Going lighter: this is the year!

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wsp_scott
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Re: Going lighter: this is the year!

Post by wsp_scott » Thu Jan 17, 2019 6:06 pm

I agree with balzaccom, a 70L pack is just begging to be filled up with heavy stuff. Given your tent and the other stuff you have mentioned, I'm having a hard time seeing how you get to 50# for a 3-4 night trip. But maybe you have some extra clothes, a little bit of extra food and extra ...

I mentioned it above, but weigh your food, you will probably be surprised. I was shocked to put a bag of gorp on the scale and find it was almost 2# for a 2 night trip. After that I got a little obsessive about weighing my food and paying attention to calories per ounce.

One thing I have tried to keep in mind is the idea that ounces add up to pounds, pay attention to all the little things like first aid kits and knives and camp shoes and books and head lamps and ...

TL;DR before spending money on lighter gear just leave unnecessary stuff at home


My trip reports: backpackandbeer.blogspot.com






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Re: Going lighter: this is the year!

Post by mrphil » Fri Jan 18, 2019 7:27 am

Fortunately, with you going in April, the southern half doesn't have anywhere near the number and depth of creek crossings. What is does have is some staggering elevation changes: I think your total between Hidden Valley and Usal is something like 12,000 ft of combined ascent/descent. Check out the profiles on it. It's nice to have for general reference, but that Wilderness Press map is all but worthless for figuring out your precise location. It's the one section where I would rely on my GPS, but you're not going to lose the trail at any point I can remember. If you guys do start at Shelter Cove/Hidden Valley, park the car down at the parking area at the beach. There are security cameras there, and the trailhead up at Hidden Valley has been know for some break ins. Dump everybody and the gear up there, one person drive down and park, give someone a $20 to run you up the hill. It was super fast and easy for us.

Once you start heading down from above (probably on your butts for the last part of it...or at least absolutely cramming your toes into your boots), there are some decent campsites north of Needle Rock that will accommodate larger groups. Past Needle Point (you pay and grab your permit at the visitor's center there), your next designated camping area is Railroad Gulch. Grab one of the first sites you see just past the footbridge. They're not only larger, but they keep you out of the wind, which does whip through that little slot. Most of the sites at the gulch itself are small, but there are a couple larger ones, but they pretty much suck. Interestingly enough, as Daisy mentions, while cans are required on the north section, we saw more bears and bear scat on the southern section. Bring a Ursack if you want, but just hang your food, or bite the bullet and carry your can. From what we saw, as opposed to the Sierras, the bears are small. The one thing we did have a problem with was a couple aggressive Bull Elk. Having one on the trail that refused to budge going up from Railroad Gulch block our way and forcing us to bushwhack for 45 minutes to get around him was an entirely new experience. 1200 lbs of irritated joy and a six foot rack is an eye opener. And no, they don't move if they don't want to, and if you try to make them, they get pissed. Bears are easy by comparison.

At Wheeler Cove, if the winds are up, hang back in the valley instead of finding a site down at the beach. As I'm sure you know, the designated camping can be somewhat limiting, so your daily distances sort of have to be the product of what you need and can find. Little Jackass Camp has some good sites down at the beach, and some back up the valley if you need shelter. Anderson Camp is about the same (we did recon, but pushed through). Usal is a dump. Largely unpatrolled, and full of lowlife rowdies. If you need to stay there, when you exit the trail, head left and back for the better sites that aren't subject to four-wheeling, blaring music, and gunfire. Make sure the road out is even open, and if it is, it's rough going, so don't expect your car to not get beat up. And if you are using two vehicles, use the one with the better suspension and more clearance for that.

All in all, you'll want rain gear, good shoes or boots with good soles, maybe some gaiters if it's been wet and raining, and definitely long pants and shirts for some of the brush you'll be going through. Along those lines, there's about a 1/4-1/2 mile section a few miles short of Usal where you pass through some very thick pampas grass that will slice you up if you're not protected. Check yourselves for ticks at the end of the day. No tide charts required at all though.

