Category: Backpacking

#HellHikeAndRaft Day 2: Dry Diggins Lookout, Hibbs Cow Camp

Miss out on #HellHikeAndRaft Day One? Click here.

Tuesday morning, I woke up to the sound of Russ’ snoring and to the sound of coffee being made. There was ice on our tent from condensation. It was cold and windy; the fog was being swirled around on Shelf Lake. And it was beautiful.

Today, we were planning on hiking up to Dry Diggins Lookout for a glimpse of Hells Canyon, and then off to Hibbs Cow Camp where we would be staying that night. We ate some delicious omelettes made in Ziploc baggies, and munched on leftover peach cobbler.

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We hiked past Basin Lake and the series of Bernard Lakes, complete with floating lily pads. We stopped at the junction to Hibbs Cow Camp and dropped our packs to continue up and up to Dry Diggins Lookout. The view from Dry Diggins was incredible. We waved to Hells Canyon and the Snake River. Snapped some photos, or maybe a lot. Poked around inside the lookout, which was only staffed during fires until it was abandoned after the Baldy Fire, and then we were on the way down again.

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Hibbs Cow Camp was located under the trees next to a babbling spring. Appetizers were smoked salmon, jalapeno jelly, cream cheese and crackers. Fish People Seafood and beer bread followed as the main course, and we finished off with peanut butter brownies for dessert. Also, we played a lot of fetch with Tubbs, the fetch dog.

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The night was cold, but I still slept pretty well.

Total mileage for the day was approximately 6.6 with 2,280′ of elevation gain.

If you missed out on #HellHikeAndRaft Day One, click here. Stay tuned for the other four days, and don’t forget to check out everyone else’s content!

#HellHikeAndRaft Day 1: Goat Pass, He Devil, Shelf Lake

I’ve been dreading the writeup of these #HellHikeAndRaft posts. It means it’s really over! And I don’t want it to be over. Without getting too sentimental, this was one of the most fun trips I’ve ever been on with some of the coolest people I’ve ever met. Thanks Tara, Russ, Scott, Val, Trevor, Shannon, Jes, Annie, Wendy, Adam, Jeff, and Becky & Parker at America’s Rafting Company!

Now for the nitty gritty… Monday morning, we woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Our guide, Marshall, picked us up from the Meadows Valley Motel in New Meadows and carted us off to Windy Saddle in the Seven Devils Wilderness. We met up with Rick, our other guide, and John and the horse team and into the wilderness we went.

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We quickly began ascending up the Goat Pass trail until we hit the ridge. We were rewarded with views of the Tower of Babel and Mirror Lake. We paused and snapped some photos. From there, we traversed across and began our descent to our lunch destination. The trail was steep and slippery with a bit of scree skiing at certain points. Sheep Lake was the reward, and we stopped to refuel.

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Post-lunch, we hiked around Sheep Lake, marveling at its cool, clear waters until we reached the junction to head up to He Devil or head to camp. Tara, Jes, Annie, Russ, Rick, and I decided to tackle He Devil; the rest decided to mosey off to camp.

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Our adventurous group began the ascent up, but quickly realized that there was no real trail. Up and up, we went, but as we reached the ridge to reach the summit, we decided to stop. It was late in the day, clouds were rolling in. All signs pointed to safety rather than summiting, and we began our descent and headed to camp.

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Shelf Lake was our home for the night! Coming into camp was like arriving at an oasis! A kitchen was set up, a fire was burning, the lake was pristine and clear. I set up camp and started to drink wine. Little did I know, guacamole, chips, and salsa awaited, and there were fajitas to be had.

I slept very well that night.

Total mileage for the day was 4.39 miles with about 1,657′ of elevation gain. This does not include He Devil.

Stay tuned for the other five days, and don’t forget to check out everyone else’s content!

Intro to Snowcamping with the Sierra Club

The San Francisco chapter of the Sierra Club holds an introductory snowcamping course every year. Members and non-members go out in the backcountry to get some hands-on experience with seasoned snowcamping veterans.

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The course was… an interesting experience. I’m not sure if I would do it again. It’s definitely a great learning experience if you’re looking to transition from three-season backpacking to backpacking and camping year-round. However, the course could be infinitely more organized.

The course is taught in groups of thirty people, with about a 50:50 ratio of instructors or assistant leaders to students. Students spend one day in the classroom and two trips in the backcountry. The classroom day is meant to give you a brief overview on what to expect, how to prepare, and what you need. Then you go out on two trips to practice your skills: map and compass, snow shelters, digging, etc.

The Sierra Club Snowcamping version of backpacking is incredibly different from what I’m used to. I’m all about traveling long distances, eating fast dinners, crawling into my bag when darkness falls, and sleeping until the sun rises. I consider backpacking a nice “reset button” when everything gets thrown out of whack and I need to slow down on life. Not on this trip. The group had a five course (yes, five) meal that began around 5pm that was supposed to last well into the night.

Though everyone was great, friendly, nice and knowledgeable, the amount of anecdotal information everyone had to share was overwhelming and time-consuming. All the assistant leaders had something to say about everything; everyone had an opinion on what was right and what wasn’t. Oftentimes, the more seasoned folks repeated stories over and over again. It lead to a lot of sitting around and listening.

All in all, the instruction and knowledge were great. I got a good refresher in map and compass and route-finding. And I built an igloo-snowcave hybrid with a gear closet. I’d say the latter alone was worth it all.

If you’re interested in taking this course, please visit the Sierra Snowcamping website here. The 2014 season is almost over, but you can start prepping for 2015!