Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Art of the Minimum

Fourteen years of dreaming and two years of planning. That's what it took to finally get to hike the Applachian Trail. I'll never forget standing on top of Springer Mountain in Georgia that Easter my partner and I began our hike. I had no idea then that a few weeks later we would be off the trail, having made it as far as mid-way through the Smokies, some 200 miles or so. I had injured one knee severely, and the other less so. But you know, I wouldn't trade the experience for all the world. It was amazing.

So exactly what clothing went in that pack of mine?

Here's my list:
1 pair winter weight polypropylene long underwear
1 pair summer weight polypropylene long underwear
1 pair spandex running pants
2 pair wicking T-shirts
1 fleece jacket
1 pair fleece pants
3 pair wool socks
3 pair polypro sock liners
1 fleece hat
1 Gor-Tex rainsuit
2 pair undies
2 bras
1 sun hat
1 bandana
1 pair flip flops

and of course...1 pair Asolo hiking boots.

And that was all!
Basically I wore the running pants and a T-shirt to hike in. In the evening I'd change into the long underwear and fleece. (This was end of March in the mountains...our water would freeze at night). The two T's were alternated from day to day. Each evening, I'd do "laundry" which would hang on the back of my pack the next day to dry. The rain gear did double duty as windbreakers. I carried what I considered the least amount necessary without being foolish. My daily alternates served as dry spares in case of emergency.

The entire amount (less what I was wearing) filled half a stuff sack. Talk about a capsule wardrobe!

If you've ever been backpacking, you know it all comes down to the ounces. Backpackers will even cut a toothbrush in half to save the weight! So everything that goes into the pack is carefully scrutinized...with the main question being, is it necessary? So I mastered the art of the minimum...and clothing was no exception. From this experience I learned how to reduce the amount of clothing in my "closet" to the least amount necessary.

Once you've deduced your minimum, everything else is cake!

Oh, and in case you're wondering, I've since lost much of my enthusiasm for wilderness living.
Since hiking the AT, I've discovered that I'm actually quite fond of soft beds, hot showers, clean and stylish clothes... and a closet that you can't carry on your back!

See you next time...same blog time...same blog channel....

(For more information on wardorbe planning, or to sign up for my free e-zine, please visit my wardrobe planning website.)


Cindy Eyanson said...

Nice Post!
Thanks for sharing. My first hiking trip was to 3 sisters in Oregon, Glacier hiking at 15. Won an Outward bound trip. I was fit then... had 50 pounds on my back, I was 15, 5.2, 120 pounds...nice... wish I knew you then...
love Asolo boots... have high and low top... love them!

Cindy Eyanson Online

John Ho - Melbourne, Australia said...

Wow, hiking!

My son last year ride a bike for 35 Km in a day during a Scouts trip. He's exhilarated that he can do it as a 11 yr old. He seldom ride a bike.

John Ho
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RobFromGa said...

This is a great story and in line with your small wardrobe theme… Since I always carry on to planes anymore, I find myself going through this same analysis of every item when I pack. And I still end up with a few things I never used at the end of the trip.

Our Boy Scout troop asks the yuounger boys to bring their packs the night before the trip and then they dump everything out and go through it with the boys to remove any extra unnecessary weight. Good way to teach the new scouts.
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Philip Graves said...

Great advice.
You have to love that lightweight wicking clothing; it's so light, it dries so quickly, and it functions so well.

Philip Graves

Scott said...

I remember the first time I went backpacking, I think the pack weighed more than me.

Scott Bell

The Road Warrior Online Travel Insurance

Lisa M. McLellan said...

Where did my comment go? Anyway, I said "you're amazing! I can only dream of being that good" So, I didn't see heels, little black dress, or makeup on that list. How did you survive?

David J Parnell said...

What an amazing experience... and good job on the packing :)
David J. Parnell | Communication Expert
The Communication Expert Blog

Lena Milukh said...

You always prove how it is possible to look good having minimum to choose from.You have a good way to select what's necessary and what is not that important.When I go to travel I always end up taking more then I actually need.
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DIYlawyer said...

Good post and list

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Darryl Pace said...

Great post! I think I share your enthusiasm...for hot showers, clean sheets, and a wardrobe that's in a closet!

JohnWShoemaker said...

It must have been beautiful hiking through all those mountains. If you have any pictures of you conquering the wilds...that would be nice to see.

Intuitive John

PS Cutting the tooth brush in half???

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davidpower said...

Great way to enjoy dressing for the season!

Romance Coach, Online Dating Coach said...

ah,the essentials in life.

hiking boots

All the best,

April Braswell

Online Dating Expert, Romantic Relationship Coach, Romance Coaching

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