7 Weeks+ Until Departure:
Time to do a shake down on lots of things. I got a new pack I’m intending to use on the section hike. Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60 Lightweight Backpack.
This is a pack I’ve had my eye on for about a year now. Nothing at all wrong with the ULA Circuit that I have. I did the last section hike with it and the pack was near perfect. The Circuit has been my go to pack for all trips whether car camp, group hang or solo. I even pack it and use it for vacation trips with the family. Everything in one spot and easy to carry.
I wanted to try the Mariposa for a couple reasons. One, for the additional pockets. There is a fold over flap pocket that I think will serve me well for quick access items like the FAK (First Aid Kit), wallet, maybe snacks or other bits and bobs. The set up of the side pockets is different from the ULA so the spare water, the cook kit and tarp all get carried differently in this set up as opposed to the ULA. The large back mesh pocket is a little different so I should be able to carry items differently there too. Second, she is technically a good bit lighter than my ULA. 29.6 ounces for the Mariposa, 40.1 for the ULA. There are about an average of 5 ounces on each pack that are things which will be removed as they are added weight of items I don’t use in my normal set up. With that the difference is still about 10+/- ounces between the two. Ounces make pounds and I’m working to keep the pounds to a minimum.
All of this is very different and new compared to what I have been used to for the past two years of hiking with the ULA. I need to see how I want to load the pack, playing with placement of food, shelter and additional clothing. Whether I will use the aluminium curved stay or let the contents set the body of the pack. What can I reasonable use in the hip belt pockets, etc? All of this may seem to be no big deal to the average person and in truth may be of no consequence to the average hiker, but to me they are crucial. I’m all about economy of movement and time when I hike. I want to be able to see all I can see and go as far as my body and time will allow me. That being said, I’m in no crazy speed mode either. However, when I want to do something, eat lunch, get a snack, check the map or compass, set up camp, I want to be efficient in the process. Where things are placed, ease of access and economy of the task is of great importance to me. I’m trying to keep the overall weight, all in food and water, shelter, and equipment at or under 20 pounds for about 50 miles and four days of hiking. This is not what many would consider ultra light but a darn sight better than most average hikers for the same length of time and distance where I see pack weights in the 40 to 50 pound range. That hurts me just thinking about it. Going as light as I am means everything has to work, work every time and work efficiently.
So it’s time for a shake down hike. I’ll go to the Sipsey Wilderness in upper Alabama in a couple weeks and get a chance to wear the pack, play with the set up and get in some no joke elevation change hiking to see how she rides and what I need to tweak in the set up and use areas.
Once this is done, I can have a decision on which pack I will use and which one my son will use and how each of them will be set up.
7 weeks out and I’m already thinking about packing and transport of the backpacks on the airlines and getting through the airports as efficiently and completely as possible. Terrorism sucks on many levels.
If all this works out the way we hope, where will we go next? Well, 2017 may hold yet another section hike on the AT and possibly, dare I say it, a hike and hang in Peru on the Amazon or to Central Asia to the steps of the Caucus Mountains or perhaps a trip to British Columbia. Not sure where God will direct us in 2017 but looking very forward to joining my passion for Jesus Christ with my passion for travel and hiking.
Time for a shake down….and then some shaking up.