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.

Old Backpack

Good old Lowe Alpine

Good old Lowe Alpine

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.

New Tradition

John Muir - sans bag of bread

John Muir – sans sack of bread

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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Comments 5

  • Gunslinger : Feb 19th

    Love that idea!! Best wishes with your hike! Maybe I will see you out there…..

    • Terry Gandy : Mar 2nd

      Hey, Gunslinger. Thanks and I hope to see you on the Trail!

  • Kimmy Morris : Feb 22nd

    Love this, Terry! I’ll be taking my 4 lb Jansport along. It doesn’t have as many years on it as yours does, but it has been on every hiking trip I’ve ever taken. Without it, I don’t know that I ever would have even considered hiking. So, until it falls apart and moves onto a happier place, my pack won’t be staying home for this adventure. Maybe in the same way that Samson’s power was in his hair, we too have power in our special backpacks!

    Good luck & here’s to making new traditions to go with the old!

    • Terry Gandy : Mar 2nd

      Thanks, Kimmy. Happy Trails!!

  • Diane : Apr 6th

    Looking to do part of the trail this summer. Interested to read about your adventures and the handiwork you’ll see of God’s creation.


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