View

i'm not a member, so i couldn't see the article and pictures, but in response to Roger's post, i'd say it's probably an issue of use levels.

on some random bit of grassy meadow or high-alpine turf, one night spent might not be a big deal (especially since we ULers tend to set up a little shelter at dark and take it down first thing).

however, along the JMT (e.g. around Palisade Lakes) you get LOTS of people camping in the usual spots, so keeping them on sandy benches (or granite!) and off the more easily trampled grass/turf/meadows is a very good idea.

i'd also be interested to see the explanation on the campfire mentioned above.

Edited by DaveT on 01/20/2010 23:14:26 MST.

Kevin Sawchuk
(ksawchuk) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Northern California
Sierra Prime: Question for Kevin on 01/20/2010 23:35:04 MST Print View

I did pick up and left a summary of the planned trip at:
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/xdpy/forum_thread/28003/index.html

Alan Dixon
(alandixon) - MLife

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Re: did you really leave no trace? on 01/21/2010 04:34:12 MST Print View

>You say you had them 'where allowed', yet also say you were at 11,000' and in a heavy use entrance area. I do believe fires are not allowed at that altitude in the Sierra.

Madeleline,
Thanks for your concern about LNT. Indeed you are correct that the BPL staff believe in and adhere to LNT principals.

Please check the Article again. We were camped below 10,000 feet in an area that was fire legal. We did use an existing fire pit, including the two "blackened" rocks to support the pot. I don't remember anywhere we said we were in a heavy use area. In fact, we were 2-3 days from the nearest trail head.

I believe others have adequately addressed the tarp issue.

Other than to point out that the tarps are not pitched at Lower Palisade lake but at a much higher and remote unamed lake off trail. This lake sees very little use. In fact, due probably to LNT it was not evident that anybody had camped there (including after we left).

Thanks again for your concern about LNT. If there were more people like you the Sierras and other mountains would be a less impacted and more beautiful place.

Peace, -Alan

Edited by alandixon on 01/21/2010 04:41:26 MST.

Bernard Shaw
(be_here_now@earthlink.net) - F

Locale: Upstate New York
Altitude sickness on 01/21/2010 05:54:15 MST Print View

Guys, as role models, you should mention that either you both are NOT prone to altitude problems or that you were exceptionally lucky to not get major illness from jumping off a plane massive first day and camping so high up.

Alan Dixon
(alandixon) - MLife

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Re: Altitude sickness on 01/21/2010 06:55:07 MST Print View

Actually, sleeping at 11K the first night was part of the plan. I aclimatize best with a short and easy first day (starting in mid-afternoon to early evening) and getting a good night's sleep at over 10,000 feet. Takes the sting out of adjusting to being high. YMMV