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RE: [pct-l] tents...Ouch!

Tom writes >> My analysis from the trail diaries of Roan Moak [you know this

In the early going Ron hiked probably double the miles he should wiping out
his feet. The result was a long rest break. In the end he wound up behind
the pace a mature, intelligent hiker would have maintained. Ron walked too
far for two important reasons:
1-He set unrealistic goals
2-His camp was uncomfortable
These reasons worked together. Ron's early thruhike was a sprint between
trail stops. To be comfortable Ron needed to reach a certain destination for
the night. Ron never seemed to be able to say "I'll walk 10 miles today and
stop" His sparse camp was unexciting, even boreing. In a couple of instances
Ron first made the decision to stop after a reasonable distance, then
started again out of boredom and hiked another 15 miles. Interestingly, Ron,
whose problem was obvious to anyone reading his journals, couldn't figure
out what he was doing wrong. His feet were falling apart but he never slowed
down, only stopped when they were absolutely too bad to continue. <<

Well Tom, if I didn't know you I'd probably be a bit pissed at your analysis
of my hike. But I'll consider it a tongue-in-cheek review of a lightweight
backpacker. Considering that you not only like to pack the kitchen sink but
the stove as well on your summer forays, I understand the source. 

You'll be happy to note that in Washington I carried a Snowpeak gass stove
instead of my alcohol burner. So maybe I'm still corruptible. There was even
a time or two I looked on those packing tents with a bit of envy. After all
those beautiful pictures of tents spread across the mountain slopes in
magazine ads has to make an impression somewhere. 

Still, as they say when the "Rubber hits the road.", those people packing
tents were no warmer, dryer or, most importantly, comfortable than I in my
tarp. In the end, as you say, comfort in camp is important.  Through out the
hike my camping/sleeping gear weight total was less than 5 pounds. This
includes tarp (with poles, stakes, ground cloth), sleeping bag and pad.
Significantly less than most tent/sleeping bag combos I encountered. This
light weight made for more comfort on my back during the day too.  And no,
most of the hikers I traveled with didn't carry 20 degree bags this summer. 

As to my unrealistic goals you're probably right. Then again, if one were to
ask 99.9 percent of the sane population, people who've never picked up a
backpack let alone carried one for a 1000 or miles, you'd get the same
answer. For most people a thru-hike is totally unrealistic at either 10 or
25 miles a day. 

Now regarding comfort, that's a relative thing. I'm most comfortable with my
fat ass (not so fat anymore) sitting in my easy chair watching TV in the
comfort of my den. So if I'm after comfort, doing any hiking is pretty much
out of the question. After all there's lot's of easier ways to beat myself
to death. A thru-hike is the ultimate in masochistic adventures no matter
how slow it's done. 

Tom, you're dead right about one thing. It took me along time to figure out
what I was doing wrong. Not that I ever gave up trying. It's just that none
of the changes I made were working. In the end it wouldn't have mattered how
many miles I hiked in a day, I'd still have blisters. It was my shoes and
only changing them solved the problem. My problem is that my generally
frugal (well cheap) nature demands that I don't abandon some until it's
really worn out. If I'd have dumped my shoes 500 miles earlier (for ones I
already owned), I'd have saved the cost of a new pair of boots simply by
reducing motel and restaurant costs. Not to mention a hell of a lot of pain.

No matter how prepared we are or think we are, we'll always run into
circumstances that we've not planned for. That's true if this is your first
or fifth thru-hike. So the only way to survive and continue on is
adaptability, but then as humans, that's what we excel at. 

Never say never!

Ron "Fallingwater" Moak
PCT 2000 - http://www.fallingwater.com/pct2000

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