The Loop Newspaper - Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

By Steve White
contributing writer 

More tales with my pal

Life with Pepe

 

March 13, 2021

Jack Sann

Steve White and Pepe.

I usually fall asleep early – in the chair, of course. When I wake up, I go straight to bed after putting Pepe out for a stretch. I'm fairly certain that this virus we've been dealing with for over a year will not end soon. Vaccinations will help, of course, but vaccinating everyone will take considerable time.

So, what to do with my time? I'm thinking that overnight hiking and car camping may give me an outlet. This activity will allow us an opportunity to get away without traveling very far, and still maintain personal and social separation from others. Hence, I'm putting stuff together for a different type of a traveling Life With Pepe.

I've been experimenting with dehydrating various food items. Then hydrating the dried food for a meal. Some have not been so good (tofu) – much like with canned and frozen foods, fresh is better! Others are excellent. I like oatmeal for breakfast; snacks for the day and lunch; and rice and pasta dishes for a comforting hot dinner. Very easy and simple camping and backpacking meals.

I've learned that I must keep the backpack weight down in order to be comfortable on a hike. A gallon of water weights over eight pounds. A filled backpack weighing 10 pounds, plus the weight of a tent and a sleeping bag is my goal - then there's food and water. That will quickly escalate a backpack to 25 or 30 pounds for a two to four day, with overnights, hike. A lot of weight to carry on my old frame.

With wildfires that were constantly raging, open fires of any kind are prohibited in many State and National Forests. Some areas even ban alcohol stoves, a favorite for minimalist hikers, however, they are easily tipped over. Several major forest fires have been started by a carelessly attended or extinguished campfire. Hence, I've purchased a canister stove. The stove weighs only a few ounces. Then there is the pressurized fuel canister, a cooking pot for heating meals, utensils for meal preparation and eating. With clothing for three-seasons, and other creature comforts, a 10-pound pack may be wishful thinking. I have thought about "cold camping," however I love a morning cup of hot joe, a hot dinner and an evening Sleepy Time tea.

So, I bought a two-man backpacking tent. More room for keeping stuff out of the weather. Also, room for Pepe without him being right on top of me. I've been "practice camping" with the tent set up in the master bedroom and cooking camp meals on the new stove. And it's a good thing I've been doing that! Finding a sleeping pad, for example, has resulted in the purchase of several different types of pads. Fortunately they are not too expensive. I realize millions of people throughout the world sleep on nothing more than a rice or wheat straw mat placed directly on the ground or on the floor of a shelter – but I've spent most of my life in a bed with a mattress. Even in the Navy our "rack" was a canvas stretched over a pipe frame with a two-inch thick horsehair mattress.

Pepe and I started testing our new sleeping arrangement with a noon day nap in the tent. And a few nights for a couple of hours before waking up, uncomfortable, stiff and sore. Then moving to a real bed. The sleeping bag is down filled, zero degree, light weight. I like to sleep warm and I know from experience with traditional cotton sleeping bags – usually rated at about 40 degrees – I would be cold, even during a 50 degree night, a common night temperature during the West Coast summers.

Pepe seems to be sleeping just fine on top of the outside clothing that I wear when we're on a hike. He's off the ground, though not as comfortable as sleeping on the living room couch.

On a hike he wears a special dog hiking vest with side pockets. He carries his daily meal of dry food, his special Service Dog Certification papers and our paperwork for the planned hike. That paperwork includes a map, fire permit and the Federal and State Permits for us to be in the area.

I expect the PCT will be popular, and very crowded, this year. Combined with the 2021 planned hikes, most "through hikers" that had planned to hike "the trail" in 2020 postponed their dream until this year. They will pass through the local area early in the season. That will help free up the trails for Pepe and I during the warm weather. Meanwhile we are now hiking various areas in the nearby Mojave Desert.

 
 

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