Thursday, June 24, 2010

Packing the Bag

or, All This Goes in That?
The Pinchot Trail Chronicle, part 4

Having become the new best friend of both EMS and REI, with a bone thrown to Dick's Sporting Goods every now and then, I have accumulated quite a bunch of gear. It didn't seem that impressive a pile of stuff when I was buying it in bits and pieces, but all laid out together on the floor of my home office, I had a momentary surge of panic when looking at the pile and then looking at the backpack it was theoretically going to fit into.

Taking some time to group things together, put them into stuff sacks, arrange them in a logical order and then test fit them into the pack proved one thing. I either needed to edit a little bit, buy a bigger pack, or hire that Sherpa after all.

Back to the drawing board. Most of the bigger items are non-negotiable, but the small items really add up in space and in weight. There were some items that might be nice to have but not necessary. Out went a bunch of extra clothing. As Leo succinctly put it - you are hiking 24 miles in the moderate heat and you are going to stink. At the end of the day, put on your second set of clothes, rinse the first set in the creek. Repeat the next day. One set of clothes on. One spare. A camp piece or two. No more than that. No extra food, just the meals and snacks you plan to need. There is no chance of being lost in the arctic wilderness for days on end when hiking in Pennsylvania in June a few miles from roads. If you get that desperately hungry, drive to a restaurant.

That helped a lot, but there was more that could be done. Every list of what to bring has sunscreen on it. I don't wear sunscreen at the pool, so my chances of needing it in the woods were pretty slim. Out goes the sunscreen. Leo is bringing bug spray. Out goes that. Dave is bringing his GPS, so mine stays home. We need one small first aid kit, but are unlikely to be triaging a bus load of people after an epic disaster, so that can be thinned down some. The Swiss army knife stays, the heavy little multi tool goes. Headlamp stays, heavy little flashlight goes. Camp towel goes. I can air dry, or stay wet.

At this point, I felt good for a second go at packing the bag, and amazingly enough, everything fits beautifully, and with room to spare.

Now that everything was in the bag, it raised the inevitable question "so how much does all this weigh?" Weighing myself without the pack, and then with it, it weighs 26 pounds without water. Water weighs 8.5 pounds per gallon, and I will be carrying a maximum of 2.5 liters, so call it 6 more pounds. That will put my fully loaded pack at about 32 pounds. Not ultralight by any means, but not bad. And it doesn't feel that heavy. The weight distribution of the highly padded hip belts and shoulder straps does feel good.

I have to admit that getting to this point feels a bit anticlimactic. I have nothing left to do but ponder the possibilities of excessive heat, thunderstorms, blisters, sore back, snakes, and every other nasty thing an idle mind can conjure up. But I am very excited, and I can't wait to hit the trail.

1 comment:

  1. I've always wanted to get into longer hiking like this. I'll be following your exploits. Good luck.