Liners and Gaiters and Bear Cans (Oh my!) T-41

When delving in to the world of long distance hiking, you almost immediately encounter endless gear lists and a near religious obsession with pack weight. I get it. If you are going to carry something for any significant distance, it makes good sense to have everything deliver value exceeding its weight (and the space necessary to bring it along). Some things are non-negotiable like backpack, sleeping bag, and shelter aka The Big Three.

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The Big Three

As a Boy Scout in the late 1970s, enormous, external frame packs reigned were de rigueur and while some attention was paid to weight, ‘Be Prepared’ often translated into bulky, heavy packs. Fast forwarding to more recent times, pack frames went internal and most all equipment became smaller and lighter. Even so, my ‘old school’ mentality resulted in trips up Mt Rainier and elsewhere lugging 60+ pound loads even while appearing more streamlined. That I looked better doing it did not necessarily mean it was any easier.

Confronting the challenge of thru-hiking the PCT, it seems prudent to rethink my approach. Being mistaken for a day hiker with a tiny pack appears to be the ultimate form of flattery for the new breed ‘ultralight’ hiker. These folks worry their loads down to fractions of ounces and often compare their lists with others online. A ‘pack teardown’ is when one hiker critiques the gear choices made by another hiker with the goal of reducing to the smallest and lightest load possible.

I must admit I got caught up a bit in the mania and have published a preliminary gear list. Indeed, there’s an app for that too.  I am not much interested in measuring and comparing ‘pack’ size but I am all about gear choices that serve as efficiently as possible. Let me tell you, outdoor gear has come a long way since my days as a Boy Scout. I pulled out all my existing gear and almost to an item, technology and design has improved.

If you peruse my list, you can see that I’m not necessarily solving for smallest and lightest. It’s more like smallest and lightest that will make the hike not just bearable but also enjoyable. I am trying to get my base weight – all equipment but no food or water- down to under 20 pounds. For those who know me well won’t be surprised to find camera and electronics make up a significant percentage of clearly extraneous pack weight. What can I say? I like my gadgets and I want to use what I can to share my adventure with others. I’ll carry it and you will benefit. Good deal no?

Walking My Way Home

Tomorrow I complete my journey of 24+ years working for Microsoft and I am eager start my next chapter. Thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) from Mexico to Canada will fill my immediate future and after I make it back home, I’m confident that I’ll have some insight into what comes next.

Lots more about the trail, planning, and logistics later but for now, here’s the brief note I sent to all the amazing, talented Microsoft people with whom I had the privilege of working:

Journey’s End

Interestingly enough, I began my Microsoft journey precisely 9000 days ago(!) so today marks the close of a big, personal chapter.  I carry forward great memories of changing the world with the likes of you all and wish everyone nothing but continued success in whatever stirs your heart. Lifeproof 77-52563 FRE Waterproof Case 3pt52oz (4)

As for more me, I’m off to realize my long held dream of thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada.  I start north on May 9th and will finish sometime mid-September after 2650 miles, ~6MM steps, and >600K calories consumed.  If so inclined, you can follow my story at www.walkingmywayhome.com.  Honestly, the blogging seems much more daunting to me than the hiking but I’m committed to discovering whether or not that’s true.

 Let the journey begin!

I hope you didn’t miss the part above about my fear of blogging. I have little idea what I’m getting into and ask for your patience as I discover my voice and learn the ins/outs of WordPress.  My first attempt did not go so well when my first and all too clever blog name- walkingawayhome- had my wife convinced I was angling for divorce. Rest assured dear reader that nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, Katrina’s blessing for my happy little dream stands as further evidence of my great good fortune in life. I’m a lucky man.

If you choose to come along, I pledge an honest account of both trail adventure and self-discovery. Who knows what we’ll find? I hope you will join me as I walk my way home.