Botany For Hikers

Have you ever been out hiking and thought to yourself, “Wow! I wonder what kind of berry that is. Is it edible?”. If so, then this course is for you! I studied plant biology in college and let me be the first to tell you that it’s quite interesting.

Plants are amazing things. The way they reproduce, the way they develop survival mechanism, or plans for soil invasion at that! What I find most amazing about plants, especially while out on the trail, is their ability to sustain our body’s energy reserves when necessary.

It can provide a great time on the trail, adding a complete new level of activity while hiking, actively seeking plant identifiers. It can also be lifesaving in some scenarios.

Plants That Are Useful On The Trail

Some plants that you could identify are useful. They can provide medication, food, and shelter. Here’s a list that shows some of the plants you may come across that you’d be able to use for good outcomes on the trail.

Wood Sorrel have heart shaped leaves that are edible and they even taste like sour candy!
Planting Weeds are very common in the trails and can be broken down and pressed into bug bites and scrapes to reduce inflammation.
Stinging nettle, do sting! But if you soak their leaves for about ten minutes they can provide the means to make tea!
Known for their waxy leaves and bright, blue, edible berries, the Oregon Grape can provide food on the trail. Depending on which species you get, the berries may be sweet, or tart.
Thimbleberry provide fruits that are edible.

The Bad Plants That You Would Want To Identify On Trail

Not all plants are good for you. There’s some out there on the trail that can bring about serious issues if you let them. Quick identification and knowledge about these plants in general will help you to better be prepared on the trail.

Cow Parsnip secretes an oil that will make your skin sensitive to light, running the risk of a terrible sunburn!
Snow Berries are poisonous.
White Snakeroot: poisonous.
Poison Ivy: um, name says it all.
Poison Oak: yep, poison.
Giant Hogweed: poison.
Poison Sumac: poison.
Wild Parsnip: poison.
Death Camas: Let’s take its word for it.
White Helibore: Poison.
Mountain Laurel: poison.
Oleander: poison.
Foxglove: poison.
Monkshood: poison.
White Banesberry (creepy doll eyes): poison.
Corn Cockle: poison.
Larkspur: poison.
Jimson Weed: poison.
Jack in the Pulpit: poison.
Wild Poinsettia: poison.
Pokeweed: poison.
Rosary Pea: poison.
White Snakeroot: poison.
Angels Trumpet: poison.
Deadly Nightshade: poison.
Iris: poison.
Water Hemlock: poison.
Daffodil: poison.
Elderberry: poison.
Castor Bean: poison.
Manchineel: poison.

Having Fun Identifying The Trail Flowers.

You can find yourself having a great time on the trail if you decide to embark on a mission to identify as many plants as possible. For some, you’ll find that the name is very descriptive of its looks. For identifying things like wildflowers, I suggest bringing a book along with you as a resource to utilize. Sometimes, the difference between two species are very small, such as the way the veins run in the leaves.

Butterfly Orchid
Fairy Slippers
Rime Ice
Yellow-Faced Bee on Kau Silversword
Prickly Pear Cactus
Raindrops collecting on spine leaves

Heading Off Of The Trail As A Newfound Botanist (kind of)

So now you have some information on the plants you may come across on trails throughout the United States. Hopefully this article will help someone identify a plant at a time of need. If you know of some amazing plants that should be included with this list, please feel free to list them in the comments section below!

Thank you for reading!

This post was written by Evan
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I Asked AI To Take Us On A Hiking Journey

And the artificial intelligence delivered.


Which One Do You Like Best?

Let me know in the comments below. Some of the artwork might feature people with an extra arm or leg, but I think overall the system did a great job of navigating multiple worlds. Thanks for taking this weekend journey with HykLyt!

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What Are Trekking Poles Really Used For?

Trekking poles are a hiking accessory that helps hikers with their stability and rhythm while adjusting to different terrain. Typically sold as a pair, these hike accessories can help tone muscle groups in your arms while used in tandem and provide core support while walking. These are different than regular walking sticks because of the way they can provide propulsion, which is why you see cross-country skiers using them all of the time.

Even when used as a single unit (above), trekking poles are different than walking sticks. The ends of a trekking pole provide attachment options that can help overcome different types of terrain as well.

