In all my planning for a thru-hike of the PCT, I confess to performing due diligence when it came to the big things—pack, sleep system, food, and shelter. OK well, yeah, some might call it obsessive. No argument from me. And in the spirit of transparency, I do have a spreadsheet of what all this weighs. Every item. I forgot though, how important the little things can be.
I never owned a pair before this trip. However, as I began to read (and see via video) what desert sun will do to exposed hands, I thought it might be best to have a little extra protection. I use trekking poles. They help me a LOT. I can balance on unstable ground, I can “brake” myself while descending steep hills, and hey, fend off rattlesnakes if need be. Which means of course, while holding trekking poles my hands are exposed to the sun. All. Day. Long. The images I’ve seen of 2nd degree burns and blistering of unprotected hands was enough to convince me. I bought a pair of gloves and am tremendously glad I did. So far, no blisters, no burns, no cuts, no nothing. Can’t ask for anything more.*
Mini alcohol swabs
For most of us, the smell and appearance of a mini alcohol swab means, “I’m getting a shot!” Or, “They’re taking my blood!” Needles, antiseptic, medical technician, get me out of here. However when on trail, using that little pad to swab your dirt crusted and sore little piggies, becomes glorious. Between the toes, front of toes, back of toes, and all over the bottom of your feet. Ooooo, yeah. The quick evaporation and resulting coolness is a fantastic bonus, sometimes making you think, “I have a spa in a packet. Yeah, baby. This is living!”
Long-handled bamboo spoon
Maybe you’re thinking, “What the? A spoon? Seriously?” OK, well it requires a bit of explanation.
My meals, for the most part, are prepared via freezer bag. I should say my “dinners”—the ONLY meal I eat that’s hot—are prepared by dropping all food ingredients into a freezer bag (zip-style), pouring in a couple of cups of boiling water, sealing, setting aside in a temperature insulated “cozy,” waiting for 15-20 minutes for the whole thing to rehydrate, and sitting down to chow down.
It’s called freezer bag cooking. I usually prepare homemade meals (chili, rice and beans, pasta and marinara, etc.) ahead of time, dehydrate them completely, divvy everything up into individual servings, place the servings in freezer bags, and vacuum seal. Good to go. Even if I have to resupply along the trail, I will still put food in freezer bags for prep.
Now imagine, your meal is ready. You can’t wait to chomp into that first bite of penne with mushroom marina, parmesan, and red chili flakes. But wait. With anything other than a long-handled spoon to reach into that deep, deep freezer bag, you’re going to have sauce, food, and a general mess all over your dirty, slimy fingers. BUT with a long-handled spoon (bamboo because it’s extraordinarily light, strong, and odor free), you can scrape every last morsel from that freezer bag and never think about food-slime fingers.
The little things can make your day. Take a look around and ask, “What are my little things?” You may be surprised.
*Photo is of a baby scorpion that crawled into one of my sun gloves during the night of cowboy camp 3.