One thing I’ve been struggling with along my entire hike on the PCT is the amount of stuff I carry. I know my pack is heavy and I’ve been carrying more than most. It seems like there’s two different types of thru-hikers out here – Ultralight hikers and everyone else.
I’m far from being Ultralight. I enjoy the comforts of sleeping in a spacious two-person tent. I sleep incredibly comfortable on a foam pad AND an inflatable sleeping pad. I carry two pairs of shorts because I like the luxury of having a clean pair to change into when I’m halfway in between towns. I carry my water in a super convenient hydration reservoir where I’m able to easily sip on water throughout the day from a tube without having to take my pack off every time I’m thirsty. And I knowingly always seem to carry way more food than I need for each section.
While I have no desire to go ultralight and part with the luxuries and conveniences in my pack, I’ve been wanting to shed some weight because it hurts my back to carry it all.
At our town stop at Northern Kennedy Meadows this week, we had the option to mail our bear canisters home for $25. Hallelujah! This would be my first opportunity to shed some weight from my pack after the High Sierra and Yosemite. No more heavy, oddly shaped, plastic thing to store my food in and shove in my pack while I haul it up and down mountains. Now I could go back to storing food in a food bag, which fits much easier and nicer in my pack than that friggen canister.
Then I removed the brain (the top of my pack) from my pack and sent it home inside my bear canister. This would eliminate extra storage space from my pack, but would force me to be more efficient with how I stored things within my pack. Over the last 1,000+ miles, I’ve been filling the brain of my pack to the rim, causing my pack to be quite top heavy. I moved things like my emergency beacon, paper maps/trail notes, extra ziplock bags and baby wipes in the compartment behind my hydration reservoir. I moved my first aid kit into one of my exterior side pockets on my pack. I put my headlamp in my electronics bag, which I always keep in the main section of my pack. I moved my water filter system to the other exterior side pocket, making it even more convenient to get to when I need it during the day. I also moved my trash bag to my food bag.
Some other things I ditched from my pack to make it a little lighter – finally sent home the stormproof matches because I haven’t used a single one, sent home two extra pair of socks because I only need three pairs (the pair I’m wearing, an extra pair to change into when the first pair gets dirty and a pair to sleep in), sent home my pack rain cover because I’ve yet to use it and drastically reduced the amount of food I’ve been carrying in between towns.
This time around for my food resupply, I carefully went through and planned my meals for each day. I allotted just enough to get me to the next town stop without stuffing my bag with extras of EVERYTHING. I don’t need eight bags of instant mashed potatoes for a five day stretch, especially because I’m sick of them and never want to eat them again.
I’m also officially sick of Rice Krispies Treats, the snack I’ve been eating every day on trail since leaving Campo back in April.
I still haven’t got sick of Top Ramen yet, but I desperately need to change up the flavors from something other than chicken and beef.
I’ve found that my all-time favorite day hike snack of fancy cheese and peppered salami makes quite the tasty meal for thru-hiking. I can get three meals out of one package of salami and bundle of cheese AND it requires zero cooking. It’s also the first meal I eat out of town and the meal I crave the most while on trail. Plus it’s not super heavy to carry as long as I don’t go overboard with the cheese.
PopTarts have surprisingly been making an easy, light, fast and tasty breakfast.
Now that I seem to have my food resupply somewhat under control for this next section, have sent home a few items and removed the brain (extra storage) from the top of my pack, my whole pack looks and feels a lot lighter, even with five days of food and two liters of water.
I’ve been hiking the last 1,000+ miles carrying extra, unnecessary items in my pack, just because or just in case I need them. It feels good to be able to let go of things, lighten my pack and learn to live with less.
My concern now is how will I ever go from living out of a backpack to living in an apartment again? I guess I’ll ford that river when I get to it.
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