Trekking poles are not meant to hold up full body weight, rather, they are intended to support the body’s stability during movement. Similar to the mechanics found in a stair set’s railing, trek poles are a “lean-to” tool for mobility. These can be great for balancing while overcoming technical obstacles.

Looking to gain a leaner physique by using trekking poles? Great news! The Cooper Institute showed that Nordic walking increased energy expenditure and oxygen consumption by about 20% compared to walking without poles.

What is Nordic walking? It’s the act of walking cross-country with the aid of long poles. –Oxford

What Are Trekking Poles Made Out Of?

Leki is a popular trekking pole brand and has produced many aluminum and carbon fiber options to choose from. Poles with natural cork handles provide a very comfortable grip.

Trekking poles are usually made out of two primary materials, aluminum and carbon fiber. Where both are lightweight, the latter is the lightest. However, carbon fiber is known to crack when exposed to rough use, whereas aluminum is much more resilient. As an ultralight enthusiast, I’d go with the carbon fiber. For a more budget friendly pack out, aluminum would be the way to go.

Some hikers actually dislike using carbon fiber because it’s known to break. If you go the carbon fiber route be prepared to take good care of your poles. Many of todays hiking bags and backpacking setups have straps included to hold your trek poles. 

How To Size Your Trekking Poles

Your pole’s handles should reach your palms when your arms are bent in a 90 degree angle while standing on a flat surface. This allows for balanced angling on steep inclines.

You should hold your arm outward to a 90 degree angle, and, with palm facing to the ground, the mid-handle of your trekking pole should reach your hand.

There are trekking poles available on the market that are adjustable and some that are collapsible as well. It’s worth mentioning that the collapsible ones help not to snag tree branches when they’re stowed and not in use.

The History Of Trekking Poles

The use of trekking poles dates to cross-country Scandinavian skiing. Also known as “Nordic skiing”. Skiers would utilize these poles to launch themselves forward, over expansive ski runs, and over passes.

Trekking Pole Attachments

There are many different attachments to choose from. Most attachments are specifically designed for certain ground coverage.

There are multiple attachments available but here I’ll list a few examples:

Mud baskets: designed for mud, beaches, sand and very grassy trails.

Snow baskets: designed specifically for soft ground textures such as snow or very light meadow grass.

Rubber Tips: are able to be used on any terrain, and provide a better “grip”-like traction while hiking.

Should You Invest In Trekking Poles?

I think trekking poles are just as important as any other piece of gear in your pack. That being said, it was also the last piece of gear I worried about getting. That probably isn’t the safest advice, but at the time I felt pretty confident with my stability and reaction while on trails. Once you start hiking with trekking poles, you’ll notice a big difference. They’re not for everyone, but everyone should at least give them a try. A good pair will set you back about $100-$200 depending on what brand and what material you choose. Well worth the price when you take your safety into consideration.

This post was written by Evan
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Hiking The Columbia River Gorge Via Eagle Creek Trail

The signature trailhead for the Columbia River Gorge is the Eagle Creek Trail. This trail is famous for its lush forest scenery and a hiking path that takes you through a waterfall. Yes, through a waterfall! Many trails offer views of the falls but nothing quite like this. Walking through what is known as “Tunnel Falls” gives you the exciting sounds of rushing water, the breathtaking views from the elevation gain, and the elemental feel that Oregon has to offer.

The Tunnel Falls exit, a hike through a waterfall!

Speaking of the elements, be sure to check the trail conditions before planning this hike. The trail is located in an area where icy weather is very possible, and, as a polar opposite, forest fires. You can see the trail conditions in the link below:

Eagle Creek Pass Weather Conditions

This trail is at risk of natural storms, high amounts of ice buildup, and forest fires, so it’s best to check the closures notifications as well. You may check the trail closure announcements here:

National Park Service Notice of Trail Closures and Conditions: Eagle Creek

The Trail

Hiking the Eagle Creek trail can be a very short trip of just 4.2 miles if you’re only doing the quick version of the hike. If you are wanting a quick, but moderate-difficulty day hike, this is your place to go. However, many people travel to Oregon to see the Columbia River Gorge because the the trip can be extended to a multi-day backpacking hike of 26.6 miles.

