BPLers Gathering of Gear Geeks: Henry Coe State Park February 17-19th, 2012
Corral Trail Head to Manzanita Point Group Campsites 2.7 Miles
Manzanita Point Camptsite Elevation 2,270 Ft.
Daytime Temps: 50F to 60F
Evening Temps: 40F to 37F
75 People Signed Up, 60-70 Showed Up
Website: Henry Coe State Park
Park Head Quarters where parking permits were obtained for $8
Ken Thompson had been working since last year for months with the Park Rangers to reserve two group sites that would accommodate up to 100 people. Ken also arranged it so that we could have two support vehicles to drive out to the sites to haul in plenty of firewood and water. The sites only had pit toilets, no clean sources of water close by, and gathering wood was not permitted. The Rangers were great to deal with and even provided Ken with a combination to a lock to one of the parking lot gates to get access without them being present. Weeks and days before this event, Ken was in constant contact with the staff to inform them of our growing numbers and to assure them that we would be no trouble to them at all.
On the trail with Jeremy once again and my first trip since completing the John Muir Trail with Cameron and him in August 2011.
Jeremy has his priorities when packing for a trip like this.
A New Addition to Our Adventures: Jeremy's Son
Ken greets us at the campsite with this trusty van
Rarely Seen BPL Bumper Sticker, though people were looking for the Blue Painters Tape on the side of his van saying, "BPL"
Doing a little bit of work to prepare the site
Cleaning up the facilities
Ken provided rolls of Toilet Paper, a Box of Disposable Wipes, and Glow Sticks at night outside and inside the pit toilet to make the experience as pleasant as possible.
Water Jugs Provided by Ken for all to use
Marc Eldridge volunteer to use his truck to haul in all of the firewood that we would need for the entire trip and 80 gallons of water so that others would not have to carry in water. Without his generosity the evenings would not be the wonderful gatherings that they were to share with old and new friends.
Matt Steps up to Cut Wood
Josh hanging out by Cameron's Four Kegs of Home Brew Beer
Friday Nights Small Group Gathers by the Fire
This was the second time that the GGG was expanded from just an overnighter to two nights. Given that we now have people traveling from all parts of California and from out of State, it made sense to make the event longer to make the trip worth while for those traveling longer distances. Eventually, we would have between 25-30 people coming through out the day and night on Friday. We even had people mountain biking into camp as late as midnight.
Ken with the big stove making and sharing soup
Diana Hauls in the Good Stuff to Share
This was Diane's first time to the GGG and she hauled in a 60 lb pack filled with good things to share like expensive/good alcohol and dark chocolate.
A Pleasant Night with a Warm Glow
Unlike last year's GGG, we had unbelievably mild and good weather. Without Marc's firewood last year, we would have been cold and miserable. This year, the fire was a casual affair that gave all around it time to catch up with old friends and to make new ones.
Kat with others enjoying a fire side chat
Getting to know each other
Red Leader Denis Hazelwood
Hot Dog on a Ti Stick
Denis, Marc, and Ken H.
Ken H. and Diana V. Savoring some nice Scotch and Good Company
BPL Ladies of the Night: Michelle and Julie
Men of BPL: Chris S., James DeMonaco, and Doug Coe
Scoundrels of the Night
The Morning Routine
Laying half asleep in my bivy, the familiar chill of the night greets me at the edge of Dawn. Pulling my quilt tightly around my shoulders and neck, I hope for a bit more warmth to grant me the peace of a little more sleep. Drifting off into slumber, only to awake with the curtain of night to slowly recede with the grey skies lighting up before my eyes, hazed over by the netting of my bivy, my ears hear the cry of a bird and the stirring of bodies and voices around me. It is morning time out on the trail, like so many others that have come and gone before this one. Yet I awake with the comfort that I am not alone and that I am with friends new and old in a familiar place.
Now we are Cooking with Fire
The Warmth and Smells of a Good Moring
Bacon, it's what's cooking and it is good for you.
The Real Jack's Back Country Easy Bake Oven
Powered by Tea Candles
Warm and Fluffy Goodness
Are you Kidding Me?! This is Jack's idea of "roughing it"?
