Rae Lake Loop Hike at Kings Canyon – Colours of Fall
Rae Lake Loop Hike is a 3.5 day to 6 day hike located in the vast lands of Kings Canyon National Park where you will find the Sierra Nevada mountains. Known for its beautiful mountain ranges, majestic sequoia trees and towering granite walls. I have been to parts of the national park on a day walk to see the giant sequoia trees and were awed. The park left a deep impression and I am so excited to be back!!!
However, I was filled with apprehension before the hike. After all, it is tail-season and it is my longest trip yet. Will there be anyone if we need help? The bears are going into hibernation…. Will they be starving and aggressive? Did not help that the weather forecast 1 week before the hike showed the temperatures going lower over the days to reach freezing temperatures of -11 degrees Celsius. Ed rolled his eyes and took many deep breathes trying to patiently assure me. True enough and luckily for me, my worries were unfounded. =P In fact, to assure me, the first thing he did upon arriving at Cedar Grove was to ask them for an updated weather report which they checked using NOAA. A site Ed was using to track the weather as well.
We drove for 4 hours from SF to reach Cedar Grove where we intended to stay for a night to acclimatize and rest before starting off the next morning. We were lucky to arrive before Cedar Grove Visitor Centre closed for the season, and managed to have our final warm dinner and breakfast before the hike. Food was surprisingly decent too. We had BBQ ribs and Cheese quesadilla for dinner and eggs, bacon and potatoes for breakfast.
We were not aware when we got out of telecommunication signals as there was no reception way before we even started to ascend the slopes to the National Park. The only way is to make phone calls at the pay phone the old fashioned way. Been more than 10 years since we used one! And it is a dollar for a call anywhere in the country I think.
There are many camp sites around Cedar Grove, but only Sentinel had occupants as it was closest to Cedar Grove, just a short 3-5 minutes walk away. It costs $18 a night to camp at the site and there is a toilet and outdoor sink facility though right outside Cedar Grove there is a shower facility too. We did not visit those so yeah, we did not shower for 7 days in total starting from the morning we left for Kings Canyon. =P
For those arriving after Cedar Grove closes, there is Grant Grove which is open throughout the year. There is a bigger supermarket there but only a small cafeteria offering amazing freshly made pizzas (I don’t think it is because we were starving and deprived), hotdogs and sandwiches. There is also a restaurant expecting to operate by Spring/Summer 2017. There are also some campgrounds nearby however, most were closed.
The next morning we packed up and drove over to Cedar Grove for breakfast and topped up our water bottles with warm water before driving out to Roads End where we will park the car and start the hike. By the time we arrived at Roads End, it was almost 9am and after packing the car, etc, we started our hike at 9.30am. Note: Remember to clean out the car of any food or scented items, including infant car seats. We left a bag of toiletries in the bear box at the parking lot and are happy to report that we recovered it untouched.
The hike is essentially a lollipop like loop with a repeated stretch at start and end. Meaning from Roads end, we need to walk 2 miles to the start and end of the loop and walk the same 2 miles back to the car. Honestly, walking the 2 miles at the start of the hike was great but coming back, we never felt a longer 2 miles. Especially when we were wet, tired and soaking in the rain.
SUMMARY OF RAE LAKE LOOP HIKE:
Rae Lake Loop Clockwise direction, 23-28 October 2016
75km over 5 days 3:52 hours
Total Ascent: 10,921ft Maximum Elevation: 12,000ft
Total Descend: 10,974ft Minimum Elevation: 5,042ft
Day 1: Roads End to Upper Paradise
Day started off sunny with partial clouds. However the clouds did not hold and little drops of rain came down silently nearly at the end of our day’s hike. We contemplated camping at Middle Paradise but since the rain stopped after a while, we decided we can still make it to Upper Paradise. Elevation was gentle with many scenic spots and camp sites from Lower, Middle to Upper paradise. There were quite a few day hikers, bringing me comfort as I had worried about being the only ones in the mountains (do not mind being alone, but maybe no one is hiking as they know something we do not??!!) But well, we definitely did more homework than some we chatted with who did not even bother to check weather reports. We camped at the Upper Paradise at around 4pm after walking for 7 hours. There was a large group at each of the earlier sites and we were originally the only ones at this site but another couple arrived after sun set and camped some distance from us.
