Archives - August, 2010



30 Aug 10

by Randy Pierce

www.flagsonthe48.org - Flag flying on top of Mount Liberty - Saturday, September 15, 2001

That rascal, Quinn, spilled the beans on Twitter: We are climbing Mt. Liberty on 9/11 as part of the Flags on the 48! I am truly honored to be a part of this program, and I’m especially excited to be hiking up the mountain where the program began. I have a deep appreciation for the freedom and liberty afforded us privileged citizens of the United States of America. Having begun 2020 Vision Quest on Independence Day, it is fitting to have this meaningful summit on a day I consider synonymous with freedom. Quinn grants me tremendous freedom and liberty as well, which is not lost upon me. The core of this hike, for me, is to honor and give tribute to those who conceived of and/or defended both liberty and freedom.

I relish community and the idea of building strength by joining together for a common and worthy cause. I believe we all have the opportunity to act in ways that enhance the community of our nation – being the best citizens for the betterment of our community, from the smallest to the grandest levels. I believe our 2020 Vision Quest represents so many of these values, and encourages taking personal and purposeful steps toward things that hold meaning for us.

September 11th is a day I will dedicate to remembering the people who have helped us all realize the benefits of liberty. I hope many of you will share your own thoughts on freedom and liberty, and follow the very worthy Flags on the 48 program. On that day, I hope we all appreciate the greater community of our nation, those lost in her defense, and those who will have a positive impact on this nation going forward.

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24 Aug 10

by Randy, Quinn, and the 2020 Team

Here at 2020 Vision Quest, it seems we’ve have had one non-stop exciting adventure after another and we’re barely done with our inaugural month, much less our first year’s hiking season! And right now, we’re all about celebrating our successes and sharing our hopes and ideas for the upcoming year with everyone who’s been so supportive of the project.

To do this, we’re holding Peak Potential, our first annual Celebration Dinner & Charity Auction, on October 23rd. We’d love to have you join us at The Derryfield in Manchester, NH.

Randy (with the help of the Mighty Quinn) will give a special presentation about where we’ve been and where we’re going, along with some never before seen video from the climbs. Enjoy hors d’oeuvres, a sit-down dinner (your choice of Pan Roasted Salmon, Cranberry Walnut Chicken, Prime Rib or Spinach Stuffed Tomato), and dancing galore, along with a cash bar.

In between courses, there will be both silent auction bidding and the opportunity to win several very special live auction packages intended to inspire, educate, and help challenge the winning bidders to achieve their own visions!

When: Saturday, October 23rd, hors d’oeuvres at 6:30 pm, dinner at 7 pm

Where: The Derryfield, Manchester, NH

Tickets*: $100 per person, $175 for two, or sponsor a whole table (8 Seats) for $600

Tickets are available for pre-order online, by emailing Donate@2020VisionQuest.org , or by calling 1-888-54-2020-1 x10. No at-the-door tickets will be sold.

If you’ve got something you’d like to donate for sale at the auction, please let us know (most goods and professional services are considered tax deductible contributions).

We hope to see you there!

* A portion of your ticket price is a tax-deductible donation to 2020 Vision Quest, a 501(c)(3) charity.

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20 Aug 10

by Tracy Goyette

Tracy and Randy celebrate on Mount Field

Wow, instead of merely a week, it seems like months since I shared my fears regarding this past weekend’s back country hiking and camping trip. I’m pleased to report that I had a fantastic time and cannot wait to camp in the backcountry again. I did promise to share how the trip went, so here’s my trip report as it relates to my list of fears.

Fear 1: I’ve never camped in the back woods before.

So? I have camped in a variety of other, more populated places and the main difference is in the preparation and the carrying. Randy, Carrie, and Kara helped remove this fear by communicating what our needs should be. Also, Randy and I bought all of the appropriate gear that we would need. In fact, some of the setup was far easier than the more complex, larger tents I’ve used in the past!

Fear 2: There is bear activity in the area.

