Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Making the Ultralight Food Bag Last

I've found some discussions on ultralighter's vs minimalism with the survival theory in mind.
Its amazing how misunderstood the true Ultralighter is.
And, how overlooked the necessary skill-building and trail-tested period is. Building skills as an ultralight backpacker is a journey. Don't expect to just arrive because of reading. You arrive by doing.
I hiked with a guy on the Appalachian Trail for awhile up in New Hampshire.
The mere fact we were running across trail magic in the form of serious food stashes, coolers set out for thru hikers, and handouts seemed to make too much impact on him. He started carrying way too little food. He resupplied in Gorham, and what he bought ran out two days early.
Now, when I see my food stash getting low, I either pile on the miles, or do half rations. Our body can live off fat stored inside, but our minds need to know all is well and we are in control. Hence a meal, no matter how skimpy, how thin the oatmeal, needs to happen.
Blood sugar levels are kept within limits with smaller, rather than no calorie, installations.
I found out this guy had run out of food when he nearly fell over. I asked what's up? He said he ran out of food. He told about being in special forces back in his youth, a long time ago, and knew how to hike on nothing for 20 miles.
I had just enough to spare, but it meant getting into town earlier next morning.
Better believe he bought me lunch.
Moral of the story, when estimating food needs for a section of trail, plan regular mileage days and enough calories. If things go bad and its taking longer, stretch the food by doing 3/4 rations earlier, rather than later. Use water to thin out the soup, the oatmeal, eat only half a candy bar.
A real ultra lighter never needs bailing out.
Sometimes we take that gift of a snickers bar, but its gravy, not life or death.

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