- Feb 12, 2020 at 8:08 pm #3631029
Luke’s post is on point.
The reason that the discussion, experimentation, and excitement around UL is over (personally speaking) is that I’ve largely figured out what I needed to figure out.
Poncho tarps? Nope, not for me.
Beer can cookpots? They stink.
SUL fastpack kits and nights spent tossing on a small foam pad? Sure, on certain trips in certain conditions.
But when it’s pretty much dialed in, what more is there to talk about? After a while the talk about what’s in one’s pack gets pretty boring absent the conversation about what one is doing with what’s in that pack.Feb 12, 2020 at 8:11 pm #3631030obx hikerBPL Member
@obxcolaLocale: Outer Banks of North Carolina
That’s Shattuck with the jungle boots. Walter is the kid in the photo above with the sneakers and floppy hat.
Used a Yucca 574 for my first sorta longer hike too in 1971, from Clingman’s Dome to Davenport. Wore converse all-stars and carried a cast aluminum sauce pan and sterno canned heat and a little cash which I spent eating a lot at the LeConte Lodge. The big red spruce were all still alive and you could see ahead along the Boulevard Trail for several hundred yards as the trail dissappeared into the fern ground cover in the distance. Looking back it seems like a magical dream. I did have a pretty good Camp 7 bag though and ensolite pads were amazing at the time!
Walter’s correct of course that it’s really all about getting out there and he certainly walks the walk. Still there’s no serious argument that lighter gear gets more people further out there. Both. It’s not all a replay of “Endurance” and we’re not Shackleton.
Feb 12, 2020 at 9:56 pm #3631045GarrettBPL Member
- This reply was modified 1 week, 3 days ago by obx hiker.
I find many UL/SUL backpackers to be goal driven.Feb 13, 2020 at 5:03 pm #3631144
Interesting comments. I guess what I was thinking about when I posted this was sort of illustrated by the MLD Hell video I just watched. A very simple pack. So many of the ultralight products we buy now are so much more complex than they used to be. My first UL pack was a G4 and now I have an Arc Blast. I like my Arc Blast, but you have to admit there’s a lot of feature creep there, whereas the G4 was actually a DIY project for a lot of people (not for me, though). And then there’s the idea of buying special ziploc bags or cold soak jars. There are tons of bags and jars at the supermarket. I recently bought a pocket tarp and wanted to figure out a way to protect myself from mosquitoes. I was perusing old pictures of the original zpacks hexamids and I remember when that was such a weird tent. Everybody freaked out. Whoa, you mean the bug net is on the bottom? I have no idea if that was a bad or good design, but it’s that kind of daring weirdness about some of this gear that I kind of miss.Feb 13, 2020 at 7:27 pm #3631160M BBPL Member
There’s definitely feature creep all around.
much more money to be made selling to ultra-light wannabes, then actually selling ultralight gear to the few ultra lighters.
based on what I read on other forums, I’d say the average base weight of the average person with an arc blast is probably almost 15 pounds. Which is precisely why they had to add a bottom support beam and a pad and heavier stays and increase the weight from 16.7 to 21 Oz. And now they sell the living s*** out of them.
with around two thousand miles on my original arc blast that weighs 16.7 oz, (prior to some minor repairs), I never had any of the problems that others had…. Cuz I carried the weights the pack was intended for.Feb 13, 2020 at 8:35 pm #3631178jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
I have to admit: for me, the spirit of the wilderness–never mind ultralight–seems astray in the advent of carrying multiple electronic devices so as to be plugged in on the trail.
(setting myself up for the ok boomer retort).Feb 14, 2020 at 7:11 am #3631247
Yeah, I think the electronic thing is a little overboard, but I have enjoyed the utility of bringing a phone. I think it helps to use them as a tool, but when people use them to take all the surprise and serendipity out of the experience, I think they lose something, but that’s not my place to tell people how to hike their hike, although I do like to suggest they see what it’s like to turn it all off for days and weeks. I do hope the communications industry keeps that whole blank area of the country blank.Feb 14, 2020 at 10:03 am #3631261
I’m not quite following how pulling a phone out of one’s pocket every now and then to snap a picture or check a map construes being led astray from the “spirit of wilderness”. Not all phone users are immediately reduced to drooling sheeple, though it’s certainly a popular albeit quite hyperbolic narrative.
What of “spirit of the wilderness” in the context of getting a government permit, burning 30 gallons of gas to get to a trailhead, hiking manicured trails in a National Park that contains ecosystems that have largely already been altered by human use, eating packaged processed food, carrying the latest and greatest gear shipped fresh overseas from China on a cargo freighter, and generally incurring no actual risk or discomfort in said adventure?
Carrying an electronic camera/map seems pretty minor in the scheme of things.Feb 14, 2020 at 10:56 am #3631265HkNewmanBPL Member
@hknewmanLocale: Western US
Once the idea one can lighten their gear takes hold, I suspect the search for that Ultralight Holy Grail goes back and forth until “..just good enough” is indeed good enough for most.
