The Hoppy Okapi

Occasional posts about hiking and other stuff

The first forty miles – Campo to Mount Laguna April 30, 2012

Filed under: hiking,PCT — Amanda @ 13:29
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I made it to the top of Mount Laguna! I’m still only an hour and a half drive away from San Diego, and it’s taken me two and a half days to get here.

I started out at the border on Friday morning, and hiked the twenty miles into the kickoff party at Lake Morena. That was the longest day hike I’ve ever done, and I was very happy to see Chuck at around mile 17 – he had hiked up from the lake to meet me for the last few miles, a much-needed morale boost.
After a day off for the party, I started out yesterday at around 7:30 and hiked 12 miles up to Fred Canyon Creek, where I called it a day around 2:30 and relaxed in the shade. There were about 16 of us camped there, and I cowboy camped for the first time – no tent, just my ground cloth, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag. I wasn’t attacked by any creepy crawlers, but there were some little twigs falling out of the tree I was camped under.

This morning I finished climbing up to Mount Laguna, about 3000 feet of climbing in 11 miles. The trail climbs gently, so I was able to keep up a steady pace. I’m disappointed that I haven’t seen a rattlesnake yet, but the bushes were abuzz with bees this morning, and I was glad to escape unstung. I’m now relaxing at Burnt Rancheria campground where hiker Griffin and his dad are hosting hikers, after a great lunch at the Pine Hill Tavern, which was open especially for PCT hikers today – amazing how a restaurant meal feels like an amazing luxury after only two days! Will be heading off for another six or so miles to the next campground. Afternoon beaks are definitely the way to go.





Backpacking practice in Balboa Park April 22, 2012

Filed under: outdoors,PCT — Amanda @ 13:53
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On Sunday I took my tent, hiking poles, rope and stuff sacks full of stuff to Balboa Park to practice setting up my tent and hanging a food bag from a tree to keep it away from bears. Since it was Earth Day, there were a lot of people at the park, most giving me strange looks, and some stopping to ask what I was doing. A park ranger drove up while I was hanging my “food bag” from the tree, and when I explained that it was practice for an upcoming backpacking trip, he said “I’ve never seen anyone doing that before!” hmmm. I wonder where other city-dwellers practice this stuff?
Here are some of the things I learned:

  • Pay attention to the wind when pitching the tent – even in a light wind, the narrow side of the tent should face the wind
  • The tent stakes need to be as far into the ground as possible. I think I was running into a tree root on Sunday, and the stakes kept coming out of the ground.
  • If the stakes can’t be flush to the ground, tying the guy lines around the stake with a clove hitch helps make it more secure.
  • Throwing a stuff sack containing a rock over a 15 foot high branch is harder than you’d think
  • When hanging a food bag using the “PCT method”, keep knot loops and stuff sacks as close to the carabiner as possible to maximize hanging efficiency.
  • It’s possible to get your rope caught on the branch, suspending your food sack many feet in the air with no way to get it down unless a bear comes along, climbs out on the branch, and eats it. This would be considered ineffective bear-bagging technique, and should be avoided.
  • My food bag hanging practice kit:


    A (mostly) successfully suspended food bag:



    Beginning a Thru-Hiking Adventure April 12, 2012

    Filed under: hiking,PCT — Amanda @ 20:29
    Tags: , ,

    My 2012 Pacific Trail Adventure starts in two weeks! I’ll be setting out from the Mexican border near Campo, CA with the goal of getting to Manning Park in British Columbia, Canada in about five months, before the winter snows start in the Cascade mountains. The trail is over 2600 miles long, with around 300,000 feet of elevation gain – it’s a long walk, and one I’ve been planning for for about 2 1/2 months – a much shorter time than many people, but I feel (almost) ready to get started. I’m looking forward to writing more about this epic journey!

    Map of the PCT, courtesy of



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