Friday, August 17, 2012

Hiking Stuff


The weather has cooled a few degrees here in Southern AZ, and tomorrow I'm taking the kids out for our first "fall" hike.  We didn't get to hike much over the summer-- we couldn't quite escape the heat most of the time and never did make it up Mt. Lemmon (weirdly).  And so I just collected my gear and sorted it into what I'd need tomorrow and what I only take on longer backpacks.  Into my smaller,  28 liter pack with a wishbone wire hoop suspension and aircraft aluminum internal frame(my gift to myself for completing my national board portfolio), I put my first aid kit (including blister pads), Gerber mini multitool, alcohol-based hand sanitizer, compass/safety whistle, monocle, nanotowl, broad spectrum UVA/UVB sunscreen, windbreaker in a stuff sack, matches in waterproof Girl-Scout-nostalgio-retro orange canister, trekking poles, laminated wildlife guides, trail book, and my reservoir.  Or, if you prefer, bladder.  A.K.A. Camelbak. I can't find my bandanas and I think Rich stole them.  Just a theory.

In the fall of 2009 I began training to hike the Grand Canyon rim to rim (which I did with five other women, led by our fearless leader Suzanne.) When I first began, I had a lot of weight to lose. I hadn't hiked in a very long time. I was honestly afraid I wouldn't be ready for the Grand Canyon the following June. Suzanne had total confidence in all of us. I promised myself that I would not buy equipment until I showed myself that I was actually going to do this.

I began in my $35 cross-trainers and regular clothing.  After four or five hikes, I invested in good boots, and wool socks (which made a HUGE difference).  Then came good water bottles.  Soon after, a reservoir.  Even though my day pack wasn't built for one, it was worth rigging it in there to avoid having to stop to open a bottle to get a sip of water.  I couldn't believe I had to spend $30 on that.  After that, I didn't buy much for a while.  Good shoes and easy water were all I really needed to train.

But part of the fun of new hobbies is learning the tools of the hobby.  Beyond the inspiring and renewing experience of being outdoors and witnessing the most glorious spring wildflower display anyone could ever remember seeing, our group found much material pleasure in discussing the pros and cons of various equipment.  During the last 6-8 weeks of training I purchased my trekking poles, multitool, 40 liter backpack, ripstop nylon convertible hiking pants, spork, lightweight wide-brim hat, collapsible bowl, etc., etc.  I had proven my commitment to myself, and if I was going to be a backpacker, at my age and weight better equipment definitely helped me enjoy myself more.

Our other favorite topic of conversation during our training hikes was trail snacks.  However, that's a topic for another blog entry.  I must go sleep, rest being another priority high on my hiking preparation list.

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