Monday, January 10, 2011

Gearing Up to Go

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.

Adjustments are made and the process repeats itself. If done correctly, it should take over a half hour. For some reason I chose my exceptionally unflattering wool knickers to wear during the photography.

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.

An entire days worth of food for both of us weighs 1 pound. Yes, I do neurotically weigh everything and own this scale for that purpose.

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.

Before The Barracuda's pack is approved to go, he has to dance in it, jump in it, and run around a few times. At that point, if there aren't any problems we call it good.

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.

The scale maxes out at 25 pounds or I'd show you a picture. When Jules joins us we are both down to carrying somewhere in the early 20's pound range and The Barracuda around 8-10ish.

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.

The hardest part has been repeatedly telling Guadie she doesn't get to come. She was very excited about pack fittings and wanted hers fitted, too (yes, she has one as well). But, she would have to be on a leash in a couple areas and is just another kid to have to think about. Jules is going to bring her out on the weekend when he joins us for resupply.

4 thoughts:

Mr. H. said...

How exciting, I wish you and The Barracuda the best of luck.

"Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer. Camp out among the grasses and gentians of glacial meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of nature's darlings." - John Muir


Sounds like a lot of fun. I can't wait to read your trip report. Make sure you guys take lots of pictures!

Anonymous said...

Why 2 tents?

Granola Girl said...

Mr. H ~ Thanks for the quote. We hadn't heard this one and will add it to our list of awesome things Muir has said!

A in P ~ We took almost 800 pictures! Granted quite a few were duplicates where the flash did or did not go off, the lens cover wasn't retracted, or The Barracuda was taking a bunch of pictures of some fungus or something, but LOTS no the less.

Anonymous ~ Because I was typing and packing and tend to be a duphus when I try to do too many things at one time. Thanks for pointing this out. I fixed it. We only traveled with one tent (A Sierra Designs Flashlight) which is The Barracuda's personal tent so he could help me set it up and take it down. The TarpTent Hogback is our family tent and it is just plain too big even though it weighs less.

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