Monday, June 28, 2010

Season Opener

Return Image, originally uploaded by preyingjaws.
For most folks when they hear season opener they think their favorite team sport. I guess for me the season opener is part team and part game. My team includes the weather forecasters, the National Forest Service, and other hikers. Individually they have their parts, together the information exchanged leads to some awesome game. My game is seeing what is beyond the trail head.

This past weekend I garnered up my gear, some of it new, some of it dating back to when I first got into hiking. The image posted above does have flickr notes enabled which high light what I call important. Things like water and the map. I've already received word on why do I have a pair of shoes on my ruck. Easy, last year I took moccasins. Bad idea, when moccasins get wet they get heavy and take a long time to dry. These are croc's, they are 10 ounces, rubber, and comfortable for in camp and that short jaunt a little further out of camp, say to cast spinner into the lake.

This trip took me into the Kidney Lake area (Brown Duck Mountain) above Moon Lake Utah. I also headed to Clements Reservoir. My first night I slept a bit cold, so my second night I used the poncho as a sleeping bag sleeve on the outside of the hammock. I slept toasty, the sleeve I estimate added an extra 5 to 10 degrees of warmth. My sleeping bag is a Kelty -4C rated down. In a hammock a lot of warmth is lost to the underside due to compression. The sleeve added the lost air space back.

The trail itself is beautiful pines most of the way with nice clearings for ponds & streams. The surface varies from rocky to sandy to stream. There were plenty of rocks to hop along. The lakes are incredible with plenty of camp sites tucked away from others. Truly, one does not need to see someone else unless they want to see or be seen by them.

Things I am reconsidering already is this ruck is a medium torso size. It wasn't until day 3 that I found the right balance point for my 35lbs. I want to exchange this Go-lite for the next torso size up. I do have praises for the pack it does swallow what I put into it. I am minimalist but not an ultra-lightest. The difference is I like my comfort in camp as well as the ability to have the safety margin that an ultra-lightest removes. Most of my gear is double duty. My rain gear (gortex) is my evening wear when it starts getting chilly. The poncho is also a ground cover. The foam pad is a camp seat. The water bladder is a camp shower. I do have the 10 essentials held separately and do leave written word of my itinerary with family and in the car.

The first trip out every year is the shake down trip. Last year my pack weighed in at 45+ pounds, with food and water. This year the initial weigh in was 35 pounds. What changed? I changed my menu and swapped out some heavier gear pieces like a multi-tool for a pair of nail clippers and key chain knife. I trimmed the pad down to size, the holes allow body moisture to escape. I up graded the stove from a tablet and can to a canister Burton mini-stove, this move cut my cooking time in half and reduced my weight several ounces. I changed out hard bottles for water bladders and doubled my in camp water capacity while reducing weight. It does come down to exchanging ounces for ounces without adding up the dollars.

The season opener proved to be just that opening the season for something awesome.