Are We There Yet?

Well, according to my “scientific” studies, the Esbit – Heini Keg boiling tests were not very impressive.  Here’s a pic of a wrapped tablet and an opened tablet ready to light.

esbit_sealed

esbit_opened

I got all setup outside on a breezy day and started with 2 cups of water at approx 35 deg(f).  Like I said, real “scientific”.  With the Esbit tab resting on top of a cotton ball dipped in Vaseline on top of a small square of aluminum foil I lit it up.  Put the pot/windscreen on top and started the timer.  Results: 10 min to a rolling boil.  The tab burned out at about the 13 min mark.  While 10 min may or may not be typical with any other Esbit setup under the same conditions (to be honest, I haven’t even looked into that), it’s a far cry from the 3 min or less with the JetBoil .  I don’t typically wait around for a rolling boil and I suppose a wee bit of time will be shaved off by being at a slightly higher elevation (assuming similar conditions as above).  I could mess around with trying to fine-tune the windscreen and pot height but I think I’ll just leave it as-is.  7 or 8 min should be adequate for 1-1/2 cups or so to re-hydrate a meal.

I put up my first-ever actual gear list for the AT section hike coming up with Deep Woods. You can find that here. Try not to laugh too hard.  (Still wrapping it up so keep checking back).  All items were weighed on a cheap Harbor Freight digital scale so YMMV.  This is a “tentative” list mind you.  I may switch things up a bit before heading out but my base weight shouldn’t change by too much.  And it’s based upon starting out with 4-1/2 days worth of consumables.  We’ll resupply in Hot Springs to finish out the last 2-1/2 days.  All of that said, I gotta admit that I’m getting just plain fed up with mucking with spreadsheets and obsessing over the weight I carry.  Don’t get me wrong, you need to pay attention to that stuff and it only makes sense to try to shave weight where you can…keeping your personal level of comfort and, even more so, safety in mind.  And of course you have to take into account what your budget allows for.  At this point, though, I just want to get the heck out there and hike!  Now that Loonie and I have pretty much gathered up the goods to hike we just want to hike.  That’s the whole idea, right?  Get outdoors.  Enough already!!!!!!!!!!  I can’t imagine what Grandma Gatewood would be thinking about all of this.  It would make a lot more sense to concentrate on getting ourselves in shape physically than stressing over fractions of ounces of gear.  Losing a few pounds of body fat goes a lot further than cutting down your tooth brush handle.  Now, if I could just talk Loonie into letting me quit my job and joining me on thru hikes of the AT and PCT!  At the pace Deep Woods and I are going, I’m going to have to add a walker to the list because I’ll need one to finish.

A few rants about gear lists (as if you really care).

  1. I hate the pissing contests people get into over them.  I publish mine here merely in the hopes that someone might glean some insight as to what worked and didn’t work for me and maybe they can share their thoughts on how I might improve upon what I’m currently using and/or doing.  Hopefully I can learn something.  I’ve archived some very basic lists from years past so I can refer back to them and evaluate if I should revert back to using something I thought was too heavy.  Other than that, I use them only as a checklist to make sure I’m not leaving something behind.  That’s it.  Please save your “My stuff’s lighter than yours” crap for someone else, thank you.  Otherwise, let me know what you think.
  2. I love how people seem to carry 10 lbs of crap in their pants pockets so they can say their base weight is less.  Whatever.  Personally, I don’t want my cell phone clunking along in my pants cargo or rear pocket all day.  Seems to make more sense carrying it in a hip belt or shoulder strap pocket.  In the end it’s all going to boil down to your Full-Skin-Out weight anyway.
  3. What you see on my gear list is EVERYTHING I’m taking along.  I’m not going to throw you one of those “Oh, and just so you know, here’s what else I take along” lines.  If I swap things out due to crazy changes in the forecast or whatever (like succumbing to the temptation of hauling along a bunch of little chocolate donuts) before I leave on a trip, then the list will change accordingly.

Finally, my solo gear represents the way I prefer to hike.  That is, AS SIMPLE AS POSSIBLE for what I feel my skills and minimum comfort requirements allow for.  My job requires me to spend much of my day sitting in front of a computer.  When I set out on a solo trip I want there to be as few distractions from my experience with the surroundings as possible.  And I want as little gear as possible to fuss over.  I’ve had to make some trade-offs weight-wise here and there to account for the Essential Tremor but those have been minor.  One could certainly question why I’m carrying a freakin’ 8.85 oz phone.  I understand.  But I simply will not sacrifice the ability to document my experiences.  It provides me with a camera, a video recorder, a means of keeping a journal, a simple GPS should the need arise and assuming coverage is available, and many other useful things.  I have first aid apps, survival apps, knot apps, all sorts of apps for those times when my old-man memory fails me.  And of course, there’s the ability, when coverage is available, to let Loonie know I’m still alive (something she demands!).  All of that in one simple package.  The larger phones are easier for me to use with the tremor but it’s about time I started considering lighter options.

So, long story short, HYOH!  And my disclaimer: Just because you read about or found something here that I do/use and you choose to do/use the same, I’m in no way responsible for you getting yourself into a situation you’re not prepared for or competent enough to get yourself out of.

Moving on.  The Enlightened Equipment Accomplice Quilt, Booties and Hoodlum arrived and they are freakin’ slick!  Workmanship seems top notch.  As far as the quilt, I’m 6 ft tall on the button yet I didn’t feel cramped at all with the regular length.  We both have ample room to stretch out.  Each of us can snap shut and draw in our respective neck opening to seal off drafts but we’ll probably leave them open so we can snuggle.  That’s the whole idea behind a twin bag, right?   Our full length Exped pads fit well within the included elastic straps, though the pads tend to curl when you’re not laying on them.  Not a big deal.  The quilt fits nice and neat in the bottom compartment of the Osprey Atmos AG without being overly compressed.  Excellent!

ee_accomplice_quilt

She got the 2.1 oz/sqyd Climashield Apex Sidekick Booties in size Medium (Womens 7.5-9) and they fit perfect over a thick pair of merino wool socks.  The Hoodlum is only available as “one size fits most” and it does seem a bit big on her.  However, it’s long enough that the bottom extends well down inside of your jacket or quilt, sealing off any drafts.  Your face can be left fully exposed or you can draw it up pretty tight, leaving only enough space to see out of.  Or any where in between.  Very versatile.  She should get some good use out of both items.  Both items are also available in 4.0 oz/sqyd Climashield Apex.

ee_booties_hood

Enlightened Equipment’s Sidekick booties (L) and Hoodlum hood (R)

Weather in the park over the next few days, especially at the higher elevations, looks like it may be pretty rough. Several inches of snow, down into the teens, and some pretty high winds. I hope all those on the trail right now stay safe and sound. Won’t be much longer until Loonie and I hit the trail and while we’ll be spending nearly our entire trip lower in the park, we’ll be starting up near Clingmans and it looks like we’ll have a number of water crossings on our way to 24 the first day. Fingers crossed for some dry, warm and sunny days ahead!

More to come…

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