Before I continue describing my experiences, I believe it important that I acknowledge the essential support of friends and family; and, the unique contribution of a local Maine business, to this “Anniversary Hike.”
My wife Betsy, remains at home in Maine, managing bills, our property, pets, and my essential mail drops; all the while, working full-time. My daughter Aimee, in New Hampshire (backpacked a 300+ mile section of the Appalachian Trail with a friend… they were “Thelma and Louise” in 2006) supports my efforts with a true understanding of the challenges. My son Michael puts up with my limited communication while concurrently managing his studies in Engineering and playing Ultimate Frisbee on the “A” Team at WPI. I have parents, a brother and two sisters who are all in touch with me as I hike; as well as well as Hank (Betsy’s father) and Shane (Betsy’s son). Finally, I have some wonderful friends and understanding students who manage to keep me in synch with my usual life activities!
The “local” business is a company that has provided me with a unique backpack and a number of “stuff” sacks, as I continue my journey. When Mike St. Pierre learned that I had been hiking on the Appalachian Trail… but, was having some back issues; he immediately launched into action! We got together, only a day before I was heading-back south (eventually to Dick’s Creek Gap) and he worked with me to significantly downsize my pack weight.
Besides helping me re-value everything I was carrying (purpose + function vs item weight) Mr. St. Pierre offered me one of his extremely lightweight Hyperlite Mountain Gear (HMG) backpacks. Together we re-packed all my essentials into his stuff sacks and then into his uniquely engineered pack. The immediate result was a backpack weighing under 30 pounds (without water). This was at least 15 pounds lighter (also without water) than what I had been carrying walking into his shop!
Even before getting back on the AT, I knew that this lighter pack would certainly make a positive difference on my experience. The pack (see image below) is made of “Cuben” fibers and works like a compression bag (straps lock and pull down on both sides). It also offers one pocket internally and three pockets on the outside (each made of netting). I use the outside pockets to hold my water, snacks, and my IPad. The hip belt also has two small pouches that are easily accessible without taking off the pack. You can access additional information regarding this pack and other HGM products at: http://www.hyperlitemountaingear.com
As I continue hiking, its my intention to share a wide range of information regarding the Appalachian Trail and long-distance hiking. When sharing my own perspective and/or opinion, the reader should expect me to state this as such (up front). When sharing other opinions or perspectives, I will be sure to cite my sources. Cheers!