A journey of 2180+ or – miles begins with . . . a mess!
Ok – I made a lot of my stuff for for Mom’s 50th Birthday I-don’t-want-to-grow-up Bike Ride Across America (hereinafter – “the bike ride.” Noticed I managed to get a legal term in there!) Lightweight backpacking was really in its infancy then, and I was frankly afraid to go too lightweight on the panniers I made for all three bikes. We carried too much weight – a LOT of weight. According to my brother-in-law, Doug – BOXCARS of weight. I didn’t make it across the US as a result, and settled for a mere 3300 miles Oregon to Michigan. Still a fantastic experience! And hey, I had great looking legs for most of the last decade.
The AT however, is 2180 ( plus or minus) miles long, and I’ll be doing it on my FEET. No pedaling, no second breakfasts every day at the first town we get to, no cheating on food carried. I have to carry more food just to get between town stops, and I carry my supplies on my back – not on the bike. My feet hurt just thinking about that sentence. So, the bottom line is that I’m VERY serious about cutting weight – getting as light as possible. I’ll still be making a lot of my gear – I’ve already made Ray Jardine’s backpack, his two person tarp, and net tent for two.
These items, which will be great for the next overnight bike ride adventure with Ric, I realized still won’t cut it for the AT. They’re way too heavy for one person to carry, in particular a hypothyroid, formerly fibromyalgic (is that a word?) still overweight pushing-60 lady. I quickly decided that I liked the idea of a hammock, but not for the winter. By the time you add an underquilt to a hammock, the weight is up there pretty far again. So, the current plan is to make a one person tarp from cuben fiber. I’ll use it with the ground sheet in early spring before the bugs come out and after Sept 1 or so when the mosquitoes are killed by frost, and use the hammock with the cuben tarp in the middle.
I have a Hennessy Hammock ultra light. It came with a fairly useless-for-the-AT asymetric fly that wouldn’t keep out anything but the lightest mist of rain with no wind. It was a nice sil-nylon fly for a bike ride in the desert, so I’ll keep it in case we do that. I finally decided that given the ability of the AT to throw nasty wind-whipped rain storms at hikers, I would go with a full cuben tarp, and just use it for the hammock as well. I know I’ll feel smug the first time I comfortably cook in a rain storm under the tarp sitting on my dry ground cloth.
And the net tent? Also useful for two people, but I found an outfitter selling 3/4 oz per yard no-see-um netting – I think about 1/2 the weight of netting used in the two person net tent – so the single person net tent will be not only smaller, but significantly lighter weight than the two person net tent I originally made. The net tent is kind of redundant – not even sure it will make it on the trail, but it seems like a good idea if I absolutely hate the hammock and want to switch back to the tarp mid summer. Also, one simply does not hike the Whites in summer without a means to escape bugs. So, the net tent will wind up being used. Did I mention that I’m going to be doing some 4000 footers in the Whites this summer to prepare?
Which brings me to the point of this post – my sewing room is definitely a mess! I know there is a lot of quilting stuff in there – and some basic sewing repair stuff, but most of the mess that out and loose is hiking projects.