American Canyon/Dead Truck Trail

Today I was able to get out for a quick 2 hour hike near Georgetown in the Auburn State Recreation Area (about 30 miles East of Sacramento) on the American Canyon Trail.  This is a easy to moderate 5.3 mile loop trail with a great amount of shaded sections (great for the summer heat in Sacramento!)  And although I wasn’t able to find the trail that lead to the waterfall bragged about in my guide book, it was still a nice hike.  It covers some of the sections from the Western States Trail which hosts many annual races including horse and trail running.  This is a great beginning trail to take occasional hikers on; they won’t be bored and will have a decent challenge.  For more experienced hikers, this will be a breeze.  I look forward to more hikes in this area.

American Canyon Trailhead

American Canyon Trailhead

Hoboken Creek

Hoboken Creek

Wendell Robie Trail Marker

Wendell Robie Trail Marker

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And the fun begins…

So remember that post about how excited I was to have my first backpack and was heading to REI to ask them to fit it to me?  Turns out the clearance that, just so happens to be calling me to buy it and kick off my planning, Osprey Kestrel 68, doesn’t fit.  Poo.  The one time it works against me to be skinny and short.  When I cinched it up the hip pads were touching each other giving it no room to get smaller (as I will inevitably loose more weight while on the JMT trip.)  AND my torso measures at 16 and the Kestrel’s smallest set up is 18.  So there I was starting over with the part I’d thought I’d got checked off my list.  Fortunately a wonderful employee named Katie came to my rescue.  She very quickly pulled a few packs down that fit the bill of a Women’s XSmall.  I tried the Gregory Deva 70 and that was a quick no.  After filling the pack with 25 pounds worth of sand bags (of varying weights) and putting it on, I was immediately greeted with a very unpleasant protruding “support” in my lumbar region.  Ick.  The other remaining options were the Deuter ACT Lite 60+10 SL and pretty much nothing else in the size I was looking for.  After trying the Deuter and not loving it, Katie called her co-worker Jason for back up.  He promptly suggested the Osprey Ariel to which Katie promptly contested that it didn’t come small enough.  To prove it she brought out the list of all the backpacks that REI carries and it said the Ariel, at it’s smallest, was 18.  Jason then saved the day by letting Katie and I know that that was simply a misprint.  It did indeed come in a 16 and they happened to have one in stock for me to try.  After going back and forth between the Deuter and the Osprey, I decided to go with… the Osprey.

Osprey Ariel 65

Second time’s a charm?

The Deuter felt like it was pulling backwards from my chest strap with the weight in it and I simply couldn’t give up all the great feel and features of the Osprey pack.  Hopefully this pack will serve me well.  I look forward to getting to know it better on several trips this year, including the Tahoe Rim Trail.  Cheers!

Gear, gear, gear

So now that I’ve decided to finally get out there, I need gear.  I went to the library and checked out what seems like a gazillion books on trails and beginning backpacking advice.

Backpacking Books

A little out of control, am I right?

The problem with borrowing these types of books from the library is that they’re mostly outdated.  Some of the trail books are fine as not too much has changed with those (and I can verify the information with what’s online) but the updates in recent years to the gear, especially with the ultralight movement, have been phenomenal.  I’ve been scanning these books for general information, but mostly end up relying on resources from the web.  I’ve found some great blogs and review sites like Calipidder.com and BackpackGearTest.org which have helped me narrow down some things.

The other morning I was hanging out in bed checking my email and of course I had an email from REI for another clearance sale.  Normally I’ll browse what’s on sale and not end up buying anything; however, this time I noticed a backpack on sale.  I did a quick search for some reviews on this particular backpack and most everyone had good things to say about it.  So I bought it.  And it arrived in the mail today. Behold!

Osprey Kestral 68

Osprey Kestrel 68

My very first backpack, exciting right?!  Now my only problem is that I have no idea how to size it, so I think I’ll head down to REI in the next couple of days and ask them to help with fitting it to me properly.  Doing so also gives me an excuse to browse all the other things I’ll be needing to buy over the next couple of months.  Well that does it for now, I’m off to read some more.  Plus it’s Sacramento Beer Week and will definitely be out drinking some amazing craft beer later.  Toodles!

Backpacking… finally!

I’ve finally started what I’ve been saying I would do for years: some serious backpacking.  The first time I went backpacking was with a boy scout leader who happened to be working with my girl scout troop at the time (his daughter was in our troop.)  I don’t even remember where we went, but I do remember having a blast.  Although I’ve done a lot of camping and hiking over the years, what really sparked my interest in backpacking again was a trip a took a year and a half ago in the Eastern Sierras.  We roughed it with a bunch of high school students, most of which were on their first camping trip for a science class.  The night we stayed at Brown’s Owens River Campground was the night I knew I needed to seriously re-evaluate why I hadn’t backpacked in so long.  There I was freezing my ass off, after having camped on a tarp in my supposed 20 degree sleeping bag after a low overnight temperature of 28 degrees, wrapped in every piece of clothing I brought and covered in ice thinking, “This is f-ing awesome!”  We were surrounded by a crest of mountains in the gorgeous Owens Valley learning about the history of the area and soaking in one of dozens of natural hot springs.  Over the next few days, after touring Mammoth, Lee Vining, Mono Lake, and the infamous Yosemite Valley, I knew I needed to explore further.

Over the next couple of summers I was lucky enough to have access to my sister-in-law who was living and working in the Yosemite Valley.  I ended up taking my mom Lynn, my husband Drew, and my good friend Kelly for their initial visits to Yosemite.  I got a lot of exposure to the hikes from within the valley and was constantly reminded of the John Muir Trail while hiking Vernal/Nevada Falls; the signs of milage unknowingly luring me to my decision to get serious about hiking the JMT.

I thought I’d be one step closer to hiking at least part of the JMT when Kelly suggested she wanted to hike Half Dome for her 30th birthday.  I started the process of obtaining permits, reserving housing (thank you sister-in-law again), and planning the trip that would be the highlight of our year.  And then tragedy struck.  My dad fell and ended up in the ICU where several days later died due to traumatic brain injuries.  Unbenouced to me around that same time our friend Chris, who was supposed to hike with us, had a tragedy of his own: his mom passed away after a recent surgery.  Needless to say, it wasn’t a great time to be trekking around Half Dome while we needed to be with our families.

After a rough 7 months, I decided it was time.  Time for a fresh approach to life.  Time to appreciate all that you have and that our days are numbered.  Here’s where my story begins: a time of reflection, exploration, and new experiences.