Master Easy Bake Chef Jack
Job Almost Done
Rewards of Creative Cooking
Eric's Alcohol Stove and Beer Can Pot with Silicone Wrist Bands as pot holder
Eric & SaraBeth enjoying breakfast and a laugh together.
Partners in outdoor adventures and crimes that we shall not speak of.
Rick and Phoebe Back Again
It was really nice to see Rick & Phoebe again after first meeting them last year. One major difference between last year and this year was the number for families that came out to share in the fun. Also of note was that Jane returned from last year and I was really pleased to see that she clearly had moved into lightweight backpacking with a frameless Golite Jam2. She said that after her experience last year and the generous advice that she gained by talking to people at the 2011 GGG, it helped her transition from traditional backpacking to lightweight backpacking. Wonderful transformation to see.
Someone is photographing the photographer
Blue Orikaso Folding Bowl
Give Us This Day our Daily Coffee
Diana V. with an elaborate and tasty meal which she had pre-made at home and placed in vac-sealed bags.
Plenty to Share
Diana graciously cooked up extra food to share with everyone
Driving to the Parking Lot to Greet the New Arrivals
After having a leisurely breakfast, Ken T and Kat drove back to the parking lot to greet the new arrivals and to point them in the right direction.
Ken T. Driving Where Others Fear to Drive in an Old VW Van
Actually, it was really impressive to see Ken work a three point turn on a fire road to turn the van around.
Ken Pointing People in the Right Direction and letting them know that we had plenty of water at the campsite so that they did not have to haul in the extra weight. Ken also picked up a large plastic bin full of stoves from "Hikin Jim", who is in the blue jacket, to take back to camp in the van for Jim's show and tell on the various stoves in the market.
Kat Takes Some Time to Knit Some More Toasty Warm Hats on the Ride Back to Camp
The Road Less Traveled, By a Vehicle
Hike Down to China Hole
After Returning Back to Camp, Jeremy organized a day hike to China Hole
Interesting note, despite the name, I failed to see any of "my country people" at this Hole. A bit deceptive advertising with the name of the trail.
Jay, Jeremy, and Justin on the Trail
James Taking a Photo Along the Trail
Beware of Evil, Rabid Newts
Shack or House Destroyed By the Stream/River
Guessing that this dated back to the 60's or 70's by the look of it.
Looked like a bad location as it was right next to the river/stream.
Colorful Details Along the Trail
Odd One Room Structure Out in the Middle of Nowhere
Jeremy Making Burritos While His Son Helps Out
James Preparing His Vargo Hexagon Wood Stove
Vargo Hexagon Stove
Ti Version 4.1 oz.
Stainless Steel Version 7.4 oz.
All Fired Up
Cameron's Mountain Laurel Designs Cuben Monk Tarp
Cuben Fiber -.7 oz version 4.3' X 9'
4.2oz or 3.7oz without LineLocs
Doug Wolf's Henry Shires StratoSpire 1 33 oz.
With Yellow Neo Air Sleeping Air mattress
Tim Marshall Revelation K cuben fiber quilt, rated to 40 degrees.
Doug says, "With clothing was able to sleep comfortably through overnights in the mid-30's."
Enlightened Equipment Quilts
Double Doors on Stratosphire 1
Henry Shires Tarptent
Hexamid Solo Tent or Tarp
Hexamid Solo Tarp - 3.3 oz (94 grams)
Hexamid Solo Tent w/ Screen - 8.8 oz (250 grams)
Marc's Creative Hammock Suspension
Marc says about his setup, "The hammock is a DIY with a piece of 1.1oz/yd ripstop nylon. I bought a piece 5'x12', hemmed the edges and tied it in different lengths to see which would work best. I think it ended up being 10.5' when I finally finished the end channels. The structural ridge is a little over 9'. I made some nacrabiners and dynaglide whoopie slings and some 1" polyester tree straps which I sewed loops on the ends. I cut some small bamboo for shackles. Got a Te-wa freeze underquilt with 2 oz. overfill and a ZPacks cuben hammock tarp w/doors. I used a Western Mountaineering Highlite for a quilt and the Goosefeet down booties, pants and parka and a Blackrock down beanie for sleeping."
