BPLers Gathering of Gear Geeks: Henry Coe State Park January 24-26th, 2014
Corral Trail Head to Manzanita Point Group Campsites 2.7 Miles Approx.
Manzanita Point Camptsite Elevation 2,270 Ft.
Daytime Temps: 74F
Evening Temps: 35F
80-100 People Attending
Website: Henry Coe State Park
Sign at the overflow parking lot at Henry Coe State Park
You will want to drive to the visitor's center to pickup your parking permit to display on the dashboard of your vehicle. Also, if you are traveling in a group, good opportunity to drop off people and backpacks at the visitor so you don't have to carry it the 0.5 miles from the parking lot to the trail head.
Ken Gives Us a Sign
Ken made these signs up and had them places along the trail leading all the way up to the Group Campsite
Half Mile Trail from the Parking Lot to the Visitor's Center
Pretty easy trail with plenty of tree cover
Henry Coe Visitor's Center
Water Fountain, restrooms with running water, limited amount of drinks and snacks for sale inside, friendly staff.
Trail Head Across from Visitor Center
2.7 Miles to Manzanita Point Group Camp Site
A Dry Year
Conditions were very warm and mild temperatures. Next to no rainfall up to this point and essentially no snow in the Sierras. Due to the dry conditions, we were not allowed to have any open fires at night.
Trail Junction a Mile In
Marching the Family Down the Fire Road
One benefit of the mild weather was that my family agreed to come out to the event for the first time.
Another Trail Junction
New Addition This Year- Water Tank
Henry Coe is a pretty dry location and in very hot in the summer.
Water tanks were installed around the park to reduce the need to rescue people due to heat and dehydration issues. Note: The Group site is a dry site and requires you to haul in your own water.
Mistletoe Infested Tree
Last Sign to the Group Site
Due to the size of this gathering, Ken needed to reserve three sites, but the majority of people occupied two of the sites, which were next to each other. The third site was across the fire road...very peaceful.
Welcome to the GGG
Ken's tent with name tags, extra TP, and a dry erase board that pointed out the three group sites. Ken had a rough map of the sites drawn out and designated which ones would be the rowdy area and the others for more quite and family friendly. That said, no one was really too loud and mostly behaved themselves....even that guy Doug I. :)
Special Surprise Gift from Dan of Zelph stoves!
Dan, from Zelph Stoves, donated over $300 of his stoves to be given away FREE at this year's GGG.
Inside the tent there was a box that contained 21 "Venom Super Stoves", 4 "Fancee Feest" stoves, 6 "Modified StarLyte burners" with cap, 6 "original StarLyte burners" with cap, 12 "carbon felt simmer discs" that could be used with the StarLyte burners, the 12-10 stove and Flatcatgear's titanium alcohol stove.
Ken handed out a number of these to a number of lucky people while the rest were in the tent as a gift those arriving.
Note: Unfortunately, due to my arriving late, I was unable to get pictures of people with their prized gift, as they were all given out and taken by the time I arrived. Dan was nice enough to provide me photos of his stove to include into this photo essay.
Dan's Starlyte No Spill Alcohol Stove 0.58 oz.
1.5 oz fuel capacity
Integrated Pot Stand Not Shown, but part of the overall weight
Starlyte Burner with Simmering Ring & Lid
The the unique feature of Dan's stove is that "the StarLyte has an absorbing material that is unique. It is ceramic and the fibers are aligned in a vertical position which allows total capillary action to bring the fuel upward towards the surface of the burner. Carbon Felt has the fibers going every which way and acts like a piece of cotton or common "felt". In my testing of the carbon felt it was found to have remaining fuel at the bottom of the felt which was not able to be brought forth to the top of the stove because it lacked the ability to have the "capillary" ability to do so. It has never been incorporated in to any of my stoves or burners." -Dan
The Starlyte works great with its low profile in Caldera Cones or Flat Cat Cooking Systems.
Dan's Fancee Feest Alcohol Stove 0.85 oz
Very compact stove with a 2.5 Inch Diameter and only 2.25 inches tall
2.5 oz fuel capacity
Boils 2 cups of water with just half an ounce of fuel
Super Venom Stove 1.6 oz
1.0 oz fuel capacity
One piece stove with built in pot stand with no spill feature like the Starlyte
View of just some of the stoves that Dan offers at Zelph's Stoveworks
Note: The Black Carbon Felt Simmer Pad shown here are a new product that will be for sale shortly on Dan's website for use with his Starlyte Alcohol Stove. He sent them to the GGG this year as a gift to attendees and to solicit feedback from the BPL community about how people liked them.
Click here to provide feedback to Dan
Starlyte In Action with Titan Kettle
Duane Showing Off His Starlyte Stoves with Carbon Felt Simmering Ring that he picked up for free at the GGG!
Duane's Starlyte in Action
Dan makes some pretty amazingly capable and super affordable stoves...check them out!
