Wednesday, July 22, 2009

the Wake Up Call (part 2)

Some time after this hiking incident, I came by chance across the phrase "ultralight backpacking." I do not remember what the link was, but I do know it was life changing with respect to reducing the weight of my backpack and increasing my mileage. I am not going to present myself as an EXPERT in ultralight backpacking, since there are many equipment companies now specializing in ultralight backpacking gear, and many books, articles, and forums with information on the topic. I do, however, want to emphasize the contributions of a man named Ray Jardine. His book, "Beyond Backpacking," has probably done more than any single source to influence my thinking and practice in ultralight backpacking. The book is now out-of-print, but has recently been updated, upgraded, and re-released as "Trail Life."
Jardine's system of home made gear, presents a departure from the heavy gear of traditional backpacking. He advocates increasing mileage while decreasing the load one is carrying. (End of commercial).

As I read and learned more about the ultralight philosophy, I began to see how I could incorporate ideas into my own collection of hiking gear. The easiest changes to make with the greatest weight reduction were to be found in what is called "The Big Three" : backpack, sleeping bag, and shelter.

The first piece of gear I changed was the backpack, and it is the backpack that I want to make the topic of my next post.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

the Wake Up Call (part 1)

the summer before I turned 40, I went on a hike in the Sawtooth Mountains with my son Daniel, who was 14 at the time. It was 10 miles from the trailhead at Stanley Lake to Alpine Lake, our destination. I was carrying a large external frame backpack loaded down with 50 pounds of gear. Over the course of two days I struggled up to the lake and then back down again. I couldn't believe how much I struggled with the hike. Had I gotten that old so soon? I felt crushed beneath the weight of the pack. I began to wonder if my time for backpacking was over. I can't carry a full backpack in comfort the distance that I need to go. Although we completed the hike, it was discouraging to me to struggle that much.

I am several years down the road from that experience, and now I have 800 + more miles and 70 percent of the Idaho Centennial Trail under my belt. How did I get from there-and-then to the here-and-now? I would like to describe the process by which I reduced my pack weight and increased my comfort level AND mileage. The process of becoming an *ultralight* hiker has made possible my quest to hike the Idaho Centennial Trail.

stay tuned....

Monday, July 13, 2009

Clark Fork


Tuesday July 7th 2009 we completed an 18+ mile section of ICT between Trestle Creek Road and East Spring Creek Road.

The view of the picture above is looking at the town of Clark Fork. Although it looks fairly close, we still have another 8 miles of ridges and a 3,500 feet elevation drop down 28 switchbacks to finish. Then it is another 4 miles into Clark Fork.

With the completion of this section and another section of the Stateline Trail, I have now finished the ICT sections in the panhandle from Priest Lake to Interstate 90