Friday, September 26, 2014

No Changes

As an admitted gearhead surely somethings must have not changed.  The smallest of items remained the same throughout the epic travel. I'll highlight some here.  I'll also admit I traveled heavier then most with a base weight of 25 pounds or more.  I liked being more comfortable in camp and getting good sleep over hitting big miles and being uncomfortable at night.  One will need to find their own balance the implied question.

I carried and used the same small Bic lighter the entire way.  I kept it in a small prescription bottle with some strike anywhere matches.  I started with and ended with not striking any of those matches.  A flick of the bic is all that's needed to get alcohol or canister stoves going.

I carried a small tube of petroleum jelly.  It backed up my anti-chafing stick when it ran out.  The alternate use is as a fire starter when rubbed on small sticks or onto cloth.

I also had bug dope and a headnet.  I used the headnet twice.  The bug dope almost as much.  I didn't like putting DEET on my exposed skin.  I did pick up some all natural Bug Band brand stuff and used it more to ward away ticks.  I didn't find Bug Band to be all that effective.  Somehow bugs didn't like me as much as they did others.  I think I leave with only picking off fewer then 20 ticks and swatting at fewer then a thousand mosquitoes.

My water system included the Sawyer Mini supplemented by Aquamiria drops.  The Sawyer is just a filter.  It's up to the user to find their own right way of usage.  For me I blew out the supplied bladders, squeezing water through them as directed.  I tried it on top a Smart Water brand bottle.  That too did not work cleanly for me.  I finally found a screw on adapter to hose at a hardware store and went inline.  Attached to a Platapus brand two litter bladder, I sucked on the outlet for my water.  I'd use the Aquamiria drops when I got lazy or wanted not to wait for the inline to drip into another bottle.  Aquamiria works best over time, taking up to 4 hours to kill off all bad stuff in the water.  The Sawyer does not kill viruses wherein the drops will over time.

These next items are what packed on my weight.  I carried a 8x5 notebook for a journal.  I'm on my third of the hike.  Yes, I did write every night.  A sample of my journal can be found on my Flickr page under AT Journals.  I did carry and use an Olympus TG 2i Stylus camera.  It worked flawlessly until the end.  As advertised it's tough, though, I found out on Summit Day not unbreakable.  I cracked a corner of the case and it had fogging issues on my last week.  For being exposed to weather for the last 5 1/2 months I'd say that's a lifetime of use for many non-outdoor folks.  My last heavy item is the Anker 12,000 mAh battery pack.  It met my weekly field charge needs between my phone, camera, and mp3 player.  With the large capacity plan on an 8 hour or over night town stay was needed.  The weight of these three items is over 3 pounds, weight I chose to carry.

My phone worked great as a blogging tool and camera back up device.  Though I did have to get a new battery as the original did not want to hold a charge. Electronic device batteries do have limited life span so check with the manufacturer for details or replace them before the journey begins.

I loved my Black Diamond Cosmo headlamp.    I used only two sets of batteries the whole way.  I only night hiked twice but was often the last to sleep 'cus I was writing.  Expect your usage to vary.

My camp shoes where Crocs, the basic ones.  As a gear hack, tie a loop of cord through two toe holes to make attaching to the pack easier.  They work great for town and shower shoes too.  I'd flip the shoes toe up for regular carry and toe down to carry a piece of fruit for a day or so.

I carried a small 500ml Nalgeen bottle.  Nalgeen's plastic is heat resistant so one can pour boiling water directly into it.  This became my hot and cold drink cup.  My spork found its home in it too.  It doubled as a foam roller when I didn't have one.  On the colder gloveless nights I'd wrap my hands around it.

If something is heavy one does not need to ditch it to loose weight.  Ask these questions: do I use this item daily? Does it work for multiple functions?  Does it simplify what I do?  My answers varied from time to time especially with the little miscellaneous items.  I finally ditched things like nausea meds, sun tan lotion, and sun glasses yet, kept the bug dope and Dr Bronner's soap.  With Dr Bronner's bounce a larger bottle a head or just get a little bottle leaving behind what's not used.  I carried half an ounce the entire way, preferring to wash items in town only.

What worked for me and what works next hike I'm sure will vary.  If you are exploring long distance hiking or interested lightening the load, don't be afraid to mix up the weekend get aways or find a local outing of hikers.  Lightening the load honestly comes down to experience on finding the comfort balance.

Enjoy and hike on.

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