22 Hours of Driving, 1.5 Days of Snowshoeing

Since I have moved out to Southern California, I have been dreaming of making a trip up to Yosemite.  My one caveat is, when I go out in nature I like to be away from crowds, and I have heard some horror stories from friends waiting hours to get into Yosemite National Park. So how could I go visit Yosemite National Park and avoid the crowds? Go camping overnight in  the cold snow!

Before this trip I have never gone snowshoeing before in my life. While planning my trip up to Badger Pass ski area and Glacier Point road I debated the idea of Cross Country Skiing vs Snowshoeing. In the end, I chose snowshoeing because it essentially walking with bigger shoes, and I believed cross country skiing is more of a skill I would have to learn.

My Gear layout before the trip:

Snowshoeing Gear List for Yosemite

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Delorme inReach SE Satellite Communications on the trail

The Delorme inReach SE Satellite Communication device is close to having a real “trail Angel” along with you on all your back country remote trips.

I must admit I was hesitant to purchase the Delorme, and roughly $300 it was an expensive piece of gear. While preparing for my Mt Whitney Summit, I was thinking a lot about safety in the final weeks leading up to the trip.

I did a whole lot of planning, from obtaining my permits, ordering custom made maps, and having the right gear for a hike that was going to have lots of snow and large ice fields.

What was the deciding factor that made me finally pull the trigger on this expensive piece of gear? Peace of mind.

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New Orleans a changed City

Its hard to talk about New Orleans without mentioning Hurricane Katrina. Luckily, this story is a good one! Last time I went down to New Orleans I went with my church to work with Habitat For Humanity and help re-build homes. It seems like such a long time ago now, but the images of the devastation are still fresh in my memory.

Fast forward a handful of years and my boss sent me on a last minute trip to New Orleans. I was really excited to visit, I have heard so much about the culture, music and food. I had to work, but I decided to go exploring after hours with my camera, and see a few of the sites. I also decided to take a trip down memory lane…..

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Bivy Construction: Day 1 Learn Sewing

Lets just start this post out, I have no idea what I am doing, I just have an idea in my head and I need to get it out. I have embarked on the great journey of building my own bivy Sack.

We can start a whole debate on bivy vs tents, but that is not point of this post and all I will say about that debate is, SPEED and SIMPLICITY are the two reasons why I love bivy sacks.

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Always Have a Plan D

This past weekend, I had Friday off from work and me and my friends really wanted to go camping. We had epic plans and wanted to go hiking on something with spectacle views, we had our sites on Half Dome and Yosemite.

Plan A

Our first plan was to go to Half Dome, I was really excited but also nervous the crowds would spoil my opinion of Yosemite. I mostly like to go camping to get away, I loved the vast solitude I experienced at the Grand Canyon, and the beautiful untouched wilderness in the High Sierras.

Half Dome is this dream hike of mine, but that fact that permits are so hard to obtain make me weary of crowds. Either way, I still want to hike Half Dome, and me and my friends entered the lottery. According to the lottery rules you can enter yourself two days before the day you want to hike for the daily lottery. I stayed up till midnight to enter my permits on Thursday, for the hike on Saturday. Come Friday morning, I was greatly disappointed to see that I had not one the lottery and am now officially 0/2 for Half Dome. Plan A was a bust but we still wanted to go camping.

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Pillow Talk

Lets have a little pillow talk here on Cattywampur tonight. Ultra light backpackers are probably shuttering at the word “Pillow” mentioned in conjunction with camping, but I am all for them!

I have been there, trying to be super light but now I just go light where it makes sense. I do not mind sacrificing a little weight for some added comfort at night. I have tried using clothes jackets, and even my pack as a pillow in the past. Don’t get me wrong all those non pillows have all worked, but a good nights sleep on a dedicated pillow I think does a world of difference for you mentally on the trail.

Lets talk about what I think are two of the best backpacking pillows on the market today, the Nemo Fillo and the Sea to Summit Aeros Premium.

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2016 All Star Game and Home Run Derby

Growing up in New Jersey with parents from New York City, I have always grown up a huge baseball fan. I have been Yankee Fan since birth, and grew up in the Dynasty of Derek Jeter, Bernie Wiliams, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera! Boy was it a great time to grow up a Yankees fan!

I have seen some pretty amazing games growing up as a kid going to the original Yankee Stadium, the house that Ruth built; but I have never gone to the World Series, the All Star Game, or Home Run derby. Its always been a dream of mine to go to these three events, and in one week I was able to cross off both the Home Run Derby and the All Star Game off my list! Thanks to a very generous friend from back east, I was fortunate enough to make it to the 2016 Home Run Derby and All Star game in the beautiful San Diego Padres’ Petco Park!

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Not Quite the Holy Grayl of Water Purification

I really wanted to love it, I even stood up for it on Back Country Post Forums, before given it a real test. The Grayl Ultralight is a new water filter and purifier that works almost like a coffee press. For a quick and dirty of how it works check out their video (Or read my first impressions here):

The Grayl Ultralight intrigued me and I was excited that Grayl was gracious enough to give me a free purifier to test 6 days on the High Sierra Trail to Mt Whitney. Before I got out on the trail, I did some in home tests and it worked great. It was simple, sturdy and filtered water quickly and easily. My first impressions of the Grayl Ultralight were superb!

But then I took it out on the trail, and filtered water from creeks, rivers, and Mt Lakes. Now all of these water sources on this trip were not very silty and the water was very clear. Unlike my Grand Canyon trip where I was filtering water from the silty Colorado River.  Basically all the water sources I hit on the High Sierra Trail should not have been to difficult for any water filter to cut through.

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High Sierra Trail to Mt Whitney: Day 6

Today was finally the day, it was time to wake up and push my body one last time. After 5 days and 56.5 miles of beautiful views and hard hikes, it was time for 15.6 more. Today was the last day of the hike, the longest day of mileage and arguably the toughest day of climbing. It was finally time to climb Mt Whitney the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states, standing a tall 14,505 feet. Between the snow, the climb and the altitude, this was going to be a tough day.

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High Sierra Trail to Mt Whitney: Day 5

I woke up on the morning of day 5 happy to have not met any bears in my sleep. Day 5 started the climb toward Mt Whitney. We would hike from Junction Meadow to Guitar Lake, the last water source before climbing Mt Whitney. I thought it would be a hard day of climbing, but it really was not too bad of a day at all except for one water crossing.

The morning started off with a climb, and we slowly rose above the pine trees and were met once again met with amazing views of the Kern River Valley down below.

Our campsite last night was just below in the pine forest

Our campsite last night was just below in the pine forest

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