Ken's GGG Van
BPL GGG Trail Magic
A Generous Donation of Fire Pits from an anonymous BPL Member
With only a few days before the GGG the Park Rangers informed us that open wood fires would not be permitted due to the drought conditions that were coming due to a lack of rain this year. Ken immediately posted this on the forum so that people would know to bring a little extra clothing, in case it was cold. Shortly afterward, Ken announced that two propane fire pits were on their way to him from a generous BPL Member.
The Gift of Warmth and Companionship
Marc E. has provided free firewood to each of the GGGs at Henry Coe and provided propane tanks this year. As is typical of him, he has refused any offers of compensation or even donations to cover his cost.
Marc's Gift of Water
One of the things that has made the GGG possible is the 50 gallons of water that Marc has trucked into each year. Without his generosity, the GGG would not be as warm and pleasant as they have been. We have been fortunately to have someone like him to help make these events as successful as they have been over the years.
Note: Mark is standing on the tailgate to the left
As you can see, a lot of the water was used up by the end of the GGG.
People were asked to bring in a few liters of water each to stretch Marc's supply of water.
Ken's Water Jugs
Ken has many of these spread out on a number of tables through out the group sites and one by the pit toilet on a stand so that people could wash their hands and dishes
Ron Moak from Six Moon Designs introducing New Packs
Six Moon Designs Flight 30 Pack
Six Moon Designs Flight 40 Pack
Photos and commentary copied from EJ's posting on BPL
Note: I arrived late to the GGG at about 2 pm, so I missed out on the presentation
Brandon Moak from Six Moon Designs was kind enough to email me with the following details of their upcoming backpacks and to correct some observations made by others at the GGG:
"The spine attaches to the inside of the hip belt with a Velcro patch"
(Observation by someone at the GGG)
This is correct but doesn't accurately describe what is happening. The
spine is inside a pocket that leaves the body of the pack then is sewn
into the bottom seam. This creates a channel that the hip belt is
inserted through. There is velcro on both sides of the channel so, when
inserted, the hip belt is securely fastened with the velcro.
"The hip belt has a plastic insert all around that gives it more structure"
(Observation by someone at the GGG)
There is plastic inside the hip belt but it is not an insert, meaning it
cannot be removed.
"The colors will be green and yellow (I think)"
(Observation by someone at the GGG)
The colors will be green(50) and orange(65).
"There is a delrin hoop that begins and ends at the center of the hip belt
and goes up the side of the pack and across the top"
(Observation by someone at the GGG)
The delrin hoop is only available in the 40
"There is an aluminum stay that can be shaped to your back"
(Observation by someone at the GGG)
No aluminum stay in is used for either flight pack
Ron from Six Moon Designs did a great job showing off the new packs and explaining their features. He revealed two new series of adjustable packs:
1) The Fusion Series, fully-framed packs in size 50L and 60L, which have a single aluminum stay down the center of a stiff, supportive foam/plastic backpad. Shove it pocket on back. I was able to get a great fit with the 60L size. Though I didn't try on the 50L, they use the same frame/harness/adjustment system. T. Could comfortably handle loads of 35 lbs or more. The Fusion packs were prototypes so Ron asked us not to publish photos of them yet.
2) A lighter pack with a hoop stay in size 30L and 40L, for hiking or trail running with lighter loads. This pack is still incredibly supportive with a unique double chest buckle and wide shoulder straps. Highly durable stretchy mesh side pockets. I was able to get a great fit and I think this pack could comfortably handle 25 lbs or possibly more.
Both packs are designed to pull the pack away from your back at the edges near your spine, leaving less of the surface of your back to get hot against the back pad. It works.
I'll be posting photos of the lighter packs, which Ron said was OK.
Brian and Ron did a fantastic job with these packs. Hard to believe they're just the first gen packs of their series.
-EJ Mountain Walker
Additional observations from Peter G, who came up from Southern California:
Here's some details about the new packs that I remember from the SMD GGG presentation. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
* The priorities in designing the packs in order were 1)Comfort, 2)Durability, 3)Function, 4)Weight (I believe the middle two are correct, but certainly the first and last are correct)
* They believe the market is retreating from ultralight back to more comfort
* They have increased their dealer network and consideration was taken in the design to stand out on the retail shelf
* The spine is made of foam and is about 4" wide to minimize contact with the back and reduce back sweating
* The spine has a single aluminum stay that can be shaped to fit your back
* The stay runs down the center of the foam spine
* The spine attaches to the inside of the hip belt with a Velcro patch
* The shoulder straps are shaped like a yolk and attach to the spine with a Velcro patch
* The torso size of the pack can be adjusted S-M-L by moving the shoulder straps up and down the Velcro patch
* The shoulder straps have built in pockets
* The hip belt has a plastic insert all around that gives it more structure
* There is a slot in the plastic in the ends to allow it to conform better to the hips
* The hip belt pockets are not removable and are on all packs
* The hip belts are unisex, no male and female versions
* The hip belt has two independently adjustable straps from each side that connect to a single buckle to allow the belt to adjust to people's different shapes
* The hip belt attaches to the pack at a single patch in the center of the bottom of the pack. I believe it attaches with Velcro
* The material is nylon.
