Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Generic Gear list

I don't actually have all of this gear today, but this is my "idealized" total gear list.  For some of these things, I'm using surogates until I can get around to picking up what I actually want.  For others, I need to actually still buy stuff, because I don't have a good surogate in my possession right now.  The format for this list is from a Karen Berger book on ultralight hiking.

Primary Gear
  • Cabela's "Perfekt" Light Hikers by Meindl -- currently using some Keen hiking shoes, but will want to replace with something more "serious."  The Perfekt Meindl brands get rave reviews, plus I like the look of them.  Ideally, I'd also have some "Perfekt" 7" hikers; the slightly larger version.  I'm not really cool on the idea of hiking in tennis shoes, or running shoes, or even "trail runners."  Ankle injuries are, after all, the most common injuries for hikers, and I'd hate to ruin my trip by rolling or spraining (or breaking!) my ankle just to reduce a little bit of weight on my feet.  Besides, I actually like wearing hiking boots.  It makes a bold fashion statement, even when you're not actually hiking!
  • North Face Terra 65 pack.  For larger trips, I'd like to have a bigger backup, the Kelty Coyote 80L.  I need to still buy both of them, unfortunately.
Camping Gear
  • REI Passage 1 Footprint and Passage 1 Tent -- currently have a Coleman 2-man; I'd like to upgrade to something a big sturdier and yet lighter (albeit considerably more expensive.)
  • Therm-A-Rest Z-Lite Sleeping pad
  • Kelty Cosmic Down 40 Sleeping Bag (I don't currently own a lightweight bag, so this'll save a few pounds over my existing "regular" 40 weight Coleman sleeping bags.
Clothing you Wear
  • Cabela's boonie hat
  • Old Navy Men's Active Tri-Coat Fleece Hoodie
  • Nylon t-shirt
  • Under Armor (or other) Compression shorts -- to prevent chafing, because man, hiking sucks when you chafe.
  • Old Navy cargo shorts
  • Field & Stream Coolmax liner socks
  • Rocky Midweight merino wool boot socks
Clothing you Carry
  • Extra nylon t-shirt
  • Men's Active by Old Navy track pants
  • Add'l liner and boot socks (3 pair of each)
  • Cabela's GORE-TEX Thinsulate Deluxe II Shooting Gloves -- for thin, skin-like feel yet sufficient warmth.
  • Frogg Toggs Pro Action Suit -- raingear
  • Addt'l compression shorts
  • Huntworth Fleece-lined balaclava -- mostly used as a knit cap at night and when it's cold, but why not get a balaclava for when you really want it?
  • Under Armor Men's 3.0 Baselayer pants and shirt
Cooking/Eating Gear
  • MSR 4 oz. canister
  • Dollar Store lighter
  • Libman 100pct copper scrubber
  • Jetboil Zip Cooking system
  • Small pocket knife
  • BearVault BV450 Solo Food Container (when needed)
  • Spoon
Water/Drinking Equipment
  • Camelbak bladder
  • 3- liter empty soda bottle for addt'l water
  • Potable Aqua water purification technology (tablets)  Or, in a pinch, I can strain water through a shirt and then boil and strain again to get good water when carrying/buying less stuff is more important than spending a few minutes doing it on the trail.
  • Nikon Coolpix L24.  Or, in a pinch, the camera I already have, but I think a cheap yet pretty good camera devoted to taking on hiking trips would be nice.
  • Men's Cuthbert Sandals -- mostly for stream crossings, but also sometimes for time spent at camp when getting my feet out of my boots feels nice.
  • Silva Starter 1-2-3 Compass
  • Homemade first aid kit
  • Cabela's Alaskan Guide XR Headlamp by Princeton Tec
  • Dollar store batteries
  • Insect repellent
  • Dollar store comp book and mechanical pencils for journaling/notes
  • Chapstick
  • Wilderness Guide books or Topo maps (as appropriate for specific trip I'm on)
  • Pocket sized Book of Mormon -- for reading as evening approaches
  • Sea to Summit Ultra-Light Packcover
  • Homemade repair kit
  • Rope
  • Sunscreen
  • Homemade wash kit/toiletries
In a pinch, I can be on the trail right now using surrogates I already have for many of these items for about $500.  Ideally, though, getting everything I want is more like $1,700.  So... not a ton of money, but a big enough chunk that I'll probably dribble gear in over the course of months until I have my idealized gear list completely put together.