Yes, this is a reasonable and unconquered fear. Thankfully, we did not encounter any bear activity, so I count this one as a victory. I was pretty scared when we went to sleep and it took me a bit to relax enough to fall asleep, but the belief that Quinn would bark and wake me if a bear came into our campsite gave me a great deal of comfort.

Fear 3: I wonder if I can handle carrying the extra weight needed.

Sadly, the answer was no. I was limited in the weight I could carry; however, the rest of the team was fantastic. My biggest challenge with this fear is feeling as though I was not doing my share of the work. This was self-imposed guilt, and the rest of the team was fantastic in communicating that they felt I had other jobs that offset the weight I could not carry.

Fear 4: I fear I’ll be the slowest hiker because I’ve lost a bit of fitness these past few months.

Tracy and Randy setting up their tent.

This was not an issue. I am often the trailblazer because Quinn likes to follow me. I set the pace based mostly on Randy and Quinn’s speed (though a few times my short legs were the limiting factor). Ultimately, I ended up not caring about my speed.

Fear 5: What if I can’t sleep on the ground and I’m too sore the second day?

The first night in the campground was my first try with this gear. I slept poorly. The second night I corrected a few issues with the initial setup. I slept like a baby in the backwoods, with only the sounds of a breeze blowing gently through the pine grove and the sounds of Randy and Quinn breathing. I loved the stillness, and I didn’t want to leave!

Fear 6: What if we run out of water?

I did run out of water on the second day due to caring for Randy’s wound. Again, preparation and teamwork saved the day. Others gave me some of their water, Carrie and Kara knew just where the water sources were, and Carrie implemented a plan to make sure nobody was out of water for long.

There were some bad aspects to the trip – Randy fell and injured himself twice. I was astounded at how well the group mobilized. They swiftly transformed into a Cracker Jack wilderness ER team. Their competence helped me to stay calm so I could be the most help possible. I believe it was our team preparation (Thanks Solo Wilderness Medicine!) that made this work out so well.

Ultimately, this was a magical trip for me. My first backcountry camping trip with a group of people I was very happy to spend time with. I bonded with some very close friends of Randy’s and saw things I’d never seen before (but that’s a story for another time!) I am proud of myself for being conscious of my fears, facing them, and finding a new love in the process. I can’t wait to have my next adventure.

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19 Aug 10

by Carrie McMillen

I never knew beef could be such an important part of a trip. I don’t eat a lot of red meat, but I’ll eat pretty much anything on the trail. So, when I heard about how a few of the hike participants had eaten steak tips once on a previous backpacking trip, I was pretty excited. The steak tips ended up being a really important part of the trip – they became both the high and low points of the weekend.

Steak tips as a way to heal


Kara applies frozen steak tips to Randy's injured knee.

About an hour into the hike, as you may have read about by now, Randy’s knee swelled up like a ping-pong ball within seconds after his fall. I knew having something cold on the injury would help, and Kara had to remind me that in the depths of someone’s pack were some tasty and frozen steak tips. After 20 minutes of freezing Randy’s knee, the swelling went way down and we were ready to move on. I really think that the icing minimized the extent of his injury dramatically.

Having an injury on the trail made this all very real. I’ve always carried first aid gear, but have opened it for only a Band-aid or some Neosporin. Maybe I’ve been lucky all of these years – but this hike made me a lot more alert to the fact that this may occur more than once as we summit these formidable 48 peaks. I learned a lot on this hike – about the resilience and determination of Randy, about the strength and support of our team, and about the inequities of the first aid kit. I bought a large survival/ first aid kit, but until you have an actual injury, it’s hard to know what you’re missing. Unfortunately, we probably won’t have frozen steak tips on every trip, but we instead should definitely have instant cold compresses. We should also have Q-tips for cleaning out cuts, butterfly bandages, and tweezers that don’t look like daggers (sorry, Randy!). Luckily, a few of the participants offered up some of their personal first aid items to supplement what was missing. (Tip: a squeeze water bottle is great for flushing out a wound!)

