Four of us took a trip to Goat Rocks Wilderness in Washington State for five days of backpacking. As usual things do not always go as planned. We were supposed to do a high pass loop (trails 96, 97, 86, 95), but Washington received a record snow fall this winter and much of the high pass was snow covered. Instead we spent two nights at upper elevations by Snowgrass Flats and two down by Packwood Lake (trail 78).
We got to experience two different types of weather to test out some new gear. My son was using a Three Season Burrow recently purchased from a member here at HF. He stayed nice and warm except for the night his under quilt popped out from under him while getting in . Tried to tell him to check it before zipping up, but as most 14 year olds, he must learn on his own. Another fantastic product made by Stormcrow was the Cuben Fiber Tarp. This tarp is as light as a feather in the pack. I used 1.5 mm Z-Line Cord for the lines, two figure 9’s and super light weight no-see-um skins by Gargoyle. In all the tarp weighs 8.8 oz. The first two nights, both my son and I slept under it. It rained both nights and we stayed nice and dry. The coverage was very good without really trying. We closed the doors on one end to block the wind. Only thing that must be done is to seam seal the panel pull outs. They definitely wet through. Gargoyle’s skins worked excellent with the cuben. They have pockets on the end to tuck the RL cords into which work very nice. No more tangling of cords . Because the cuben is crinkly and stiff, it does not slide off. We did not have as much luck with the no-see-um skins and a silnylon MacCat. It had a tendency to slide off. Possibly some Velcro strips could be added to each one to prevent them from sliding apart. My original thoughts were that the tarp would dry better with no-see-um, but in reality what happened is the skins stay dry much better then silnylon ones do. They retain no water. A couple of shakes of the tarp, slide on the skins and it all seemed completely dry. Much better then wet silnylon with added water weight. We love this set up!
As for my son, he saved up and bought the Buck Hood Hoodlum Hunting Knife. It has a 10”, wedge shaped blade perfect for splitting wood. All the wood was completely soaked from snow and rain. He split wood the entire trip for great campfires. Without it, it would have been difficult to dry out shoes the first couple of nights. It’s a bit heavier then I care to carry at 14.6 oz, but I was glad he did .
We also used the Backcountry Boiler exclusively for the first time. It was quite the challenge the first two days in the rain. Finding small dry wood was difficult and it took a lot of fussing to light and remain burning, but we still managed to do it. The other days were a piece of cake. In an established camp site there are lots of small sticks everywhere around a fire pit. This stove is great for flying with. There are no restrictions and we didn’t have to find fuel on arrival. I will admit it takes more effort then a stove using other means of fuel. We may try to use an alcohol stove with it when we don’t have the time to deal with it.
One day spent up by Snowgrass Flats, we did a hike up through the snow to the upper peaks. The PCT was up there somewhere, but we couldn’t see it. The views of Mt Rainier were breathtaking. I wanted to show my son the mountains and I think he got an eye full. Because it was not safe to do the upper loop, we hiked out and came in on the Packwood Lake trail. The sun was out, temps up and swimming (water) was cold, but lots of fun. There had been a storm some time past which knocked down some huge trees. A couple had fallen out into the water which made for a great diving board. We spent an entire day swimming and honing fire starting skills with a steel striker.
After hiking out we spent a day checking out Seattle. We took the uni-rail in one direction and walked back the other. Along the way we checked out Pikes Place. It was a really cool place to see. There were musicians on every corner and everything from food to specialty arts and crafts to buy..
Well I hope you enjoyed reading this and the pictures to follow.