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Meghan Hicks Wednesday, 18 April 2012 13:24 TWEET COMMENTS 3

Light, Lighter, Lighest - Page 3


By early afternoon, we are at the Elephant Hill Trailhead and surrounded on all sides by mushroom-shaped rocks a couple-hundred-feet tall. “Smurf houses,” I say, because the rocks look like the homes of my favorite cartoon characters. “When I was a kid, I dreamt of living in a smurf house.” Bryon just grins.

Even though we make last-minute additions of rain jackets and a tent fly to combat the expected rain, our packs still weigh only 13 or 14 pounds each. I can hoist mine with one finger and, now that we’re zipping along the trail, easily running most of the terrain, I barely notice it.

We are propelled forward, too, by the anticipation of the needles ahead. We glimpsed them in the distance as we drove into the park this morning, a long line of smokestack-shaped rocks the colors of sangria, safety cones and saffron. After an hour or so, we’re standing face-to-face with them.  

In the company of inspiring scenery, I sometimes yell, roll on the ground or run in gerbil circles of excitement. In the shadow of these needles, I gallop across yellow slickrock and Bryon says, “Lookin’ light already.”

Fastpacking for First-Timers
Whether you intend to run or hike fast, the only way you will find your personal high gear is with minimal weight on your back. For reformed backpackers who have previously brought kitchen sinks along for the ride or for those who are acclimating to the idea of camping in the backcountry, packing light may be challenging.

Thatcher summarizes fastpacking’s primary principle, “Bring only what you plan to use and use what you bring in multiple ways.” As Thatcher speaks, I mentally peruse my own fastpacking supplies, wondering if they would pass his muster. My kit includes a single large cup, which also functions as a bowl, a pair of tights for running and sleeping in chilly weather, and a 3-foot-by-18-inch foam pad that gives structure to my fastpack by day and serves as my sleeping pad at night.

Spafford states that first-time fastpackers should exercise caution in the adaptation process, “Slowly dial in your gear over multiple trips. Take short, overnight fastpacks to increase your confidence level with choosing and using gear.” Says Missal, “People assume they need a tent, cooking kits, pots, pans and all kinds of other stuff because that’s what we see in ads. If you return from a trip with an item you didn’t use, you probably didn’t need it.”

At the same time, it is better to err on the side of bringing a bit too much than too little. Missal says that no matter how light your pack is, “Don’t leave home without safety equipment.”



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