48 Hours to go!

Wow is about all I can say! The bags are packed and ready to go, all that is left now is to watch the clock slowly tick by.

We will be flying out to San Jose at O’Dark Thirty Thursday morning and will have most of the day to kill from there. We are staying at the “halfway” point to Yosemite in Merced and from what I can tell it is a pretty small town. We spent some time yesterday looking around for some things we could do during our travel day and I think we may have come up with a pretty good idea if everything goes smoothly.

First we will be stopping at the REI near the airport to pick up some of the things we cant bring on the plane (fuel, matches, etc.). From there we may stop at J. Lohr, a winery in San Jose that offers free tastings. After hitting the winery we will make the 2 hour trek to Merced. If we are still feeling adventurous and have some time to kill we may go check out the Hilmar Cheese factory, they offer free tours and tastings!

Yesterday we posted a video about what to pack for a 5 day trip, today there is a video attached that discusses what we decided to bring for food on our trip. The majority of the food was homemade and then dehydrated, on the trail you just add hot water and in a few minutes you have a delicious meal! The biggest challenges with food for a 5 day trip in Yosemite is the bear canister. It is not really practical to have 1 per person as they are heavy, bulky, and expensive. However it is not really practical to pack 5 days of food for 2 people in 1 either. We did manage to get it all in there, but we still have a couple things that will need to somehow smash their way in there once we get to CA.

I hope you enjoy the video and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel!

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3 Days and Packing!

I cant believe the time has come to pack! Time is getting so short before the trip it worked out for me to get my stuff packed this weekend. At this point I could leave today an be ready to roll, but I have to stick it out for a few more days.

When we first started thinking about actually doing this backpacking stuff (as opposed to just talking about it). We did what I would guess most curious future backpackers do….try to figure out how you can live out of a backpack for an extended period of time. What gear, how much gear, what size pack, etc.

There is a ton of information out there, but oddly it can be very tailored to specific “styles” of backpacking. Things like Ultralight, mountaineer expeditions, etc. Finding specific examples of just the “every day” type of backpacking is a little harder to come by. Thus, The Backpacking Journal was born. A place for beginners to find the information they really need to get them started.

Here is a video that goes over exactly what I will be packing for this 5 day trip. The details of the trip that should matter (to compare for future plans) are as follows:

Yosemite California
Average Elevation 4000-8000 feet
Approximate Mileage 40
June 1st-5th
6 total people broken into 3 two man teams

As for the gear, most of it is not “the best”, we chose gear on several different points. Primarily being the usefulness of the item, then cost and weight came into factor. Generally speaking the gear we purchased was in our opinion, the best bang for the buck.

Enjoy!

There will be a video tomorrow with information about packing 5 days of of food for 2 people.

6 Days

The anticipation is building! The weather is looking like it will be prefect, all the necessary documents and permits have been printed. The packing check list has been looked over and checked twice.

Checked off one of the items of my list already. Our pup Melman is staying at “grandpas” house during the trip and he needs a way to get outside while my dad is at work. All the dog doors in the store for a dog his size are several hundred dollars and we only need it for 5 days. With $20 at Home Depot and a couple power tools out of my garage we now have a nice little door for him! It may not be the prettiest, or the most energy efficient but I think it will work just fine.

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1 Week To Go!

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7 days and counting, WOW! The 6Pack has been fairly quiet this month as our focus changed from future planning and training to trip preparations, but we are still going strong. This month has been filled with last minute gear changes, food dehydrating, and a constant check on the weather patterns as we close in on the trip.

***Side Note***
On behalf of The Backpacking Journal I would like to congratulate Jessica Simms DVM “Doc”. She graduated from Vet School this month and the name Doc is no longer just a nick name, but a well deserved title for 21 years of school. I am sure the WoofPack will sleep soundly knowing that we have a professional in the mix on future trips.

It is crazy to think that all this planning is falling into place and in 7 short days we will be flying out to begin a journey of a life time. 20 years of dreaming, hundreds of hours of planning and countless miles of training will culminate into 5 short days of absolute freedom. No stress of alarm clocks, rush hour traffic, emails, text messages. The 6 of us will have an opportunity to truly escape from our hectic lives and get a dose of the world and life in which we are more suited for.

