Washington, DCUSA 20001
February 19, 2013
Greetings! My NPS annual pass is getting a little dusty, so I'm looking to get out into the back-country for more over-nights this coming season. It's always been a goal to shed pounds (on gear, that is), while putting more miles under my feet.
I served in the Peace Corps in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco, North Africa. During this time, I did several long (12+ mile) hikes with full backpack, including a 5-day, 45-mile trip I organized to do outreach for Operation Smile. That was a few years ago. Recently, I've been doing some solo hikes in Shenandoah in the Spring through Fall, along with a few group back-country trips & car-camping. Longest recent hike with pack was probably 9 miles. Coldest nights, recently, were low 40s to upper 30s.
I did a 9.5-mile loop in Shenandoah (Riprap/Wildcat) with a friend this fall, in October. We used the map from the site to scout some good back-country spots. The weather was good, a few sprinkles on day 2, but otherwise clear. Good hike. Otherwise, I've initiated several friends into back-country hiking on Old Rag and the Billy Goat trail (alas, not everyone has come out for a second hike, though we do remain friends).
I have an REI Kilo Flash 40-degree down bag, a Mountain Hardware Meridian 2 tent, and an Osprey Stratos 40 pack. I'm slowly rotating in UL gear, and just added a Neoair X-therm to my arsenal, and am looking to pick up a lighter tent & pack soon. (Or learn to pack the pad & bag into my Daylight, and use a tarp or bivy sack).
There are several. First, health. I think that hiking long distances at a steady pace, with minimal weight, is some of the best exercise one can get. I usually follow a more "Paleo" philosophy of diet/exercise, and this fits right in. Second, as I get older, the huge, heavy, fully-stocked pack becomes less appealing, and more of a drag--literally. So I'm looking to enhance strategies and build skills using minimal--and minimalist--gear. Third, I'm looking to get into better shape for a couple of obstacle races--and long hikes at pace are perfect for developing a good base. Finally, and most importantly, I think there's just something more spiritually freeing about carrying, and making do with, very little. There's a confidence you have when you know you can rise, throw a few items into a bag, and just go--and walk for miles, with minimal possessions, and be perfectly content. Then there is the dream of getting laid off or furloughed indefinitely, and becoming an AT through-hiker...
It popped up as a suggestion by Meetup.