Sunday, March 31, 2013


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." ( 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.

Back to the present: after months of deliberating what to bring, I finally had the final choices laid out on the floor today. Once loaded, I'm pleased to announce that the 2013 pack again weighs under 10 pounds.

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);

long-sleeved tops: (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;
cotton bandana

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!


  1. Bon Voyage Ruth! Good luck and may your knees be strong for you! Keep up your blog as I love reading about your adventure! Safe travels! Jennifer

  2. Great seeing you and Bill on Thursday last for dinner... I look forward to your reports.

    Bon marche.