This is what brings me here. I currently live in the Midwest, so I wouldn’t be itching to travel to a hike that’s not worth the time. Believe me when I say, if you’re into thru-hiking and want a good training area, or if you simply want a trail that’s not packed with people, and it also offers the capability to setup camp in the wilderness, then Eagle Creek will not let you down.

How To Get There

If you’ve read my other post about planning a backpacking trip, then you’d know I highly suggest booking an Airbnb or hotel stay within 3 hours from your destination. In the morning it’ll be much easier to drive that final bit if you’ve travelled by car. Backpacking can be one of those things that make for less sleep depending on what type of environment you end up dealing with when you’re spending the night with Mother Nature. So, personally, I like to start off on the right foot *queue applause for corny joke*.

The bridges on this trail offer amazing views.

If you travel by plane. Portland is where you’ll be flying into anyhow, so I still offer the same perspective. Sometimes, my suggestion would change based on driving or flying, but, this is not one of those times.

For example: if driving to the Rocky Mountains, my wife and I found a nice little cabin in Stratton and also the city of Castle Rock was quite beautiful. If flying, then Denver is the place to stay.

I don’t get any commission for this, I just want my readers to know that there are options out there. I’ve stayed in some Airbnbs that were really nice, and I’ve stayed in some that were very sketchy. So, if you don’t mind spending a little extra, sometimes a nice hotel is a better pick in my personal opinion. Here’s a quick glance at what the prices look like per night in Portland, OR on Airbnb:

Airbnb stays are available in the Portland area if you’re interested in visiting while planning your hike through Eagle Creek.
Eagle Creek trailhead is a 46 minute drive from Portland. If it’s your first time in Oregon, I highly suggest taking in the urban scenery the city has to offer either before or after your hike.

Once you’ve planned your stay, you can get to Eagle Creek via Uber, Lyft, Shuttle, or driving. There is a parking fee if you park at the trailhead. There is also an Eagle Creek campsite that you can utilize for a fee. If you have the National Park Pass, then it’s free to enter the campsite, but you’ll still need to pay your parking fee per car. Do not attempt to park along the roadside or you will be towed.

Inside the Tunnel Falls pass.

How To Complete The Hike

You’ve got options:

It’s 4 miles to Punchbowl Falls

It’s 6.5 miles to High Bridge

It’s 12 miles to Tunnel Falls

It’s 26.6 miles to Wahtum Lake

The thing about The Columbia River Gorge is that waterfalls are concentrated in this area. There is a five mile stretch that contains 13 waterfalls. The highest waterfall available will be Twister Falls and it rises to 140 feet. So, if you’re looking for amazing waterfalls to hike to, this is one of the places to be!

Don’t venture too far off of trail without placing markers, the woods in Oregon are dense and can begin to “blend” (looking the same the further you travel, risking navigation confusion).

Completing this hike will require a couple of days so be prepared to setup camp. Wilderness campsites are not pre-plotted here, so if you hike past the 12 mile mark you’ll likely be able to find an area to yourself. There are crowds at the trailhead if you go during “busy hours” but as you hike further out they start to thin out until you find yourself only running into other hikers every now and then. Wilderness camping truly requires you to be prepared so if you need additional information on this you can read my blog post about planning your first backpacking trip.

Reminder: ice crystals form easily in the humidity out here. If the temperatures are expected to drop below freezing while you’re out on the trail, be prepared for it! 

For safety, there are cables to hold onto on the high-drop off areas. It’s rainy and muddy in the Pacific Northwest, so watch your step! Trekking poles may get in the way of hanging onto the cable system when needed. A hiking pole may be more trail-friendly in this particular setting.

There are six campsites throughout the trail. You can find the main one here, along with links to the additional, smaller campgrounds available.

Side note: this is an out and back trail.
You’ll start to see dynamic views as you climb. The best views are always from the top!

What Gear To Take

I am very fond of traveling light. That includes when I’m backpacking. I don’t just travel light, I travel ultralight. It’s really the best way to backpack and hike. You can conserve energy, make it much further between rest areas, and need for less water.

I have a guide on ultralight equipment. Click here to read the post.

