I had considered taking a nice long hike today, but I purposely asked for a rain jacket for Christmas that was a couple sizes too small, and it's still a bit snug, so I can't really use it yet. It's a nice Marmot jacket, and they make great stuff--I have one of their rain hats and everyone who sees it wants one--but since it's expensive, I don't want to cram myself into it and take a chance of breaking a zipper or blowing out a seam. Instead, I'm spending the day going through my backpacking gear and getting it organized for my next trip.
Y'all know that I'm a member of about a half-dozen different Meetup groups here in Nashville, and there are a couple of different hiking and backpacking groups. Anyhow, one of the hiking groups is sponsoring a 'beginners' backpacking trip next weekend and I registered early enough to get a spot. I met the group leaders and a few of the other participants a few weeks ago down at REI, and we had an afternoon-long meet-and-greet plus a few presentations about what to bring and what to expect and such. Now, I'm not a total beginner, like some of my colleagues, but I'm by no means an expert. Maybe an armchair expert, because I've read, researched, and certainly spent a lot, but I just don't have a lot of miles on my boots yet.
I'm hoping to get two or three multiple-day trips in by the end of the year, so no I have no cruises or anything else like that on the calendar (well, maybe another trip to Vegas), but otherwise I'm saving my paid time off for walks in the woods.
Anyhow, next weekend we're going on a ten-mile roundtrip trek through Pickett State Park, up near the Kentucky border about 150 miles east of here. We're gonna do five miles in on Saturday, camp and bonfire that night, then five miles out on Sunday morning, before returning to Nashville.
I'm pretty sure that I've got 100% of the gear I need at this point, although for a long time I was worried about clothing. It's dangerous to wear jeans or cotton clothing while backpacking, because it absorbs moisture (sweat and rain) and doesn't try out, so it gets heavy and causes hypothermia, too. Or as they say, 'Cotton Kills'. And they don't sell
Also, I had a small jar full of change that I took down to the CoinStar machine down at Kroger the other day, as it was starting to overflow and spill all over my desk. I held back about $8.00 worth of quarters to get my car washed and vacuumed, but the rest I cashed in. Instead of paying the 9.8% that they want to hold back to give you a cash voucher, I opted for an Amazon gift card. So the brown-suited Santa Claus is coming today with a few other goodies--a short sleeved synthetic shirt (I had a couple already, but they're now about three sizes too big) and a D-ring web belt. I'm keeping my black leather belt for work (which goes just short of one-and-a-half times around me), but it won't do for outdoors activities. Besides, my pants, no matter what size, eventually always fall down, and then couple that with slick synthetic underwear, I need a belt in the worst way when I'm out in the woods.
Now, I think I'm ready to go...
So today I'm doing what they call a 'gear bomb', basically tearing up the backpack and repacking and reorganizing everything. I got a new ultra-light sleeping pad a few months back, and had never even blown it up before, so I got that out, along with my down sleeping bag, and gave it a test drive on the floor of the den this morning. I also had to go through the food back and make sure I didn't have any old nasty stuff in there, either. Anyhow, here's what the den looks like today:
I know it looks messy, but there's a method to my madness. It'll take me most of the afternoon to get everything organized, especially since The Masters is distracting me on ESPN, but I'll get it done. I have to.
At some point I also have to sit down at the keyboard and bang out another chapter or two for my upcoming book. I really haven't done much in a week, but then again, the muse hasn't been singing and I'm still waiting for some feedback from a couple of people who've been down this road before me. I guess I could just go with the old stream-of-consciousness method and just get something down on paper, and worry about cleaning it up later, but I'd rather be effective than efficient. And while I'm hoping to have it completely written by Labor Day, I think that might be a bit optimistic. Some days I can sit and write for hours, and some weeks I can't get three sentences written that are worth a damn. It's a strange process, one that I still don't fully understand. But right now I'm wishing I were dealing poker 18 hours a week and goofing off at the keyboard the rest of the time. Wasting eight hours a day in an office I don't like being in really sucks the creativity out, and not in a good way, either.
But that's the news for the day. A fresh pot of coffee is ready, and I've got stuff to do. I'll check in later.