Friday, November 02, 2007

Gear Freak Part Two

Cotton/ wool Enjoi panda bear pullover hooded sweatshirt -- this is the one bit of gear I worry most about. Is it warm enough? Will it endure getting wet? It’s also heavy as hell and bulky. Honestly, when I’m not wearing it, I don’t know if I’ll have room in my pack for it. I’ll have to tie it to the outside or fit it somehow in the long mesh pocket on the outside. I’ve mulled over getting a down jacket, but am going to postpone that gear purchase until gainfully employed.

Campmor nylon rain jacket -- This is a $20 rain jacket. It still works and has all the zippers and vents of a costly jacket. The only thing that sucks about this jacket is that it drips water on my legs. I curl and adjust it to send the drip elsewhere, and that sometimes works, but not always. Anyways, it provides hours of diversionary entertainment on rainy trail days. I plan to spray it with Nikwax before the upcoming trip.

Floppy wide-brimmed boony hat -- I got made fun of when I showed this hat in trail presentations because I look like a miner, but this hat is super light, super waterproof, and provides ample shade. This is a desert rat hiker hat, beotch. I have no excuse for the yellow swim trunks over navy blue, holey long johns. 80s jazzercise goth? The hat just fits in a wacky ensemble.

Fleece balaclava hat -- This combined with my sweatshirt hood will keep my head warm at

Cheap sunglasses.

Zero degree sleeping bag -- This bag served me well on the PCT. It’s insanely warm, but in serious need of a bath. I’ve never washed it, and it has weathered 3,000 trail miles and daily use the past two years.

Other items:

Quart cook pot, pot gripper (I am leaving the stove and fuel at home. All cooking this trip will be
by fire. I plan to have a fire every night, for warmth and light through a long night. I remember well the hours from 5 - 9 p.m. in total darkness and cold, awake. Tending the fire and reading by its flame, when my hands weren’t too cold, helped wile away the hours.

Ridge rest ¾ length -- I cut this into two segments. This provides the “frame” for my pack. I unravel the roll inside my pack and put most of my gear inside it. This provides further cushioning and protection from the elements. But the ridge rest doesn’t compare to my luxury thermarest for comfort. I have to choose my camp site with care and look for soft ground with thick cover. Bare ground is too cold, especially in the winter. This gear choice is the only one available to me in this lightweight setup.

Nylon food bag -- I won’t have to carry more than four days of food at a time on this upcoming trip.

Ditty bag -- containing contact lens case, solution, toothbrush, toothpaste, fine tooth comb (to get out really tiny cactus needles), Swiss Army knife, LED headlamp, MP3 player and headphones (a first!!) first aid kit (aspirin, anti-diarrhea pills, moleskin, needle, dental floss, almost empty tube of Neosporin, a candle, spare waterproof matches), toilet paper, travel size alcohol disinfectant gel, a small bic lighter, sunscreen, and probably a couple other things I’m forgetting right now.

A book -- For this trip something light and small print.

A journal -- for this trip maybe just some looseleaf notebook paper.

GPS unit and carrying case

a disposable camera

Four one liter water bottles -- Including at least one Gatorade bottle. Why? Gatorade is good for coffee because the plastic doesn’t melt or contort. But the bottle gets all stretchy when it’s warm. No doubt some carcinogen is passed on to my morning coffee, but it’s still lighter than Nalgene. Two of the bottles will be wrapped in duct tape. Duct tape is a hiker’s best friend. I use duct tape and toilet paper for band-aids.

Polar Pure crystallized iodine water purification -- I know, this sucks in the cold weather, but I plan to let my treated water alone for a looong time -- hours, before use. The colder it gets, though, the less effective iodine is. And in the cattle country along the AZT, I better be careful where I get my water. What I did last year was treat the water, and then, in camp, heat up the water by the fire (another diversionary job) to pour in my Gatorade bottles. This disinfected the water further and kept me warmer at night. I’ll probably do the same this trip. Iodine alone is foolish in the cold at a cattle pond.

I think that’s about it. Golly, gee, that seems like a lot of stuff. And this is my lightweight setup. What seems excessive are the clothes. But I have to consider that in the cold weather I will be wearing those clothes while I hike. I’ll feel stupid and weighted down if it gets warm. I also remember that I will go over only one major mountain range, the Santa Catalinas, right at the beginning, and will do more lower desert hiking, including a crossing of the Gila River.

This is also why I, after studying the map, have an ambitious secondary goal in mind. If I average 14 miles a day over the 10 days, I will end up at Superior, AZ, with 36 hours to spare to hitch and bus my way back to Tucson. But if I can average 19 miles a day, tack another 50 miles, and “bag” the Superstitions (mucho wilderness, legendary badass desert mountains), I could get off the AZT at Roosevelt Lake, close to the halfway point.

Even though the Superstitions are a tempting carrot, and the easy terrain could make it possible, I have to admit I’m not in the best shape ever. Sure, my legs are in great shape from frequent long, 5-6 mile walks. I’ve just got a little extra baggage in the middle to lose. Averaging 19 miles a day on a thru hike is impressive enough. Doing it on a short-term trip nearly impossible. Adding to the difficulty are the shorter days and lack of trail in many sections. Route finding is time consuming, even with a GPS.

1 comment:

tom said...

greg, as one writing, editing, hiking blogger to another, thought I'd let you know about Two-Heel Drive, my hiking blog:

It's fairly SF Bay Area-centric but I try to through in some stuff outside the area.