My super woodsy sister provided a lot of guidance when helping me prepare for my trip. She is extremely knowledable about the outdoors and recommended this hike and a lot of the gear I took with me. Thanks again, Katie! 💜

A backpacker hiking across a hillside. The sun casts a golden light on the trees.

Ingalls Creek Trail to Lake Ingalls

The trailhead requires a northwest forest pass.

This was approximately 30 miles over a period of three days in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. We decided to not hike all the way to Lake Ingalls despite being incredibly close because of the steep elevation with all of our gear (~5000ft). It is also a lot colder at that elevation during this time of year. According to a ranger I ran into after this hike, there is a faster and easier trail to Lake Ingalls but it was not the purpose of the hike for me.

The first part of the trail was quite harsh in the full sun. Would recommend starting this trail early in the day. There is also risk of rattlesnakes in the warmer months because it is the ideal habitat for them: warm rocks near a body of water where their prey (rodents) frequent. Luckily, we did not encounter any rattlesnakes.

However, we did encounter a black bear on the third day! It was eating berries off of a bush on the trail. We announced ourselves with a, “hey bear!” and it scampered into the woods. It was rather cute, but I felt nervous because I have never seen a bear so close before. My companion did have bear spray in her backpack just in case, but black bears are not known to be aggressive.

Much of the trail follows Ingalls Creek, which is very convenient for retrieving water and provides a pleasant breeze. There are also leftover campsites scattered along the way, which takes a lot of the guesswork out of finding a suitable place to camp. There was a burn ban in place because in late summer everything is so dry, which was fine because we had the stove kit and a fuel can (no need to make a fire pit). There were several fallen trees across the trail. I saw many dead trees rattling in the wind in parts, so it’s only natural they would regularly break apart and fall down the sloped landscape. A lot of trees had scorch marks.

Overall, it was a beautiful hike. Physically challenging but it felt good to be outside and active after spending so much time indoors due to the international pandemic of Coronavirus. It was very easy to socially distance, only running into two groups of 2-3 hikers.

On my previous hikes, my right knee would usually start acting up around mile 6 but after getting trekking poles per my doctor’s advice I can now easily hike twice the distance before my knee starts aching. Taking ibuprofen (and the occasional CBD gummy 😉) helped.

I loved this trip, even though it was challenging and exhausting. I would love to go on some more multi-day camping trips in the future.

A tree lined river

Gear

A list of (almost) everything I brought with me. This is by no means a comprehensive list and everyone personalizes their gear to their own tastes. I love and am a member at REI so a lot of these items I got from there, but there are certainly plenty of other outdoorsy shops to check out.

Hiker with trekking poles hiking amongst ferns and underbrush.

Core Stuff

Item Description
Backpack I ended up going with a 60 gallon Osprey backpack based on fit.
Water Reservoir A bladder that holds 2 liters of water that fits nicely inside of my backpack. Despite drinking (what I felt was) constantly, I was still very dehydrated after this trip.
Trekking Poles When I started hiking I would see folks with poles all of the time and I always felt like it looked a bit silly. My right knee would always start aching badly around mile 6, and when I visited my doctor she recommended that I start using adjustable trekking poles so I can change the height when on uneven terrain. A game changer! Using poles has easily doubled the amount of time I can hike.
Water Filter Extremely necessary and efficient way to gather drinkable water. Simply scoop water from a river or lake and hang from a tree to refill your reservoir.
Sleeping Bag I had a very cozy sleeping bag that was also a very cool purple and mint green color scheme, but unfortunately it was stolen out of my car at the time of writing this post so I can’t share any specific details. RIP cute sleeping bag.
Sleeping Pad Lightweight and compact foam pad that I strapped on the outside of my backpack. Even inside of a tent, it’s important to have a layer between your sleeping bag and the ground for warmth.
Air Pad Optional for most folks, but I suffer from back pain especially when camping so I bring two sleeping pads. 🤦‍♀️ I know some hikers will roll their eyes, but it is absolutely worth the extra ~6 ounces to me.
Stove Kit Super lightweight 10-piece cookset. 2-liter pot, strainer pot lid, 2 deep bowls, 2 insulated mugs, 2 folding sporks, and a stovetop all nest together. Love this set, use it all the time.
Fuel Small isobutan-propane canister for cooking. Stovetop from stove kit screws on the top.
Towel I bought this towel on a whim and now I can’t imagine going on a camping trip without one. Not only super absorbant for drying off if you go swimming/get wet, it is also great for laying on the ground as a clean(ish) surface for meal prep.
Sandals BEST SANDALS EVER! I absolutely love these sandals. While, you don’t need to get this exact pair (they are pricy) I highly recommend bringing sandals on a camping trip. I like the velcro straps on these because I can hang them off the outside of my backpack which keeps the inside of my pack clean. They are great for crossing rivers and it is really great being able to take off your boots at camp after a long day of hiking.
Hiking Boots Super personal choice, would definitely recommend trying on different brands before making a decision.
Bear Spray Pricy and we (luckily) did not have to use it. Would hate to be caught without it.

