Ask Tessie: What should I bring backpacking in Desolation Wilderness? |

Ask Tessie: What should I bring backpacking in Desolation Wilderness?

Dear Tessie,

I’m headed off on my first backpacking trip ever next week, and I’m in need of some advice on what I should bring with me into Desolation Wilderness. Any help would be much appreciated.


I Need To Get Away From Society, Like Right Now

Two words: boxed wine. You do not want glass clanking around in your pack as you’re trekking through the wilderness, but there is nothing quite like sippin’ on a glass of pinot next to an alpine lake under the stars. I should know.

Now that we’ve got the important part squared away, let’s talk about the rookie mistakes you really need to try to avoid.

First off, don’t pack a bunch of crap. I know you want to look like Reese Witherspoon in “Wild” as you trek through the mountains with the wind majestically blowing through your hair, but you will seriously regret packing six pairs of Lululemon pants.

While we’re on the topic of excess, leave that seven-room suite of a tent at home and go talk to the bros at Sports LTD for a sleek nap pad recommendation (seriously, those dudes know what they’re talking about). But when you’re there do NOT get diverted from the task at hand and get sucked into the gear section. Before you know it you’ll be walking out with a $500 satellite GPS, new skis, and hiking booties for your dog.

After reading every issue of Sunset Magazine for the last two years, you likely have high aspirations for cooking up some sweet potato-chickpea-turmeric chili over a fire in the backcountry. In theory this sounds like a great idea, but let’s be real … the chances of that working out as a newbie to backpacking are slim, so stock up on some dehydrated grub just in case. There is nothing worse than being hangry and stuck in the middle of nowhere because you just made a disgusting, albeit healthy, meal.

Also, we both know those gluten-free granola bars you pretend to like taste like cardboard. But despite their similarity to woodchips, the bears will still eat them so do not keep them in your tent as a midnight snack. Get a rope and sling those unsatisfying calories over a tree branch out of reach.

And finally, for the love of Justin Timberlake, don’t peer over a ledge with your backpack on, unless you’re ready for a tumble and a fat bill from Search and Rescue.

Don’t be dumb out there!

Tahoe Tessie is a humorous take on the standard advice column. It is produced by the Tribune staff, and it is not meant to be taken literally. Have a question you want to ask Tessie? Send it to

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