YAKPACKING THE COLORADO Walters to Fishers

Are you armchair backpacking right about now?   A time of Reflection.  A time of Dreaming.  What is your next adventure for 2020?

You are an avid Backpacker!…..but have your ever Yakpacked?

Come dream on a sunrise that can’t be beat. You already have the necessary skills, and most of the necessary gear. You can rent what you need if you don’t have a canoe or kayak.

Click this link for the full article YAKPACKING the Colorado.

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BUCKSKIN 2019

The die hard backpacker that only enjoys that style of camping….you may not appreciate this article as much as some.

But I venture to say many of our followers cross over into various other forms of camping. Depending on the situation, the weather, your age, your health, etc.

While I am pushing 70 years old I am still an avid backpacker and feel fortunate I have the health to still follow that passion. Though my pack weight is considerably less, and my daily trekking has been tapered down to about 12 miles. I often believe my health has benefited from a lifetime of backpacking and being outdoors.

Through the years I have also Car Camped. I have had various types of commercially built RVs. Van’s, Class C’s, and even a Class A. They are all enjoyable in different ways.

My latest camping vehicle is a Cargo Conversion Trailer. A DIY project I did on a new 2011 trailer. It is still serving me well. There is much to be said about having your own toilet and shower along. LOL

If you are interested in the Cargo Trailer Conversion subject, also follow us on ConversionTrailers.com

All of this leads me to the subject of this blog post. Buckskin is a State Park in Arizona that sits on the bank of the Colorado river. Actually the official name is Buckskin Mountain SP. Years ago we were invited to join in some annual festivities by a group that meets there every December.

We attended the annual Arizona Roundup Vintage Trailer Rally this past weekend (December 6,7,8, 2019).   The rally was at Buckskin Mountain SP, near Parker, Arizona.  About a 45 minute drive from the more recognized, or more famous snowbird community of Quartzite, Arizona.

People from all over the USA and Canada migrate to this area for the winter months to enjoy the warmer climate. Escaping the colder north. Campgrounds and even open land boondocking area’s are often filled to capacity.

This annual Buckskin weekend camp out is attended mostly by an established group membership.  Years ago we got an invitation and decided to try it.  We have been going ever since.

A group of us from Las Vegas, not original members, attend as an annual get together.  We also share some friendships with people from California, Arizona, Utah, and more distant places.  A time to catch up, outdoor cook with each other, and share a campfire each night.

The original group is mostly teardrop trailers and vintage trailers, as well as vintage tow vehicles.  Fortunately the original group seems to welcome anyone that loves camping.

Some years the campground is sold out for this event a year in advance.  December of 2019 was the first time I saw an abundance of open campsites and an apparent decline of regulars attending.  I personally reserve for the next year while I attend the event. I have already for the 2020 event.

©Rick Beach -Buckskin Mountain SP, Arizona

Saturday midday is always the communal potluck at the picnic pavilion that overlooks a beautiful section of the Colorado River.   A time to swap stories with anyone that attends.  The food is always good and too much!

This year we had relatively cool weather, and some rain.  Not overly cold though.  I must admit one day we had to duck under awnings most of the day to stay dry.

The rain managed to hold off for the most part so we had a campfire each night.  During the day most of us did some hiking, photography, sat around and relaxed, checked out vintage trailers and vehicles, or did some Dutch Oven Cooking.

If you are interested in this event find the “Arizona Round-Up” group on Facebook.  They always meet at Buckskin the first Saturday weekend in December.  There are often vintage trailers or tow vehicles for sale.  I leave my wallet at home.  There is way too much eye candy.  I might buckle in a moment of weakness.  LOL!

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Snow Photos from February 2019 are drifting in

Those hardy souls that made the treks in northern Arizona around February 19 through 22, 2019 braved some serious weather. Two lane roads, as well as Interstate highways, shut down due to record breaking snow fall.

Not one person recommended taking skis…..LOL!

If you have your own photo(s) to share, please follow over to the article for more info. We would love to add them to those we are receiving. Some will make it on the website!

Click this link to see the article on Winter Conditions

Hilltop Parking Trail Head – February 2019 Image Courtesy of: WISPP

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MID FEBRUARY 2019 Cold Spell

Backpacking Northern Arizona this time of year, backpackers often experience cold weather. Especially the night time temperatures.

Click here for more on COLD WEATHER BACKPACKING info.

The past few days, and it appears for the coming week or so. The Havasu Falls area may experience night time temperatures dropping into the low teens (Fahrenheit). This is unusually cold. Day time highs will struggle to make it higher than the upper thirties. (Fahrenheit).

People in Las Vegas and closer area’s are reporting lower than normal temperatures. Las Vegas is looking at temperatures in the mid twenties (Fahrenheit) at night.

While these temperatures are “business as usual” for many winter backpackers. Such conditions for someone ill prepared or inexperienced, can really present some danger.