Other Stuff

Item Description
Meals I grabbed a couple packets of dehydrated meals on a whim because I did not feel like prepping and oh my gosh they are so good! I am a big fan of AlpineAire Foods. I also tried GOOD TO-GO but a lot of their meals were too spicy for me. Super quick meals to make: pour hot water into bag, wait ~10mins, eat! They have a 5+ year shelf life. Made with real ingredients, super delicious. After a really long day of hiking, a good meal restored my spirits.
Snacks So important to bring “good feelings” snacks, meaning snacks that improve your morale! My sister really likes fruit roll-ups, for example. A big mistake is to bring “health food” snacks that do not spark joy. Nothing worse than being tired on the trail and forcing yourself to eat some compressed lawn clippings for an energy boost. 😞 I like gummy bears and peanut butter m&ms (even though they melted, haha!)
Socks My favorite socks are darn tough.
Underwear I’m convinced that Patagonia makes the best women’s underwear.
Menstrual cup Accidentally schedule your camping trip on your period like me? My first foray into reusable period products because I did not want to carry the trash of used tampons around with me. 😳 Love this idea in concept, but the reality was tricky. Kept struggling with the cup leaking after a short period (haha) of time. I think it takes some trial and error to figure out the correct placement? I am not sure, but if I were to go on a long-term camping trip I would look into getting an IUD to (almost) stop my period entirely because it’s a pain in the ass.
Reusable pads Can be washed but they take a long time to dry. (Overnight)
Wash Small bottle of concentrated wash soap that works for clothing and dishes. Leave no trace
Trowel Lightweight spade for burying waste. Leave no trace
Ibuprofen Extremely helpful for managing aches and pains while the body builds more stamina.
Hat and sunglasses Sun off the face and out of the eyes.

Sparkling sunlight hitting the surface of a river.

Packing

Geo’s Advice:

  • [Your backpack] will only carry weight properly if you adjust and pack it properly. Proper packing is simple: anything below the hip belt should be light. Anything above the hip belt and below your shoulder blades should be medium to heavy. Anything above your shoulder blades should be light.

  • Just like flying, exceeding the weight limit will cost you. 60 liter packs are designed to carry 35-40 pounds comfortably. 70 liter packs are designed to carry 40-45 pounds comfortably. Exceed these weights and you will more than feel it on your shoulders and back!

Videos I found helpful about packing gear in a backpack:

Smooth stones cut through the surface of the river cast in shade.

Backpack fit

My back was measured to find the right frame size for my backpack. I was recommended an Osprey backpack because I have a fairly straight back, while my companion was recommended a Gregory backpack because she has more of a curve in her back.

The following was information I was given from Geo at the REI in Portland, OR. Highly recommend paying him a visit if you are in the area and shopping for a backpack.


Geo’s Advice:

The preferred order is:

  1. Connect and tighten your hip belt, making sure the buckle is centered and the belt tight on your hipbone (not your waist) so no movement occurs. Remember: movement is abrasion, abrasion is pain.

  2. Pull in the hip cinch (strap) at the back of the hip belt, tight - again to restrict movement of the pack. Note: If you have an ultralight pack, there may not be a hip cinch.

  3. Pull your shoulder straps (harness) towards your back to tighten, do not pull straight down. The shoulder strap should be flush with (on, not off) your shoulder and firm. Do Not Over Tighten! This will only cause your pack to come off your hips (bones) and onto your waist (muscle), placing weight on your shoulders and back.

  4. At the top of your shoulder harness is the load lifter strap (the second most mis-adjusted strap). Only take up the slack in it. Make it taught, not tight! Over tightening will only shift weight to your shoulders and cut off blood flow to your arms!

  5. Lastly, slide or move the sternum strap (the first most mis-adjusted strap) to about one inch above the top of your armpit. Loosen the strap all the way out, connect the buckle, then tighten only as much as will pull your harness away from your armpit - basically take up the slack. This will keep your shoulder straps in place and keep them from pulling out, thereby digging into your arm. The sternum strap should not be overly tight or across your chest!


What I would do differently

  • 💧 DRINK MORE WATER! Oh my gosh, my lips were so dry after this trip. I felt like I was drinking so much water, but it clearly was not enough. My lips were peeling for over a week after this trip. Bring chapstick, stay hydrated!

  • Car battery jump starter. Somehow, my car battery died while we were out. Luckily, a ranger came by and gave us a jump start but we could have been stranded for a long time if we were even further remote.

  • 🔋 Solar battery: for charging phones.

  • 👁️ (nice to have) Lasik eye surgery. My eyesight is horrible and if I were to go on more frequent/longer camping trips it would be best to not have to worry about my glasses breaking. If my glasses were to break I would have a very difficult time making my way back home.

/amy

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