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  1. #21
    Don't pet me. JAVO's Avatar
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    Bring a good topographic map or maps and at least one quality compass and know how to read and use both. The compass doesn't have to be expensive, since it doesn't have to do much more than point north accurately. And to complicate things, remember that the compass points to a different north than the map. (a 16 degree difference in Yellowstone!)

    The key to not getting lost is to refer to the map constantly so that you always know where you are. If you know how to read a topo map well enough, a compass is usually only needed in terrain like Yellowstone to verify your direction of travel. This can often be verified from signs in the environment, such as position and movement of the sun, moon, and stars in the sky, river current, and even other less obvious cues which tend to be more art than science (but still work).

    A GPS is fun and can often make navigation easier, but these can malfunction without warning. A map and compass is a necessary backup.

    I've done things like walked down the wrong trail and even lost the trail entirely at night while going around a huge blowdown.

    Ok, I think Ti is done now. Planning and preparing for a trip is half the fun. I hope you have a great time, and look forward to hearing about it!

  2. #22
    Senior Member ExAstrisSpes's Avatar
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    Noooooo! I want more Ti!!!

    I have a GPS for the car, but I plan to use topo maps and a compass. I need to brush up on my mad map-reading skills though.

    I didn't realize that there was a 16 degree difference in North in Yellowstone.

    On food, I've been finding a lot of camping recipes I like. Although most of them involve bringing something heavy or perishable. I'm trying to weed those out. Have you tried powdered eggs? What do you like to eat for breakfast? I was thinking on more luxurious/lazy mornings I could do something with powdered eggs and freeze-dried veggies, with instant coffee, etc. I also like oatmeal, so I think it would be easy to make up my own oatmeal packets (I can't stand instant oatmeal). For lunch I was thinking of stuff like that curry pita wrap, something that would be easy to put together, not require a stove, and clean up simply. I was hoping dinner could be a little more elaborate.

    I'm very excited to get my pack (still need to go shopping for it) and go on some weekend trips to get a feel for what really works for me and what doesn't! The preparation is totally half the fun!

  3. #23
    Don't pet me. JAVO's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ExAstrisSpes View Post
    Noooooo! I want more Ti!!!
    Ti's work is done here. It went bye bye. Only Ne, Si, and Fe are left. Should be an interesting discussion now. Plus, I'd rather talk about backpacking than write software.

    Quote Originally Posted by ExAstrisSpes View Post
    I have a GPS for the car, but I plan to use topo maps and a compass. I need to brush up on my mad map-reading skills though.
    "brush-up" rather than "learn"... you've got more backcountry awesome than I give you credit for.

    Quote Originally Posted by ExAstrisSpes View Post
    I didn't realize that there was a 16 degree difference in North in Yellowstone.
    I was surprised too when I looked it up. I often deal with almost 10 degrees in WV where I like to hike (due mainly to being only a 5 hr drive away).

    Quote Originally Posted by ExAstrisSpes View Post
    On food, I've been finding a lot of camping recipes I like. Although most of them involve bringing something heavy or perishable. I'm trying to weed those out. Have you tried powdered eggs? What do you like to eat for breakfast? I was thinking on more luxurious/lazy mornings I could do something with powdered eggs and freeze-dried veggies, with instant coffee, etc. I also like oatmeal, so I think it would be easy to make up my own oatmeal packets (I can't stand instant oatmeal). For lunch I was thinking of stuff like that curry pita wrap, something that would be easy to put together, not require a stove, and clean up simply. I was hoping dinner could be a little more elaborate.
    I haven't tried powdered eggs, but they actually sound like they'd be good because I like my scrambled eggs dry. For breakfast, I usually have 1-2 packets of instant oatmeal, hot chocolate when it's cold, a PowerBar, and maybe a Dipp bar (chocolate-covered granola) if I'm still hungry.

    The lunch plan sounds good and similar to what I do. Sometimes I'm not even hungry for lunch and just snack throughout the day. I once ate a tuna-stuffed pita without stopping because I wanted to finish a trail before dark--it was kind of awkward and messy. The constant input of calories and avoiding the large meal especially works well if the terrain is difficult or in hot weather.

    A more elaborate dinner is usually what I plan for too. But, I also try to have some extra snacks packed for dinner in case I'm exhausted and just want to skip cooking and rest.

    Do you have a stove?

