It’s Almost Time

I’m writing this with a grossly over-full belly and being surprisingly groggy for having drunk only one pint. I have a few hours of classroom training in the morning, and then I head off on my adventure.

I brought everything with me to Leavenworth. As I was trying to gather everything for the hiking trip, I despaired of my ability to get everything into my external frame pack. I cannot fit all of my food in the Ursack. I took a few things out (I don’t need dessert every night, but the bag was already full. The bag had about seven & a half pounds of food, and I wasn’t able to get my lunch bag into it. (I hadn’t purchased everything for the lunches yet, either.

My local REI doesn’t carry the Ursack, so I bought their smallest bear-resistant cannister. The damned thing is huge and it weighs over two pounds. Bah! And there was no way to attach it to my pack that didn’t look ridiculous.

I really didn’t want to switch to the expedition pack. I admitted aloud that I might have to use it. The Hubs replied, “Eight days is an expedition. Use the expedition pack.” I can’t argue with his logic, but I didn’t want to. I relented. I switched everything to the expedition pack. It felt like defeat, though. (It doesn’t help that the expedition pack weighs a pound or two more, too.) But I still brought the external frame pack with me to Leavenworth.

Last night, I managed to get everything into the external frame pack. I ditched the bear cannister. I decided that the thing I can live without out – dessert — will be hung from a tree branch, separate from the rest of the food. I’m terrible with hanging food (I have a devil of a time tossing the rope over a branch), so I try to avoid it. I don’t have a cavalier attitude about it — I believe I have an ethical obligation to not let the bears have my pudding — so I will do my best to get a good counterbalance hang. But I’d rather risk them getting the desert bag.

So it’s all in my smaller, lighter backpack, but this pack still looks ridiculously huge. I envy those thru-hikers with their packs that are half the size of mine. Most of them, though, will cover this section in half the time it may take me. I’m giving myself an average of ten miles a day; if I manage more, that’s great. I’d just rather error on the side of caution.

One reason my pack is so big is the two sleeping bags. But I’m not ready to spend yet more money on an underquilt when my 45F bag will work (and it gives me the option of zipping it up over my 25F bag). I decided to see if I could get both of them into a stuff sack instead of the sleeping bag compartment — it worked, but the stuff sack is so plump it made it difficult to get the straps that attach it to the pack around it. The hammock gear had been in that stuff sack; it’s now in the sleeping bag compartment, along with the bag that holds clothing and a few other things. An acquaintance suggested leaving the bug netting behind, and although I scoffed initially I ultimately agreed. It’s likely to be in the 30’s at night, so bugs shouldn’t be a problem.

I didn’t weigh my pack before I left the house. As I mentioned, I had about 7 1/2 pounds of food, not counting the lunches. That’ll probably put me around nine pounds, maybe ten. That’s kind of heavy, but that’s still around 1.25 pounds per day — not bad, considering that there’s no freeze-dried meals in there.

I tested out the Garmin InReach today by having it track my walk to the ranger station & back. It did well, but there’s no tree cover along the highway. I plan to walk in Waterfront Park in the morning to see how it does in the trees. It’d be nice to get an idea of its working battery life, too.

We should finish up our training around noon. I plan to stop at the grocers’ to pick up summer sausage for lunches, and then head for the hills. I’m excited. A little intimidated. Wondering how I’ll do on my own for a week. Wondering how I’ll do hauling all the weight up those hills. Wondering how I’ll do throwing a bear rope over a branch…


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