September 8, 2010

Adventure Planning :: with globe trekker, Justin Lichter

With summer starting to wind down, the mosquitoes and black flies are fading. Winter will come soon. It is a great time of year to get outside and also start dreaming of trips that you want to do for next summer. I mentioned in a previous blog post how I go about looking into the routes that I am going to embark on, so naturally I want to transition to how you all can set out on a long hike.

Here would be a few pointers that I would recommend.

1. Plan, Plan, Plan.
You haven’t planned enough if you haven’t thought about a lot of things for your trip. The route is one thing and the most obvious. However you should also be looking into how frequent and reliable the water sources are, how often you might be able to get more food or purchase food at a store, the weather for the area during that time of year, and fine tuning your gear. No doubt you will have some nerves at the start of a trip, but if you plan well and are comfortable with your gear going into the trip then that should ease the nerves a little.

2. Train
As your trip begins top take shape you will ideally start to train for the experience beforehand. This will help make your trip as enjoyable as possible as well as getting you used to your equipment. This will help your feet get ready, and if need be callused, for you shoes and to break in your shoes and help your hips and shoulders get used to wearing a backpack. If you prepare beforehand then you’ll be ready to hit the trail when the time comes and the mileage that you planned for the trip won’t be daunting. The training will also help in your planning because it will let you know what distances and terrain are obtainable for the trip in the time that you have.

3. Gear Up, But Not Too Much
Research the gear that you would like to use on the trip. Do as much research as possible looking online and asking questions of shop employees, but definitely do NOT just ask shop employees. Some store employees are great, but each has their own personal opinion and they might not even have done the activity or been to the terrain you are looking at doing. My typical gear list has many recurring pieces of gear, but there are also many things that change depending on location and time of year. This helps to keep your pack light by taking only what you will need. For example, there is no reason to carry a 3lb. -20 degree sleeping bag if you are heading out to the High Sierras in the summer. Chances are you can probably get away with a sub 2lb. 30 degree sleeping bag, especially if you plan on sleeping in a tent because that will add about 10 degrees to your sleep system. Get your system streamlined and dialed beforehand and then only take what you think you’ll need. If you don’t use it every day then generally you don’t need it. Also, try to make things have multiple uses. For example I use a half length sleeping pad and then use my backpack for the lower half of my sleeping pad. This saves about 8oz on my sleeping pad and makes it more packable since my backpack won’t be needed for anything else while I am sleeping.

4. GO!!!! And Have Fun!
Set off on the trip and have a blast. Remember that if you are setting out on a longer trip and you think you might need a piece of gear, want to swap out a piece of gear, or find out shortly into the hike that you aren’t using something that you are carrying then you can always mail something that you are carrying back home when you get to a town to resupply. On the other hand you could also mail something to yourself by General Delivery to the post office in a town. If you mail it priority and decide you don’t need the gear, then don’t open it and you can usually forward it elsewhere for no charge! This is also a great trick so that you only need to carry the maps that you need for each section and not add weight by carrying maps for the entire trip. Use these tools to keep your pack light.

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