Sunday, February 12, 2012

Hello all. 

I'm back from my visit to the experts at the NOC.  I got a pack shakedown from A-J (nickname Apple Juice on the trail) and then attended a three hour clinic on all things AT.  It was well worth the trip.  First we took out the water and food in order to weigh the pack with just gear to get a 'base weight.'  The pack and gear weighed 27 pounds.  Actually, that's pretty good compared to most other hikers.  Then it was back upstairs where A-J divided my remaining gear into three piles: necessities, luxuries, and discards.  The luxuries and discards weighed a total of 5.5 pounds.  Keep in mind that the necessities gear includes the sleeping bag while I wait for the Jacks-R-Better quilt.  That change will save me 2 pounds and 3 ounces.  So, my base weight really starts at less than 20 pounds before I decide what luxuries to put back in..  He liked the way I have organized my gear, using dry-sacks for most everything - orange for clothing (cold weather bag and change-of-clothing bag), green for food (lunches/dinners bag and breakfasts/snacks bag), blue for other toiletries and loose items.

Other suggestions from AJ include changing my water purification system from a pump (3 years old and heavy) to a new Gravity Fed filtration system that is much lighter.  It's another $100 but will save some weight. 

Did you know that Baby-Wipes can be dried ahead of time and re-hydrated before use?  So long TP, hello Hiker-Wipes!  There's now one less cooking pot (came in a nesting set of two - but I only need one), lose the plastic Spork in favor of a titanium long handle Spork (combination spoon and fork), keep the Squishy-Bowl and lose the Squishy-Cup.  The thinking is to eat out of the cooking pot and drink a double cup of coffee out of the bowl.

A-J advised carrying just one camera: taking the Olympus TG-610 and leaving the GoPro Hero2 at home.  Arrrrrgh.  I knew he was going to suggest that.  But I don't know if I can make that choice.  As I said in an earlier post, the Olympus may get sent home early, but not the GoPro.  However, if I am gaining such a weight advantage with the other decisions, carrying both cameras might be the luxury items I choose to live with despite the weight.  As it is, I think I am well under the 25 pound target I set.  I will have to repack with my new purchases and choices and weigh it all again to be sure.

He said my food choices were good, but to expect to need about twice as much food after the first few weeks.   As I mentioned in an earlier post, a hiker will use up about 4,000-5,000 calories each day, but only have the TIME to put in 2,000.  That's why a hiker is always hungry and dreaming of the next 'AYCE' (all-you-can-eat restaurant) up the trail.

Bottom line: A-J and the rest of the clinic team agree that I am 'spot on' with my other gear choices, food, and preparations.  I will pay a visit to the local REI and Great Outdoor Provisions Company tomorrow and purchase the new gear choices.

Sorry to keep you waiting for a gear video, but I wanted to wait until I had the right stuff before I locked it in.  Video coming soon, I promise.

I am reading a newly released E-book called: "Appalachian Trials" by Zach Davis.  All the other books are gear guides and stories of the author's thru-hike.  This new book is the first of its kind: a psychological and mental guide to successfully finishing the AT.  He starts off suggesting I create a list of reasons why I want to thru-hike the AT.  My Reason #1?  I want to accomplish a 'lifetime' adventure.

It's Sunday evening as I write this.  Tomorrow, 2/13, will mark 48 days and a wake-up.  It's getting closer and closer.

No comments: