Shake Down Trip

posted Jun 5, 2011, 9:44 AM by Paul Wagner   [ updated Jun 29, 2011, 9:03 PM ]
A few people have asked up about the shake down trip we took last weekend, inYosemite, so we thought we'd explain a bit more. 
One of our friends is planning to hike 1,000 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail this summer, from southern Oregon to Mt. Whitney or so.  And he's planning to take about three months to do it.  And while he has done some backpacking in the past, he was delighted to join us to see how we did things, compare them to his plans, and see what might work out best.  And he had a few new (to him) pieces of equipment that he wanted to test before he took the big plunge. 
Like what?  Well, he had a water filter just like ours...but the last time it had been used, it was in the Grand Canyon.  So he pumped one bottle of water and discovered that his filter was clogged.  That's not something you want to find out on the first day of the three month trip.  He'll be replacing that.  And he had a new (to him) stove that he wanted try--complete with a new cook kit, windscreen, etc.  And he discovered that it worked like a charm, even in very winery, and even snowy conditions.  We love our MSR Pocket Rocket, but his stove seemed equally good.  A bit heavier, but putting out more heat.  Nice to know. 
He brought some Teva water sandals, which worked great but were much heavier than our Crocs.  He's re-thinking those.  And he brought along a number of different foods for the trip...some of which were delicious, but probably heavier than he wants to carry for a ten day or longer lef of the trip.
And he wanted to make sure that his new tent and sleeping bag were up to the challenge---which they were.   That's the tent at left, standing up to a light snowfall.
It's always a good idea to test your equipment before you have to rely on it in the backcountry.  P has set up every tent we own in the back yard before trying to do that in the mountains--just to make sure there aren't any surprises.   And things like water filters and stoves need to work.  It's not fun trying to backpack with stuff that doesn't do what it is supposed to do!
Most of all, he wanted to make sure that all of this stuff fit in his pack, and that he could carry it once it was full.  And that's probably the biggest learning experience from the weekend for him.  Because with the exception of the filter (easily resolved with a replacement cartridge) everything he brought along worked just fine.  But there were quite a few things that were just a bit heavier than they needed to be.  And when you add up a few ounces here, a pound there....pretty soon you are talking about a 35-40 pound pack or more. 
Not impossible to carry.  But if you are going to hike 1,000 miles, a few pounds on your back will make a pretty big difference over three months. 
We can hardly wait to see the photos and hear the stories from his trip.  
And if you see him out there this summer, say hello!