The camp site was quaint and comfortable with little wind. We made it a point to choose camp sites with bear boxes so that we can have a place to store our food a distance from our tents. Tonight we decided to cook next to the bear box since there was a nice clearing and it is close to water. We have planned for 2 parts of dinner. A warm dinner that we cook with the stove and then as an after dinner dessert consisting of BBQ Chinese pork jerky, dried fruits and chocolates. We set up camp fire right outside our tent and ate part 2 of our dinner by the camp fire, toasting our feet and massaging each other by the fire. Life is good!
Distance: 15.3km Ascend: 2356ft Descend: 572ft Highest Elevation: 5092ft Avg Grade: 3.5% Time: 7 hours
Day 2:Upper Paradise to Wood Creek
It started to rain intermittently through the night till about 8.30am with thunder and lightning. Luckily this is expected to be a short day, so we decided to wait a little more for the rain to stop and it did stop in time for us to go about our preparations for the day, though it was still drizzling lightly intermittently, which eventually broke into full sunshine by noon.
Today, we will gain more elevation, albeit travel a slightly shorter distance than the day before. The trail was relatively straight forward though my heart did skip a beat initially when I had to walk across logs and rocks to cross a small river and some gushing streams. After a while, this became the norm. We came across someone who was doing the trail anti-clockwise and he was traveling really fast since he said he camped at Rae Lake the night before and it was only past mid-day when we met him.
Halfway through the hike, Ed kept his walking sticks and said they are hindering him more than helping him. -_- My walking sticks are my life. I am basically a 4-legged animal on the trail. I guess I need more training because even without his walking sticks, he was skipping in front of me every day. -_-
We arrived at Wood Creek’s campsite which was right after the “one man bridge” at about 3pm and it was extremely windy and cold. After scouting for almost an hour trying to find a good campsite that will have less wind, we settled for a spot next to a giant fallen log on higher ground. The other group took the bigger camp site below us, closer to the bridge and bear box. This was probably the closest we were to another group. Unfortunately, it was still too windy and cold. Even standing next to the camp fire, which I did for an hour, did not help much. The coldest night was spent here. It was at least 2 degrees Celsius before wind chill which made it feel like sub zero because on other nights that were almost sub zero, we did not feel as cold. Our mistake was also that we should have layered on once we stopped walking but we only layered on when the cold caught us and it hit us hard.
Distance: 9.4km Ascend: 2117ft Descend: 371ft Highest Elevation: 8548ft Avg Grade: 5.7% Time: 4 hours
Day 3: Wood Creek to Arrowhead Lake
Morning greeted us with stillness. Although it was about 1.4 degrees Celsius, it felt nice and warm compared to the night before. The wind made a lot of difference. With no chilling wind, we could really appreciate the beauty of the site better. Today was another short upward climb ending at Arrowhead Lake. On our way to Arrowhead Lake, we passed Dollar lake where we had a snack by the lake taking in the beauty with the stillness broken only by the ducks in the water. The lake was clear and beautiful and possible to set up camp site if you do not need a bear box.
In fact, one group we met the next day was camped at Dollar Lake. We were the only campers at Arrowhead as other groups will usually head for Rae Lake directly. We did not do so as we wanted to do a side trip at Rae Lake and camping is only limited to one night at Rae Lake.
Today we crossed the 10,000ft mark! However, it also means no camp fires allowed. One less thing to “entertain” us at night. Actually we didn’t miss not having telecommunication, its kinda a nice break away from it all.Friends and family have been asking me what we do at night. Well, pitching and setting up camp, cooking, washing, setting up camp fire, sitting by the camp fire enjoying the moment, massaging each other, enjoying each others’ company… snacking… quite a lot actually. And you really will want to turn in early after a tiring day and more such days to come. LOL… Actually we felt very well rested although I woke up several times on some nights. Though maybe next time we may bring our Kindles along or an iPod. What can beat enjoying good music, a good book and nature? But then we did not really have time for one this time round.
We arrived early at about 2.30pm and took the time to clean up and relax, and even did some laundry after we are done washing our face and massaging our feet. It was simply divine just sitting on the rocks with the sun warming us. Freedom when we have the whole campsite to ourselves (other than the ducks and squirrels we had to share the place with). We spent some time just enjoying the sight of the squirrel busy stuffing it’s face. Scurrying down the tree to pick up food then up the tree to savour it, then down again. It went on for at least an hour and the squirrel was still eating when we sat down to eat our dinner!
