Posted by: GeekHiker | June 17, 2009

Better Than It Sounds

Last weekend I managed, finally, to get out on my first backpack of the season.

Took long enough, eh?  I mean it’s fracking June already!

The trip was in the same general area as the Dry Lake hike of last year; in fact, it shared some of the same trail.  I haven’t decided whether or not to write it up into a post yet.  Covering some of the same ground, I didn’t take all that many pictures on this trip, whose ultimate destination was Dollar Lake.

Which wasn’t there.

The drought in California continues, and Dollar Lake was barely Dollar Puddle, and well on it’s way to becoming Dollar Mud Flat.  So the scenic destination wasn’t so scenic after all.

Which is not to disparage from the area where we camped, which was a lovely draw with many flat spaces to set up the tents.  Of course, being a wilderness area, no fires were allowed.  I’m all for wilderness areas, but there’s something about camping without a campfire that just doesn’t feel right.

(Of course, it’s damn dry out there,  so campfires of any kind are a pretty poor idea right now to begin with.)

Still, it was probably my best backpack so far, despite it being a little cold that night.  Mainly it’s because the group on the trip was very good, with intelligent conversation and a lot of laughs.  When we ended up scraping the last remnants of a snow patch for water (all the springs having long dried up), having a sense of humor about it is essential.

So too was the fact that I’m finally getting some decent gear together.  I finally have a pack that fits reasonably well, a lighter tent, and a brand new Therm-A-Rest NeoAir that weighs a mere 14 oz, but is two+ inches thick when inflated and provided about the best damn night of sleep I’ve ever had on the trail.  Yeah, the color is a little weird (though good for flagging down rescue planes, I figure), but rolled up it’s little bigger than a Nalgene bottle, so it’s hard to complain.

Hard to complain, too, when my calves and shoulders only hurt for about a day when I got back.  It used to take me longer to recover, but I guess a good pack will do that for ya.

All in all, a better trip than it might sound like on the surface.  Despite the non-existent lake, lack of water, and chilly temperatures, it was a great time.

Yeah, I know, a little weird.  But trust me.

I still wonder, sometimes, if I’ll ever really be ready for multi-day treks.  I’ve come to realize that what I really like is having a base-camp, then doing long hikes from that point.  Still, I feel trails like the Lost Coast are just begging for me to try them.

I suppose time will tell…



  1. Dollar Puddle! I like that 🙂

    Meanwhile, what happened to hiking alone? What’s up with this group backpacking trip? Hmmm?

  2. I hate it when the hike (or vista or scenery) are not what you were expecting. Its an odd sense of disappointment. And its always weird to see a favorite trail look different.

    And thats awesome that you had a good crew out there with you to enjoy the experience with. Solo is great but sometimes theres nothing better than having others out there who love it just as much. I get that.

  3. I was disappointed that I couldn’t get into Wizard Island when I visited Crater Lake. Life is full of the unexpected — as long as you enjoyed the rest of the trip it’s still a good trip (not perfect, but good).

  4. Mrs Greg House – Hiking alone I’ll do, overnighting not so much. Go figure.

    BackPackerMomma – It was more of a “this is IT?!?” reaction. But the disappointment was turned humorous by the company.

    K – Yeah, they cut off the boats two days earlier when I was there, so I know how you feel!

  5. I’m deeply curious as to what color this inflatable NeoAir is…and I hope you never have to use it to flag down a rescue plane.

  6. coolest feature? they’re made in *seattle* Isn’t that awesome? …….or maybe I’m just homesick? can anyone tell me how to get a chipmunk outta the basement? And no, I am *not* trying the bucket method. *shudder*

  7. I saw so much water on my vacation to Yellowstone, if I could mail you some, I would. All the rivers are at or over their banks because of the almost non stop rain in the Midwest.

  8. Hey GH, stumbled across here while looking for places to hike and people to hike with. Just moved to the LA area, and figure I should be making the most of my summer before school slams me come fall. Anyway, I just wanted to say your blog has been a most enjoyable read. 🙂

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