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2011 Backpacking @ Mt. Pleasant

From Mr. Holder on 10/14/11:

We are getting close to our "launch" for the October camping trip.  This note is primarily focused on the folks who will be going on the backpacking portion of the trip, but we would like all our scouts and adults to review.  
As a "base camper" we still want you to make an effort to pack as much as possible as if you were going to backpack and carry everything you are taking.  Think through what you are packing and minimize, minimize, minimize!
As you have heard several times, the base campers will not be carrying their gear on their day hike- you will need a daypack/book bag to carry essentials (lunch, 2 liters of water, rain gear, etc.).  Start to work on your backpacking "gear list" to be ready when you want to do a trip in the future!
Also- please remember:  if you are going on the backpacking trip and have not gone on a previous backpacking trip- YOU NEED TO BRING YOUR PACK COMPLETELY PACKED TO NEXT WEEK"S MEETING (Loud enough for you?).  We will conduct a "shakedown" which is essentially a check in to see what you are planning on bringing and how you are doing on weight.  Scouts should plan to keep total pack weight to 20-25% of their body weight!
Now- as far as what to bring, the list below is provided to give you some ideas.  Remember- you need to bring what YOU will need to be comfortable and safe in the weather.  We will put out more information next week with regard to expected temperature, rain, etc. and you may need to modify this list accordingly.  Use this as a guideline and not as a strict packing list!  
Remember that ounces add up to pounds so be careful on what you put in your pack.  Be prepared, but don't overdo it.  Fear is heavy.

There are a couple of general thoughts:

The Troop has backpacking stoves/fuel, and water filters- don’t worry about those- but feel free to bring your own.  We will distribute Troop Gear on Friday .  
Backpackers should “buddy up” and share the weight of a tent- which is one of the heaviest items you carry. 
EVERYTHING should be in a waterproof bag- especially your sleeping bag 
Avoid cotton if at all possible- it absorbs water, will never dry, and when wet is useless.  In cold weather “Cotton Kills” 
On each trip try to improve on minimizing what you take.  Try to be as light and compressed as possible to increase your enjoyment.  As you replace gear, think about buying light.  When you come home, look at what is in your pack that you didn’t use and decide if it was worth it to carry it.  We have cut our pack weight almost in half by doing this over the last 10 years!  

A simple list of gear for September/October Weather.

1. General-
Backpack with rain cover 
Hiking poles (one is good, two is better).  Wrap a few strips of duct tape around top of poles in case you need it for repair or blisters 
Map (we will provide) and compass (if you have one) 
TWO 1 liter water bottles- leave camp with them full 
2. Sleeping Bag/Pad
Sleeping Bag in Waterproof bag 
Sleeping Pad (non-inflatable is light and foolproof) 
3. Shelter
Tent (weight split among tent buddies)- check your poles! 
Tent stakes 
4. Clothing
Short sleeve wicking shirt to hike in  (your rain coat can also be worn if it is chilly)   
Shorts or zip-offs to hike in (you can also use your rain pants as long pants if you need an extra layer on your legs).   
Underwear- synthetic if possible.  Don’t let Mom pack spares.  If you lose the argument, bring just one spare. 
Hat- rain hat or Troop cap to keep sun /rain out of your eyes 
Socks (wool or wool/blend - NOT cotton).  Wear one pair and have one spare.  We also like to wear “liner socks” but that is up to you. 
Shoes- wear something that FITS.  The best option is lightweight. waterproof boots.  If you have other boots, wear those.  Make sure they fit to avoid blisters.   The last option is running shoes or other athletic shoes-  but fit is the most important thing .  Overall boots help protect your ankles from a sprain, etc. better than other shoes.   Oh, and did I mention fit was important?
"Camp Clothes"-  This is the biggest "it depends" area and everybody is different in what they need to be warm in camp.  As an example, I generally tend to "run colder" than Mr. Fields in the same weather and need more or heavier layers to be comfortable.  My personal gear is as follows: in warm weather, I usually take a short- or long-sleeve wicking shirt to wear when I stop hiking and change into it soon after getting into camp.  I usually wear my hiking shorts until I go to bed (if the weather is cooler I might put rain pants on over the shorts).  In cooler weather I typically need another layer on top- either a light fleece, or some other form of insulation.  I often put on my rain coat as a layer.  In cold weather, I definitely need a warmer layer of insulation on top.  Everybody is different, so bring what you have and will be comfortable in based on the weather.  One important point- when you are packing don't think spares- think "can I wear all this at one time?".  Also- think about your sleeping bag as part of your cold weather system- if you get cold go to bed!
Sleeping clothes (it is a good practice to keep these in a separate dry bag.  These only go on when you go to bed, and you change back before leaving your tent.  This practice is a SAFETY ISSUE). 
-         one pair of socks (these are ONLY for sleeping- never use as a spare for hiking)
-         long underwear bottoms
-         long underwear top 
-         lightweight fleece cap and gloves (Mr. Fields and I carry these on EVERY trip- just in case) .  These can also be used around camp to get/stay warm but keep them DRY. 
Camp shoes (not a necessity but nice to have)- Crocs or cheap Walmart imitations work great 
 5. Rain gear-
Jacket w/hood and pants (much preferred) or poncho.  Remember-  Mr. Holder is going-  ‘Nuff said. 
6. Camp Kitchen
Small pot for boiling water 
Small cup or mug 
Insulated “coozie” for meal to go in (I have several to lend) 
Long handled Spoon or spork (long handle helps with commercial freeze dried meals. 
Stove, fuel and windscreen  (Troop provided or bring your own)  
Water Filter  (Troop provided- leaders will carry)  
One-gallon zip bag for trash 
Food and snacks 
“Bear Bag” (nylon bag big enough to hold all your food, trash and “smellalbles”) and 50’ of lightweight rope. 
Small carabineer to attach Bear Bag to Line 
Bandana or camp towel (Sham-wow works great- thanks Mr. Wheeler!) 
6. Personal/Hygiene
Sunglasses and Sunscreen (very small bottle) 
Insect repellant (very small spray bottle or “handi-wipe” style packets) 
Small Pocket Knife/multi-tool 
Parachute cord or other small cord that can be cut into pieces for “whatever” (maybe 10’) 
Toilet Kit- Two small rolls of TP, small bottle of hand sanitizer, and plastic trowel 
Toothbrush and toothpaste (note- these go into bear bag at night) 
Small first aid kit (this is really for small cuts and blisters- we will have the rest) 
Ear Plugs 
Headlamp (new batteries means you don’t have to take a spare) 

