Dogtooth Peak & Sisters Peaks – Dinkey Lakes, Sierra National Forest

All the neat things to see are pretty close on this trip, so not a lot of mileage to cover. But lots of time can be sent here exploring, rock climbing, swimming, fishing, and hiking. I organized this particular trip for all of that, with the intent of taking my smaller children and avoiding the heavy miles. Continue reading

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Butano Loop

This is a nice over-nighter off the coast north of Santa Cruz. The trip total is 11 miles with an elevation gain (and subsequently loss) of 1300 feet. Its in Butano state park in the Santa Cruz mountains, and is only about an hour drive from San Jose.


Butano State Park

Notable points are

  • lots of redwoods. I was told this park is much the same way it was a century ago
  • There is an abandoned airfield on the top of the hill above the trail camp
  • The trail camp is really nice, they even hat a pit toilet.
  • We saw lots of poison oak, so watch where you tread¬†ūüôā


For more information visit

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Accounting for elevation when backpacking

When planning for a backpacking trip, you’ll want to plan your days so they are fairly even. ¬†You should consider planning on hiking time and not miles. What this means, is you have to account for cumulative elevation gain during your hikes. For example, if you hike 2.5 mph on level and downhill, and 1.5 mph when going uphill you have to take that into consideration. Uphill is slower because it takes more energy to go uphill the same distance as level. A rough rule of thumb when you’re out in the field, is that for every 1000′ of uphill you go, add 1.5 miles to your overall distance. More accurate formulas are below, but the point is if you hike 6 miles with an elevation gain of 2500′, you’re real distance traversed in time (and energy) is closer to 10 miles.

Which comes down to …

( ( 5280 * miles ) + ( elevation_gain * 8 ) ) / 5280 == Total Miles

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Backpacking Checklist


  • Backpack
  • Backpack Rain Cover (or pancho)
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Sleeping Bag Liner
  • Therma Rest
  • 2 Quart water bottles
  • 2 Trash bags
  • Flashlight
  • Tent
  • Ziplock bags (2-3 of each large and small)
  • Water Filter
  • Compass
  • Map of area
  • Lightweight Rope
  • GPS
  • Utility knife/tool (like leatherman)
  • Cathole trowel/shovel


  • 1 Pair lightweight pants (these can be very lightweight, in the event your main pants get wet and you need to let them dry)
  • 1 Pair shorts
  • 1 lightweight T-shirt
  • 2 Pair underwear
  • 1 cotton undershirts
  • 2 Pair wool socks (or whatever your pleasure)
  • Light weight water shoes (I use these to forge deep rivers and for swimming)
  • Hat (keep out of the sun)
  • lightweight rain jacket
  • fleece or down sweater or similar to help keep warm (think layers)
  • lightweight polyester/spandex hoodie (nothing thick, its just a thin layer with a hoodie to help trap heat)
  • Long Underwear
  • 1 UV protecting lighweight long sleeve base shirts (helps protect from sun, and insects. In addition its a warming layer if needs be)
  • Beanie Cap
  • Light weight gloves (helps with stuffing on cold mornings)
  • Belt (this is a must, trying to pull your pants up when your pack pulls them down sucks)

layering and weight

The point of the above layering, is with the 5 items (long underwear, UV base layer, T-shirt, hoodie, and fleece) I keep warm to freezing temperatures. I hike with the UV base layer and the shirt in temperatures from 40 dgrs to 100 dgrs and feel fine. If it rains I throw on my rain cover and stay dry. The total weight of the clothes for me comes to 5 pounds and keeps me comfortable for 3 season backpacking which could include freezing temperatures.

Eating Gear

  • Drinking cup
  • Plate or bowl (or both)
  • Fork and spoon (or spork!)

Self Maintenence

  • Tooth brush
  • Towel (medium size towl, but keep it light!)
  • Toilete paper (aka mountain money)
  • First aid kit
  • Chap stick
  • Mole skin
  • Bug repellent
  • Hand lotion
  • Sun block SPF (30 or better)
  • Dental Floss
  • Tooth Paste
  • Soap
  • Deodorant (I guess this is optional, although your fellow hikers may object!)
  • Children’s Motrin (If you got kids with you)

Cooking Gear

All of the following can be minimized if you’re just boiling water, this tends to be a more complete set of gear needed to actually cook on the trail.

  • Stove
  • Fuel
  • Pot Set
  • Spatula (if you’re doing things like pancakes)
  • Skillet (once again, things like pancakes)
  • Matches
  • Dish Soap
  • Dish Towel
  • Sponge


I have an MSR feather light, and a coleman peak1 dual fuel. I like my MSR as its super light but it sucks for simmering. The Peak-1 however weighs one point but has awesome flame control. I prefer my Peak-1 for main use, but I have someone else carry the MSR as an lightweight emergency backup. If all you’re ever doing is boiling water for fast meals, a jetboil might be a better way to go. I tend to dehydrate meat and server hamburger helper which requires simmering and more cleanup after.


I have found that what works best for me is for white gas is 3oz of fuel per person, per day. I then throw on an extra 10% for over usages and spills. This presumes mild simmering on dinners and lightweight breakfasts (coffee, chocolate, oatmeal)

If you are using iso-butane, and are just boiling water, then 1oz of fuel per person, per day seems to be appropriate.


This is the part that can make or break your weight. Recently I have gone away from cooked meals to dehydrated meals (IE Mountain House), cold breakfast and trail snacks. Jerkey, Granola bars, cold cereal and dehydrated  milk, peanut butter, etc. My ultimate goal is to not exceed 2 pounds of food per day per person.

Misc and possibly optional

  • Snacks!
    • Granola Bars
    • Beef Jerky
    • Top Ramen
  • Camera
  • small sewing kit
  • lightweight camp stool (nice to have if your weight permits)
  • satellite phone (for extended or foul weather trips, trips with children, etc)
  • small pillow (another nice to have, if you don’t mind the weight)
  • Lightweight fish grill (Sometimes I find these in the backcountry, but its rare)
  • Lightweight fishing pole and accessories
  • Batteries
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K√∂lschThis is a very simple K√∂lsch that comes out really clean and smooth. It has been dubbed “sneaker beer” by some as it tends to sneak up and kick your ass when it looks like a very tame ale. The Original Gravity is 1.050, and the Final Gravity is 1.013. The IBU finishes off at about 28 and the ABV is 4.8. Enjoy! Continue reading

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Network scanning via Brother MFC-9840CDW on Gentoo

This is actually a pretty simple process, took me a total of 10 minutes

  1. emerge -v xsane
  2. download the appropriate rpm from Brother
  3. rpm2targz brscan3-0.2.11-4.i386.rpm
  4. tar -xvzf brscan3-0.2.11-4.i386.tar.gz -C /
  5. echo “brother3” >¬†/etc/sane.d/dll.d/brother.conf
  6. brsaneconfig3 -a name=MFC9840CDW model=MFC-9840CDW

That’s it! scanimage should pick it up now

jim@jimloco ~ $ scanimage -L
device `brother3:net1;dev0′ is a Brother MFC-9840CDW MFC9840CDW
jim@jimloco ~ $

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