Yes, there’s certainly lots left to do before I head out the door on May 3rd to thruhike the Bruce Trail. Seven short weeks remaining — yikes!
I’ve got to finalize my food and assemble it ready to take to the various re-supply spots I’ll use. This is a big task, even for my forty days and forty nights. I have bags of ingredients hung from the basement rafters. I’ve got rough plans as to how to combine this with that, and how to extend the other. I’ve tested lots of stuff, but not everything. This aspect requires several concentrated days of focus.
I’ve continued to finalize my gear. I’ve tried most of it out in the ‘real’ world beyond my backyard. What’s lacking is longer shakedown hikes, putting everything together into a coherent working approach. I faced this the last weekend when I ‘hung out’ just beyond the borders of town. I was suitably impressed with how long it took me to set up my hammock camp, including actually selecting a suitable spot, hanging the hammock, securing the food bag, stashing my pack, and insuring that everything was safe from ‘mini-bears’, i.e., mice, skunks, racoons, porcupines … The 45 minutes to strike camp in the morning was also a painful reminder of the need to practice the whole affair. The morning turned out to be about -4º, with a heavy ground frost covering everything, including my numb fingers.
In my previous blog, I wrote about thinking I should upgrade to a bigger tarp for better rain and wind protection. I had bought a SilPoly Hex Tarp for my Hennessy hammock. However, I couldn’t abide the extra weight and bulk of that cheaper version, so I ordered the SilNylon version direct from Hennessy . The extra $50 for the SilNylon saved 270 grams and almost a third of the packed volume. 18.5¢ per gram … Hhmmhh …
Then I fell into that fabled addiction that faces so many hammockers: DutchWare Gear Whoopie Slings Oh dear … I succumbed to lightweight, strong, and efficient whoopee slings to hang the hammock, a lightweight continuous ridgeline, and a titanium cathole trowel. And Wasps, Fleas, Hooks, ZingIt, Amsteel Blue … No, I won’t go into the cost per gram of that stuff … But I did save weight and bulk and eventually, time.
I’ve struggled to find appropriate gaiters to keep stones and other trail objects from entering my shoes. Heavy and tall snow gaiters abound. But not minimal hiking gaiters. Dirty Girl Gaiters are the standard south of the border, but the exchange rate isn’t friendly right now. However, I found excellent lightweight stretchy gaiters nearby in Barrie, made by Cheryl from TrailBlazingApparel.One of our daughters is a wonderful knitter. She adapted a glove pattern from a friend, and modified them to fit my somewhat arthritic and swollen meathooks. After freezing my digits taking down my frosty Saturday morning camp, these wonderful gloves warmed my Reynaud’s-whitened fingers very quickly and comfortably. They’ll be treasured on many cool mornings! The final significant piece of the gear puzzle came this past weekend when our other daughter, a wonderful ‘sewcialist’, arrived with the fleece hoodie she adapted from a Jalie pattern and modified to fit my tall wishes. We choose a somewhat wind-resistant and water-resistant thick-pile fleece — that turned out to have significant challenges to work with. I’m in awe of her ability to think in the various dimensions and sequences in cutting and sewing the many features. What she produced is remarkably light in weight and bulk, and yet very warm and comfortable. I can hardly wait until the early Spring thunderstorm tomorrow to test it in rain and wind! I’m thinking it will combine with a poncho to be my wind and wetness and warmth layers, leaving me with a nylon shirt for bugs and sun, a brilliant chartreuse wind shirt as a standard outer layer, and a merino polo shirt as a warm undergarment. “Solvitur ambulando.” In other words, it’s now mostly down to actual field testing now, backpacking overnights and 3- and 4-day shakedown trips to figure out what finally will work for me. “It is solved by walking.”