Eastern Utah
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Thursday, March 13, 2014

REI Class

I arrived at REI early yesterday so that I could look at backpacks.  I spoke with one of the reps and decided that I need to get more of an idea how much weight I will carry, to determine the size and composition of the pack.  Usually the light and ultralight packs have a lower limit on how much you can carry in them - probably because they are more unstructured.  I could never be an "ultralight backpacker" because at my age I don't want to give up some of the comforts that wouldn't bother a younger and healthier person.  For example, to save weight and space they will often use a thinner pad under the sleeping bag, and in most cases will opt for a 3/4 pad.  That leaves my bony ankles on the hard surface, and although some can get by with just putting some clothing bunched up under their lower legs and feet, I don't intend to do that.

So the class last night was well attended, and almost all had never been backpacking before.  Several had trips planned - one couple is going to hike the El Camino in Spain this summer, and another is going to Costa Rica.  The presenter had  a slide show she worked from with facts and pictures on the basics of backpacking.  Around the room were displayed everything from boots to packs, to water pumps/purifiers/to stoves, to sleeping bags, etc.  She covered every item, and it was interesting to me to see some of the lighter weight gear.  I can't say I learned anything new about backpacking but I saw some very nice lightweight gear.  Unfortunately the good stuff is also more expensive.  

I had just about decided to hike in trail runners/walkers, such as the $20 Filas from Costco.  The more I think about it, it would work for hiking but not while carrying +/-40# on my back.  So I need new boots.  But if I buy a $200-250 pair of boots I wouldn't want to wear them to Lassen where the volcanic dust and soil would trash them, so I will no doubt use my old pair for that trip.  All in all the "class" gave me a lot to think about.  It was free, and I'd say I got my money's worth.

I am determined to set up my new tent with stakes and fly this weekend.  Barb of Katie and Me
asked about my tent door as she thought it may be one of the new ones that doesn't use a zipper - I think it is a magnetic closure or similar.  My tent does have a zipper on the door, however, and after my experience with the crappy zips on my big tent, I just hope this one lasts longer.

At the risk of making this post too long, I will also respond to Sherry's comment that she would like to leave the fly off the tent and look at the stars.  A lot of years back I was in Linville Gorge Wilderness (NC) with my backpacking buddy, Guy.  We had hiked down into the gorge and stopped for the night near a lovely waterfall, but there wasn't much space for tents.  Guy wanted to just roll out his sleeping bag in a sort of cave-like area of a cliff, while I set up my tent very near the trail about 100 feet away.  

Before falling asleep I saw the light of a flashlight(?) through the tent fly, and it stopped right by my tent, dancing and waving around and around, shining into the tent.  Of course I couldn't see who was carrying the light, so I called out "Guy, is that you".  There was no answer and the waving light continued for another half minute or so, and then abruptly stopped.  I didn't think it would be another hiker as this area had been let go to wilderness and the trails weren't in any condition to hike on in the dark, but I figured I might as well go to sleep.  I asked Guy about it the next morning and he said he went right to sleep and didn't see or hear a thing.  Later I read that the area is haunted, and that people have been seeing the lights for a century or so.  So Sherry, although I like to see the stars, I don't want to be so vulnerable in the darkness that I would be totally exposed to any passer-by, of this world or another!  I'll just check out the stars before I climb into my tent which will be covered by the rainfly!


  1. Wow, you saw a ghost. Always wanted to see one. Maybe I have and didn't know it.

  2. Not sure if it matters, but I would prefer to have a tent with a sipper in an area occupied by ghosts:)

  3. Now that's an Amazing story. What an experience. The REI class sounds very informative for those who knew nothing and in terms of the newest equipment.

  4. Sounds like the class was very good. Didn't you just buy boots or did you send them back?
    A ghost with a flash light sounds cool.

  5. Did you really say you expect to carry 40 lbs???? Start at 30 and aim for lower! Really. Even young hulks nowadays only carry 20-30 lb packs. The weight you cut with the new tent shows the way, find lower weight verisons for most everything. I'm rusty on my equipment savy right now, but I will try to find links for low(er) cost versions of the equipment that are lighter.

  6. Woa! A Twilight Zone moment while camping... I echo comments encouraging you to drop your pack weight to 20-30 pounds. The miles get long when you carry a lot of weight. I love REI! We used to shop at the original REI in Seattle. The old wood floors creaked & smelled so good. It's still kind of a status symbol in Seattle to have a 5-digit or lower member number.

  7. Your class sounds like it was very informative. I especially liked the price! Wish I was in an area that had an REI store.

    It is a good thing you did not know about the haunted trail beforehand! Great story to tell your grandkids around a campfire.