Steak tips as a way to bond


Rob cooking up the steak tips. Mmmm!

Once we were done freezing Randy’s knee with steak tips for a second time before dinner, we had the pleasure of eating them. I was gone for about 45 minutes getting water and by the time I got back, the boys had rigged up a fancy campfire – and those steak tips melted in my mouth as I finally relaxed from the day. Add to that a delicious lentil stew with fresh rosemary and we had ourselves a recipe for a great evening. We spent several hours reminiscing about past hiking experiences and got to know each other better through interesting and challenging questions. As the evening got later and darker, I’m sure we were smiling big with full bellies and great company.

Every hiking trip is different – some go smoothly, some don’t. The bumps of this trip were…literally, bumps. There were many things to think about as Randy hit his knee twice and sliced his hand, and trust me – my mind was going a mile a minute as I considered the ramifications of his injuries to himself and the group, while simultaneously thinking about how to treat the situation. I’ll be honest – it’s mentally tiring to balance all of those things as a leader.

But, I have to say that even with the ‘bumps’, this trip was smooth and sensational. I specifically am grateful for the way we cherished each summit as a group and for the many ways we took care of each other, whether it was cooking a meal, helping breakdown a tent or taking some weight from Randy’s pack. And, I was tickled when nature provided her own few magical moments like the old worldly mossy glen at a stream crossing and the gray jays that fearlessly landed on my outstretched hand. To paraphrase Randy from the weekend: ‘It’s moments like these that keep me going.’

And steak tips.

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18 Aug 10

by Randy Pierce

We set out early the next morning, though not too early as to over-push it. The trail atop the ridge was beautiful and we made excellent time. All seemed ideal, even on my sore knee – that is, until a second mishap occurred.

We were walking on the edge of a washout section of the trail. The three-foot-deep washout was boulder-strewn and hard to navigate. Quinn took the flat high ground to the left, because I walk better on flat ground. As I stepped down with my left foot, the dirt and roots of the washout collapsed and dropped me into the wash. I released the harness and leash from my left hand, so as not to trap Quinn while I tried to  catch myself, but sadly I sliced my left palm on a spiky stump fragment  - just as my injured left knee took yet another hit.

The team, having practiced the day before, was amazing. I am exceedingly grateful for the efficiency with which they got pressure on my two bleeding points, then got my knee elevated and iced. Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate is the order, R.I.C.E. for those wanting the mnemonic. All was accomplished in moments, and though I was sore and concerned, I was in good spirits. During my twenty minutes of ‘ice’, my hand wound was cleared of debris and tended by the amazing crew. Everyone was excellent, and I’m grateful. My spirits took a small hit here for obvious reasons, but the team support was solid – and it was at this point that we observed a little mountain magic, which may have made the difference for me.

We had been told that atop Mt. Field, one could hold out a hand with dried fruit and the Gray Jays would perch on your fingers and eat the fruit. At this very stop, the Jays revealed themselves, and we tested the rumor with an awe-inspiring delight. When ready, I stood and partook of the process, marveling at communing with these birds. I felt a bit as if I was in a Fairy Tale, and my knee and hand hurt a lot less for it.

We continued on, a bit slower, to the summit of Mt. Tom, where we were again treated to better views than anticipated. We called in more of the Jays and even had them perch upon my pack, which of course had the names of our $100 donors (thanks!). One of those names, by the way, is a Guiding Eyes for the Blind puppy that is being raised to do the same job as Quinn!