Eagle Creek Park Maps

Lastly, I want to post a couple of trail maps for you. These maps are just of the public park areas but are useful when you’re in the tourist-area.

Photo credit: Eagle Creek Park Foundation
Photo credit: Eagle Creek Park Foundation

Before closing out this post I want to mention the AllTrails app has the capability to download routes before going. This allows you to pull up your location and see where you need to go to get back to the trail if you become lost, even without cell phone reception.


If you’re looking for a beautiful escape into the wild, Eagle Creek can definitely offer you an amazing experience.

Hopefully, this blog article has helped you with getting more info on Eagle Creek to better plan your stay and help you to have an enjoyable hiking experience.

This Guide Was Written By Evan Erwin

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The Best Backpacking Guide – Rocky Mountain Edition

“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.”

John Muir
Heading back to the “Bierstadt Lake” trailhead.

A Beautiful Introduction

The sun is rising as you wake to the sound of elk calls just outside of your tent. Birds are singing in the trees as they watch for their early grub, and the soothing sounds of a fire crackle next to you while you warm up some morning coffee. You hear the ‘snap’ of a twig behind you as one of the most curious elk walks closer to your tent. The two of you exchange a moment of wonder. The aroma of coffee fills the air around you while the elk silently walks away to graze.

On the “Trail Ridge” of the Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Getting There

Instead of flying in for this trip, we decided to road-trip. When I travel by vehicle, I like to stay a night at a different location and rest up before arriving to my destination. That way, I feel refreshed and ready to explore as soon as I get there. I recommend staying somewhere within three hours of arrival. For our visit to the RMNP, my wife and I chose a small cabin with thousands of acres of solitude in Stratton, CO before finalizing our drive. This cabin was an old-fashioned farm house, very cozy, and surprisingly budget-friendly. It’s really only for a two-person stay (because it’s small), but if you’re looking for some time away from the rat-race, or the busy city life, this is your place. If you’d like to know more about how you can book this cabin, let me know in the comments.

The perfect little farmhouse getaway.
Lightning danced in the clouds all night for us in Stratton! This looks photoshopped, it’s not!

You’re going to need reservations to enter the park. If you need help “Navigating the National Park’s Permits, Timed-Entry System, and Transportation”, click here!

In the morning, we completed the last 3 1/2 hours to Estes Park, CO (just outside of the national park). Mornings call for breakfast, so this is probably a good time to give you some insider tips on meal prep.

Meal-Prep of Champions

I don’t want to brag here, but I kind of have an amazing chef as my trail partner (my wife). She spent a lot of time planning an entire week of breakfast, lunch, dinner, after-hike snacks, and even electrolyte reserves. So, when it comes to fuel, I was never running on empty. The good news is that I get to share this meal prep plan with you, pro-hiker!

First, you’re going to need a cooler that seals well. We used an Igloo brand. So long as you’re replacing your ice each day, the cooler should keep these meals over the course of a week. Be sure to eat it in the order listed, though.

Overnight oats, yogurt, blueberries, and granola. Add peanut butter or almond butter to make it sweet!


Cooking by the campfire
The best order to eat your foods will be color-coded. This should ensure you make it through your trip without having foods spoil. 

Color for foods to eat first.

Color for foods to eat second.

Color for foods to eat third.

Breakfast Menu

1) Over night oats with yogurt, almond butter, blueberries and granola

2) Eggs, bacon, orange juice, toast and jelly (cooked on a Coleman propane burner stove)

3) Bagels w/ cream cheese

Lunch or Brunch Menu

1) Egg salad sandwiches w/ chips

2) Tuna sandwiches and chips

Snack Menu

1) Baby bell peppers with cream chz and everything bagel seasoning

2) Cherries

3) Bananas

4) Strawberries and chocolate

5) Graham crackers, marshmallows, hersheys

6) High Sugar Snacks (Luna, Cliff, Etc.)

Dinner Menu

1) Meatballs with rice

2) Broccoli sausage rice

3) Salmon w/ white rice and broccoli

4) Shepherds pie

5) Ramen & Neguri

6) Red beans and rice

Hydration and Electrolytes

1) Water

2) Gatorade powder

For this, we grabbed a five gallon water and put it in the car to keep filling our Osprey bladders with. Then, anytime we needed mixing water for the powder we had it available.