Marc continues, "This is way more info that you probably want so I will summarize:
A DIY 1.1oz/yd ripstop nylon with dynaglide whoopies, 1" polyester straps and bamboo shackles. Te_wa Freeze underquilt with 2oz. overfill and a Western Mountaineering Highlite for a top quilt. Quite comfy."
Kevin's 2011 six moon designs skyscape scout.
Kevin says, "A great tent at 34 oz and a mere $105 price tag."
Ken Trying On a New Head Net
Peter's Head Nets
The Story : Years ago .. Peter handed the design concept and patterns to his friends @BackPackingLight.com. BPL contracted production to SimBlissity, of who's Brett Tucker improved them by developing the crown and lightening things up a bit. Eventually SimBlissity lost interest in sewing Head Nets, and after a polite amount of time, Peter entered commercial production. It's all good.
Peter Helps Ken Out
Headnet UL Style
Estimating weight at 0.33 oz, which is the weight of the discontinued BPL Headnet
Photo #10 Unknown Tarp & Bug Shelter....think it is a Gossamer Gear Tarp
Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo 23.0 oz.
Six Moons Design Lunar Solo
Ti-Tri Caldera Cone Sidewinder
Debbie came out last year just for the day with a big box of brownies and this year she came out with even a larger box that was a huge hit with everyone
Addictive Chocolate Brownie Goodness
I was so busy running around taking photos, I managed to miss out on these tasty looking treats.
Lisa Snags a Brownie while Hikin Jim Breaks Out His Collection of Stoves to Show
Jeremy Attends to Important Issues
Cameron brought four different types of beers that he brewed for people to try:
"Two were vienna malt lagers, intended to showcase the flavor of the German malts. Two were westcoast style pale ales, featuring organic brown rice from the San Joaquin valley. One made fresh to showcase the Nelson Sauvin hop from New Zealand, another aged 8 months as an educational experience to see how the same beer tastes without the hop aroma." -Cameron
Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape 11.0 oz Poncho Tarp/Shelter
My friend, Linda, has one of these and it handled a 13 hour rain storm on Mt. Whitney just as well as my MLD Poncho tarp, but has the advantage of providing more room to sit upright, but at the expense of a little more weight.
Six Moons Design Gatewood Cape
Denis Hazelwood's Big Sky International
Not Shelter is Complete without on of These
Side View of Red Leader's Big Sky International Tent
Jeremy's Squall 2 Tarptent 34.0 oz
Tarptent Squall 2
Gossamer Gear CubicTwinn Tarp???? 5.5 oz
Caldera Cone, Short Neo Air?, and Unknown Yellow Foam Pad
Zpack Cuben Tarp
Ron & Lisa's Chouinard Shleter, before they were know later as Black Diamond
Stuff Bag for Shelter Showing Old Company Logo
Dave From Gossamer Gear on the Right in the Green Jacket
Russ from Trail Designs on the Left in Blue Shirt
Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo
Gossamer Gear Swag
Dave was nice enough to hand these out to people at the GGG
Rite in the Rain All Weather Min Notebook
Gossamer Gear Stickers- take less, do more
Unknown Green Cuben Tarp, Unknown Owner
Old Integral Designs Poncho Tarp????
Older GoLite Mid Shelter
Bearikade Carbon Fiber Bear Canister
Mountain Laurel Designs Cuben TrailStar 10.5 oz
MLD Cuben TrailStar
MLD Silnylon Duo Mid 16.0 oz
Side View of Duo Mid
Mountain Laurel Designs Silnylon TrailStar 16.0 oz
Jason says of his shelter, "The name of the shelter is the Appy Trails, Mark V. Cheap at $120 and his largest size. He has 1 at $99 that is called the Mark III. I loved the Mark V and reviewed it on the BPL sight. 4/5 because everything, just about, could be better. But I would call it a 5 when you include cost!"
Appy Trails Backpacking Tents
Big Agnes Shelter
Black Diamond Shelter- HiLight Tent???
Richard's Hexamd Solo Tarp with HexaNet Solo Bug Shelter 10.2 oz approximately
Rick Kicking Back with a Chair & Book
Note: He was smart enough to bring a chair this year...I need to learn from him. :)
Phoebe Kicking Back in the Double Rainbow Tarptent
Blue Zpacks Hexamid
Never Seen This Color Before
Zpacks Hexamid Solo Tarp - 3.3 oz (94 grams)
Black Diamond Beta Light Tent 1 lb 3.0 oz ???
