Sunday, August 24, 2014

It's Bittersweet - The Joy of Hiking mixed with the Sadness of Separation

My friend Jon is leaving. Life is sending him to the Northwest. I am going to miss him. We have decided to share a hike together before he heads off into his new life in the rain of Washington state. I am excited for him and sad for myself. It is not an easy thing to find loyal, trustworthy, and faithful friends in this life, people can be so disappointing. Jon is a shoulder you can lean on, a man who watches your back, a tried and true friend. I know God has great things in store for Jon.

Friday night we will embark on a repeat of my 2013 jaunt from Echo Summit to Donner Summit. The total miles is something around sixty two miles. We are going to attempt to complete it in forty eight hours, This time, unlike last time, we'll have a extra day if we need it. The summer in California has been hot and long (pretty much like it always is). The water situation on the trail will be something we'll need to pay attention to. Last time I ended missing the turn in the trail to Fontanillis lake and ended up wandering in the woods between the Velma lakes for a couple of hours. This caused me to make the foolish mistake of not cameling-up on water prior to hitting the trail to Richardson lake.

I remember jamming through that eight miles as fast as I could go on about a half-liter of water. There is nothing worse when I am hiking than running out of water. Life becomes miserable, my cottony mouth becomes dry and my throat cracks and rasps as I try to swallow. Lips crack and my head gets this dull ache that makes the world seem foggy and distant. The pounding of my heart is in my ears and the sounds of nature become muted and distant. The key to a happy hike is water! Never run out of water!

I am going to use this trip as an opportunity to try some different foods. My dinners have been Mountain House for many years. What I have been doing is buying the two-person pouch and splitting it into two portions. Then I vacuum seal them into two separate bags for two separate meals. I am sick of freeze dried dinners. There are some of the meals that I have come to loath, I only eat them because I must eat them. I have decided that I will try some couscous and some freeze dried refried beans. Not together, as separate dishes. I have also added some Jack Crisps, which look like the cheese that gets stuck to the pan when you are frying up a cheese omelet. Tastes like it too. Jack cheese with all of the water fried out of it. Perhaps a tortilla with beans and Jack Crisps will be like a bean and cheese burrito. With some Taco Bell Fire sauce it might be just like it. At least its different. Add to that some Fritos and trail brownies, dinners suddenly sound more palatable.

A while back I spouted off my opinion of alcohol stoves. One of the great things about being human is the ability to change your mind. In this case my mind has a favorable leaning towards the Caldera Cone by Trail Designs. I ordered one of these stoves last week and it arrived yesterday. Wow, that was really quick service! The stove is well-designed and manufactured. My favorite old Optimus Crux canister stove, with windscreen, lighter, and empty fuel canister weighs in at 11.4 ounces. The Caldera Cone alcohol stove with windscreen, stove, lighter, and empty fuel bottle is only 8.6 ounces. This saves me 2.8 ounces! It is funny to me how excited I am about saving 2.8 ounces of weight.

Perhaps I should consider cutting off the handle of my toothbrush, I always considered that the silly sign of someone who is too extreme in their quest to save weight. My axiom, "You become that which you mock and despise" is proving true once again. I look forward to evaluating this stove option on this trip. In my testing it appears that this alcohol stove burns hotter and more effectively than my previous one thus changing the relative weight and performance comparison between it and a canister stove.

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