Monday, January 9, 2012

Going Solo

For a variety of reasons, some of health, some of family, Mary has elected to stay home... So, I'm hiking solo. Which is ... ok. I get to hike when I want to hike, take a break when I wanna break, camp where I wanna camp. If I want to go off trail to bag a peak, I won't have to negotiate with anyone but myself.

I'm going to miss hiking with her.

It certainly simplifies logistics. We don't have to close the house, find someone to take care of the cats, someone to mail the drop boxes, forward the mail, pay the bills, mow the lawn ... Mary will be my support crew.

Why does writing that make me think I'm gonna owe her big?

It does mean I have to rethink everything. Instead of our three-person tent, I need something that won't weigh a ton as I won't be splitting it between the two of us. I can pack a smaller kitchen. But, all the common-use stuff we had split between us, now needs to be in my pack. Lots of down-sizing to do. The cost of one going, vice two changes the cost of getting there, and the decision as to how...

I have a good-ole MSR Hubba. A great freestanding tent that tips the scales at 56 ozs. Virtually a ton by today's standards. I had been surveying the field of the cottage industry solo tents - companies like Six Moon Designs, Lightheart Gear, TarpTent, and Gossamer Gear. I really liked Six Moon Design's Trekker and LightHeart Gear's Solo for their weight, use of trekking poles instead of dedicated tent poles, and space. Then Lightheart Gear had a sale on Solos, and I got one. At 27 ozs it weighs almost half of the Hubba, and actually less than a tarp / bivy / groundcloth option.

Just gotta seam seal her ...

As for the kitchen. I still plan on packing my Monatauk Gnat canister stove. I'm convinced it's a lighter combination than using an alcohol stove with the amount of fuel I'd be inclined to carry. I'll leave the big 1.3 liter pot home, and carry my 850ml MSR Titan Tea Kettle - A bit of an extravagance compared to my lighter Snow Peak 600ml cup which I use for short solo trips, but better for cooking at a 1.2oz penalty.

I'm leaving the MSR Sweetwater Microfilter at home, and packing Aquamira. I'll use a small eye-drop bottle to mix enough parts A & B into to provide for a day's requirements. A trick I learned from Mike McClelland's great book, "Ultralight Backpackin' Tips".

We had split up our first-aid and shared hygiene stuff, so I now have to carry it all. I did my best to down-size and eliminate stuff I won't need. Do I need hydropel and bodyglide?

We had planned to rent a car one-way to Atlanta, and use Hiker Hostel's services. Mary offered to drive me to Amicalola till we considered what the weather might do to us, and that gas plus motels would cost considerably more than taking the train. So, I'm getting on Amtrak here in western Michigan, and I'll be getting off two days later at Gainesville, GA. At 7:00. Ready to hike...

... Solo.

“A solo hiker often has a fool for a companion.” - George Steck


  1. Too bad Mary won't be with you, but good for us, as you will be more motivated to write and post blog entries along the way.

    I'm hoping I can meet you around Fontana Dam. If you want, I'll loan you my bike so you can ride the Dragon while you're in the area.

    1. Thanks George, I hope to see you there in early April, just before I slip into the Great Smoky Mountains. Last time I was there was to ride the Cherohala Skyway and the Dragon after visiting an AH in Nashville ...

  2. I think you will like the Lightheart tent. I have nothing but good about them.

    1. Thanks Loneoak. it has a great reputation. It's longer, wider and lighter than most of its competition. It sports side entry, making entry easier. One can sit up in it, and roll up the rain fly for an awsome view. Full mesh inside to protect from bugs. That rainfly is attached at the top, making for a very quick set up - especially good in the rain - Stake out the four corners, crawl inside and set your hiking poles into the short ridge pole. a couple more stakes to pin out the rain fly on the sides. Plenty of room inside for me and my gear.

  3. Hi Bill, I happened to stumble across your blog while doing research for my blog/trail journal. I am from Grand Rapids and just wanted to say good luck and hopefully I'll see you out on the trail. I'm 30, also hiking solo and starting around the 1st of April. -Mark

    1. Hey Mark, I'm down the road in Holland. Wave as you pass me on the trail!


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