Read about my complete Uinta Highline Trail experience, including prep, gear, logistics, and post-hike impressions.
I’ve really dialed in my gear list over the past couple of years. I might take or leave a few things depending on the weather, but my kit doesn’t change much from trip to trip. The only things I didn’t end up needing on my John Muir Trail hike in 2017 were my first-aid kit and my compass. The first-aid kit is less than 2 ounces (including my sleeping pad patch kit), so it’s better to bring it than risk not having it. And I always take a contour map, so it makes sense to bring the compass in case disaster strikes and my phone stops working. Plus, my compass doubles as a signal mirror in the event of an emergency. The only things I didn’t take and needed were my sleeping pad straps. I won’t make that mistake again at high altitude.
Oddly enough, I’m actually taking more gear on this trip. I’m hiking with a companion and we’re only doing 12 miles per day. That will leave plenty of time to hang around our campsite each night. I’m not used to that, but I’m looking forward to it. I usually obsess about weight, but I figure that not having to bring a 41-ounce bear canister gives me some wiggle room to add a few creature comforts.
The main things I’ve added are the fly fishing rod and the solar panel. I’ve already written about the solar panel. The Tenkara fly fishing rod weighs a mere 2.9 ounces. Let’s call it 3 ounces with a few leech flies. I’m used to getting up around dawn and walking until sunset. On this trip, I’ll have downtime. I want to take advantage of the remote mountain streams and lakes that are stocked with trout and other sportfish.
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When I backpack alone, I’ve come to rely on the freezer bag cooking method. That means my pot exclusively boils water. Cooking in a titanium pot on a gas burner is already a challenge, and that’s usually just rice or noodle dishes. I imagine that cooking fresh fish would be a recipe for disaster.
If I decide that I want to eat the fish I catch, I’ll also have to bring a collapsable fillet knife, a diffuser, and a tiny teflon pan. I’ve always found lightweight camping pots and pans to be total garbage. They heat unevenly, the food sticks, and they’re tough to clean in the wild. The cheapest non-stick pan from your local grocery store will cook better than anything you’ll find at REI other than cast-iron. And heavy cast-iron cookware is only good for car camping.
I love the idea of eating fresh fish, but I think it’s a task more suitable for car camping than backpacking. I haven’t had time to test new cooking methods and I’m not sure I want to carry the extra gear. I’ll report back later.
In terms of gear, I didn’t want for anything. There were a few things I carried that I never touched, but those are items like my compass and first-aid kit that I would never consider leaving at home. You can watch a video or read daily recaps of my trip here: Uinta Highline Trail.
You can read about my experience with the Tenkara fly fishing system here: UHT—Fishing the lakes of the High Unitas.
I’ll admit that I was jealous of my girlfriend’s inflatable pillow. In subsequent overnighters I’ve done, I’ve carried it with me. Sure, it’s 2.88 unnecessary ounces, but it’s so much more comfortable than my stuff sack. And it doesn’t smell like dirty socks.
I should have bought a new Sawyer Squeeze for my gravity-fed water filtration system before the trip, but it worked. It was just very slow. No amount of soaking or backflushing seems to make my filter flow like it used to. I also managed to get a tiny puncture in my Platypus bladder, but it’s near the handle and didn’t interfere with the system. Still, I’ll need to buy a new one. Honestly, the bladder is pretty opaque these days, so maybe it’s been time to replace it for a while. It’s kind of like windshield wiper blades; you notice it’s an issue when you need it and then you promptly forget about it until the next time it’s an issue.