Valentine’s Camping

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Our Tent

Chas and I went camping in Mount Laguna last week. We camped the same night that we met our friends for a full moon hike. We love the Laguna Campground, so it was the perfect place to camp and celebrate Valentines Day. We finally got to test a lot of our gear too!

What kind of gear did we test?

Tarptent Double Rainbow

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Our tent

(Features from Tarptent.com)

  • Free-standing (with trekking poles) or staked
  • Hybrid bathtub floor — clip / unclip floor walls for splash, space, views, and airflow
  • Dual netting doors for views, airflow, and insect resistance; bug proof when zipped up Dual beaks shield rain, provides gear storage
  • Fast setup — 2 minutes from sack to pitched
  • Small packed size — removable strut for stuffing
  • Taut pitch resists wind, sag, and storms; integrated line tighteners
  • Reflective spectra cord guylines included

Therm-a-rest Z Lite Sol Sleeping Pad

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Sleeping bags, Z Lite pads, and my sleeping pants

Chas has been using his for awhile, but it was my first time. It in no way compares to our super comfy bed, but  it offers a little more cushioning than sleeping on the ground does. Why the Z Lite? It’s ultralight and easy to pack. Some hikers cut 1/4 of it off to save weight (and just use an empty pack for padding under their feet.)

  • Fold up easily like an accordion.
  • Has heat trapping “dimples”
  • ThermaCapture™ coating that reflects radiant heat (this is supposed to increase warmth by 20%)
  • Foams are softer on top for extra comfort and denser on the bottom for extra durability.
  • Ultralight
  • Weighs 10 oz.
  • Made in USA

Western Mountaineering UltraLite 20 Degree Down Sleeping Bag

We’ve already used these bags a few times. We bought these for each other as Christmas presents. I love this bag! We used our clothing “stuff sacks” as pillows.

  • Weighs 1 lb 13 oz
  • 16 oz down fill
  • Rated for temperatures down to 20 degrees
  • Full down collar to help trap heat around your neck

Sleepwear 

For sleeping we each have a set of long underwear, or a base layer. This consists of a top and bottoms. We chose to use Patagonia Capalene 3. They were really comfy, and paired with my sleeping bag I stayed nice and warm! This base layer with be used just for sleeping so they don’t get dirty and smelly. Some details from the website:

  • Stretchy double-knit fabric wicks extremely well
  • Smooth face slides easily beneath layers
  • Fabric brushed for warmth, softness and compressibility
  • Self-fabric crewneck for next-to-skin comfort
  • Thumb loops for secure hand coverage

Jetboil Sol Ti

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Jetboil, coffee, and a h2o bottle

We were originally going to go with an alcohol stove that uses denatured alcohol and weighs almost nothing. But because of how dry it is this year, and the risk of wildfires, many National Forests are considering putting a ban on them because they don’t have an off switch. So we decided to use the Jetboil. We also got a french press attachment piece for morning coffee ( I know, sounds silly but we’re trying to cut weight in so many places that I feel we earned this and we really really love coffee.)

  • Holds .8 L
  • Includes burner, cook pot, pot support, canister tripod
  • Lightest Jetboil cooking system
  • Very fast heating rate (a little over 2 min)
  • Excellent fuel efficiency
  • Excellent cold resistance

We woke up on Valentine’s Day in our tent, a little sore from all the hiking during the week, but nice and warm. Chas made us coffee with the new french press accessory and it didn’t really work. The coffee grounds came up the sides of the filter, but whatever. We just let the ground sink to the bottom and enjoyed some cowboy coffee.

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Chelsea and her coffee

We packed up our tent and gear, and loaded up our backpacks. It didn’t take long to breakdown camp. I’m excited to see how fast we can do it once we get more practice. We went on a little hike along the PCT from Pioneer Mail Picnic Area to the big boulder field around mile 56. On the map it’s listed as a small campsite in boulder field. We ate a bar and relaxed for a bit before turning around and hiking back. It was a really hot day, and I wish I had brought my sunhat. We tried out our new long sleeve button-up shirts. They’re supposed to keep you cool and protect you from the sun. It will take some getting used to. I felt like I should be leading a Girl Scout troop, but Chas said I looked cute.

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Pioneer Mail Picnic Area

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Chas with the desert behind him

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Chelsea at mile marker 55

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Enjoying a snack at the boulders

After our hike we stopped by the Mount Laguna Lodge and got some ice cream. We also went to the Mount Laguna Sport and Supply in hunt for a sun umbrella. A thru-hiker we met up in Tuolumne Meadows last year spoke highly of his sun umbrella he picked up in Mount Laguna for the desert sections. The owner Dave (Super) had one! He was very friendly and helpful. He informed us of some hikes he leads up in the mountains, and also told us he could do a gear shakedown and help us rid ourselves of unnecessary weight.

