Rae Lakes Loop

We recently hiked the Rae Lakes Loop in King’s Canyon National Park. This area is known for its stunning scenery, and it didn’t disappoint. What we saw looked a lot like Yosemite, but without the roads and people. Massive granite cliffs, lovely chilly glacial lakes, alpine meadows with wildflowers, sweet waterfalls, the whole deal. There’s nothing better than being immersed in these things for a few days.

Especially exciting for us, the 48-mile loop included a section of the PCT. It felt great to be walking on a piece of the trail we’ll be encountering in 2012 when we walk the full PCT — although when we walk this section as thru hikers in June, snow will blanket most if not all of the trail. Then, instead of walking down the trail, we’ll glissade (slide on our butts) to the bottom!

From Glen Pass

On this five-day trip we continued the process of fine-tuning our PCT gear. We learned that Hypafix tape works better than duct tape to cover hot spots on feet, because it stays in place. Half Mile’s printed maps and GPS waypoints were accurate and informative. And we debuted our 1 oz pocket kite! It was great fun to fly, and we intend to grace many mountain passes with its lovely colors in the future!

Tents, Sleeping Bags, and Packs, Oh My!

The “big three” in backpacking refers to your heaviest pieces of gear — tent, sleep system, and backpack. The best gear varies for each person’s needs because there are tradeoffs between weight, comfort, and price. Below we explain how we selected our big three items.

Tent

Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 (without rain fly)

We love our Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2. It suits our weight/comfort/price mix perfectly. After removing extra stuff sacks, and replacing the stakes with 6 Vargo Titanium Ultralight hooks, this 2-person tent weighs only 2.3 pounds! This is very light, and as you can imagine, when trekking such a long way we opt for less weight on our backs whenever possible. It’s cozier than most tents, but two sleeping pads fit perfectly next to one another inside and we’d rather have the lighter weight than extra space. This is a free standing tent, which is more convenient than a tent in which you must use your trekking poles as supports.

Itinerary

We used Craig’s PCT Planner and Yogi’s PCT Handbook to create an itinerary for our entire PCT hike. Craig’s web application is a great tool and makes the planning process a lot easier. Thanks Craig!

The plan includes all our resupply points and provides dates for our arrival and departure from each. Of course, our actual dates will deviate a bit from the plan, but in general we expect the plan will be on target. We hope to visit with folks who live near the trail, so let us know if you would like to meet us at any of the towns listed!

Here is the plan summary:

Hetch Hetchy Loop

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.