Voting Continues and Other News

Please help me stay in the running for the Badger Sponsorship of my 2012 Thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. I'm in third place, but somebody is getting close to knocking me to fourth and I get nothing for fourth place. So, click on this link, scroll below the instructions, wait a few seconds for the like button to appear and click it. Then share if you feel moved to. This contest goes until the morning of Feb 21st, so I have to keep momentum going. Thank you!


In other news I got some more gear. I got a Thermarest NeoAir All Season inflatable sleeping pad and used it in my tent today. It is insulating and even when lying on my side my hip didn't touch the ground. It only weighs 1lb 2oz and takes about 20 breaths to inflate. There's a stuff sack for it that in theory could help inflate the pad, but I couldn't make it work. Maybe if I did it before I got in the tent....but 20 breaths don't take that long, so no worries. I wish I could have afforded the weight and cost of getting a 25" pad instead of only 20", but I didn't need the extra length or weight of a large, so the medium will be fine.


I got a silk sleeping bag liner and tried it out on my pad in my tent. I might have to see about a rectangular size. It is tapered at the feet and I can't move my legs inside very well. If my bag didn't stretch it wouldn't matter, but my bag does stretch and I want to be able to use that feature. So I need a bigger liner or a different shape, but I like the liner idea. I may even be able to use the liner and my same 15 degree sleeping bag as a quilt in the summer instead of buying another sleeping bag for the summer. I hope so.


I also got some nylon pieces with cords that allow me to fill them with rocks, sand or even snow and set up my tent when I can't put in stakes. I don't know what to call them. I haven't set my tent up since the last time, because I can't use stakes in this yard. But I set it up today on gravel and put rocks in those little miracle workers and it worked great. I've read of thru-hikers trading a trekking pole tent like mine in for a freestanding tent, and I just can't afford that. So this will allow me to set up tent wherever I can find the room, even without the stakes. It took me a while, though, so I'm going to practice some more.

I decided something while crawling around on my knees in the gravel of my backyard. I want to take a little piece of foam to lay on my "doorstep" for crawling in and out of the tent. Then I'd wipe it off if needed and put it on the floor of my tent while I crawl around inside. I realized that since I can't stand up in my tent, I'll be spending lots of time on my knees in there. It will also work as a "seat" for breaks while hiking, a pad for kneeling for pictures and it can add a little extra insulation or padding under my hips or shoulders if I'm extra cold or my inflatable pad fails. I might even be able to use it as a pillow. I can strap it on the outside of my pack. I already have the pad and I'm thinking of how much to cut it down for a lighter weight and smaller size.


I also got a pack cover that I tried out today. It wasn't raining or wet, but it cinched down pretty well and stayed on, with a little room in case I have stuff attached to the back of my pack. I cinched my trekking poles to the back of the pack and they will even fit under the medium sized pack cover, though I expect I'll be using them most of the time. I'll have stuff in ziploc and dry bags inside my pack, but the cover keeps the bag itself from getting wet and weighing me down more.


I'm bringing a gorillapod tripod so I can actually be in some pictures and get some decent landscape photos. I love it, even though it weighs more than I'd like at one pound. Other tripods weigh more than 3-5 pounds, so it's the lightest one I found that will truly support my camera. I'm currently working with a camera chestpack that was meant to be worn under my backpack, but the straps rubbed my neck before I even started hiking. So, I'm going to leave those straps behind and adapt the camera section to my backpack straps. I found a design online and I'm meeting with a friend tomorrow to see about doing something similar. I hope that putting about five pounds in the front might actually help counterbalance the weight of the pack on my back. I can keep snacks, phone, maps and guidebook pages in the chestpack along with my camera, so everything is easily in reach without having to remove my pack. I'll let you know how that turns out.


I'm planning to bring my phone and I've decided it's going to weigh less to just bring extra phone batteries instead of bringing the mp3 player and its charger. That way I can listen to music on my phone, too, and I'll always keep one charged battery ready, so once I get to that battery I have to save the juice until I get into town and can charge all of them. I would like to use the Kindle App on my phone, but it keeps freezing up. So I'll go through my Apps and delete the ones I'm not using. If it still has trouble I'll bring my Kindle. There's no way I'm going six months without books to read, and I can have hundreds of books with me for only 8 ounces. Try weighing a fat paperback or a hardcover. The Kindle weighs less with so many more options. Plus, it uses the same charger as my phone. But if the App will work I won't bring the Kindle and I can save one half a pound.


Repeat the mantra, ounces make pounds. Every ounce adds up. So far my pack weighs just over twenty pounds, even with my trekking poles attached. That's no food or water and with a few extras in my survival and first aid kit that I have to pare down. But I don't have my dry bags or food bag yet and I still need a few clothing items. Also, some of my gear, like my Jetboil stove is still in its packaging (I was deciding whether to keep or resell it, but I think I'll keep it). So the weights aren't official yet.


I have to have all my gear prepared and ready for my early March overnight hiking trip. That will be a beginner shakedown hike, where I'll pack my pack as if I'm starting the AT, with everything I need and hike with it. I'll have a car nearby, but I'll use all my own gear in camp as well. If I discover I need to make adjustments I'll still have a month to fix it.

Sixty days to go!!!!