I know I didn't say anything at all about shaving pack weight, but even though you have some hefty climbs, it's only 23 miles, and not really any big shake. You can comfortably do it in 3 days, 2 if you push a little. And even though you need a few specific things, your weight shouldn't be all that high. It's always great to save weight, but you need whatever you need, and don't need what you don't. You can mess with clothing and gear, but probably your single biggest savings is going to come from not being required to carry your canister, and that's free. Although your pack itself is kind of heavy, so that bears some looking at. I guess you can skip a stove and fuel, but if it's April (weather dependent), and the coast, and you plan to camp on the beach (which will definitely require a windscreen too), you'll probably really appreciate hot food and drinks at some point.

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Re: Going lighter: this is the year!

Post by freestone » Fri Jan 18, 2019 9:44 am

Here is a link to an article from Section Hiker on three examples of a UL makeover on the "big three" based on $. My goal on the big three and for all my trips is the ability to be warm and dry overnight and have protection from the elements when needed, using the lightest most affordable materials possible. Everything else is what I call a weight penalty.

https://sectionhiker.com/ultralight-bac ... -examples/


I personally prefer a 60 liter size pack because I do not use stuff sacks (yes, their weight can add up too!) the down bag and jacket take up more volume but do not add weight. If you only do a couple of trips a year then go for the larger size. Many of the UL packs have roll tops so you can roll the top down to the contents.
At the end of a trip, go through your gear and make a note of all the items that did not get used and food that did not get eaten then on your next trip you may want to leave those items out of the pack.
I only bring a bear can if its required, otherwise I just sleep with my food or hang it for rodent protection only.
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Post by Wandering Daisy » Sat Jan 19, 2019 10:45 am

I agree, the south section of the Lost Coast is harder than the north section. I had thought that beach walking would be slower than trail walking so initially planned more time for the north part. Turned out the opposite! There is a trail on the south, and when I was there in 2015, CCC crews had just worked on it so it was easy to follow. However, previously, I went in early season after a very high rainfall winter, and the trail had been significantly washed out and very difficult. If you do not pay attention, you CAN get on the wrong trail. There are several side trails that come down to the trail from the ridge above.

Also agree that take what you need. However, if going with a group, perhaps take only one stove for hot drinks and soup, with the main meal being no-cook. The camp areas have out-houses so you do not need a trowel. Some have TP, some not. The advantage of a group is that you can take a few extras that you would not take if you had to carry the load all yourself. I think a Sawyer Squeeze, or similar, is ideal since early season (unless a drought year) there is plenty of water on the trail so you do not need to carry a lot. Perhaps one filter for the group is all you need, and then use water treatment tablets for in-camp use.

I used a tent both times, not because you actually need a tent for the weather, but because of the ticks and other creepy-crawlies and gnats. Although probably an illusion, I also felt safer inside a tent with all the elk around. It defined my "territory".

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Re: Going lighter: this is the year!

Post by neil d » Tue Jan 22, 2019 4:46 pm

Dang, Mr. Phil and WD, thanks again for the significant intel on the Lost Coast. I know the info is out there, but I trust the folks here way more than general internet yahoos.

Mr. Phil, I'm going to write down all the campsite info you provided, thanks again!

One thing I'm wondering about is leaving a car at Usal...is that safe? Not sure what choice we have, but due to the poor quality of the road, the car that we leave there will likely be my truck, so I am asking...

Getting back to the topic at hand...I'm leaning heavily towards the ULA Ohm 2.0 or perhaps the Circuit for a pack. Seems to check all the boxes, at a reasonable price. Gonna splurge for the lightest inflatable pad I can find, and probably stick with my Tarptent for another year. For water, I'm still thinking tablets, but folks really like the Sawyer Mini and/or Squeeze, so might check that out as well. That would also be well suited to general Sierra hiking where we generally have access to lots of water.

Our group for Lost Coast will probably be 4-5 dudes, so I'm really going to push the idea of communal gear. We have never really done that, for the sake of convenience and redundancy in key pieces, but in particular I'm thinking we could get by with one or two stoves...seems everybody has Jetboils, and those boil water so dang quick that it is not a big deal to wait your turn.

I wish I could get behind the idea of shared tents, but I really like having my space at the end of the day, so that is a non-starter for me.

