Then and Now

how to lift 50+ lbs?It's been awhile since I've written in the blog, and I will make sure that I update more often just in case anyone reads these. That said, I've had an active summer out on the trail, both solo and with my now 15 year old daughter. I came home one day to her ridicule; she had found some old photos taken in the mid-80's during my first Wonderland Trail trip. I've learned a lot over the years, and it was amazing to see what I was carrying for a load, which must have approached 60 pounds. The only way I could heft the pack onto my back was to place it on some object, like a log or car bumper. The list of what I was carrying is quite telling:

• short shorts, cotton T-shirts, corduroy shirt, inadequate rain gear
• Slumberjack sleeping bag weighing over 5 pounds
• I borrowed a tent from a friend which was almost 20 years old then; it must have weighed over 15 pounds
• large plastic flashlight with a magnet
• one 1.5 liter full water bottle, always full and never used
• all metal knife in a full sheath
• 2 pound full length Thermarest pad
• 2 full bottles of fuel for my Whisperlite; I finally filled up someone else's who was running short
• hiking boots and running shoes for camp

I've learned a lot over the last 25 years, and it is amusing to see these photos. I loved that trip but I remember laboring heavily under that load, and thank goodness it didn't rain on me. In contrast, my daughter and I did a 3 day trip this summer with basic pack weights of 9 pounds, plus food and water. I recently did another Wonderland Trail trip with an 11 pound pack in under 48 hours, shown below....quite a difference!

Not only have I learned how to make life easier on the trail, I've also learned how to enjoy it much more. Back then I was too anxious, too concerned with making the next camp, too absorbed in suffering under the weight, and too inexperienced to really enjoy myself. In contrast, my recent trip on the same trail found me familiar, relaxed, able to take in the sights, sounds and mountain environment as I trotted lightly up and down the trail, both day and night. The trail is much the same as it was 25 years ago, but I'm a different person, more in tune with my surroundings, much more confident in my approach, and surprisingly more agile and swift, even though I'm 25 years older. Though I could ask to be 25 years younger, I guess I'm lucky in that, at least in the case of backpacking, I'm 25 years better.