Such conditions require quality gear, high calorie foods & snacks, and the ability to stay dry and keep warm. This includes keeping your feet, hands, face, and head warm. Day and night!

It is advised you don’t start this trek taking a light-hearted approach. Not in these conditions. If you think your gear may be inadequate. It probably will be. Make sure you know what you are getting into. Make sure you know what you are doing. What might be a minor discomfort during normal weather, may have serious consequences if you are not prepared.

Know the signs of hypothermia. Don’t be afraid to admit to yourself or to those in your group you have a problem. If someone in your group is having symptoms. You need to help them. Get them warmed up. Even drinking warmed water will help. Check on people that complain they are cold.

If for some reason you fall in the water with your clothes on, during really cold temperatures. You need to get the wet clothes off. Get dry, and warm up as soon as possible.

In a group atmosphere encourage others to be open about voicing concerns they may be getting into trouble. Then act in such a fashion everyone is OK. Remember your gear might be better than the gear your co-backpackers have. That includes clothing and footwear. Don’t judge someone else on how comfortable you may feel.

If you feel you are in a situation that could go from bad to worse. Start hiking to your vehicle. Walk at a good pace to warm up and keep warm. Walk steady and don’t stop until you have made it safely to your vehicle. You can always return and do this trip another time.

Signs and Symptoms of Hypothermia

Stage 1
Mild
Awake and Shivering
Possible increased urine production and mental confusion

Stage 2
Moderate
Drowsy and not Shivering
Mental confusion, Slurred speech, loss of fine motor skills
Paradoxical undressing

Stage 3
Severe
Not shivering
Mental confusion, decreased or increased heart rate, decrease in breathing rate
Paradoxical undressing
Unconscious

Stage 4
Profound
No Vital Signs

NOTE: Paradoxical undressing: As a person becomes disoriented, confused, and combative. They may begin discarding their clothing. Further increasing body heat loss.

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ZION NATIONAL PARK closes the NARROWS access 9/25/2018 Re Opened 9/28/2018

[9/28/2018] The below info has a status change.  As of Friday September 28, 2018 the Narrows, Top Down permits are again being issued.  An agreement was reached with a landowner, to resolve the conflict.

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[9/25/2018]  Reports started flowing in 9/25/2018 that Zion National Park has suspended issuing permits to the “Narrows” area, including the popular “Top-Down” trips.

Zion Narrows

This is due to a dispute over Private Property rights.

Day hiking from the Temple of Sinawava to Big Spring is open.  Upstream travel beyond Big Spring is prohibited.

We haven’t heard what has triggered this.  It is a reminder to respect the land, and the locals at all times, no matter where you travel.  You never know what might make someone decide to no longer share.

Here is a Link to the official Zion NP website.
https://www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/thenarrows.htm

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Touring Grand Canyon Caverns

Wow touring the Cavern [Near Peach Springs, Arizona on Old RT 66] was a great side trip.  I am sorry we never did it sooner!

If you are intending to camp, or even considering camping, at the Grand Canyon Caverns Campgrounds, or simply passing by on old RT 66.  Be sure to allow time for the Cavern Tour!

Did you know you can have your meal down in the Cavern?  The combo meal & tour is very reasonably priced.  When we looked at the menu and the tour, as individual prices.  Having the experience in the cave, was a no brain’er!

Follow the link over to the full article.  In the article there are links to other points of interest.  Also our experience camping in the campground.  Grand Canyon Caverns Article.

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FOOD & CRITTER PROTECTION – RATSACK

A sure sign of a rookie backpacker/tent camper is leaving food or smelly things like soap products, toothpaste , etc in their tent.  Critters of all sort will destroy your gear trying to get to it.  The Havasu Falls area campground is well known for this problem.

If you made this error in bear country you most likely would have a lasting memory.  If you are in bear country your best have an approved container.  Even then you better hang it well away from your tent and sleeping area.

This includes packs and sleeping bags.  Anything left on the ground or simply hung on a tree.  Anything with a “Smell” no matter how well sealed or even unopened.  It all needs to be removed from your gear when unattended or when your are sleeping.  Then other prevent measures taken.

Although you may not be in bear country there are numerous critters that have had generations worth of training due to visitors not practicing food storage protection.  They are expert at chewing through gear.

A Ratsack or other food protection method is often a necessity.   Just a good habit to always follow.   There are a variety of critters lurking, waiting to snack on what you transport in. We have hit all seasons. From blistering summer heat, to bone chilling times of the year with snow. We have found all seasons have critters looking for easy food pickings. Namely your backpacked food.

While the squirrels are the most prevalent and most destructive.  There are also ring tailed cats (similar to a raccoon), actual raccoons, skunks, mice, rats, roaming horses, coyotes, wolves, various cat breeds, and even wild dogs.  Much depends on what region you are in and what time of year.