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Super’s Store

With how busy we have been lately I’m glad our camping trip went so well. It has been almost two weeks since we left our jobs to pursue this dream. Since the full moon hike and our camping trip we have been packing up our apartment and moving stuff into storage which hasn’t left us with much time to go on a long hike and we’re starting to itch a little. This weekend we have a 16 hour Wilderness Medicine course that is all day Saturday and Sunday which is going to be really fun and informative. Then after next week when we’re out of our apartment; it’s long hikes, backpacking and re-supply shopping!

Full Moon Hike (2-13-14)

full moon hike

Sean Evans Photography

Last week was February’s full moon. We had so much fun on our last full moon hike that we decided to go on another one up to Garnet Peak. Chas and I got a campsite at the Laguna Campground down the road from where we were going on our hike. We hung out there for a few hours before meeting our friends at the Penny Pines trailhead. We couldn’t have asked for better weather. The temperature outside was a low of 60 degrees, and the sky was much more clear than last time, allowing us to see pretty well without any headlamps. This trail has lots of rocks so we were stumbling a little bit. Once we got to the top the view was spectucular as always. We celebrated with refreshing summit beers: Pizza Port’s Chronic and Ponto SIPA, Modern Times, and Chas sipped on his scotch! Yum! Thanks to our friends Katie, Amelia, Matt, Sean, and Veronica for joining us! The beautiful picture above was taken by our friend Sean during our full moon hike. He’s got more amazing photos on his website http://www.seanevansphotography.com 🙂

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The Girls

Kwaay Paay

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Chelsea + Chas

Just got done doing a quick sunset hike up Kwaay Paay at Mission Trails Regional Park with Chas and my friend Kelsey. The sky was gorgeous! It is a moderate hike, and about 2.5 miles roundtrip. It climbs pretty early on into the trail, so it definitely gets you breathing! We stopped short of the summit because it got really dark, but it was a nice hike anyway. We brought our packs, which were weighing about 15 lbs each. I’m glad my friend joined us, it was a fun little hike!

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The trail up to Kwaay Paay

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🙂

Mt. Woodson

Chas and I hiked up Mt. Woodson yesterday. We started the trail around 9am, and the mountain was foggy the whole way up. It felt mystical. We hiked from the Ramona side, and carried our packs with us. The hike is on a paved road, and is steep the whole way up. Chas and I had done the hike multiple times in the past, but the weight of our backpacks made it quite a workout this time. After we got warmed up, the backpacks became a lot less noticeable, and we started flying up the mountain. I even passed 6 people along the way (which was a nice ego boost since I was carrying extra weight!)

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The trail goes between some huge rocks

When we got to the top we walked over to the famous “potato chip rock.” It has recently gained extreme popularity due to social media. The rock is thin plank that looks like it will break at any moment. When we got to the rock nobody else was there, so I had Chas snap my photo. It had been 5 years since I was last on it.  The rock itself is really spectacular, and it’s a nice reward to finishing the trail. The only downside is now due to its many visitors, the place is littered with trash. We filled up a whole bag of water bottles and food wrappers. We saw the trash before the rock. How sick is that? I never understood the concept behind trashing a place that you go to enjoy. If you can carry a water bottle up the mountain full of water, is it really that much harder to carry it down when its empty?

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Chelsea on the famous rock

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Some trash we collected.

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Pine needles collecting water from the fog

Pine needles collecting water from the fog

We hiked back down, and got to our cars around 10:30am, and the sun was starting to shine. It became a beautiful day! Chas’ mom lives nearby, so went over to her house where she prepared a delicious birthday lunch for Chas. We hardly ate anything for breakfast that way we could indulge in  her homemade cheese and chili enchiladas. She even had a birthday cake!

Happy Birthday Chas!

Happy Birthday Chas!

PCT Long Distance Permit

Woo! We applied for our long distance permits yesterday! The form had only been available for an hour when Chas applied for them. He had been stalking the PCTA’s (Pacific Crest Trail Association’s) website for days! Permits become available at the beginning of February each year. PCT Long Distance Permits are required to hike more than 500 continuous miles along the trail. The permit allows overnight use along the PCT corridor. Best part about it? It’s free!! Want to know more about the permits? Click here

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Applying for our PCT Long Distance Permits

Today we received Halfmile’s Maps. They are extremely accurate and detailed. These color maps show elevation profiles and waypoints every half mile. The maps show you resupply points, water sources, points of interests, etc. The maps are available for free, but if we were to print them ourself it would total about 476 pages. We ordered them instead, and got them printed double-sided in color (making it only 238 pages.) Halfmile’s Maps have been recommended by many hikers, and are updated every year. More about the maps here.

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Our new maps

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Maps for days!