MYOG Version of MLD Patrol Tarp?
Unknown GoLite Shelter
Debbie's Lightheart Gear- Duo Tent
Duo Tent 2 Lbs.
Debbie says, "In case you want to be more specific, the custom MLD Exodus sitting next to the Lightheart Duo is made of VX21 and Dyneema. It was a PIF from Thom Darrah who'd had Ron make it for him and decided not to keep it. It's my first try at a frameless pack; not sure yet if it works for me...".
Jason and his children: Dillon and Lucy AKA- Diggy and Lulu
Stolen Quote from Forum from Jason:
"THANK YOU SO MUCH. I am at a loss for words... Well not really... The fact is you all said it so well. I brought my daughter for her first backpacking trip and she loved it. The perfect distance for a 9 year olds first trip! She required a little more attention than I expected so it put a bit of a damper into some of my mingling. However, I got to meet a lot of people and even found a potential hiking partner or two. THIS GGG IV EVENT Rocked!!!"
Kat working hard to keep your head warm with her toasty warm hats
3 types: 100% Baby Alpaca, Baby Alpaca & Merino Wool Blend, and 100% Merino Wool
2 different styles: rolled edge (40 grams) and folded edge (60 grams)
Get Yours Here: Mountain Goat Hats
Jeremy's Son Lovin' His New Hat
Unpaid Hat Model
For More Views of Hat Models and different choices of colors and materials: Click Here
Josh's Love Shack
Custom Modified Oware Pyramid that is now 9 lbs with everything you see...including the wood burning stove.
Josh describes his unique shelter, "The tent is an Oware 30 D 10x10 pyramid. The modifications were made by Bearpaw Wilderness Designs and the stove is titanium a size large made by Seek Outside. Bearpaw added: the stove jack, the perimeter netting/sod skirt, the screen door, and the extra tie outs on the inside and out that line up with each other to create a clothes line inside and extra wind stability outside."
Sewing 12" Inch Bottom Perimeter Extension with Bug Netting
Custom Modifications done by Bearpaw Wilderness
Interior Installed Tie Outs for Clothes Line
Josh, Proud Owner of a Renaissance Fair Tent
Cool Wood Burning Stove by Seek Outside that you can cook on and it packs flat when disassembled.
950 Cubic inches
2 lbs 12 ounces
Dimensions 8" x 8.5" x 14"
Includes damper, stuff sacks and 6.5 ft of titanium pipe
Plenty of Room for Two or Three
Modified Stove Pipe Heat Resistant Fabric with Velcro Flap that can Seal the Roof when the Stove Pipe is not in use. (Josh says that he wishes that the whole flap could be removed and then Velcro back in place. Excess heat has melted the flap)
Stove Staked Down to Stabilize Stove Pipe in Heavy Winds
View of the Interior Bug Netting Along the Bottom
Denis Park's 1st GGG
Denis came out for the day to visit, make new friends, and to check out the wealth of UL gear to help him with his own lightweight evolution with his kit.
The Mountain Bike Brigade
We had people arriving on Friday night up til midnight on their bikes
Ken T.'s Hileberg Unna
Hileberg Four Season Tent 4 lbs 14 oz to 3 lb 15 oz
(Weights for Soulo, which may be the succesor to the Unna)
2 lb 10 oz. to 3 lb 8 oz.
Hikin Jim from Adventures in Stoving
Jim was generous enough to bring out just a few of his stoves to share with everyone, to answer questions about, and to even demonstrate. He was even nice enough to fire up one of the New Soto Canister stoves that I was curious about. He is a wealth of information wrapped up in a bundle of humility with the passion and desire to share his knowledge with others. He easily spent two or three hours giving demonstrations and answering everyone's questions.
