At the end of last month, my friend Dr. G (trail name Bugsy) and I decided to try to get one more trip to the Sierra before the snow flurries started to fly. And boy did we get lucky, as it started snowing the Tuesday after we got back and there have been several storms since.
The Emigrant Wilderness is a pretty small wilderness and is only about 25 miles long and 15 miles wide. However, don't let the size fool you! It is full of granite outcroppings and glacier scoured landscapes. It is also a great place to cut your teeth on cross country travel, as it is not too brushy in most places, so your "bushwhacking" is more like rock climbing than anything else.
The Plan/Logistics: When it had not snowed yet and Bugsy and I realized that we both had the weekend free, we kind of made a last minute decision to take a couple of days and get out one last time. Therefore, this was not the most well thought out or the most complicated plan; Emigrant Wilderness is about 2.5 hours away from the Bay Area if there is no traffic, so we decide that instead of sitting in the horror that is Friday traffic, we would start bright and early on Saturday. We left around 5 am and after two coffee/bathroom stops and a stop to get the (self issued) permit, we were on the trail by 7:50 am. Please note that if the ranger station is open (8:30 am - 4 pm on Saturday, 9 am - 4 pm all other days), you will have to get a permit from the ranger. They do not issue permits online. Permit info here.
The Route: we had a few options, but one of the things I wanted to try was a cross country route between Buck Creek and Huckleberry Lake, so we decided to give it a shot. I mapped it out on Gaia, but of course if there is no trail, you have to just estimate where you will go and it ended up being about 4 more miles than we had expected. That made what was planned to be about a 35 mile loop into about a 39 mile loop. Oops! We started from the Crabtree Trailhead, which is about 8 miles outside of Pinecrest Lake, and did a counter clockwise "loop" towards Huckleberry Lake. We ended up camping at Cherry Creek instead.
The Big Three: I have been using the same big three for a while and am loving them (Big Agnes Tiger Wall UL2 (46 oz. with footprint), Western Mountaineering Ultralite 20 degree sleeping bag (29 oz.), Hyperlite 2400 Southwest Backpack (28.6 oz.), and the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite regular size (12 oz.). However, on this trip, Bugsy brought his tent because it has a bigger floor plan than mine (Big Agnes Copper Spur 2), so my big three was only two! I also carried a silk liner, since we had gotten reports that it could get down into the mid twenties at night and my sleeping bag is not warm under about 30 degrees, despite the 20 degree rating. My big "two" weighed about 4.5 pounds.
Base Pack Weight: I did not weigh my base pack for the trip, but based on my LighterPack list and experience from other trips, I would say it was about 17 lbs.
Clothing: I brought everything from my normal list and did not bring any of the heavier winter gear or traction. My normal kit includes a beanie, gloves, extra socks & underwear, rain jacket and pants and a puffy, and the forecast was clear skies, so I did not feel that I would need the extra heavy gear for this trip. However, I did bring an older REI rain jacket rather than my ultralight Montbell, so I probably added a pound of extra weight by carrying that.
Food: This was a huge difference from our normal trips. Firstly, we usually share dinner duties; if we are going for 6 days, we will each make and carry three meals for two people. However, this time we each did our own thing since we didn't have to skimp to save weight. We brought lots of heavy stuff! For dinner, I brought noodles, salmon packets, fresh mushrooms, hard boiled eggs and miso paste. For snacks I brought a whole salami, cheese, cucumbers, nuts and blueberries! For breakfast I had hard boiled eggs and coffee. Not only could we afford to carry heavier food, but I didn't mind if I didn't use it, and we had built in refrigeration so we could carry whatever we wanted. It was divine.
Water: I used my new BeFree 1 liter filter bottle and carried an extra Platypus 1 liter bottle with a 2 liter Platypus for extreme emergencies/backup. I am glad I had the backup bottles as we went through some really dry stretches and crossed dry creeks that I had never seen dry before. However, we did camp near a lake so we really did not need to carry more than 1 - 2 liters at a time in the end.
Total Pack Weight: Including two liters of water, the bear can, one day of food and one fuel cannister (and the heavy rain jacket!), my pack weighed 25 lbs.
