Have you ever read the book Wild by Cheryl Strayed? After packing up everything I thought I would need for three days of camping in the wilds of the Adirondacks, I felt like I had my very own Monster!
It might not look like much for three days in the woods, when you consider that this includes the shelter, a sleeping bag, my clothing and hiking gear. But when you have to carry it to a campsite 7.5 miles into the interior of the Adirondacks, almost two miles of that uphill, it can seem a little daunting.
My hiking buddy, Anya and I are very close to finishing our 46. We only have 4 left – Redfield, Gray, Skylight and Marcy. (We are leaving Marcy for our big finish with friends on the July long weekend.) For the past two years, we’ve plodded past other hikers camping in lean-to’s and tents, leisurely making coffee in the morning, sitting near the water having an afternoon snack, groups of people sitting around a campfire, sharing stories, while we continue to drag our sore and weary butts out to the car at the trailhead. Even though each of the 46 High Peaks can be done in a day, sometimes those days can be very long. It always looked so exciting (and much easier) to stay in the middle of the mountains and climb several instead of having to make the long trek in and out every time. We knew we needed to spend one or two nights camping in the interior so we could partake of the camaraderie and adventure and add to our ever-growing list of incredible experiences in this part of the world.
So next weekend, we are starting at the Upper Works trailhead in Newcomb and hiking in with our monster packs and setting up camp somewhere…out there…in the woods… surrounded by mountains.
There are a number of lean-to’s along this particular trail that we are hiking and even more dotted around the interior area called Flowed Lands. The first ones we come to are 4.7 miles in but the one we’re aiming for is 7.5 miles in, called Uphill. Lean-to’s are three-walled wooden structures that are used as a shelter by campers. They fit 6-8 people and are dotted throughout the Adirondacks and other lengthy hiking trails. If there are others already there when we reach it, we can still stay there since they are public space, provided there is enough room for the both of us. The lean-to takes the place of the tent. But it wouldn’t be a very wise idea to bank on getting space in a lean-to only to get there and realize that there’s no more room. Which is why we are bringing a tent as well.
The Adirondack park also has a Leave-No-Trace policy which means that everything you pack in, you must pack out. There are no public toilets (well, in the high traffic camping areas, there may be a questionable privy but going in the woods is probably cleaner), no running water, strict rules on food and toiletries (it’s bear country after all) and of course, no electricity and no mobile service.
Here’s a breakdown of what I’m bringing:
- a -7°C sleeping bag (in the grey and orange compression sac)
- a sleeping pad (in the black bag)
- a two-person tent (in the gray bag)
- footprint for the tent (not shown)
- a sleeping bag liner (small red bag)
We aren’t sure how cold it will feel in the woods. Our sleeping bags are good to -7°C and the liner adds a few more degrees of warmth if needed. The footprint is a small tarp layer that goes between the ground and the tent to help with reducing condensation on the tent. The sleeping pad helps keep the cold ground further from our sleeping bodies as well as adds a bit of softness. But really, only a bit. The sleeping pad is only an inch thick when inflated. I’m not bringing a pillow because I plan on using clothing wrapped in a compression sack as my pillow.
- a coat for cold weather (blue)
- a rain jacket (pink) and rain pants (black)
- a mesh bag to keep all my clothes together
- a sports bra
- a wicking shirt
- thermal bottoms and top (to sleep in)
- two pairs of hiking socks
- a lightweight hat for overnight
- lightweight gloves (for evenings or hiking in rain)
- flip-flops for at camp (no toe divider so I can wear wool socks in them. How hip.)
- gaiters (not shown because they are too muddy to have in the house)
- and of course boots. But that’s a given. (Also too muddy to be anywhere near the carpet.)
This does not include the one set of clothing that I will be wearing on the hike in (a wicking shirt, a long-sleeved shirt, a light insulating layer, hiking pants and socks). I will let this set of clothing dry the following day and wear it again on the third day of hiking.
- a trowel (orange, in the above picture. For leave-no-trace nature calls.)
- matches, lighter and firestarters
- rain pack cover (in the small green sac)
- three headlamps (I’m a little paranoid)
- basic first aid kit
- bungee cord (not sure what for but it could come in handy)
- sunscreen (this needs to go in the bear can because of the scent)
- eco-soap (small, green bottle)
- lip balm
- a carabiner and spork
- a Rite in the Rain journal and 2 pens
- a daypack
- microspikes (yes, they are still a good idea)
- hand and toe warmers (always err on the side of warmth)
- toilet paper
- toiletries (keep to a minimum! Everyone smells out there! I’m only bringing contact lenses, my medication, a mini-toothbrush and wet wipes)
- extra batteries (both AA and AAA)
- Luci light (not shown) for base camp and emergencies
- small and large Ziploc bags (for garbage or for open food)
- things already in my daypack: bandana, rope, a small red light, map, extra socks, bandaids, Advil, space blanket, lip balm, signal mirror, flask (for celebrating summits!), compass and hand sanitizer.
- hiking poles (as shown in first picture)
- Phone (for camera and notes)
- Battery Pack
- Leef iAccess memory card reader for iPhones (to store my photos)
And water. I packed everything entirely and then saw my Camelbak bladder sitting on the bed. Must. Not. Forget. Water.
The only thing that I’m not bringing is food. I’m responsible for the shelter, Anya is responsible for the food, which gets transported and stored in a bear can. (Photos to follow). She is also bringing the insect repellant, pots and mini-stove.
That’s it! It’s all packed. All 32 lbs. of gear and clothing and shelter! Sure, it’s not the lightest pack ever. If you ask advice of someone who backpacks on a regular basis, they might say it’s too heavy. Their packs are lighter but often because their gear is lighter (and usually more expensive). But I think I did a pretty good job for a first time! I can’t think of anything else. If I’ve forgotten something, please let me know!
Now…to actually get it on my back.