Wednesday, June 23, 2010


or, How Do You Do This?
The Pinchot Trail Chronicle, part 2

With a destination settled on, the next question to be tackled was "how exactly do you go about doing this?" It's an interesting concept to a creature of comfort like me: carry everything you need with you on your back. Food. Clothing. Shelter. All without the ability to hire a Sherpa, although that would be nice.

Our plans for tackling this 24 mile loop are fairly conservative. Day 1 will consist of an afternoon arrival at the parking area, followed by a very brief mile or mile and a half hike N/NE to a campsite on the banks of Spring Run. Pitch camp. Wait for Leo to arrive, who will be coming from work in a separate car. Have dinner. Sleep. Day 2 is about 14 miles, hiking counterclockwise around the loop to an eventual campsite along the banks of Choke Creek on the west side of the southern loop. Day 3 is the remaining 9 miles or so to complete the loop and back to the cars.

We will be out for parts of 3 days, and 2 nights. We will need dinner on day 1, all meals on day 2, and breakfast and lunch on day 3. Due to the temperatures (expected to be in the 80's), the ability to carry fresh food will be limited most likely to dinner on night 1, so we will be carrying dehydrated food for the rest of the meals, along with many Clif bars and similar snacks.

The different types of equipment and gear needed are at first glance a bit overwhelming. Tent, sleeping bag, backpack, food, water. Beyond the basics you get into a whole array of possible secondary things like a ground pad for sleeping comfort, a sleeping bag liner to protect your bag, a rain cover for your pack, rain gear, water filtration, and a stove or some way of boiling water to rehydrate the food. And then there's more. First aid considerations, personal hygiene stuff, miscellaneous gear like lightweight rope to hang food out of reach of critters.

Fortunately there are a number of good online resources (EMS, REI, backpacker magazine among others) that have good beginner advice, checklists of suggested pack contents, etc. All of which somehow manage to take the list of possible things to bring from a bit overwhelming to downright head-spinning. Dave and Leo were also useful resources, having done some of this before, and had many good suggestions.

Clearly I would need to do a little shopping, but as I told my wife - the fact that Dave and Leo have most of this stuff will make it easy for me, and I can do this first trip for most the part with minimal investment of my own.

Boy was I wrong.

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