Night dawned as we sat on the log eating our dinner and admiring the beauty around the lake. The skies were clear and Ed even saw a shooting star! (I happened to lower my head momentarily!!) We could also see the Milky Way right above our tent and if not for the cold, we would have laid on the grass to stare at the skies all night long. Although the temperatures were low, it was pleasant as the night was still leaving us cosy in our sleeping bags. The bliss of relaxing in nature.
However, my night got a little stressful as right before I fell asleep, I realised I have a Halls Honey candy in my pocket. Damn. Will the bear smell it? Should I keep it is n the bear box? I am too tired. No. So shall I throw the sweet out? Duh, no. Shall I eat the sweet? What do I do with the wrapper? Finally I decided to eat the sweet and threw the wrapper into my water bottle. Through all this, Ed was sound asleep. #bearystressfulnight #sillyme
Distance: 7.7km Ascend: 2249ft Descend: 267ft Highest Elevation: 10,336ft Avg Grade: 7.8% Time: 7 hours
Day 4: Arrowhead Lake to Rae Lake
Another short hike of 3.2km today from Arrowhead Lake to Rae Lake. We arrived at Rae Lake around lunch time. Luckily for us, we had first choice of camp site and we chose one right next to the lake. It was a quaint site as it was just 10 steps from the lake and by the lake, there is a long stone bench like rock and a mossy slope on the grass that we can sit or lie while taking in the views by the lake. It was all so quaint, I felt like I was walking into a scene from Enid Blyton’s Secret Island Adventures! In fact, I had this feeling so many times at each camp site and it just puts a smile on my face. My childhood fantasies all coming true! Sitting on the soft velvety moss as we gaze into the lake. This is where we had tea before dinner and then had dinner watching the ducks gather for the night.
After pitching tent and taking a quick snack, we packed some snacks, water and clothing for our side trip to Sixty Lake Basin. The hike was short but tediously uphill and more rugged. We hiked 7.2km to and fro, going round Rae Lake to the other side and started climbing up to 11,000 ft in 2.5 hours. Honestly, at that point in time and days after the hike, we both felt that the side trip was not really worth it. It was sufficient to climb up to high grounds to have a better over view of Rae Lake. The only highlight of going all the way up to Sixty Lakes was sighting a pair of mountain goats which were quite rare to see (according to guy at REI) and seeing a rather beautiful nameless lake before Sixty Lakes Basin. We both agreed that we should have just rested especially since we were both feeling rather tired and we have a great camp site to enjoy. But then now, writing the blog, I am quite glad we did it. At least there will be no regrets because we went to check it out.
After being back from the side trip by 4pm, we just sat by the lake to rest. I was actually feeling a little nauseous and kept burping. But it did not stop me from enjoying the idyllic experience of sipping my ginger tea and just sitting by the lake and looking at the few ducks gliding across the waters, feeding, fighting… In fact, it made me feel a little better.
It was even more amazing when we saw the ducks suddenly swelling in numbers as they gathered before our eyes trying to decide on a place to camp for the night. Did we take their spot? 50… 100…. till we believe there is almost 200! Interacting, discussing, greeting each other, playing with each other…. They were so close to us… Are they trying to decide if they should go to the next landing? As Ed stood up to grab our headlights from the tent, they moved towards the opposite bank away from us, then some moved back again spanning across the entire breadth of the lake, before finally deciding to break into 2 groups, one swimming away into the horizon and another staying close to the next landing, just less than 100 ft from us.
Although there were at least 4-5 other groups camped at Rae Lake, we were all widely spread enough to give each other loads of privacy. Two groups were camped near the bear boxes and another was half way across the lake and one guy was on the opposite bank.
We were blessed again with skies clear. The lake reflected the mountains and the stars in the night. So peaceful and beautiful. Stars sparkling in the sky, stars sparkling in the lake. The beauty is beyond photographs. If only it was warmer, we would sit by the lake all night….