* The top uses a roll top configuration
* The mesh on the side pockets looked very similar to the ULA Ohm mesh
* There are two ports for hydration tubes
* The colors will be green and yellow (I think)
* The lighter weight pack line is called Flight, a combination of fast and light
* Ron said Brian Frankle has been focused on trail running for the past few years
* He gave Brian the latitude to do what he wanted with the Flight series
* The shoulder straps are like a vest with two attachment buckles across the chest and come with built in pockets
* Ron said that this design transfers the weight to the core and off the shoulders and also stabilizes the pack from swaying while running
* The hip belt is mesh with pockets as standard and attaches with Velcro in the center
* There is a delrin hoop that begins and ends at the center of the hip belt and goes up the side of the pack and across the top
* There is an aluminum stay that can be shaped to your back
* The compression straps begin at the spine and wrap around the pack to draw the pack away from the back
* It does not have a back mesh pocket
* There are two ports for hydration tubes
* The colors available are as shown in this thread
(Heck of a memory for all those details that Peter could remember, best to his knowledge)
EJ Showing a 13 oz. Blizzard Survival Bag
Cross Section of the Blizzard Bag's Double Wall Baffle
Details of the Blizzard Bag
EJ says that it is product from England, but able to be purchased in the States
Ryan Volunteers to Demonstrate
7 Ft Tall Bag
I got into the bag and had plenty of room to raise my arms all the way up without having my finger tips leaving the bag and I am 5 ft 6 inches tall. I was even able to jump up and down while in the bag like a potatoes sack race easily enough. Cinching the bag close, I felt plenty warm and did not experience humidity, but given that I was upright, no surprise as any moisture would have risen out of the bag. Not as noisy as I would have expected, probably due to the baffled design.
More Children This Year
For the past couple of years, we have been seeing more and more families and children coming out to the GGG.
Ron from Six Moon Designs Traveling in Style
Kinda make you wonder why you are stupid enough to sleep on the ground when you could be enjoying the creature comforts.
Roger Caffin Winter Remote Canister Stove
Article: Evolution of a Winter Stove
Roger generously offered 9 of these stoves at a reduced price for BPL members for the GGG and shipped them especially for this GGG.
Able to function with an inverted canister for better cold weather performance
Photo show a heat shunt that take heat from the burner to warm the fuel line
Showing the valve handle for canister
Six Moon Designs Skycape X 15 oz Solo Cuben Shelter
The newly redesigned Cuben Fiber Haven Tarp with the Haven NetTent inside.
2 person, 10 ounces for the Tarp and 14 ounces for the NetTent
Deschutes made in Cuben Fiber with the Serenity NetTent hung inside
7 ounce 1 person Tarp
Doug I's Ruta Locura cuben Lone Peak shelter 1 lb 13 oz.
Ruta Locura titanium WiFi stove 1 lb 10 oz
Showing the Stove Pipe
MYOG (Make Your Own Gear) Polycro Tarp
Pole Tie Out at the Ridge line
Corner Tie Out Reinforcement
GOLD Gear Polycro Shelter
View of the end of the tarp zipped up and pegged down for fully enclosed protection
Corner Tie Out Reinforcement Version 2.0
Last years model had a blue colored "tape" reinforcement. This years is white & a different material
One Stake Closure
David Gardner Owner of GOLD Gear
Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape 11 oz Shelter and Rain Poncho
Tarptent Notch 26 oz. Shelter
Has Optional 1 oz solid interior white side panels to protect against wind and dust
Golite Shangri-La 2 Tarp 1 lb 9 oz
Black Diamond Mega Light Tent 2 lbs 5 oz
Or a smaller, older variation of the shelter
"This is my Warbonnet Blackbird Hammock 1 lb 15 oz., with a zPacks cuben hammock tarp with doors, folded over onto itself since the day was so nice. It’s a Hammock Gear 20 degree Incubator underquilt 22 oz. hanging underneath. An EE Enigma 30 degree quilt is hanging on the tarp, next to a WM Flash jacket. And a nice pair of WM Expedition booties hanging at the end of the hammock!" Doug I.
Aaron's MYOG Polycro Shelter
What is unique about Aaron's shelter is that it uses two inverted poles for support and only has two stakes, one at each end, to create the tension to keep the shelter pitched tight.
Note: The shelter was damaged badly after a dog jumped on it. I don't know if it was his dog at his home before come out or by a dog that was at the campsite
Gossamer Gear Tarp
Russ & Lee from Trail Designs
Beloved makers of the Caldera Cone Cooking System
Lee Kicking Back
Once again, Lee had the best setup, short of Ron's Van. Hot water always boiling, white x-mas lights at night, grilling sausages, and tunes to share with anyone who wanted to sit down and share a story or two. Great to see Lee again.
Yama Mountain Gear Cirriform Shelter 18 oz
ZPacks Arc Blast Pack 16-17 oz Cuben Pack
Jon Fong Owner of Flat Cat Gear
Jon was a big hit this year on his first time out to the GGG
He was baking and sharing brownies, muffins, and even a cheese burger!