Remember- the lighter your pack, the more fun you will have (but take enough to be safe). 
Questions- please ask!
Ken "DripDry" Holder and Lee "RevLee" Fields 

From Mr. Holder on 10/11/11:

This Wednesday night the Troop will discuss backpacking cooking techniques and food options.  I wanted to send out a message to support this effort with some ideas we have used in the past.
As we discussed at the last two meetings, each scout will be responsible for BRINGING THEIR OWN MEALS (sorry for shouting) to the October campout.  This includes the backpacking group AND the basecamp group, scouts and adults.  The following is intended to help give you some hints on what works (and in some cases what doesn't).  
Mr. Fields and I have backpacked over a thousand miles using these techniques.  They work, and provide a simple way to fuel up without having to deal with complex meals or cleaning pots in the backcountry.  Note: For the backpackers and any of the basecampers who want to try the backpacking stoves, please remember you will need a small pot big enough to boil about 2 cups of water.  The basecampers will have the option of using a large "community" pot of water if they want.
Meal Planning for Backpacking:  There are a couple of “guidelines” that we would like to share before talking specifics:  1) quick and simple meals are important as folks are tired when they get to camp.  The best method is anything that only requires boiling water to “cook”,  2) minimize weight and trash by repackaging at home, and 3) generally let them eat what they like.  Your son will not usually eat foods on the trail that he won’t eat at home (for example oatmeal is a love-it or leave-it item).  Bottom line, most of our trips are short and we don’t worry too much about nutritional balance and the food pyramid- just getting them fed and refueled. This is one of those cases where calories are much more important than the nutritional balance. 

Mr. Fields and I generally use the “freezer bag” method of cooking, which requires no clean up.  The simplest way to explain it is with oatmeal.  At home, dump two packages of your favorite flavor instant oatmeal into a zip-loc FREEZER bag (regular sandwich bags won’t work) press out the air and seal.  Write the amount of water required on the bag with a Sharpie.  At camp, boil water, put the bag in your cup or bowl, and pour in the water and allow the oatmeal to rehydrate.  Eat from the bag, and throw the bag away (we carry a one gallon zip-loc as a “trash bag”).  Result- nothing to clean!  This method works with tons of other things like Ramen, instant rice, and even EasyMac, even if you don’t see those directions on the package.  Some things like instant rice can take a long time to rehydrate and we suggest putting the bag into an insulator to keep the meal warm.  We will bring samples of these for the boys to try, or you can make your own out of a cheap car sunshade and duct tape. 

So- with that in mind here are some suggestions for food choices (some commercially available freeze-dried, and some off the shelf grocery items).   Mr. Fields and I make most of our own meals with a home dehydrator because our hikes are typically long, but for a short trip that is probably overkill unless you really want to experiment.


