Ultra Light Weight and the Avid Reader Dilema

A few weekends ago I participated in a practice backpacking trip up Boulder Falls for one night. My friend and hero, Carol, who you’ve heard me reference several times in the history of this blog and who just turned 70 last month, was on her first ever backpacking excursion.  Carol had all the newest in gear and everything was in the category of Ultra Light Weight.  In other words her pack weighed half what mine did.  Half.  This is a smart woman.  Me….. not so much.  But who knew?  It’s not your grandma’s backpacking (well….unless Carol is your grandma).

Word on the Ultra Light street is that your pack should weigh 15 pounds before you add your food (food weight would vary depending on the number of nights out and your appetite).

I got home from Boulder Falls and weighed my pack (there was no food; even my emergency back up food had been consumed).  Twenty Six point eight (26.8) pounds total including the backpack.  I needed to get rid of 11.8 pounds of gear before my five day 50 miler on the Selway River.

As I unpacked, I weighed every single item that I had carried.

Our Boulder Creek practice hike was five miles in for one night and five miles out.  Our upcoming Selway River hike is going to be an average of 10 miles per day for five days straight.  Shedding 11.8 pounds is crucial.

Some people may think that a Kindle (11.11 ounces; 7.3 ounces without the cover), camp chair (10.76 ounces), and journal (5 ounces) are not required backpacking items.  But my blog followers know where I’m coming from….. (jeez…. I’m not taking my knitting 6.42 ounces).  The paperback book I bought for the trip, “Virgil Wander”, is 11.46 ounces, more than the kindle, I’m considering ripping off the front and back cover along with the non essential first and last pages to try to save an ounce or two.  Or skip it and take the kindle without the cover.  Maybe….see all the turmoil I’m going through with this.

My idea of being out in the woods for a week is to get into camp, set up a tent, take off my boots, find my book then set up my chair in a shady spot and read or journal for the afternoon.  That to me is the perfect day.

Some solutions to my weight dilemma  include taking my phone (7.62 ounces); which has a Kindle app and would double as a book, camera, headlamp (3.28 ounces), and I suppose I could take enough notes to count as a journal.  But how long is the battery good for on airplane mode?  I could leave the camp chair and just use my Therm-o-rest (27.9 ounces) leaned up against a downed log and make a lounge chair.  I could leave my tent (3 POUNDS) and sleep under the stars.  But, I wouldn’t sleep well thinking about the rattlesnakes wanting to cuddle with me.  I haven’t mentioned the rattlesnakes.  It’s the only thing people point out when I tell them I’m backpacking the Selway River.

“Ohhhhh….. lots of rattlesnakes on the Selway”.

I have purchased a few things. I’m saving 2 ounces on my new Jetboil; saving 1.88 ounces on a titanium cup; 5 ounces on a new pillow; new therm-o-rest sleeping pad is a savings of 11 ounces.  I’m also looking at ultra light weight backpacks which could save over 2 pounds; which is a lot of ounces.

I just finished a hardback book.  Although I have been known to pack in a cribbage board and a can of wine or two; I would never pack in a hardback book.  But, having finished the hardback; I’m ready to call it the new book pick for Wild About Books.

“The Water Dancer” by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

This is an excellent and very different book.  A new perspective on slavery and the underground railroad with a hint; no more like a splattering of magical realism.  I love the books with supernatural out of this world experiences.  I often see it in American Indian folklore books, Mexican heritage novels such as Isabel Allende and African American books. Making magic happen. Through water, the protagonist can transport himself (and others). I”m sure I’ll want to tap into that superpower on the Selway with all of my gear.

Oh! And the Ursack with odor proof inserts to protect my food from bears is another 9 ounces.

More great books and adventures can be found on Wild About Books.








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