I am taking out three clients on a Half The Hundred Mile Wilderness backpacking trip next week through my Uncle Tom’s Guided Adventures business.
Now is a great time to be doing any business that involves communication. As a starting point, I sent my clients a copy of the excellent book Lighten Up: A Complete Handbook for Light and Ultralight Backpacking. It’s been easy to stay in touch with clients about how they best prepare, train, and consider gear recommendations. We trade photos and gear talk via texts and e-mail. I will fill in their kits with the additional gear.
I am also providing stoves and cook sets. I have a brand new Bushcooker LT2 multi-fuel unit that two of them will share. This will allow the group to try out cooking with alcohol, solid fuel tablets ( hexamine), and biofuel( wood). There will also be a MSR Pocket Rocket/ isobutane canister stove for comparison.
I had a disappointing experience in my purchase of a two person pot set at LLBean last week. Bean’s is going downhill. Their book selection is 1/10 of what it used to be, and is leaning toward coffee-table tomes.
A month ago, I was exploring buying an Osprey hydration pack when I asked the salesman about the lower zipped opening. He informed me that it held a waterproof pack cover, which seemed like a great idea, however when I got it home, it harbored a tool roll, and not a pack cover !
Last week, I told the salesperson that I was a backpacker who was looking for a larger cooking setup to take wilderness backpacking. He steered me to the GSI Outdoors® Pinnacle Dualist Cook System. However, it was out of stock, so he helped me get it sent to my house (with my Maine Guide’s discount) and with free shipping. So far, real good. After I opened the box and checked out the product, I was surprised to see how much plastic and rubber there was in the unit, including the pot and the pot lid. Thankfully, I actually read the directions. I was shocked to learn that the pot and lid , “.. is intended for stove top use only. Not for use with open campfires. Never expose handle to direct flame.” I like to cook with wood and will also place my cook pots on established campfires or coals, where flames sometimes creep up the sides of the stove. There was no way that I was going to keep this backcountry cookpot impostor ! It’s going back.
It was obvious that neither product was actually used by the salespersons, which could be a dangerous practice for any business, let alone LLBean.
In truth, I might have done better just to strip the label off a 28 ounce can of tomato puree, punch a couple of holes through the top edge, and fashion a bail handle out of a short length of wire, and saved myself a trip down to Freeport to The Flagship Store.
One new product that I will be packing is a foot care item recommended to me by Joe Niemczura, a rural nursing guru who is also a very decent backpacker. Joe was enthusiastic about New-Skin Liquid Bandage, in either paint-on and spray form. According to Joe, it leaves a Krazy Glue-like residue that protects the skin from breakdown. Joe uses it in advance, along with duct tape.
Today, I’m dehydrating the first of my two supper choices. I have a lot of fresh corn right now so Campo Corn Chowder will be one choices. My favorite is Smoky Mountain Chili. I picked up a 4-tray electric dehydrator a few years ago at a yard sale for $4. The recipes are from Lipsmackin’ Backpackin’ by Tim and Christine Conners.
I am also fine tuning my own fitness for the trip. Last night I pushed out a hard two-hour mountain bike session with The Bubbas in The Woods up and around Ragged Mountain where I was able to ramp up my heart rate and maintain it between 145- 175 beats per minute for over an hour.
This morning I put 20 pounds in my backpack and did close to a 5 mile hike at a pretty good clip, targeting a two run repeat of the steepest hill I can walk to from my house (Moody Mountain).
I like to view my biking and walking results on Strava. Today’s elevation profile is highly reinforcing ! On the hike next week, I plan to hold the group to a 10 mile a day average, spending 4 nights and 5 days to complete the 50 miles.
Here’s my own packing list for this trip. I have whittled things down to a 15 pound base weight, meaning what I have on my back, without food or water. Do check out Lighten Up: A Complete Handbook for Light and Ultralight Backpacking. That’s how I got lighter. It’s got a lot of cartoons to get the point across. It’s less than $7 in Kindle format and retains those great cartoons!