Saturday, July 18, 2015

TAM, Tyvek, and tent issues with Annabelle

I has the sads today, but it's an unjustified, self-pitying case thereof, only because I can't do absolutely everything and be everywhere I want to.

I'm not attending The Amazing Meeting in Las Vegas this year, for various reasons – none of which is not wishing to do so. I'm good with the decision, but at the same time I'm looking at the pics of my dear skeptical pals yukking it up there, and I wish I was among them. I hadn't planned to attend TAM again until 2017, since next year at this time I'll be deep in the Sierras, but now I'm toying with the notion of nipping away from the hike for four or five days to hit next year's TAM... intriguing.

It's especially grievous in that this year may be the last one in which James "The Amazing" Randi will be present. He's such a sweet, brilliant fellow and the sharpest 80-something dude you will ever meet. The skeptical movement has its problems, but Randi represents the original idea of dispatching nonsense in a wry, intelligent and accessible fashion. Plus he made my glass of water disappear that time and it wasn't just amazing, but yeah, totally magic.

There's something vaguely primal about wishing to participate in your tribe's rituals, and feeling slightly diminished for not doing so and affirming one's status with the herd. But in the overall scheme of things, it's just a matter of entitled Little Lord Fauntleroy (me) not being able to do absolutely every little thing he wants to. So I have to stay in Arcata and have different fun, boo-hoo. Anyway, I think I need a break from the skeptical world... I'll get into that some other time.

Among the enjoyable tasks I had this week – not counting working on a delicious mini-scooplet for next week's paper, bwahaha – was cutting out the footprint for my tent. It's a Eureka Spitfire that I bought last year when I wasn't thinking about ultraight backpacking. But at two pounds, 12 ounces, it's kindalight and a hell of a lot cheaper than buying a new tent. 

I'd like to get one that uses the trekking poles I'll be bringing anyway, thus saving the weight of tent poles, like the one pound, 14 ounce Big Agnes Scout Plus UL2. But I still have to buy a backpack and sleeping system plus other newfangled items, so for now I'll stick with the Spitfire (even though I hate the annoying exclamation points all over the rain fly).
The Spitfire, with rain fly attached and Tyvek to be marked. 
Rather than shell out the $40 or so for a nylon ground sheet that weighs five ounces, I bought a sheet of Tyvek for $16 that weighs "nothing," plus some grommets, set up the Spitfire over it and drew an outline. This activity of course drew the interest of the cats, who had to conduct kitty investigations. Then when I got inside, of course Annabelle trundled over to hang out. Anyway, I have some Tyvek left over to make a hiking wallet. There are some cool designs and how-to's for that on YouTube. It's about as close as I'll ever get to bushcraft.

Annabelle tries out the tent as a hound house. 
I wound up with a 2.8 ounce tent footprint, so my whole shelter rig is under three pounds. I guess that's OK, but my pack's base weight is already up to 11 pounds even without a sleeping bag (or maybe a quilt). I'm finding that, just as the hardcore ultralighters preach, all the little ouncey items really are adding up to pounds, so what I'm doing is listing all the things that I'd like to bring on the equipment spreadsheet, whether I own them yet or not. Once I see the total weight, which will be too high, I'll start trimming away items based on cost/benefit, want/need. I see these hale and hardy 23-year-olds complaining about lugging weight and sending things home, so it's probably wise to err on the side of lightness.
The finished ground sheet/footprint. Hopefully it will protect the tent floor and help keep my sleeping pad from popping while I'm in the sharp and rocky desert. 

Two other things I wanted and needed are a couple of books. The Pacific Crest Trailside Reader, edited by Rees Hughes and Corey Lee Lewis, available at Northtown Books, $19.95. Looks like a delicious and inspiring read. I also ordered and will soon receive Yogi's PCT Handbook, $40 through Yogi's Books, which I understand is an essential planning resource.

Nine months and one week out, the PCT prep mission continues.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Annabelle likes her new cave. As an old school hiker who built up his rock collection while backpacking, I have absolutely no advice re ultralight packing. As a biologist whose main field site is in Lassen Volcanic National Park, immediately next to the PCT, I've shared dinner/fruit/beers with many through hikers over the last 15 years, and I think your instincts about erring light are correct- the through hikers are mostly gear-less and seem perfectly happy that way. I think that pretty quickly concerns zoom down to place, water and body.

As a fellow skeptic, I would skim that PCT reader before I set out; I see that it is edited by Corey Lewis and, well, to put it nicely and briefly, no one seems to have taught him about skeptical reasoning. He teaches at HSU, and I saw him give a talk in which he claimed that 'skyrocketing cancer rates' were caused by our modern use of chemicals (the National Cancer Institute doesn't agree with him about increasing rates or chemo phobia, but the message went over well with the undergrads) and that plants have nervous systems and feel emotions.....and he has a side business as healer/life coach. To be fair, he is apparently an accomplished hiker and teaches (I think) a cool class where you read John Muir as you hike the John Muir trail and maybe the reader doesn't offer a lot of opportunities to spew woo. But it may be worth a pre-trip perusal.