This last weekend we had a group “meeting”. Partially just an excuse to sit back and have a cold beer, but more importantly to finalize our plans for the trip. We had a walk through of the route from start to finish. Discussed bail out points along the way if our plans were to eager and fatigue gets the best of us. However, probably the most important part, we also worked out our emergency plan. Although it feels like we are pros with as much preparations that have been done for this trip, when it really comes down to it we are nothing but greenhorn rookies. Having a solid “oh-shit plan” Will not only give us a piece of mind now, but it will also allow for everyone to act a little more calm and rational should an emergency present itself along the way.

FallGal and I will be spending This weekend finishing up the food for the trip and then packing our bags. My plan is to have everything ready to go out the door by Sunday night. 4am on Thursday is gonna come quick!

SOOOOO EXCITED!!!!!!

Gourmet Preperations

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24 days and counting the chaos has begun! This weekend was filled with shopping, prepping, preparing, and packaging. We have decided to go with a “semi-gourmet” meal plan. Although I believe a true gourmet trip would require fresh food prepared while on the trail, this is a close second and offers great meals at less weight. Using a dehydrator all of our meals will only require hot water and about 15 minutes of resting time while on the trails.

We have split the group into teams based on who is sleeping in what tents. FallGal & Slimms, Chuck & Chick, and Wicked Witch & Doc. For breakfast and Lunch the 3 teams are on their own, but for dinners I have been designated as the group chef. We have used our last few months worth of training hikes and overnighters to test menu options and have settled on 3 main meals for the 4 nights:

Burrito – A flour tortillia, cheddar cheese, taco flavored ground beef, El Pato Spanish rice, and taco sauce.

Pasta With Meat Sauce – Homemade marinara, ground beef, macaroni noodles. This was the favorite of the group so we will be having this 2 nights.

ChiliMac – Homemade chili sauce with ground beef topped with cheddar cheese and a biscuit.

As you can see the meals are all based on hamburger. I’m sure this will get old, but it worked best in the dehydrator. When rehydrating its taste and texture returns to near perfect of fresh made.

Now it’s time to get the steaks marinating so I can make some jerky!

Trip Report: West Clear Creek, Camp Verde AZ

This is the closest we have been to a complete group on our overnights. We are missing Doc since she is still in Colorado “learning” stuff. The FallGal and myself brought our 13 year old daughter along to fill her shoes.

Day 1

The drive from the valley started at 5am on Saturday morning and we quickly found ourselves on a forest road just outside of Camp Verde. The road is very well maintained and if dry, you could easily make it in and out with just about any vehicle. The road starts fairly normal with expansive desert views of the surrounding mountains on the horizon. As you drive along there are some mines mixed in with the views and unexpectedly a simple turn in directions places you overlooking a dramatic canyon filled with huge bright green trees. Although the water is not visible through the trees, you can make out the path of the creek as it cuts though the desert with trees zigzagging the canyon. As you make it near the end of the road there is a sign for Bull Pen Ranch; to the right offers disbursed camping locations right along the creek. To the left you will find a parking lot at the base of the trail head. This weekend was pretty full with overnight “car campers” that set up shop right in the parking area.

After squeezing into a parking spot we loaded up and set off to the trail. Immediately the sounds of flowing water fills the air as you walk along a very wide path with giant trees allowing little sneak peaks of the creek. Not to far into the hike the trail heads away from the creek slightly and climbs up to one of the largest “open plain” type areas I have ever seen in Arizona’s high desert. About a mile or so of amazing photo ops with the creek breaking through the thick tree cover you start dropping back into the canyon where you come face to face with the creek. This is not the crossing however, but offers a nice swimming hole. Veer off to the left and follow the trail a little further until you hit the crossing.

Crossing the creek and staying dry is not possible. Come prepared; strapped sandals, five fingers, water shoes are all good options. However, the rocks appear to be very smooth and the water is extremely clear so crossing barefoot is possible as well. With points of knee high water be sure you don’t have anything in your pockets that can get wet. The water was a perfect 60 degrees and flowing pretty good, enough to push you over if you are not being attentive to your balance. Depending on your shoe situation, changing from the 1st to the 2nd crossing is not necessary as they are very close to one another. The 3rd and 4th crossing however are very spread out and putting your hiking shoes back on is the smart choice.