We eventually began our descent, knowing this would definitely test my knee. I don’t think I can praise enough the work of Quinn or Tracy’s efforts ahead of me in trail blazing and sharing just enough information to keep us focused and safe. It was tough terrain, but we made good time – and my comfort and confidence in the progress Quinn and I have made was clear. We are a strong hiking team. He knew my injury and he helped me much, occasionally getting me to shift feet for a tricky point, and occasionally giving me stability on a rough area. He knows how to show me when we can do something readily and conversely, he knows how to alert me when I must step or sit down for a significant drop. We did the trip well, arriving at the end of the first rough stretch in time for Carrie to decide that she and Dave would go ahead for water refills while the rest of us could attempt the Avalon spur. Carrie and Dave had done the spur previously, and the team had used a lot of water to flush my injuries – so were lower on water than ideal.

The summit of Mt. Avalon is a very short spur off the trail, and we again did this without our packs…well most of us. Kara kept her pack on, for first aid and other vital needs. The craggy point had some unusual terrain and made for a great climb. Some of the spur trail required a 4-limb scramble, so Quinn could not lead me, but he came along and was excited for the challenges. We loved the view but rested only for a moment, as we had much work ahead in our final steep descent.

The Tom/Field 2020 Team

The next phase of the Avalon Trail is very steep and challenging – even for the fully sighted. It quickly earned my respect. It was not my most challenging down section, but very close – and Quinn was tireless in keeping me safe and oriented. Kara led us for much of this stretch, giving Tracy a well-deserved break. We made great time given the challenge, and we accomplished faster than Carrie expected. When we rejoined with her and Dave, there was a jubilant sharing of restocked water and much celebration. We knew this hike would be a success, despite the injuries. The team had come together marvelously and we had bagged a trio of peaks, two of which were part of the 48 on our list.

There are so many memories of the experiences on those mountains. The lingering bruises certainly have me reflecting on them, but the most powerful memories are of the teamwork and friendship built in sharing the marvels of the White Mountains. Seriously, how many people can stand atop the highest peak in a glorious range and have wild birds landing in their palm? How many people can know the value of friendship and fun so deeply at the core of that peaceful sanctuary? I’m certainly a happier person for it. Thank you to all those who hike with me and to all those inspiring me along the way!

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17 Aug 10

by Randy Pierce

This weekend’s hike was a fantastic experience for me personally, though it came with a significant impact…literally.

We loaded up our packs for a Friday night stay at a campground near the trailhead, to both test our new equipment as well as ensure an early morning departure. Time is typically one of my biggest challenges due to my need to hike more slowly than most. So, with slightly heavier packs (my pack, at 48 pounds, was barely the most heavy), we set out on the Avalon Trail. Roughly .5 miles into the hike, we were enjoying gentle trails – then an error on a plank bog bridge made our hike a bit more difficult.

Typically, Quinn leads me by half a dog, meaning I’m walking beside his right flank. He stops to signal warnings when his subtle body positioning cannot have me evade things entirely. Sometimes, Quinn and I need to go single file, due to a narrow pathway or bridge. While single file, when Quinn stops for an obstacle, I have to estimate the distance to his front paws, ask him to ‘hup-up’, and then find the edge of the obstacle. When we hit a plank bridge that was too narrow for us to walk side by side, Quinn did his work well – and Tracy, with a very good understanding of our process, alerted me that there was a deep space between the plank and the stepping-stone off the plank. Unfortunately, I did not hear Tracy’s warning, nor did I catch Quinn’s extra hesitation as he stepped off the plank to the rock. My wet boot partially reached the stone step, but then it slipped. I fell between the plank and the rock and banged my knee solidly against another rock. The swelling was significant and immediate.

Our Wilderness First Aid training came in handy, as a quick evaluation of my situation found my mood strong, thoughts coherent, and bones not broken. We walked to the junction of the A-Z trail (Avalon – Zealand) and then made some decisions. We would ice my knee, using frozen steak tips for that night’s dinner, wrap it, and carry on – with me periodically giving my status to the hiking leader, Carrie.

We had lunch at our last water source, which was a mossy, old-world-feeling forest with sunlight streaming through forest breaks. The spot was beautiful and we were proud of having made such good progress despite the setback. While filling our water containers, I listened as folks described the area. The air had been chilled by the stream gorge, and I delighted in the day. We had heard of sparse views on Mt. Tom, but we found many worthy views of the Presidentials. My companions were marvelous about sharing things with me, including details of a spider building a web off trail.