Oatmeal (can add nuts and/or your favorite dried fruit).  For us "Quick Cook" works just as well as instant and gives a better texture (but instant is easier and flavored). 
Grits (can add shelf-stable cheese like parmesan and bacon bits) 
Cream of Wheat/Rice (can be flavored with cinnamon/sugar/raisins) 
Dry cereal (would not suggest powdered milk with cereal- tends not to taste like “home”) 
Mountain House Scrambled Eggs and Bacon (Freeze Dried) – the boys really like this.  Available at Wal-Mart and Sport Stores.  Careful with the water or you will have egg soup! 
No cook alternatives (nutrition bars, oatmeal bars, etc.).  Pop Tarts by themselves will result in hunger again in approximately 12 minutes. 
Hard boiled eggs (yes- these will generally last the weekend without refrigeration if not left in the warm sun) 
Shelf stable bacon (Boars Head packages theirs into two small containers which is easier) and a bagel, etc. 
Adults- don’t forget the coffee! (I am convinced Starbucks Via was invented by Magic Elves) 

Snacks  (most folks eat constantly on the trail when hiking)

GORP (Good Old Raisins and Peanuts) or whatever combination they like 
Power Bars, etc. (we like Cliff Bars and LaraBars- but get them what they will eat) 
Generally avoid chocolate because it can melt, but M&M’s (especially Peanut M&M’s) are fine.  Be careful with Peanut M&M’s around hungry adult leaders named Ken. 
SNICKERS!!!!!  Mmmmmm  ignore “chocolate” rule for this.  This is a major food group among hikers.  See warning on Peanut M&M’s-  Forget the bears- worry about adults. 
Dried Fruit 
Any kind of nuts they like 

Lunch (this is a fast stop and WE DON”T GET OUT THE STOVES)

More from the snack list 
Peanut Butter and crackers like the “Lance” brand cracker packages. 
“Wrap” style bread or bagel with PBJ (the single serving Jiff or other brands are easy).   Sandwich bread gets “smashed” in a pack. 
“Moosegoo” on a Cliff Bar- essentially peanut butter with honey and raisins put it into a sandwich bag.  To eat, bite off the corner and squeeze onto bar or bread- no mess! 
Lunch style packages of things like tuna or chicken salad and crackers 
Shelf stable sausage and hard cheese (several stores sell summer sausages the size of your thumb which work well).  Any soft cheese will spoil quickly in warm weather. 
Some variation of whatever they take to school that is fairly light and has a minimum amount of trash. 


One of the 1,000 Freeze-Dried Meals available.  Wal-Mart, Target, and Dick’s have a small selection.  REI has more choices.  Lower prices can be found on-line. 
EasyMac with sausage- prepare using bag method (EasyMac pasta is dehydrated and really doesn’t have to cook in the microwave- just pour in the hot water and allow to rehydrate) 
Ramen-(using the bag method). OK, first throw away the flavor package (please).  Add a low-sodium bullion cube and a foil package of chicken.  My kids have always added dried vegetables as well.  You absolutely need to add to Ramen to fill them up and keep them going- by itself Ramen has almost no food value and they will be hungry again in 10 minutes.  
Angel Hair pasta (generally doesn't require pre-cooking like thicker pasta).  Mr. Fields has a killer pesto recipe- use your imagination! 
Instant Rice or Couscous with foil packages of chicken, dried veggies and bullion cubes 
Instant mashed potatoes with foil package of meat and a bullion cube.  If anything needs to rehydrate, put that in first, let it sit and THEN mix in the potato flakes.  Instant potatoes will absorb the water quickly. 
Dried soup mixes (cup-a-soup, etc. with added instant rice and a foil package of chicken works well).  Some of the oriental varieties are very good 
Lipton “sides” – some of these require cooking in the pot but generally the cook times are low.   Many can also be made in a freezer bag.   Wal-Mart also has several inexpensive “house” brands 
Instant Black Beans (or other varieties)- most of these are good and flavorful, and can be added to instant brown rice for a tasty meal 

Please remember- each scout should have a small stuff bag to hold all of their food.  For backpackers- this will be your bear bag and will be hung from a tree at night.  For base campers- this will be put in the trailer and will let you find your food.

Most of all – have fun and experiment at home.  There are literally 1,000s of choices.  And remember Mr. Fields and I LOVE TO TALK ABOUT BACKPACKING- so feel free to ask!

