Saturday, January 29, 2011

Benefits of Partnerships

Make use of a trail partnership and it will smooth the inevitable disagreements that will arise.
If water is down a steep slope, one person can watch all the packs while another goes down to get water for both people. This eliminates abandoning the pack or carrying it down. This situation is found both on the Pacific Crest Trail and Appalachian Trail. Animals and humans are both known to raid abandoned packs.
When resupplying in town, leaving the pack unattended outside is not a good idea. Take turns shopping. Most stores will not let you carry your pack into the store. If you're alone, ask a clerk if you can park it by the customer service desk. This works at post offices and restaurants too.
In camp, it you're sharing a shelter, establish a routine where you split up chores. Make it automatic so that when you're weary from a long day, especially if the weather is bad, you don't have to negotiate. One sets up the tent while the other goes for water.
My partner and I cooked separately, bought food separately, and created our own camp routines. However, I set up the shelter and he went for water. This saved a lot of time for both of us. After that, we proceeded to clean up, cook, air sleeping bags, etc at our own pace.
In camp we would position ourselves to face each other, not so much the company but to watch our backs. Once, as we relaxed in camp, a bear stuck his head up over a log, just a few yards from my partner's back. Neither of us had heard his approach. "Rainmaker, there's a bear, behind you," I said, and the bear took off running down the hill.
I also noted a rattlesnake behind my friend Alexa while we ate breakfast under an overpass in the desert.
Other benefits include splitting large container when shopping for food or fuel. Buy the 42 ounce container of oatmeal and one pound box of brown sugar and split it for a weeks worth of breakfasts.
You can get an 8 ounce jar of instant coffee and split it. Ziploc bags are important backpacking gear.
If you resupply separately, and start to run low, your partner may be willing to sell you a few things. This is not to be abused. No one wants to be your pack mule.
I like to rise with the sun, catching the sunrise in my first mile. My partner likes to cook breakfast sitting in camp, after the sun rises. These are differences which have to be worked out. If you're not sharing a tent, but simply a loose confederation of friends, you can pack up at your own discretion and meet later on the trail.
If you decide to share a motel in town, arrange where to meet in advance in case one gets in first.
Hitching is safer in pairs, another advantage when heading to town. Town days are more fun with a friend, however, you may want to spend the night, and they don't. Splitting the cost helps.
When a male - female partnership is formed, its important for the woman to remain an equal partner. Not all women hiking alone are looking for a boyfriend.
Women, if you feel pressured to give up your autonomy, take a step back and think about the future. After a week of 24-7 with this guy, are you sure you can keep on?
Guys, ask yourself the same thing.

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