Returning to the Trail: Gear Overview

It’s been nearly two months since I stopped hiking, but I’m finally getting back on the trail!! My flight leaves Oregon tonight and lands at LaGuardia tomorrow morning. I’m leapfrogging over ~1200 miles and starting north from Bear Mountain State Park Wednesday morning. My current plan is to hike north to Katahdin, then head back to Clingman’s Dome and hike north to Bear Mountain. We’ll see how that all shakes out.

I revised my gear list a bit and finally got around to finishing my spreadsheet.

The Big Three:  Total weight 9.84 lbs, total cost $1,217.14.

big three gearI could lose the strap pocket, lid, extra stakes, stake bag & guyline pretty easily, but I like the convenience. I should get a summer-weight quilt to replace the sleeping bag, so that’s on the horizon. I recognize it’s ridiculous to carry both an inflatable sleeping pad and a closed cell pad, but after having a deflation event at 2am on an extremely cold night, I decided NEVER AGAIN. I should probably just switch to a hammock at this point, but that’s one piece of gear I’d rather experiment with on shorter trips in case it turns out I actually hate it. If I got rid of the extra gear and subbed out the sleeping bag, I could cut ~1.5 lbs.

Food & water:  Total weight 12.1 oz, total cost $130.50.

food and water.png

I have a great stove and pot system from Trail Designs – the Sidewinder Ti-Tri with Zelph modified StarLyte – but I find cooking on the trail to be an onerous and unrewarding chore. I probably don’t need the OPSak, but it makes me feel better and keeps my food bag cleaner. I carry the Sawyer because I’ve gotten ill from drinking bad water before and would prefer to never repeat the experience.

Protip: If you’re at a mosque in Uzbekistan and someone offers you unfiltered water, they probably won’t be that offended if you just say no.

I carry the cleaning plunger because I don’t want to be the person who always asks to borrow a piece of gear they’re too lazy to carry themselves. There are lighter utensil options out there, but I don’t really want to buy something else; the last time I tried to use disposable cutlery, I crushed it in my bag and it snapped.

The hydration tube is vital because I get irrationally angry if I have to take off my pack to get a drink of water, and I hate having a bottle on my shoulder strap.

Miscellaneous gear:  Total weight 2.48 lbs, total cost $414.70

Misc Gear finalOh, where to begin. I could probably get rid of 2/3 of this stuff with no problem, but we pack for our fears and I’m easily frightened! I also like to inconvenience myself as little as possible.

  • I like peeing into a jar in the middle of the night and being able to dig a cathole with my trowel.
  • I like being able to jot down notes.
  • I like having a little shopping bag I can use to carry around my valuables when I’m in town or to load up with shopping if I’m walking back to a hostel from the supermarket.
  • love getting my AT passport stamped.

I use everything I carry, and I’m not quite ready to give anything up just yet.

First Aid / Repairs / Fem Hygiene Kit: Total weight 4.9 oz, total cost ~$53.01

first aid.png

This all fits into a quart-size Ziploc bag. Again, most of this could be abandoned with no appreciable decline in the overall quality of my life, but I feel better having it readily available.

Electronics: Total weight 4.16 lbs (or, tellingly, 66.6 oz), total cost $1,159.14

electronics.pngObviously, every single thing on this list could be eliminated. I have no excuse.

Clothing carried:           Total weight 2.58 lbs, total cost $202.10
Clothing/items worn:  Total weight 5.44 lb., total cost $525.50

clothes worn and carriedClothing carried could (and arguably should) be adjusted. I’d like to swap out the rain jacket for a Packa, and I should probably dump the fleece entirely for the next ~two months or, at the very least, exchange it for my down jacket. I just really like fleece, and it’s nice not to freeze in overly-air-conditioned buildings. I like having separate sleeping clothes and prefer not to wear my rain gear while doing laundry (doubly difficult now that I have jettisoned my rain pants for summer).

As for what I wear, I like having the option to wear long pants or shorts depending on trail conditions. I prefer bike shorts to anti-chafing creams or powders. I’ve been wearing liner socks with all my hiking boots and shoes for the last few years and can count the number of blisters I’ve gotten on one hand. The hiking poles are amazing; I could go lighter with carbon fiber 2-section poles, but they’re too long to fit in my usual suitcase, and I’m clumsy enough that I prefer not to risk snapping a carbon fiber pole.

Precious Personal Hygiene Supplies

I have found that, without some basic hygiene supplies, I spend most of my hiking time praying for death’s sweet embrace. I can really only weigh the toothbrush (0.2 oz) and the single scrubby bath glove (0.5 oz) because everything else counts as a consumable and weights vary depending on what brand or size is available at any given resupply point. I usually have some/all of the following:

  • toothpaste
  • dental floss
  • lip balm
  • deodorant
  • moisturizer
  • Purell
  • Gold Bond
  • wet wipes
  • toilet paper
  • exfoliating/cleansing face wipes
  • cotton swabs
  • sunscreen
  • bug spray

I’d guesstimate the above weighs in at no more than 20 oz at any given time (probably too generous, but I’d rather overestimate than underestimate).

TOTAL BASE WEIGHT: ~354.1 oz / 22.13 lbs
(not including what I’m wearing/holding while hiking)

TOTAL COST: $3,832.60

That’s not great, but it could certainly be worse. I could easily drop ~5 lbs just by losing some of the luxury items. 