We used the Osprey bladders, they have a better mouthpiece in my personal opinion.

Utensils You’ll Need


• Large Frying pan

• Spatula

• Plastic and metal forks

• Spoons

• Knife

• Can opener

• Stove burner

• Small Propane x2

• Lighter

• Tongs

Cleaning Materials

• Wet ones

• Trash bags

• Laundry detergent

• Dish soap

For the Table

• Table cloth

• Folding chairs

• Folding table

• Paper plates

• Plates

• Paper Towels

For the Fire

• Fire starter sticks

• Lighter fluid

• Firewood

• Lighter

For Storage

• Ice chest

• Frozen water bottles

• Tupperware and foil pack meals and ingredients

Another option to cook with is the MSR burner.

Brunch, Anyone?

Though, our meal prep was amazing, there were a few places we wanted to try in Estes Park.
Seasoned Bistro in Estes Park for brunch.
Brunch Dessert!

The Places To Stay

We ended up booking three different sites during the week, which gave us the chance to experience different areas of the park.
Glacier Basin Campground
Glacier Basin

If you enter the park, setup your tent, and decide you’re ready for a hike right away (like I did), then you’ll want to check out the Glacier Basin campground first. This is what we did and Glacier Basin has access to the main drive. From the drive, you can get to the entryways to all of the campsites. Take the drive slowly, there’s tons of great scenery along the way.

Bierstadt Lake Hike Path
At Bierstadt Lake

From Glacier Basin, you can take the main corridor road down to the Glacier Basin Trailhead. It’s a nice trail, though heavily travelled. If you want to hike with less tourism vibe and more of the “get out there” feel, I recommend the trail pictures above instead. It’s the trailhead to Bierstadt Lake. It’s less travelled, gets you into that wilderness feel and if you go after 5pm on a weekday it’s unlikely you’ll run into more than two or three people. At the top, is one of the nicest mountain lakes in the park (in my opinion). It looks like a painting you’d want to hang on a wall. The clouds in the Rockies can really look airbrushed.

Aspenglen Campground
Aspenglen Campground
16 B-Loop Walk To

Aspenglen is such a great campground, but it’s even better if you get site 16 on B loop. 16B-loop is a “walk to” campsite. So, you park your car next to someone else’s car at 15B-loop, but then you walk a little into the brush to find your campsite (instead of it being near the road). This gave us a ton of privacy at our campsite, and the only thing to our north/west was the trees leading into the mountains. I highly recommend Aspenglen for a couple of reasons. The first being that the restroom is centrally located and not crowded. The next would be that everyone at this campsite has a little space in between their camp sites.

Timber Creek Campground
Elk are so peaceful! Those brown boxes are bear resistant food storage units.

Where Aspenglen had space for campsites, Timber Creek made up the difference by packing as many people as possible into a small section. Where Aspenglen had a centrally located restroom that wasn’t crowded, Timber Creek had quite a walk to the bathroom and it was crowded; bc sometimes a line. I was sure I wasn’t going to recommend this site to anyone, but then, I woke up the following morning with wildlife surrounding us. Elk everywhere! They were peacefully grazing through the campsites. I don’t know if this is the norm for Timber Creek, but if it is, then yes, I would recommend the site to camp at.

If you’d rather stay outside of the park, such as in cabins or hotels, Estes Park has some wonderful view cabins.
There are cabins lining the river that can be rented out in Estes Park. Kick back and relax on the back porch while watching the river roar by.

Hygiene Items To Bring

To each their own, but here are some suggested items to bring:

• 8 Towels & 2 small towels

• 2 Small towels

• Body Soap & Loofah

• Shampoo & Conditioner

• Facewash

• Flossers & Mouthwash

• Toothbrush & Toothpaste

• Biosilk

• Deodorant

• Makeup if you need it

• Chapstick

• Hair ties

• Hair brush

• Head band

• Ear plugs

• Shower caddies

• Period cup

• Visine

• Standing pee device

• Lotion

• Razer

• Tweezers

• Thread

Sunsets in the Rockies

Laundry & Showers

Village Laundry, Estes Park

There’s a place called Village Laundry in Estes Park that offers $7 showers as well. Estes Park is super close to the national park entrance so we drove to Village Laundry when we needed to freshen up and/or run a wash on some clothes. Also, if they ask whether you want to use some of their towels or use your own, there’s no up-charge for you using theirs. This means you can dry off after your shower and still keep your personal towels clean for later use.