EJ's Picture of Jon's Baking
Here are two pictures that EJ took of Jon's delicious creations
Hikin Jim's Photo of Jon;s Muffin
Another example of the crazy things you can do with Jon's Stoves with either his alcohol or esbit stoves
Jeremy's Photo of Jon's Cheeseburger made with Flat Cat Baking System
Bobcat Stove in Titanium
"The Bobcat Titanium stove will boil 2 cups of 70F water using 15 ml in about 7 minutes: the stove weighs 21 grams. We also offer the Bobcat Standard stove made from 304 SS and weighs 32 grams. Both stoves have a fuel capacity of over 2 ounces. Both stoves will burn many types of denatures alcohol including, HEET (yellow), Everclear 151 and yes, Purell. These stoves are nearly indestructible as I can drive my car over them with no damage." -Jon
"The ISO-Clean 2.5 was specifically designed to burn isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol). It will burn from 70% up to 91% rubbing alcohol and not leave any soot. To use 99% rubbing alcohol or HEET (red) you may need to add a little water to calm the flames down a bit." -Jon
Epicurean Titanium Stove
"The Epicurean Titanium stoves are designed to burn solid fuels. We offer both the regular (14 grams) as well as the UL15 (6 grams) models. The Epicurean stoves are unique in that they have a regular burn mode as well as a simmer or bake mode. In the low mode, a 14 gram tablet of Esbit can burn between 50 and 60 minutes. Additionally, in bake mode, the burning Esbit barely smells and does not leave noticeable soot on your pot." -Jon
What is amazing is that in this configuration, it can restrict the air supply to the esbit tablet to allow it to burn/simmer for up to 50 minutes on one 0.5 oz cube. Turning the stove over with the "teeth" downward would increase the air supply to allow for a hot, faster, traditional burn. This little ring is the key to baking, though Jon's alcohol stove can also be used to bake.
Focused Fire 14 Stove
This is the stove that Jon has that got me really excited with the promise of getting up to four cups of boiled water per 0.5 oz esbit cube vs. the standard three cups.
The stove must be 1.8 inches from the ground to the bottom of the pot. Air flow and restriction of air is key to getting the maximum efficiency out of the esbit cube. It is ONLY for boiling water as it burns very hot.
Jon's comments: "This stove is design for UL Esbit users that want to maximize their fuel efficiency. This is an experimental stove that is really only being offered to subscribers of BackpackingLight. This is a DIY kit where you finish and assemble the raw parts to create the stove. This stove can heat up 4 cups of 70F water to about 195 F to 205F. The stove is listed on our website under the DIY section and sell (US only for now) for $12.50 including shipping. I made a limited batch."
*Click Hyperlink below photo to take you to store page for this special offer for BPL Members
Flat Cat Gear Esbit Stoves
Jon's Prototype Beer Can Cooking System with Snow Leopard is in the background,
"This is another experimental cooking system. This system was designed for people who love their beer can cooking systems. The windscreen is made of 0.003” stainless steel and can be rolled up to fit inside your pot or rolled up around the outside to help protect your beer can. Shown with the windscreen is a spun and anodized aluminum pot made by Batchstoves. I was experimenting to see if I could make a small cooking system. These prototypes will soon be sold exclusively to BackpackingLight members so stay tuned." -Jon
The Bob Cat Cooking System is their premier system coming in at 3.7 oz and everything fits into the cook pot. The Snow Leopard Cooking system is their ultra compact system coming at 2.15 oz. Both systems come in different sizes to accommodate various size mugs and pots.
Spun and anodized aluminum pot made by Batchstoves
Pedaling In, Bike Packing
Borah Gear Tarp?
Tarptent Double Rainbow 2 lbs 9 oz two person shelter
Emergency Blanket as Ground Sheet
Suluk46 LCT Stove 2.25 oz
Big Agnes Tent
Mountain Laurel Designs 2 Person DuoMid 20 oz in silnylon
Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo 2 Person Tent 2 lbs 9 oz
Mountain Laurel Designs Trailstar 2-3 person 11 oz Cuben Shelter
Flexible pitching options depending on weather, extremely stable in high winds.
Rex's Original Version of the Tarptent Moment 1 person Shelter 30 oz
Rex says, "Very fast to pitch, just big enough for me at 6'2"."
Zpacks Hexamid Soloplex with inner netting and bathtub floor in Cuben 14.6 oz
Duane's Black Diamond Hilight Tent & Zimmerbuilt Pack
Brian J's Zpacks Hexamid Solo with bathtub floor in Cuben 9.8 oz
Brian Comments: "Also in the pic is a Zpacks zero, simple outdoor solutions escape pod cooler, ee rev x quilt 40, and GG sit-lite pad."
