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Getting Back to Backpacking

Backpacking and camping basics and other general trip planning discussion for the uninitiated. Use this forum to learn where to look for the information you need, and to ask questions, related to the beginner basics of backpacking and camping, including technique and best practices.
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Getting Back to Backpacking

Postby SoxGolf00 » Tue Jun 11, 2013 12:31 pm

Hi everyone, I'm getting back to my roots. I grew up hiking on the JMT trail yet stopped in High School when I went in to sports full time. I have hiked a few times over the past few years (with my dad who still hikes - Everest, Kilimanjaro, Grand Canyon), but now at 37, I want to get back to the healthy way of life. Hiking for me is relaxing and a way to "disconnect" from this society we all live in. I am able to hike longer distances with gradual incline but the steeper grades tend to put a lot of stress on my knee.

I live in SoCal and will be training for the lake hikes on the JMT but starting out in Peters Canyon, Laguna Canyon and Silverado. Are these enough to help train for the Agnew Meadows to Ediza Lake trails? I'm a little out of shape at the moment but I have the type of body that bounces back after a few trail hikes. What are your recommendations for training and how long do you think before I can do that first trip (Agnew to Ediza)?

Also, I don't want to pack too much for the overnighter but what is a great reference for what would actually be required to bring?

I have the basics:
Internal Frame pack
proper clothing
Convertible pants
hiking shoes
Jetboil stove
food (how much would I really need?)
bear container
Poles
sleeping bag
filter
water
first aid
wipes
knife
compass
phone
watch


What level of backpacking experience do you have?
Level 1- Minimal hiking
Level 2- Some backpacking trips, using trails

What terrain are you comfortable/uncomfortable with?
- Class 1 terrain/trail hiking
- Class 2 terrain/pass/x-country

What is your main interest?
- Lakes
- Big Mountain scenery
- Photography


How many days/nights is your trip, not including travel to trailhead? - Overnight to start
Did you prefer a loop or out and back trip? Loop



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Re: Getting Back to Backpacking

Postby maverick » Tue Jun 11, 2013 1:28 pm

HiSoxGolf00,

Welcome to HST!
Tent or tarp, and rain gear are some of the major things missing. Acclimating to
the elevation is an important consideration. Also avoiding the high point of the
mosquito season.
Agnew to Ediza is about 6.5 miles with an elevation gain of 925 ft. Not a very
difficult trail if one is in decent shape. Depends how out of shape you are now, have
you been working out in the gym or doing any type of cardio (biking or running)?
If yes, than start hiking and slowly introduce weight to your pack working up to the
pack weight you expect to carry on your trip or above. This way you legs, hips,
ankles, and other body parts will be accustomed to the weight, use hiking poles to
avoid any unnecessary stress on you knees.
This thread may give you some ideas: http://www.highsierratopix.com/communit ... =19&t=2106
Also check out our "Backcountry Food Topix" sections for food ideas.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Getting Back to Backpacking

Postby larroyo33 » Tue Jun 11, 2013 2:01 pm

Going on weekend hikes is definitely a good way to train for your backpacking trips. As it gets closer to when you are planning on going on your backpacking trip(s), I would recommend going on some day hikes at higher elevations. Luckily in SoCal, you do not have to go very far to do this. Mount Islip, Mount Hawkins, Mount Baden-Powell, and Mt. Baldy are all good day hikes in the San Gabriels that will get you to between 8,000 and 10,000 ft elevation.

I also have really bad knees, so I wear two knee braces (http://www.amazon.com/Bracoo-Breathable ... knee+brace) whenever I go hiking and if I know there will be a decent amount of gain I also use poles.
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Re: Getting Back to Backpacking

Postby SSSdave » Tue Jun 11, 2013 4:07 pm

Best to get in shape gradually instead of in chunks.

A minor stat improvement to what would be correct for seagulls. Ediza Lake is 2824 meters or 9265 feet. Agnew Meadows is 2525 meters or about 8280 feet. However one must drop down to the middle fork canyon bedrock at about 2465 or 8090 then climb up 1175 feet plus another maybe 25 feet of up and downs along Shadow Creek and 50 feet behind Ediza to reach legal camping for maybe 1250 feet total.
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Re: Getting Back to Backpacking

Postby SoxGolf00 » Fri Jun 21, 2013 4:21 pm

Thanks everyone for the information. I am in decent shape now. I did some gradual hiking in Laguna Canyon which is a 925ft climb. I know. Not much but it's enough to start off. I am definitely taking the advice of others and gradually getting to a longer, harder hike. Don't want to kill myself and lose interest. :)
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Re: Getting Back to Backpacking

Postby cahikr » Fri Jun 21, 2013 4:31 pm

I agree with the the others here, work up to it gradualy keep the hikes short and low, work up to higher elevations then begin increasing the mileage. The Big Bear area has some easy trails that are gradual climbs to gain some decent elevation.
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Re: Getting Back to Backpacking

Postby scottawr » Fri Jun 21, 2013 5:19 pm

You should check out the mt. Baldy and icehouse canyon hikes they have a little more elevation gain and great mountain scenery.
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Re: Getting Back to Backpacking

Postby larroyo33 » Fri Jun 21, 2013 6:44 pm

I just hiked to Ediza from Agnew Meadows on Monday. I agree with SSSDave. There was about 3 or 4 up and downs going along Shadow Creek, and most of the good legal campsites are on a hill above the lake, so the total gain for the day was around 1300 to 1400 ft.