More Delicious Food in Estes Park

Ed’s Cantina was a lot of, ‘Yum!’
Everything we tried here was so good! I doubt you can go wrong selecting from this menu.
From Ed’s Cantina
From Ed’s Cantina
Cinnamon’s Bakery, Estes Park

Fun City

Fun City slide. Warning, your wife may try to hold your arm while you both go down the slide at different speeds, be ready to be ejected.
So Fun!

Estes Park offers a lot of tourist attractions, but this is the main one we went to and it was really fun to go down the slide. Behind the slide you’ll find a mini golf course and inflatable bumper water boats. If you have kids, this is a good place to visit. If you’re adults and still like to act like kids, this is a good place to visit.

Clothing You’ll Want To Bring

The clothing can really make or break the trip.

• Shower shoes

• 8 Outfits

• Pajamas

• Hiking pants

• Warm clothes

• Dress

• Camp shoes

• Day shoes

• Socks

• Bras

• Underwear

• Swimwear

Comfort Items That Can Make Your Stay Even Better

Laughter provides the most comfort!

• Pillows

• Blankets

• Speakers

• Chargers for phones & watches

• 2 Solar lamps

• Welcome mat (to wipe shoes on)

• Tent mat

• Solar string lights

• Picnic screen popup

• Ultralight rainfly for hammock

• Ultralight blanket

• Hatchet

• Toolkit

• Tarp

Neat path on the way to connect to Dream Lake


Medical Kit Items

• Medical Kit, Ultralight

• Hydrocortisone Cream

• Snake Bite Kit

• Bear Spray

• Medicine

Twin Sisters Peak

To send off our third day in the mountain we decided to do a “full send”. We decided to climb the Twin Sisters Peak. The first “difficult” rated hike of The Rocky Mountain National Park for us. Talk about a journey. To start, the elevation gain is 13,300 ft., and the air gets thin enough to starve out the trees. The tree line stops and the final climb is all rocks until you reach the very top, where there is a small patch of meadow grass. We lie there for a bit while warming up to the sunlight, but it was short lived as the 4th, and final, thunderstorm brewed overhead. We knew that was our queue to start heading down the mountain and so, we did.

ENO jungle hammocks really make for a good rest on the way back down the Mountain.
Once you’re high enough up, it’s just rocks from there to summit.
Spectacular View.
We made it!


That wraps up my blog post about what it’s like to hike in The Rocky Mountain National Park and How To Plan The Trip. I look forward to posting more quality content for you, pro-hiker! Please, remember to follow the blog and like the post if you enjoyed the read.

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The Most Dangerous Trails to Hike – Mount Rainier Edition

Mt. Rainier

“If your heart is a volcano, how shall you expect flowers to bloom?”

Khalil Gibran

What an awe-inspiring view while walking up to Mt. Rainier. Wildflowers, evergreens, and snow-capped summits create an oil-painting inspiration that truly leaves an impression of beauty, but don’t let any of that fool you, it’s a facade, this hike has a dark secret, and I’m here to let you in on it.

If you’re planning to summit Mt. Rainier, I sure hope you’ve done your homework. But if you haven’t and you just plan to cram-study before taking the trip, then let me fill you in on the details.

Mt. Rainier has claimed over 400 lives, making it Americas Deadliest Hike. 

While you start your climb, you’ll need to be watching for and prepared for extreme weather changes that happen very quickly. Hypothermia is one of the main killers in Mt. Rainier; though, other reports are due to broken bones (falling rocks, or the hiker falling) and burial by avalanche.

Being a high summit mountain, storms will spawn very quickly, and when they do, it’s best to find a safe space and wait it out, because these storms don’t bring your typical lightning tagalong… they bring bursts of lighting. Remember your lightning safety guidelines when the mountain is active!

An electrical storm over Mt. Rainier.

