How to do everything wrong on your second solo backpacking trip

Some other hikers leaving their emotional signature for me
Why did they leave blueberries on this cairn??
Target range is 100–150. Diabetics have serious trouble outside the gray band, but non-diabetics will feel something too.

What went well

  • $30 Walmart tent was great! I even brought it through airport security in my carry-on with no issues.
  • Puffy coat saved me from freezing to death.
  • Self-support worked!
  • No bugs at all.
  • Good pacing. Never felt the urge to stop hiking due to fatigue.
  • Packed light. Didn’t bring any food and only 300 ml of water. Didn’t miss it.
  • With all my clothes and jacket on, I was comfortable in my 19F-rated sleeping bag, but it took a while to warm up. Low blood sugar was a confounding variable.
  • National forests are the best! Not having a limited number of permits reduces the friction of planning a trip like this to the point where I’d consider doing it a lot more often.

What to improve

  • Bring gloves.
  • Save enough time to talk to the ranger and get suggestions for specific camp areas rather than a 20 mile trail.
  • Go earlier; find a campsite before nightfall.
  • Self-support earlier.
  • Wear boots instead of Nike Flyknits. It’s better not to notice every rock you’re stepping on.




Software engineer, tinkerer, aspiring mad scientist

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Ben Mann

Ben Mann

Software engineer, tinkerer, aspiring mad scientist

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