2012-07-09

Backpacking without backpacks

This weekend I biked up to Stanborn County Park, hiked ~13 miles, camped out and biked home without a sleeping bag or backpack. Evan kept my company. This was his second backpacking trip.


Me and all my gear

The bike ride up Saturday morning was fairly uneventful. We only got lost a few times and made it the 15 miles up to the edge of the park around lunch time. It was really hot by the time we got to the edge of the park so we elected to ditch the bikes and hike the rest of the way to the main entrance instead of biking all the way in as originally planned.


Evan on the way to the campsite

The walk in was a blast. The trails on that side of the road aren't maintained, so we got to play on the ruins of dams and bridges, rock hop, and generally navigate by intuition. Eventually the "trail" we were following dead ended by a fence so I took Evan on his first unplanned bushwhacking expedition through a steep gorge to the road. It was just a short walk from there to headquarters where we secured a campsite and considered our next move. (I know dispersed camping is more fun, but I can only get so far on a bike.)

Since it was hot we decided to ditch some of our gear before going out on a hike. I left behind the blanket, sweater and hat while Evan left everything but his water bottle and a map. We had a fun walk sharing navigation and plant knowledge before heading back to camp for dinner.

I had instant split pea soup, but no stove. The idea was to finally try making cold backpacking food. I'd read the idea on Gossamer Gear's site years ago, but hadn't actually left the stove at home before. It worked perfectly. I put in some water, closed the ziplock bag, mushed it around and let it sit a while and then ate it. It'd been a warm enough day that eating it cold didn't really feel like a tribulation.


Getting dressed in the morning

Eventually it was time for bed. I wrapped one side of me in the sarong and then the other in the wool blanket. The wool blanked actually reached most of the way around, but this way the sarong blocked the drafty spot. Evan climbed into his fleece liner and we both settled in to sleep. It was a bit hard to fall asleep because the neighbors were a bit loud at first, but eventually we managed. I woke up part way through the night covered in sweat. I was fine walking to and from the bathrooms barefoot without a sweater and then curled back up into my super toasty bed. The only issue I had was that I didn't want to shift too much in my sleep and scatter the blankets everywhere so I kept waking up to roll over.

Evan on the other hand got a bit uncomfortable. He found sleeping on his front or back to be chilly, and his side to be warm but a bit uncomfy. I probably should have lent him my sleeping pad to bring, but he slept pretty well anyway. Weather reports say the low was a balmy 58 degrees.

In the morning we had some gorp, wandered around the park a little bit and then rode home on our bikes. All around a pretty successful trip.


Here's the full list of what I brought:
  • Sarong (because the blanket itself was too bulky to tie around my waist)
  • Wool blanket (for sleeping)
  • Water bottle
  • Food (gorp, jerky, split pea soup mix)
  • Sweater (Didn't need it, hot to carry. Shouldn't have brought)
  • Warm hat (Didn't need. Easy to carry.)
  • Spork
  • Knife
  • Keys
  • Cards/Cash
  • Maps
  • Carry bag
  • Iodine (Water treatment)
  • Synthetic shirt
  • Buckskin bra
  • Synthetic shorts
  • Cotton undies
  • Bridgedale socks
  • Merrill Glove shoes
  • Salt lick (for electrolytes. Stashed in my pocket)
  • Button compass (for testing sense of direction. In pocket)

All in all the gear worked surprisingly well. Having to stop and undo the "pack" to get at the water bottle was a little bit annoying, but I didn't find myself wanting anything I didn't have. Wearing the sarong + wool blanket tied around my waist was very comfy as the blanket acted like a padded hip belt. It was, however, very warm to have all that wool around my waist. I wish I'd left the sweater at home.

To address the heat issue I want to try carrying everything in the sarong, but switch out the wool blanket for my silk bivy. I don't think it'll be as warm, but the wool blanket was much warmer then I needed for summer weather anyway.

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