Have you ever been climbing a mountain and suddenly (hopefully) woke up on the ground? This might be you if you attempt Rainier. It’s known for falling rocks, and these rocks don’t fall softly. When they break loose they create a tumbling down the mountainside, bouncing back and forth off of rock-sides. So, even if you feel like you’re out of the way, it’s possible you’re not.

Okay. I got it. rocks may fall. Once it’s passed by, you’re safe, right?


Well, the thing is, there’s also an unpredictable volcano inside of Mt. Rainier. The greatest hazard the mountain has to offer is the lahars, which is also known as volcanic mudflow or debris flow. Areas inundated with mudflow are now densely populated and contain important infrastructure, including the highways. Lahars look and behave like flowing concrete, and they destroy or bury most manmade structures in their path. Lahars are spontaneous, so there’s no safe suggestion on when to go. Icebergs break apart and slide into the valley-base of the volcano, waiting to be released into a debris flow at another time.

The good news, Mt. Rainier hasn’t fully erupted since 1450CE

Not having erupted since 1450CE could deliver a false sense of hope. It’s actually not just Americas deadliest hike.

Due to its high probability of eruption in the near future, Mt. Rainier is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world!

It’s expected to erupt anytime now. It’s even on the “Decade Volcano” list, which is a list comprised of 16 volcanoes identified as being worthy of a particular study in light of their large, destructive eruptions and their close proximity to densely populated areas.

Mt. Rainier can put on some really amazing shows.

From Wiki: “On the DC route, from Paradise to Camp Muir, it takes about 5 hours at a leisurely pace. Then from Muir to the summit, using the Disappointment Cleaver (I mean, even the route names are gloomy!) route, the climb can take anywhere from 6 to 8 hours, depending on weather and your level of fitness.”

All of these things taken into consideration, I think it’s safe to say that Mt. Rainier is not to be taken lightly. This was the first of a series of “Deadliest Hikes” by HykLyt, I hope you enjoyed the read, Pro-Hikers!

The only real question: “Who’s going with me?”

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Ultralight Backpacking, Saving Ounces & Increasing Costs

We’re out there trying to walk on the clouds like Takayuki.

“When there’s snow on the ground, I like to pretend I’m walking on clouds.”

Takayuki Ikkaku
Dream, Emerald, Nymph Lake, RMNP

Backpacking, in many ways, is the ultimate adventure. It exposes you to everything Mother Nature has to offer. The elements don’t take your comfort into consideration, and storms can brew seemingly out of nowhere. Harsh conditions require the right amount of preparation, and at times, a lighter footstep.

After your first few day-hikes or overnights, you may realize that all of that gear, neatly packed away into your pack of choice, gets heavy. When everything in your pack weighs 1lb or more, you quickly find yourself with a 26+lb setup.

Some hikers, especially thru-hikers, find that saving ounces enhances their experience on the trails. When your hike involves multiple overnights, and long distance traveling, it’s best to keep as much weight off of your feet as possible.

On any given day, a thru-hiker may complete 14 to 20 miles hiked!

For anyone interested in saving ounces, this post is for you. I will use base equipment (similar to many hikers’ starter gear), and compare its weight and cost to some of the top-of-the-line equipment that’s available. It’ll read a bit more like an analysis than my other articles, but I feel it will truly benefit new hikers who are interested in learning about how to upgrade their gear, while downgrading the weight they have to carry.

Cutting Your Ounces & Cost Comparison

Looking through your kit, how much of your gear can you leave behind?

It’s a loaded question, really. How much of your gear can you leave behind? Let’s be honest, we don’t want to leave any of our gear behind. Our gear keeps us safe, warm, and dry.

So why would you not take all of it?

Well, you can, in a lighter capacity. This is one of my favorite subjects when it comes to gearing. Upgrading!

I’ll break down the gear into a list format and then find ultralight-weight solutions to each piece individually:

At just 1lb 15.7oz, the Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest is optimal for ultralight backpacking.

One of the best ways to reduce weight from your pack is by reducing the pack weight itself. The bag I use on regular hikes is the Osprey Atmos AG 50, which weighs in at 4.5lbs.

4.5 pounds is not considered lightweight, but I love the bag and how well thought out it is for multi-day trips. The hyperlite bag pictured above would be my pick for serious elevation.

