Returning to Franklin after sore knees plagued us both, we sat with Dan “Sheltowee” and Nina “Waterfall” Rogers, friends and experienced long distance hikers who could coach us out of our weight conundrum. John and I are steadily losing weight so our packs are proportionally heavier.
After we pulled out the contents and spread them on the floor, Dan got out a postage scale and started weighing. “Your Tyvek – 1 lb 4 oz. Why do you need a groundcloth?” He dug through our first aid kit and eliminated half the contents. “A backup stove? Three knives? A water filter?”
Ounces lead to pounds, and fear, said Dan, is why we carry more than we need. Indeed, we had backups to backups. Extra flashlights. Chargers. Spare pants.
We took a closer look at food. “Go for calories,” they said, and so we returned heavy 60 calorie packages of tuna and salmon to Ingles and replaced them with pepperoni and calorie laden Little Debbies. Stuff we’d normally never eat is now important for the weight versus calories ratio.
By the time we were done at Dan and Nina’s we’d shed 12 pounds of gear. Our packs now weigh 25 and 27 pounds with food, water, and winter clothes. The results? Less knee stress and happier hikers.
The sage advice of friends who’ve succeeded at this journey stretches back several months. “Grow your beard beforehand,” LWOP told John. Several friends said “do low miles to start, even if you feel like doing more.” It was a thrill to spend a week with Gutsy, my long time friend and inspiration when she did her 1996 thru. Sage advice comes from experience, and we, still neophytes, are happy to learn.