Tag Archives: Backpacking

Winter Backpacking the Blackhead Range

In February 2021, I lead a small group up into the Catskill’s Blackhead Range. The purpose of our trip was to test some winter backpacking skills and equipment and to bag a few peaks. The first day, we hiked up to Lockwood Gap and set up camp before ascending Blackhead Mountain. The next morning hiked Blackdome and Thomas Cole mountains before returning to camp, packing up, and walking out to the car. It was a successful trip and we learned a lot.

Winter Backpacking
Black Dome in the Later Afternoon
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2020 Three Season Backpacking Gear List

three season backpacking gear list

This post reviews my three season backpacking gear list. When I was learning to backpack, I found it helpful when others posted their gear lists.  It gave me a reference point for the kinds of things I needed, what I was doing right, and what I could be doing better.  I think the most useful kit to start putting together is one that will get you through Spring, Summer, and Fall. After that you can put together specialty kits for Winter and Summer.

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Stealth Camping in the Catskills

Stealth Camping in the Catskills is a nice solution for camping further from roads and other people than designated sites allow. Designated sites in the Catskills tend to be near roads or trailheads and fill up early in the day. You’re allowed to camp outside of designated sites if you follow a few rules. Keep reading to learn more about stealth camping in the Catskills.

stealth camping in the catskills
An Ideal Stealth Site in the Catskills: off the plants and well away from the trail.
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Tarptent Stratospire Li – Long Term Review

The Tarptent Stratospire Li is a two-person, trekking pole tent produced by Henrey Shire’s Tarptent. The unique geometry of this tent makes it capable of fending off harsh winds and rain and moderate snow loads. The double wall design and numerous venting options offer excellent breathability. Dyneema fabric makes this tent extremely waterproof. The Stratospire Li is my go-to tent for solo trips when don’t expect campsite space to be an issue or when I may need to share, or if I want the option to linger.

Tarptent Stratospire Li
Tarptent Stratospire Li
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Planning Backpacking Trips

Planning Backpacking Trips is both an art and a science, but I know more about the science. When I plan a backpacking trip, I always start out by making a chart. I include as many campsites, road crossings, and other useful way-points as possible. I then list the cumulative mileage and elevation gain from the beginning to each way-point. Then I calculate cumulative hiking hours to each of these way-points. I use this chart to decide the ideal starting and ending point for each day of the trip.

planning backpacking trips
Trip Details with Peaks and Campsites
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Vermont Appalachian Trail: US 4 to VT 103. Snow!

In late January 2020, I lead a group of six Argonauts from Hudson Valley Hikers to tackle the Vermont Winter for a weekend of backpacking. We traversed Kilington Mountain Southbound along the Appalachian Trail, and then descended into the wilderness lying to the south, finishing at VT Rt 103. Temperatures were consistently about 30 degrees F with some strong winds Saturday and occasionally snow flurries during the day and moderate freezing rain over night.

winter backpacking
Argonauts Ready for Winter Backpacking
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Massachusetts Appalachian Trail: Dalton to North Adams – A Snowy Slog!

Continuing in the theme of “misunderestimating” snow, we take a look back at March of 2019. We had planned a 23 mile hike from Dalton to North Adams in Massachusetts. Snow maps were sketchy, but from what we could tell there would be no more than 2 inches on the ground. The weather had different plans. Four to eight inches of fresh snow on this relatively unused section of the Appalachian Trail made route finding and forward progress difficult. Imagine trying to spot white blazes when every tree is covered with white snow!

Mt Greylock
Greylock in the Snow
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Appalachian Trail: Bennington to North Adams

In November of 2019, I took a group of Hudson Valley Hikers on a backpacking trip from Bennington, VT to North Adams, MA. We covered only 18.7 miles, but bridged a gap between two longer sections. Weather in November can be tricky. We call it shoulder season. Fall is over, but winter hasn’t quite started yet. You can get an odd combination of conditions. Over the last couple of years, we’ve learned to expect snow when hiking in Vermont or Massachusetts between November and March.

Vermont Massachusetts State Line
Our group stops for a photo at the Vermont / Massachusetts State Line. This is the southern end of the Vermont Long Trail.
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Appalachian Trail / White Mountains: Wildcat, Carter, Moriah Traverse

Labor Day Weekend of 2019, the Argonauts contingent of Hudson Valley Hikers spent 3 days backpacking the Wildcat-Carter-Moriah range in the White Mountains. This range is full of challenges, but we broke it into three very manageable days. This was my last section of Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire, completing a continuous section from Shenandoah National Park to Grafton Notch. Everyone on the hike earned 6 New Hampshire 4000 footers.

The Argonauts at Wildcat D
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