It's 8:11 on Thursday night, 11 minutes past hikers midnight, and I'm definitely settling into a routine. This is what a typical day looks like for me;
1. Wake up to temperatures in the high 30's to low 40's and contemplate getting out of the sleeping bag.
2. Finally get the courage to leave the sleeping bag and take a look at the gear spread all over the tent or shelter like an exploded car bomb.
3. Eat my breakfast of champions, which is Cinnamon Pop Tarts.
4. Methodically pack things up while pondering the cold damp clothes I know I'm going to have to put on.
5. Put on said clothes. The chilled boxer shorts are especially delightful.
6. Load up the pack, which I seem to do differently every time. All of my gear goes into waterproof dry bags. Anything with feathers (sleeping bag, jacket) has to remain dry or it's useless. Hypothermia is always a possibility out here.
7. Once the pack is all sealed up I remember the one piece of gear I either forgot to put away or that I need. It usually lies somewhere in the bottom third of the pack.
8. The last thing I do before I get started is to put on the always damp and cold running shoes I wear every day. It's a momentary discomfort.
9. Heft the 40lb pack onto my back (which used to nearly knock me over) and start walking.
10. After about 4 hours of walking I stop and have the same lunch I've eaten since I started: Summer Sausage, moist and crumbling flour tortillas, and, if I remember to buy it in town, cheddar cheese.
11. Hike until I've reached the shelter I'm staying at for the night and then the real work begins...
12. First priority is always finding a water source. The water is ALWAYS treated with Aqua Mira drops to kill any pesky organisms that might cause GI "distress". Getting Giardia or any of the other evil microorganisms is a show stopper.
13. Set up my tent (the green monster) or stake a claim on a spot in the shelter. Sometimes the shelters are semi primitive lean and sometimes they're a primitive log cabin. They're always a welcome site.
14. Explode the contents of my pack and search for what I'm going to eat for dinner. It's always Tyson chicken in a foil pouch with either Lipton soup mix, Stove Top stuffing, or some kind of rice.
15. After dinner it's time to do the dishes, or single pot in my case. This is a pain in the ass. You can't just go down to the stream and rinse your stuff out. You may be flavoring someone’s drinking water downstream. Not cool. The trick that Mtn. Goat taught me was to eat every morsel you can, then add water, slosh it around and drink. So disgusting. What I've been doing is scraping it into a Ziploc bag and keeping it with my trash.
16. After dinner it's time to hang a bear bag. You load anything that had food in or on it; stove, trash bage, food carrying bag, and then find a long branch that's about 20 feet off the ground, throw your rope over it, make sure that it's out a good 3 or 4 feet from the trunk of the tree, and then hoist your food up, tie the rope to another tree using a bowline knot and hope that no bears or smaller but more irritating critters get at your goodies. We're sometimes a bit lax about hanging our food and when we do, we hang the bags from rope inside the shelter that theoretically keeps the mice/chipmunks away. For the record, chipmunks are NOT cute.
17. Try to type something on that evil little electronic device, complete with poor grammar, misspellings, and some sections that lack sense.
18. Talk to my trail peeps until it gets dark and then most people crawl into their sleeping bags for the night. That's typically around 8 o'clock. I, on the other hand sit and read, write, or stare off into space until I'm finally tired enough to go to sleep.
19. Wake up and repeat until the sign says WELCOME TO CANADA.