“Overloaded” Backpack, Outdated Gear, and Trail Names
As I rolled into Mollies Ridge Shelter in the Great Smoky Mountains on the evening of Saturday, April 12, 2014, I was pleasantly greeted by a bunch of NOBO thru-hikers all chatting, cooking dinner and getting their gear set up in the shelter for the night. We all started talking about our hikes, the freezing cold weather, and, you know, just basic hiker chat.
My Evening Shelter Routine
When I arrive to a shelter for the evening I like to begin emptying my pack so I can strategically stake out the perfect sleeping spot. I started inflating my Therm-a-Rest Prolite Women’s sleeping pad, took my Moonstone sleeping bag out of its compression sack and fluffed my Therm-a-Rest pillow. I reached in for my food bag that I believe held three days worth of food, plus my MSR stove and MSR 8 oz. IsoPro fuel canister and my Toaks 1100ml titanium pot. Next was the stuff sack full of winter gear and sleeping clothes.
Somebody’s Watching Me
I was catching glimpses of the thru-hikers kind of looking in amazement at all the “stuff” I was unloading from my pack. Finally, one of them jokingly asked, “What else you got in there?!” Well, I’m not the bashful or ashamed sort, so I gladly emptied the contents of my Gregory Amber 60 Liter pack all over the shelter floor for everyone to see.
Mary Poppins Magic Bag
This included Gordini Goretex fleece lined mittens, microspikes, a North Face puffy jacket, a Patagonia fleece pullover, fleece lined long-sleeve shirt, fleece lined leggings, rain gear (jacket and pants), Katadyn pump water filter, North Face 1-person tent, and an Anker phone charger. They are all smiling and laughing after each item gets pulled out of the pack (Seriously think back to the two kids in Mary Poppins as she was pulling endless items out of her magic travel bag. This was the look on each of their faces. Ha! Priceless!). No gear shame here!
Beginning of an Era (was it really the beginning though?!)
The thru-hikers asked if I had a trail name yet and at this point in my AT section hikes many names had been thrown out there for me, but none of them ever stuck. They all made the ultimate decision that my trail name would be “Overload” and it has been with me since and I doubt I can EVER live that name down. “Overload” is really the perfect description of me in my everyday life as well as for life on the trail.
Serendipitous Trail Moments
It never ceases to amaze me how these random hikers, none of whom I had ever met before in my life, were able to peg me so perfectly with this trail name. So, I can’t help but wonder did they choose this name for me or was this trail name just waiting on me to come along to attach itself to? It seems meant to be to me, but you’d have to be into those sort of “serendipitous” happenstances to believe something like that, but, of course, I’m one of those types of people!
**JUST SO YOU KNOW**
I have updated some of my gear or just gotten rid of it all together to lighten my load. I am aware that my pack is on the heavy side (anywhere from 35-45 lbs.) and some of those items that infamous night were superfluous, but, hey…it works for me, and stay tuned as to why I carry this so-called “heavy” pack. There is reasoning behind it. (I’m not just complete nonsense!)
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