I am out of instant coffee. And ALL coffee, actually. So tomorrow around 9:00 AM, I will go and buy more coffee from Schnucks. Will be good to get out of the house on what will be (presumably) a sunny day (I didn't see rain in the forecast, anyway). It will be cold, though, and that is fine. I will bundle up, buy coffee, and a couple other things probably, come home, and then the day will start.

gearless backpacking (or, simply hiking)

I really stretched my brain, thought as thoroughly as I could about an odd scenario: "could someone thru-hike the Appalachian Trail (AT), or any other major trail with NO backpacking gear?" I'd venture to guess the answer is "no". In fact, after thoroughly thinking it through on many occasion the answer was (still) "no". And I don't mean going with a large fannypack or bringing a pouch of some kind with some arbitrary "Liter limit", or a supercharged jacket with a million pockets, either - because the fact is, to spend a night out in the woods (alone or with people), one would NEED some form of sleep system. Some form of shelter from the elements. Something to stay warm/dry or GET warm/dry if and when that person gets caught out in a rain storm. Now, there probably are hyper lightweight solutions in some cases, with MAXIMUM lightness/agility, but also MINIMUM comfort/practicality (such as a space blanket system for a shelter, as well as a sleeping bag, and thin-yet-durable (and warm) layers in a CamelBak for hydration, etc.). But there is so much compromise and discomfort involved with the whole thing, that it would not even be worth entertaining the idea of doing so (taking a backpacking trip of any kind) without the proper, standard, and necessary equipment.

And that's why I prefer hiking much more than backpacking. Backpacking gives me little reward in exchange for the excursion. Yes, I get a great night's sleep out in the woods, and camping is fun, but, dayhiking is "the ultimate" for me, because I get to get into the woodline, clear my mind, let my thoughts wander, enjoy nature, and just have a good time "for the day" (or a decent portion of the day), and then come back home and reflect and sort of recover. And in regards to gear, not too much is needed in way of a backpack or supplies or XYZ. Of course practicing the "Essential 10" (or "Essential 7") is always a smart thing to do. That is, having the 10 (or 7) most essential things with you (me) at all times when I venture into the woods. But around here, I find that even those things are not TOTALLY necessary, as I go to Cliff Cave County Park, and there simply isn't a lot of places to "get lost" in, or find myself in any type of relative danger. So, I just pack uber ultralight.

Not for the AT, though. More is needed. And it will always be that way.

back soon