So What am I Doing to Keep Busy Until March 20th?
Last summer, I did what will be the first seventeen days of my thru hike. I learned a couple of things on this trip. 1) My air mattress had a slow leak that I was never able to really locate or repair. I replaced it with a Big Agnes Q-Core SL which weighs significant less than my old one. Technology is grand and seems to be improving all the time! 2) I was walking toward the end of bubble of thru hikers and lashers (Long Ass Section Hikers). Every single one of them was packing a Sawyer Squeeze water filter. They weren’t using the included bag. Instead they were packing a Smart water bottle whose threads work on this filter. The Squeeze weighs 3 ounces and I bought one the day I got home. I found it astounding that while they were packing all sorts of stoves and sleeping bags in all sorts of packs, they all were using this filter. It comes with a syringe to backflush the filter. I’m planning to carry a one pint Smart bottle with the pop top for treated water and use this to backflush the filter instead and a liter bottle for untreated water.
While I’m feeling pretty good about the current state of my gear, I’m continuing to agonize about options that could shave ounces from my base weight. I’ve decided to use an alcohol stove rather than my MSR WhisperLite. I went for the recently discontinued design of the Brasslite stove. While I know that alcohol stoves are easy to make, I think this one is probably cooler than anything I would throw together. This stoves shaves 8 ounces off my base weight. My wife plans to join me for a few days in Vermont and my son will walk through the Hundred Mile Wilderness with me. I’ll switch back to the WhisperLite when they do because this BrassLite isn’t really designed to handle more than one person’s needs. I’m taking my Hennessy Hammock. For those unfamiliar with hammock camping, one of the things you have to deal with in a hammock is the fact that your weight compresses the insulation under you and the resulting cold spot can suck the heat right out of you. Many hammock hikers use an under quilt to provide the needed insulation. I was never really sold on this solution. I was drawn to hammock camping because they provide incredibly light weight, comfortable shelters. The weight of an under quilt seems to cancel out this advantage. I’ve come up with a different solution to this problem. Instead, I use a Big Agnes system bag. Big Agnes system bags go with Hennessy Hammocks like peanut butter and jelly! I’m starting out with their Zirkel. These bags and an integrated sleeve for an air mattress. When you sleep in a hammock with one these bags, the integrated sleeve keeps the air mattress under you no matter how you roll around and provides all the insulation you need. This choice allows you to sleep comfortably in shelters too. When my family joins me, I will switch to my Big Agnes Fly Creek. I put all this in an old school ULA P-2 pack that I’ve had for over ten years and probably have almost a 1000 miles on it. I was an early customer of ULA. Back then you sent your measurements to Brian Frankles, the company’s founder and he would make it for you in his garage. Love this pack and will definitely get another ULA pack when it finally wears out or more likely gets to funky to transport across state lines. If you are shopping for a pack, you should think about getting it last. Get all your gear together and take it with you when you go shopping for a pack that can hold it all. This way you can try the pack with the gear you intend to carry in it. You can’t do this with ULA packs, because they aren’t widely available at outfitters, but if you know the volume you need, it will be easy to pick the ULA you need.
Shockingly, I did make one change that actually increases my load. I bought a larger rainfly for my hammock. I’m expecting that here will be days on the trail where, I will eat at a shelter in the late afternoon and instead of just going to bed, I will walk for while. The larger rainfly will create some space to shelter my gear.
Base weight is currently nineteen pounds. Clearly if I don’t stop picking on this, it will never get well!
Am I the only one packing away half rolls of toilet paper in their resupply box?
I’m walking between seven and eight miles a day rain or shine at least five days a week. If I use rain as an excuse to ditch a workout, I would tend to do the same on the trail. No rain, no pain, no Maine! I’m wearing only clothes I anticipate taking on the trail. I want to know that I will be comfortable under any conditions I’m likely to run into on the trail. I’m not planning to walk with my pack on any of my workouts. I suspect I will get plenty of chances to do that soon enough. My goal is not to be in peak condition before I start, but rather to be able to walk six to eight hours a day at the beginning of my hike. I know from my shakedown last summer that I was easily able to do this after following a similar routine. I’m also taking pilates twice a week. I’m betting that the core strength and flexibility I’ve gained through these classes will improve my durability. I’m also learning some routines to do on the trail to keep my flexibility.
Both shots were taken by Grace, my dominatrix/pilates instructor at Body Balance Pilates. Thank you, Grace.
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