Walking past a small A frame church, music singing from the walls brings with it a smile. Dry earth crackling beneath dirty feet set music to my pace. This new pack fits like a glove, my sweaty back tells me its to hot for gloves today and I find a piece of shade for a sip of cold juice. I reach into my double plastic bag, its the first cold beverage I’ve had in weeks. I smile at my world wondering how many countless miles I have trekked carrying a small plastic bag with my snacks. The empty sacs will become water proofing for things in my pack that don’t do so well when wet and eventually become trash bags as I walk lonely stretches picking up the litter I can rarely escape regardless of where I am in the world. I have packed and repacked my bag 5 times a day and still can’t quite get it right. This journey I’m going on is a bipolar one by trekking standards. I will be carrying work clothes, business clothes, travel Clothes… One by one I will drop everything but my most basic gear. Its hard to par down your life when you only have a few dozen things. Do I really need my 3 ounce knife or will a little pocket knife do. What about light, shelter, food preparation. I have to be in Maui by December so I have decided to pop over to Kauai to hike the Na Pali Coast to the Valley of the Gods while Im there.
I got an email from a little girl a few days ago asking me to teach her to pack for a minimalist world journey and how to stealth camp. How to carry everything you need for any situation… I sent her many emails and then she returned, I don’t want you to tell me, I want you to show me, so she will be coming on the next journey. I will teach her the art of light travel, and even lighter living. I have already helped her find a new pack and piece by piece I will fill it with the minimal gear needed to camp anywhere from Nepal to South Africa. I will teach her how to blend in and disappear.
Any seasoned trekker can pass their pack off as a daypack because carried on luggage can never be lost. A good trekking pack as to be able to shrink to 38 inches but must still expand to carry the weight of your world on your back.. It also has to be light enough that it isn’t a burden weighing you down. My pack only weighs 10-12 pounds full but add food and water and it can climb to 35 lbs. My travel strategy for hosteling and couch surfing is simple, I take a 15 liter day pack and my tooth brush. For backpacking and camping its a bit different and I’m torn between the new pack I’m testing an Osprey Kestrel 48 and her smaller and 5 ounce lighter little sister the 38.
When it comes to weight I use the Heavy, Medium, Light strategy I developed years ago. I get the lightest pack I can but it also must carry well which makes it fairly heavy. There is nothing worse that trekking through the blistering sun with a sack of potatoes on your back. My shelter is medium or non existent depending on where I go and everything else is light but most things just get left behind. I travel to experience the world, not to play with my toys.
Satisfied with my juice I pull a Luna bar and munch on it while I day dream of hiking the Camino De Santiago The 800 mile hike is an easy one and living off of fresh cheese and fruit, black coffee, wine and bread makes my heart go pitter pat. I need a good pilgrimage before I return to the sea and besides, walking just feels right.
I watched a friend trimming the edges off her map, cut the tooth brush handle off and snip every extra inch of strap on her pack. What are you doing I asked her. She told me she was lightening her load. Why not just take a sip of water it will save ten times the weight you just cut. We all go about things differently but at the end of the day you still can’t fit a ten pound parcel into a two pound sac. I lean back using my tiny pack as a pillow and smile knowing she will take good care of me until I’m ready to come home.
“The place where you lose the trail is not necessarily the place where it ends.” — Tom Brown, Jr.