After doing the hike, I think the perfect warm up hikes in SoCal would to Mount Islip or Mount Hawkins from Islip Saddle on the Crest Highway or in Big Bear to hike up to Grand View Point or the hike to Bertha Peak via the Cougar Crest Trail. Make sure to hike with some extra weight in your pack to get used to that feeling as it gets closer.
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Re: Getting Back to Backpacking

Postby sparky » Fri Jun 21, 2013 11:21 pm

My training hikes are in the mt san jacinto area, easy one is devils slide to saddle junction, medium one is fuller ridge to san jacinto peak and the tough one is deer springs trail to san jacinto peak. Check them out, and its at elevation. Fuller Ridge has an amazing view of the north face of mt san jacinto
There is a million ways to be human, all are worthwhile.

True happiness is the absence of striving for happiness.
-Chuang Tzu.
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Re: Getting Back to Backpacking

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sat Jun 22, 2013 10:15 am

If knees are the issue, then simply go slow, take rests every hour, carry a light pack and learn to properly use trekking poles (REI has classes). It is quite easy to get the "base weight" of your pack to 18-20 pounds or under and then 1-1.5 pounds of food per day is easy if you use all dried food and some freeze dried food. In August you are not going to need a lot of clothing. If weather reports are good, you could eliminate heavy rain clothes or even eliminate a tent and only take a small silicon-nylon tarp or poncho. For August backpacking on good trails trail running shoes work fine and do not require a lot of "break-in".

I have never bought into the need to do a lot of getting in shape before backpacking. Just plan short days. The best "conditioning" for backpacking is simply to backpack. You really do not need to get all the way to Ezida Lake come "hell or high-water". No ranger would expect you to walk in the dark, dead tired, limping, just to meet your permit. It is pretty easy to reach that destination in a day, but if you do not it isn't the end of the world.
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Re: Getting Back to Backpacking

Postby Tom_H » Sat Jun 22, 2013 1:01 pm

Wandering Daisy wrote:The best "conditioning" for backpacking is simply to backpack.


Now that is one of the absolute truths in this pursuit! I have said the same thing for decades. In my 40 something years of packing, no other exercise actually got me really prepared. The closest thing I have ever found is to load up a pack with rocks or weights and climb up and down stairs in a stadium. Even then, muscles don't get worked at the same range of stride and foot angles as on a real trail. I have a hill behind my house and my routine on days I don't work is to take a 6 mile walk in the morning and climb my backyard hill for an hour or two with a pack full of weights just before sunset. It can be boring, so I try to meditate on being in the mountains. Each spring I start light and build up, and day hike with friends as often as possible.

When I was a guide, I climbed stairs with 100 lb packs. My pack trail weight ranged from 50-90 lb. depending upon what kind of trip I was leading, and the most I ever carried when my participants were ill or injured was 120. I am almost 60 now and can't do anything close to that any more. For training on my hill, I start at 25 lb. in the early spring and work up to 65 in summer. I try to build up to a weight that is heavier than I actually intend to carry on the trail. In addition to the pack, I wear ankle weights when training; it's nice for my feet to feel light when actually getting onto real trail. I have tried to modernize my philosophy about pack weight and read a couple of book written around the turn of the millennium about ultralight packing. That has since been supplanted by super-ultralight packing: a base weight (everything except food weighs in at less than 5 lb.) I have a neighbor who lives less than a mile from me who is SUL and has a base weight of < 5 lb. Rather than books, the place to get information is on You-Tube. The philosophy is too radical for me; these people are basically day hikers who carry a minimal amount of bivouac equipment. I have learned a lot from them, however, and now have a 2.5 lb. pack, a 16 oz. moisture resistant down bag, a ground cloth that is under an ounce, a 6 oz cuben fiber rain fly, a 1/2 oz. titanium trowel, and so on. It really makes a difference on these old knees. I do splurge and take my Omnia oven sometimes though; I love a long afternoon of baking everything from pizza to brownies on the trail.

Daisy is right. Nothing prepares you for backpacking like backpacking. Start out with short days. Take a good book to read or do some afternoon hikes away from camp without the pack. Most of all, have fun and rediscover that joy you had with your father all those years ago!
Last edited by Tom_H on Tue Jul 09, 2013 9:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Getting Back to Backpacking

Postby sparky » Sat Jun 22, 2013 2:54 pm

To a degree. Times I have gone monthes wthout hiking at all, then backpacked were pretty ugly. I keep in shape, but doing a couple day hikes the weekend before a backpack helps quit a bit.
There is a million ways to be human, all are worthwhile.

True happiness is the absence of striving for happiness.
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