Without excellent MYOG skills, hikers may not get all they want, but they get what they need :)
My thought is get a good gear list for 80% of the planned trips (maybe centered on a pack with a “Y” connector that can carry a bear canister with the pack fairly full) .. then worry about the other 20% (winter trips to those undertaking 24 hr summer trail runs). That said..
The major gear-makers have seriously lightened up but not to the extent of many “cottage” makers. Aches and pains will probably bring those users into their own search for the DCF Grail ..Feb 14, 2020 at 11:40 am #3631267
My personal experience with “drooling sheeple” is not so much the fault of the electronic gadget itself but of the apps. An app that tells you where the campsites are, tells you exactly what mile on the trail you are at, for me ruins the experience. I don’t care what mile of the trail I am at. The number is meaningless to me except as a measure of how far I have come or have yet to go. You can tell me the whatever-it-is landmark I seek is a few hours up the trail and that’s precise enough for me. I really don’t want to know where the campsites are, because the people I normally hike with will refuse to camp anywhere that the app doesn’t tell them to camp! This drives me absolutely insane and ruins the whole serendipitous make-your-own adventure aspect of the trail for me. But I have to choke down my complaints and suck it up because it’s the only way to keep the peace, but I swear there is no real peace going on there. None. I’m frothing at the mouth inside. This same “do as the app tells me” situation applies to the car GPS as well and drives me fucking INSANE.Feb 14, 2020 at 12:07 pm #3631269Dave HeissBPL Member
@daveheissLocale: Pacific Northwest
It’s not just apps. My wife has walked both the Spain and France sections of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route, and she was seriously irked by the hordes of people who were slaves to the guide book. She said so many people missed out on side trips and spontaneity because they were fixated on getting to the next lodging location shown in the guide book.
It’s a sad reality that most people want prepackaged adventures instead of embracing the uncertainty of making/finding adventure on their own.Feb 14, 2020 at 2:02 pm #3631286
most people want prepackaged adventures
I look on the bright side: the sheeple all go down the main road, leaving all the rest of the place for me.
A lot of the lodgings on low-land tracks like the Camino are really just car-accessible hotels, with hordes of tourists and a lot of alcohol.
CheersFeb 14, 2020 at 2:16 pm #3631290GarrettBPL Member
WISNER, well said. I couldn’t agree with you more. Permits… Ugh!
GAIA has saved my butt on too many occasions to disgrace it. In the desert or bushwacking trails it’s paramount. The picture quality on phones today is an added bonus as well.
Feb 14, 2020 at 2:35 pm #3631292Mike MBPL Member
- This reply was modified 1 week, 1 day ago by Garrett.
“WISNER, well said. I couldn’t agree with you more. Permits… Ugh!
GAIA has saved my butt on too many occasions to disgrace it. In the desert or bushwacking trails it’s paramount. The picture quality on phones today is an added bonus as well.”
agreed; 6 oz vs close to a pound (GPS and camera) previously, makes it a no brainer imoFeb 14, 2020 at 4:26 pm #3631313KarenBPL Member
Whenever I talk to certain people here in Alaska about hiking trails in the lower 48, they are puzzled. Why would there be a trail and who would make it? What do you mean by trail? So much of walking in Alaska is finding your own route, whatever is easiest to walk, often along a river, or a sheep trail on a mountain. There is no app for those areas (that I know of, yet) and even if folks have walked that way before you, there haven’t been enough people to really wear in a trail yet. Usually the trail will peter out and there you are, finding your way. In fact, even our established and named trails on public lands, especially state land, are minimally maintained and sometimes hard to follow. People who never walk on trails wonder why anyone would want to walk on one, rather than find their own way. What is the trail doesn’t go where I want to go?
I suppose there’s a spectrum of values about trails, from no trail/find your own way to maintained, named, mapped and app’d, along with YouTubed. Your view point on the preferable way to hike might be anywhere along it based mostly on experience. Best to hike with folks close to your own place on that spectrum for most satisfaction. I guess that’s why so many hike alone. I do prefer hiking with friends, but most of my friends don’t want to hike “outside” at all (Meaning outside Alaska – we just say Outside.).
As a solo hiker, the map and sometimes an app are comforting, but I could see how they would also be constraining. If I were exhausted and sick (as I found myself on my last Sierra hike) having the app to know where the next feasible campsite was, was helpful, since i reached that point in a sharply sloping, sopping wet forest. I needed the nearest available spot to put my tent and wanted to know if that was 2 miles or 10 miles away. If I’m feeling on top of my game, I wouldn’t even bother with the app, just keep walking until it looked promising to walk off trail a bit. Maybe as I get more experience with hiking solo, the app will be less needed and less consulted. But in the meantime it’s nice to have.
Hiking with someone, nah. Then the phone can remain mostly off, except for photos. Hiking with people who will not deviate from what the guidebook or app (or YouTuber) says would indeed, be maddening and a deal breaker.Feb 14, 2020 at 6:28 pm #3631328
Lots of people do cross-country in the Sierras, but in So Cal where it’s chaparral, you need a trail.Feb 14, 2020 at 6:29 pm #3631330
in So Cal where it’s chaparral, you need a trail.
I wonder how the trail got there in the first place, or who created it before there was a trail?