Just a few Stoves
Talking into the Evening
Lee from Trail Designs, maker of the beloved Caldera Cone Stoves
Ken T. says, "Russ, his son and his brother Lee from Trail Designs were a hoot as well, also bringing a few surprises." (Surprises were in the form of prototypes and other possible products for the future)
Lee Setting Up Shop and Hanging Out
Extra Large Wood Burning Caldera Cone
Base of the Cone with Hot Coals, Plenty of Heat for a Group of Backpackers
Keeping the Fires Going All Night Long
Cooking Up A Storm
Dave From Gossamer Gear Next to Jason on the Left
Diana Installing a Bearpaw pyraNet under her cuben TrailStar
It's the extended length, customized with 10 inch silnylon added to the sides
Creative Use of a Water Jug as a Pole to Allow for Extra Ventilation
Casey with his Son and Parents
What was great about this year was the number of families that came out to enjoy this event. Always a pleasure to see a new generation of campers and backpackers learning to enjoy the outdoors. The outdoors can be a wonderful way to bring all generations together and to build up memories to treasure for years to come.
Jack the Eternal Tinker and Inventor
Hot Coals for Baking Brownies
Not content to know that Tea Candles were enough to bake muffins, Jack used charcoal that someone offered to him to make another round of goodies. Rumor was that they were tasty and spoken for before the oven was opened up with the finished goods.
Dinner Time Means Crowds Looking for Spots on the Table To Cook On
Richard at the Second Campsite
With 70 or so people at this year's gathering everyone was more spread out vs. last year's 2011 GGG where most everyone was all clustered together in one site.
Dinner Time Over at the Second Site
Mind you you that each site is able to handle 50 people, so we had to reserve both group sites this time around. As they were right next to each other, you only needed to walk about 30-45 seconds to get to the other site and it did offer people a site that was a little less chatty and noisy. Safe from Ken H's shenanigans.
Someone Borrowing Kat's Under Quilt to Stay Warm
(Think this is a Jacks R Better Down Underquilt???)
Jacks R Better.com
Kat's Table Enjoying Dinner Before the Sun Sets
Jason and his family hanging out
Nightfall Quickly Descends as Another Family Arrives & Sets Up
Warming Up in Josh's Amazing Tent
As night fell and the temperature was dropping into the mid 40's, my hands were getting a little numb, so I decided to drop in on Josh. It was easily 15 degrees warmer inside his shelter with plenty of room to stretch out and hang out. Josh was happy to let me warm up in his tent and to allow me to ask him questions about how this shelter to come to be. Oddly, now that he has this marvelous creation, he is not exactly sure how he is going to use it. At 9 lbs, with the stove, it is an amazing shelter, but not exactly backpacking material. Maybe as a base camp for winter camping. Either way, however and where ever he chooses to set it up, it will be the envy of all and appreciated by those hanging out with Josh in it.
The Source of Warm Goodness
I was not the only one to pay a visit to Josh to check out his sweet setup. Later there might have a been a group of 3-4 people hang out with Josh and sharing good times.
The Fiery Beast
Food for the Fires
Josh Brought Cut Strips of Redwood to Feed His Stove
He was one of the support vehicles and was able to drive in everything in his truck
Phoebe Enjoys the Makings of a S'more
Toasty warm after spending 10-15 minutes with Josh, I headed back out to take more photos and to see how things were at the first campsite, now that they had a nice fire crackling away in the night.
We have Ignition!
Just have to enjoy seeing the beauty of an alcohol stove at work
The Warmth of Glowing Fire Brings Us Together
Sense of Community
As night fell and people huddled together in the warm glow of the fire, it was not because of the cold, but the sense of community. People shared S'mores, homemade cookies were passed around, the last of Cameron's home brewed beer made its way around, people shared what they had in food and drink and shared a wealth of stories to inspire future adventures.
Enjoying the Warm Glow
Andrew, Jack, and Matthew
Laying Out by the Fire for a Nap- The Look of Pure Contentment
Like a Cat at Your Feet
A Public Service Message From Ken H.
Actually, before this Ken did give a very heartfelt speech to thank Ken T. for all of his efforts over the past year to make sure that this event would happen. Ken T. scouted out different locations, spoke to park officials, used his own money to reserve the sites, arranged for support vehicles, made sure that the restroom had baby wipes, plenty of toilet paper, glow sticks to illuminate the restroom at night, and a host of other things big and small.
