There are just 19 days before we hit the trail. For me, that means just 17 days until I leave town to head for Georgia. Our friend Tim, who’ll be hiking the first two weeks with us, has just 16 days until he leaves home in Monkton, VT to drive to Rochester. Tim and I will drive down to meet Melissa at the Hiker Hostel in Dahlonega, GA where we’ll overnight before the hike. Melissa will be flying from New York to Atlanta 18 days from now. She has left her pack and almost all her gear here in Rochester, for Tim and I to bring in the car (it would really screw up our start if the airline lost or damaged her pack, so why risk it?). This being the only weekend Melissa has available for big preparations, we had to finalize the gear decisions before she drove back to New York today.
So, for Melissa and I, this was a FULL weekend of preparations. We spread all our stuff out in the living room and dining room. At times, we spilled over into the kitchen. We went through list after list, checking off the gear we’ll need, the gear we’d like to carry (if not too heavy!) and the things we’ll definitely have to leave behind. Then we made lists of the items we still need to purchase. (“This windbreaker’s too heavy!” “What about rain pants?” “I need a different size stuff sack!” “Should we take vitamins?” etc.)
We shopped. We counted daily vitamins into Ziploc bags.
We distributed the vitamins, small bottles of hand sanitizer, travel-size toothpastes, lotions, and other medical and personal needs into the drop boxes we’ll have sent to us along the way. We shopped more. We repacked things, tossing the excessive manufacturer’s packing materials. We prepared a small first-aid kit. We stuff-bagged things. We weighed things. We packed things and repacked things. We weighed our packs.
I read somewhere something like “The more I carry, the more I enjoy camping. The less I carry, the more I enjoy hiking. We want to enjoy it all, so we made some compromises. After loading all the gear into the packs (distributed about proportionally to our body weights), since three days will be about the average load of food we’ll carry, we added three days worth of food (from yet-unsent drop boxes) into each pack. We weighed the packs yet again, and added about three pounds to each pack’s weight to account for about 1.5 L of water each.
Now for the moment of truth.
The question had been lurking in my mind for several weeks.
The bottom line: Our packs weigh about twenty percent of our body weights. Ultralight-style hikers would find ways to cut that in half, but we’re pretty satisfied. We reserve the right to rethink this several times, especially after the first day on the trail!