Someone once told me that backpacking trips start well before you start hiking. Isn't that the truth?
Just planning and preparing for a 1 or 2 night weekend trip takes me at least a week of mornings and evenings, before and after work. Once I nail down my route plan, finalize my gear list, and decide on a food list, I need to run around the house and find all my gear, go buy food, wash dirty clothes, plan the road trip and shuttle, fill the car with gas and road food, and on and on. Sometimes, the list of to-dos is amazingly long, but the reward is knowing that I am prepared for any eventuality in the backcountry, with minimal gear, but still several layers of redundancy.
If planning a weekend trip takes that much effort, you can imagine how overwhelming it is to plan a 14 day solo hike in a foreign country! In just 8 weeks, I will start a two week solo traverse of the Scottish Highlands, which I have been planning for over a year.
You might think that 8 weeks is a long time, but I'm going to be traveling for work a lot in the next few months, so I have a lot less time than that to get all my gear and food in order and resupply boxes packed and ready to send. I still have to test some critical 3 season gear that I'm not yet sure of and that I'm still waiting to receive. So the next few weeks should be quite busy, when I'm town that is.
I'm a list maker. So this morning I wrote a list of all of the things I need to do to finalize my preparation. I know I've missed things but I'll be adding new items as I realize they're needed.
- Announce Gear Sponsors
- Set up Charity Web Page and solicit my section hiker readers for pledges.
- Cut covers off OS maps to save weight
- Last minute route refinements, mark with yellow highlighter on maps
- Print out route plan
- Test out "map case system" – glorified plastic bag
- Create detailed food plan
- Order and assemble backpacking food
- Package and stage resupply boxes for mailing to Scotland post offices – food, purell, toilet paper, lithium batteries, etc.
- Email guy who offered to bring me isobutane gas to my starting point
- Plan to box and send anything that could be confiscated by airport security to my first B&B, including hiking poles, stove, knife, food, pack stays.
- Pack end-point town and travel clothes in separate bag to bring on plane and send ahead when in-country.
- Test-proof shoe and sock system on rainy, long day hikes. Inov-8 Men's Roclite 320vs. Terroc 330s .
- Test MLD eVent Gaiters and rain mitts
- Seam seal MLD Superlight Bivy Sack
- Practice setting up MLD Duomid (when it arrives from MLD)
- Cut down Gossamer Gear Polycro ground sheet
- Figure out if a framesheet is even needed for my Zpack Blast Backpack
- Refresh gear repair and first aid kit.
- Order a new Aquaguard inline water purifier. Not strictly necessary…
- Set up hydration reservoir system with new Aquaguard.
- Do at least one overnight shakedown trip on Connecticut Appalachian Trail with Duomid, before departure.
- Get 2 power converter plugs for UK.
- Bring some extra lithium batteries
- Check and Pack Garmin Geko GPS
- Pack digital recorder
- Test camera components – batteries, memory card
- Learn how to optimize use of new digital camera
- Minimize software footprint on netbook
- Try to find a digital bird guide for UK for species identification
- Register Spot 2 (when it arrives). Take out international adventure insurance option.
- Muddle with Spot web-based tracking option, so section hiker reader can follow my progress.
- Test proof packing system on long day hikes
- Finalize gear list
- Refine packing organization and balance.
- Assemble all travel documents – passport, tickets, itinerary.
- Count out three weeks of allergy pills and vitamins
- Get some UK pounds to bring along.
- Send resupply boxes to Scotland post offices
- Send gear to first B&B.
- Take plane to Glasgow.
- Catch bus to Sheil Bridge.
- Have a pint or three in the Kintail Lodge Bar.
- Sign the Challenge sign-in sheet.
- Get an early start.
Lot's to do, but I'm sure it will be worth it.
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