I have select friends that will laugh very hard when I say “I love my backpack,” that’s an inside joke and you all are on the outside. But I do love it. I love hiking. I’ve got the itch, and not the itch you get after eating at McDonalds. I want to fill up my backpack and travel into the forest. I want to stay there and survive with only what I could fit into the pack. This is not some existential Walden bull. I really want to get away from this right here. The computers, the technology, the essence of our culture these days. Does anyone go outside anymore? Is there even a reason too?
I was looking at some out door apparel this weekend. I showed a shirt I really liked to my wife and she let me know just how ugly she thought it was. But who cares what you look like in the woods? If someone wears white after Labor Day in the forest does it make a sound? It’s not about looks in the wild; another perfect reason to go there. Utility is key to survival. You’re little GPS device is great until it runs out of batteries. I’m not going to go all Man vs Wild by eating bear shit or giving myself a salt water enema; I’m talking about simple hiking and nature. As I write this from my station at work I can’t help but feel out of place. I think this is not where I should be, maybe the woods isn’t either but the least I can do is go find out.
So this is a call to arms. If any of you have any interest in roughing it, contact me. I already have my first expedition mapped out. I’ll be doing the 31.7 mile Kanawha Trace trail from Barboursville, WV to Frazier’s Bottom, WV. It will be a single night trip; fifteen miles one day and fifteen the next. The terrain is pretty difficult. The following is a list of important items:
Backpack: metal frame is preferred, especially if you are carrying a tent.
Tent: unless you like animals snuggling up to you at night. Note: the easier to put up and break down the better. Also, the more people it sleeps the heavier it will be. Generally there should be one tent for every two people.
Sleeping Bag and Ground mat: the lighter weight the better. If you bring a mattress from a five star hotel no one is going to feel sorry for you when you’re tired after five minutes.
Clothes: these should be light weight and durable. Bring clothes for all weather regardless of season. One pair of underwear and socks for every 2.5 days should do; minimum two pair.
Hat: no not the kind they wore at the royal wedding.
Boots: not necessarily boots, but some very comfortable, durable athletic shoes with good tread. If I ever see flip flops on a backpacking trip I will set them on fire, feet still attached.
Water: Your body needs water, so drink that shit.
Food: unless you plan on catching it yourself.
First Aide Kit: for boo boos.
Map and Compass: like I said GPS is great when it works. Unless you KNOW where you are, bring these items just incase. Also, it’s best to know how to use them.
Fire Starting Materials: depending on the time of year and location there could be fire bans up, but it never hurts to bring this stuff along anyways. Lighters, lint, flint and tender, matches; whatever your preference, just don’t light the whole forest on fire.
Rope and Bag: to put food and other smelly stuff in for night storage (bear bag). Also handy if someone is being super annoying.
Other Equipment: (not everyone needs this stuff on their person. A good long discussion beforehand about who is bringing what can help sort this out)
Plates and Utensils: these are not totally needed unless you plan of cooking hot meals that can’t be held in or eaten by hand. Also, you better have some way to wash them or the animals will come do it for you.
Camera: to record the cannibalism first hand so there is no doubt.
Cash: you never know when you may find a forest wondering Gucci salesperson. Actually, you never know when trouble may hit and you need to buy supplies. This is America remember, you’re never THAT far from something; even if it is rapist hillbillies.
Cell Phone: I know this pretty much goes against in whole getting away from technology idea, but if you keep it off and for emergency use only it’s okay.
Walking Stick: some people like the extra stability these provide.
Fishing Pole: I guess some people enjoy sitting and waiting.
Duct Tape: come on, do I need to explain this?
Sun Screen: I wanted to put this on the do NOT bring list, but global warming and all demands I allow it to come along. You see sun screen is an item that smells and continues to smell long after use. Animals can smell it and are attracted to it. But as long as your final use for the day is four or five hours before you sleep it will be okay, maybe. This also goes for tooth paste!
Do Not Bring:
Bug Spray: yeah no one likes being bitten by bugs, but the last time I checked, being bitten by a bear wasn’t high on too many people’s lists either. Sure 9 out of 10 times it’s a raccoon or other harmless creature that smells it on you while you’re sleeping, but are you willing to chance it the one time it’s not? (Oh and just so you know, if you’re in North America, it may not be a bear, but there is something out there that can smell it and can hurt you. Scout’s honor.) If the bugs are bothering you, just throw some dirt on yourself. Oh I’m serious.
Deodorant: see bug spray.
There are tons of other things I haven't mentioned. If you are genuinely interested contact me, if not then take a hike.