    Quote Originally Posted by ExAstrisSpes View Post
    I'm very excited to get my pack (still need to go shopping for it) and go on some weekend trips to get a feel for what really works for me and what doesn't! The preparation is totally half the fun!
    Getting a new pack is exciting! One more reason you might want to bring your gear instead of using the sandbags is that the load distribution will be entirely different. A sleeping bag taking up the bottom 1/4 of the pack makes a big difference. Put the heaviest items near the center, close to your back, and below shoulders. Anything heavier than a sleeping pad hanging off the back should be avoided because that uses the laws of physics to make the pack feel even heavier than it really is. Sometimes I wonder if stores use the sandbags so that people will buy a beefier and more expensive (and heavier) pack than they really need. Golite, Osprey, and Granite Gear are some brands which try to make reasonably light packs. In addition to the lighter pack, I have a 3 lb Kelty pack I use for winter and another huge 6.5 lb Kelty pack for when I need to carry everyone's gear. I tremble in fear when I think about the large Kelty pack. It makes me look like a walking skyscraper on the trail when fully loaded!

    This site might be helpful:

    www.backpackinglight.com

    There's plenty of good gear advice on the forums and articles there, even if you're not trying to focus on lightweight stuff.

  4. #24
    Senior Member ExAstrisSpes's Avatar
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    I have a stove, but it's unused and quite old (at least 10 years) and while we were at REI last weekend my bf mentioned that his stove isn't compatible with the fuel canisters/etc. on the market today, so he might be in the market for a new stove. I feel I should examine my stove and figure it out.

    What kind of dinners do you like to make? Are you more of a "freeze-dried, pre-prepared meal" kind of backpacker or do you like cooking/making your own stuff? I really love cooking and the thought of limiting my food choices to some entree I have to buy kind of bothers me. I don't mind having ramen or instant-whatever on occasion, but when you compare that to taking a packet of stove-top stuffing and mixing it with dried cranberries and a foil packet of chicken or turkey, it seems like you can eat a lot better with not much more effort or weight added.

    We did find a pack I liked, the Gregory Deva 60. Even though it's heavier and more "deluxe", I think it will be more good/comfortable to start out with than an ultralight pack. Most of the ultralight packs I saw had fairly skimpy or misplaced padding on the shoulder straps and hip belt, which I think would become quite painful after a while. The other thing I didn't like about the ultralight packs was that the fabric seems really thin and not durable at all, which is a factor for me. One ultralight pack I had considered actually had a partially exposed aluminum frame. It wasn't a defect, that was how it was designed. There's nothing wrong with that (say you want to strap something to it), but it seems to me like it would be easier to bang up than a completely internal frame pack.

    We didn't bring my gear in, but they loaded it up with what a "correctly" loaded bag would be in terms of sandbags (had heavy, dense ones and fluffy, lighter ones). I actually tested out a Deva 70 because they didn't have the 60 available in my size. After about 20 minutes of wearing the pack around in the store (my boyfriend made me do stuff like scramble around, pick up things from bottom shelves, etc.) I knew that 70 L would be too big for me (and was always too big in terms of what I wanted anyway).

    Thank you for the link! There are definitely some interesting articles on that site! I haven't had much time to delve into it but I'll probably have more questions as they come up.

  5. #25
    Don't pet me. JAVO's Avatar
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    Seals and things can deteriorate on stoves, so definitely give it a good inspection and maybe maintenance if the manufacturer recommends that, such as replacing the seals and o-rings. A good canister stove will be nice if you're really into cooking because of its even heat and adjustability.

    I made a few different alcohol stoves from aluminum cans, and a woodburning stove from tin cans (it's somewhat like the Bushbuddy if you've seen that). I usually just cook over a campfire, but it's sometimes nice to save time and just use a stove. And, many places don't allow fires. The wood stove isn't allowed some places either. I'm thinking about getting a stove I can use with white gas because that's the best fuel for cold temperatures. (I'm one of those crazies who doesn't stop backpacking in the winter. )

    I experiment with backcountry cooking sometimes, but experiment is a good way to describe the results too. Not having an adjustable stove makes things more challenging, but I also enjoy the lighter weight and simplicity. You're right about eating better. I usually make easy to prepare things from the grocery store, like Idahoan potato mix, minute rice, oatmeal, and soup mixes. For meat, I toss in a foil packet or pieces of beef jerky. A salmon packet mixed with rice, olive oil (carried in a trial size mouthwash bottle), and some seasoning is a favorite. Sometimes I use a freeze-dried meal for something different and even easier. Wife and I got a food dehydrator, and we hope to try using that for making our own food by doing most of the cooking work at home. (With four young kids, anything to improve in-camp efficiency helps.) Stove-top stuffing and dried cranberries with a foil packet of meat sounds really good! I hadn't thought of that.

