I’m starting to get excited for people about to start their thru-hikes! I haven’t really been reading other journals and blogs. I think because I just don’t get on the computer as much anymore. As I’ve started getting interested again, the amazing energy of people about to start their journeys is rubbing off on me. Some people have already started but it’s coming up soon for everyone else and I want to help.
One of the ways I think I can help is by letting hikers know what gear worked for me and what didn’t. Haha so this is probably only interesting to people super into gear or potential thru-hikers. I updated the original list with what I liked or didn’t like about everything, what I kept, sent home, or added. It’s painfully boring but I hope it helps someone on the fence about getting a particular piece of gear. In the grand scheme of things, I’m pretty proud of the prep I did. I kept most of the same gear the entire way and made adjustments for weather or to make life easier.
If you don’t want to go through the insanely geeky list above, here’s a fun summary.
Favorite Gear: Gossamer Gear Mariposa pack – I have such an intense attachment to this thing now – because everything about it was perfect for me. It fit like a glove, had exactly the room I needed, and the back padding came out and made a sweet booty pad to sit on. Lightheart Gear Solo tent w/single awning because it was huge for the weight, no messing with tent poles, and the awning let me chill and watch nature without feeling super exposed if I’d just lifted the rainfly completely. I even ate under the awning a few times when I was sick and tired of being rained on and I was hoping a bear would give me an honorable discharge from my thru-hike.
Least Favorite Gear: Sawyer Bladder – It’s one thing to have gear you don’t like out of personal preference. It’s another to completely not do the thing it was made to do. I broke a BUNCH of these before switching to a Platypus. I take care of my gear. I clean it and try not to just throw it around. I want it to last a long time. What I won’t do is baby my gear. It shouldn’t be too much to ask for outdoor gear to be rugged. Their filters are awesome. Their bladders are not.
Happy I Sent Home: Packa because it was a pain in the ass and convertible pants because I never wore them as shorts. Still like both, just not on a thru-hike.
Happy I Added: Tights because ticks suck and Dr. Bronner’s because some places don’t have soap/shampoo.
Silly Things I Carried: I carried a pumice stone for like 2,000 miles. I had the softest thru-hiker feet in history and I’d do it again. I bought neon-colored fingerless fishnet gloves for Halloween and wore them for a week. Why? I don’t know. I’m Cyndi Loppers. It just felt right. I bought a pair of jeggings (leggings that look like jeans for those of you that don’t know) as a joke. I thought it would be hilarious. They ended up being the best camp pants I’ve ever had. They stayed with me the rest of the way. They were very comfortable, soft, warm, had pockets, and made me giggle when they actually fooled people. Good times.
Silly Things I Saw People Carry: Disclaimer: by “silly” I clearly mean “awesome.” Bucket. I had respect for the bucket. People scoffed. I, on the other hand, was envious that Animal ALWAYS had a chair. Trombone. It helped us get a hitch once. I love you more than words can say, Waldo. Rocks. Seriously. Lots and lots of heart-shaped rocks for when his lady met him at Trail Days. That’s love. Some people refuse to carry a toothbrush handle and this guy had multiple rocks in his pack. Respect, Psychs.
What prompted me to look at that original list was getting things together to sell at a garage sale. I went through all my stuff and my gear was part of it. I never knew how much I had in my house until I lived out of a backpack for seven months. I wouldn’t call myself a hoarder but how on earth did I end up with three french presses? I don’t even use them! I have seven camp stoves. Seven. What? Some women collect shoes. I collect camp stoves. I think I found four corkscrews. Some of it is just things we have two of because we didn’t get rid of it when we moved in together, but some of it is just silly. I found clothes I’ve never worn, not even once. I have six pairs of glasses in prescriptions that nobody currently uses. I’m not sure exactly why this is weighing heavily on me but it is. So we’re doing a shakedown of our lives. We’re selling/donating a LOT of stuff in an effort to live more simply – in preparation for things to come. Like any good hiker we’re adapting and reevaluating our lives like we do our gear. Do I need this? Do we use it every day? Is this luxury item worth lugging around from place to place? We’ve still got a long way to go but so far it feels pretty good.
Another way I hope to help is by going to the A.T. Kickoff at Amicalola Falls State Park. I had plans to keep Pathfinder company on her move to Houston and the timing ended up being just right to make the kickoff. We’ll spend a day or two there before driving the rest of the way home. I’m not sure if we’re going to try and do trail magic or give rides or what, but I’m super excited! I’ve got the A.T. in my veins and I just can’t seem to stay away. This will be my second visit in the four months since I left the trail. That doesn’t sound like a lot but I get extra points for coming all the way from Texas.