Monday, October 03, 2005

Trip Prep Minus Five Days

On Saturday morning, Dog and I took a walk out onto the ski slope. Up the slope, two deer were grazing. They raised their heads to look at us, then returned to grazing. Apparently we weren’t dangerous-looking enough for them to bolt back into the woods.

I spent time over the weekend, getting ready for my West Rim hike. I fired up my new lightweight backpacking stove. It is simple enough that even I could use it without burning myself. And I got it lit on the first try. I’m sure this is a lifelong personal best for me. I also practiced with the tent. This tent is one I’ve only used once or maybe twice before, so I wanted to make sure I remembered how to set it up (I did).

I also did a first run-through of packing, just to see how much the pack weighs. It’s just under 30 pounds without the camera/film, so I expect it will total out at 30 lbs. I gave up my plan of carrying Dog’s sleeping mat with my equipment. It doesn’t fit and it puts the total weight over 30 lbs, so he’s carrying that come hell or high water. I seem to have pounds and pounds of gorp, and I am going to winnow that down a bit before the hike. I also have a lot of energy bars—ditto. I need to add a few first aid items and figure out what additional clothing to take. I’ve already packed the underwear. I’m undecided, at the moment, which clothing to take—I’ll wait for a last weather report before finalizing that.

I might also change my trash bag plans. Rather than take one large industry-sized ziplock bag, I might take several gallon-sized freezer ziplocks instead, at least in part because the trail looks as though it has at least one spot where I can drop trash (Bradley Wales picnic area). Taking smaller bags means I can drop those off and reduce the weight as I go. Of course, eating as I go will reduce the pack weight as well, but since the first day’s walk is the big hill and the second day’s walk is planned for just over 10 miles, reducing the weight early on will make those days a bit easier for me.

The knee is still not perfect, but it is better. I wore a foam brace over the weekend and walked a bit, and it’s now in the range of healing to where I’m starting to think the hike is do-able. I’ve hiked hurt before—my knee didn’t feel “perfect” until the day before I started Alaska’s Chilkoot Trail—a steep rocky trail if ever there was one. And I finished that one.

The knee problem will slow me down, as my stride isn’t quite right yet. Worse, I haven’t been doing my conditioning walks, so I’m not as prepped for the hike as I’d like. The result will be that I’ll be hiking slower than I usually do—how much slower is the question I won’t be able to answer until my feet are on the trail.

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