Each year in July I spend a week or so somewhere in the mountains not far from my house with a few friends. Last year we did the Wonderland trail and loved it and I was looking forward to what this year brought. Originally we had planned to do the 70 or so miles from Steven’s Pass to Snoqualmie Pass on the PCT but my hiking buddy volunteered us instead for backup leadership duty with some boy scouts seeking their 50 miler. The destination was the loop from Spider Gap to Buck Creek Pass in Washington State (just south of the North Cascades). Seems the leader in charge was clueless and really needed the help (and yes, it turns out he did).
I planned the trip with excitement as I had decided that this was going to be my first multi-day trip going SUL.
Here is my gear list:
Gatewood Cape w/ 5 Ti stakes 12.5
GG Whisperlite Pack 3.8
JRB Steath Bag 15.6
Gossamer ThinLight Pad 1.6
Garbage Bag 0.7
InsulMat Gray (Modified) 9.9
Polycro Groundsheet 1.3
Sterno Pot/Foil Lid 0.4
Esbit Stove 0.5
Packtowel Ultralite 0.4
Ziplock Bag Cozy 0.8
2 1L Soda Bottle 1.8
TP/Trowel (4x4 Shop Towels - 8) in Ziplock 2.2
First Aid Kit/Emergency Stuff 16.8
Zen Nano w/ ear phones 1.4
Bug Net 1.3
Pillow (inflatable) 0.8
Smartwool RBX Socks 1.5
Golite Wisp 2.6
REI Sahara Pant Legs 3.3
Base Pack Weight 76.3 5.025
FireLite Tabs (4) 2.2
Panasonic LX2 Camera w/ 8 GB card 9.7
Food @ ~1lb day 59.5
Water 1L 37.2
Total 184.9 11.556
It had been raining the week before, so I ended up with a few extra things (had been below 4 lbs) in case we hit colder/stormy weather. Good call it turns out.
My food was a combo of freezer bag meals, powdered chocolate meal replacement (GoLean) for breakfast and Datrex bars for lunch. The combo worked perfectly and I was sated and had energy the entire trip for only 60 oz of food for the 4 days.
The hike was beautiful – lots of climbing, lots of water (I spend a lot of time in the desert and western WA pretty much has water everywhere – nice on the back).
The first day was hiking up to the meadow and over Spider Gap on the Glacier. Fully loaded and less than 12 lbs made the climb up and over (~7000 ft) easy. I was way ahead of anyone else and waited for ½ an hour at the top for everyone to catch up.
Coming down to Lyman lake was great (stopped by the Lyman glacier) until we hit the extended section of scree on the backside of the pass – I then got “walk with the slow scout duty” and ended up taking more than 2 hours to negotiate my way down with this poor kid. I tell you, a life of overeating and extended X-box playing does little for one’s ability to actually make your physical body move thru actual space.
As we got to the bottom, it dumped on us – I threw on the gatewood and was happy as a clam – all except for the forearms which get wet in this setup and I kinda hate that. No biggie. We setup camp at Lyman and had a great night.
The next day was up and over Cloudy Pass – it was gorgeous and I was down to about 10 lbs that day. The datrex bars and chocolate mix were experiments and I found them perfect – nothing like a 3 oz meal.
We camped at Image lake that night – just gorgeous. Lots of bear sign in the camp and my target plasic bag worked like a charm for hanging food.
The next day we wandered out to see an old fire look out northwest of the lake – it was inhabited by a 60 year old woman and her 70 year old companion. They have been volunteering out there for 11 years. What a gorgeous place – every morning they look out at Glacier Peak! Beautiful.
Our last day we wanted to make it to Buck Creek Pass and we did. I’m going to spare you the commentary on the boy’s performance as it was mixed and involved a lot of complaining. Ugh, the joys of trying to teach young boys to be strong and work hard.
The last night on Buck Creek Pass was just as nice except that some of the horse campers had used our campground in violation of the rules and it was a mess of powdered dust and dung. Yuk. Grumble.
We camped in the adjacent meadow and slept blissfully.
I woke up the next morning and found the boy’s packs splayed out like a bomb and an open bag of chicken laying half eaten in front of one of the tents. Sigh. And after being Mr. Fastidious about the food care and constantly harping about bears too...sometimes I wonder how males reach maturity .
Our walk out was fast and easy after all the climbing we’d done. Out in 3 hours.
Lovely trip. Things worked like a charm and the boys really saw why I shook my head at some of the stuff they thought they needed.
Jacks-R-Better Stealth quilt as coat – perfect. Nice to staty in one’s bag early in the AM.
Golite windshirt – almost perfect, but not very rain resistant. Great as a LS shirt in the wind though.
Gatewood – perfect as usual - no bivy needed.
Esbit stive with sterno pot – perfect. Used only 1.5 tabs.
Food – had one extra small meal when I walked out.
GG Whisper pack – comfy and held together great.
BPL inflatable pillow – loud but comfy.
Headnet – lots of bugs and it didn’t work so well for sleeping. I’ll bring my mini bug net from GG next time.
Here are some pictures: