Sunday, February 2, 2014

13 Days: Gear and Cake!

It is a truly surreal feeling realizing that you are in the process of selling off and packing up your entire life in order to set out on a 6 month journey to find your self, your passion and your purpose. Maybe I'm putting a little too much faith in how life changing this experience is going to be, but I have these butterflies in my stomach and this hope in my heart that everything is going to be different when we come back down to the real world.

Last night we hosted a group of our closest friends and family for an intimate goodbye and support-group meeting. We covered topics ranging from our gear and our winter worries to how to address a mail-drop and our itinerary. We drank and ate and talked into the night, and I can't be more grateful for their support. Our dear friends, newly engaged Anthony and Felica made us the most AMAZING cake in the world.

This was really just too much for my poor heart to handle. I am going to miss these folks so much.

We watched the NatGeo Appalachian Trail documentary on mute and narrated it (hilariously) ourselves. We planned visits on the trail. We even busted out a very special bottle of Stone Vertical Epic 09-09-09 to share with these great people. It was the best way to close out a very special evening. I only wish I had thought to bring out my Polaroid camera to capture the good times.

Things have been a little hard the past couple of weeks what with trying to pack and organize and make sure we didn't forget to order any gear. My dad has also chosen to be unsupportive of the hike, so it's been really tough for me to deal with, but surrounding myself with loving and supportive people makes everything easier. Next weekend is our big, final farewell bash. If it goes half as well as last night did, I will be so elated.

Let's Talk Gear!

As a result of our last shakedown on Standing Indian we made some big decisions and we are changing out our Big 4 and adding a few extra items.

Pack: Gregory Deva 60 and Baltoro 65

These packs are Cadillacs! You hardly realize you're carrying 30lbs. At a massive 5lbs 11oz, these guys weigh twice as much as our Osprey Exos packs. Why? Because we decided to carry heavier, bulkier gear to combat the winter weather and we need the extra space and extra comfort of the bigger packs. We will be switching to the Exos in April though, if the weather normalizes.

Sleeping Bag: Mountain Hardwear Lamina 0

Yeah, we decided we needed a zero degree bag. The night we were on Standing Indian, the temps dipped into the teens with 35mph winds. It was cold! We were able to stay warm and to get some sleep, but Chase had trouble keeping out the drafts. We will be switching back to our Zpacks Twin Quilt when the weather warms.

Sleeping Pad: NeoAir Xtherm

This is a warm pad! And super comfy! And it weighs almost nothing! And it takes up half of the space that the ProRest pads took up! Overall we love this pad and we are confident that it will provide all the of insulation from the frozen ground that we will need. We plan on using these the whole trip.

Tent: TarpTent Stratospire II w/ solid interior

We decided to also purchase a solid, windproof interior for the TarpTent, so hopefully with the combination of the warmer bag and windproof layer, we will stay nice and toasty even in the worst conditions. We will be switching back to the mesh when the weather warms.

Other Gear:

In addition to all of the above, we also purchase a couple pairs of down booties to keep our feet warm in camp, we are ditching gloves for mittens, and we also picked up some items for Sheila. She will be getting a fleece blanket and fleece booties to wear in camp to help protect her from the elements. We think that with these additions our winter camping experience will be much better over all. 

I will be working on updating the gear spreadsheet today and tomorrow so that it reflects these changes. I will also be posting a new page with a list of mail drop locations if you want to send us some magic!


  1. We're also planning a thru-hike (leaving Feb 19th!), and my parents haven't been supportive either. Just wanted to leave a note in solidarity!

    See you on the trail!

    1. Thanks! I appreciate it greatly! Having the extra support is awesome, but you gotta believe in yourself to succeed. Good luck with your final preparations! See you out there!

  2. So glad that you liked it so much! We will miss you both, but are happy for you to begin this new adventure. :-)

  3. Love that cake! Wow! I'm sorry about your Dad. Even when you have a lot of other loving, supportive people, it can be a bummer to not have someone's support. Are you two leaving on the 14th? My husband and I changed our start date to the 14th as that's when our road trip will end. We are doing the approach trail and plan on summiting Springer on the 15th. I hope we get to see you out there! Oh, this is Kristin from "Trail Mix and Dirty Underwear".

    1. Hi Kristin! We are driving up on the 14th and hitting the approach trail on the 15th! How exciting!! See you guys in about 12 days! :)

    2. Ah! That's awesome! Good luck with your final preparations :D