After last week’s gear shakedown, I knew I would have to hike my own hike. And the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.
If you’ve spent any amount of time in the hiking and backpacking community, you’ll have undoubtedly heard the phrase “hike your own hike.” It basically means keep your nose out other people’s business and worry about your own.
We’d been planning this shakedown for a couple of weeks. It was our chance to gauge what did and didn’t work. Walking twelve miles, half going uphill, seemed like a great way to test us and our load out.
loaded with our PCT load out, the four of us hit the trail by 0815. And like any trip, it started with wise cracking and jokes. For the first quarter mile it was all joy and laughter, but it all began to change once we started our ascent. That’s when it became clear what was working and what wasn’t, Who’s pack was too heavy and who’s wasn’t.
I’d been setting the pace early on and now I found myself stopping every hundred feet or so waiting for the others to catch up. In all fairness, one in our group was keeping up quite nicely with me. And though it was the first time I’d ever met him, he seemed like a good trail mate.
Three and a half miles in we reached a campsite. The temps were considerably cooler at the higher elevation than the valley below. Of course the shade from the tall pines was a stark and welcome change from the trail we just ascended—south facing slope with no relief from the sun.
Gathered around a table, we began to quickly discuss what was working and what wasn’t. From the onset of the hike, I’d expressed concern with some of the gear choices made by some in the group. Time and time again, I was assured it wouldn’t be a problem. Not fully confident it wasn’t going to be a problem, time and again I reminded myself “hike your own hike.”I would need to repeat that mantra several times more throughout the day.
After careful consideration, the consensus was to turn around and head back to the trail head. By then the hike would be seven miles. I was quietly relieved as I donned my pack ready for the hike back. I was really starting to get concerned with a couple of the guys.
The sun was nearly overhead and again we’d be on the a south facing slope fully exposed to the sun. I wasn’t worried as I was covered in long pants, long sleeved shirt. Worn underneath my cap, a bandanna that hung down to the center of my back. The thought kept creeping in my head my hiking partners were going to be red, short of being fully cooked lobsters. Again, hike your own hike persisted and I kept my mouth shut.
The hike down presented a whole new problem. the descent was forcing everyone’s toes forward into the toe box of their footware. I didn’t really know how much of a problem it was to them, but I would find out soon enough.
With only one mile left, I offered to exchange packs with someone in the group. It was no coincidence I was looking at the guy with the biggest load out. I figured we could get out of here quicker if I offered him some reprieve from what was obviously causing him some discomfort.
Taking my pack, he said, “What the hell! Do you have anything in here?”
Taking his pack, I exclaimed, “What the hell do you have in here?”
My pack’s base weight is under ten pounds. The pack alone, after performing a bit of surgery to it [cutting off excess straps and what not], weighs only 1lb 9oz. There are no superfluous items. I am not carrying cookware or a knife—not even for just in case. My shelter is an 8×10 silnylon tarp weighing only 14oz, while my ground sheet weighs only an ounce and a half. My clothes, mostly arc’teryx, are also lightweight, fast drying, and slim fitting so there is no weight adding excess fabric. Everything in my pack has been carefully selected to be the lightest while still covering my needs for the trip in June, with the goal of covering twenty miles a day.
My trail mate’s pack, seemed to weigh 60lbs. He was carrying a four man tent and enough stainless cookware and drinking vessels to build a small bridge. No wonder he was falling behind. And as I donned his pack, I quickly felt the impact of all that weight on my toes and hips. With all that weight, enough kinetic energy was being built up to where energy was being exerted to keep me from becoming a runaway freight train. “There is no way he can complete 70 miles on the PCT wearing this load,” I thought. I was all but pleased to doff that pack and give it back to him once we made it back onto level ground.
My drive home was filled with thoughts of not being able to complete the hike in the amount of time I wanted to. I would have to slow down to their pace and hike their hike. There would be a higher risk of injury [rolled ankle] with all that weight. My trail mate did overhaul his pack once he got home and cut down a considerable amount of weight, but the seed of doubt had already been planted in my brain.
As it turns out, my trail mates just informed me they will not be able to make the trip in two weeks. With this trip being so important to me [reason why], far beyond a social gathering, it’s for the best. I can’t be worried about other’s on this trip. It’s best I go solo and “Hike my own hike.”