Saturday, November 03, 2007

Gear freak Part One

The cannibal drive is an idgit a digit tidbit
Burnished to shine, homey, can you dig?

Aw, whoo you foolin’?

Drooling pacemaker. Digitalis’ll solve that ticker. Rigormortis imminent.
Blood cools and congeals.

Orchestrated eggs also…
Sunshine boil to green
Protein thick sticky
Whites smooth

Surging thrombosis. Electrical signals crossed. Thrumming bird wings flapping, caught in bush, palpitations. Fading, fading, flutter.

Zounds! Great booming chest cave!
Kerchok little bird
Little engine warm
Filling capillaries

Finagle it. Forget it. 8 p.m. of a Monday evening. Again thinking I shoulda gone on with this writing gig a bit earlier, because now, time change, fall back, I’m all tired thinking it’s 9 p.m. But I filled my after school time with Internet crap (YouTube and Netflix) and cooking. Gotta treat the laptop less as a source of entertainment and more as a tool.

Registered for classes this morning. Also don’t know if I wrote this already, but I am also going to teach a section of ENGL 104 in the spring, hopefully on a Tuesday / Thursday schedule, take the last two classes I need to earn my master’s degree, and also take the comprehensive exams. Next May I’m done. My plan is to supplement my income teaching FYCOMP, about $1,000 a month, with substitute teaching. If I can keep my finances low and save up about $500, I’ll take another hike sometime in May or June. Possible trails include the Ice Age Trail, the Colorado Trail, the Long Trail in Vermont, or the Wind River Range, Wyoming. Or back on the Appalachian Trail for a tramp in the woods and a dose of thru-hiking culture.

I’ve done a thru hike every election year since 2000. No thru hike is planned for 2008. That kind of sucks, but such is reality. I can at least get a long hike or two in when I can find the time. Truthfully, I don’t think I’ll miss not thru hiking in ’08. That’s a hell of a lot of work, time, planning, and just plain ol’ physical endurance and prolonged discomfort. From blisters to blowdowns, high winds, cold, rain, all the rest… A month at the most is a good dose of the outdoors life.

Backpacking is low cost once the gear is acquired. And for those who know how to sew, even the gear can be inexpensive. A certain percentage of the backpacking culture are devoted gear heads. MY friend Dave Long, who introduced me to backpacking in the spring of 1998, shortly before I moved to Antigo, is a total gear freak. He’s the same guy who gave me a GPS for my Arizona Trail hike last year.

I’m not a gear head. I like to make the right gear decisions, and look at other people’s set-ups for ideas. I have seen probably every style of tent, tarp, sleeping bag, bivy sack, backpack, boot, gaiter, and hiking pole imaginable. But I don’t by any means have the latest or greatest gear. None of my clothes are made of brightly colored fabrics.

Here’s a partial, completely off the top of my head list of gear items I plan to take on the Arizona Trail in December.

Go-Lite Breeze backpack -- The top drawstring broke, so I tie it down with a shoestring on the outside. Even though this has gone the length of the AT, the ripstop nylon, while faded on the bottom and part where it rubbed against my back, is holding strong, as are the shoulder straps. This is the simplest, lightest (13 oz.) pack on the market. I don’t know if you can buy it anymore. A basic design for anyone who wants to sew this pack on their own is in the book Beyond Backpacking, by Ray Jardine. Funny that I mention Ray Jardine because I had corn pasta for dinner. Ha!

Homemade 10 x 12 foot tarp -- I bought the fabric and was going to sew it myself, thinking, hey, for a first sewing project what could be easier than a tarp? Until I discovered the expensive, silicone impregnated nylon fabric was slippier as hell and super hard to handle in a sewing machine. My mother, an expert sewer, bailed me out and sewed this tarp herself, per my specifications and design assistance. It is an awesome tarp. I have weathered many a dismal storm, albeit fitfully, under its cover. A tent can’t be beat for sure protection against the elements. But a tarp can’t be beat for versatility. I also carry a bag with 6 tent stakes. Some bent up no-bendy-ums and other aluminum stakes going back a couple generations.

OR two-person bug bivy with nylon floor -- This is a great summer or winter time accessory for the tarp. The nylon floor negates the need for a separate ground cloth. To save weight, I may pack a piece of tyvek (you know, the stuff that covers houses while they are being built) instead. I won’t need protection from bugs in December on the AZT. Last year I remember sleeping with the netting down the entire time.

In lieu of a pack cover (to keep the pack and contents dry when it rains), I put a garbage disposal bag (thicker plastic and just the right size) inside the pack.


Two pairs of wool socks -- One pair for hiking, another for camp/bed. Always, always, always, have a dry, thick pair of socks.

New Balance tennis shoes -- model #485 I believe.

Ancient old Farm and Fleet polypropylene long johns -- not too thick, a little holey, I’ve had these babies forever and keep them more for sentiment than function.

Thicker fleece long johns -- These are newer and pill up a lot. I almost never hike in them. They keep the legs warm at night pretty well.

Yellow swimming trunks -- my version of hiking shorts. No undies allowed.

Hanes white cotton t-shirt -- OF course I lose this if it gets wet, but it’s my preferred underlayer. Cotton is absolutely shunned by most hikers.

Old as hell Farm and Fleet long john top -- also a little holey and beset with a funky odor that I find endearing. Others may not.

Smart wool merino wool long john top -- not as old, super light weight, super warm. I love this shirt.

Polypropylene turtleneck top -- I’ve had this shirt about 8 years and it too is getting holey, but it is still oh so warm. It’s made it through two thru-hikes, so give it some props.


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