The Verdict: I really liked just going for one overnight as it really provides a lot of flexibility with food, which tends to be one of my most heavy items. It also is a great chance to test out items that you would not normally want to lug around for a week. I could have lived without my rain pants and I am very glad that I added the silk liner, as I slept warm but not so warm that I would have been happy without it.
More Information: You can find information about the wilderness at the Stanislaus National Forest website. Stay tuned for the Trip Report!
For fun...here is what the same area looks like now!
|Highway 108 (source)|
Have you been to the Emigrant Wilderness? What is your one backpacking item you cannot live without?
Well yes, hi. I do only write about books and nothing else these days. I have all of these grand plans to write about hiking trips and gear lists and life, but somehow this fell along the wayside a bit. It could partially be due to the fact that I have been experimenting with other forms of media a bit more, but I will talk more about that later.
It could also be that I got a new job and have been a different kind of busy, but I will also talk about that at a different time; for now, lets talk books!
In all of the books I read in the third quarter, here were my five favorites!
Happy-Go-Lucky by David Sedaris: You either love him or you hate him, and I love him. Which is funny because he is a bit snarky for my normal taste. But he picks up trash on the side of the road, and he sees funny in normal things. This is another book full of interesting stories about him and his family and it was a great one for a long hike, which is when I listened to it. I am actually going to see him in a few weeks and I am really looking forward to it.
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus: This was such a fun story of a woman chemist in the 1960s who leaves her job and goes to work as a cooking show TV host. Of course she wants to teach people the science behind the recipes, but her male boss does not concur. It is a bit silly, but was a fun and quick and entertaining read.
Hell or High Water: Surviving Tibet's Tsangpo River by Peter Heller: I really enjoyed Heller's book The River which was about a fictional rafting trip in Northern Canada gone awry, so I thought this would be more of the same. However it is actually a true story about an elite kayaking team's attempt to conquer a never-before-conquered section of the Tsangpo River in Tibet. They have many an challenge, including fights with porters, death defying rapids and impenetrable passes and it makes for an intriguing story.
Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance by Alison Espach: A book about a teenage girl who loses her sister in a horrible car accident, and then struggles with the grief of it. To make things worse, the only person she feels a connection to is the sister's boyfriend who was driving the car when it crashed. It is a story of emotional struggle but still manages to not get too maudlin while still sparking interest.
These Precious Days: Essays by Ann Patchett: I really love Patchett's writing style and especially her personal essays. She makes you feel like you are sitting right next to her in her living room listening to her stories. My favorite story was one during COVID where she befriends the assistant of Tom Hanks and invites her to stay at her house during the pandemic, striking up an interesting friendship.
And that was five.
What was your favorite read over the last few months? Do you prefer fiction or nonfiction?
Another day, another dollar; another quarter, another book list. Hopefully as you are reading this, you are about to go and sip a margarita, or lounge in the pool, or are getting ready for a summer trip.
This quarter I read a lot more than last quarter, because I spent a lot of time listening to audiobooks. I listen to them while doing my grocery shopping, working in the yard, driving, hiking, working around the house and running. Of all of the books that I have read so far this year, approximately 80% of them have been audiobooks. I have also asked one of my good friend's daughters, who is 12, to recommend books to me. So far, she has recommended Ground Zero (I loved it; it is also by the author of The Refuge) and the Tales of Despereaux (very fun). If you have a 12 year old, they may like these books too!
I do have a couple of book related goals this year and so far, I am not doing very well! I wanted to read and get rid of 12 books (one per month) from my bookshelf. I have been doing a lot of purging lately, but for some reason, those books seem like grey hairs; even though I am not buying more, they keep seemingly multiplying! I have read one book so far from my own shelf. I also wanted to read a book in Spanish. I did this in 2020 (Harry Potter y La Piedra Filosofal -- #1) and I really enjoyed it, and I learned some weird words like wand and owl to boot. In 2020 I set 10 minutes aside each day to do that and some days I couldn't put it down. I am about one chapter into my Spanish book so far for this year (Auggie y Yo). Total fail.