We made good time, and at the Mt. Tom spur, we stashed our packs off the trail to make the spur trip without the weight of our packs. The summit had better views than promised, and thanks to Steve Smith’s book on the 48 from the Mountain Wanderer, we knew how to find the ‘secret bench’ views. We laughed much and reveled in our accomplishment. The group was excited – and the luxury of hiking without a pack really makes a difference when you’ve been lugging all that weight.

We walked back to our packs and found some previously used campsite off the trail. Carrie and Kara went for water refills while the rest of us set up camp. A marvelous feast and great camaraderie whiled away the evening. Sure, we could have pushed onward, but staying closer to the water source and savoring the trip was more important. It was a great decision, and we are all closer and happier for that evening together on the top of the range.

Some of you know I’m a bit of a Pats fan, and as such I’m well familiar with the instant replay. Day 2 of our hike featured several of those, both good and bad: great trails, hard work, marvels of nature, water concerns… and yet more practice with the Wilderness First Aid training.

To Be Continued…

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14 Aug 10

by Randy Pierce

The day was a fantastic story of achievement for both Quinn and me. Cannon was a two-day planning event for both 2020 Vision Quest and Powderhouse Productions. They had heard of the inspirational work of the Mighty Quinn and wanted to film it for an inspiring project of their own. The interesting catch is that the film crew had precious little hiking experience, but they really wanted their final day of filming to involve hiking one of the 48 with us.

We filmed all day on Wednesday in Nashua, and then made a trip to Hidden Valley Campground where I gave a presentation to a group of boy scouts while they filmed. I learned a few things about their 14-member production crew during this time. I was very confident that they were capturing some quality footage, which was encouraging. However, the crew had difficulty keeping within desired time constraints – this would be a significant concern to me in our attempt on Cannon.

The latter concern escalated as they moved the trailhead departure time from my requested 7:00am to 8:00am, and then for a variety of production reasons, failed to arrive at the trailhead until well after 9:00am. In fact, the film crew was not actually ready to hike until after 10:00am. Time is among the biggest challenges for our success, and I’d given up over three hours of time already. Though this was an earnest attempt at Cannon, we decided to untypically allow the time impact within all reasonable safety levels. To ensure full comfort in this approach, I had asked both our 2020 hiking manager, Carrie McMillen, and UNH Professor of Outdoor Education, Brent Bell, to join us in undertaking the hike.

As we began the hike, the crew’s prior level of appreciation for Quinn was dwarfed by his astounding work on the trail. I mostly walked with our celebrity host, Ethan, as he watched us work and asked many questions about our progress. We repeated certain stretches to help the camera work, and often paused for the more poignant questions to get full impact on film. The crew was working hard to manage the trail with their equipment, and by the time we hit Lonesome Lake, it was clear that many of the crew would not continue onward with us. We all had lunch just past the impressive bog rails we had traversed around the lake. During lunch, we adjusted the plan; we would continue up with a small camera and sound crew, while the rest of the crew would hike down to take the tram and meet us at the summit.

The trail from Lonesome Lake to Kinsman Ridge is steep and has some good staircase work, which is actually an area where Quinn and I are strong. It was slippery and moderately challenging, with plenty of great opportunities for the film work. Now, the group was small enough that the bonding of the group began to develop in earnest. As we reached the Kinsman Ridge Trail, it leveled briefly at the col between the Cannon Ball and Cannon. The next .2 miles were very steep with hard scrabble, and everyone needed all four limbs for hiking. Due to this terrain, Quinn went off duty, and I managed it with the guidance of the sounds of a person ahead of me.

