Long Trail Preparation

Since regular commitments had no sympathy for my absence, putting in extra time at home would enable me to take a long hike in the short time available away from home. Vermont’s Long Trail, a precursor of the Appalachian Trail, offered a nearby opportunity for a short venture away from home. The beauty of ultralight is in looking at a trek as a series of day hikes.

Building on broad outdoor experience and conventional wisdom, I gradually reduced the weight of each article in my bag and developed specialized skills for using home-made gear. If one article could perform multiple chores, so much the better.

I wanted to test for myself that less weight means more miles. The lightweight style offered one additional advantage: improving my chances for completing the distance without a breakdown.

I trained for six months, walking at least six miles a day. The base pack weight was 8 pounds. Including consumables, 15 pounds or less. The pack weighed about 12 ounces, the tarp with lines and stakes about 14 ounces, 40-degree quilt about 24 ounces, and umbrella about 8 ounces. My assortment of clothes was minimal.

For cooking, I referenced “Diet for a Small Planet,” eating mainly vegetarian foods from the health food store that I dehydrated. I used a tuna can stove to boil a cup and a half of water as Jim Mayer described online. Consumables consisted of 4 ounces of denatured alcohol for the stove, a liter of water, and 5 or 6 pounds of food. The ration worked out to about a pound of food for every 10 miles.

Referencing the Long Trail End-to-Ender’s Guide, I planned an 18-day itinerary, based on 10-hour hiking days at 1.5 miles per hour.