Big Bend Conservancy
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Heading out west on personal business next week, but Iím hoping to squeeze in at least an overnighter at GMNP weekend after next, the first weekend in May. It seems incredible that shoulder problems and other circumstances have kept me sidelined for two whole years. Even now, lower back pain could scuttle my plans, so Iíll just have to see how it goes.I ordered a new, lighter, pack, thinking of reducing my load, and looking forward to a future outing with my sons, which would put us in need of another pack. The new pack is a really sweet design, the Mountainsmith Scream 55, on sale at Amazon. It arrived yesterday, and I was looking it over last night. As lovely as it is, I might have to return it because at 55 liters it just seems too small. When they say ďminimalistĒ, itís not idle talk. I knew this when I ordered it, since 70 liters has been my preferred minimum, but I thought it was really time I cut back, especially on shorter trips.I already have a minimalist tent. Now it looks like Iíd need a skimpy little quilt instead of my 15 degree down bag, and a skimpy little quarter-inch sleeping mat to shield my old bones from the stony planet. Iím just not sure about giving away a comfortable nightís rest and the ease of using a more spacious pack, just to shed a few pounds.Well, I can take a few days to think about it.
I suppose there is an expiration date on my ability to backpack but I want to pursue this as long as I can. Itís special to share those times with family.
One of the first things I remember hearing in my youth about backpacking was "get a closed-cell foam pad". I did, and immediately discovered how useless they are as padding. It was a good thermal barrier, but after such a night, maybe freezing to death wouldn't be that bad. The hot new item today is the ultralight air mattresses with a sort of tufted appearance. I was just at REI this evening looking at them. The asking prices were north of $100 and they looked decidedly fragile. Some of the floor demo models had been patched already, and didn't seem to be holding pressure too well. There are knock-off versions on Amazon for $30 or $40. A significant minority of reviewers were thumbs down due to loss of pressure and/or cold nights. These problems are to be expected with any air mattress, still, the product might be worth a try at the lower prices.
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