Advertisements
Posted in Appalachian Trail | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Interlude: TN to NC Mini-Roadtrip

Thursday – Friday 22-23 May 2014

I had ~40 hours between picking up my rental car in Seymour TN and dropping it off at the Asheville NC airport.

P1020523     P1020521

These are still the only bears I’ve seen so far on the trail.

P1020525 P1020540

P1020533

P1020598

P1020593   P1020572

P1020564

P1020552  P1020579

P1020558

P1020626

P1020643

P1020650

P1020664

P1020703

P1020767    P1020711

P1020716

P1020718         P1020742

P1020783

P1020804    P1020800

P1020808

Posted in USA Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

AT Interlude: Gatlinburg TN

Date:  Sunday to Wednesday – 19-21 May 2014

Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is an interesting town.

It’s obsessed with pancakes. There are, literally, dozens of pancakeries around town.

P1020364 P1020363

P1020369                P1020322

There are also a lot of streams and creeks and rivers running through town, and every hotel worth its salt offers a balcony or a terrace or a porch with a view.

P1020381    P1020372

P1020373  P1020324

There are some funky buildings. It’s like a mini-Dubai!

P1020358       P1020359

It’s home to the world’s largest collection of salt and pepper shakers.

P1020509

P1020414     P1020451

There’s an adorable trolley you can ride.

P1020382     P1020332

It’s a great place to visit if you have a sweet tooth.

P1020153   P1020159

P1020300 P1020303

It’s also a great place to visit if you’ve ever wanted a Confederate belt buckle, a Smoky Mountain troll or a jar of corn cob jelly.

P1020162 P1020365 P1020513

There are a lot of family-friendly attractions with elaborate window displays.

P1020267 P1020298

(I’m still sad I didn’t get to play Circus Blacklight mini golf.)

P1020299

There’s also alcohol. Oh god, so much alcohol. You can have moonshine!

P1020279          P1020275

P1020282

Or wine!

P1020273          P1020271

P1020376

Or whiskey!

P1020314    P1020377

Or beer!

P1020306   P1020334

Once you’re tired of drinking, you can listen to live music.

P1020286

Added bonus:  There’s always at least one amateur clogger in the audience.

P1020293 P1020295

After the show, you can try to ride a mechanical donkey.

P1020308

Or, if you’re lucky enough to run into some fellow hikers, you can win second place at the Smoky Mountain Brewery’s Tuesday Trivia night competition.

P1020351                      P1020349

P1020336

P1020346

When you’ve had all the fun you can handle, and you’re strolling back to your hotel room overlooking a stream, creek or river, you can stop to feed the ducks, admire the neon, and, if you’re really lucky, have a brief chat with a woman who carries around a monkey dressed in a floral onesie.

P1020165          P1020297

P1020352          P1020355

GATLINBURG!!

Posted in USA Travel | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

AT Interlude: Dollywood

Date:   Monday – 19 May 2014

Dollywood logo.png

P1020168            P1020171

P1020194

P1020175           P1020191

P1020184          P1020188

P1020202

P1020222          P1020221

P1020193

P1020176 P1020227 P1020207

P1020216

P1020196                     P1020197

P1020204      P1020205

P1020224

P1020209   P1020213   P1020208

P1020220

P1020229         P1020228

P1020233

P1020235                      P1020260

P1020237

P1020255    P1020256

P1020246        P1020252

P1020259

P1020254

P1020253                            P1020266

Posted in USA Travel | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Day 30: GSMNP – Double Spring Gap to Clingman’s Dome

Date:       Sunday – 18 May 2014
Start:
      Double Spring Gap Shelter                  196.0 miles            Today:            2.9 miles
Finish:   Clingman’s Dome Tower Path            198.9 miles            Total AT:     198.9 miles

P1020097

P1020109

P1020114          P1020117

P1020121          P1020123

P1020128

P1020129                P1020130

P1020136

P1020137          P1020138

P1020142

P1020147          P1020325

Posted in Appalachian Trail | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 29: GSMNP – Spence Field to Double Spring Gap

Date:       Saturday – 17 May 2014
Start:
      Spence Field Shelter                    182.5 miles                    Today:            13.5 miles
Finish:   Double Spring Gap Shelter        196.0 miles                     Total AT:     196.0 miles

P1020010

P1020013

P1020022

P1020023

P1020030        P1020031

P1020038

P1020045      Rocky top lyrics.png

P1020050

P1020060    P1020062    P1020018

P1020047        P1020055

P1020052

P1020063          P1020073

P1020077

P1020079

P1020083

P1020084

Posted in Appalachian Trail | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Day 28: GSMNP – Birch Spring Gap to Spence Field

Date:       Friday – 16 March 2014
Start:
      Birch Spring Gap Campsite          171.7 miles                    Today:            10.8 miles
Finish:   Spence Field Shelter                    182.5 miles                     Total AT:     182.5 miles

P1010952

P1010971    P1010975

P1010954          P1010970

P1010992          P1010985P1010991

P1010987

P1010979         P1010978

P1010980

P1010981

P1010993                   P1010976

P1010996

P1010998          P1010997

P1020001     P1020002

Posted in Appalachian Trail | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment