I’ve been doing that thing every night where you go into a trance staring at your computer looking at gear trying to figure out the exact combination of things that will somehow transcend all of your anticipated hardship and the right before three a.m. when the screen starts to go blurry you just buy some stuff and then a few days later (you’d emailed them- I’m leaving in a week! [exaggerating]) everything arrives and you open the boxes and you’re like, what the fuck is this stuff? And then you feel sort of empty inside because there aren’t any answers.
THE BIG THREE!
The big three are your sleeping system, shelter system and pack. You can cut weight in the little stuff but if you cut weight here it will make the most difference, leaving you room for ridiculous things like two hats- because even though you thought you could rock the ugly camel-colored sun-hat you got at Ross Dress For Less, the thought of being photographed in the thing for the next five months fills you with unutterable dread, and so you are bringing two hats- one for the sun, and a better one for pictures. (Is this deceitful? You decide.)
So I decided to spend some money getting a new sleeping quilt to use instead of my “heavy” down bag, but then in a fit of enthusiasm I bought a new tent and pack too and then I was out $600 (whoops!) but my base weight was (hallelujah!) four pounds lighter.
Everyone talks on their PCT blogs about gear. I am going to try and differentiate my PCT blog from the other PCT blogs by being as weird as possible from here on out. Are you excited about that? Because I am.
So I wrote a post a little while ago about my bag and tent. It was very humble. That post is now wrong, and I have deleted it. Here is my new, more pretentious gear.
The Enlightened Equipment Revelation X 10 degree quilt. Enlightened equipment does this really cool thing where you can order their quilts in seconds fabrics, making them WAY cheaper than other quilts of comparable weight/warmth. I just ordered the 6′ regular 0 degree Revelation X quilt, and am sending back my Jacks R Better Sierra Sniveller, because I think it won’t be warm enough. The two quilts are the same price! I wish I’d found Enlightened Equipment sooner. I was actually going to buy a 10 degree quilt, but it takes them 4 weeks to make your bag and luckily they had a 0 degree in stock that I could order now. If anything I’ll be too warm, which is WAY preferable to being too cold.
This 0 degree quilt weighs just 29 ounces and was only $255. And you can zip up the bottom section to make a footbox. I’m going to pair this sleeping quilt with a Gossamer Gear NightLight sleeping pad, which is brutally hard. I also got a Gossamer Gear Thinlight insulation pad, because it’s only 2.5 ounces, thinking I would maybe use them together. Today I laid both pads on top of each other on the narrow floor of my little trailer and tried them out. It felt like… I was laying on the floor. Let’s see how long I last before I buckle and buy a neo-air.
My old sleeping bag weighed 39 ounces, so WHACK! Now my total base weight is ten ounces lighter.
This was my dream tent that I thought I couldn’t afford. Then I found one on a used gear site for $200! It’s basically a tarp that has full mosquito netting, and it weighs just 9 ounces! The thing came in the mail today, and it feels like it’s made out of tissue paper that’s been reinforced with butterfly wings. And it’s been raining too hard for me to practice setting it up, which apparently is kind of tricky. And it’s the SOLO size, which is a bit narrow, so apparently if I’m caught in the rain I’ll have to sleep JUST SO or else I’ll get soaked. A tarp that’s too narrow, rain in Washington… what’s gonna happen?!!
I’m pairing the hexamid with a poly-cro ground sheet from Gossamer Gear, which it turns out is really a piece of cling-wrap folded into a tidy little square and slipped into a plastic bag. I can’t wait for ultralight cottage gear companies to start making gear that’s, like, invisible. The double-wall tent made out of air! Five hundred dollars and comes with magic beans that go back in time! Packs into negative space! Stores neatly in its own parallel universe!
There’s nothing really I can say about this thing. This pack is AWESOME. Although, to be honest, I haven’t gotten it in the mail yet. It’s probably made out of tissue paper too. If I’m not mistaken, this pack is based on the original sew-your-own-ultralight-pack instructions that Ray Jardine came up with and which you can download from the web. The pack weighs just 16 ounces, and unlike other ultralight packs, it can actually handle larger volumes and more than 20 pounds. My base weight is going to be low, but then in the desert I’m going to be carrying, like, fifteen pounds of water, so I need something that won’t cut into my shoulders. This pack is pretty cheap new, and I then I found one used for $70. Although I love my other pack, which I modified last summer to be much lighter, I was horrified to learn that it still weighs 29 ounces. (I know that this makes me sound like I have anorexia, but for gear.)
The G4 pack has no frame, and instead you use your folded sleeping pad, tucked down inside.
You know what’s even more exciting than gear? FOOD. And if you think gear is expensive, you should try ordering three months’ worth of jerky off the internet! Ouch! Also, I went to Grocery Outlet and it was amazing. I bought nine jars of coconut oil, and that, if nothing else, is going to guarantee that I make it all the way to Canada. I also stood for a while staring at a bag of pork rinds, wondering if they were some sort of awesome trail snack that I had yet to discover. And I bought some instant mashed potatoes and ate them, and they were awful. Seriously though, if you grew up eating food from food banks then you probably feel the same way that I do about instant mashed potatoes. UGH. But luckily I got a really good deal on a GIANT box of dried sweet potatoes on the internet, and that, along with rice noodles from the asian store, is going to be my dinnertime carb of choice. My two #10 cans of mountainhouse freeze-dried ground beef have yet to arrive in the mail- let’s hope freeze-dried ground beef is not the most disgusting thing imaginable.
Two weeks until I fly to LA, and so much still to do! In my downtime I lay in bed and watch the rain and listen to audiobooks that I downloaded from the library. Did you know that the Multnomah County Library has a MASSIVE selection of ebooks and downloadable audiobooks? Fuck yeah, Portland! I’m simultaneously reading that hyperbolic Bill Bryson book about the Appalachian Trail and listening to The Help. I feel like I’m in heaven.
One of the things on my pre-departure to-do list is to have Potato’s balls chopped off. I’ve been procrastinating this event for far too long. It’s hard for me to take my baby puppy treasure to the shady cheap vet for surgery. There are like ten vets that do a low-cost neuter in portland, and they all have appalling yelp reviews. One of the vets is “the most sued veterinarian in Oregon” and another has three reviews from people saying that their pet DIED after the surgery. At the vet I’m going to, their worst offense is that they force you in sort of an angry way to give your pet a topical flea treatment before surgery. This seems arbitrary and sort of sadistic, but it’s better than my dog ending up with his intestines stapled to his abdomen.
Here are Kinnikinnick and Potato looking angelic and cuddly and perfect in my cute tiny home on my nice cozy bed. I am going to be thinking of this bed and of these nice dogs when I am lying in the desert on a foam pad that is exactly as hard as the bare dirt ground.