The Barracuda and I leave in 2 days for our 80 miler. We are hiking West to East in order to begin in the rain shadow and hopefully outwalk some of the coldest rain as we cross over The Cascades. That's the theory at least. Towards the end of the hike is the heart of the Columbia River Gorge and I'm hoping we can tack on a few extra miles doing hikes to the many waterfalls. At 100 miles in less than 2 weeks The Barracuda will be squarely into the territory of being able to do the John Muir Trail. If he can handle it, we will be able to easily do the Wonderland Trail later in the Spring and summit St. Helens in the Summer.
As it stands, we are only doing 8 mile days. Both Jules and I think The Barracuda is capable of something more along the lines of 10+, but we don't want to push him. The hiking needs to be his choice. We've never had a break down on the trail (other than painfully extreme weather in New Mexico) and hope to avoid it at all costs. Usually it is the adults who are ready to quit. Often, he bounds away after dropping and unloading his pack to discover some other natural delight.
The last few days have been very full. Gear is all over our house and dishes are dirty in the sink. Finally the basics are all taken care of.
Pack fitting is serious business around here. We are each carrying 25% of our body weight with only two of us. Luckily, Jules has been professionally trained to fit packs and used to be paid a whole lot of money for it.
The obligatory walk about and observation. Both The Barracuda and I have Osprey packs. His is a Jib and will expand with him for the next couple years. Mine is a Talon 44 and I LOVE it.
Food has also been portioned, packaged and weighed. Everything is measured, sealed in mylar packages, and then trimmed as small as possible. Mylar is preferable to plastic bags due to its ability to be reused significantly more times, being heat sealed rather than zipped, customizable size, waterproof even when submerged permanently, and its pest resistance. We have had rodents get into our root cellar and eat freeze packed soups but never infest our mylar. We think this is due to them not being able to smell it, but don't know for sure. Its also just plain cheaper.
Clothing has been laid out, approved by Jules and weighed. The Barracuda will be carrying his sleeping bag (2 pounds), his clothing (3.5 pounds), his warm coat (1 pound), and Kitty, his monocular, and Call of the Wild (5 ounces). Add in the weight of the pack (3 pounds) and he totals 10 pounds 12 ounces with an 11 pound limit.
I get the rest. Water filter (1 pound, 1 ounce), Tent with poles and stakes (1 pound, 9 ounces), First Aid kit (8 ounces), Stove with cookware and soap (2 pounds), Toilet paper and water bladders (7 ounces), Camp shoes for both of us (1 pound, 8 ounces), Rain fly and ground cover (2 pounds), clothing (3 pounds, 3 ounces), 2 fuel canisters (1 pound, 4 ounces), Odwalla bars for lunch (2 pounds, 2 ounces), Dinner and breakfast food (6 pounds, 8 ounces), Cheddar cheese (1 pound), camera with memory card and extra batteries (8 ounces), sleeping bag (2 pounds, 12 ounces), Insulite pads (1 pound, 4 ounces), ground cover (7 ounces), Nalgene (6 ounces), and headlamps and cell phone (8 ounces). Add in my pack weight (1 pound, 12 ounces) and I total 30 pounds 12 ounces with a 32.5 pound limit.
Other than a couple of sketchy backcountry connections, the whole thing looks pretty darn great at this point. The Barracuda is as excited as I am. Hopefully this opens up a giant new territory for him to enjoy and us to explore as a family.