Friday, January 8, 2016

Things I Learned

While our big adventure turned out to not be so big (we made it one night and about 7 miles), we did learn quite a lot about what not to do next time.  Or, more specifically, how to pack better.

1. You aren't going to starve.  While making up our food, we went a little overboard with the quantity.  We had more than enough ingredients to make up our meal bags so we packed extra.  "Having extra meals isn't a bad idea" my husband said.  He's wrong.  It is a bad idea. Extra food means extra weight.  Pack what you need.

2. Trail mix is really heavy.  Everything you read tells you to have snacks to eat to keep your energy up.  Hiking with 25+ pounds on your back uses a lot of calories.  And while trail mix might seem like a brilliant idea, it's really heavy (especially when you're worried about starving as I mentioned).  Scrap the trail mix, bring some mini snickers or beef jerky and call it a day.

3. Having wine to drink and cheese and crackers for a celebration the first night is awesome-and heavy.  It's true.  My mom took the bag of wine out of it's box and used the water bladder area of her pack to carry it.  I had the cheese and crackers.  While awesome to have a glass of wine, a plastic flask with some whiskey works too, and is much lighter.

4. You don't need a lot of clothing.  I packed a couple of pants, a few shirts, several pairs of socks and a coat and who knows what else.  I was worried I'd be cold or get wet, I guess.  Next time, I'll be packing my clothes sparingly.  I do think having extra hiking socks is important, but maybe not packing every pair of hiking socks you own.  After all, you can dry them out on the outside of your pack. 

5. You probably don't need 3 tarps.  I purchased 3 small tarps right before leaving mostly because of the impending weather.  Instead of splitting them up, I just packed them all in my pack.  Two were purchased with the intent of using them as footprints and the third was a just in case tarp in the event we needed to rig a tarp roof over the tents.  I think they're important, but next time I'll either split them up or only carry the ones I personally need.

6. You won't be bored, so you can leave the Mad Libs at home. I can see taking something to read or something if you're traveling alone, but in our group, our down time was spent talking to each other, eating and sleeping.  I don't think extras are needed.  Maybe just a small knot tying instruction card so you can practice your knots with your paracord.

7. A backpacking sleeping bag is important.  I borrowed my son's sleeping bag so it would fit into my compression sack and be slightly lighter than my usual sleeping bag.  It was still big and bulky and for my next trip, I'll be seeking out something lighter.

So, that's some of the things I learned on the first attempt at backpacking.  Getting pack weight down is a must.  Mine was around 26 pounds and my husband's was over 30 pounds (because he was gracious enough to carry all of the food).  Hopefully we can get the pack weight down below 25 pounds.

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