D Minus 27 Days and Counting
It just occurred to me that I am finally down to the ‘less-than-a-month-left’ point in my hike preparation. It also occurred to me that it’s been about month since my last post, so here we are.
I had been eagerly anticipating the purchase of an Osprey Aether 70 backpack for several months and had already posted it on my Appalachian Trials gear list. Although the Aether wasn’t as light as some of the ultralight packs I’d researched, it was lighter than my Lowe Alpine and very comfortable. Plus, it was NEW! Then, I bought it. When I got it home, I found it was exactly as advertised and everything I’d hoped it would be – comfortable, lightweight and very cool.
“But, wait a second,” thought I, “where are the external pockets for my water filter, headlamp, trowel & toilet paper, first aid kit, etc?” I looked across the room to my old Lowe Alpine Contour III, which I’ve had for almost 15 years. It sat alone in the corner as if to say, “Please tell me you’re not leaving me at home for this great adventure.” I picked it up in one hand and the Aether in the other. It’s not that much heavier. The Aether 70 is 79 ounces and the Contour III is 102 ounces. That makes the Osprey almost 1-1/2 pounds lighter than the Lowe Alpine. That’s huge in ultralight backpacking circles. But, truthfully, I’ll lose more than that in my first four days of hiking, so, for me, it’s a wash. Did I mention I really like my Lowe Alpine?
So, I returned the Aether and my wife, Carolyn, sewed my AT patches onto the Contour III. It’s official and I couldn’t be happier.
As I was finalizing my food plan, I read an Appalachian Trials blog by Ronen Schatsky reflecting on John Muir’s famous quote, “Who has not felt the urge to throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence?”
I’m big on tradition. I believe traditions provide continuity through time and helps to cement a people – whether family, church or country – through trying times. So, I’m going to institute my new hiking tradition and take a loaf of hard crust bread and some tea. I will already have olive oil and may include some hard salami. My friend, Lisa, suggests German mustard for the salami. Why not? Whatever I take, the core will be hard crust bread and tea. In a small way, this connects me to the hiking pioneers in time past as well as time future. It connects me with those who look at a trail, forest or stream and, like Muir, Thoreau, and Frost, see natural beauty and opportunity for renewal from the erosion of the industrialized life.
I know from experience, those first few days of hiking are an appetite killer. I look forward to rolling into camp, setting up my tent and then breaking bread, giving thanks to God for the privilege of spending time in these beautiful woods.
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