And for six days, she walked, but on the seventh day, she rested*. And it was good!
* After two mile long roundtrips to the post office before noon, one to pick up boxes, one to mail the filled boxes.
So. Let me take you through a typical hiker day, as it is evolving.
- Sunrise… All around, the birdie alarm clocks begin going off, and hikers begin stirring. The first order of business is to grab the roll of toilet paper, slide my feet into my camp shoes (crocs), and head for the privy. Priorities!
- The food bag is retrieved from where ever it spent the night hanging. Take out the propane stove and fuel canister, the cooking pot, and the matches.
- Measure enough water into the pot for a full cup of pre-prepared oatmeal mix, plus some extra for instant coffee. Breakfasts are crucial fueling up times, to generate enough energy for walking four or five hours.
- Fire up the propane stove; while waiting for the water to boil, begin packing up sleeping gear – bag, pad, pillow.
- Once the water is boiling, pour two cups into a Ziploc freezer bag, add the oatmeal, and set aside to soak. Mix the coffee in the remaining water in the cooking pot (which has handles so it can double as a cup). While waiting for the oats to cook, finish packing up gear. Also a good time to refill the “snack bag” with GORP, and/or peanut butter crackers, and/or fruit leather, you get the idea. Always life savers, for quick energy boosts.
- Eat. Drink. Be merry. Take medications; brush teeth and clean out the cooking pot. Make a trip down to the water source to filter 64 oz of water to start the day off with. Sometimes I’ll mix Crystal lite drink flavorings in for variety – I like the ones with caffeine.
- Finish stuffing everything into the pack, and arrange the stuff on the outside – snacks and maps hang on the left side, camera case on the right, water on the left and right at waist level. First aid kit and toilet paper (each in Ziploc bags) in the big pouch-pocket on the back. The water filtering system goes inside the pack, but always at the top.
- Take off camp shoes; carefully clean feet with antiseptic wet wipes before putting on socks and boots. The camp shoes hang off the pack when stowed.
- One last trip to the privy. Start off!
- I rarely stop for a formal lunch – once I get going, I like to keep going. So I simply ‘graze’ along the way… Stop for ten minutes here or there on a handy rock or log to have a snack, a rest, and a long drink of water. Others stop at shelter picnic tables for 30-60 minutes for one long break, some cook lunch. We all hike our own hike.
- My maps indicate where shelters, landmarks, and water sources are. Usually twice along the way, sometimes more, I’ll stop to refill on water. You drink a lot of water. You have to, otherwise… Agonizing cramps. Once was enough.
- Once you do reach camp, you pretty much repeat all the steps – filter water, cook, brush teeth, spread out gear in the shelter or pitch the tent, anything that might remotely interest a bear or mice gets hung up high out of reach. Sometimes there will be a campfire. Not often though. Everyone turns in, pretty much when it starts getting dark.
And then we get up and start it all over again…