Trying Not to Panic
February 1 is getting close. I am trying not to panic.
Some days it’s, “It’s OK, you’ve got this.” Other days, it’s, “What???”
I Can Do This
I have done enough of this sort of thing to know that I really do not know what I am getting myself into. I know there will be glorious days and miserable days. It goes with the territory. I know the only way to find out for sure is to do it.
Physically I know I can do it, barring injury or illness. I am vaxed and boosted and being careful. But even at the tender age of seventy-one, it is the mind game where the battle will be won or lost. I plan to win this one. I have read Appalachian Trials and done the exercises. I will do so again before the end of the month.
I was out for a test walk in Durand Eastman Park Saturday afternoon, with pack. The hips were complaining that I have not done enough of this late. They settled down once I got my stride on the trails. I neglected to wear my microspikes. That was a mistake. With the temperature in the mid-20s F and bright sunshine, the trail got slick in high-traffic areas. The microspikes are worth every ounce. Being a Rochester, New York boy, I am respectful of the Georgia winter at altitude but not particularly concerned. I was warm and comfy Saturday and I was not wearing all clothes I will have with me. Wool and down are your friends.
Gear Old and New, a Sampling
Over the years I have collected a lot of hiking and camping gear. I have bought other new gear for the trip. I am still picking through the piles, thinking about what will work best and weigh least. I bought a zero-degree bag and an inflatable mattress. If I can sleep warm and dry I can put up with pretty much everything else. My tent is a lightweight two-person tent from REI, where I have spent far too much money in the 45 years I have been a member. The tent is basically a tarp with floor and bug netting. It weighs in at just over two pounds, considerably less than my old Sierra Designs Glacier Tent. I changed my firstborn’s diapers in that tent camped on the snow out behind the airfield at Nome, Alaska. That was a long time ago.
I am not a fancy cook on the trail. In the interest of weight and simplicity I am setting aside my ancient and beloved Svea 123 gas stove and going with an alcohol stove, and maybe two. I have a lovely little stove from Garage Grown Gear and a fine beer can stove I made in a workshop several years ago. Both work well. I don’t know which I prefer. Since the stove weight is trivial I expect I will take both. My cooking pot is from a four-person cook set that was given to us as a wedding present forty-nine years ago! The pot did not have a cover so I made one from a coffee can bottom. I will likely take a tea kettle as well, this one from a different cook set I bought years ago. Food resupply with be in stores along the way. I have no interest in setting up complicated logistics.
Which pack I take will depend on whether I can fit all the winter bulk into the lovely light pack I got at REI. Otherwise, it will be my exterior frame pack. It weighs a bit more, but more room and places to secure things. It is an old friend.
In the past, I have worn leather boots when the weather turned cold and snowy. I wore them for my snowshoe tromping around Letchworth State Park last winter. Now I am wearing my Obōz hiking shoes, with gaiters, for my winter hiking to find out whether they will keep my feet warm enough. My current pair is showing some wear; I bought another pair from REI. “I love these Obōz. I want another pair just like them.”
Keeping My Head On Straight
Keeping my head warm is easy enough. The photograph shows my wonderful Genesee Beer fuzzy hat. I love it.
Keeping the head pointed in the right direction isn’t too hard either. I have loved topographic maps for even longer than I have loved computers, and that goes back a long way. Having been a computer and network geek for most of my seventy-one years, I am doing this trip as low-tech as possible. I will have my National Geographic maps and AWOL’s Appalachian Guide. The phone will be turned off most of the time to conserve battery life. I do hope to find a lightweight Bluetooth keyboard for blogging purposes. I am a ten-fingered typist with a keyboard and an inefficient one-fingered typist without.
Keeping my head on straight is more complicated. I will have my Bible and prayer book and a couple other small books. I will have a journal and pencil. I will do a full book post later on.
See you on the trail!
Enough rambling for now. I will do the obligatory gear photo and blog before I leave. Expect photographs and more rambling.
The photograph below is from Letchworth State Park late last summer. I used my c1950 Argus C3 “Brick” and Ilford HP5 Plus film.
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