Backpack frames are one of the majority’s of your weight with new setups. Exchanging the Osprey Atmos 50 ($300.00) with the Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Southwest ($355.00) would cost $55.00 extra and reduce weight by 2.5lbs.

Difference estimate = $55.00, saves 2.5lbs

Sleeping Bag
Sea to Summit’s Ultralight Spark Sleeping Bag is my favorite bag by Sea to Summit.

I use a Hyke & Byke branded sleeping bag for usual outings. The brand makes a good quality bag, that’s durable, and very budget friendly. A Hyke & Byke “Quandary Down Sleeping Bag” weighs 2.24lbs whereas the Sea to Summit “Spark” weighs just 13.6 ounces. As for the pricing difference, the Hyke & Byke costs $155.00, whereas the Sea to Summit costs $359.00.

The cost starts adding up when seeking a fully ultralight setup, but if you do it, you’ll most likely never want to go back.

Difference estimate = $204.00, saves 0.5lbs

Patagonia Houdini

Rain jackets add close to a pound to your kit. The Patagonia “Torrentshell 3L”, for example, weighs in at 13.9 ounces; however, the Patagonia “Houdini” full-zip rain jacket sits at 3.7 ounces. This saves you about 3/4 a pound.

The great thing about ultralight rain jackets is in this department you can actually save money to go with ultralight options. That’s because many rain jackets are made with heavier materials and therefore require more output cost to create. The “Torrentshell 3L” costs $149.00 whilst the “Houdini” only runs $99.00. Remember though, with ultralight jackets there are more chances for it not to hold up in a heavy storm.

I suggest carrying both types of jackets. Though, that adds a pound. 

Difference estimate = -$50.00, saves 0.75lb

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2

Tents are usually your heaviest piece of equipment in your kit. In this example I’ll use a popular REI tent, the REI “Passage 2”. The weight for it is 5lb 10oz. This is a great tent if you don’t want to fork over the additional cost for an ultralight, but compared to the “Ultamid 2” (pictured above), it is quite heavy.

The cost difference is much higher in tent selections; with the REI “Passage 2” costing $169.00 compared to the HMG “Ultamid 2” costing $825.00.

This is a deal breaking budget for many, and if that’s the case, I say pick an in between.

The NEMO Aurora 3P is the best tent I’ve every had and the price is in between the other two tents I’ve discussed, coming in at $349.00.

Tents have a lot of different options. What materials were used? How many people does it sleep? Are they designed simply for survival or for comfort? All of these questions play into the weight of the tent. So be mindful when selecting.

For me, “the lighter the better”, but also that means a minimalistic campsite.

Difference estimate = $656.00, saves 4lbs

“MallowMe” Camp Set

Odolands cookware set runs just $34.99 but weighs 1lb. This is actually lighter weight compared to other ultralight sets.

The MSR lightweight cook-set weighs 1lb 12oz. Also the MSR costs $85.00. So, I’ll just estimate on this one because there are plenty of cooking sets to choose from on the market. Let’s just go with a $0.00 change and reduces weight by 0.5lb.

Difference estimate = $0.00, saves 0.5lbs

Medical Equipment
I’ve had to break into this kit before, it has plenty of emergency items stored inside.

Medical equipment is another piece of equipment that will vary. With a lot of different ones being lightweight and around the same pricing, you can’t really go wrong here. I prefer the one pictured above because it comes in a water-tight bag, keeping your emergency equipment dry.

For this, let’s zero out the difference altogether and come to a final tally for all gear changes.

Difference estimate = $0.00, 0.0lb

Sometimes, the best views are while you’re still climbing .

The final count for change of cost is $865.00 and it reduces your backpacking weight by 7.8lbs! Of course, these numbers vary greatly based on what gear you actually have; but, my hope is that this article provides a little insight into how to get your pack under 16lbs when fully packed out.

Ultralight = Ultra-minimalist.

If you’re like me and you want to reduce your weight even further, you can start browsing ultralight versions of all of your gear, including utensils, rainflys, hammocks, and more. Every little bit counts when you’re thru-hiking and have 1600 miles to complete (or more). Some, would rather save the money and learn to live with the extra weight in their bag, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Thanks for reading, pro-hikers.

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