Another Mountain Laurel Designs Trailstar
Zpacks Hexamid Duplex 2 Person Tent in Cuben 19.3 oz
Bearikade Carbon Fiber Food Canister
Either the 650 CU IN Weekender for 6 days of food weighing 31 oz
Or the 900 CU IN Expedition for 9 days of food weighting 36 oz approximately
Pretty much the lightest approved food canister you can buy, but not cheap
I just ordered one of these as a custom built at 750 cu in, which I hope will be easier to fit 7 days of food in more easily than my 700 cu in Bear Vault for the same 12" of height and 33.14 oz, which is 8 oz/0.5 lbs lighter. Now to have one of my kidneys removed to pay for it.
Six Moon Designs Cuben Haven, older generation???
Mountain Laurel Designs DuoMid in Cuben 12.5 oz
Looks like a Mountain Laurel Designs Pack, maybe an Exodus inside the shelter
Reinforced Tie Out
David W Returns with a Hammock
Probably an old story, but we met David on a GGG Trip out to Yosemite at Hetch Hetchy Reservoir where David was solo backpacking. He came across our campsite and hung around for the evening and made some new friends. Our lightweight/UL sickness has worn off onto him.
Zara....your pack is always lighter if you made your dog carry your gear
Really sweet dog and only about 13-14 months old, what is her name?
Denise...owner of Zara
Green tarp is from a hardware store, if I recall.
Who says that backpacking light needs to be expensive???
Jane returned to the GGG with her new Zpacks Hexamid Solo Tarp with bug netting 11.6 oz
See Jane hike, see Jane go to a GGG, see Jane UL Backpacking, see Jane on the trail
What's your excuse for not getting out?
Jane is my personal role model for backpacking. She may have done some backpacking when she was younger, but only have recently in the past two years resumed backpacking. I can only hope that when I am as wise and experienced as her that I am still out on the trail having adventures. It has been a joy to see her each year at the GGG. Her enthusiasm is boundless and she is just plain cheerful to be around.
Rick on the left is getting ready for dinner with the others
Are wine bottles considered UL???
With only 2.7 miles to hike in who is really counting the ounces you are carrying?
Kristin with Brock, the newest and cutest BPLer
Out of my way...I have a hiking pole and places to go!!!
Cameron rocking the full beard this year
I had the pleasure of hiking the JMT in 2011 with Cameron. A man of many talents and unique intelligence. Beer brewer, scientist, programmer, and the only person that I know that went "heavy" going UL. His first backpacking trip was with paper bag full of groceries from the corner market and a wool blanket for a multi-day trip. Ask Cameron to tell you the story of his first trip and you will know why I love this man.
Left to Right: John from Hikelighter.com, EJ and his wife, plus friends that EJ "dragged" out for the day. Daniel, at the end, is a recent graduate from Germany and came out check out the backpacking gear. I had the pleasure of talking to him while I was photographing shelters. I did my best to explain the shelters and gear that we saw. He seemed pretty keen to know the names of specific items and for advice on what gear to buy.
Hey, I got into one of the pictures, finally!
Puffy Green Jacket on Tony...copying David W. after seeing him toasty warm last year in his puffy down jacket
Ken Thompson and Jon Abela organizers
Critical Support by Marc supplying water, propane
Special thank you to an anonymous out of State Traveler who generously donated the two propane fire pits so we could have the gift of fellowship around the fire at night.
Ken has been the driving force to keep the Gathering of Gear Geeks going all these years with generous help from others like John and Marc. John was generous to donate his time and technical expertise to setup a webpage for getting people registered for this year's GGG. GGGWest.com
Debbie in Spirit: The Tradition and Gift of Chocolate Goodness
Debbie's brownies have become a bit of a recent tradition at the GGG for the past few years. The first time she brought them in with her for a day hike out to the GGG. Then she brought them last year and was able to spend the night. This year should could not make it, but she made sure that we would have them this year. She found volunteers, Doug and Sharon, to bring them into us. I believe that this may have been one of two boxes full of brownies, which were gobbled up quickly.
Debbie from last year's GGG
We missed you...though, I do feel safer that Sharon and you were not together. Something about threatening people with a cattle prod....
Night Comes and Dinner Time
Peter G. to the left in Royal Blue Jacket talking to Mike
The temperatures were very mild this year. Frankly, we are headed into a drought with little to no rain this winter. With the sun having set, people gathered around the picnic tables to get their meals cooked before being plunged into darkness. Lots of new faces this year with the built in ice breaker of all of having a love of the outdoors to talk about.
Hikin Jim from Adeventures in Stoving
Every year Jim has come out with a large assortment of stoves from his vast collection. He is a wealth of information, which he shares freely with everyone. He can often be seen with a whole table covered in stoves, answering questions, and providing demonstrations of stoves people have never seen before. Next time you see him, stop on by and check out stoves of all types and I am sure Jim will teach you something new.
Lee's Light Show....Trail Design's GGG Headquarters
Gotta love battery powered LED lights to trick out your campsite.
Plus, a great way to illuminate your campsite to give demonstrations of the beloved Caldera Cones.
Dinner Time Conversation with New Friends
Kids at play...monkey in the middle with the blurry yellow ball
More and more kids attending the GGG. In fact, I took my family and my 10 yr old daughter out for the 1st time. Phoebe called my daughter, Mei Ling, the "ninja" because she was so quiet and was simply happy to tag along with the other kids as they ran around at night.