    You're right about ultralight packs not being as durable. They need to be handled carefully, such as not thrown on the driveway. And, they need replaced or repaired more often. I've made some of my own gear, and I don't mind repairing things myself once in a while for the sake of saving weight.

    That looks like a nice durable and comfy pack you picked out with thorough testing! Good that they had different densities of weighted sacks.

    If you're looking for a pillow, I like the Exped inflatable.

  6. #26
    Senior Member ExAstrisSpes's Avatar
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    Here is the stuffing recipe. I'm quite fond of stuffing, so I can imagine how something like this with a little gravy (or even add mashed potatoes) would make for some very satiated backpackers at the end of a long hike.

    I love that Bear Creek Potato Soup mix. Do you have any favorite soup mixes you could recommend? I find most soup mixes to be too salty.

    Your salmon packet recommendation sounds great too! I'll have to add that one to the list!

    I don't think I'll end up getting a pillow; I'm more of a "roll up some clothes for a pillow" kind of camper.

    I'll have to dig out the stove, check it out and do some research on it. I think it's an MSR but I'm not sure. The fuel canister is an MSR though. That's a great tip on using beef jerky too!

  7. #27
    Don't pet me. JAVO's Avatar
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    Thanks for the recipe! Yes, that plus a gravy mix and some Idahoan potatoes would be awesome! The potatoes also come in various flavors, or you can add some of a spice packet--I've been meaning to try some chili potatoes!

    We eat Bear Creek soups often too--usually on our car camping trips! They're amazingly good for dry soup. We sometimes add fresh potatoes, onions, and carrots since weight isn't an issue. I think their chili is great too. I don't like things which are too salty either. I don't know of any lower salt soups, but I'll ask my super-health conscious ESFJ friend about this. I might try dehydrating some homemade soup. Not sure how well that will work.

    Quote Originally Posted by ExAstrisSpes View Post
    I don't think I'll end up getting a pillow; I'm more of a "roll up some clothes for a pillow" kind of camper.
    Now you're making me look like I take too much luxury stuff! ;D

    MSR generally makes pretty good stoves. I've heard the MSR Pocket Rocket stove is popular and good. The others might be too.

  8. #28
    Senior Member ExAstrisSpes's Avatar
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    Those Idahoan potatoes *are* super yummy!

    I haven't had the Bear Creek chili; I'll have to try that! I also have no idea how dehydrating homemade soup would work either.

    I just got the Thermarest in the mail; my bf has a Thermarest with a matching pouch, the pouch reverses to this nice soft fabric, so you can stuff the bag and have a comfy pillow.

    I've also heard good things about the MSR Pocket Rocket, it does seem to be a popular pick. I was looking at the DragonFly, but I think that's heavier than most ultralight people go for.

    Also, our trip seems to be getting moved to mid July. Would Bechler be too wet to go then? Or should I still stick with my Lamar Valley plan? I've heard conflicting information on visiting the Bechler area in July.

  9. #29
    Don't pet me. JAVO's Avatar
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    Nice how the Thermarest sack is dual purpose! I skimmed some user review posts about the DragonFly, and two people said it was great for simmering, baking, and gourmet cooking. Since that's one of the things you enjoy about the trip, I think it would be worth the extra weight. (It might only be a few ounces more anyway?)

    I hope some Yellowstone veterans can provide some insight, but I would go to Bechler no matter what because I really like waterfalls. If the trails are too dry, the waterfalls might not be flowing as much.

  10. #30
    Senior Member ExAstrisSpes's Avatar
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    I found a trek in the book I recently purchased that I think I'm going to end up doing. It starts at the Pelican Valley trailhead, takes Pelican Creek up (seeing waterfalls, geothermal things like mudpots and a mud geyser along the way) before coming to some trail junctions. You can take a trail back down to Pelican Valley, or if you get permission you can go off-trail trekking in the Wapita Lake region and see some other geothermal features. If we do that we can meet up back at my parents' campsite in the Canyon area instead of having them wait for us at the trailhead at a certain date and time. I think that will be enough for a 3-day trek, but if not maybe we can work a run down the Lamar River trail and cut across to Pelican Valley via Mist Creek.

    My headlamp came the other day as well, the Black Diamond Spot. So awesome! It was a lot less than the other headlamp I was looking at, but has more lumens and a host of other features (dimming, locking capability).

    I can't wait until I get my pack and can start doing some weekend trips around here to try everything out.

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