Distance: 11.1km Ascend: 1962ft Descend: 1450ft Highest Elevation: 11243ft Avg Grade: 1.4% Time: 5 hours
Day 5:Rae Lake to Junction Meadows
We wake refreshed and ready for the steepest climb to Glenn Pass. This is THE day. Flexing my muscles to warm up we tried to break camp faster than usual, but failed. How can you bear to say goodbye to such a lovely spot…. We were again the last to leave.
The climb up was tiring and I kept telling myself “I can do it.” Between this mantra and singing “I hate myself for loving you” (which cheered me up tremendously) and “Mary had a little lamb” in Mandarin, the climb was over before I knew it. We arrived at the pass at about 12pm. Just nice to enjoy a lunch snack at the top. Moments like this that you really wish you were fitter. Ed irritatingly skipped up the slopes pausing only to take pictures and to wait for me. Though he did admit it was quite tiring and so he is really proud that I did it at a decent pace.
Compared to my climb at Daocheng last year (which did not gain as much elevation but was immediately at an altitude of 14,000 ft climbing to 16,000ft in a shorter distance), this was totally manageable and this time I did it carrying my own backpack! It helped that I am fitter too I guess. The difference in altitude does make a major difference as even Ed was feeling the strain in Daocheng at some points while here, he climbed Glenn Pass barely using his walking stick.
By the sides of the trail, we see some tiny patches of snow. These were probably from last winter. Looking at it, I did feel kind of silly as I had panicked before the hike thinking it may snow at the higher altitudes and we may need crampons and ice axe. =P The snow was enough to make a drink. -_-
We were expecting to dress up for the cold at Glenn Pass. However, we only added the fleece and it worked well enough despite the strong winds thanks to the equally strong sun. My biggest regret is not wearing a more secure cap. Although I secured the cap with my sunglass neck band, the winds were so strong at time, I could feel myself fighting to move, thus I was worried the wind were capable of taking both my cap and sunglasses in one whoop.
What awed me at Glenn Pass was the sight of the Sierra Nevada mountain ridges that surround us. I felt so small although I am standing at the top. We have conquered one out of the many. Ed later told me that Glenn Pass is the lowest pass on the John Muir Trail. Ouch. Lol….
Reaching the top also brought an exhilaration that from now on, we are only going DOWN!!!!! YEAH!!!!! The tough climbs are over! As I started my descend, the lyrics “She’ll be coming down the mountain, there she comes!” sang joyously in my head.
We descended quickly. Original plans are to camp at Vidette but that would mean a very long hike of 12.8 miles on the last day. We had arranged for a Wing Stop dinner with my SIL and family and if we were to camp at Vidette, this may seem not possible considering there is a 4 hour drive after. Thus the motivation is to descend as much as possible and aim for Junction Meadows.
Not long after leaving Glenn Pass, we were chased by clouds in the skies and intermittent drizzles. Finally, we arrived at Junction Meadows at about 5pm. There are many camp sites here and it is a rather vast land. In fact, upon arrival of the meadows, we came across 2 families of deer! The first camp site with no bear box was filled with several tents. We decided to camp further down from the Meadows as there is a campsite with bear box. There was one other group already there. It was a cute little site close to Bubbs Creek with a camp fire spot. However, there were not a lot of medium sized wood around so although our camp fire was fairly easy to start, it was not easy to maintain.The camp site was not cold. In fact, it was comfortable and I did not even bother putting on my icebreaker leggings, just putting on my rain pants.
Shortly after dinner, the clouds finally burst, sending a medium shower that lasted 30 minutes. But this is the start to a whole night of intermittent showers that grew bigger and longer through the night. Despite the rain, the night was fairly warm in comparison to the past nights.
Distance: 15.2km Ascend: 2072ft Descend: 4228ft Highest Elevation: 12000ft Avg Grade: -4.3% Time: 7 hrs
Day 6:Junction Meadows to Roads End
Seduced by the beauty of the campsite, Ed choose a site in a not so ideal location as it was at the bottom of a slight slope. It rained hard the whole night and early morning, our single wall tent suffered bad from our bad choice of campsite location and condensation. Ed had to wipe down the tent a few times in the early morning. So by 5am, we found tent floor a little wet and condensation water was dripping down onto our face and sleeping bag. We had intended to wake by 6am (earliest so far) and skip cooked breakfast so that we can reach the car by 2pm and reach home by 7pm. However with the rain, not only did we have to skip breakfast, we had to skip hot drinks and hastily broke camp.
