The Pile

I’ve had a complaint. My recent posts have not been interesting. I should get back to hikin’ and stuff. So here’s an annotated, illustrated list of what I’ll be humping across Scotland beginning two weeks from Friday.

Random stuff rides in the two pockets you might be able to make out attached to my pack’s hipbelt: Small ziplock of GORP, reading glasses, Canon A700 digital camera, small notebook and pen/pencil, bandana, a few tissues in a ziplock, lip balm, Purel, and depending on the day, compass and/or Geko 201 GPS.

The green stuffsack at the upper left holds clothes: Extra pair of socks; extra pair of liner socks; extra walking shorts (longish running shorts with built-in briefs), also worn in the sleeping bag at night; a Capilene 1 tee; light RailRiders trousers for travel and evenings out.

That orange thing next right is a Thermarest sit pad. I’m actually not sure where I’ll carry that. Probably in the lid. Next is a Feathered Friends Swallow sleeping bag, which shares its stuffsack with a small, soft pillowcase and a pair of Sierra Designs down booties (which may not make the final cut). The small black object next to the sleeping bag is an Insul-Mat Max-Thermo Short sleep mat, which I bought as the result of online ravings by multiple Brits, so IT BETTER BE GOOD. Hiding shyly behind the sleeping stuff is a Stephenson Warmlite 2 tent, very loosely stuffed in that reddish oversized sack, with poles and stakes in the upright light blue sack. The tent goes high in the pack. The poles get stuffed down one side.

Below the pole bag is my food bag, which carries breakfasts, suppers, some teabags, sugar, and a yellow squeezy lemon. It is supplemented by the GORP ziplock, and one for lunch, which I carry in the pack’s lid. Below the food bag is an almost obscured blue Orikaso folding plate, which I use as a cutting board, occasional personal washbowl, and holder for the reflective cozy on top of it, which I use to help rehydrate my food. Mug and JetBoil are obvious, with a long titanium spoon and a Swiss Army picnic knife (with long blade and the vital corkscrew) off to the right.

Left of the mug is a small First Aid kit. I’m used to carrying a larger and heavier one, because I’ve often been, or have at least felt, responsible for others. But I’m declaring myself responsible primarily for myself on this trip, so I’m packing just the basics. Special needs will have to be attended to in imaginative ways.

Above the First Aid kit is the Geko 201, which somehow crawled out of the belt pocket and muscled my mobile phone right out of the picture. The mobile, in a ziplock, will be tucked, switched off, deep in the pack somewhere.

Next left is my green “miscellany” bag. It’s actually a pocket from a mid-’70s vintage Synergy pack. I use it for things like bug juice, sunblock, and a headnet. It will also carry compass and GPS when they are not needed in the hipbelt pockets. It’s home to other totems, too, which will be weeded out a bit before I leave home. Above that, the small red stuffsack holds a savagely sawed-off trowel, some toilet paper in a ziplock, and a lighter. The reflective material above is a homemade protective pocket for my iPod. I’ve never walked with a music player before, and I’m not yet sure where I’ll carry it. The tan stuffsack to the left is my wash kit: tooth care, razor, comb, small synthetic towel, an ounce of Dr. Bronner’s and a half-ounce of shaving oil.

Below the green clothes sack is an ancient Patagonia down jacket (in the blue sack). Cold weather items are in the smaller green sack: Gloves, overmitts, warm hat, buff. The Crocs, for wading across raging torrents and lazing around camp, are brand new.

Raingear is still hanging in the mudroom, but will ride in a small trashbag at the top of the pack, assuming I ever get to take it off.

The flap of the McHale SARC pack (50 l. or so) has a pocket for a 1 or 2 l. Platy.

I’ve created one of Bob Cartwright’s strapamaptomes for my left shoulder strap. Map of the day and the appropriate route sheet will live there.

Past performance tells me that this modest collection of things, which looks so harmless sitting on my office floor, will be wrestled, crammed, and contorted into the pack to create an ungainly, uncomfortable, and inefficient load. Not to worry, though. I’ll have it sorted by North Water Bridge, if not by Edzell.


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