USB LED Scrolling Light
This light was cleverly connected to a USB backup power supply used for recharging phones and tablets.
Sharon getting her MSR Pocket Pocket Rocket Setup
Black Diamond Orbit LED Lantern
Picked up this 4.7 oz 60 Lumen lantern and flashlight that runs off of 4 AAA batteries from REI. Pretty compact and put out good light. Just need to have it elevated to cast light on a large area.
Phoebe Hiding From Me While in Her Chair
This seems to be our little game over the past two years. I try to snap a photo of her and she does her best to thwart me. She did a good job as I was not able to get a photo of her this year.....though, if you follow all the comments after this post, there IS a photo of her with her father, Rick. Always good to see her...each year she gets taller.
Manfred's Girls with Brock
And to think that these girls have already hiked the JMT!!!
Hiking the John Muir Trail with our 9 and 10 year old daughters by Manfred
A Warm Glow
Hanging in Style in Ron's Van
David and Jacob Fireside Chat
Propane Fire Pits in Action
There were two of these setup at two different site.
One that was quieter and occupied by families and children while the other was full of chatter and a few shared drinks.
Tree of Lights
Besides the light being cast from the fire pits, there were a number of lanterns on tables, and a few LED Xmas lights wrapped around a few trees to gives some mood lighting. I think that it would neat next year to encourage people to bring out xmas lights to try to give it a more magical look.....or it just might turn into something that looks like Vegas....hummm.
A Child That Goes Bump in the Night
Jim is at it again and we love it!
When things get dark, what better way to keep things toasty warm and bright by having some stove roaring in the night?
Kicking it with the Caldera Cone & Trail Designs
Happiness is charcoal in your stove for plenty of hot water
And then adding some bits of wood for the aroma of a smokey fire
Notice that there IS a ground shield in use to protect the ground from scaring
Now This is How You Do Backwoods Grilling
Lee was grilling some sausages
Note: This grill does not appeal on the Trail Designs Website and may be a prototype
Always a Good Time with Lee
Lee is always great in that he is happy to answer anyone's questions and to give detailed explanations and demos to anyone curious about his Caldera Cones.
Ken and Manfred Hanging Out at Lee's Tricked Out Campsite
Bike and a Lantern
A Warm Glow to Behold
Cheese Cake and a Drink....a Few Drinks
Peter V and Doug Ide. Doug flew out from Maryland for the GGG. Debbie, who made the brownies, was nice enough to put him up for the night at her place and then sent him on his way to carry brownies with Sharon, who drove Doug to the GGG. Doug is a character for sure and has a generous heart.
Night Lights and Headlights
Always bring your head light...hands free is a great thing
A Surprising Amount of Light and Decent Warmth
Richard Making New Friends with Shawn and Erica (I think it is Shawn & Erica)
Again, a lot of new faces this year and I like to think that everyone was made to feel welcome.
Sharon, Brian, and ???
Pat, my wife, and Sharon
Interestingly I took this shot with a flash, which I generally dislike using, as I prefer the more natural look without the flash. Really dislike flash, but the alternative are slightly blurry pictures
Sharon and Improvised Colored Lanterns
Using headlights and an LED Lantern stuffed behind a water bottle, a plastic cup, and some stuff sacks we were able to get this shot
Shadow and Light
Child's Play with Glow Sticks and Headlights
The kids hooted and hollered through the night, chasing each other around the campsite.
Standing in the Light
Hammock with LED Lighting
Jon Giving Demonstrations of His Various Stoves
Esbit Epicurean & ISO Clean Stoves on the Table
Jon's Standard Alcohol Stove with Optional Simmer Ring
Focus Fire 14 In Action
To work properly for maximum efficiency, the Focus Fire needs to be 1.8 inches from the ground to the bottom of the pot. Restricting the amount of oxygen by placing the bottom of the pot near the top of the stove creates efficiency and a hot burn.
ISO Clean Alcohol Stove with Integrated Pot Stand
ISO Clean Alcohol Stove working properly with Pot on the Stove
Epicurean Esbit Stove in High Mode with the "teeth" facing downward, which allows more oxygen into the "burning chamber"
Epicurean Esbit Stove in Simmer Mode by simply turning the stove over, which restricts oxygen
Jon Demonstrating Hand Sanitizer as a Safe Fuel as it does not spill, ignites easily, and can be a good choice for an alcohol novice
Hand Sanitizer in Flat Cat Alcohol Stove
Carbon Felt Hat as Insulation for Pot
Chairs as a Luxury Item Around the Fire
Sharing Stories of Adventures
Drink by Fire Light
Lee Warming Up to the Fire
Bright Back Country Lights
The night trickles on with good weather that is not too cold and where a light down or fleece jacket will chase away an chill you might feel. Children chase each other around table and shadowy trees illuminated by the two fires that flicker in the night. A warm yellow glow shines upon the faces of all that gather around them to share stories and talk about adventures on the trail. They are beacons for gathering around the light not so much for warmth but for a sense of community. Soon the laughter of child fades into the darkness as they go to bed with parents shortly there after following suit. A burst of laughter breaks the stillness of the late evening as those left around the fires share a few drinks to warm the soul. The night is reduced to low voices that chatter on into the night til the fires are turned out and there is peaceful slumber.
