Archive for California

Ryan Campground, Joshua Tree National Park

Posted in Captain's Personal Log with tags , , , , , on February 14, 2015 by William Hooks

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Spent a wonderful cool sunny day in the park, hiking a portion of the Ryan Mountain Trail then camping with 2 new friends: Tom and Mo Holmes from northern CA. They are in Aptos, just south of Santa Cruz, and I plan to visit them next week during my road trip north.

I’m trying to adjust to the loss of my father and have been fortunate to have help from so many. To all of you: my gratitude.


Snow trip with HMG tarp

Posted in backpacking, mountaineering, Photography, Reviews, ultralight techniques with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 13, 2014 by William Hooks











At 7400 ft in the San Gabriel mountains, I finally got a chance to experience snow with this new shelter and it was all too brief, but great fun.

Used the ULA Catalyst pack, snow anchors instead of regular stakes, and 20 deg F Western Mtg Alpinlite 850 down sleeping bag/Vapor jacket.

Stayed on a torso length TR Neo Air pad atop Gossamer Gear groundsheet. This pack seems to be the winter ticket for my use- enough carrying capacity for what I usually use, and very light, well built. Setup was very easy, for both the shelter and the packup.

Light winds, clear with patchy clouds, about 30 deg air temperature…. sweet. If I didn’t have to work this evening……and I ‘ll be sure to bring bright wands to mark the location of this tarp in winter, since it blends with snow environments.

I’m finding that using trees at one or both ridgeline points as anchors yields very strong, versatile attachments for a wide variety of tarp rigs (especially more complex setups also using poles) and sticks easily exceed the heights of my trekking poles where I want to pitch a flying diamond, for example.DSCN1715




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Updates to my equipment list for 3 season UL backpacking

Posted in Captain's Personal Log, Photography, Reviews, Travel with tags , , , , , , on December 6, 2014 by William Hooks

I’m finding that rather than super UL (SUL) style, I seem to gravitate toward UL setups.

My most recent estimate of base carried pack weight is approximately 8 pounds, including the new addition of a Hyperlight Mountain Gear 8.5 oz  8.5×8.5 ft square cuben fiber tarp. I plan to post a comprehensive review of this shelter later this month.

Given this foundation, I ‘m usually taking about 12-13 pounds total weight including fuel, food and water.

In 2015, I may begin to explore packrafting to exploit river and lake travel as well as cooking over open fires. That way, no fuel to take…. but need to be very cautious in California about fire control and regulations these days. The same caution is justified regarding alcohol fuels in my opinion.

Happy holiday season, and here’s to many more.

Just posted recently updated gear list for 3 1/2 season backpacking on a new page

Posted in Photography, Reviews, Travel, Video with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2014 by William Hooks

I hope that this information will be of help to those who ‘d like to get in the ultralight backpacking game, and even stimulate discussion of other’s experiences and lists.

I didn’t include detailed discussion of options such as UL canister stoves from Soto and Snowpeak which I use as substitutes for alcohol stoves whe n they are prohibited by regulations (as is happening in some CA locales due to extreme drought conditions), and some other alternative gear I use at times. I didn’t include equipment for more comprehensive video in the backcountry, as much of that is mentioned incidentally in my separate gear list for alpine mountaineering.

Have fun out there- and vote anything but Republican (I mean, stay safe)!

Sky Camp, Pt Reyes National Seashore, CA today

Posted in Captain's Personal Log with tags , , , , , on October 18, 2014 by William Hooks

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Rained out of camp on Mt Wittenburg in Pt Reyes National Seashore this afternoon, but had a lot of fun… used the MSR E-wing tarp instead of a tent, and a Vargo Titanium Decagon stove to burn alcohol. Nice hike with views of Drake’s Bay to the west. The reconstituted beef stroganoff was good.