Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Backpacking stoves

There is almost no end to the types of stoves for backpacking.  It almost made me cry.
I started with buying this folding Esbit burning stove.
Cost about 10 bucks and weighs 3.25 oz.  Not bad.
Then, I read about a homemade stove that is absolutely ingenious.  Made from a Fancy Feast cat food can with a hole punch.  Even I could do this.  Set the pan on top, put some denatured alcohol in it or an Esbit tablet and ya got fire.
Best of all, it weighs in at a paltry .3 oz.  Woot, woot!

Monday, July 29, 2013

“Starting something hard is way more fun than finishing it well. Only the pines witness the resolute courage to keep moving.”  Sarah Bessey

Preparation means lots of research on gear.  Unlike the old days of rucksacks and 10 lb hiking boots, the norm is to go as lightweight as possible.  Some people have gone so far as to cut the handle of their tooth brushes and remove all tags from their clothing to trim weight.
I have not reached such epic insanity--yet.
But, conventional wisdom on ultralight backpacking is that the total weight of the "Big Three"; pack, sleeping bag and shelter, should weigh in at 5 lbs or less.
I had to buy a new pack.  So, I bought the one shown above that weighs in at a whopping 18 oz as compared to my old pack that hovers around 3 lbs.
My pack, tent and sleeping bag together weigh 3.94 lbs.
My goal is a fully loaded pack that weighs no more than 25 lbs and it looks like I am on my way.
My kitchen set up, I will show later.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

One of the books I am reading is the one shown above, written by a man who never backpacked in his life and yet, succeeded in hiking the entire AT.
His secret to success?  He had answered some harsh psychological questions before hitting the trail when the question of, "what the hell am I doing here" sends 30% of hikers scurrying home in the first 30 miles.
The first question the book posses is, why am I hiking the AT.  Other books I have ready; mostly hikers writing about their own experiences, list two common answers: To get away from something or to go toward something.
Many are going through rough divorces and are getting away from the failure of their marriage, seeking a success in an aspect of their lives and/or dodging the spouses lawyer.
Others are seeking to escape their hum-drum lives for an adventure.  Still others are seeking to find courage or strength to quell lifetime fears.
One woman on a YouTube video speaking to a group of wannabe thru-hikers said that what one carries on one's back is indicative of the fears they carry in life.  Beyond the essentials necessary for a safe, somewhat comfortable journey, someone who is afraid of being cold will carry extraneous clothing.  Another who fears being hungry will carry extra food and so on.
From the videos I have watched and the overweight packs the people are carrying, it seems that the general fear of the unknown ranks highest and so they trudge along with many pounds of "just in case's".
In my case, at this point anyway, my desire to hike the AT is for the bragging rights of having accomplished something extraordinary, and to shed the many fears I have carried around in life.  Fear of the unknown that has made me a worrier; fear of being hungry or cold which has kept me lashed to jobs that only offer a paycheck as a reward; and the biggest fear of all: The fear of failure.
More on the spiritual side later.

Friday, July 26, 2013

To Hike the Appalachian Trail

Yes, it's true.  I have decided that between now and
five years, I want to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail.  It's crazy, I know.  It is an arduous 2200 some odd miles from North Georgia to Maine.
I can't say that the idea of hiking the entire thing has crossed my mind as from what I have read, within those 2200 miles is 91 miles of vertical climb.
As I scan Youtube videos and shop for ultralight gear, I am also trying to wrap my head around WHY.
Maybe that is why I have given myself five years to do this.  It's the why.
In his book, "A Walk in the Woods" by Bill Bryson he says that, "the central feature of life on the Appalachian Trail is deprivation".  Sounds like fun, eh?
But, what drives most people is the idea of doing something awesome; something few people have done.  It is also the desire to filter out as much of the annoyances of life--cell phones, deadlines, demanding bosses-- and distill life to the essentials.
As I have been leaning more and more to a minimalist lifestyle, this endeavor seems fitting; and as I have no retirement and shall likely end up eating cat food and living in a cardboard box, this may be the best training ever.
More later.