Thursday, August 16, 2007

Lightening My Pack

This is today's "You Can See Yourself In It" lesson. "You Can See Yourself In It" is my title for the life lessons offered by mountain hiking. I think I'm so in love with hiking and backpacking because.... I can see myself in it.

About an hour into my intended 3-day, 16-mile backpacking trip in the White Mountains a few weeks ago, I realized that not only was my backpack quite heavy, but I was carrying very nearly the same amount of extra body weight, effectively doubling my pack weight.

I got far more fatigued than I expected, got into a risky situation due to not being able to cover the distance, and had a few revelations.

I lost 5 pounds in those 2 days, a combination of mild dehydration and not eating enough (which added to my fatigue.) I refueled and rehydrated for a few days. Then I made a chart and started "lightening my pack" -- my body -- aiming for a pound a week, 25 pounds. (My pack weighed 30, which is probably what my AT thru-hike pack will weigh, including food and water.)

Rather than a specific food plan or eating schedule, when I eat or think about eating, I'm just asking myself the same question I ask when I select items for my backpack: Do I need or want this enough to justify the weight?

This mindset seems to be hitting the spot. Since July 8, I'm down 6 pounds. It hasn't gone evenly, exactly a pound a week (I plateaued for a couple weeks), but I'm more or less on schedule.

When I hit the trail 25 pounds lighter next spring, it will be like carrying just one backpack instead of two. Who wouldn't rather carry just one backpack?! Or a 30-pound pack instead of a 55-pound pack?

I'm on my way.

1 comment:

bunnygirl said...

This is something I think about sometime. My husband has let himself go over the last few years and is carrying about 30 lbs more than he used to. I pointed out that it's the equivalent of carrying around a 30 lb bag of bunny litter, everywhere, every day.

The plus side, though, is that to carry extra weight, you've got to be really strong!!! I can't imagine where you're carrying 25 extra pounds, since you're pics always look fantastic, but being lighter will make you faster, if you aren't shedding muscle mass.