In between crossings the trail brings you up and overlooks the creek from above. Exposure is pretty high in these areas and it can get very hot. The weather took an unexpected turn this weekend and was about 10 degrees hotter than what we were wanting. 90 degrees in the shade made each one of the creek crossings a welcomed opportunity to cool off. After hitting the 4th and final crossing we had two options, find a place along the creek to camp or continue up trail 17 to the top. The top would give us slightly cooler temps but little to no protection along the way, water would also be limited. We made the choice to find a spot along the creek, however we did not want to plop right down in a high traffic area, so we pressed on along the trail.

The trail heading up after the 4th crossing is steep, wet, and muddy. Trekking poles will be your friend here. About a half mile further we found a shady place to take a break while Chuck and I went scouting for access back down to the creek. Eureka! We found the most amazing place to camp…but it was going to take some work to get our way down. Following a seasonal wash down to the creek we would be faced with a 20-30 foot set of shelves that we would need to navigate all the packs and dogs down. The reward, a camping spot completely secluded from the world. There was evidence of campers in the past, but the odds of anyone coming across us was slim to none. A waterfall/rapid area filled camp with the sounds of rushing water, there was a nice little fishing hole and a great place to take a dip in the water. This was a slice of paradise just 2 hours drive from the city!

We set up camp and then found our own ways to start enjoying our home for the day. Chuck and Chick spent some time fishing while Breanna and I took a dip to cool off, FallGal and Wicked Witch started to explore the area. As the sun started getting sucked up by the canyon walls we started working on a fire, dinner, and relaxing. Surprisingly the mosquitoes were not bad, our guess was because the water was flowing so well there was no standing water. The spiders however were INSANE! I have never seen such a concentration of spiders in one area; they were everywhere. After dinner and a few laughs around the fire we decided to hit the sack. This turned out to be one of the funniest moments of the day. Breanna, being a 13 year old girl was freaking out about bugs and Wicked Witch discovered that leaving her gear under a tree would result in a coated pack of fresh bird crap. The silent canyon and the sounds of the flowing creek were drowned out by the repeated phrase “What IS that!”

Day 2

The morning came early and packing up camp was mixed in with breakfast, fishing, and filtering water. As we skip from boulder to boulder to cross the creek we said goodbye to our perfect camp paradise. and began shuffling gear back up to the trail. We were all fighting the idea of heading back to city life, but we also had a slight sense of urgency to finish the day out quickly, doing the best we could to beat the heat. As the sun pounded down on the trail we took advantage of each crossing to cool off. Along the way we passed a few others that had set up camp near the crossings, but other than that the trail was pretty quiet today.

Once we made it passed the final creek crossing it was a long hot way back to the trucks. The dogs were walking along the grassy edges of the trail to keep their paws cool and we were playing hop scotch along each little section of shade that we could find.

The Backpacking Journal gives this trip our definite seal of approval. Collectively I believe it is one of the most favorite trips so far. Make it a day trip, or a weekend adventure, this kids and dog friendly area will not disappoint.

Here are some more pictures

A quick video to show the water flow

Half Dome Cables Permit!

The Backpacking Journal is extremely excited to announce that we have received a permit from the lottery system to climb the infamous cables at Half Dome during our upcoming trip to Yosemite!

A huge focus of this trip is Half Dome and we have been impatiently waiting for the last 44 days to see if we were going to make it to the summit or not. To increase the odds of success we each individually entered the lottery with an application requesting 6 permits and it paid off.

Last night Chuck Norris  received an email “Dear Customer, Congratulations! You were successful in securing a permit to hike to the summit of Half Dome from the Cables on Half Dome Lottery.” While the rest of us got “Dear Customer, We are sorry to inform you that you were not successful in securing a permit to hike to the summit of Half Dome from the Cables on Half Dome Lottery.”

7 Weeks to go!!!!!!!!