Ever since I was a young boy, I had this natural tendency of gravitating towards activities that have a natural tendency of injuring/killing people. From ages 7 to 11, I played full contact football with kids who were twice my size. Who cares if age 7 marks the time when the human brain undergoes extreme developmental changes in the frontal and temporal lobes? Strapping a helmet onto a boy, giving him a ball and telling him to dodge as many people as possible while running full speed down a field is just part of life in America.
When I wasn’t playing football as a child, you could find me zooming past trees on my motorcycle at speeds of up to 45 mph on deadly, rocky, slippery trails. You may be saying to yourself, “But Zach, what if you slammed your head into a tree? Wouldn’t that have killed you or something?” To which I would have replied, “PSHHH, Damn trees!!! I’ve got a helmet on for cryin’ out loud!!! What’s the worst that could happen???” (A lot of bad shit could’ve happened but I got away clean with just a few broken bones)
So now that I’ve made it this far in life, it isn’t surprising that I’m still trying to occupy my leisure time with life threatening activities. I’m voluntarily going to be living outside in Mother Nature’s ‘Doom-Tomb’ (the woods) for about six months. There are more things that can go wrong out in the woods than I can even think of. As a matter of fact, nobody wants you to die more than Mother Nature does!!! She wants you dead SoOoOo BAD!!! Have you seen what happens to people when Mother Nature decides to assert her dominance????
With all of that being said, I’m going to try my best to venture out into the woods and not let Mother Nature have her way with me. So in order to shield myself from Mother Nature and her murderous tendencies, I’ve got to arm myself with common sense and oodles of fancy gear. I don’t think common sense can be taught via blog, so for now I’ll just talk about six notable pieces of gear that I’ll be carrying with me on my adventure.
1) A backpack!
First and foremost, if I’m going to hike the Appalachian Trail, I’ve got to have a vessel worthy of carrying my odds and ends. After a great deal of experimenting with packs, I’ve chosen the Osprey Atmos 65 to accompany me on my maiden voyage through the Appalachian Mountains.
2) A tent!
When you venture into the woods for months on end, you need to have a safe little place of your own to sleep off your hard days work. For backpackers, our safe little place is our tent. There’s nothing in this world that does a better job of providing you with that much needed false sense of security than a tent. My tent of choice for my thru hike will be the almighty Nemo Meta 1p. (It sure is fancy and wonderful and I love it)
3) A sleeping system!
When a guy like me walks rigorously through the woods carrying 30 lbs on his back, he usually likes to sleep at least once a day for an extended period of time. In order to oblige myself with the beauty sleep that I need, I’m going to bring some things that will keep me cozy when the sun goes down. For me, I’m going to be bringing a Therm-a-Rest Neo-air All Season sleeping pad, a Marmot Plasma 15 sleeping bag and a Nemo Fillo camping pillow sans memory foam to save weight. I’m also bringing ear plugs to drown out the sound of the snoring hikers when I stay in the shelters.
4) A bear bag!
As we all know, bears are mother nature’s minions of death. They are sent out from the deepest depths of hell to eat people and steal their food. Luckily for us humans, we have thumbs, strings and carabiners. We have mastered the art of tying knots and throwing bags of food up into the trees and out of reach of the bears. I will be hanging my food in a tree every night to keep the bears and other food stealing critters at bay.
One thing I like about consumerism is that it has provided me a lot of really really cool things that I need to hike the Appalachian Trail. One of those things is clothes… I’m taking these clothes:
-Smartwool 250 weight l/s crew neck shirt, Patagonia Convertible pants, a beanie, Ex Officio undies, Nike running shorts, Capilene 1 bottoms, Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer hooded jacket, Arc’Teryx Beta AR rain shell and Arc’Teryx Beta SL rain pants.
-Patagonia Capilene 3 top/bottom and Smartwool Lightweight hiking socks
6) Water purification!
If bears are Mother Nature’s minions of death, bacteria inside of streams must be Mother Nature’s version of an improvised explosive device. You dont see anything out of the ordinary and then BOOM! You’re dead. In order to prevent Mother Nature from planting bombs in my lower intestine, I’m going to be filtering my water with a Sawer Mini water filter. It’s really light weight and it should get me all the way through the AT (unless it breaks or I lose it) since it is guaranteed to filter 100,000 gallons of water.
So folks, I’m fairly confident that these pieces of gear will be enough to get me through the tough times with the rain, the cold, the bears and whatnot. There are sure to be some good times ahead in the VERY near future too. Cant wait.
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