My Second Shakedown Hike

You know what’s better than one shakedown hike in Patagonia? More shakedown hikes!

This time around, my second shakedown hike was in Joshua Tree, CA. I chose this location for my second shakedown hike because:

  1. My friend invited me to go backpacking with her 
  2. I thought this would be a great chance for me to test out my gear in warmer weather (considering Patagonia was cold, wet, and windy).

Another benefit was that this time around, I would have all the gear that I expected to bring on the Appalachian trail. So I can test the weight, volume, and overall carry of my pack.

Table of Contents

  1. Gear Exchanged Since Last Shakedown
  2. New Gear Since Last Shakedown
  3. My Experience
  4. Post Shakedown Review of Gear

Gear Exchanged Since Last Shakedown ?

  • Osprey Aura LT 65L (instead of the Mariposa 65 since I discovered in Patagonia that I’m not UL enough for GG’s backpack ? )
  • Sea to Summit Flame 15 (a lighter sleeping bag than my Heratio 15, and according to reviews, warmer as well)
  • Enlightened Equipment Torrid jacket (instead of my RAB puffy. EE is much lighter and will compress more, although I’m interested to find out it’s warmth performance)

New Gear Since Last Shakedown

  • Sleeping bag liner (Sea to summit silk. I meant to have this in Patagonia and forgot it)
  • Camp shoes (mesh water shoes I bought off Amazon)
  • UL Trowel
  • Watch (Garmin Instinct solar)
  • Bear canister (BV500. I didn’t want this size but my brother had it and lent it to me and I like free. Also, now that I’m hiking the AT instead of the PCT, I want to practice with this the whole way)

For those interested, here is My Unfiltered Stream-of-Conscious experience on my shakedown hike in Joshua Tree.

When I packed for this shakedown, I brought EVERYTHING I expect to need on the AT… including my BV500 bear canister… the dreaded, but necessary piece of equipment. That being said, I loaded everything up that I needed for the weekend into my new Osprey Aura LT 65L backpack (including the cold-weather gear that I knew I would not wear since Joshua tree was estimated to be above 90°). However, once I threw my bear canister in, I immediately became frustrated at how the bear canister took up almost the entire room in my bag. After a lot of fumbling around, I finally was able to fit all my things into my new Osprey 65 L backpack. But it was stuffed and upon putting it on my back it felt heavy. That being said, I wasn’t sure what else to do so I took it all with me. We arrived to Joshua tree Saturday morning and didn’t start hiking until 10 AM which, for the future I would not recommend since the hottest part of the day is between 10 and 5 and JT is a desert.

Notable Items from my Shakedown

  • Scratch any misconception you have about deserts. Joshua Tree is full of life! We saw gorgeous flowers along our hike and lots of wildlife such as Horny Toads, Snakes, Desert Tortoises, and many many butterflies.
  • As we hiked we stumbled upon the Samuelson Rocks. These are rocks carved with the thoughts of John Samuelson from the 1920’s. They are really fascinating and you can read more about them here.
  • We found some really gorgeous places to backcountry camp each night. Our first night we even cowboy camped (when you sleep outside your tent under the stars).
  • Shocker: The Desert is HOT
    • On our second day of hiking, to avoid the hottest part of the day, we timed it that we arrived at a Ranger Station (where we could also fill up our water) and rest in the shade
    • Trail Kindness!
      • Man came, gave us sparkling ice to drink! Insisted on 2 each and they were cold. He told us he biked across America once and he knows how scarce water can be. His daughter hiked the Camino de Santiago
  • Fun Landscapes
    • Hiking through Joshua Tree encompassed crossing long flat dry plains, climbing up and over rocky hills, and dropping down (sometimes large drops) into canyons

Stats from each day hike:

  • Day 1
    • In total we hiked for 6.5 hrs
    • 30,000+ steps
    • 11.6 miles
    • Accent: 1476ft
    • Decent: 1131 ft
    • Av speed: 1.8 mph 
  • Day 2
    • 6 hrs 55min hiking (I paused when we stopped, and sometimes forgot to restart it so all these stats are actually understatements)
    • 42,293 steps!
    • 3.107 calories
    • 15.22 miles
    • Ascent: 1866 ft
    • Descent: 1597 ft
    • Av speed: 2.2 mph
  • Day 3
    • 6.06 miles

    Post Shakedown Review of Gear

    Osprey Aura 65 LT

    Sadly, I must report that my backpack was a total and utter failure. The hip pads were so intense that they left me bruised and swollen after day one. Within the first five minutes of hiking I felt that they clinched my muscles in such a way that my thighs felt strange. I will have to return this and I’m disappointed because normally

    Sea to Summit Flame 15

    My sea to summit flame 15, sleeping bag was the opposite of my osprey backpack, buy an absolute success. The sleeping bag was super comfortable to lie inside as it is extremely fluffy, and it kept me really warm. My main concern with it after the reviews I read before buying it was that the zipper would catch on the fabric in the fabric is really thin. That being said I have not had a problem yet.

    SOLE Inserts

    My new SOLE inserts have greatly improved how sore my feet feel after a long days hike.

    Enlightened Equipment Torrid Jacket

    This jacket kept me warm as the evening got colder. I don’t know if this was a great test of it since I was a Joshua Tree? and it didn’t get extremely cold, however, the desert got down to the high 40s.

    Sea to Summit Silk Sleeping Bag Liner

    My sleeping bag liner was extremely comfortable. Sometimes my feet get tangled up sleeping inside of it inside my mummy sleeping bag however, I believe it’s doing what it supposed to do which is to keep my sleeping bag clean and add some warmth, so I’m going to be keeping it in my pack.

    Brynje Baselayer

    Even though they are made of polypropylene, my super sensitive skin still finds them itchy and when I wear them too much I get a rash. It’s a real shame because I loved them otherwise. I reached out to support and they told me that its rare for people to react to their Super Thermo Baselayers, so for others reading this, I still recommend you check them out!

    Camp Shoes

    It was definitely worth caring the camp shoes around in order to be able to take off my shoes at the end of a long hike and put on something new. One thing I will say is that these water shoes do not have any arch support and I wonder if that will bother me after a mini long days on the ATM and my feet hurt and I want support. I guess we’ll find out.


    Homemade Aluminum Windstopper and Pot Lid

    The wind stopper and pot lids I created out of aluminum foil will not work long term because folding, unfolding, and refolding is causing holes to appear in them. I plan to go home and create new, more durable light weight versions of these.

    Glasses Case

    The glasses case I was given from my eye doctor is pretty heavy in comparison to most UL items. I’ve heard that one can buy a pack of Crystal Light pitcher packs and use that as a UL glasses case. I plan to do this and update y’all on my success.

    BV500 Bear Canister

    I need to buy a smaller, lighter bear canister because the BV500 takes up all the room in my pack and the weight is too much.

    Things I want to bring on future hikes

    • Electrolytes
    • A tiny thing of Vaseline for chapped lips
    • Many small plastic bags for food/waste/random other things I cant forsee

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    Comments 3

    • Amy L Conroy : May 10th

      We always carried a Themorest pad, of course after the blue pads. Your pad looks huge. That and a bivvy sack BTW, it’s a ‘mummy bag’, not a mommy bag. That said, you go girl.

      • Dakota Churchill : May 14th

        hahaha whoops! I appreciate the catch!


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