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What's Worked While Backpacking?

hike home pg Wind River I Taboose-Whitney Pine Creek Defeat Pine Creek Revenge Mono Pass loop Wind River II x-c extravaganza Piute-Lamarck White Divide PNW hikes e-mail Jim

Each time out, backpackers learn something that works (or doesn't) that comes as a(n) (un)pleasant surprise. Sadly, one of the things that doesn't work is my memory, so I occasionally repeat mistakes or fail to compensate enough for past learning experiences. Hence, this page: my way of ensuring that more things go well next time.
Note to self: read this before you go!

1979, Wind River Range
Best meal Lunch at Big Sandy Pass Best gear Francin's Alpenlite pack
Best campLonesome Lake, Cirque of the Towers Next time? Bring a wide-angle lens!

1989, Sierra (Taboose)
Best meal Late lunch at Bench Lake Best gear Collapsing bucket, water filter
Best campRae Lakes Next time? Take an extra day; climb Whitney

1993, Sierra (Pine Creek)
Best meal only one - at Upper Pine Lake Best gear mosquito head-net
Best camponly one - Upper Pine Lk. Next time? sleep high, hydrate, slow down

1996, Sierra (Italy)
Best meal Marie Lake w/hailstones (chicken stew) Best gear camp stove
Best campMarie Lake [close second: French Canyon] Next time? better preparation, camera inspection

1997, Sierra (Mono)
Best meal Lower Hopkins Lake (teriyaki chicken w/rice) Best gear durable Pentax SLR
Best campGolden Creek (or Big McGee Lake?) Next time? more sunflower seeds, hold on to camera

1998, Wind River Range
Best meal Baptiste Creek potluck:
Chicken & Broccoli with noodles, Hearty Stew with Beef,
Chili (spicy!), French Vanilla pudding w/raspberries
Best gear ultralight, adjustable hiking stick
Best campLizard Head Meadows Next time? better lens for camcorder;
starve a little!

1999, Sierra Nevada
Best meal AlpineAire Sierra Chicken
Best gear poles and rainfly without the tent
Best campDarwin Bench, or Dumbbell Lakes? Next time? warmer bag, Pentax 35mm camera

2000, Sierra (Evolution)
Best meal Evolution Lake Golden trout Best gear superlight walking pole
Best campColby Meadow Next time? don't let anyone catch a cold..

2001, Sierra (Blackcap)
Best meal bulk tortellini & boullion Best gear DryLoft down bag
zip-off-leg pants
Best campPearl Lake (two nights) Next time? MORE TORTELLINI

An excellent way to learn more about a trail in the Sierra Nevada is with the Mountain Images "Sierra Nevada" CD-ROMs. These are a compilation of several serious packers' experiences in the Sierras and includes scanned topographic maps, detailed descriptions and beautiful pictures. Most popular trails are covered, as well as quite a few cross-country jaunts of varying levels of difficulty. It's a great way to prepare for a trip, and a fine way to spend the winter on the trail. Just drop your virtual hiker on a trailhead and go!