The rain was almost continuous till we reached Roads End with small breaks in between. Our rain gear was soaked through and if I had to stay in the rain another hour more, my new rain jacket would be rendered useless. It was then that Ed revealed his “rain pants” were actually “wind pants” and not suited for heavy rain, a choice he made for in exchange for less backpack weight. So his pants were soaked through within a couple of hours.
The puddles in the trail made it harder than usual to navigate as we had to side step many a times. Feeling dreary with only the hope of nice hot meal at the end of the hike keeping our spirits up, Ed suddenly motioned me to stop and be silent. Up ahead around 10 steps away standing right on the trail was a black bear standing tall on his hind legs.
He (assuming the bear is male) turned around and gazed at us calmly. Is he going to move? What if he does not move? These thoughts raced through my head as I stared in wonder at the magnificent creature. It is moments like this that makes the hike just totally worth it. I was happy enough to see other wild life, but to see a bear (without putting my life at risk)! That is really topping it.
He gave a slight snort and slowly turned around slowly lumbering up the slopes on our right. As he turned, Ed calmly and slowly took out his camera for a shot. Then waited for the bear to climb 10 ft away before he started walking forward slowly and quietly. I followed suit. We kept turning our heads up the hill and to the back, checking to see if the bear will circle around us and tail us from the back. We were safe.
After 50m, we walked normally again and gained speed with silly grins on our faces, eyes gleaming. We saw a bear!!!!! I had been secretly praying that I can see one from afar with no threat to my safety. My wish was fulfilled and more! We saw it up close with no safety compromised. I was lucky that Ed was in front. If I was the one in front, I am not sure I would have acted appropriately.
When we finally reached the series of bridges marking the end of the loop, we were filled with a mix of sadness and relief. Sad to say good bye but relief that we can soon get out of the rain and I can start having non-camp food!
We would think that the weather will deter any hikers to start today. We were wrong. We came across a couple doing the anti-clockwise (may be an overnighter) and a big group of day hikers taking a walk at Roads end.
Distance: 16.3km Ascend: 423ft Descend: 3441ft Highest Elevation: 8220ft Avg Grade: -5.7% Time: 6 hours
CLOCKWISE OR ANTI-CLOCKWISE
As we scurried down the slope, I found myself thinking how grateful I am that we did the hike clockwise. During the initial days of the hike, I wondered if it would have been better if I had worked hard and did all the elevation within the first 2 days so that most of the trip I will be going downhill. Today, I have my answer.
Going anti clockwise simply means we have to climb 7000 ft over 2 days compared to doing it over 4 days. If I was already suffering with doing it over 4 days, why do I think I want to push myself to do it over 2? Furthermore, the clockwise route Ed designed allowed us to hike leisurely and slowly build up the scenery from beautiful to awesome. If I had done it anti-clockwise, the last 2 days would probably be boring.
The Rae Lake Loop hike is pretty pleasant and not really tough – for the pace that we went on. Ed designed the hike such that it was really about enjoying the park and not about completing it by a certain time. To me, that is what a hike should be about. To enjoy immersing yourself in nature. To enjoy with no rush. Having said that, because I was not as fit, I enjoyed less because I was struggling at some points, focusing on putting one foot before the other.
It was a great work out and we both lost some weight and inches. 3 weeks after the hike, we have not gained it all back, but I am not complaining. I managed to fit into a cheongsam I could not wear last year, so YEAH! LOL… What took a toll on me was actually the food after the 3rd night. I just felt nauseous and could barely eat. Maybe it is the effects of the elevation but I seriously doubt so. I think it is the food all cramped into the bear vault and after a few days, the smells all mixed together and it just irks me and causes me to lose my appetite.
The trail was very well maintained roads though at some points I had to pause to think where the path could be but with some basic deduction skills Ed took the opportunity to teach me, I had no problems figuring out the path. Signs are rare, but they are there where it matters.
Who can hike this trail?
Well, a newbie will have no issues so long as he/she is fit. How fit? So long as you exercise, I am sure you can complete the hike. It also depends on the weight you carry. I was carrying less than 10kg most parts of the hike and actually the backpack did not kill me as much as my legs did. I wish I was even fitter so that I can groan less and enjoy more while hiking and not enjoy only when we have camped or I am resting.