It was slow going and hard climbing, even for Quinn. This wasn’t our hardest challenge to date but it was a solid stretch of work. Our halts for camera time were reduced to ensure we’d achieve the summit in time. As we finished that section and Quinn returned to me, we made great time to the summit. Again, more film crew pauses held us for nearly an hour more. However, it was fantastic for their story and well worth the time spent – but it also removed any chance of our making a descent. This hike was about the production company getting their story – there was no failure on our end. We actually still felt strong and energized enough to undertake a descent, but we didn’t have enough time to make it reasonable. I was also skeptical that any of the film crew had the strength or energy reserves to continue. Instead, we all took the Tram down in an astounding 7-minute ride.

I learned more about working with Quinn on this hike, I have many new perspectives from the film work, and I became familiarized with Cannon Mountain. This increases my interest in returning and experiencing the mountain more fully with an official 2020 hike and a complete summit ascent and descent. In the meanwhile, I know there’s a fantastic story on film, and I look forward to being able to share more details with you soon.

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13 Aug 10

by Tracy Goyette

As we approach the final days leading up to my first ever backcountry camping trip, I find myself faced with a near overwhelming load of self-doubt and fears about the upcoming 2020 hiking trip. Don’t get me wrong, I’m immensely excited and eager for our trip to Mounts Tom and Field, but I’m pushing my boundaries with this trip.

Tracy and Randy at Lakes of the Clouds

I am, generally, an open person – except when it comes to admitting weaknesses and fears. I probably would have continued on, worrying in silence, except that I got a fantastic note from someone who shared her life situation with me – including what a positive effect our story has had on her. That note made me think that perhaps by sharing my own fears and hopefully later my success, I might inspire another person to try something they’ve been afraid of in the past.

So, without further ado, this trip scares me because of the following:

• I’ve never camped in the back woods before.
• There is bear activity in the area.
• I wonder if I can handle carrying the extra weight needed.
• I fear I’ll be the slowest hiker because I’ve lost a bit of fitness these past few months.
• What if I can’t sleep on the ground and I’m too sore the second day?
• What if we run out of water?

Setting these fears down on paper and sharing them makes me feel a bit silly, yet they express how I’ve been feeling this past week. I know that the group I’m climbing with is extremely supportive, and ultimately everything will be ok. However, I expect that knowledge won’t do much to allay my fears. So, I’m going to follow Randy’s example and just dive right in. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

So, what do you guys out there think? Anyone ever have any of these fears? How did your first backcountry trip turn out?

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11 Aug 10

Cannon Mountain, then and now.

by Randy Pierce

Part of my thus-far successful philosophy of life is predicated upon making the most out of opportunities. Where some might find obstacles, I try to see opportunity. This isn’t always easy or successful, but it is most often rewarding. As such, when I received a phone call from Powderhouse Productions inquiring about filming a pilot for a major cable network about Quinn’s amazing work and the 2020 Vision Quest project, I was eager to explore further. We’ve been working out the filming details for just over a week, with the plan of including Quinn leading me in some local guiding work, a presentation for the Boy Scouts at Hidden Valley Campground, and Quinn and I climbing a smaller mountain with decent views and reasonable Quinn challenges.

The filming was to occur Wednesday and Thursday of this week. When a Tuesday morning meeting brought about the suggestion of making the hike a full 4000+ foot mountain, I knew that the change would add a lot of work and challenge. However, I believed it was a fantastic opportunity – so I began to explore ways to make the change safe and feasible, even with only two days to plan.

As I discussed the potential change with other members of Team 2020, the first responses I got were of concern for how much I’d be pushing myself. The team’s second response echoed my own thoughts – what would the impact be on Quinn? Dogs are amazing, and Quinn is astounding, though I admit to a bit of a bias. One day of recovery is more than enough for Quinn to recharge; I just wish it were that simple for me! It will be a hard challenge for me and I understand that this change may affect the weekend summit attempts. However, I have begun preparations and precautions to ensure minimal risk and to give every opportunity for success.

