Seeing the World

“He was getting excited and interested again, and so forgot to keep his mouth shut. He loved maps…”

—J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Items of note:

1) Last week my maps came! Halfmile, thru-hiker and greatest guy in the world, makes a set of PCT maps available for free. They’re wonderful, with notes about points of interest, water sources, and all that a hiker might want. (They also synch up nicely with an app you can use for self-location.) The tricky bit: there are almost 200 double-sided full-color pages to print out! The wonderful bit: Yogi, who also sells the Pacific Crest Trail Handbook that I’ve found so useful, teamed up with Halfmile to offer at-cost printing and shipping. So a lovely box full of beautiful maps landed in my post office box.

Manifold maps!

Manifold maps!

The first thing that popped into my head was actually Bilbo’s line from the Rankin-Bass cartoon: “Oh, I do love maps. I have quite a collection!” This will be divided up and I’ll only carry the sheets for the section I’m traversing at any one time. This will nicely compliment Halfmile’s app and Guthook’s Guides, which have a terrific feature that shows your position and facing in relation to the trail.

2) Today marks exactly 3 months before my intended start date. Crazy chicken world.

3) After going through all the number crunching and agonizing and technical jiggery-pokery of putting together my gear list, I’ve found that I seem unable to get my base weight (the weight of everything in my pack but not including what I wear or carry in my hands) down below 18 pounds. This is relatively light, but the ultralight gurus would mock me. 15 pounds would be great; many hike in the 10-12 pound range.

So at this point, I’ve decided not to care. Now that I’ve stripped down to what I think of as the lightest load I can devise, I’m going to stop worrying and just carry what I have. No doubt, as all the experienced folks say, I’ll start shedding items I don’t use as I go along, and may even pick up some pieces of gear that end up being wonderful.

This is an exercise in me letting go. This is me leaning into trust. This is good.

“He loved maps, as I have told you before; and he also liked runes and letters and cunning handwriting…”

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6 thoughts on “Seeing the World

  1. I am all about the hikey part of this, but I totally see the equal value and depth of the growth before setting one foot out the door. The letting go. The trust. The patience and heart to see how change shakes out en route (which is crazy chicken scary for those of us who strive to plan excruciatingly well so there need be no change or surprise). Proud of you and your 18 pounds of trust.

    • I’ve come to find that the waiting, planning, and preparation are all part of the journey. I decided a while back that it would have be be, or I would go mad. I’m being trained and shaped in every decision made and hurdle overcome. And the path isn’t magic; this is as much a part of it as stepping out onto the dirt.

  2. I think you’re right about not stressing about the weight. I have a feeling it is only going to take a week or two on the trail to figure out what works and what doesn’t. We have a few things we are starting with but may get shipped home by Mt. Laguna!

    • That’s the attitude I’m trying to cultivate. As an obsessive over-planner, it’s a tough row to hoe.

      I’d love to see your gear lists over on your fine blog: your base weights are wonderfully low, and I’d be intrigued to see how you did it. Your food planning was inspiring, so imagine your packing wisdom would be, too!

  3. So when you think about this weight question…not to be impolite…but does your own weight come into the calculation? Not suggesting anything about the number here, but do hikers go on long fasts to reduce their own weight as they prepare?

    • It isn’t part of any formal calculations, but it is much in mind. I realized a while back that the cutback that would lighten the load most effectively was on my own frame. I have been losing weight this past year, and that’s good because I was carrying quite a bit too much. (In fact, doing a hike a couple of months ago with a 40-pound pack that seemed inordinately heavy, it struck me that I had dropped that much off my body in the previous eight months. It was quite a shock.)

      Generally, though, hikers don’t try to lose weight: the thru-hike itself often results in people losing quite a bit of mass, and starting out too lean is a recipe for collapse. Some folks even have to “bulk up” before hitting the trail. (I feel free to dislike those people intensely.) You are burning so many calories that you inevitably go into a deficit during the journey.

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