I am going to keep this quarter's list to my top six books.
Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe: this book details the rise of the Sackler family, who are the makers of oxycontin, and are one of the richest families in the world. It's a tale of big pharma and the opioid crisis and I couldn't put it down.
The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn: I haven't met a Kate Quinn book I haven't liked. This time she tells a story of WWII from a Russian woman's point of view. The main character is a librarian and a mother who ends up having to go out and fight and she becomes one of the most feared snipers of her time, with a nickname of Lady Death. I like how Quinn takes a true story and makes it into something entertaining and enlightening.
Blindness by Jose Saramago: I wanted to not like this book but it brought up a lot of emotions and that is the sign of a good writer! I gave it 4.5 rounded up to 5 for the fact that it made me contemplate my existence over and over. It was disgusting, disturbing and scary. It paralleled some of the feelings I had during the pandemic lockdown. It made me feel hateful about humanity but also made me feel fond of people and grateful for human connection. It was a cross between The Lord of the Flies and the Walking Dead and the Great Influenza. Although it grossed me out, I couldn't stop reading.
Think Again by Adam Grant: this book explores the idea of changing, or rethinking things that you have been doing one way for a long time. Of course, like many, I sometimes get set in my ways or struggle with change and he brings up a lot of good points regarding why a new point of view or way of going about something can be an asset rather than a burden.
The Guncle by Stephen Rowley: this is a fun and light book about a heavy situation. When Patrick's sister dies, he takes the kids for the summer. He is a single man, not used to caring for young children, but he learns a lot about life and love over the course of a few months.
State of Terror by Louise Penny and Hillary Clinton: who doesn't love a book about international terror and possible world domination? When a terror group threatens the world, the US secretary of state has to try to save the day. There are a lot of parallels with a certain administration and it brings some amusement to an otherwise serious situation.
Some others I liked were: One, Two, Three (corruption, greed and love), Notes on an Execution (murder), This is How They Tell Me The World Ends (cybersecurity), Dopesick (opioid epidemic) & The Paris Apartment (murder).
What are you reading right now? What has your favorite book been so far the year?
After spending a lot of time reading in my backyard in 2020, the last year and change has felt like I have not really read very much. Of course, on a relative value scale that is not really fair; it's almost like comparing the price of the stock market now to March 23, 2020 and saying that the price has gone up a lot. I am still reading a lot just not as much as 2020!
For the first quarter of 2022, I abandoned four books already (Cloud Cuckoo Land, Furiously Happy, The Man Who Ate Too Much and The House on Vesper Strands). All of them were audiobooks, so maybe it was a concentration or situation issue, but I gave all of them up before I even got half way. However, for every high there is a low etc. and there have been quite a few good ones as well! Here are some of my favorites from the last three months.
Pony by R.J. Palacio: This is a YA novel by the author of Wonder. She creates characters that you can't help but love and sprinkles in a little adventure and some of the trials of growing up (in Wonder she tackles being disfigured and in Pony we meet the main character's invisible friend). I want to read more of her books!
Remember: The Science of Memory and the Art of Forgetting by Lisa Genova: If you have not read any of her books, you need to do it now. Genova has a PhD in neurology and writes about neurological diseases. I really enjoyed her book Still Alice, which is about early onset Alzheimer's. Her subjects are heartbreaking but fascinating at the same time. In Remember, she talks about how the brain stores memories and she reassures us the when we forget where we put our keys it may not be a slide into old age; we likely are just not paying attention! I have not read a book of hers yet that I do not like.
Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner: This was a very touching book about a woman in her twenties who loses her mother to cancer. She speaks of her mother's strength and how seeing this wane affected her. Upon finding about her mother's diagnosis, she begins to get in touch with her heritage and figure out more about her own identity overall.
The Man Who Died Twice (Thursday Murder Club, #2) by Richard Osman: The four octogenarians from the Thursday Murder Club are at it again, they are off to solve a murder while simultaneously being helpful and thwarting the authorities. You never know what they might do. However, in the end, they get the job done but not without a lot of adventures along the way.
