As we continue planning for the PCT, long weekend backpacking trips are proving to be a helpful way to test our new lighter weight gear. It’s not a big deal to carry a few extra ounces or pounds for a couple days, but it’s significant if we were to carry that extra weight for 2600 miles. We’re using these long weekend trips to truly figure out what we can and cannot live without. Plus, of course, we’re exploring and having a great time on whatever length trip we take!
This four day trip was a 29 mile loop near Hetchy Hetchy reservoir in Yosemite National Park. Becky, Chris’s sister, joined us for her second ever backpacking trip. We left after work on Wednesday with the intention of camping at the Hetch Hetchy campground. However, within several miles of the campground, an NPS gate blocked the way with a sign stating “Day Use Hours 7am-9pm. Gate locked at night”. Well, that information wasn’t on the map or in the permit! So the first night we camped next to the road.
On the July 4th long weekend we took a backpacking trip from Fremont to Livermore, predominantly along the Ohlone Wilderness Trail. The hike was about 38 miles long, plus five miles of city walking.
What was really neat about this trip was that we were able to do it completely car free! We took the BART train to Fremont, hopped on the AC218 bus to Ohlone College and started hiking. The trail goes through Mission Peak Regional Preserve, Sunol Regional Wilderness, Ohlone Regional Wilderness, Del Valle Regional Park, Veterans Park, and Sycamore Grove Park. From there you could catch the 18 bus to the Livermore transit Center, but we walked a couple city miles since that bus wasn’t running on the holiday schedule. Once at the transit center we caught the Wheels 10 bus to Pleasanton BART, which then carried us a mile from our home in San Francisco. A relaxing and low-carbon way to start and end our backpacking trip. You can find many more Bay Area transit-accessible hiking trips at http://www.transitandtrails.org.
The weather was blazing hot and a good test for the desert section of the PCT. The high temperatures were 98, 101, and 97 for the three days we hiked. We learned some valuable lessons. Hiking early in the morning was the most beautiful and comfortable time of day. Next time we’ll wake up before sunrise. When doing big mileage days, we need to pack more food than usual. Mary Jane’s Instant Organic Couch Potatoes were delicious, pemmican meal bars were not. Trekking poles are awesome, even if we look a bit goofy. And most notably, we are really enjoying having lighter gear.