Section Hike Preparations – It’s on now.

By the calendar, as of yesterday April 21st it is exactly 30 days until I fly to Atlanta to catch my shuttle to the AT for my section hike.

Thirty days seems like a long time…to some. I still have a packing list to make, a few more pieces of gear to make, perhaps a few more meals to prep and a good bit more study and praying to do.

I did get a chance this past weekend to do some cooking and dehydrating of some meals.  That went well and I am now working on the packaging of the meals. This may seem a simple task but I am finding there is an art to this as much as anything else I’ve encountered. The first test meals, prototypes, if you will, tasted excellent.  Score one for the home hiker gourmet in me.  However, the packaging left a bit to be desired. The noodles in one of the packages, once vacuum sealed, began to poke holes in the plastic bag when packed and hauled around.  This was done to simulate trail miles and the stresses the meals will be under in a pack and moving around.  So now I’m working on how to buffer the meal in the plastic vacuum bag. The lightest and simplest option is a bit of paper towel between the meal and the side of the bag.  This works really well but then there is the issue of getting the towel out prior to re-hydration.  Yea, I know, “pull it out doofensmirtz”.  Sure, but when you are trying to maximize the amount of meal items in a bag this complicates the process. I’m attempting to package a meat meal with something like instant potatoes or Knorr pasta so it is all in one container but compartmentalized and easy to manage both for packing, meal planning and use. I still have to pack out what I pack in in the way of trash so keeping that to a minimum is crucial to me.  I don’t like the thought of hauling around trash for the better part of a week and certainly not more than I can absolutely cull it down.

I’ve also purchased a new GPS.  After seeing a couple in action at a recent hike/hang in Alabama, I decided to take the plunge.  This is not so much for navigation purposes as I am extremely comfortable with my topo maps and compass of the section I’m going to hike. This is more for judging distance traveled or to travel and keeping track of places I want to make note of on trip reports, etc. I worry most about missing a water source. I already consume a respectable amount of water on a daily basis. This will only increase on the hike and running short is not something I want to face.  I hope to be the guy at the shelter who is helping everyone else with their water needs from my abundance. Got what I think is a really good deal on a GPS on Ebay and I’ll need a little time to familiarize myself with it and its functions. One more thing on the list of gotta get done.

Packing the pack is still a concern. I feel like I’ll be tweaking this up to and even on the trail. There’s a lot of ways to skin a cat. I’ve shucked this Slyvester a half dozen ways already and am still tweaking. Or is that twerking? No, Lord help us, that is tweaking.  The clothing options will be changing right up until the night before my flight I know. I’ll be scouring weather channels and reports on the interweb making certain I know all the possibilities of temp ranges and precipitation or lack there of to expect. I have to pack two bags as I’ll be meeting my wife and kids in TN when I’m done so we can vacation and have some fun. This will certainly complicate things a tad.

Still lots to do and just 30 short days to do it in. Still feels like a million miles away and like tomorrow all in the same instant. I can’t believe I’m gonna do this. I can’t believe my wife is not having a heart attack about me doing this. I still haven’t told my mother. She’s 85 and I’m the baby, if you can call a 6′ 3″ 225lb. man a baby. She would have a fit and worry herself sick about it. I’ve told her many times, what’s the difference between a car or a bear. I’m just as dead either way. At least one way I’ll likely have a smile on my face from doing something I love.  At least right up to the point where the bear eats my face.  I’m not fool hardy. I take common sense precautions and I’ve got a real good radar for stupid. I don’t do stupid. I try not to hang out with stupid but the general population if rife with it so whatcha gonna do?

I hope to post a little bit on my meal preps and how the GPS learning curve will go. I’d like to post on my packing prep as well. It will be anal retentive and a little over the top but if it gives me peace of mind and keeps me from forgetting something important then it’s worth it.  Until then, get outside for Pete sake. You read too many blogs.  You’re pale. Get some sun and fresh air.  Take a friend with you. Go poke the bear.  Just run faster than your friend.

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