Anza Borrego 2012

Many thanks to Nick Gatel from for organizing a fun trip through some of his stomping grounds in the Anza Borrego desert. We left our GPS units at home and followed Nick along mostly cross country routes that were based on his experience in the area. After leaving the Alcoholic Pass TH on Saturday we didn't see another person (or human footprint) until hiking out on Sunday. 

We followed a wash/trail up to Alcoholic Pass. Nick mentioned that the pass is named after the cattle ranchers who used this pass to access the bars in Borrego Springs many years ago. 

After a quick 600 foot incline we made it over Alcoholic Pass with some good views of the Santa Rosa Mountains.

Walking through Chola gardens on the way toward Butler Canyon. . . 

Soon we were following Butler Canyon. 

Then up the remains of an old indian 'trail' cross country toward the Playa.

The Playa with the Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains in the distance.

Nick decided to sleep under the stars and was trying out a Zpacks poncho/groundsheet, Neo-Air and cuben quilt. 

Jace kicked it in luxury, a GG Squal Classic. When he needed some advice with the tent Glen Van Peski actually invited him over for personal UL instruction at his house. Now that's customer service. 

Jim's Tarptent Squal2. 

Chad was using a bivy and later setup a tarp in storm mode when the winds kicked up. 

I was trying out a homemade cuben fiber tarp shelter based on Glen Van Peski's cuben wedge. I had just finished sewing this up on Friday afternoon and was looking forward to testing it out. Little did I know that it would be facing 50 mph wind gusts later that night. 

I was using some other homemade gear; cuben backpack, sleeping bag/quilt, bivy, poncho/groundsheet, windshirt and rain gear. 

Chilling out after a long day in the desert. 

Later the wind really got going. It was about 40 mph consistently until 3:30 - 4:00 am when we started getting some 50 mph gusts. Both of the tarptents were flattened. Chad and I made it through using some low profile tarp setups. The next morning we were all ready to get going. . .

We followed along this ridge and eventually made it down to Box Canyon on the right.

Jim navigating the ridge down toward Box Canyon. 

Here's a map of the route. 

Thanks again to Nick for showing us some of the 'Desert High Route'.

JMT Gear List 2011

My goal for the gear I used on the John Muir Trail in 2011 was to go as lightweight as possible while still being safe and comfortable in a wide range of conditions. With this combination of gear I was ready for the warm days with extreme sun exposure on the mountain passes to very cold nights and severe wind on top of Mt. Whitney.
A bear canister is required on the JMT so the list below is about 1 1/2 pounds heavier than I would usually carry in other areas.
The base weight (all items carried not counting food, fuel and water) is just over 8 lbs. This includes a camera and Spot II personal locator beacon in case of emergency and to track my progress.
There are several items on the list that I made myself. I designed the cuben backpack borrowing generously from some of my favorite ultralight packs. The down quilt was made using a kit from , although I used Momentum55 instead of the fabric that came with the kit. Momentum55 is a new extemely lightweight downproof/windproof fabric that has a triple DWR to shed water spray. The quilt has 12 ozs of down and is rated to 20 degrees. For the windshirt and rain jacket I used a pattern from I can't beleive that I hiked and camped for so many years without a windshirt. It is a very usefull item, especially considering the light weight. My rain gear is very similar to my wind shirt, except that I used 0.51 oz/sqyd cuben fiber from I added large pit zips to the rain gear to provide some breathability.

After almost a year of researching and trying a lot of different gear this is my latest version, of course subject to change. . .

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