GSI Pack Grater for Camping

Each year a group of friends heads out for a week of hiking and camping.

Each year they compare gear.  And consider adding something NEW to their kit.

In 2020 I was very impressed with Karen’s GSI Pack Grater.  Less than $10.

Very lightweight and compact, it did a terrific job grating cheese for our traditional Trail Quesadillas.

We typically make the Rockin’ Ronnie Shewchuk version including fresh apple and Rosemary.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

I’m purchasing a GSI Pack Grater for myself.

Anker PowerCore+ 26800 PD battery

Though I’m now bikepacking with solar, to be SURE I’ve got enough juice to get my devices through a weekend hike I’ve also purchased the Anker PowerCore+ 26800 PD with 30W.

This is the largest portable battery currently allowed for airline carry-on baggage.

26800mAh of power charges most phones over 7 times, tablets at least 2 times or notebooks at least once.

There are two parts: battery and USB-C wall charger.

Charging devices from a wall socket (including the battery) is claimed to be up to 3x faster.

On longer cycling trips when I’m carrying a laptop, this unit IS powerful enough to recharge a MacBook Pro. That will help me keep up-to-date with photos, video and trip reports.

Golden Hinde Traverse, Strathcona Vancouver Island

By BestHike editor Rick McCharles

I’m hoping to climb the highest mountain on Vancouver Island 2,195 m (7,201 ft) late August, early September.  Fewer bugs.  Dryer trails. … Hopefully.

Many try and fail to get to this summit.  It’s a scramble up snow or rock at the top.

The mountain took its name from Sir Francis Drake‘s ship, the Golden Hind, named by an early fur-trading captain who was reminded of Drake’s ship as sunset hit the mountain

Jes Scott made it August 2019.  Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Jes had tried and failed in 2017.

My plan is to hike the 47km Golden Hinde Traverse on the Elk River trail through to Myra Falls. I’ll only attempt the summit as a detour if conditions, health, time and weather permit. No pressure.  🙂

Cost for a guided climb is about CAD $1500 for 5 days.

 

Flower Ridge Trails, Strathcona Park B.C.

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles.

Experts agree that the Flower Ridge trails are some of the best in Strathcona Provincial Park, Vancouver Island.

The up-and-back Flower Ridge Trail:

  • 27km return
  • 1-3 days
  • 1970m elevation gain/loss
  • summit of Central Crags 1642m 
  • no permit needed

If adventurous, you could return via other longer routes including:

  • Comox Glacier to Buttle Lake Traverse
  • Ash River Horseshoe
  • Mt. Rosseau to Cream to Bedwell lakes
  • Green lake to Price creek

Good navigation needed on all those options, of course.

I was actually hoping to return via the Henshaw Creek Horseshoe since it returns you to where you started. A perfect loop.

In fact, it’s one of guidebook author Phillip Stone’s favourite hikes in the Park.

But I would have needed a guide and full mountaineering gear to pull that off in June.  Perhaps a helicopter, as well. 😀

I was there early season.


Beautiful morning. Ideal campsite in the Marine Park next to Buttle Lake campground.

It was June 14th. Free. ($10/night/site starting June 15th.)

I enjoyed a leisurely morning.

Next cycled to the trailhead, easy access from gorgeous Buttle Lake Parkway.

It’s close to Ralph River campground.

Full Strathcona Park map (PDF).

Strathcona Park had just opened following the COVID-19 shutdown.

The previous day I’d tried King’s Peak with a light day pack. Didn’t get higher than 770m due to high creeks.

Learning my lesson, for Flower Ridge I brought food for up to 3 days. Full pack.

Started up about 5pm.

Like many Strathcona hikes, Flower Ridge starts with a steep climb. But less steep than most others

Not many views early on. When you do, it’s of the the Myra Falls Mine (opened 1959)

The mine is currently owned by Nyrstar and produces zinc, lead, copper, silver and gold concentrates.

Any time you are hiking a ridge, finding running water might be a problem. But my guidebook said there was one reliable creek — I never found it.

No worries. There is plenty of snow to melt. You dig to find the clean white stuff.

I set up 8:30pm at the first obvious campsite. Days are long in Canada in June.

Normally my dinners are based around instant mashed potatoes. But for this trip I went all in for instant stuffing.

I carried my 1.2 pound solar charger for the first time. Normally it stays with my bikepacking gear.

There’s no electricity in Strathcona. No mobile phone service.

I climbed higher next morning. But quickly the snow got too deep. Just like King’s Peak the previous day, I only reached perhaps 800m elevation before turning back.

The ridge is about 1200m.  In those meadows I would have found more famed spring flowers.

I really need to return to Strathcona late season: August – September.