Mei-Ling sleeping in and slow to wake
Henry Shire Tarptent Rainshadow 2 thee person shelter 2 lb 10 oz
My families go to fair weather family camping shelter that will fit three adults
Jetboil Sol Titanium Canister Stove 8.5 oz
Considering that my MSR Titan Kettle is 4.2 oz and my MSR Pocket Rocket is 3.0 oz, for the extra 1.6 oz of added weight and increased efficiency of the heat exchanger, perhaps this is the perfect canister stove cooking system?
Old School Sterno Fuel!
Looks like the pot stand of a Bushbuddy wood burning stove on top of a sterno fuel canister
First Rays of Sun Washing Across the Campsite
Looks like two Jetboil Stoves detached from their mugs
Here Comes the Sun
The sun rises over the edge of the campsite. We are atop a hill that overlooks the surround area. People stir from their slumber. Hats and jackets are pulled on and people venture out. A few low voices greet each other as people carry their stoves and pots to the tables to seek warmth in a quick morning meal.
Nothing Chase Away the Chill of the Morning Like a Father's Embrace
David in the Background with his every present puffy jacket
Ron Knows How to Camp is Style and Comfort
Why have oatmeal when you can have Bacon!
Shawn and Erica's First GGG
In the foreground is my MSR Titan Kettle full of oatmeal with and MSR Pocket Rocket
Pat and Mei-Ling Having Oatmeal
They hate me for not having bacon for them...don't let them see Ron's Bacon!
Sharon's Marie Calender Pot Pie Wind Screen
The Trouble Makers Arise
Joshua "Bobcat" Stacy
Someone told me that the man with the Red and White hat has hike the PCT as well as a number of the long and famous trails setting some records.
Jon's Dough for Monkey Bread
Okay, I admit that I was eager to see how this dry baking worked and Jon promised that he would demonstrate how to make it in the morning. So as people began to stir early in the morning, I made a point of hauling myself out of bed.
Stuffing Bits of Dough Into the Pan
Alcohol Stove with Optional Simmering Ring
Epicurean Esbit Stove in Simmer Mode
Set it on the Stove
In this case, Jon had two pans cooking away to show that both the alcohol and esbit stoves could bake the same bread
Approximately 50 minutes of bake time using one 0.5 oz esbit fuel cube and approximately 35 to 50 minutes with the alcohol stove, depending on the ambient wind
Remove From Stove
Remove from Pan.
Notice the nice browning of the bread on the bottom and edges.
Server and Share the Warm Goodness
Some Sort of Large Forward Facing Waist Belt
Unknown Cuben Pack- HMG???
GGG Lost and Found Tree for Children
Actually, she was great and was nice enough to climb up here to take a seat. I had seen her sitting here the day before, but was not able to get a short of her. So this is just a staged shot.
Brock, Everyone's Favorite GGG Mascot
Spoiled Rotten and Loving It
Brain's Son, Jesse.
Jesse was great. Though being much older than many of the other kids, he was teased, chased, and generally lovingly harassed by the girls and boys. Adorned by all...as he ran around in the darkness to be chased. Loads of energy and making for a lot of good memories for the kids, rather than being bored to death by old people jabbering on about gear.
Unknown Kids Pack
At this point, people were heading out slowly as we needed to be clear of the campsites by 11 am. Marc and a few other people were walking around with trash bags to sweep the sites to make sure that we left it in as good, if not better, shape than we had found it. Honestly, people were great and there was little to clean up after. Ken had a number of large garbage bags at the end of tables or at the base of a nearby tree, which people used to dispose of their garbage.
Marc Heading Out....most of the 50 gallons he hauled in gone.
The Rangers allowed us two support vehicles per group campsite.
The Hike Out
Made a lot easier as Marc was nice enough to drive our packs out.
Unfortunately for me, due to my forgetfulness, I left my hiking poles leaning against his truck in the parking lot. Thankfully, Marc found them and took them with him. I have a lot of miles and memories with those poles. Meeting Marc in the near future to pick them up. I am very grateful that he scooped them up for me.
Stopping By the Visitor's Center on the Way to the Overflow Parking Lot
Sunday Morning Gear Swap in the Parking Lot
Jacob from Hike it. Like it. on the left and John A from Hikelighter.com
Jacob has been a great mentor, educating me about photography and cameras. Now I know what an F Stop is! Seriously, with his education and guidance, it lead me to purchase the Sony RX100 pocket camera. A very capable camera with a lot of manual controls. I admit that I am sticking to using the idiot mode. The large 1 inch sensor has allowed me to capture better low light pictures and to take fewer pictures as most are what Jacob calls "keepers". No more taking three shots of each scene to make sure that I did not have blurry images. Thrilled with the camera and the HD video it can take. Other than resizing these photos for uploading onto BPL, these are the raw shots vs. heavily editing each picture, which I needed to do with my prior camera.
