Thank you, Whoopie Pie
A hiking buddy of mine was kind enough to share the list she made in 2010 before embarking on a through hike. This is the time of year to shakedown your stuff – I used to have a rule which I would invoke before bringing anybody on a hike, which was that they had to “shakedown” – empty the contents of their pack and justify every single item before deciding to haul it God-knows-where.
It was something we did in the Boy Scouts but I am sure it originated in the military.
The shakedown rules apply to me as well
In 2010, “Snafu” and I did a shakedown the night before we stepped off on a six-day jaunt through the Green Mountains; (and it rained every single day….) Likewise, Whoopie Pie was savvy enough to demand that I justify not just the equipment, but every food item, before our epic ninety mile skedaddle through The Garden State. (lots of places to buy food along the way, redefines the culinary experience associated with backpacking, for me….) And for the record, I cooperated.
Both those guys are hikers I would gladly set off with at a moment’s notice.
The goal of our next hike will be to accompany a wizard in retrieving stolen treasure from a dragon.
Or maybe In Search of P.B.
Or to find a The Porcupine Tree of Happiness.
Hiking as opposed to backpacking
better writers than me have pointed out that the list will be dramatically different for a weekend backpacking trip as opposed to a weeks-long trip. My friend Tom just posted a bunch of tips for how to choose items. how can I improve on that? A hiker builds on what they know……
For the record: in 2011 I lived in Kathmandu Nepal for ten weeks and travelled around the country. Everything I needed, I fit into my daypack. Okay, it didn’t include a sleeping bag or food or a tent, but – you get the idea. I don’t define myself by my material possessions anymore. Which is good.
The Ultimate list of items
Tim O’Brien, in my view, wrote one of the best books ever on the subject of hiking and backpacking. The opening seven or eight pages constitute the ultimate backpacking list, here is an excerpt:
The things they carried were largely determined by necessity. Among the necessities or near-necessities were P-38 can openers, pocket knives, heat tabs, wrist watches, dog tags, mosquito repellent, chewing gum, candy, cigarettes, salt tablets, packets of Kool-Aid, lighters, matches, sewing kits, Military payment Certificates, C rations, and two or three canteens of water. Together, these items weighed between fifteen and twenty pounds, depending upon a man’s habits or rate of metabolism.
Henry Dobbins, who was a big man, carried extra rations; he was especially fond of canned peaches in heavy syrup over pound cake. Dave Jensen, who practiced field hygiene, carried a toothbrush, dental floss, and several hotel-size bars of soap he’d stolen on R&R in Sydney, Australia. Ted Lavender, who was scared, carried tranquilizers until he was shot in the head outside the village of Than Khe in mid-April. By necessity, and because it was SOP, they all carried steel helmets that weighed five pounds including the liner aid camouflage cover.
They carried the standard fatigue jackets and trousers. Very few carried underwear. On their feet they carried jungle boots-2.1 pounds – and Dave Jensen carried three pairs of socks and a can of Dr. Scholl’s foot powder as a precaution against trench foot. Until he was shot, Ted Lavender carried six or seven ounces of premium dope, which for him was 2 necessity. Mitchell Sanders, the RT0, carried condoms. Norman Bowker carried a diary. Rat Kiley carried comic books. Kiowa, a devout Baptist, Carried an illustrated New Testament that had been presented to him by his father, who taught Sunday school in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. As a hedge against bad times, however, Kiowa also carried his grandmother’s distrust of the white man, his grandfather’s old hunting hatchet. Necessity dictated. Because the land was mined and booby-trapped, it was SOP for each man to carry a steel-centered, nylon-covered flak jacket, which weighed 6.7 pounds, but which on hot days seemed much heavier.
Because you could die so quickly, each man carried at least one large compress bandage, usually in the helmet band for easy access. Because the nights were cold, and because the monsoons were wet, each carried a green plastic poncho that could be used as a raincoat or groundsheet or makeshift tent. With its quilted liner, the poncho weighed almost two pounds, but it was worth every ounce. In April, for instance, when Ted Lavender was shot, they used his poncho to wrap him up, then to carry him across the paddy, then to lift him into the chopper that took him away.
(excerpt from The Things They Carried. buy the book on Amazon. Pulitzer prize 1990)
I suppose there should be a contest for Best Backpacking Books ever. hmm… too broad…..
And another backpacking buddy once told me that his mental status could be broken down into components. He carried it with him, but just like a backpack, he could choose what to carry and what to leave behind. Wow. at first, the thought of it alone was heavy as an anvil, then like magic it got lighter and lighter. I think a hiker who truly grasped that, and practiced it, would float along the trail. No need to touch the feet to the actual ground….. time and distance cease to matter when the elements of zen come together so beautifully. Oh how I want to get there….
Happiness and hopefulness? check.
mindfulness? check. breathe in – breathe out -repeat
despair and sadness? too heavy, put it aside.
recrimination and self-doubt? easily available along the way, no need to put it in the pack yet. bring the repellant in case somebody else tries to dump it on you.
lovingkindness? yes, put it in an outside pocket where it can be reached easily.
Here is an excerpt from another blog, in which the author met a guru……..for your consideration….
They asked ” Swami, how can we progress further?”
Swami said “Drop what you know. You are carrying heavy burden of indigested knowledge and age old samskaaras.”
“Swami, what can we drop?
Swami said “Everything. All that you really need will be yours anyway. You “need” nothing. All that you think that you have, you actually do not have. It will all wither away sooner or later. All that you give away, you will always have. Spirituality never ends with one incarnation of the soul. It continues through time and space, as long as it should. You are covering yourself more than necessary. Shed your coverings. Do not hide yourself. And do not hide your real face. Be bold to be yourself. You will experience reality. When clothes become an addiction, we become unnatural.
They paused to digest the hidden meaning behind the saint’s answer and asked: “Swami, who will protect us from this cold and tamasic ignorance?”
Swami asked “Existence. Are you feeling cold now?” They realized that they were not feeling any physical cold. Swami continued: “Who is protecting you from cold now? The same existence will protect you from tamas and ignorance too. You are definitely not the doer.”
that about wraps it up. yeah, I am going through my stuff…..