#LessonLearned

If you want to do it right, click over to MBGuiding:

Flower Ridge Trail – July 13-15, 2018

MBGuiding.ca

 

BigBlue 28W USB Solar Charger

My first solar power charger.  No built-in lithium ion battery.

I chose BigBlue 28W USB Solar Charger over similar products based on the positive Wirecutter review. AND this one is quite inexpensive.

I plan to use it mostly for bikepacking where weight is less a concern. But I carried it on a few hikes as well.

1.2 pounds.

Flower Ridge Trail, Strathcona
Baby Bedwell Lake, Strathcona

On the bike, it can get bumpy.

Mostly I’m wanting to keep charged:

    • iPhone
    • EarPods
    • Apple Watch

It works well in direct sunlight.  Slowly when overcast.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

 

Hubba NX, UberLite & Corus Down Quilt

by BestHike editor Rick McCharles 

I updated my sleeping system for summer 2020.

  • Therm-a-Rest Corus 0C Down Quilt CAD $260 (US $186)
  • Therm-a-Rest NeoAir UberLite WV Sleeping Pad – Unisex CAD $254 (US $181.50)
    Hubba NX 2020 tent CAD $479 (US $342)
  • Nemo Switchback Foam Sleeping Pad – Unisex CAD $49.95 (US $35.70)

I bought everything from Mountain Equipment Co-op in Canada, trying to support companies other than Amazon during COVID-19.

I’ve spent hundreds of nights in Hubba and Hubba NX tents. Never a complaint aside from pole failures.

Happily, the latest edition has new composite poles. They look stronger.  Especially the hubs.

OLD poles on top, new on the bottom

NX weight is listed at 1.29 kg (about 2.84 lbs). 

My pillow is a partially inflated Therm-a-Rest NeoAir® XLite (small) wrapped in a shirt — which I love.

In fact the XLite  is the sleeping pad I normally use so it is also my back-up in case the somewhat fragile UberLite gets punctured.

When I want to carry the extra weight (415 gm)  and bulk, I’m bringing along the orange Nemo foam pad to protect the UberLite from the ground. And to keep my tent a little cleaner.

For bikepacking I’m also using the Nemo folded as a flat platform across my rear panniers.  Happy to have it.

The Therm-a-Rest Corus is my first quilt.

Read the cleverhiker review.

 I actually am happy with sleeping bags, never feeling claustrophobic in the past.  On my recent 6 day bikepacking trip I carried both the Corus as well as a down bag.  Both were fine for me.  In fact, after the test I used both — not for warmth, but for coziness.

I’ll carry the Corus for hikes and bikepacking where weight and volume is an important factor.

Here I am setting up my previous system earlier in the spring.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Ursack Quick Release Knot

I recall being reluctant to buy an Ursack to protect my food from bears and other critters — but finally got one in 2011.

This was the first time I used it, on the Howe Sound Crest Trail out of Vancouver.

2011

I was won over instantly.

Though I own two Bear Vaults, I always carry the Ursack instead if it’s allowed where I’m hiking.

It’s much less bulky.

Though my old white one is going strong, Ursack has newer models in black . And a quicker way of tying the bag to the tree.

Ursack AllMitey bear bag

I’ll probably get the larger capacity URSACK MAJOR XL when I eventually have to replace my old white one.

On my recent cycling / hiking trip through Vancouver Island I tented 6 nights.

There are PLENTY of black bears. I’d never seen so much scat anywhere as on the Juan de Fuca Marine Trail, for example.

You absolutely MUST PROTECT YOUR SMELLIES in this part of the world.

For the first time I used the new recommended quick release knot to attach the Ursack to a tree.  It is a big improvement.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Tuck in your Pants to avoid Ticks 🕷

I cycle, run and/or hike every day while on Vancouver Island, Canada.

The risk of tick-borne disease here is low. But I’m still tucking in my pants before going out.

Mine are very light weight, slippery nylon. (Light coloured clothing would be better as it’s easier to spot ticks.)

The biggest danger in my neck of the woods is the western black-legged tick. It can transfer Lyme disease.

Western Black-Legged Tick

Fortunately for me, in order for a human to be infected by the bacterium, the tick must be attached for approximately 36 to 48 hours. I shower and check after each workout.

There is a report of one hiker who contracted Lyme on the nearby West Coast Trail. On that week long hike you may not be washing or checking regularly.  😐

Check the tick risk where you are adventuring. There are about 30,000 new cases of Lyme Disease each year in the States. The number seems to be increasing with global warming. New species of ticks are becoming known.

Check your pets for ticks.

If you get one, gently remove a tick embedded in your skin with tweezers. Firmly grasp the tick’s head without squeezing and pull upwards.  Save it in a plastic sealed bag.  Use a felt pen to write the date, name and address of person bitten.  I’ve only ever found one once.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

related – Wikipedia – Lyme disease