A couple weeks ago I visited Blacksburg, Virginia for a couple days to clean up where I had been living. I had stayed at my parents’ place for the last three and a half years and it showed. Some of their friends were going to be using the place so I had to touch it up before they got there. But I didn’t want to just drive there and back, I wanted an adventure, I wanted an escape. So I shoved some gear into my backpack and planned for a trip in the woods.
I made it to Blacksburg around two in the morning and crashed. The next day I quickly cleaned and called a couple of my friends who were still there. I told them what I wanted to do. I had ants in my pants and there was only one sure fix. My friend Daniel and I went over to our friend Scott’s place to talk plans. Daniel had no intentions of coming with us but after hours of discussion, we convinced him to meet us out there after buying some gear from Blue Ridge Mountain Sports. Scott and I made it to hiking just before seven pm. It’s not unusual for us to get a late start but this was a little crazy even for us considering we had sixteen miles to our destination. We headed towards Dragon’s tooth in Catawaba, Virginia, a beautiful mountaintop rock formation with incredible views, possible star-gazing, and good enough shelter from the wind. Continue reading Summer backpacking adventure
I wrote a couple posts about lightweight backpacking last week to summarize my preparation for a sweep to finish hiking the entire Appalachian Trail. Having just graduated, I was stoked about my trip. I was waiting for a rain jacket to come in the mail so that I could peace out and get moving. In my restlessness, on the first day of the new year I asked my friend Scott if he wanted to go climb a mountain. Paris mountain sat just across the valley from my home. It stared at me every time I commuted home. Since I moved in I declared my intentions of standing on top of it and with a snowy peak, it was luring me in stronger than ever before. Continue reading Who is better off: the paraplegic or the lottery winner?
In addition to eliminating gear, it also helps to pick what you must carry carefully. There always seems to be something lighter for either the same price or even less. Usually these gear changes come with no sacrifice of quality and often serve their purpose better. However, sometimes there seems to be no perfect setup and the options are endless. I want to illustrate some of my choices and the frustrations I have had that led me to these gear choices. There are some specific priorities with regards to dropping weight. First and foremost, I try to ditch weight from the pack to relieve my spine of unnecessary burden. Secondly, I try to ditch or minimize gear on my body, such as a watch or shirt. Also of importance but often overlooked is body weight. Many backpackers carry an additional 50 pounds of fat on their abdomen, making their journey difficult and far more dangerous. However, I will only talk about the modifications to gear.
- Pack: Osprey Hornet 32Coming in at 1lb. 4oz. this is one of the lightest packs on the market. This is a huge downsize from my Osprey Exos 58 liter pack and also a huge weight drop of 19 ounces. Additionally, I dropped the “brain” off the top of my pack for another 3 ounces weight savings. The brain is to make little things more accessible but I found that I can put these things into a ziploc bag in the top of my pack for just as much convenience. Additionally, some of the other bells and whistles on this pack can be removed or cut off. I’ll never be carrying an ice axe so I have no need for that loop on the bottom. This pack is frameless, so I am counting on being able to drop enough Continue reading Gear list and review
I posted a couple days ago about my frustration with modern backpacking. I naively thinking that the methods of dropping pack weight were common knowledge. It wasn’t until I saw some of the gear lists from people claiming to pack light that I realized, a lot of the concepts of lightweight backpacking are not well known. Here I want to highlight some pieces of gear that I am not taking on my upcoming ultralight backpacking trip and why.
A roll of TP can weigh up to 6 ounces. That is an enormous amount of weight for a nonessential. While TP can double as a fire starter, the amount needed for that is of insignificant weight. This is a personal choice, I know, and a piece of gear that a lot of people could never imagine doing without. However, I instead use things that I don’t have to carry on my back to accomplish this task. I use sticks without bark, snow, leaves, or even moss. All of these are readily available and accomplish the task equally well. Wiping our asses with paper is only a recent phenomenon, so consider dropping the weight and doing without it.
If I carry a blade at all, I carry the tiny, tiny swiss army knife with scissors, tweezers, a file, and a toothpick that weighs 3/4 of an ounce. I’ve seen men carrying foot long blades into the tame backcountry of the east coast and the only justification I can imagine is compensation. At this point I’ve walked all but two states of the Appalachian Trail Continue reading Ultralight backpacking: ditching useless gear
The simplicity of backpacking has always intrigued me. To carry everything you need to survive on your back is an enlightening and beautiful experience. Truly nothing gets me more excited than to be fully self supported. But when I, with a bulky pack on, look at an animal foraging in the backcountry, I am envious. They carry nothing; they do not know where or when their next meal or drink will come from and yet they are entirely self-sufficient. And when I see men clambering into the woods with pots and jackets and bottles hanging from their fifty plus pound packs, I want to cry. Continue reading Lightweight backpacking
I just got back from another 100 mile adventure through the woods. When my professors cancelled my Monday classes, that opened up the door for me to turn what could have been a simple walk into an epic trek through southwest Virginia.
On Friday, my friends were going backpacking in Grayson highlands near the Tennessee-Virginia state line. I rode down with them but instead of travelling south with them into the familiar, beautiful Grayson Highlands, I decided to head north to cover some new Appalachian Trail territory. On Friday morning at 11 AM I turned north and with a simple “See ya broskies,” I was off walking. I had abandoned my rain gear, my tent, and all extra clothing. I exchanged waterproof, thick boots for running shoes. The physical goal was simple: go as far as possible in 72 hours.
Continue reading Itchy feet treated
“Anything’s possible. It is night on planet earth and I’m alive. And someday, I’ll be dead. Someday I’ll just be bones in a box. But right now, I’m not. And anything is possible…Each moment can just be what it is. There’s no failure. There’s no mistake. I just go there, and live there and whatever happens, happens. And so right now, I’m getting naked and I’m not afraid…” -Suburbia
Continue reading Alive
“I do believe that deprived of the softness of dirt beneath our feet, the freedom of fields, and the warmth of the color green, we all get a little thirsty no matter how urban and new age we think we are.” I wrote that a month and a half before I left for my Appalachian Trail thru-hike attempt but had not read this until several hours ago. At the time I was thirsty for adventure and for a natural setting. When people asked me why I came out onto the trail, my response became, “I had itchy feet.” It was a simple response for the complexity of emotions that brought me to this place. I wanted to move, to live, and to experience and I felt that what I was currently doing was robotic and boring and in some sense it was. I had lost the “thirst” that I have always used to define myself.
Continue reading Thirst