Pack-Weight

Brian took me hiking to Point Reyes national seashore for my birthday. We had an incredible hike overlooking the ocean bluffs. The fog rolled in an we could only see a few feet in front of us, and there for were very surprised when we ran straight in to a heard of elk. ELK? Is this Canada? No, apparently there are Elk in California. These ones looked like deer jacked up on steroids with serious antlers. Luckily they were a good ten feet off the trail and we didn’t have to maneuver around them.  We hiked and talked about what sort of gear we will bring on the pct. As you can see in the top right photo of this blog we were carrying some serious gear on the JMT. This was our first foray into the wilderness and we subscribed to the school of thought, “wouldn’t it be nice to have all the comforts of home out on the trail?” and also the school of “the wilderness is a big scary place, bring more shit and you will be more protected”.

According to thru-hiking guru Ray Jardine, these fears are all a product of advertising.  I.e., “Tame the wilderness with your 5 pound fully suspended back pack” and “Mother Nature has a bad attitude, you need blank 4pound tent to be protected”.  There is a thru hiker idea that your fears will be directly represented by your gear. Afraid of things that go bump in the night? You will have a tent instead of a tarp. Afraid of being too cold? Too many clothes.

You are not at home; you are carrying your home on your back. So every pound you carry is multiplied by 2,655 miles. This graph was taken from Ray Jardine’s new book Trail Life and pretty much says it all. At any point in this graph, Jardine says you are expending the same amount of energy.

So you can hike 10 miles with a 60-pound pack and use the same amount of energy as if you hiked 30 miles with a 10-pound pack.  This seems like a huge point if you have to average 22 miles a day like we do. So we have to get our pack weight down. We want our base pack eight (that’s pack weight minus food and water) to be under 13 lbs. That does mean some replacing of gear but more than that it means some addressing of fears and letting go. More on our gear to come.

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~ by elenimonos on July 4, 2010.

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