The junk I schlep into the woods

In a few days I'll be taking off for my summer adventure series.

1. A family backpacking trip in the North Cascades
2. A bicycle touring dirt lap in OR and WA.
3. A hike in the Southern Sierra wilderness.  

I've been checking my kit, repairing bits that need help,  and packing food for the last two days.  My buddy Pat M. was curious as to what I'm lugging around so I thought these pictures might be interesting.

For the last few years I have been using the FBC method for backcountry "cooking."  It is fabulous because their is no mess to clean up.  It's all neat and tidy!  But... eating out of a ziplock bag gets kind of gross for many reasons.  So I'm turning over a new leaf and changing it up once again.  To help myself not totally blow it I followed the recipes from my hiking partner Casy B.  Check out his informative post on food from our journey last summer.  His post is here.

Breakfast.  Enough oatmeal, coffee and/or tea for 7 days on the trail.  You see tea in this picture because I enjoy a afternoon tea on the trail.  The hot chocolate is because every now and then I'll make a mocha instead of straight coffee.  
Oatmeal for One
3/4 cup oatmeal (225 calories) On the trail, bring 1 1/2 cups water to boil, add mix, stir, bring mix to boil, remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes in cozy with lid.  
3 scoops whole dried milk or enough to make 1 1/2 cups milk (210 calories)
1 tablespoon brown sugar (48 calories)
1/8 teaspoon salt (0 calories)
1 tablespoon butter (102 calories) *omitted this*
1/8 cup raisins (65 calories)

Lunch.  I have always found lunch to be the hardest to pack for.  I'm trying to get away from preparing anything and just eating as I walk.  Soon I can see myself just doing bars and sweet snacks for the entire day.  The Cliff Bar Shot Bloks I will most likely get rid of, too heavy.  I'll replace those calories with regular Cliff Bars.  What you don't see here is the drink mix.  I'll usually have enough for 1 liter of Gatorade during the day.  I'm not really a fan of sugary drink mixes but I need something to wash this boring food down.  Except for the chocolate almond butter, yum!

Dinner.  I'm one of those dudes who can eat the same thing day in and day out.  Simple to make, easy to eat and tasty to boot.  Small bottles are hot sauce, salt, and olive oil.  Bottom right bag holds nightly fiber  drink mix, gotta keep it regular out in the hills!  Small bags contain enough advil to stay hopped up for the entire 7 days, and electrolyte tabs and multivitamins.  

Chili Mac for One
1/2 cup Pinto Bean Mix* (260 calories)At home, put pasta and bean mix into separate Ziploc sandwich bags and oil, salt and Tabasco into separate containers.  On the trail, add pasta to 1 1/4 cup cold water, bring water/pasta to boil, add bean mix and oil, stir and bring to boil again, remove from heat and let sit 10 minutes in cozy with lid.  Add salt and Tabasco to taste.  To make it even better, add a 2.5 ounce packet of tuna (or crumbled bacon) at the same time you add the beans and oil.  
1/2 cup elbow pasta (210 calories)
2 tablespoons olive oil (240 calories)
Salt and Tabasco to taste

Toiletries.  Tylenol PM and the ear plugs ensure a restful sleep without interruptions.  I always use drugs for the first few nights, it helps with recovery for the next days effort.  Everything else is just the usual stuff.  Sunscreen is Dermatone, excellent for the mountains and high altitude when it really counts.  I don't need much since I stay covered up these days.  

Fist Aid kit.  My philosophy runs towards BandAid or a helicoptor.  Over the years my First Aid kit has gotten smaller and smaller.  I used to carry a Sam Splint and a suture kit, crazy!  This kit can handle small cuts, abrasions/blisters, and headaches.  Yep thats about it.  I could use a few more meds for sure but this has worked well for the last few years.  The paper you see folded up on the upper right is probably the most important part of the entire kit.  It is two copies of a incident report form for backcountry emergencies.  One for the people hiking out for help and one for the people taking care of whoever gets hurt.  Very, very, important that you have good info for the people who respond to your emergency.  You can get the same reporting sheet I use here.  Don't forget to include a writing utensil in your kit.  

Repair kit.  Extra junk I "think" is important enough to drag around with me.  In all the years I have been carrying this stuff I have only used the batteries.  Once when my headlamp ran out of power and once when my SteriPen batteries needed to be replaced in the field.  Ok this year I pledge to at least get rid of the signal mirror (lower right), ghezz...  If you have any suggestions as to what I should be carrying instead that might actually help me out of a jam by all means leave a comment.  

Essentials all bundled up.  

Backpacking is awesome!

Big Red Shakedown Ride

Pigeoned up and took Big Red for a shakedown ride this week.  I wound up stealth camping on the West peak of Mt Tam.  What a fantastic view I heartily recommend it.  When climbing Railroad Grade from Mill Valley I always stop for water and to enjoy the view from the West Point Inn.  They have small cabins you can rent and stay the night and 6 times a year they have a pancake breakfast that is spectacular.  Check out the info for cabins and such here.

Photo by Leor Pantilat
The view just keeps getting better!
Photo by Leor Pantilat
Bid Red on Railroad Grade just above West Point Inn.  This set up is the way I'll be traveling on my upcoming tour with Mike J. minus the fenders.  I'll probably change out the tires as well they are really heavy and I can feel them robbing me of momentum.

I arrived just after sunset and settled in for the night.  Looking North from West peak of Mt Tam. 

A warm and quiet night with owls hooting and the city lights off in the distance.  Part of me was hoping that I'd be devoured by raccoon's so I wouldn't have to do my upcoming tour with Mike J.  Now that he subsists on hobbit dingleberries and thinks Grant Peterson is God I'm hesitant to go out into the woods with him.  Below is from a few years ago (on West Peak of Tam) before he moved to Portland and got weird.
Inevitable equipment discussion.  I have completely changed my sleeping setup.  This is the fist test of it and I think it's going to be good.  Montbell pillow, NeoAir pad, and Montbell #3 UL Super Stretch bag. I'm curious how this equipment holds up during my coming adventures.  

In the morning I dropped down into Fairfax and had breakfast with my buddy Mark.  We are attending the same nursing school and have become friends.  I headed out towards the coast and it was so HOT that I wound up jumping in at the Inkwells swimming hole. 

A random sign sighted when leaving Fairfax.  Cute!

Hwy 1 was all time with clear skies and a decent tailwind.  Randomly on the way home I bumped in to Daniel and Bruce who had been out camping as well.  Both are very friendly and interesting people we stopped for a celebratory drink once we got back into the city.  Daniel has been on some epic tours and he leaves for another one in three weeks.  Check him out at Pushing The Pedals

Daniel the big guy with the huge bike. 

Bruce from Oakland country. 


Big Red by Rick Hunter

Rick Hunter crafts magnificent riding equipment. His bicycles are finely wrought and imbued with powers far beyond what one can imagine.  When I first rode Big Red I recalled a chapter from the Iliad where Achillies receives his new set of amour from Hephaestus.  Achilles goes on to destroy the Trojan army, I plan on riding a ton of remote dirt roads and trails.  Big Red is an awesome dirt touring machine. Thank you Rick!

Big Red X 2

Natural Habitat

Big Reds new neighborhood

A few close up shots of Big Red at Daniel's blog:
Pushing The Pedals

To see more of Rick Hunter's craftsmanship and the best damm bicycles on earth check him out at:
Hunter Cycles

Stars and Bars

What a great country we live in.  Enjoy the 4th everyone.

Photo by Brian Vernor 
See more of Brian's photographic excellence:
Brian Vernor Making Blog