My new backpack came in, and it is completely different from my old one. I am still trying to work out the arrangement of gear… The old pack was essentially three compartments – the big compartment which held the food bag, the tent, the sleeping bag, the sleeping pad, my cooking gear, and my rain jacket; the outer, open to the air pouch compartment that held my two big Nalgene bottles and ziplocked roll of toilet paper; and the pack ‘lid’ which held a lot of small but essential items such as my headlamp, water purification drops, spare set of glasses, etc. Also, places on the straps to hook carabiners to, where I carried my maps, snack bag, phone, and the Camelbak water bottle within very easy reach. All that is gone.
The new pack has separate roll-closed compartments for almost everything, acording to the diagrams. No zippers. Sleeping bag is supposed to go in this compartment, clothes in that one, water bottles there. It also has an integrated, attached rain cover so I don’t have to worry about losing it again. The pack is 5 liters smaller than the old one, so I have to ruthlessly strip down and send ahead/home gear that I don’t need.
Which brings me to my sleeping bag. An excellent one, supplied by Doug Shrader and rated for 20 degrees. I am sending it ahead to Hanover, NH… Nights are getting too warm for it, but I will need it again when I hit the White Mountains. I purchased a new summer sleeping bag rated for 55 degrees that I will use until NH, and then again later. It is also lighter in weight. I will pick it up from the post office in Fall River, CT on Friday, as I pass through.
I’ve decided to stay at this hostel one more night, and will work on reorganization of gear some more tomorrow; tomorrow I will slackpack a chunk of trail, carrying only water, snacks, TP, and maps. The trail from here to CT 7 is not supposed to be difficult; it should be a good day. I don’t dare stay at this hostel too long though – the way they feed you, I’d quickly regain those 25 lbs I have lost! The other hikers are out in the common area watching Jaws; I am stretched out in bed like a … well, whatever that snake is that swallows it’s prey while.
I finished reading the book Lori sent me today, about Cheryl Strayed hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. I could easily identify with what she went through! There is no time for a proper reread, so it also is bound for Hanover, NH. As am I. Eventually. Two or three days will see me in MA. VT is still on the radar for the end of the month, or sooner. The trail will get harder in southern MA, as I hit the mountains where the elevation begins ramping up above 2000 feet.
I was going to take a double-zero, but I just keep driving myself forward, maybe even when I shouldn’t. It is not a race, and yet. And yet… I do want to finish the trail, and it just feels wrong to be out here to hike, and not BE hiking. Slackpacking is a compromise – much less stress on knees and feet, but still moving forward. Perhaps I will do 5 tomorrow, perhaps 14. Maybe more. It depends on terrain, weather, and generally how I feel. But I will do some.
They turned the movie off before the shark hit the iceberg. Everyone is turning in, and tomorrow will be an early start, so I’ll wind this up for tonight.
I hike on.