I'll be back on the road within a couple hours. I just have to do a few more things before I'm all ready to go. Even though I could be ready to go by noonish, I think I'm going to wait until mid-afternoon, to avoid the hottest part of the day and to give myself a half-day to ease back into things.
I have a new backpack, which I think will make a HUGE difference in a whole bunch of ways. (For example, my attitude. Let's hope, anyway.) Unlike my huge Kelty Red Cloud 6650, which is only available in one size, the Gregory Palisade 80 (Medium) is made to fit me. I feel like the new pack has a superior design, in terms of comfort and ergonomics. With most of the pack's weight resting above my butt (on my lumbar?), it just feels right, even when I don't have it adjusted well. Instead of dragging the pack with most of the weight digging into my shoulders, which is how I felt with the Kelty pack after several miles each day, this pack feels like it's a part of me. I can adjust it so it barely even touches my shoulders, and I can even run while carrying it.
I have jettisoned A LOT of stuff from my pack, making the load about 7 lbs lighter than it was on my most recent venture. Some of the items I removed:
2 cotton t-shirts (9 oz each);
Tripod (21 oz);
Electric shaver (9.5 oz);
4 pairs of socks (10 oz); and
Condiments and stuff left over from the MREs (9 oz.).
I also removed a lot of smaller things that add up to a lot of weight, like a Drakkar bathroom bag, flashlight (I still have an LED headlamp), small bottle of Listerine, sunscreen, Purell, waterproof pack cover, and "other crap." Additionally, I replaced several items, trimming a few ounces here and there. I replaced my denim jeans with lightweight, convertible pants, which weigh 11 oz less than the jeans.
But some of my new stuff is actually heavier than what it's replacing. My new tent, for example, is about 12 oz heavier than my old one. Oh, but it's worth an extra 3/4 of a pound. For starters, it's much easier to set up than the other tent. Also, the canopy's mesh is considerably more durable than the other tent. Unlike the other tent's canopy, I'd have to be very abusive to put any holes in this one. But what really makes the new tent great is the extra room. There is tons of room for me to move around or sit up, and there is plenty of space inside for both me and my gear. This tent is awesome!
Not all of my gear swaps are so easy to assess, though. For example, I've replaced a desert camo Army jacket (given to me by a young Iraq War vet in Mississippi) with a down jacket and a fleece top, adding about 18 oz to my pack weight. However, I can use the jacket(s) as a pillow, so I don't need to take my compressible pillow (13 oz) this time. As a result, I've added about 5 oz to the total pack weight, but I no longer need to avoid or worry about very low temperatures. Plus the down jacket feels awesome!
For the first time ever, I feel really good about my gear situation. I'm pretty much equipped to go anywhere in the United States at any time of year now. But with the showdown between the Buckeyes and the Trojans coming up in mid September at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, you can bet I'll be heading to SoCal pretty quickly.
My injuries have not healed 100 percent, but they're getting close. I'd say both my hand and my toe feel about 90% healed. They feel pretty good; good enough to get back on the road without feeling handicapped or otherwise affected.
One more thing for now: No credit card this time. Even though it might be smart for me to have a credit card for emergencies, I'm leaving it behind because it is too tempting and I think it compromises the integritah of this project.
Aimless Video Evidence