Monday, October 31, 2011

Actually, I don't like packing ...

... but when I have a big adventure in the works, the kind where much of my enjoyment and perhaps even my survival hinges on being well-prepared, I like to be, well, prepared. I am trying to finalize all of my equipment for my weeklong trek in Nepal, because once I leave for Utah on Thursday I will effectively be in transit for the rest of the month. Today I gathered up everything that I intend to haul during the 155-mile stage race. It was quite the haul; the little things sure do add up.

I haven't yet weighed the food but I'm guessing it's close to half the total weight. If I have time I'd like to weigh and then calculate the actual calorie numbers. I have seven dinners (700-800 calories each), three breakfasts (Beat and I will split the breakfasts, so 300-400 calories), four bars per day (about 800 calories), and supplemental peanut butter and jam (about 450 calories per day.) I threw in three small bags of gummy candy as a treat. This gave me the idea to replace my own stash of food bars with strategic candy bars, which I can later trade with other competitors for food bars at a three-to-one or four-to-one ratio. I mean, after four days of Builder Bars, what wouldn't you trade for a Snickers? It's really not a terrible idea. If I was going to cut weight from my pack, the food supply would be the place to do it. Anything else would be minimal. I'm already bringing only just enough clothing to stay warm if we have weather in the 30s or 40s and rain (this is possible, even likely.) If we have that kind of weather and I'm already soaking wet, well, I better hope those gummy candies help stoke the core furnace, and accept that I won't be feeling my fingers and toes for a while.

Some of this stuff is required race gear but not a terrible idea — blister/first aid kit, emergency bivy, compass/whistle, two headlamps, flashing red light, multitool, hat with neck cover, extra socks, gloves, fleece hat, rainproof jacket, sunscreen, sunglasses tights, shorts, two shirts, sleeping bag (not pictured here) and electrolyte caps. I added a few more drugs, toothbrush, wet wipes, soap, tablet towels, iodine, knee braces, sleeves, buff, gaiters, underwear, rain pants, mitten shells, insect repellent, titanium spoon and a more extensive foot kit. My pad is a RidgeRest Solite, and yes it is my preferred sleeping pad and yes I want every square inch of it (sleeping pads seem to be one of the larger points of contention when it comes to backpacking and bikepacking.) I will bring the tyvek suit and flip flops for camp. We're going to spend plenty of time sitting around and I expect to be fully soaked with hamburger feet; for about 8 ounces total, they will at least be a worthy experiment in warmth and comfort. I snuck in a pair of fleece socks for sleeping. I'm also going to bring an iPod shuffle and a charger that uses two AA batteries. Totally worth it IMO. I'm bringing my "big" camera, also worth it. There's a chance I will sneak in a back-up-camera, just in case. I think the only thing I have left to acquire are packets of Via from Starbucks.

Altogether, the pack weighed in at 21.2 pounds without water (or the camera, which I forgot to put in before I weighed it, but including the sleeping bag.) I could probably agonize and shave another two pounds off my optional gear, or give up my comfort items, or decide to put myself on a diet, or I could just woman up and carry a 25-to-30-pound pack. This is, after all, a vacation, and I think being hungry and cold sucks worse than having sore shoulders and moving slow. The knee braces and poles are a crucial part of my kit, but my knees have been feeling progressively stronger during my recent training runs with the loaded pack. I think I am *nearly* ready; as ready as I can be.

Other than that, I am tapering. Beat and I enjoyed a quiet weekend of running with the packs and Halloween dinner with friends. Today after a productive morning of writing and afternoon of packing, I didn't get out the door for my ride until 5:20 p.m. I was a little shocked when it started to get dark thirty minutes later. It's still 80 degrees during the day here, so I almost forget that the winter months are upon us.

I am having a weird sort of taper. I feel strong during my hard-effort pack runs but weakish during my mellow, short bicycle rides. How this bodes for the 25 Hours of Frog Hollow, it's tough to say. At least I don't have phantom pains or an imaginary cold quite yet. Currently the weather forecast for Hurricane, Utah, calls for showers on Friday, and clear on Saturday with a high of 45 degrees and low of 27. I used to be a decent cold-weather rider, but now I live in a place where it's 80 degrees pretty much all the time, at least into November. I'm going to be one of the least acclimated people out there, so yes, I am a little concerned about the cold.

But I am excited! Only five more days. I guess this means I should really start to think about what food and gear I'm going to use during Frog Hollow. I haven't even begun to pack for that one.