Today is Decision Day. Time to make those final choices as to what will go into the backpack. For tomorrow is Departure Day for Europe.
In 2007, a backpack that was much too heavy (30 pounds) left me with a lot of knee, hip and back pain for several years. (Note: Pilates sessions in 2012-2013 cured all...thank you, Myra!) Back to 2008, while recovering on the sofa from knee surgery, I devoured a recently-discovered book called, "Trail Life: Ray Jardine's Lightweight Backpacking." (www.rayjardine.com) Through trial and error, this amazing adventurer has developed many techniques and materials that result in a great reduction in packweight. Less pain and effort on the trail = greater distance that can be covered, with much more pleasure.
My fully-loaded, humongous pack in 2007 weighed just under 30 pounds. No camping gear, just clothes.
After ordering a kit to sew a lightweight backpack from Ray Jardine, my new, fully-loaded version in 2009 came in at under 10 pounds. There are 2 reasons for this: my new pack, empty, weighed less than one pound (I have no idea what the 2007 model weighed); and I learned how to carefully select my clothing, based on versatility and light weight.
Here's my present list of items that will be carried or worn:
hiking pants (convertable to shorts);
stretch yoga pants (my "evening wear");
lightweight leggings (for under hiking pants if Belgium is cold and rainy, and for sleepwear);
medium-weight Polarfleece hoodie;
lightweight Gortex rain/wind jacket (Belgium is known for cool, wet days at this time of year);
(1 of which will double as sleepwear)
lightweight Patagonia wool long-sleeved top;
lightweight inner-layer insulating top;
sunprotective hiking shirt by Coolibar;
short-sleeved white sports t-shirt, in a breathable "technical" fabric;
sleeveless sports shirt, also lightweight;
swimsuit and goggles (for time in spa towns along the way);
3 prs. toesocks (these help eliminate blisters);
3 pairs of undies, bottoms and tops (2 sports bras);
1 pair lightweight gloves;
1 billed hiking cap;
1 lightweight knit cap (for warmth under hiking cap);
lightweight Teva hiking/trail running shoes;
flip flops for evening;
1 lightweight silk sheet-sack (for use in hostels);
1 lightweight chamois towel (also for hostels);
quart-sized ziplock filled with minimal toiletries;
4 guidebooks about the trail;
very small notebook (journal) and pen;
3 chargers for the following items;
front pouch and its contents:
Panasonic Lumix camera;
iPhone (with a European SIM card, for blog, phone calls, and Kindle books);
Garmin watch for time and distance;
snack-sized ziplock used as wallet;
small compass and whistle;
"chapstick" from my favorite dentists, the Kinlaws
1 pair retractable hiking poles (mailed ahead to my hostel in Luxembourg)
I also packed a carry-on sized suitcase for my pre-hike traveling with Bill (April 2 - 18), but I think it's best not to bore you with this. My next entry will be from the other size of the ocean. Stay tuned for a brief report and picture(s) from both France and Portugal.
Thanks again for your interest and support!