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[pct-l] follow-up on Seattle Times article on "Ultralight" hiking

In a message dated 9/26/2001 3:46:38 PM Eastern Daylight Time, 
echristopherjensen@yahoo.com writes:

> I say quite the contrary. I believed then, and still
>  do, that the writer was rash in his estimation of the
>  risks he felt he was taking and the sacrifices he was
>  making while hiking with what he thought was a
>  lightweight pack.

I can't disagree, but I doubt that the general audience of a newspaper is 
prepared to understand the message.  I think most of us who have shaved many 
pounds from our pack weight can look back to a time when we too would 
dismissed ultralight backpacking as "extreme."  It takes a certain amount of 
experience and core competency before one gets comfortable with the idea of 
ultralight.  This probably explains why most of us have bought many different 
tents, packs, bags, etc.  It's all part of the learning curve.

BTW, lightweight backpacking is by no means a recent phenomenon.  Here's a 
quote from a 1960 AT thruhiker:  "It is surprising how many things you can do 
without on the trail.  Our pack weight rarely exceeded 25 pounds each, even 
with a full week's supply of food."  Not bad when you consider all the weight 
saving fabrics and gear they didn't have available.

I do think the article could be refuted in one area.  A person carrying all 
that extra weight is probably more likely to find him or herself injured 
needing rescue than an ultralight hiker.  Not only is all that extra weight a 
risk factor for strains and fractures, carrying all that extra weight is hard 
work.  Again a quote from the 1960 thruhiker:  "Each time we met someone . . 
. struggling with a pack weighing upwards of 40 pounds we wondered how many 
people had been turned away from the joy of hiking because their introduction 
to it was unnecessarily laborious."

It's a subtle message we understand now, but only after we've walked hundreds 
of miles, discovering what we can do without.  Ultralight comes from the 
wisdom of the trail and isn't easily communicated in a newspaper or to one 
who is only a casual hiker.

Happy trails,

Solar Bear