Gear Accumulation: Digging Through the Closet
Departure Month is Here!
Despite starting this blog, putting in my notice at work, and telling everyone I’ve ever met my thru-hiking plans in hopes of building accountability, my upcoming excursion has seemed fake to me. Driving down Broadway from Yonkers to the Bronx, drinking On-The-Go Dunkin Donuts, dragging myself into a fluorescent abyss – the non-stop cycle of a dream on pause is painted with lights turning from yellow to red, and soundtracked by the faint wail of sirens. The forest has seemed infinitely unattainable.
Last night, though, my cohort and I flipped our 2017 tassels and became a little smarter. A cog fell out of the mechanized wheel that has been my daily grind, and I’m one step closer to the five million steps of AT thru-hiking ridiculousness. This morning, I realized that it’s June.
I’m So Excited…
I (and my boyfriend – more about that soon) leave for Maine in less than 4 weeks. This trip IS happening, and it’s happening in the not-so-distant future. Now that grad school is done and my day job is a test factory until the end of the month, I finally have some time to start packing, meal prepping, and planning.
Gear Accumulation: The Good
My packing is simplified by the fact that I have some of the gear already, and I knew I could assemble a semblance of a kit before rushing off to REI and getting all-new everything. Last summer, I hiked and camped around the base of Mont Blanc on the eponymous 10-day trek. I purchased a pack, a lightweight one-person tent, a 3-season sleeping bag, and trekking poles. I also already had the most stylish Teva sandals in the entire universe from a trip in 2010.
In 2015, I bought hiking boots. Although some ultralight enthusiasts advocate for a thin layer of Stop and Shop Saran Wrap around the foot for a next-to-nothing sole covering that gets you as close to the trail as possible, I don’t mind the boots. These are heavier than trail runners (1 lb. 14 oz for the pair) but they’re lighter than other boots and I’ve already broken them in.
Additionally, being a runner in New York means I have a bin full of synthetic athletic apparel for all seasons. Some of it’s stained, and some of it’s ugly, but I’m going to mix and match my clothes from what I already have. For an outer layer, I’m bringing a Uniqlo ultra-light down jacket.
What Else Does One Need?
I ordered the AWOL SOBO AT 2017 Guidebook a while ago using points, which was exciting and free. The spork, compass, carabiner and aluminum cup/pot were gifts that my family was kind enough to give me last year when I walked the TMB. The emergency blanket – which I might use as a tent footprint, might keep as it is intended, or might ditch before starting – was from a race I ran last year.
Packing is Easy, but Ice Cream I’ll Miss
Being a teacher means carrying a lot of shit everywhere. Papers (probably ungraded), IEPs, books for work, books for class, books for pleasure, gym clothes, lunch, water bottles, coffee mug, snacks for kids, an extra sweater…I have scars in my forearms from totebags yanking down and cutting off my circulation. As I swap out high-waisted, flammable skirts for low-slung, waterproof bottoms, there’s exhilaration everywhere: I can’t wait to listen to rain on taut tent fabric, peeking out at stars.
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