Friday, September 25, 2009

The Art Of Constant Walking

Trip Report - Backpacking in the Hover Wilderness
September, 2009

Recently Eric, Kenneth and I adventured into the wilderness to seek solitude, and to break our long distance walking records. We also recently moved into another apartment, which Eric and I have come to realize, is a lot like backpacking. We moved from one apartment in our complex into another - It was one of the easiest moves we have ever done because there was no truck, no boxes, and it reminded us a lot of backpacking because you put your stuff on your back.. Walk. Take all the stuff out of your pack. Pack it back in. Walk. Repeat. It took us just as long to move into a new apartment, as it did to backpack 22 miles. Two Days.

Getting ready to go

On this most recent trip, we attempted to backpack to Tower Peak. We drove up to the area the night before and slept in the car (with a bivy for Kenneth.) As it turns out, most of the people we saw on the trail the first day did the same thing. A group had already beaten us to the trail-head backpacker's parking lot, and were setting up camp for the night on the hard asphalt. The next day, everyone was excited and we hit the trail bright eyed and bushy tailed. That was a long day. It seems like we hiked forever, and we weren't entirely sure if we were making good time or not. Our original goal was either the upper meadows, or Tower Lake. We didn't make it as far as Tower Lake.

Pretty Lake

After hiking 11 miles on the first day, we were say the leased. All three of us decided it would be a good idea to sleep on top of a raised area in the medow. We found proof that people had camped here before from an old fire ring. We made dinner, cleaned up, and went to bed. After midnight we were awaken by the sound of large animals in our camp. I heard what sounded like a deer hoof, and I figured it was no big deal. Then I heard more... like five more. It sounded like these animals were throwing a party. Rocks were being tossed, trees were being bucked, and the curiosity of a few large sounding deer had taken over our camp. Eventually, Kenneth ripped open his tent and scared away the culprits.

In the morning we awoke to the aftermath of the deer. A chewed up REI walking stick, knocked over gear, and a cozy I had spilled food on chewed up and left 10-15 feet away from where I had left it. We had been ambushed by a gang of curious deer, taking advantage of a beautiful full moon lit night.

Chewed on Kenneth

The next day we were sore, and still pretty tired. We decided to take advantage of the three day weekend by hiking out the second day so we could spend Monday resting. It was a good choice. Even though Eric and I had been doing cardio at the gym to prepare for this trek, we hadn't actually been hiking in a while. This was a great reminder to our bodies that we should probably hike more.

Eric and Kenneth resting

It was a long second day, but we made it back alive, in one piece, without injury and that's what matters. We had a lot of fun backpacking in the sierra for the first time, enjoing all the wonders that create it's allure (including the boisterious wildlife!) I guess in a way backpacking got us ready for moving, it worked the right muscles and prepaired us for the hard work of walking back and forth carring stuff. Even though we didn't get all the way to Tower Peak, it was worth it. Every damn mile.

Kenneth in all his glory

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Night of the Living Deer


I'm sitting here on my lunch break, writing a brief update on the weekend's backpacking trip, in a feeble attempt to be timely.

We never reached Tower Peak. In fact, we never saw it again after the first few miles in Leavitt Meadow. As Kenneth so profoundly put it near the beginning of the trek, "that looks far away".

Out intended, and unreached, destination. Yes, it does look far away.

But we did have a blast! We made it most of the way to our planned destination, sleeping in Piute Meadows instead of at Tower Lake, but the hike took it's toll on Amber and I, seeing as how we had done little hiking lately to get into proper condition. Still we charged hard, and did about 11 miles each day, "uphill both ways", with heavy packs.

Kenneth adjusting his pack in Piute Meadows

The need to be functional today for work precluded the sanity of any summit attempt we might have made. In addition, we experience an event we can only describe as "Night of the Living Deer" that motivated us to attempt to move camp or hike out on Sunday. Regardless, we had a lot of fun and Upper Piute Meadows was spectacular, and we can't wait to plan another backpacking trip (and maybe one a bit more leisurely).

A full trip report should be coming soon...

Related Posts:

Photo Gallery:
Piute Meadows Backpacking

And now for something completely different:

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Tower Calls...

As I write this, we are already on our way to the Sierra for a long-anticipated backpacking, peakbagging adventure. Kenneth, Amber, and I are off to attempt Tower Peak in the Hoover Wilderness, some 15 miles distance from the Leavitt Meadows trailhead.

Tower Peak in the far distance, this is taken from near where we will start

It was the sight of Tower Peak that 'piqued' my interest in climbing and mountaineering, though I didn't know it at the time. Researching the peak exposed me to many resources I now find invaluable. So, I have high hopes for this venture to be a sort of culmination of the other adventures we've had in the meantime, summit or not.

But there is one bit I'm a little apprehensive over. Backpacking.

Amber sporting a pack in the Los Padres

Though I camped a lot growing up, I never did any backpacking. Not until two springs ago when Amber and I went on a trek through the Los Padres near Santa Barbara. What a nightmare that turned out to be! Overgrown trails, bushwacking through steep canyons of Poison Oak (to which I am highly allergic), and a painful last two miles night-hiking out so as to be able to shower off the allergens.

Really the poison oak was only a couple mile-ish sections, with really beautiful trail the rest of the way. But it was enough to create psychological misery. And on top of all that, the camera broke after we passed the point we had dayhiked before!

Last year's backpacking camp, before the madness

Nope, we were beaten. And sick of hiking for a while after that. In fact, that is how we discovered rock climbing! But in the end we're very excited about this trip, even if we need to drag our asses a ways in there to get up this thing.

So wish us luck! And we'll report back!