Selling Gear New and Old
Sharon and Doug Carpooling Together
Richard Hanging Out
Special Trail Designs Beer Can Style Pot Stoves: Caldera Keg Systems
Ken's GGG Van...constant of the universe and sign of a good times coming
Thank you Ken for all that you do for the months leading up to the GGG.
Thank you for shepherding the spirit of the event and helping make it grow each year to become an event for novices, hardcore UL gear geeks, manufactures, and families.
A big thank you for Marc, Jon, and our generous donor of the the fire pits. Without your help and generous donation of time and efforts, things would not go so smoothly and would not be nearly as enjoyable.
Til next year everyone!
Ken's Tips for Organizing your own Gathering of Gear Geeks:
1. Site Selection
• Number of People Dictates the Location
• Human Waste Disposal Determines suitability of site selection
• Water availability at site
• Are Fires Allowed
• Online Research & Communication
2. Ease of Permit and Location Access
• Keep it simple: no special use permits, no insurance waivers, no hassles
• Parking Lot Size, Availability, and Permits for Vehicles
• Develop a working relationship with Rangers & Park Staff
• Distance Needed to Hike to Campsite Determines How Many Will Attend
• Meeting at the Trail Head or Campsite
3. The Considerate Dictator
• Pick at a Date that is good for YOU- avoid big holidays & vacations
• Creating the Online Invite: One Easy, Informative, and Updated Posting
• Don’t Be Mom….everyone is an adult
4. Paying for it All
• Expect to Cover Upfront Cost Out of Your Own Pocket
• Low Cost is Key for a Good Turn Out: No renting private ranch or campground
• Clear Posting of Per Person Fees to Attend & How the Money is to be Spent
• Paypal: Easy of Use and Accounting for Who Paid and When They Paid
• List of Who Has and Has Not Paid on Online Invite
5. Preparation & Recruiting Help
• Master Check List to Keep on Track & Organized
• Doing a little bit all of the time…spacing out the work load
• Name Tags
• Pit Toilets/Outhouses: Toilet Paper, Wet Wipes, Glow Sticks, and Air Freshener
• Support Vehicle: Firewood, Duraflame log as fire starter, Water, Water Jugs, Shovel, Broom, Trash can, Trash bags
• Have extras of all the supplies you are taking
• On Site: Cleaning out the Fire Pits & Pit Toilets/Outhouses
• Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help
6. Fun Activities & Events
• Wood Stove Burn Off
• Encourage people to show off/share their talents
7. Leaving the Site Better Than You Found It
• Cleaning Up & Packing It Out
• Maintaining Good Working Relationship with Park Rangers and Staff
• Earning the Chance to Return to the Campsite
8. Sharing the Memories
• Posting Photos & Telling the Story Online: Giving a Reason to Do It Again
A Brief History of the GGG
The G.G.G. stands for Gathering of Gear Geeks, which has been an annual winter gathering of lightweight/ultralight backpackers in the California Bay Area.
This is the 6th year that it is being held.
It is open to anyone....traditional and lightweight backpackers, anyone interested in learning about UL backpacking.
The 1st one was organized by Ken Helwig, a BPL member, and was held at Point Reyes, CA. and had about 15-17 people attend.
Successive G.G.G. were co-organized by Ken Helwig and Ken Thompson until we outgrew the group sites there.
At that point, the G.G.G. was moved to Henry Coe State Park in CA/Bay Area, which would allow groups of up to 100 people.
Eventually, Ken Thompson became the sole organizer of the G.G.G with generous help from fellow BPLers who donated water and firewood, which the Rangers at Henry Coe State Park would allow to be trucked into the group sites.
Recently, UL Cottage Gear Manufactures have been coming out to the G.G.G. to enjoy the gathering and to show their products. In fact, last year we have had Ron Moak from Six Moon designs with Brian Frankle, founder of ULA Backpacks, announce a new partnership and showed pro-type product and to get feedback from the UL Community via the GGG attendees.
People have traveled from all across California to attend and we have had a handful of people fly in from other States to attend.
What is nice about the G.G.G., in my opinion, is that it is a great way to check out the large variety of UL/Lightweight gear that you typically can only see in photos online. More importantly, it is about people making friends, sharing their love of the outdoors, swapping stories, sharing knowledge, finding people to take backpacking trips with....etc.
It is casual and inclusive- everyone is welcome, no matter if they are new to backpacking or long time travelers.
Within the past two years, there have been other G.G.G.s that have popped up around the U.S./country.
Other photo essays by Tony:
5th Annual 2013 Gathering of Gear Geeks: Henry Coe State Park, CA.
BPLers 2012 GGG: Henry Coe State Park, CA.
Gathering of Gear Geeks 2012: Pointe Reyes National Seashore
BPLers 2012 GGG: Henry Coe State Park, CA.
BPLers 3rd Annual 2011 GGG: Henry Coe State Park, CA.
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