The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller: This book begins with a married woman with three kids cheating on her husband with a long time friend. The remainder of the book speaks to her struggle of what to do with her mixed feelings. It flashes back and forth and gives us some insight into her long time relationship with her friend, some of the trials they went through together and how this led to the subsequent relationship with her husband.
Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan: I listened to this as an audio book and I enjoyed hearing the jokes in the author's own voice. It was a good mix of him making fun of himself for loving food, and some interesting observations about food. For example, he questions why a shiny orange piece of plasticy food became "American cheese." This book made me laugh out loud while running, like when he talks about being so full he couldn't button his pants, so he decided to have some cheese as a snack and when he realized he didn't really like it, he decided to finish it. I have been there!
A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins: By the author of A Girl on The Train, this is yet another murder mystery by Hawkins. However, she does well developing her characters and this book was no exception. We meet the murdered man's strange ex-lover who has a criminal background, his uptight aunt with a bone to pick and the kooky boat neighbor, and we are kept guessing as to whether it was one of them who offed him or not.
Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell: A young woman disappears in a small neighborhood and fingers start pointing at who done it. Was it the creepy 30 year old "kid" who lives with his aunt and visits strange internet forums? Was it the young woman's therapist, who is not quite as perfect as we once believed? You tell me! I mean, who doesn't love a thriller?
The Last Widow (Will Trent, #9) by Karin Slaughter: Speaking of thrillers, here is another one! I have enjoyed the entertainment that this author has brought me over the years. The particular one is about a CDC employee who goes missing and a month later a bomb goes off near a hospital. Are the two things linked? And why? We will soon find out! This is a detective series where Will Trent and his partner Sara, a medical examiner, team up to save the day. Or will they?
Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive by Stephanie Land: College plans go out the window fast when the author finds herself unexpectedly pregnant. She tries to make it work with the father but eventually moves out and attempts to make a life for herself and her young daughter by cleaning houses. She tells her story from the point of the maid, whom for some people is invisible, while others are friendly toward her and even go out of their way to be kind.
The Bohemians by Jasmin Darznik: This book talks about the famous photographer Dorothea Lange and her move to the city of San Francisco back in the early 1900s. She starts off as a naïve girl and gets hardened through the people she meets, and the things she experiences, most notably the depression.
Our Woman in Moscow by Beatriz Williams: The main character, Ruth, has not seen her twin sister in years, since her twin disappeared behind the iron curtain to Russia with her husband and children. Then out of the blue, she gets a postcard from her sister asking her to come and visit. She teams up with a counterintelligence agent and goes to Russia to get her sister out of trouble and finds adventures she never expected.
The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard: When Eve was 12 her parents and sister were murdered. Now she is older and she decides to write a book about it. The killer reads the book and thinks maybe he should finish what he started. It's a little strange as it's a story in a story, but in the end I was very satisfied with the way it wrapped up.
You know how sometimes you are running along, or driving, or walking and you are kind of letting your mind wander and all of a sudden something pops in there? I don't know about you, but this happens to me a lot when I am running and I sometimes have to stop and jot down a quick note on my phone or I will forget what my "brilliant" idea was. So the other day, I was running and it came to me that it would be fun to talk about each category of my money pie, not necessarily about the financial aspect of the category, although that may be part of it, but just random thoughts, or as Mike Meyers would say on Coffee Talk, "I will give you a topic. Talk amongst yourselves."
I am going to do this in no particular order, because the topic that came to mind the other day was car related. Therefore transportation is the first category!
What is your car situation? I did not have a car for about 16 years, as I was either traveling around the world, traveling for work, or living in San Francisco/Oakland, where you can get around without one pretty easily. When needed, I would rent one, but for a long time, that was not very often. I bought my car in 2016; it is a 2016 Hyundai Accent. It was used with about 10,000 miles on it and I bought it because I wanted a cheap car with good gas mileage. It is named The Red Rocket.
