I returned to the trail yesterday after 4 days off trail, spent at home in Sacramento.
I decided to jump off the trail at Bridgeport, 70 trail miles from Tahoe (my original jump off point), for several reasons. One, the pack weight I was carrying had begun to overtax my feet, especially my left foot. If I went off trail early, I could finish up the last 70 miles to Tahoe on my return much, much lighter. This would have an added side benefit of time: weighed down by my heavy load, I wasn’t making good time. Yes, I’d put in days of 22, 18, 19, and 24 miles over the last 4 days, but I was hurting. Also, if I went home at Bridgeport, I could enjoy a real treat: going to service at my church. I was sold. (Thanks to Wolfpack for the idea…)
Now, feet rested, load lightened, and enough food to get me to Tahoe, I’m camped by Wolf Creek, safe from the mosquitoes, enjoying the moonrise and the gentle sounds of the creek about 150 feet away.
Gone from my pack are the bear canister, a bulky, heavy piece of equipment mandated by the park service to carry my food in. Intended to help protect bears and keep a hikers food from being pilfered by the large fuzzy creatures, it was partially a comfort, mostly a curse. I was able to sell it on BackpackingLight.com, and it is, as I write this, in the mail to it’s new owner. Also gone are the ice axe…although that item wasn’t particularly heavy, it all adds up. And, if looked at by my backpacking gear adage of, “If it’s not being used, it’s useless,” it had to go. The Microspikes, used over my shoes for particularly snowy/icy sections, also got dropped off, as well as a few pieces of now-unnecessary clothing, an extra poncho tarp, my now-decrepit trekking poles (thank you for your service!), and, interestingly enough…an old rusty horseshoe.
Apparently, somewhere along the way in the Sierra, I believe the same day we encountered Orion walking out of the woods, across a meadow towards us in his leisure coat complete with book in it’s pocket, I picked up a horseshoe.
Apparently, this is what I do…welcome to my strange world. In a supreme effort to get as light as I can in order to triumphantly finish this hike, I like to pick up (and carry for hundreds of miles) heavy iron objects. So if you have any unused anvils, sledgehammers, or truck axles, send ‘Em on over! 🙂
But now, thankfully, I’m back to being light, and I’m lighter than I’ve been all trip. My clothes are at the bare minimum (3 pair of socks, shirt, windshirt, puffy jacket, pants, hat, down beanie, bandana), my electronics are the same, food container is now lighter (from the bear canister to a couple lightweight sacks), my cooking setup is the same (JetBoil + plastic container w/lid), and my shelter system is set. I have my Jacks ‘R’ Better quilt (I’ve mentioned this before, but man, do I LOVE this quilt!!), my bivy, and the shelter setup from Yama Adventure Gear (formerly AlpinLite Gear): tyvek ground sheet, bug tent, and tarp. In fact, I swapped out my original Yama tarp (the ‘Stratiform III’ model), with a brand new cuben fiber tarp of the same design that Gen at Yama is letting me field test. It’s super lightweight, maybe 7.5 ounces, and beautiful. I used it for the first time last night, and loved it. I’ll do a more complete review of it for the gearheads out there, but the initial response I have is “Wow.” light, thoughtfully designed, well constructed, and just a beautiful piece of very lightweight gear. More on it later, with photos.
Tomorrow I’m hoping to make it to Tamarack Lake, just shy of Blue Lakes Road. That will put me 26 miles outside of South Lake Tahoe, where I should be by Saturday. Hopefully it will be a good 25-ish mile day.
Just a quick “Thank You” to my home church and Pastor Johnston for putting their messages on iTunes to download. I downloaded as many as I could, and am so stoked to be able to have them to listen to the remaining 1,600 miles. Also, thanks to my former pastor, Britt Merrick, who heads up Reality Church in Ventura County, California, for doing the same. Have been encouraged today by his messages, and Dominic Balli’s guest appearances speaking. What an amazing thing, to be walking through such beautiful & rugged wilderness, and be able to be encouraged by such meaningful messages.
On a similar note, if any of you have anything you’d like me to pray for, even if you aren’t particularly spiritual or ‘religious,’ please let me know. All I do right now is walk all day…and I love to pray for people. I really believe in the power of prayer. Drop me a message here on my blog, or if it’s more private and you’d like to keep it anonymous, drop me a line at email@example.com. I’ll keep it confidential between you & me, and will lift you up in my prayers as I walk every day.
With that, I’m off to bed…mucho miles tomorrow, and I’ll be getting an early (5:15 wake up) start.