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Re: Making a list and checking it twice

Hi Rich,
        Dennis Wilkinson provided a really accurate list of the stuff most
thru-hikers _end up_ carrying after they've compared equipment with other
hikers and then sent home the dead weight.  I thru-hiked in 1992 as well
(with my then girlfriend Sam), but as a south-bounder (which I highly
recommend to anyone considering a thru-hike -- don't let the black flies
stop you!).  I'm not sure if I remember passing Dennis and crew, but I do
remember hearing about them all along the Trail!
        Dennis gave the following list:
>- 2 t-shirts
>- 2 pairs of lined shorts (allowed us to skip underwear)
>- thermal liners
>- raingear (jacket & pants)
>- 1 fleece (polarfleece/synchilla/whatever) pullover
>- gaiters
>- food
>- stove & fuel (an MSR)
>- water filter & 2 1-quart nalgene bottles
>- 1 large pot (for 3 of us, so we also carried plastic spoons and bowls)
>- therm-a-rest ultralite pad
>- journal
>- Thru-Hiker's Handbook
>- Trail maps/guide for whatever section we were on
>- Packtowel
>- Grooming kit w/basic first aid supplies
>- 50' nylon clothesline (for bearbagging, misc.)
>- tevas for in-camp wear
>- juggling clubs (no, I'm not kidding...)

I didn't carry the pack towel, but a couple bandannas were nice to have.
Don't forget a plastic shovel, a couple extra ziploc baggies (God love
'em), and 1 extra set of batteries for your mag-lite.  I didn't have
gaiters, but most people who did seemed to like them.  I _did_ spend some
money on a gore-tex rain parka, and it was one of my favorite pieces of
equipment.  It kept me reasonably dry, but more importantly, kept me warm
when I needed it.  No rain pants though.
        Dennis suggests the Thru-Hikers handbook.  So do I.  BUY THIS BOOK!
You'll get a lot of information from it, before the hike and during the
hike.  It will also provide you a lot of pleasure on the Trail.  There's
nothing like lying in a leaky tent during a hellacious downpour just 2 days
from a town, and reading about all that town and the places you can get Ben
and Jerry's when you get there.  A good morale booster.  Dennis also
mentions that he took 2 tee shirts.  So did I, and I found that second
shirt to be a real morale booster.  I tried to always keep it clean, and
wear it only in town, or in case i needed a real pick-me-up.  A clean shirt
and a clean pair of socks can really cure the blues on the Trail.
        In the end, what a hiker carries becomes largely a question of
style.  If you are willing to lug the weight of an item in exchange for the
pleasure it gives you, go for it.  For awhile, I liked having a book to
read - anything, just to have written words available.  For awhile, I also
had a small headphone radio (I heard the Presidential debates and the world
Series!).  We had a camera the whole time, and my pictures are priceless to
me now.  I kept a journal for a while, but not a very good one.  It's all a
question of your own style, which you'll find will evolve with you as you
hike.  You can always send things home, replace items, give stuff away, or
trade with other people.  Be open and malleable.  Have fun.

Good Luck!

"The important thing, I think, is to avoid succumbing to cynicism - to that
weary resignation which passes, in the decadent West, for wisdom and wit."
                                                             - Edward Abbey
Michael Roberts                    Graduate Dept. of Biomedical Engineering
mroberts@mailhost.tcs.tulane.edu   Tulane University