Many have wondered why hike? I used to wonder too. It is only through this trip that I understand better. I can appreciate beautiful scenery seated in a car. But it is not the same when you go where only your legs can bring you. You go deep into nature and you walk next to the trees and at night you sleep under the stars. You wake with the creek at your door step. You smell the aroma of the woods and you feel the dampness in the air. More importantly, I doubt I can see a bear if I am only driving on the roads. The beauty of nature is fast slipping from us with all the global warming happening. Live in it while you can. But you can only appreciate it better when you are not too busy gasping for breath.
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This is our gear list. Hope it will come in handy. We were prepared not to change clothes except for underwear. So if that it is too much for you, just bring some tops. I have also included some notes including what we wished we had done during the hike with regards to the gear. I have also listed some of the brands that I use because I find them cheap and as good as Ed’s more expensive stuff. Good enough for me at least.
Clothing per person:
- Lightweight rain jacket: Wished we brought lightweight Gortex one as it was pretty wet especially last day. Even my brand new jacket was soaking through at some places.
- Fleece jacket (I got mine from decathalon)
- Lightweight and compact down jacket with hood (mine was from Uniqlo): Actually I hardly used this. If you have a really good sleeping bag and you are accustomed to the cold, this is optional.
- Merino wool t-shirt: Good for Summer, but we wish we had brought long sleeve t-shirts for Fall. Especially when it gets windy in the day, but not cold enough to layer up.
- Lightweight hiking pants
- Rain Pants
- Icebreaker 200 or 260 Leggings: Again this depends on the sleeping bag you are using. I wore this for 3 nights as I have the better sleeping bag.
- Down pants: Ed neede this as he had the less warm sleeping bag.
- Pocket towel
- Merino wool socks (we use darn tough) x 2: Extra socks are great to layer up and in case they get wet. And well, with that much walking, it is a good idea to alternate your socks daily even though merino wool technically does not smell.
- Merino wool gloves: Not water proof but keeps you warm (I hardly used them not because I am not cold but I am not a glove person)
- Waterproof lightweight gloves: This is to layer the warm gloves. I used this most of the time.
- Balaclava: Any lightweight one that keeps you warm will do. I use mine as a headband to keep my grimy hair in place.
- Cap: A good fitting one please. I had to hold on to mine when it got windy. Not a good thing. Great for blocking the sun.
- Underwear: 1 sports bra, 2 undies and 6 panty liners
- Well seasoned, good fitting hiking boots: Mine did not fit that well and well, I learned how to tie my laces correctly for better support during this trip and I learned the importance of a good fit. By the end of the descend, I had a blue black little toe nail but at least I prevented 2 bruised second toes.
Kitchen: (for 2 pax):
- Snowpeak 900 with cozy: We made a thermal cozy using car windscreen solar reflectors for the pot so that we can conserve fuel while cooking. Bring to water to boil, add the stuff and then once it is boiling again, we remove from fire and place it in the cozy for 10-15 minutes to thermal cook. This is big enough for cooking for 2 pax. We eat out of the pot direct. So if you need bowls, bring bowls.
- Snowpeak 700 with cozy: This is for tea and drinks that we cook right after we remove the bigger pot from the fire.
- Spoon: for cooking and eating.
- 1 litre fuel bottle with 1L fuel: We had excess and started being more frivolous with our fuel, using it to heat up water for wipe downs. It was a treat.
- Windscreen: to protect fire. We modelled this out of a aluminium sheet.
- Fire steel
- Lighter as a backup
- Water filter: Sawyer squeeze mini filter was really handy but next time we will clean it out before the trip. By the 4th day, it was filtering so slowly, it was a mere trickle. So it also shows, no matter how clear the water looks, please filter before you drink.
- 2L water bag: for collecting water
- Drinking water bottle/ bag: We planned to bring 2 x 2L bags (one each) but I bought a Contigo 750ml plastic bottle and decided to bring that instead of my 1L bag and it was a good choice as filtering into the bottle was a lot easier than filtering into the bag.
- Bear Vault 500
- 2 man tent: Zpacks Hexamid Twin. Super lightweight and as tent bearer, I super appreciate that.We may give a full review of the tent separately.
