My friend A sent me some photos from 1999. In them, I was wearing the same long underwear top, the same fleece vest, and the same snowshoes I now reach for, 14 years later. Do we really need all this gear?
Probably not. I would probably have just as good a PCT section hike this summer with my very first tent, the pup variety that I had to string between two trees, my First Need water filter, on the cutting edge back then, and my Coleman stove that probably weighed at least two pounds full. My first backpack was a red REI behemoth that accompanied me all over the Sierras. I don't remember complaining that about its weight or how it hung like a sack from my shoulders.
The wilderness was the point, not the gear.
How spoiled we have become.
I've been combing through the gear I plan to use for my Washington PCT hike, and I've decided on the following:
The tent: My JMT friend D. was shocked to learn that I now had two one person tents. But I can't help it. I eyed her tent with envy during our hike last summer for two reasons: It has a side entrance (no more crawling in head first onto your sleeping bag) and the rain fly is made of a material that dries super fast. When you pack up a wet tent every morning, this makes a huge difference. I bought one when I got back and this is the one I will take. It's a little heavier than my Big Agnes Fly Creek, but worth it.
The filter: Trying to save weight, I hauled Aqua Mira last summer. You basically do a chemistry experiment with your water, mixing two little bottles with the water you filter. Big downside, you have to wait thirty minutes to drink and it's hard to do with a big container like a water bladder. I'll still use it for shorter hikes, but I'm going to steal my husband's small MSR filter. I've also heard good things about Sawyer squeeze filters, but I'm not going to go out and buy another system, even though it is tempting...
The pack: Since I don't have to carry a bear canister, I'm going with a smaller backpack. My Granite Gear Vapor Ki is 2.5 pounds, about half a pound less than the Deuter I carried for my JMT hike.
The footwear: Love my boots, didn't love the blisters. 90% of the people we saw last summer were hiking in shoes. I have a pair of Merrell Siren Sports that I plan to wear along with my short gaiters.
Food: Because my only resupply is after 100 miles (about a week), I will have to think carefully about what to take. After only a few days the sight of protein bars made me want to vomit. Likewise Kashi trail bars. I liked the cold breakfast combo of peanut/almond butter, raisins and tortillas, however. That will be staying.
|One of these might taste good, but several on a long hike? Barf!|
Stove: I got a Pocket Rocket last year and I really like it. Yes, it's a canister, which is a big landfill problem, but it uses very little fuel and is one of the smallest stoves around. I don't want to fiddle with big fuel bottles and my Dragonfly, so this is the stove of choice.
Clothes: I wore everything I brought last year, but in the interest of space and weight I am going to lose the tank top (too much sunscreen used when wearing one), the extra pair of shorts and the long sleeve shirt. That leaves me with one hiking outfit, long underwear, a puffy, rain gear and a fleece, which should be plenty, though somewhat aromatic by trip end. (I hope I can figure out how to bring extra clothes to the end. Maybe I can mail myself some to Manning Park).
Obviously I am not channeling John Muir on this hike, but I am trying to go lighter than ever before yet stay comfortable. It's a challenge to see how close I can step to that edge.
|Old school trekking pole!|