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Re: Going lighter: this is the year!

Post by neil d » Tue Jan 22, 2019 4:47 pm

BTW, we are planning three trail nights for the southern LC section, which sounds like plenty of time...

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Re: Going lighter: this is the year!

Post by alpinemike » Tue Jan 22, 2019 4:56 pm

Great advice given by many so I won't reiterate it here. But one thing I wanted to mention was a high vote for the Sawyer Squeeze and not the mini! I have both and the Squeeze's weight penalty is far outweighed by it's ability to filter way more water than the Mini without having to back-flush constantly. And let's face it.. would you rather spend 3x as long to filter your water for what.. a savings of 1+ ounces? I don't think so..
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Re: Going lighter: this is the year!

Post by Wandering Daisy » Tue Jan 22, 2019 6:19 pm

I think your truck will be fine but park it at the trailhead, not near the beach. And lock it, leave nothing in the bed. Not much else you can do. I assume you have comprehensive insurance. Take the same precautions as in Yosemite- no food in the truck bed. There are bears.

I have walked out the road from Usal to Hwy 1. It adds half a day. My husband picked me up on his BMW motorcycle at Hwy 1 since he obviously could not do the road. I do not think anything but a 4wd truck could have done the road then- it was really wet and muddy and washed out. I rode on the back of the motorcycle, with my full pack on to Leggett. :eek: That was interesting to say the least. The second trip he picked me up in his truck and we camped at one of the campsites and spent an enjoyable afternoon at the little beach. The campground was pretty unregulated, no camp hosts and they were not even collecting fees. May be different now. Then drove to pick up my car the next morning, and drove home that afternoon. Weather was better and the road was fine. On the way out we saw two amazingly large bull elk walking down the road.

It would be good to ask about the condition of the Usal road when you pick up your permit. I recall that there is a pretty good website, with current information too. By the way, the turnoff from Hwy 1 is easily missed; was not well signed.

Also think about just bringing one group first aid kit.

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Re: Going lighter: this is the year!

Post by Harlen » Wed Jan 23, 2019 8:29 am

I am beginning this process too. Like Daisy says- you might want to do it by degrees, unless you can hand off all the expensive current gear to your kids, or sell it. My effort is complicated by having more or less 2 sets of gear- winter/spring and summer/fall. I recently shaved off 6 pounds of winter gear by trading in a giant, moldy old, dirt impregnated 40 below bag for a 5 above, fancy-ass, Maverick-procured down bag, and buying a Prolite mattress. (Interesting that all my earliest trips were lighter still re. sleeping pad since I used nothing but the rope-empty pack, spare clothes, and made "bough beds" for colder nights.)

For my summer weight savings the best choice was changing out the big tent (we used to stuff kids in) for a super-light Big Agnes 2 person- which barely fits me and the dogs. I also have cannibalized my giant backpack, for a weight saving of a pound and a half, but it's still a 6 lb. monster. That will be the next purchase, and my biggest question mark. Clothes are another sticking point since I just can't bear the prices of things like "down sweaters" and suchlike. Seems like we must do it by slow degrees, or sell off our one of the boys?

My other odd suggestion is this (and I am serious): Never carry water in summer unless you're climbing, or you know of a dry area you'll be crossing. I like short breaks every few hours, and there is water nearly everywhere in the high Sierra. I have only once been really thirsty, and that was in late September when I crossed Glen Pass, and couldn't find water near the trail till just under Kearsarge. Not a long distance really, so I must have also neglected to "camel-up" at Rae Lakes. Winter is a different story, and I often suffer thirst and have to eat snow, and drink my own blood.
Good luck!
Last edited by Harlen on Thu Jan 24, 2019 1:49 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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John Harper
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Re: Going lighter: this is the year!

Post by John Harper » Wed Jan 23, 2019 10:04 am

Harlen wrote:
Wed Jan 23, 2019 8:29 am
Seems like we must do it by slow degrees, or sell off our one of the boys?

Winter is a different story, and I often suffer thirst and have to eat snow, and sometimes drink my blood
I see a compromise here. Sell your kid's blood!

John

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