Yours in Scouting,

Ken “DripDry”Holder and Lee “RevLee” Fields
Troop 2860

From Mr. Holder on 10/4/11:

For our October camping trip, the Troop isheaded back to the Mt. Pleasant area (near Amherst Virginia), which is one of my favorite spots in Virginia!  
We will start collecting permission slips and fees this Wednesday night (please note that you need to indicate which of two options you are selecting on the permission slip).  Mrs. Worley will not be at the meeting this week so please see me to sign up.  Cost for either option is $10 per scout or adult, and for this trip we will have a $20 maximum per family.  With Fall Colors on the way, this should be a great trip!  
Mt. Pleasant has a large meadow where the entire Troop will camp on Friday night.  The Appalachian Trail actually runs through the middle of this meadow (see the attached picture).  
On Saturday the "backpacking group" will head north on the Appalachian Trail and backcountry camp Saturday night, ending on Sunday near the top of Crabtree Falls.  Total mileage for this group will be 14-15 miles.  Mr. Holder and Mr. Fields will lead the backpacking group (shocker).  
The rest of the Troop will leave Saturday morning going South on the Appalachian Trial, looping back to the meadow on the "Old Hotel Loop" for a 5-6 mile day hike.  This group will be led by Mr. Monroe.  Thanks Mr. Monroe!
Please note:  The backpacking option is designed for scouts 13 and up who are big enough to carry all their gear and supplies.  We will consider exceptions but younger scouts who want to be considered must be approved by Mr. Wheeler, Mr. Holder, or Mr. Fields.  We also have a limit on total number who can go on the backpacking trip which needs to be managed.
"Base Camp" plans. Our goal is to provide our scouts with a "backpacking experience" without having to deal with gear- so #1- DON'T GO OUT AND BUY GEAR for this trip!  Sorry- but that is always a concern.  Your scout can use whatever equipment he has today for this trip.  We do want to encourage our scouts in base camp to "think backpacking" with what they bring.  Try to limit what you bring and pack as compactly as possible (but make sure to "be prepared" for the weather).  Try to imagine what it would be like to carry everything you are bringing for several days (weeks, months....) and decide if you really need it.  This is great practice for moving on to backpacking as you get older.
On the day hike, the base camp scouts should have a small daypack or bookbag that will allow them to carry water, snacks, lunch, rain gear, etc. They won't be carrying their tents or any other gear so a full backpack or special equipment is not required.  Every scout should have two (2) one-liter water bottles for the hike.  
Food plan for base camp-  All scouts and adults will be doing backpacking cooking, which means YOU HAVE TO BRING ALL YOUR OWN FOOD.  Everyone will be cooking on backpacking stoves or using a single large pot of boiling water to cook/rehydrate meals.  I will send out a food planning e-mail later and we will be discussing backpacking cooking next Wednesday night, so don't panic.  If you want to use the backpacking stoves you will need a small pot capable of boiling 2-3 cups of water.  This doesn't have to be anything special- whatever you have will work fine.  If you plan on using dehydrated or freeze-dried meals and want to use the "group pot" of water a cooking pot isn't required.  Pack a dinner for Friday night to eat in the car (or eat at home) and plan on bringing dinner for Saturday, breakfast for Saturday and Sunday, and a packable lunch for Saturday.   You may also want to bring a few dollars in case your driver stops for snacks on the way back on Sunday.
A gentle reminder- there aren't any "facilities" at Mt. Pleasant, so we will be reviewing backcountry "hygiene" in upcoming meetings. 
Plans for the Backpacking option- As noted above the backpacking groups will camp in the meadow with the larger group on Friday night, then head north on Saturday morning to camp in the backcountry Saturday night. We will then continue north on the AT to the top of Crabtree Falls, where the cars will (hopefully) be staged.  Bottom line, when you get out of the car on Friday night you should have everything you need until Sunday morning.  Welcome to backpacking!  We will hike 9-10 miles on Saturday and 5 on Sunday morning. 
Backpacking Gear and Food- I will send out a note later concerning equipment for backpacking but if you have questions please ask. The bottom line is that if you need it, you will be expected to bring it and carry it.  The Troop has tents, stoves, filters, backpacks etc. to lend- please let us know what you need.  Scouts will want to share equipment and tents to lower weight.  A light pack makes a happy hiker!   We will be sending out detailed instructions in a separate e-mail and will be happy to discuss and make suggestions on food and gear choices.  
All scouts who have not participated in a backpacking trip previously will need to do a "shakedown" with their full pack on the Wednesday night before the trip. This means you will come with your pack prepared to go, and one of the more experienced scouts or leaders will review with you.
More to come!
Your in Scouting,
Ken Holder

Aj Mezynski,
Oct 16, 2011, 1:58 PM
Aj Mezynski,
Oct 16, 2011, 1:38 PM