Planning and Packing
So here we are, less than two weeks before our hike and Brian and I are just about ready to go! Several weeks ago we purchased our food. We ordered dozens of dehydrated meals from a small company in Maine called Good to Go. Their food tastes great and has plenty of calories! We also ordered several other things in bulk such as Big Sur bars, Pro bars, Snickers bars, peanut butter, and Nuun water supplements. For the rest of our food, we went to three different grocery stores. In addition to bringing the necessary foods, it’s important to carry something to look forward to each day. For me, that includes things like pop tarts, mini reese cups, Little Debbie swiss rolls, nutty bars and nips! And of course we bought several pounds worth of trail mix and nuts. The people working at Hannaford and Whole Foods looked at us like we were crazy but the guy at Trader Joes was like, “so where are you hiking?” He knows what’s up!
When we got home, we dumped all our food onto the family room floor where it resided for the next two weeks as we slowly parsed through it and put together smaller piles for each of our resupplies. Since we cannot possibly carry three weeks worth of food in our legally required bear canisters, we will have four boxes shipped to us at various points on the trail. Three of the resupplies only have a few days worth of food and supplies in them but one of them has to hold us over for 8 days. That’s a LOT of food and a very heavy load.
In addition to our food preparation, Brian and I have been purchasing and packing all the small but critical things we’ll need like toilet paper, wet wipes and first aid supplies. I was struck yesterday by how stressful all this planning can be as we were on hour 16 of planning this weekend and Brian and I were standing in the middle of our family room surrounded by crap yelling at the top of our lungs about how many wet wipes we actually need, if we got the brand without the toxic chemicals, and whether or not they made their way into our already packaged resupply boxes. The compromise was to drive back to the store for the third time this weekend, buy more wipes and stuff them into the remaining boxes. I’m happy to report that we will have more than enough because we purchased over 200 wipes and I can’t find them anywhere in the house. They must have all made their way into the boxes. We’re going to be the cleanest people on the trail.
We also had to stock up on drugs. We bought several over the counter drugs – Benadryl for allergic reactions, antiseptic for cleaning blisters, Excedrin for the altitude headaches, and Advil for the inevitable pain we’ll endure throughout our entire bodies. I packed all of this for the Camino and didn’t need any of it but it’s still good to have on hand. I also went to my doctor several weeks ago to obtain some prescription drugs. Mainly I got plenty of Diamox which is supposed to minimize altitude sickness and I got medicated chafing cream which I used regularly on the Camino.
Starting to stress as I realize how difficult it is to fit 8 days worth of food into a bear canister.
Once our resupply boxes and buckets were packed, sealed and signed (which took many hours over the course of several days), we loaded up the truck and headed for Staples. We decided to send our stuff from Staples because they can send postage UPS and USPS and we need both. It took 45 minutes and three Staples employees to fulfil our order. We completely stumped them when we explained that we were sending two of the boxes directly to a post office with instructions to hold them there until we are able to pick them up in person. The poor kid who helped us initially was in training and I thought he was about to have a heart attack. I tried to loosen things up a bit by explaining why exactly we were sending Home Depot buckets all the way across the country. Everyone lightened up a bit as we talked about the upcoming adventure. In the end, the employees learned something new and we had tracking numbers to all of our packages.
After an entire weekend dedicated to planning/packing, by 6:30 Sunday evening, we were ready to pack our backpacks. We’ve been slowly collecting our gear and throwing the items in our guest room. Now remember, whenever you long distance hike, circumstances are always different. Weather, length of trip, terrain, etc. All of these things factor into the type of equipment you need. So while we had all this gear before, we ended up buying all new stuff. So every piece of equipment, new and used, would be spread out across the floor of our house this weekend. Brian took the living room and I took the family room. From the spreadsheet we made on the laptop, Brian called out every single item one by one as we placed them neatly onto the floor. After running through the list twice, it was time for the moment of truth! We attempted to fit everything into our packs for the first time. I failed. Our shared tent (which has been designated to me), my bear canister, and sleeping bag took up almost the entire 65 liter pack. I struggled to fit everything else in for about 30 minutes with no success. When Brian was done with his pack, he helped me with mine. I watched him as he expertly repacked my bag, utilizing every cubic inch of it. Everything fit. It’s going to take me many attempts to learn how exactly he did it but at least I know now that it is possible to fit all my gear into the pack.
Once the pack was stuffed to capacity, I attempted to lift it. Holy crap. It’s a good thing I’ve been weight training. This pack is not light. I hoisted it up onto my back and adjusted the straps. It took me about five minutes and two attempt to get it right. When we both had our packs on, we walked outside into the yard and marched around to make sure everything felt comfortable. It felt good. Really good. Once everything was adjusted appropriately it felt familiar and natural. I didn’t want to take my pack off. Brian and I stood in the dining room looking at each other with our packs on. We’re ready.