Monday, June 8, 2015

The Whole Is Greater Than the Sum of the Parts

And it's making me crazy!

After spending the winter going over my gear list, measuring items to make sure I had the right weights, and stuffing it all in a big tub, my spreadsheet said my kit would be 15 lbs base weight!

Oh blissful Nirvana! With 4 days of food and a liter of water, I'd start out with a comfortable 25 lbs on my back!

So, with a week to go before hitting the trail, I packed my bag w/o food or water, put it on, and got on the bathroom scale.  Together we weighed 217.4 lbs, and alone I weighed 197.8 (ugh). Subtracting the latter from the former yielded 19.6 lbs. Yikes! The whole was greater than the sum of the parts by 4.6 lbs!

Where did that 4.6 lbs come from?

628 Miles To Go ...

Next week I'll start the final leg of my Appalachian Trail section hike. I'm meeting Blue Jay in upstate New York, and we'll drive up to the trail crossing near Manchester, VT where I got off in 2012. From there we'll hike south to the Connecticut border where we'll likely part company. I'll then continue to Harper's Ferry for the big finish.

We may be doing some kind of car cross where he drops me off, drives south to the next road crossing, hikes north until we meet, hands me the keys, and then I'll drive up to pick him up when I get to the car. Rinse and repeat as necessary.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

On becoming a 99.968% pure, flip-flop, flip-flopping, blue-blazing, slack-packing, long-assed section hiker!

Before I started my hike I had logged way too many hours on, and knew I was gonna be a Purist!* Well mostly pure. I mean, I wasn't quite so anal that when I hitched into town from the south side of the road, then hitched back and got out of the car on the north side, that I'd feel compelled to walk back across the street to the south side to put on my pack and walk back to the north side so as not to miss 30 ft of "trail." If faced with a downed tree blocking the trail, I wouldn't push my foot under the tree as far as I could, then walk around the tree and push my foot in to touch the other footprint like some whose puriosity was decidedly greater than mine.

But I'd take the same trail out of a shelter area as the one I took in. I'd never blue-blaze*, never slack-pack*. I'd always leave my campsite better than I found it. And like any good purist, I'd loath yellow blazers*.

Friday, May 15, 2015

My New Bug Suit

Back when I was first planning my AT hike, I outlined my completely rational fear of Ixodes scapularis - aka the Deer Tick, aka the Black Legged Tick - The most common vector for Lyme disease. I had explored various strategies to avoid having those nasty hitchhikers latch on to me, and decided to use a combination of deet, and clothing treated with permethrin by Insect Shield. Such clothing protects one from insects thru 70 washings, vice do-it-yourself treatments which last 2-6 weeks, and 6 launderings.

Several major manufacturers of outdoor clothing offer such clothing, but I couldn't find any at my local outfitters. I turned to online vendors, and I outfitted myself with an ExOfficio Bugs-away Halo shirt and a pair of Columbia Bug Shield Cargo Pants - Both utilized Insect Shield treatment. I wore those thru several sections of the AT and experienced no ticks, nor any mosquito bites on areas covered by the fabric. I did have a tick latch on to my sock and crawl down inside.

I hadn't heard of Insect Shield treated socks ...

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Virginia Is Not Flat!

I had two goals for this summer. To complete my hike of the Appalachian Trail in one, long-assed section. From where I got off last summer, to where I got off in Vt back in 2012. And to do it without injury.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Slackdown at Jim and Molly's!

"Blue Jay 5" and I had been hiking together for several days through Shenandoah. Well … we’d been camping together. He’d leave camp early and stop early. I’d leave late and get to camp right about at sunset. I was on my annual section hike towards completion of the trail. He was on his annual section hike with no particular goal, having previously completed a thru hike.

From the moment we met, we were in near constant competition as to who was the most Slack - While being fully aware of, and not struggling at all with the inherent contradictions therein.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

How cold could it get?

My next Appalachian Trail section hike is from the James River Footbridge, to Manchester Center, VT in early June. Hoping to keep my weight down, my summer-weight equipment plan sports a 50 deg top-quilt, a 40 deg under-quilt, a lightweight merino base layer, a goretex rain jacket, light merino glove liners, a merino buff, and a windshirt.

Thought I better make sure that's gonna be sufficient. After all, it's still gonna be spring in the mountains...

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Backpacking Pot Cozy V3.0

I got a new pot that would provide more food in my belly, and take less room in my pack. So it was back to the drawing board to design a new cozy for it.

As the title suggests this is my third cozy. The first was designed to fit my MSR Titan Kettle. It was made of the same light cotton duck you see on this one. After hiking the Georgia section of the AT, I felt I needed to cut down on weight. I adopted my Snow Peak 600ml cup as a pot, and used some lighter cotton material. After 1300 more trail miles, I felt the pot was a little small to feed my hiker hunger, the fuel canister didn't fit inside, and that cotton started to wear through.

Design and materials after the break ...

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

My Trail Photos

I've been slowly wading through all the photos I took during my 2013 hike, and have uploaded them to Tumblr along with the rest of my AT pictures. You can see them at

This spring, I'll be getting back on the trail at the other end of this bridge, and heading north.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

My Evolving Cook Kit

Been using my old 600ml Snow Peak cup as my solo cookpot on my AT sections. I found it a little small as my hunger got bigger. I like to boil enough water in the morning to fill my coffee cup and make oatmeal and 600 ml just didn't cut it. I couldn't squeeze a fuel cannister in it either, which adding to pack volume. I was also wishing it had some volume measurements in it to facilitating cooking stuff like rice, oatmeal, etc.

Well, my birthday came around, and Mary got me a brand new Snow Peak's Titanium Trek 700 Cookpot!

I had researched it. I knew it was big enough to fit a canister, and that it had volume markings on the inside, but would my stove fit inside too? And what's up with that lid?