Posted by: davepidgeon | September 15, 2009

What worked: Catskills edition

The east branch of a rain-swollen Neversink River.

The east branch of a rain-swollen Neversink River.

Let’s set the scene:

A low pressure storm system developed Friday off the Atlantic Coast, which spun like a wheel and lashed the Northeast region with rain storms. The Catskill mountains soaked just under an inch of rain between Friday and Saturday as members of the Appalachian Mountain Club hiked into the Slide Mountain Wilderness, N.Y.

Temps stayed in the 60s during the days and flirted with the upper 40s at night. Not much wind, but lots and lots and lots of water from hiking through the Neversink River and its tributaries to bushwacking through leafy trees and bushes spilling rain water on us, plus the actual rain falling on our heads.

With that setting in place, let’s take a look at what worked during the weekend:


The Mountain Hardware Sprite 1 withstands a pounding by a rain storm in the Catskills.

The Mountain Hardware Sprite 1 withstands a pounding by a rain storm in the Catskills.

This economically priced single-person tent might as well have been a plastic shell. Not a drop of rain penetrated the rainfly, and it breathed so well that what condensation did appear inside the rainfly did not impact anything inside the tent, including the sleeping bag, the clothing and, yes, even me.

While it may weigh a few ounces more than those overhyped lightweight tents, this tent performs just fine and much less the price.

Compass Points says check it out.

Osprey Aether 70

Osprey’s Web site says the Aether 70, an internal frame backpack, can comfortably handle loads up to 50 pounds.

They’re right.

I packed some “luxury” items for the weekend – like more food and clothing than I would normally – because we were setting up a base camp just a few miles into the woods, then slack packing to the surrounding peaks. So my load was heavier than the usual; I’d say in the 35 to 40 pound range. And the Aether 70 didn’t feel much different than when I carry about 5 to 10 pounds less.

Hearty endorsement of the Aether 70.

Black Diamond Trail trekking poles

Another economy item, these three-section poles ring in at just $89, much less than those trekker poles made of space-age materials. The Trail’s basic material must be so embarrassingly simple compared to those high-tech carbon poles that Black Diamond doesn’t even say what the Trail material is on its Web site.

And how did the Trail hold up while ascending 1,200 feet through dense witch-hobble thickets and scratch-your-face balsam fir forests?

I stumbled about half a dozen times coming down as I was calorie depleted, trying to traverse through the woods, scrambling off small cliffs and plunging through free-flowing springs, and on a few of those falls, I saw those poles bend like the St. Louis Arch. But the poles never broke. BAM! Those are a keeper.

For those on a budget, consider these poles.

Food for the hungry

Backpacker Magazine in its September 2009 edition provided a recipe for Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Oatmeal, which they described as “like a cookie in a bowl.”

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Oatmeal

I followed the recipe instructions – two packets of instant cinnamon oatmeal, peanut butter and chocolate (I used dark chocolate M&M’s, which you always find in my food stash during a backpack).

The result – the first few bites were divine, but this meal is soooo sweet I started to feel ill. Too sweet. Use in moderation.

I would like to recommend two food items for your next backpack. One is Maxwell House Coffee’s single packets, which make one cup of coffee. Great for backpacking if you need that morning caffeine fix. My other recommendation is Clif Bar’s apricot-flavored energy bar. Tastes like apricot candy. Excellent choice.


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