CheersFeb 14, 2020 at 6:51 pm #3631335obx hikerBPL Member
@obxcolaLocale: Outer Banks of North Carolina
Wow this thread has livened right up!
First there’s this notice at the top of Craig’s last post
“This reply has been reported for inappropriate content.”
Which had me thinking W T the actual F but thinking whoa shouldn’t say that and then darn if Diane doesn’t just go ahead and drop the bomb. Couldn’t be the reference to sheeple since the moderator then repeated that.
As usual I’m confused…..
But agree all the way ’round about apps and etc. and Karen’s observation really adds an interesting perspective on the whole idea of trails. I love going off trail.
Here’s a really good book about Trails and the whole idea of Trail-ness On TrailsFeb 14, 2020 at 7:07 pm #3631336
I assume someone hit the Report button by mistake. I have unreported it.
BPL ModeratorFeb 14, 2020 at 9:55 pm #3631354M BBPL Member
You won’t get far in eastern forests without a trail…….Feb 15, 2020 at 8:39 am #3631384Tipi WalterBPL Member
You won’t get far in eastern forests without a trail…….
We call it “Bushwhacking” here in the mountains of NC and TN—and for some it’s a sport, especially in the GSMNP.
I spent half of my backpacking life bushwhacking off trail but now in older age I prefer backpacking on established trails. Bushwhacking in the “jungle” of the Southeast is a young man’s game.
One established technique is to follow a creek in the middle of nowhere on a bushwhack trek—it assures never getting lost although the landscape around a creek is usually hellishly tangled.
I remember one time back in 1983 when I bushwhacked thru a rhodo “hell” with my old North Face external frame pack—with the clevis pins and split rings—and dangit somewhere in the middle of it all I found my pack bag half hanging off the frame cuz the laurel pulled out the clevis pins.Feb 15, 2020 at 8:47 am #3631386
I probably hit it by mistake but I don’t remember doing it. I don’t know what happens if you do it.
How did the trails get there in the chaparral? The native people used to burn it. When it’s burned then you can walk cross-country, and I have done this after a fire. Once it grows back you’re kind of left with the trails that have been made and the more grown it gets the more your efforts are concentrated on just keeping open whatever remains passable. A lot of local people go ultralight because then they have weight enough to carry loppers or a crosscut saw.Feb 15, 2020 at 9:58 am #3631393
I think quite a lot about the organic evolution of trails and how they’re not always the result of intentional human efforts.
Hunting has taught me a lot about how the landscape will dictate a certain flow, channeling traffic through obvious points, whether human or animal. Herds will cut a path, humans will adopt that path, humans may abandon the path, the herds reclaim it again a generation later…In this way some trails can last many, many centuries. I find quite ancient ones in the Southwestern deserts that seem to have undergone this animal>human>animal>human pattern through history.
A few seasons ago I was scouting a remote canyon for deer in the late summer, following a solid game trail with plenty of fresh sign. I found myself in a spot thinking that it was becoming too big and clean to be solely the work of deer, pretty certain it had also been cut by people at some point in history. It would appear and disappear through the canyon, but a few of the switchbacks seemed to be the product of a human mind, not deer. It eventually led to a site that immediately struck me as a perfect ancient settlement location. And sure enough, I find a bedrock mortar that was likely circa 1000-1500 CE, hidden in the shade of a juniper.
Some trails were probably never “made” per se, they just slowly happened…I like this.Feb 15, 2020 at 10:29 am #3631399Jenny ABPL Member
@jenniferaLocale: Front Range
I think the comments saying that once you’ve got your gear to the point of being comfortable there may not be much point in obsessing over dropping additional grams is spot-on. That’s where I find myself anyhow. If I come across a novel piece of gear or new way of doing something that saves some weight I’ll adopt it, but I no longer comb obscure websites for things. Except this one, of course. I’m good for another 10+ years with the current kit, hopefully.
And the comments on hiking on/off trail are interesting. Perhaps the idea of how trails form deserves its own thread? Back in my younger days as a field geologist in the western U.S. interesting rocks, the location of old prospect pits, and conducting thorough reconnaissance in a given area dictated where we went. It was nice when there were roads or trails, but most of the time there weren’t. I was often pleasantly surprised, however, to find very nice game trails that could be used to get where I needed to go. Animals often use the path of least resistance, and that can be helpful to us humans.Feb 15, 2020 at 10:40 am #3631405Luke SchmidtBPL Member
Craig there are similar game/human trails in Alaska. On the one hand it’s a huge landscape. On the other hand there are a limited number of logical routes between Point A and Point B so traffic tends to follow logical routes. I’ve noticed bears seem to like following human trails also. That’s led to some excitement.
Back to UL. If I lived in say Virginia I would definitely do more SUL type trips. The reason is there you can push the envelope a bit more. In the Canadian Rockies I would pack a bit heavier because its wilder. Just traveling from Point A to Point B can be a much bigger challenge with bigger consequences if you mess up. So on the AT the challenge is my SUL gear. Off trail in BC the challenge is the environment. My Virginia gear would be risky in BC. My BC gear would make a VA trip slow and boring. Different challenges for different environments and abilities. If people are having a good time who am I to criticize.
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