What is the parking like in your area? Sometimes it is hard to park in San Francisco. If you live in a neighborhood, you can apply for a sticker, which allows you to park longer than the usual one or two hour limit. Otherwise, there is also street cleaning on most streets either once per week or once every other week, so you also often have to move your car every week. A friend of mine used to schedule his grocery shopping for 6 am every Wednesday so he could be back in time to follow the 7 am street cleaner down the street and get his parking spot back. It is also sometimes hard to find a spot and I remember driving around for 45 minutes once and almost getting into a fight over the one spot I finally snagged.
This is what parking sometimes looks like.
If you are in the financial district, which is where my office is, most streets are metered, and some even go from 7 am to 6 pm or even 10 pm in certain cases. These cost about $2.00/hour but can go as high as $6.00/hour. Parking garages cost around $25.00/day. In Oakland, it depends, but usually it is not hard to find parking. My street has street sweeping every other week. I have forgotten to move my car, and the ticket was about $80.00. That is an expensive mistake! You're welcome Oakland.
Do you have to pay tolls? We have tolls on our bridges; I have to go over the Bay Bridge to get to San Francisco, which is a $7.00 toll. The others are the Richmond Bridge, which is also $7.00 and the Golden Gate Bridge, which recently went to $8.00 if you have a FasTrak and $9.00 if you just go right through. The Golden Gate and Bay Bridge do not accept cash anymore (this was on the way out but was sped up due to COVID).
What is your commute like? I live in Oakland and work in San Francisco. It is about 13 miles between my house and the office. There is a bridge between the two and there are not pedestrian walkways on this bridge. When I used to go to work later, I utilized the casual carpool. I wrote a post about that here. Then I started working earlier and I rode my bike to the BART train station each day. This took about ten minutes to ride the bike and 20 minutes to ride the train. Once I arrived in the city, the train station was about a five minute walk from my office. In 2018 they started doing maintenance on the train (it goes under the bay in a tunnel, which needed repairs) each morning, so they subbed out the early trains with a bus. At this point, I sometimes drove to the BART station, which took about seven minutes, where I would take the bus into the city, which took about 20 minutes. Once I arrived in the city, the bus station was also about a five minute walk to my office.
Then....COVID hit, people stopped going to work, train schedules got cut drastically and people were afraid to take public transportation. I have continued going into the office the whole time and have been driving in each morning ever since. Let me tell you, at first, it was like buttah! The 13 mile drive took me about 15 minutes, and there were no cars on the road. As people started coming back, it took a little longer, but I go in around 5:00 am, so even on a heavy day, it is more like 20-25 minutes. As mentioned above, this does entail a toll charge and parking, but my work was paying for the parking due to the pandemic. Starting April 1st, they will no longer pay for parking.
So...what will I do then? That is a great question. I will go back to taking public transportation. Unfortunately, they have not fully reinstated all of the buses and trains due to light ridership in the past two years, so the times are more limited. I will have to go in earlier than I need to or later that I want to, so earlier it is! At first, I will once again drive to the BART station and take the bus in. I may eventually transition back to the bike/BART commute after I get the hang of the scheduling.
What is in your trunk? My coworker once had to put something in my trunk and when I opened it he gasped. I assumed he was disgusted by how much stuff I had in there, but actually he thought it was really tidy. I thought it would be fun to talk about what is in my trunk. My favorite thing, and one I have used more than once is a 3-in-1 car jumper, battery, and air compressor. Once charged up, it can be used to charge appliances (it has USB ports and a 110 volt outlet), jump your car or pump up tires. It also have a utility/flashlight function. I could write a whole post about this tool alone. It is very cool.
I also have a trunk organizer, which is probably why my friend thinks I am organized. In it is a first aid kit, 2 gallons of water, a towel, a blanket, an umbrella, more jumper cables (belt and suspenders!), dominoes & a deck of cards (you never know...), and an extra pair of running shoes. I also have a "running box" which includes an extra set of running clothes, socks, a hat, a sweatshirt, flip flops, a headlamp, a flashlight, a few snacks, a change of clothes for afterward and baby wipes. I guess if I were stranded, I could survive for at least eight days by utilizing the things in my trunk (if I drank one liter of water a day).
Your turn! Answer one or all of the following: What is your car situation? What is the parking like in your area? Do you have to pay tolls? What is your commute like? What is in your trunk?