Age, emergency preparedness, & backpacking

1 May

Our new backpacks arrived Thursday, yay!!!!  I’m very pleased with their quality, especially considering they are internal frame packs that cost $19.95 & $24.95 from Emergency Essentials, an emergency preparedness company.  Mine, the cheaper, smaller & green pack, unfortunately ends up with the “hip” belt riding around my waist.  Trying it on briefly, I found it comfortable, and it didn’t put any uncomfortable pressure on my shoulder.  With minimal gear, (change of clothes, a couple of MREs, a mess kit, etc.) but no sleeping bag or tent, it weighs like 25-30#, and I’d hate to actually have to spend the weekend with it.  I was really surprised, even though it only contains the items previously packed in my overstuffed day pack, it’s pretty full.  I’m not sure where a bedroll is SUPPOSED to go, but it’s obviously going to have to be strapped to the outside.  It has also made me realize that I need a more compact sleeping bag.  My current monster is as big as the pack itself, and even with compression straps, does not compact much.  The current gear/clothing is set up for summer, so all that is included inside (besides gloves) is lightweight summer clothes & a microfiber sheet, as well as “emergency shelter” equipment of some packaged drum liners (oversized garbage bags).

I talked to some others from the Get Ready GO crowd, both about the mentored camping trip we’re trying to set up for newbies, as well as a couple of short hike based trips for the current crowd.  We’re not going to do an overnight trip until fall–season, time, & life issues that would be the better choice.  The hikes we’re considering are all recommended for any season other than summer, probably because of the heat & mosquitoes.  With my shoulder, even fall may be an optimistic hope for a backpack trip of short duration, which would have us hike about 10-15 miles per day and camp a single night.  I need to work on the walking part of getting into better shape for this trip, this winter’s inactivity as I’ve been nursing the shoulder has not done me any good, and I was needing MORE exercise, not less.  I don’t want to end up in a situation with chest pains at mile 12, and I’m at “that age” now, which seems truly impossible.

Remember when 49 was so old that you looked at someone that age and wondered why they were still bothering to breath, since they were really so ancient that they couldn’t possibly have any fun?  People that old weren’t supposed to have fun, feelings OR sex.  They were fat, saggy, baggy, and ugly, besides being OLD.  They creaked and whined and couldn’t DO anything.

I saw someone young enough that she looked at me the other day, thinking along those lines.  I almost laughed at her, and I wanted to tell her–once, chicky-poo, I was just like you, and before you know what the hell happened, you are going to be just like me too. I look at photos and in the mirror and I can’t help but wonder, how the hell did my mother get in that picture/mirror?  Where am I?  It’s true, inside every 80 year old woman, there is an 18 year old girl wondering what in the sam hell happened.  Even before I got hurt, when I would go to do something, sometimes my muscles & bones would scream in protest and ask me what I thought I was doing, just as I was wondering why they were protesting.

And on the green front, which is the same fixed income front as my budget, the weather is impossibly muggy today.  It only got down to 79*, the humidity is so high that everything seems coated with a film of moisture, me included.  I think I’m going to have Greg close up the windows and we’re going to turn on the air conditioner. It’s May 1, and I hate to do it so early in the month, but I also hate being miserable and not sleeping.  I was up last night from 2:30 until around 6:30 this morning, waiting for the cool-down that didn’t happen.  Not even the fan that Greg hates so much and I have named The Hurricane was giving me much relief.

Speaking of fans, he spent yesterday evening working on last year (and the year before) fans in hopes of coaxing another year out of them.  If they don’t start up reasonably quickly, run without squeals and squeaks, and blow air at a good pace, I’m all for tossing them and putting them onto a list for replacement.  Some days, I think Greg took his lessons in home economics (as in money economics) from Jack Benny & Bob Hope.  I might be cheap, but he wants to hear a penny scream in agony before he lets go of it!  I know we don’t have extra money, and the reality is that we have to be very conservative, but he’s a good reminder to think three times before spending.  I make him a little crazy, because I’ll think over a purchase silently, and then just do it, like the backpacks.  To me, that was an important purchase, and done economically.  He thought it was peculiar.  If I had spent $100+ on a pack, then it would be peculiar–we are neither one going to be spending a lot of time & energy on backpacking, as we are not in the physical condition for it.  With his limp & back issues, a long hike would be an agony for him, just as with my weight, knees, & shoulder injury, it would for me.  A ten mile hike day is probably as good as I could do, and I remember when I walked ten miles in just about three hours, and then worked a twelve hour day with no more complaining than I had sore muscles on the top of my feet!  The packs I chose are of serviceable quality, and will suffice as convenient bags for car camping, emergency preparedness, and the odd backpacking adventure.  I’d be foolish if I had bought them for an adventure to Mount Kilimanjaro or Mount Everest.  It would be equally foolish to spend over $100 each for what they will be used for.

Speaking of the packs, Greg’s slightly larger, more expensive, and blue backpack does hold more.  He has two more MREs than I do, and more bulky gear, and his stuff was packed in a Swiss surplus day pack, which was impossible with a load in it for him-it rode all wrong-and it inspired the new purchase.  He has room left in his pack, and it would’t take much repacking to add the dual fuel stove, more food, and more clothing to his, making it actually serviceable for a weekend hike pack.  Once again, his bedroll and the tent would have to be strapped to the exterior, just like mine.  Not enough room inside.  Granted, switching the MREs for freeze dried would free up room, and then it might be possible, with a serious repack from emergency preparedness to weekend trip pack.  A more compact sleeping bag would be necessary, and our current “backpack” tent is a cheap small tent w/o a rainfly–it was given to us, and that was the missing part.  The only time it was used, we simply covered the tent with a garbage bag or something, I dont remember exactly what we used.  The original rain fly for it would have been a piece of ripstop with four elastic cords, and only measured about 18″ square.  That will likely remain our backpack tent, with the addition of a tarp that will create a vestibule as well as protect the tent from rain.  By stretching a cord/rope from a stake located behind the tent, then putting the tarp over it in an A form with the rear staked to the ground, but the front tied down via cords to the corner grommets & then staked, it will essentially create a vestibule lean-to that will allow us protection to cook, etc.  The “high” end of the rope forming the center of the A will simply be tied to a tree–not a hard thing in this neck of the woods.  An alternative would be to use a hiking stick as the peak point and using a cord to fix it in place.  A 10×12 tarp will accomplish this, I believe.

Today, we’re off to a crawfish boil, courtesy of Jimmy-the-mechanic’s invitation.  It’s his annual crawfish boil, and Greg has never been to one.  I’m not crazy about crawfish, but don’t tell anyone.  It’s considered sacrilege to not be crazy about them in Louisiana.

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