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Begins: Apr 27, 2008
Date: Tue, Sep 30th, 2008
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Gear Question Answers
Slow day at work, so I will attempt to answer The Incredible Bulk's gear questions! Next, I will answer Stilt's brother Paul's questions that he asked Stilts post-hike!
1. How did your Frontier water filter work, especially in southern California? Where did you use Aqua Mira?
I actually never ended up using it. I was very confused when I started the trail about what I wanted to do for water treatment. I just knew I didn't want to carry a full-sized filter. So I actually started out carrying Micropur tablets, a Steripen Adventurer, and the Frontier filter. I had the Frontier, which is very small and light, because I had this idea in my head that I would be occasionally encountering super grungy nasty cloudy dirty water that would need *some* sort of filtering even if treated with chemicals or the Steripen. My plan was to use the Frontier filter when I had to drink from gross sources like that. However, I never ended up having to drink from any source that wasn't clear! Ever! So I never felt the pre-filtering I had planned to do was necessary, and I sent the Frontier home.
I also sent home the Steripen pretty early on (for return to REI) because I got frustrated with it. It stopped working and behaved as if it had run out of batteries after only a couple uses. After discussions with other users, I came to find out that it does this if water gets inside the unit, and then it starts working again once the water dries out, many hours later. So, it isn't waterproof and it stops working if water gets inside?? But you HAVE to dip the thing into the water for it to sterilize the water!!! What kind of stupidass design is that??? Others, I think, had more patience and more success with these devices, but I gave up quickly and sent mine home.
Then, for awhile I was using the Micropur tablets. Which have the advantages of being very light and supposedly killing more nasties than most things kill. But the disadvantages of making your water taste nasty like chlorine (I got used to it after awhile) and being expensive. They also say on the package that you have to wait 4 hours for them to work, but I was told this is only true if the water is super cloudy dirty, and for clear water you just have to wait 20 minutes. So I was just waiting 20 minutes.
In Agua Dulce I got some Aqua Mira out of my bounce bucket. It isn't legal to sell it in California, so I wasn't able to get any earlier. This is what I primarily used for the rest of the trip. I got used to the taste -- much easier to get used to than the Micropur taste. Sometimes when I was hiking with Sweetfish, who religiously filtered his water, he would filter water for me -- thanks! Maybe about 20% of the time I didn't treat my water at all, taking my chances with Giardia and whatnot. There was usually no logic behind my decision not to treat a particular source -- I just wouldn't do it if I was feeling lazy or daring or thirsty or whatever.
At some point in Oregon I ran out of the Aqua Mira that I'd carried since Agua Dulce. I couldn't find any to buy in Oregon either -- I looked in both Ashland and Bend -- maybe it's illegal there too? So I picked up some more Micropur tablets and from then on treated probably less than 50% of my water.
I never got sick, but I count myself as lucky. A bout of Giardia would have almost certainly kept me from finishing the trail on time!
2. How did you manage your bear canister with the small Gossamer Gear pack?
It was awkward and a pain in the butt, but the Mariposa Plus was plenty big enough (in terms of volume) to fit the canister. I could put the canister inside the pack vertically oriented, but not horizontally oriented. I tried at times strapping the canister outside on top of my pack, horizontally oriented, but it was precarious and one time hiking up steep snow on the way to Glen pass I narrowly averted disaster by noticing that my canister was poised to fall off my pack and roll all the way down to the lake at the bottom of the pass! So most of the time I carried it vertically oriented, inside the pack, with clothing stuffed on either side to keep it in place. It sucked. But anyway, it fit. However, with the canister and all my Sierra gear the Mariposa was NOT a comfortable pack. Also, I reinforced some of stitching at Kennedy Meadows in anticipation of the weight change, and if I hadn't I'm sure I would have busted some seams. Even with the reinforcing stitching I eventually busted some seams on that pack.
I was VERY happy with my switch in Etna to the ULA Conduit, which was a sturdier and more comfortable pack of the same weight as the Mariposa Plus (20 oz) but a smaller volume. However, I'm really not sure I would have been able to carry the bear canister with that pack -- I probably would have had to strap it on the outside.
3. What gear would you change now that you have finished?
I would start with the ULA Conduit instead of the Mariposa Plus.
I would start with the 32 degree, 1 pound Western Mountaineering sleeping bag that I switched to in Old Station, instead of my 0 degree, 3 pound Feathered Friends bag from the AT. Those were both gear switches I was happy with.
I would not carry a tent until after Tuolumne Meadows -- I was only rained on once, and had very few mosquitos, up until that point (depending on the dates of a person's hike, the point where you would start having mosquitos might be sooner). So I would carry a very minimal "just in case" tarp and cowboy camp all the time. Because I cowboy camped all the time up until that point anyway. After that I would carry my "The One" tent -- I liked it a lot.
I would try not to *always* carry *way* too much food -- I think I failed to be a real lightweight backpacker because I was always carrying too damn much food.
I would visit a podiatrist before my hike and get custom orthotic insoles, even if I didn't think I was going to have foot problems. Man, I wish I had done that.
I would carry lots of BandAid "Compeed" blister pads in Southern CA, even though they're expensive and hard to find.
4. An off gear topic... when will you hike the CDT? Can you say Triple Crown???
I don't know when, but I know I will! I can totally say "Triple Crown"!! TRIPLE CROWN!!! Hell yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Several '08 PCTers were talking up doing the CDT southbound in 2010, but I don't think I'll quite be ready then. My AT to PCT turn-around time was 7 years. But you never know ...
Laura, Aka Truant, Hikes The Pacific Crest Trail
The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a 2,650-mile national scenic trail that runs from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington. The PCT traverses 24 national forests, 37 wilderness areas and 7 national parks. The PCT passes through 6 out of 7 of North Americas ecozones. Learn more: www.pcta.org
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