Now the plan is to showcase Quinn’s conventional talents locally on Wednesday, then head up to the Scout camp to share with them the education and inspiration that is so essential to the project. Finally, with a full film crew for the potential pilot, we will launch into Quinn’s unconventional and astounding guide work with a Thursday-morning summit attempt of Cannon Mountain. It will certainly be a solid warm up for this weekend’s backcountry camping, double-summit attempt of Mt. Tom and Mt. Field!

I’ve generally found that the harder something is to achieve, the more value is gained from the achievement. If you follow us on Spot on Thursday – and then again on Saturday and Sunday! – you’ll find out along with me how hard this particular challenge will be. If all goes well, we will soon have some great stories and achievements (and maybe some very exciting news about a pilot TV show!), whether we summit all we attempt or not. Either way, we have one amazing adventure ahead of us yet again!

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10 Aug 10

by Carrie McMillen

We’ve all experienced that moment of indecision when we’re packing for a trip.

You ask yourself – do I squeeze in that hardcover bestseller book I want to read even though my suitcase weighs a ton? (Answer: usually, yes) This may not be a big deal at the airport or on a train where you can conveniently say goodbye to that bag during your travels. However, if you’re backpacking it’s a different story…

Carrie and her pack in Colorado

Carrie (middle) and her pack, contemplating mountains in Colorado.

So, how heavy is YOUR pack? Mine is 42 pounds.

At least that’s what it was on my most recent backpacking adventure last summer in Colorado. That’s a typical number for me, although it depends on how long a trip, how difficult, and what ‘extras’ I’ve packed. I’ve run into backpackers on the trail who consider themselves minimalists – they sleep under the stars, they only eat rehydrated food – and they boast a pack weight of around 25 pounds. Admirable? Sure. But I’d like to hope that maybe they aren’t enjoying themselves on the trail as much as I am!

For those of you who like facts and numbers, your pack’s weight should be a reflection of your fitness and comfort level in addition to a general factor of 1/4 to 1/3 of your body weight. (The minimalists mentioned above use ratios like 1/6). For the rest of you who don’t like facts and numbers, you can determine your appropriate weight by stuffing your pack full of everything you think you want, and then try it on. Then take something out because it will feel too heavy. Try it on again. Repeat at least six more times. Then try to get your friend to take something for you!

I am one of those people who will sacrifice a bit of weight for comfort in the woods. I don’t bring my solar hairdryer or my iPod – but I do bring a few things that will help my happiness on the trail, as they pertain to food, drink, and sleep. So, if you’re not scared of the number 42 (or higher) and you’re headed out into the backcountry – here are my comfort items that will add both weight and happiness to your trip:

Thick sleeping pad (22 oz) – My biggest challenge is always sleeping on the ground. It’s worth the price and weight for a thick pad with air chambers (the foam pads are far less comfortable!). Get self-inflating if you get light-headed easily.

Camp shoes (6 -11.5 oz) – Your feet are so tired from the boots; you’re going to love feeling a new pair of shoes while walking from your tent to the stove!

Earplugs (.001 oz) – ok, I might have made up the weight, but these things are priceless. Guaranteed you won’t hear snoring neighbors or bears.

Camp pillow – (8 oz) – Typically I stuff a fleece inside a stuff sack, but I’ve also found the inflatable neck pillows for the airplane work well, too.

Journal (10 oz) – Call it my luxury item – this allows me to reflect in the woods and write my experiences down on paper. Priceless, but not weightless…

Special drink – (2 oz – 16 oz).  This can come in the form of your favorite tea or cocoa. Or, it could come in the form of something more potent (note: bottle of wine (2+ lbs))

Special food – This can come in the form of M&M’s (1.69 oz), a jar of peanut butter (12 oz), or steak tips (24 oz).  You are going to be hungry – bring something fun to eat! Just don’t forget the cast iron skillet (6.6 lbs) to fry up those steak tips.

So what is 2020 bringing for their comforts on Tom/Field? Guess you’ll have to wait until after the weekend to find out!

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