Thursday, January 03, 2008

Packing

Date: Jan. 3
Mileage: 25.1
Hours: 2:00 (plus two hours at the gym)
January mileage: 75.7
Temperature upon departure: 35
Precipitation: .33"

I've been packing up for another daylong cycling/camping adventure. Before I started having knee pain, my plan was to spend these first few days of January pressing into the Yukon for two nights of "out in the weather" living. But injury worries prompted me to postpone the trip. So instead I decided to head out locally for one night, and still managed to put that task off until Friday. Tomorrow should be a good day for it. Colder and dry. Weather in the 20s around here is actually warmer than most weather in the 30s, because the potential to get wet and stay wet is much lower. So I am looking forward to traveling in comfort.

Sometime soon I will have to write a gear post about the stuff I am planning (at that point, at least) to use in the Ultrasport. I got a big box of stuff earlier this week and today ordered what I hope will be my last box of stuff. Just a few odds and ends ... a Thermarest, to match the one that Geoff owns that I always use; a fuel bottle; a 6-liter MSR bladder to fill as I see fit; a Camelbak "stowaway" bladder that I hope will actually stow away water rather than leak it all over me; and goggles, because the $25 pair that I bought at Solitude ski resort in 1998 just aren't cutting it anymore.

My last big box came while my friends Craig and Amity were in town for the New Year holiday. They watched bemused as I ripped through the heavily taped cardboard like a 6-year-old on Christmas morning. I squealed over my new winter boots ("Waterproof! Coldproof!") and modeled my baby-blue polyester long underwear complete with baby blue balaclava and my old crappy goggles ("You look like a scuba diver.") Craig especially thought the whole scene was funny because he has known me since 1998 and remembers when my entire outdoor gear repertoire amounted to a pair of crappy ski goggles and a few cotton hoodies.

"You've come a long way since we hiked Upper Black Box," he said. "Ice water up to our chins, and you were wearing blue jeans and a pair of Vans."

"Sketchers," I corrected him. "But that was back when they made them with 3-inch soles. Also, the only pack I carried was the top of my overnight backpack, cinched around my waist. And the only food I had was a jar of peanut butter and a baggie of crackers, both of which were filled to the brim with San Rafael River water before mile 3."

"Yeah," he said, eyeing my Arctic expedition boots warily. "What in the world happened to you?"

I shrugged. "Oh, to be young and completely underprepared again," I said, and caressed my new down coat with the genuine appreciation of someone who knows what it means to slog through a 12-hour river hike with a pair of Sketchers and giardia-laced peanut butter.

Today's ride was fairly uneventful, but I saw my friends the sea lions again. I was disappointed to see that they probably didn't remember me as they bobbed and flapped and swam away.