Just in Case You Did Not Get the First Message from Ken- The Soul of Punk Lives!
Ken was in full force this year and then some. Perhaps to make up for last year, where he suffered from some health issues that denied us his always entertaining and colorful personality.
All I have to say is, "Keep your tents locked up night! You might wake up to find out that Ken H. has sneaked in to share your tent with you."
A Place for Everyone and All Ages
The Dancing Flames Holds Our Gaze
Throughout the night, as the chatter of new and old friends carried on, the logs were tossed onto the fire. The ebb and flow of the light of the fire shifting from a raging and crackling inferno of heat to the dull and fleeting sparks of a fire near its end. All the while, people swapping stories, sharing adventures and advice.
Is there anything better than a S'more for breakfast?
Is that another S'more that I see!
Cameron- Your Brew Master
A.K.A. --B.G.-- (Beer Guy)
Jermey's Son Enjoying Breakfast
Working on a Morning Marsh mellow
Morning at the Second Site
People Stiring About at the First Site
The Morning can not come soon enough. Restful slumber becomes a series of restless catnaps throughout the night. It is not cold and there are moments when I feel too warm. Laying in my bivy, I wait for the light of the morning to break the darkness of night. Opening up bivy in the middle of the night, I shuffle out as quietly as I can to use the restroom. The night has its own rhythm as I walk about. A collection of shelters dot the night, there are the sounds of people shifting on their sleeping pads, a light that shines inside a tent and cast an inviting glow, and the moon that is high in the sky to cast a pale light for me to walk by.
Everyone Preparing at Welcome Hot Breakfast on a Grey Day
Stoking Up the Fire from Left Over Hot Coals from the Night Before
Those Who Linger on to Savor the Moment
Some people have already packed up and have started to hike out as other are just getting out of their bed and dressed in their warm layers of clothing. People casually go about their business and have a meal. Slowly, people drift off and haul their packs onto their shoulders and say good bye to new and old friends and head off down the trail.
My Time Has Come to Leave
Neither the first to arrive or the last to leave, we pack up and head out, saying good bye to everyone and satisfied with the outcome of this journey. Another year has come and past with the satisfaction that something wonderful has happened. That the beginning of a tradition has been established. With each passing year something has taken shape and form to become more than just 14-16 strangers meeting in a parking lot. Jay put it perfectly back then, "We are a bunch of introverts trying to make conversation for the first time in a group of introverts(solo hikers)." Maybe today we are more than Gathering of Gear Geeks, but a small and welcoming community of like minded souls who share a passion and love for the outdoors and want to share it will everyone.
Passing It Along
To Another Generation
"You are the reason the GGG is successful. With such a wide range of ages and social and economic backgrounds being able to come together and play nice with each other. So funny to hear from so many how they usually do the solo thing, but were glad to have come to this event." -Ken T.
***Click Here: Need Your Help, Feed Back Needed to Make This Better Next Year****
Other photo essays by Tony:
BPLers 2011 GGG: Henry Coe State Park, CA.
Special Video Made by EJ Documenting the 2011 GGG
Backpackers Gone Wild: BPL 3rd Annual SF Bay Area Gathering of Gear Geeks (GGG) Jan 26-27, 2011.
BPLer's 2010 GGG: Point Reyes, CA. 2nd Annual Trip
BPLer's GGG: San Francisco Bay Area, CA.; Mt. Diablo
BPLer's GGG: Yosemite: Hetch Hetchy Resevior to Rancheria Falls
BPLer's 2009 GGG: Point Reyes, CA
High Sierra trail to Mt. Whitney
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park: Deadman Canyon
Tahoe Rim Trail
Yosemite: Glacier Point to Red Peak Pass to Lake Merced
Yosemite in Winter: Crocker Point & Dewey Point
Yosemite: Lake Vernon & Hetch Hetchy Reservoir
Yosemite: Tenaya Creek
Photo Essay by Linda Vassallo: Mt Whitney Summit Hike: A photo essay
Trip Report & Article by Jeremy Pendrey: Hiking The Diablo Trail: A Conservation Success Story
Photography and Backpacking Article on Hike It. Like It.
Photo Essays: Telling the Story, Sharing the Adventure