Prison toothbrushes. $0.26.
Skimpy sleeping pads (12 Advil PM). $1.19.
Hiking 35 miles in 2 days with Glen. Priceless.
There are a few advantages to working with Glen if you’re interested in lightweight backpacking. First of all, he’s got quite an extensive personal gear collection for loaning, so you can try a lot of really light stuff without having to buy anything. Secondly, you live close, so you can haul your gear over to his house, and have him toss most of it in the box you brought it in, replacing it with much lighter alternatives. Thirdly, if you’re fun to be around, you might wrangle a trip to the local mountains on a weekend, where he can actually school you in some of the finer points of ultralight gear and techniques.
Such is the happy circumstance for Aaron. Aaron, his wife Heather, and her brother Jay, ended up on the PCT with Glen. Glen already had the weekend blocked out to guide a Wilderness Outings trip that had to be scrubbed due to low enrollment this year, so he asked Aaron if his crew wanted to do a shakedown hike with some lightweight gear before their planned trip on the John Muir Trail later in the summer.
The plan was to hike a piece of Section B of the PCT, starting near Mount San Jacinto, and hiking south, which is mostly downhill, to Hwy 74, about 35 miles. We left San Diego before noon on Friday, and were hiking up the Marion Mountain trail by around 2 pm. We had dinner at Strawberry Junction, then hiked on to cowboy camp near the next trail junction, in some soft sand, but with some wind during the night. The next day got warmer as we turned the corner out of Tahquitz Valley, and the trail got hotter, drier, and rockier. Saturday night we ended up at Cedar Creek camp, and Aaron got to experience pulling water out of an algae-covered horse trough, a first for him. It make the water siphoned out of Apache Spring earlier in the day look pristine by comparison. Everyone’s feet were feeling the hot miles by Saturday evening, especially Heather’s. Sunday got even warmer as the trail got to lower elevations, and became somewhat of a trudge on tired and broken feet.
There was spirited discussion about the wisdom of hiking with Glen, especially when it came to light that the number of people who had actually hiked more than once with Glen was a very small group, dominated by an individual having the trail name of “Death March”. Still, Aaron’s crew is nothing if not stubborn, and in spite of swollen and cracked feet, swore this would not be the last trip with Glen. Watch for further adventures!
Glen tried a couple of new gear items this trip. Here’s his report:
- Shoes: I run in FiveFingers, so am looking to move to a more minimal shoe for backpacking also. This trip I tried my beloved Stem (Now Leming) Origin shoes. These are super flexible, zero drop, kind of like wearing slippers. I don’t know if it was the rocks in the trail or the heat, but they left my feet feeling a little raw after the short 35-mile trip. No permanent damage, but I won’t be hiking with the shoes again, I’ll keep them for the frontcountry.
- Jacket: I had made myself a Tyvek pullover, and was very excited about the weight of only 3.7 oz. after seam sealing. It worked great, and helped to get my base pack weight well below 4 lbs., but then it didn’t rain. Before you make one and take it out on a trip where you might get some precipitation, be sure to read the report of my 2012 Weminuche trip with Will Rietveld.