Thursday, September 3, 2009

Taking My Leave (for a Couple Days)

I'm just about packed up and ready to go. As I suspected, I was running around until the late evening hours gathering and purchasing equipment for my trip this weekend, so the run had to be 86'ed. But, I think I'm adequately equipped at this point. Among some of my last minute purchases:

* An ultralight tent: I have a 2 person backpacking tent, but it weighs in at 7 pounds. If there are two people sharing the weight (one person carries the tent, the other the rain fly and poles), the weight is bearable. But for one person, 7 pounds in tent is HUGE. I purchased an REI ultralight 2 person tent. Total weight: 4 pounds 2 ounces:

* Bear canister: One of the problems that we get to face in parts of California are bears. No grizzlies or anything dangerous, but pain in the ass brown bears. All California brown bears do are forage around campgrounds and steal food and damage cars. *Never* leave a *trace* of food in your car if you are in bear country. What? You left a Clif Bar wrapper on the floor of your car?

The way we deal with this is by storing all food, toiletries, and basically anything with a scent in an approved bear canister. The cost of renting for three days was over half the cost of purchasing one, so I sprung for a canister:

Since bears don't have opposable thumbs, they can't open the container, and they go look for easier pickings.

* Food: Yeah - just like running, you can't operate without fuel. There are a few other challenges though. First off, we will be walking most of the day. Not just running for 2 hours. So, figure a calorie burn easily in the 3,000 to 4,000 per day range. The second thing to factor in is elevation. We will be up high enough that hypoxia (lack of oxygen) becomes an issue. One of the ways that the lack of O2 affects me is loss of appetite. So fueling becomes a real issue. I've learned that if it doesn't taste good, I'm not going to eat it. And that includes most dehydrated or freeze dried food, used by a lot of backpackers to save weight. So I headed to Trader Joe's last night to pick up some pre-packaged meals that can be immersed in boiling water to heat up. At least it will taste better than re hydrated spaghetti and meatballs.

I'm not sure the damage yet, but I'm hoping my pack comes in somewhere around 35 pounds. When I was younger and used to backpack a lot, I would often be able to get away with a week's worth of stuff in a 50 pound pack. I'm going a lot lighter than I would normally because the weather is still nice, but I do need to pack a couple of layers - there is a dry storm blowing through Friday and Saturday that should bring winds (20 -30 mph) and cooler temperatures (30's at night). And if you've spent any time in the mountains - you know what happens when the sun goes down behind the ridges - it gets COLD quick!

Speaking of hypoxia, this is the only part of these trips I really don't like. There will be about 20% less oxygen where we are camping Friday night (12,000 feet), and almost 30% less on the summit of Whitney (14,495 feet). Each person reacts a little differently to the lack of O2. I react with loss of appetite, elevated heart rate (usually around 90 - 110 at rest) and sleeplessness (I will fitfully nap at night instead of getting a good night's sleep). By the end of the second day I am usually pretty tired and miserable. Kind of like post marathon. Ugh.

So, I'll be signing off today for a couple or three days. I'm planning on getting out of here in the early afternoon. We'll hit the trail early tomorrow AM, and if all goes right (fingers crossed - this involves a tricky intersection of mind, body, and Mother Nature) we'll be on the top of Mt. Whitney about midday Saturday! I should be back on Saturday night, so I'll post something short and sweet/sour then. Cya!


  1. Thanks for the REI plug!! Job security for me, ya know. ;)
    Have fun!

  2. Have a great trip! Watch out for the bears!

  3. Enjoy yourself. Take lots of pics to share.

  4. Looking forward to reading about it and seeing the pics.

  5. oooh this sounds terrible... lol! i am so not a camper. but you have fun with that. and tell yogi and boo boo i said hello! (have fun and be safe!)

  6. Well... If bears want something bad enough they'll just find a way to rip into it. Bugs will probably be a bigger issue. I'm just sayin'...

    All of the creature stuff aside, have a great time. It's beautiful up there!

  7. Oh, I envy you right now. We're traveling to, but not to any place as exciting. And it's so true about the bears. They still scare me. Have a great time, Glenn.

  8. Have a nice trip and try to keep the bears at bay!! I am so not a camping girl, I've never done it.

  9. You're probably on your way home now...hope you had a great time! Can't wait to hear how it went!