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Re:Food / Lotsa Questions / Etc

RE:  Food

The most consistent staple I carried was the Lipton dinners.  With all the
different pasta and rice varieties, there's usually four or five that you
really like.  I also carried instant mash, and added all kinds of
fresh/canned/dried goodies.  By far and away the best thing to carry is
squeeze butter - makes everything taste better/fattier - and will usually
last 10-14 days unrefirgerated.

When I met Miriam in MA, and we started pooling meals, she had the instant
black beans.  Those are great.  And cheap.  Maybe that's why I married her.
Mix them with mash or rice.  Also have instant refried beans.  And then
Smokey and Tweetie lived almost exclusively on cous-cous.  You can add all
kinds of rehydrated veggies and meats for many different flavors.  We have
found that this is often easier than the freeze dried meals.

One thing to note though... you will get tired of even the best meal, and
even if you mix them up alot.  I think the reason I loved the black beans so
much was I had never had them before - the new taste was, well, novel.  So
don't be afraid to experiment as you go.  Yeah, there will be horrendous
backfires, but you will find some great new tastes, too.  All part of the

RE:  Lotsa Questions

>   I'm going to hike up to the Mt. Griffith Observatory from
>Hollywood a couple of times a week. I'm going to do use a stair
>climbing machine and a cross-country skiing maching for aerobic
>conditioning a couple time a week. Then I'm going to do some
>Nautilus Training a couple of time a week to build some muscle
>bulk. That along with a daily stretching routine should cover
>me. I'm also planning on doing some section hiking on the PCT
>during Christmas and Summer breaks. 

Sounds like a good regimen.  I went to the gym 5 days a week for the year
prior to my hike, to get my knees in good shape.  My knees were fine, but
NOTHING prepares you for walking with a pack like walking with a pack.

>    Both authors pointed to nutrition as being a major problem
>on the trail. Has anybody ever tried using Met-RX or any of the
>other mega-nutritional supplements on the trail? Did they help?

Most people I knew didn't worry about this.  Summit Sandra existed almost
exclusively on a liquid diet of some high tech energy concoction.  I
carried, and used, multi-vitamins and protein pills.  The multi-vitamins
seemed to keep my energy up, and I noticed it when I hadn't taken them for a
few days.  The protein pills did manage to keep some of the weight from
falling off.  If I stopped taking them, I would emaciate within a week.  I
guess it all depends on your metabolism.

>    There seems to be a controversy surrounding the use of boots
>versus jogging shoes. Any opinions?

Before my hike I would have thought running shoes were crazy.  However,
after a few months with a 35-50lb pack, my ankles strengthened considerably.
(How do you like Jardine's explanation about feet and ankles being designed
to do the job, and boots only weaken the natural support?!!!)  Now, with a
combination of strong ankles, and much lighter pack weights (20-40lbs), I
hike almost exclusively in low top Vasque Clarions, or One Sport Trail
Runners, and I love not lugging around heavy boots on my feet.  Wear what
you think your ankles and feet can bear.  If you find yourself constantly
worrying about whether you'll twist an ankle, it's probably not worth it.

>    Jardine suggested that feet will grow up to 2 shoe sizes
>under the stress of thru-hiking. Has anyone noticed this type
>of thing happen to them?

Yup.  Only about 1/2 size for me.  After about a year from Katahdin, they
were back to normal. 

>Gear stuff:
>    Tent- Eureka Zepher. Are bivies/semi-bivies o.k.? Could the
>          rainfly be altered by a pro? Maybe attach a good nylon
>          tarp over the entrance for a dry place for my pack and
>          shoes/boots?

Bivies would work fine, especially as many nights will be in shelters, and
you'd only be "inconvenienced" by the snugness occasionally.

>    Filter- PUR Hiker (unless something better comes out)

Remember, learn how to field clean it, do it regularly, and for best
results, fill your water bag first, let it sit 10 mins for silt to settle,
then pump from the top of the water bag.

>    Bag- clueless?? What was that about Feather Friends?? Is it down?
>         How can anything keep a down bag dry?

Go for the FF, but absolutely with G-tex or Dryloft.  I had a 20 degree SD
down bag thru PA, and North from Hanover, and a 40 degree Slumberjack
quollofil in between.  Get the waterproof, seamsealed stuff sack from OR,
and to be extra safe, use a garbage bag inside that.

>    Wet Gear- Marmot Denali Jacket and Guide pants (is this overkill??)
>              Also heard about some Nike wet gear that was supposed to
>              be pretty decent

I think those particular models are overkill.  There are many differing
views here, but, having carried G-tex on the thru hike, and never carrying
G-tex on a 3-season hike since, you don't need it.  What you, I mean *I*
need is something windproof, to keep me warm when I'm wet. (G-tex does not
stop you, I mean *me*,  getting wet when hiking in a summer rain).
SOmething like those really lightweight SD jacket and pants, and you may not
even need the pants.

>    Umbrellas- Do they work as advertised in the book? Have any of you
>               tried them?

I think Jardine is a laugh-riot here, but, I've never tried it.

>    Pack- Looking at Gregory packs, any other suggestions? also need a
>          contact for Gregory

Try 'em all, and get the one that FITS best; it's worth putting in the time
and effort to reasearch this:  Gregory, Mountainsmith, Dana, Osprey, North
Face, Kelty, Jansport, MEI, REI, etc.  Oh, can't forget Natural Balance :)

>    Stove- I'm totally confused about this one. There seems to be 20
>           to 30 good ones and then there's all of the different gases

I hiked with the basic Whisperlite. Worked great, and yes, simmering takes
talent.   I'm becoming a great fan of the Isobutane stoves tho, because of
light weight and ease of use.  Look at the Peak 1 Micro, Camping Gaz Micro
Bluet, and the $230 Primus weighing just 3 oz!  (The others only cost ~$35,
for only a few more oz.)  The cartridges are readily available in camping
stores, but can also be mailed - check thoroughly with the PO.

>    Hiking Poles- considering using them as I've had surgery on both
>                  my knees, and they seem to be useful in dealing with
>                  the fanged population (Snakes...It had to be snakes.)

Use 'em for the knees, I've heard great things about the Leki's.  Also use
one for a camera monopod, as I see from your next question you're not afraid
of technology on the trail!

>    Palmtop Computer- I want to be able to post a trail journal, but
>                      little else. Is it even possible to keep one of
>                      these things intact? How?

Ask Richard Kushman - he carried one from Springer to Harpers Ferry this
year.  I have his e-mail address if you'd like, or look up the Kushman's
journals on the AT page.

>    Duck Call- How else does UnderDuck announce his arrival into town!
>               I need a sturdy one obviously  ;)

Wow.  I haven't posted in such a long time, this has felt good.  As much as
I'd liked to have weighed in on the technology issue, I've been too tired
and too busy to think philosophically about it, but sure have enjoyed
reading everyone's input.

Just talking about gear is easy and second nature and requires little heavy
thinking!  Yikes this is long.  See you at the Gathering.

ke kaahawe at92


Michael Henderson		E-mail: mikeh@royalrobbins.com
Royal Robbins, Inc		Web Site: http://www.royalrobbins.com
1314 Coldwell Ave		Phone: 209/529-5511
Modesto, CA 95350		Fax: 209/522-5511