Backpacking posts, page 3 of 8.

What Kind of Hiker Am I?

Even after living in and exploring the wilderness of Arizona for two years I still consider myself a Michigan hiker. It's only fair, in some ways: my hunger for the outdoors started in the Upper Peninsula and I spent seven years up there hunting waterfalls and old growth and forgotten places. Two…

  • Category Personal
  • Posted October 24, 2016
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Cave Loop Overnight in the Supes

Late afternoon sun over Peralta Trailhead

Late afternoon sun heated up Peralta Trailhead as Chris and I stepped out of his car and pulled our packs on. The temps were in the upper eighties thanks to a storm-ridden cold front that had been rolling through the area this week, and it felt surprisingly reasonable out. I might be singing a…

  • Category Hiking
  • Posted October 20, 2016
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The Park of Mazatzals: Retreat down Barnhardt

Dim morning light from the park

All things considered I had a decent night in the Mazatzals, camping at The Park. My tarp kept the wind from stealing too much of my heat and I never woke up from the cold. However, my sleeping pad burst early in the evening, and I had left the patch kit at home and had to make due with overlapping…

  • Category Hiking
  • Posted October 13, 2016
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The Park of Mazatzals: North of Hopi Spring

Ascending right into pines and grass

Rock Creek Trail was likable enough beyond the rock pools. It climbed a short distance under the shade of low pines, swung around on a little ridge, and then swung back to cross Rock Creek above the pools over dry boulders. And then it started to climb up a ridiculous slope of gravel and manzanita…

  • Category Hiking
  • Posted October 10, 2016
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The Park of Mazatzals: Climbing Rock Creek

Dark, gloomy clouds rising over the Mazatzals

Dark gray clouds boiled and churned above Barnhardt Canyon. Turning my back to them I pulled my gear out of the van and tried to put them out of my mind. Of course it would be cloudy - the forecast had promised rain and storms up there into the early hours. But it was supposed to clear up, and there…

  • Category Hiking
  • Posted October 6, 2016
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DIY Gravity Setup with the Sawyer Mini

The basic water system for a gravity-based Sawyer filter

Early in 2016 I started using a Sawyer Mini as my primary water filter for hiking and backpacking. It was a huge weight savings, going from a one pound MSR down to a little thing that weighs a hair over two ounces. However, I immediately ran into two problems while using it. I couldn't come up with…

  • Category Hiking
  • Posted October 2, 2016
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Experimenting with a Hammock

Perfect hammock site at Barbershop Springs

This year I've been experimenting a lot with new gear and new backpacking practices. After a few adventures with thirty or more pounds (including nine days on Isle Royale) I've shifted to an ultralight setup that sometimes sinks to a wonderful sub-five base weight. My water system has gotten lighter…

  • Category Hiking
  • Posted September 29, 2016
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Ballantine to Boulder Flat

Blue skies over Ballantine Trailhead

The clear sky was a giant blue mirror reflecting back the heat of the rocky earth. At least, that's what it felt like as I stood near the van and looked over at Ballantine Trailhead. The hot air swam around me and my skin prickled with the promise of a sweaty afternoon. With a long sigh I walked…

  • Category Hiking
  • Posted September 22, 2016
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Pine Creek Loop and a Bail

A plain-looking Ballantine Trailhead

Cars, trucks, and semis roared out over the desert mere yards away from Ballantine Trailhead. I guess this is the alternative to long, rocky roads that usually prelude my desert hikes; parking next to a busy highway and doing my best to ignore the traffic. Wincing as my shoulders took on the heavy…

  • Category Hiking
  • Posted September 1, 2016
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Lower Red Tanks Trail

Predawn light on the hills

Sleep came in hour-long chunks at best near LaBarge Spring. The temps dropped under the clear night sky to the point where I, fully dressed in the hammock, was rolling uncomfortably around by midnight. Perhaps a sleeping bag would have been a good idea after all. Every time I opened up my Kindle to…

  • Category Hiking
  • Posted August 10, 2016
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