List of high priority hikes to make

I love lists.  This is one; my kind of "top picks" for hikes I'd like to do in the relatively short term.  Short term is relative, though--this list will probably take me years to complete.
  • Wind Rivers--Cirque of the Towers loop from Big Sandy trailhead
  • Teton Crest Trail
  • High Uinta Wilderness--probably more interested in hiking to various basins and exploring rather than doing an end to end trip of the Highline Trail.
  • Various Glacier National Park day hikes, including Highline Trail and hike to Icerberg Lake (among others)
  • Various Moab UT day hikes, including exploring the Fisher Towers, and a good solid week or so of day hikes in Arches National Park.  Also a few days to hike to and camp in Chesler Park.
  • Devil's Postpile to Thousand Island Lakes loop via PCT and JMT sections.
  • Rae Lakes Loop (as described in Potterfield's book.)
  • Maroon Bells loop in Snowmass Wilderness.
  • Mt. Timpanogos summit, including stops at the airplane crash sites.
  • Chicago Basin exploration and base-camp, to summit Sunlight Peak in the San Juans.
  • Exploration of the White Trinity Alps, to Papoose Lake and/or Grizzly Lake
  • Hurricane Wash to Coyote Gulch to Stevens Arch, then back again.
  • Summit Mt. LeConte via Alum Bluffs and the Natural Arch in Great Smokies.  Preferably in October.
  • Chisos Rim and desert loop in Big Bend National Park.
  • Art Loeb Trail, in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Again, October is higly desirable.
  • Mount Rushmore-Harney Peak Loop--as described in Potterfield's book.)
  • Grand Canyon loop hikes--either Rim to Rim to Rim, or the Hermit-Tonto-Bright Angel loops
  • Wonderland Trail
  • A good Sawtooth Mountains loop hike
  • Eagle Cap wilderness exploration

Philosophical approach to hiking

As I've read a lot of books and blogs and whatnot on hiking recently, I've come to realize that lots of folks hike for lots of different reasons.  As I'm gearing up to make hiking a major part of my life (again, after many years of it being fairly fallow) I've had to ask myself what I like about it, and what I hope to get out of it.

In particular, I've had to examine the priorities and approach of the "uber-hikers"--the thru-hikers of long trails like the AT or the PCT, and the ultra-lite zealots who approach weight reduction like a religious imperative (and to many, Ray Jardin is their prophet.)

When I was hiking much more regularly, ultralite wasn't really a thing yet, or if it was, I was certainly completely unaware of it.  I hiked with a big external frame pack, as did everyone I knew.  I hiked in big hiking boots.  I did, however, on my own, come to the conclusion that a lot of stuff people brought was unnecessary, and after several smaller overnighters, I started thrifiting my pack of stuff that I wasn't using.  While many of my compatriots bore their heavier packs as a badge of honor, mine ended up being among the lightest of our group, because I didn't bring stuff that they took for granted that you needed to have.  So in many ways, when ultralite became a thing, I was probably pre-disposed to already enjoy that.

However, believe it or not, that's not really true.  I don't necessarily enjoy hiking for its own sake, I enjoy it because it allows me to reach places that I otherwise couldn't see.  I enjoy the solitude, and the scenery, and the break from my routine.  "Uberhikers" who put in big miles, and get their satisfaction from the sense of accomplishment of having done something big and monumental or whatever employ a paradigm that I honestly don't quite get.  Taking your time and enjoying the experience is more my speed.

So, while even so, lighter weight gear is, of course, just as useful to me with that paradigm as it is to uberhikers, the almost fetishization of lightweight is not.  I'm not always interested in shaving off a few ounces from every piece of gear if I otherwise quite like the gear that I've selected, for instance.  The (possibly apocryphal) stories of folks cutting the handles off of their toothbrushes, or drilling holes in their titanium sporks strike me as extreme devotion to the God of lightweight, where I'm much more casual in my worship.  Lightweight is good, but it's not everything.

I've also decided that, as much as the romanticization of thru-hiking something like the PCT has gripped me in the past, I don't really want to ever do that.  The JMT is probably the longest single trip I would consider in one go--and more likely, I'd prefer smaller trips of about a week at a time.  I'd rather hike to the highlights, taking my time, with a lot of down time to enjoy the scenery and the solitude in a relaxed environment, where I don't have big goals of mileage to cover, or anything like that.  Frankly, where possible, I'd even like day hikes, where I can buy dinner at a restaurant and sleep in a bed after a day on the trail, and I only have to carry a Camelbak and a bit of lunch/snacks, instead of a backpack full of gear.  Plus, that allows me to bring more of my family along.  My wife really isn't much for overnight backpacker trips, although day hikes are right up her alley.  And although I like the solitude, I really want to also enjoy it with someone, after all.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Claiming space

I talk a fair bit about hiking on my other blog, which isn't really about that topic.  I'd like to get to the point where I'm talking about specific hikes that I take and posting pictures.  Sadly, it doesn't seem likely that I'll take nearly as many hikes as I want to.

But, I'm going to claim this space now anyway.

Lone Star Hiker has to do with the fact that I'm a Texas native.  I don't currently live in Texas, nor is this about hiking in Texas (necessarily).  It has to do with the fact that I'm insanely jingoistic about Texas.  :)