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Dry, fed, watered, north

So we are in the final stages of this “gettin’ ready to get ready”, and we are street fighting over stoves, and everything else. Bailey insists on a titanium alcohol doo-dad, and I’m sticking with an MSR Pocket Rocket (I’ve had it for years and I know it works).

“Too heavy, cut grams, get your pack weight below 30 pounds, cuben fiber tarp not silnylon, two changes of underwear not three. Does air weigh anything when it’s in your lungs? Maybe we should do like that Cody guy and hike barefoot?”

That’s my son’s foray into light/no way let’s go ultralight/ Backpacking. I’m toting things that are unnecessary, so I’m told. He checks the weather patterns and informs me it might be warmer than we think in March. We should ditch the 15 degree bags and go with something even lighter, like 30. He’s still down for the hammocks and tarps as our primary shelters. Thank God, because I refuse to sleep with shelter mice.

From the word “GO” I was all about this thru-hike, but when he directed me to the Website of AT Thru-Hiking Supremacy (whiteblaze.net) I felt the onset of paralysis by analysis. Some of the people we are going to be traveling with have really thought this thing out. I mean dissected the frog and split atoms thought out. There are people weighing socks and analyzing calorie content of Pop Tarts. I started thinking about it.

Should I break out a digital scale and weigh the Bic lighter I will use to light a fire? How much does one of those things weigh? 12 grams, just checked. With all of the options available to do the simplest of tasks why is it such a shit storm to get your gear together? YouTube has plenty of thru-hike gear videos, and I tried to watch them all, but I stopped. I decided to look at the posters and find out who made it to Katahdin. Not many.

I learned something. Nobody needs to spend ten grand on gear to thru-hike. The lightest is not necessarily the best. That cuben fiber tarp you paid $400 and some change for could be ripped to shreds by a hefty wind (but it only weighs six ounces, six, ants can carry it).

This young lady says it best. A lot of stuff is out there on the trail, and people make it work. This is going to be the cheapest five month vacation ever, or I’ll ditch like Bryson.


When I consider why I am analyzing everything, from insulation to Knorr Pasta Sides, I come to the conclusion it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with my son. For five months I’m going to be responsible for his well being, without my wife around, and without a car. This isn’t our first rodeo (jaunt into the woods), but it will be the most monumental thus far. I know I won’t bail, because I’ve already decided it is not an option. But what if he decides it’s not for him? What if he says he’s sick of being wet, cold, hot, or having mosquitos in his mouth?

My wife says to let him work it out. He’ll do what needs to be done. He always has. I guess I never paid attention to that because I was busy with work. Maybe this is good, and I shouldn’t worry about grams and ounces. I have been given the opportunity to hang out, with my son, and the hippies he wants to emulate. My son summed it up like this: You need to stay dry, stay hydrated, stay fed, and walk north. That’s it. That gets us to Katahdin. 142 days until we walk.

Dry, Fed, Watered, North



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