Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Improvements from last year

I'm making some improvements over last year's gear. There were some areas where I did not do very well and I want to survive them better. There were other things that annoyed me and I want to improve the experience.
  1. AquaMira: I ordered some AquaMira solution to use instead of a water filter. It is not clear whether it works on giardia or not. They seem to indicate that it does not by steering you to their carbon filter unit. I'm going to try the solution anyway. This will help remove the annoyance of having to take time to pump water. When water was plentiful, the time spent pumping was annoying. This will speed things up and lighten my pack significantly.

    I also bought some lightweight mesh from the hardware store to use as a prefilter so I can filter out the floaties in my water, too. Cut a little square and apply with elastic over the bottle before filling.
  2. Stabilicers: I brought instep crampons last time. They are not terribly heavy, but their added weight was mostly useless because they were such a pain to put on. And I could not walk in them over rocks so I ended up taking them off just before I really needed them, which led me to slide down the ice on Mather Pass. I plan to bring along an extra shoelace to tie them on more securely and add a little more insurance against them slipping off my feet. Otherwise, the reviews I have read seem to indicate that they work and grip well without wearing out quickly. Since I won't need to wear them for miles and miles, they ought to work fine. Only about 10.5 ounces, too.

    Last year, I went home after Mather Pass. The Sierra passes had beaten me. I was so bad at walking on snow and climbing passes that I skipped over 100 miles of the Sierra. This time I intend to go the distance. Commiting to the trail, as my Life Purpose book suggests. The Stabilicers ought to help me walk on snow without falling.
  3. 1 liter Platypus bottles: I don't know if this will be an improvement or not, but having water containers that shrink as they empty ought to improve the experience. Everyday consumer plastic bottles are really quite sufficient, but I'll give them a try and see if it's an improvement.
  4. A16 Bug Bivy: One of my biggest annoyances were the mosquitos. They prevented me from taking naps during the day, from eating dinner outside my tent and from sleeping under the stars. This will not replace my tent, but be an additional item to carry that I hope will improve the experience of the trip. My only concern is that it only provides coverage and room for your upper body. It was pretty darn hot in the evening by July. Perhaps I can fashion a modification to provide lower body coverage.
  5. Equinox tarp: I already owned the tarp. I have checked around with people out there and they assure me that the generous 8x10 foot size is plenty to stay dry without a bivy sack (to guard against rain splatter) in the kind of rain I'm likely to see in Oregon and therabouts. With the bug bivy I will be safe from bugs as well.

    I intend to use my The One tent most of the time because I enjoy the spacious relief from mosquitos. I can get inside, take off clothes, lay down and relax knowing nobody is going to suck my blood.

    I am going to try out the tarp during a camping trip in February and I think I'll carry it with me before I reach the Sierra mosquito country just so I have adequate experience with it by the time I really need it. Then I'll switch to my The One, carrying the Bug Bivy for naps, dinner and times I want to sleep tentless. Then I'll switch to the tarp in Oregon. That's the plan for now, anyway.
  6. Climate-controlled Camelback hose: This isn't really to improve my experience on the PCT. It's to improve things at home. Ariel, our cockatoo, is fasciated by my Camelback hose and keeps biting holes in it. Hopefully one that is covered will keep her from doing that.
I've been looking for a way to skip Jawbone Canyon. It's not looking like there is an easy way to do it. I might have to tough it out and do it a second time. It was the worst part of the trail, in my opinion, with the exception of Bird Spring Pass. That part of it was actually really pretty.

My Life Purpose book says to stand up for yourself and commit. So I'm committing to the PCT. No half-way trip to Oregon. Nope. It's all the way to Canada this time.

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