- Inflatable Sleeping Mat
- Sleeping bag: I used a Sea to Summit MC3 Regular and he used a Underquilt Burrow 20F. Mine was warmer and for some nights, a little too warm while for others, a great comfort. His was ok if you use a goose down head warmer and wear your down jacket and down pants.
- Sea to summit silk liner: To protect the down sleeping bags and to add another 1-2 degrees of warmth.
Bags and miscellaneous:
- Backpack: ULA Catalyst backpack. Very minimalist and lightweight.
- Water proof pack cover
- 13L stuff water proof sack
- Toiletries: Sunblock, moisturiser, Dr Bronner’s soap that doubles up as tooth paste and soap for anything, vaseline acts as lip balm, spot body moisturiser, toothbrush, floss.
- Garmin eTrex 30: to plot the hike and for reference on distance etc.
- Map: not really required but good to give me some mental picture.
- Camera with extra batteries: We had 3 but it was still barely sufficient.
- Pocket knife
- Trekking Pole: This was my life.
- First aid kit
- Trowel: for digging shit holes
- Toilet paper with core removed
- Small pack of wet tissues: great for keeping your privates clean
- Extra ziploc: toilet paper trash that we have to bring out
I am only going to list out an example of some of the meals to get an idea. We basically repeat them and jumble them up a bit. We packed only about 1500-1800 calories per person per day if we had consumed everything and we did not as we usually have some lunch and dinner dessert left. So yeah, after the hike, we lost quite a bit of weight but like I said, I am not complaining. IF you want to lose weight, go on a hike.
Breakfast (for 2 pax):
- 1 pack Idaho Instant Mashed Potatoes (4 servings)
- 2 pcs Bak Kwa (Chinese Pork Jerky – Original or Spicy) approx 45g each
- 1 pcs Cheddar Cheese stick
- 56g Dried mixed fruits
- 2 x 1/3 cup Instant Oats
- 4 tbsp Peanut Butter
- 50g Nuts or 2 x 35g Chocolate Squares
- 56g Dried mixed fruits
Lunch (for 2 pax):
- 2 pcs Bak Kwa (Chinese Pork Jerky) approx 45g each
- 100g Cherry Tomatoes (first day only) or 56g Dried Mixed Fruits
- 6 pcs Choc Squares 35g each (We use a variety of 5-6 flavours from Ghiradelli and mix them up so that we can have some fun eating)
- 4 x Clif Snack bars (too much! I could barely eat one.)
- 2 x Cheese sticks
- 56g Dried mixed fruits
- 6 pcs Choc Squares
- 2 pcs Cheese sticks
- 112g nuts
Dinner Warm and Dessert (for 2 pax):
There is something about the food absorbing or developing a smell after some days that I cannot tolerate. It may be oats or it may be mixed vegetables. I suspect it is a combination that after few days, it develops a smell that I personally do not like and lost appetite. Ed gobbled up 2 pax worth of dinner on last 2 nights because I could barely eat it. So lesson learn is maybe to have more variety next time. And do not buy such a giant can of mixed vegetables. -_- The corn and peas in there took longer time to cook and first 2 nights we did not cook it long enough.
Good thing is that the meals do not use any oils or fats so washing up is a breeze using only water. We kept to couscous and instant oats as they are compact and cook the fastest thus saving fuel. Next time I will probably not eat oats past the third day to prevent the smell absorption issue and will use faster cooking pasta or noodles. But I am actually quite proud of my dishes otherwise.
- 2 x 1/3 cups cous cous
- 2 cubes x Japanese Curry
- 37g Freeze dried Chicken
- 40g Freeze dried mixed Vegetables
- 2 x 1/3 cups oats
- 1 pack instant miso soup with vegetables
- Tom Yam Powder (some nights)
- 37g Freeze dried chicken
- 40g Freeze dried mixed vegetables
We did not eat the dessert most nights though Ed would probably have eaten then because he is always complaining he is hungry 1-2 hours after dinner but the food would have been back in the bear box and he is too lazy to go pick up. I only ate this first and 5th night. Fifth night because I could not bear the smell of the mixed vegetables anymore.
- 6 pcs Chocolate Squares
- 56g Mixed Dried Fruits
- 1 pcs Bak Kwa