Unemployment, Gear Tweaks, and a Research Project

Image above: This is all my gear, arranged in a traditional pre-packing Crap Mandala display.

Unemployed = FUNemployed

Can’t believe it – I’m finally done with work and am going to be leaving town tomorrow! Did you know that nine years of office stuff can fit into three small boxes? True fact. Now that I’m unemployed (going on Hour 20 at the moment) I’m living it up, drinking flavored seltzer water before lunch while still wearing pajamas – wild stuff.

Going to be doing my final packing today, then heading down to Scott’s mom’s house for Christmas – then to the airport and away! Four days until I fly out.

Gear Tweaks

In the meantime, I’ve been making a bunch of last-minute tweaks to my gear, not the least of which is the new tent. As I mentioned in my last post, which I wrote just after having panic-purchased it over the internet, the tent is a Gossamer Gear The One. The day it arrived I immediately took it out to the back patio and set it up in the snow – wow, is it great! Instead of using conventional tent poles, it’s held up by two trekking poles, which are kept taut by tension on a set of stakes pegged into the ground. It’s amazingly light – just under 22 ounces including all the stakes and guy lines. It’s also incredibly spacious – since it’s 7’ long there’s plenty of room for me to stow my pack down by my feet without any crowding, and the headroom is generous too.

Gossamer Gear The One tent with fly open

Look how much room there is in here!

My Friends Gave Me Cool Stuff!

I had asked my friend Seth if he had any spare Tyvek I could use as a ground sheet under the tent, and then he totally surprised me by custom-sewing a ground sheet the exact size of my tent’s footprint out of some silnylon fabric he had! He even put tie-down attachments at the corners! Every time my butt doesn’t get wet from water seeping through my tent floor I’m going to think of Seth and how awesome he is.

Another really useful addition to my gear assortment came from my friend Cat, who hiked the AT some years back and thought (correctly, because she knows things) that I should have a bag for in-town shopping expeditions and the like. So she got me an over-the-shoulder lightweight tote, which I’m now also going to be using as my personal bag on the airplane.

Just a Little Extra Work to Keep Me Occupied

The final development in my pre-departure scheming has been some exciting stuff on the PhD research front. For my degree I’m going to be looking at human impacts and visitor experiences in protected natural areas – mostly focusing on wilderness areas managed by the US National Parks Service. But as it turns out, my advisors have a colleague at the New Zealand Department of Conservation who’s interested in having someone do a study on visitor experiences on the Te Araroa. Which just happens to be where I’m going! So now I’m going to be surveying other hikers as I walk along, collecting data I’ll be able to start working with as soon as I get back to the US. With any luck, the results will be useful for the DOC and the Te Araroa Trust. Since walking 1,800 miles is not enough work, I’m just adding dissertation research on the side. We will see how this goes once I’m wet and hungry. For now, it seems like a capital idea!

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Comments 1

  • Linda : Jan 2nd

    Hey Shari,
    So good to read all of your posts from the packing to the repacking and to learn so much about the trail and Dunedin. Dam sorry that you lost your bag but, I have seen those photos of people’s luggage ‘on vacation” on the news recently so you are in the company of many. And you took it well! The photos from the garden were amazing, almost surreal. Imagine you are on the trail now. So glad to see all this through your eyes.



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