“Drop completely the term “fastpack.” You are backpacking, so call it that. There is a very well developed community of backpackers who take an endurance athlete’s approach to the activity, myself included. I’d encourage you to join it rather than try to create a new niche in the ultra niche. Don’t create distinctions where there are none. I’ll add that I find “fastpacking” to sound very elitist — it’s as if runners can’t admit that they are “backpacking” and it implies that the rest of us are just “slowpacking.”
Skurka left that comment on an article written about fastpacking a few months ago. To be perfectly honest, to me it was nonsensical. I dropped a quote on one of my previous posts from a climber demoting mountaineering to “hiking and camping”. As absurd as it sounds, it’s absolutely accurate. Whether hiking in Shenandoah National Park or climbing Everest, you’re mostly walking and sleeping. But if we didn’t have the term mountaineering, we may not know whether our friend just climbed Everest or went on a stroll in Nepal. His argument is synonymous to saying we don’t need the term whale because it’s just a mammal or we don’t need to term hiking because it’s just walking.
I’m super stoked about some new pieces of ultralight backpacking gear I got in the last few days. At 2.19 ounces, the Asics Top Impact shorts were the biggest drop from my gear weight in months. They’re incredibly comfortable but with their minimalist design, tend to be a little revealing. So far they’re the lightest shorts I could find and weigh in at little more than a Snickers bar. I guess I’ll just have to get used to all the ladies checking out my sexy white thighs.Continue reading Final ultralight backpacking gear modifications→
I had a couple good days of hiking this past weekend out in Shenandoah National Park. 35 miles on Saturday and 38 on Sunday. Not huge days but were solid training back out in the mountains. It was the first great weekend of spring and it was wonderful seeing so many other people enjoying the beautiful weather after several lonely hikes this winter.
You can check out the GPS files for each day here and here. I’ve tried keeping a good training log to track my progress and for transparency but it’s been harder than I anticipated. At least these two files give some idea of what pace I hit, how long my breaks are, and where and when I may need to adjust my pace and mileage.
I’ve posted several theoretical gear lists over the past few weeks and just wanted to post an update of an actual gear list that I’ll be using on a trip down in the Smokies this upcoming week. I just got done with a string of five exams in the last two weeks and with my first med school spring break having just begun, I am stoked to be getting out in the woods for a short fastpacking trip. I’ve laid everything out and with low temps in the low 40s, think I can get away with a base weight of just below 3.5 pounds, FSO (from skin out) base of 5.74 pounds. The trip is the 170 mile North loop of the Benton MacKaye Trail/Appalachian Trail in Great Smoky Mountain National Park starting from Twentymile Ranger Station near Fontana Dam, heading north on the BMT, resupplying at Davenport Gap, then back south on the AT. The theoretical total was 8.7 lbs. but it ended up coming out to 7.8 with 2 days with food and 1L water.
Recently I’ve disappeared from the triathlon scene. I know I’ve kind of disappointed some people. With the college degree in hand and the ability to pick the next step, I know a lot of people hoped I would explore my endurance capabilities. I’ve struggled with inspiration in seeing the worth of such an endeavor. However, the mental inhibition from my curiosity has not been the primary reason for my backing away from the endurance community. My lack of training was entirely involuntary, set in stone by an ankle sprain on New Year’s Day. A foolish question of the party of the night would be mistaken. I was trail running with a couple friends, exploring mountain peaks and bushwhacking through mazes of snowy slopes covered in thorny briers. Wearing MICROspikes which gave my feet a little too much traction, my ankle rolled, tearing two ligaments on an already bum leg.
With an appointment scheduled the next day to find a tiny fracture on my patella, the diagnosis was quick. With an ankle the size of a softball, my leg was booted up and I was on crutches for six weeks. At the end of the six weeks though, something was still not right. Continue reading Triathlon hiatus→
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?→
This is an article that was written a month after my high school graduation and published in The Richmond Times Dispatch. Andy Thompson, the writer of the article, met me out riding the James River trail system a couple weeks before the event. I knew he was a sports columnist because I had read several of his articles and we ended up riding for several miles together, conversing the whole way. He came to the event to spectate the pro race. But, when I crossed the finish line first in the sprint race, I managed to attract his attention to write a column on another story. I hope I can satisfy these expectations established when I was such a young athlete. Continue reading Xterra Sport Richmond ’08→