Sweetwater Trail, wait… what?

This past weekend in Sacramento was gorgeous! Since I was out in the Folsom area on Saturday, I decided to go for a quick hike near Folsom Lake. With my 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Sacramento book in hand, I set out to find the Sweetwater Trail which is about 10 miles North of Highway 50 near El Dorado Hills. I followed the directions exactly and was pretty sure that I’d found the appropriate parking area; however, when I walked down to the trail head this is what I saw…

Brown's Ravine Trail Head

Brown’s Ravine Trail Head

It was already close to 3:00 pm and wanted to get in 6 miles so I thought, “What the heck,” and started down the trail.

Views of Folsom Lake

Views of Folsom Lake

Views of Folsom Lake

Views of Folsom Lake

Views of Folsom Lake

Views of Folsom Lake

Views of Folsom Lake

Views of Folsom Lake

All in all it was a great day and a nice quiet hike. I still prefer the Auburn State Recreation Area to the Folsom Lake Recreation Area for hikes, but this was a nice excuse to get out while I was in Folsom. Oh and did I forget to mention why I was in Folsom? The REI used gear sale. Yes, guilty as charged, but look forward to some gear reviews from me soon!

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!