In a few short weeks I will be living on a trail again and yet I am still undecided on some of my gear choices. Right now, I know I have too much in my pack. When I started hiking the Appalachian Trail I also had too much in my pack. It took months of living on the trail and realising just how little I actually needed to survive before I felt comfortable enough to ditch the extra weight. Even then the ditching process took almost the entire trail. I was still stripping away my possessions in New Hampshire.
I'd like to think that I continued that process as I returned from the trail to downsize to a bus but the truth is that I have picked up some of my old habits. As I go through my gear options I can't help but think but what if I really need this. What if this item is what I need to keep warm one night? Will that one night of warmth justify carrying this? And my miniscule repair kit, do I really need It? It's so hard to think back to what I had left in my pack in Maine and be ok with just starting out with those items.
I have a small bag of safety items that I am pretty sure is just extra weight but I can't seem to part with. This is a different trail after all, and I don't really know what I'm going to need yet. I may be starting out with it and if I find.i don't need it I will mail it ahead. I may need it in the High Sierras.
The rest of the extra weight comes in the form of things that keep me comfortable and electronics. I know it is extra but these things enhance my hike. Knowing I have a warm albeit heavier top quilt makes me feel safer. Having a larger tarp that can be used for wind, rain and sun protection makes me.feel like i can manage in any weather condition. I'm even carrying a piece of a wash cloth this time as it does a better job than a bandana at getting rid of the crime and dirt at night. I know I don't need it but I like the feel of clean feet when I sleep..
And the technological stuff? Prior to hiking I was never a creative person and could never keep a journal but on trail I love writing down my thoughts. Having a cell phone and a way to charge it allows me to take pictures, capture memories and write down my stories. I kind of use my phone as a multi purpose tool as I load it up with maps, altimeter, peak scanners and fun stuff like plant identifiers and star gazing apps. If I'm carrying the weight already I might as well make use of it.
So this is why my pack is heavy. I can't part with any of it right now. I can guarantee it will get lighter as I hike down the trail but until I learn what I can part with, it's all coming!
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