Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Practice Makes Perfect

Through some trial and error I am working on getting my gear setup ready for April (which is getting crazy close by the way!).  Back in January I went on a quick overnight trip to Pt Reyes National Seashore. It’s a spot I love and on weekdays (especially in winter) you can wander in at 4pm and still get the exact spot you want. So off I went into the unseasonably dry January to spend the night on a bluff by the ocean. I rushed the miles to make it by dark, set up my tent and sat down just enjoying being outside. It was beautiful and clear and as I sat using my little alcohol stove I noticed pretty cold, actually it was really cold. So I slowly put on layer after layer until I was wearing every item of clothing I had brought, and was still a little cold. Hmm that’s not good. So I decided to go to sleep, I fell asleep but woke up multiple times cold, even getting out of my sleeping bag for some jumping jacks to warm myself up. Lesson? My clothing and sleep system was definitely a no go.

So fast forward to last week, I’ve slowly been acquiring new gear and somehow the stars aligned perfectly for me to go on another short overnight. I was especially excited to get out and play with my tent (a tarptent notch for those of you who are curious). Only in the shuffle of grabbing all my gear and my dog and being generally scatterbrained I forgot my trekking poles. Now this tent uses trekking poles for its poles so no poles means you have a really pricey piece of silnylon to flap around and glare at angrily. But hey go with the flow right? I actually prefer not camping in a tent so I figured I could at least see if my new sleep system worked, and drum roll please…it’s a winner. Thank you who ever invented sleeping bag liners and goose feet down socks. I woke up covered in ice but warm as can be J Some other helpful things I have come across are to eat something fatty before you sleep, your body processing that food helps keep you toasty. And make sure your bladder is empty, your body works hard to keep all that urine warm and who wants to waste all that heat on pee?


  1. Maya, if I could, I would encourage you to buy the accessory poles for your tarp, many companies sell, and leave the trekking poles behind. Whenever you incorporate more muscles into your stride and hikes, you burn more calories and that makes for more caloric burn and fatique. Unless you're pushing off with signifigance with each stroke of your treking poles in each hand, as many say you should to lift that supposed 5-10% of weight from your knees, the big selling point, as in the forward push in cross country skiing, they will only make you more tired than is necessary. Long distance hiking is about attrition. In weeks and months to come, your strength will slowly be sapped from you. Using trekking poles will only make you more tired each day, even if you aren't using them as is often prescribed, you're still carrying something that isn't needed unless you have a physical disability with your balance. I used them for eight years and after deciding to go without them, once more, I was so surprised at how free I felt. My adjustment to terrain quickened and the speed I traveled both improved. It goes against the normally accepted outdoor philosophy of today, especially with everyone using trekking poles, even though simple observation will show you, very few are using them as they are supposedly designed to be used, you will be much better off without them. I think they're great for crossing deep streams, using one, but a discardable stick works just as wel, and in postholing snowfields, but again, a well chosen stick works just as well but neither are necessary. Something to consider, even though you paid good money for them. They won't make or break your hike, but if you want a less fatique and a lot more freedom and convinence with your hands, I'd really think hard on their necessity. I did the PCT in '99. I do understand the extreme nature of the hike, having done three long trails. I wish you all the best and hope you have a wonderful time. Keep walking as much as you can with the weight you'll be carrying between now and trail time. C-ya.

    1. I'm not ready to chuck the poles quite yet, I've had some knee troubles and along with a lot of strengthening and such I do like the crutch they can provide me with at the moment. I figure alot of things will get switched up once I start and poles may be one of the things I ditch but who knows. Guess I will find out pretty soon!

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