While all times of the year have their hazards, the warmer months see the highest activity.

You want to protect your tent, packs, and sleeping bags from damage. While in your campsite, keep all food and smelly items such as toothpaste, soap, cosmetics, lip balms, etc out of your tent, sleeping bags, and packs that are left unattended. Forget for even 5 minutes and it may be too late.

They will chew through tents (the rodents), drag your pack away (ring tails, racoons and canine breeds), and trash your tent (bears/horses). 

The first line of defense is to get your food and toiletries away from your expensive gear.

Our most successful method of prevention so far, is to purchase a Ratsack, to stash our stuff. Then use a length of 100lb test mono-filament fishing line over a high tree branch. Hoist up the sack high enough. Keep in mind some larger animals will stand on their hind legs to reach up and try to snatch goodies.

All of our items are first put in ziplock freezer bags. Even our “Pack it out Trash” is ziplock bagged and kept in your Ratsack too.

We ordered our “Ratsack”off Amazon. Only the large size was available at the time. When it arrived it looked overly large. It probably is too large for a single person. In hindsight I am glad that was the one we purchased. For two people it is very ample. We hadn’t thought through the trash issue until we were actually on the first trip with it. Then we were glad for the larger ratsack. We had plenty of room for both food and trash, times 2 people, for a 3 night backpacking trip.

Bear proof containers are another option if you have one and don’t mind the additional weight. I would opt for the Ratsack in lieu of the Bear proof container in areas that I can do that.  I have both to pick from.  Its all about weight, and the critters you might run up against.

Keeping with Leave No Trace. Whatever you bring to hang your food. Containers, string, rope, or what have you. Be sure to take it down and pack it out when you hike out. Don’t leave any of it behind for the “next person”.

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GRAND CANYON CAVERN CAMPGROUNDS

For those of you venturing on Old Rt 66 near Peach Springs,  or Seligman, Arizona.  Grand Canyon Cavern Campgrounds offers an excellent place to camp.

Late night Milky Way Photo Op at Grand Canyon Cavern Campground

The entrance is a few miles east of the RT 66 & IR 18 intersection.  The view from the road side appears as an old run down gas station, and a small cafe.  Some old vehicles staged around the parking lot up by the buildings.

We stopped in the cafe and the friendly staff pointed us to the road/drive, that snaked around the back of the cafe, and up over a small hill.  We almost got nailed by the cops tucked in behind a tree (Vintage black & white cop car staged along the road) LOL!

The campground is about a mile on this paved road that winds through low growing evergreen trees.  You eventually come to the restaurant first.  This is some distance off the main road RT 66 and not visible from the main road.

Don’t expect RV resort accommodations.  Though they do have power pedestals on many sites.  The campground is typical high desert and appears not well kept.  Sites are dirt.  Some have picnic tables, some do not.  No sites have any type of shade structure.

The Evergreen tree’s peppered about average about 15ft tall.  This is high desert.  So I suspect these are Cedars or Pinon Pine.  They offer relatively little shade except in the late afternoon.  They do provide a little privacy from some neighboring sites.

There are rough graded roads and ample sites tucked into out of the way places if you want to enjoy some privacy.   We saw no site numbers.  Once you pay you simply have squatters rights to any open place you want to make your camp.

Bathrooms/Showers…..not the best.  But the shower water is hot. They are centrally located at the front of the camping area, and not too far from the restaurant building.

We made reservations at the last minute, the night before.  Mid May there were plenty of sites.  The grounds are large enough I would think you would not have trouble at any time?  You might not get a level site, or one with power, but I think they would be able to accommodate you?

The prices (2017) of $32 a night for 2 with a tent was rather pricey we thought.  I don’t remember if that included power or not.  We did find a picnic table that had a power pedestal next to it.  In hindsight a small electric heater and an extension cord would have been nice.  It got real cold that night.

We had a picnic table and lots of 15ft Pinyon Pine or Ceders that offered wind breaks and some privacy.  The campground location makes it near ideal for starting the trip the next day.

We didn’t have time to check out the Cavern tours.  The Caverns are the actual reason this place exists!  That might be another story for another day.  That prediction came true in 2018.

We arrived around 6pm and took advantage of the restaurant that looks like it is open until 8pm.  Two of us can recommend the Pulled Pork/BBQ sandwich.   We washed those down with several ice cold brews and had a very relaxing visit.

We tried to set up minimal gear to head out the next morning right at first light.  It was a very cold night for sure.  I believe more so because of the higher altitude.  We survived the cold, and packed up gear the following morning at  4am to take off.  Several other backpacking types must have had the same idea.  Two other groups took off right before us.

So our recommendation is to allot the time to make this your stop.  Enjoy the restaurant.  Even arrive early enough to check out the Caverns.

Summer time may be different, due to heat.  Camping could become unpleasant?  Be sure to check this all out in advance of any trip through the area.

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