Gaining Pounds, Shaving Ounces

My favorite kitchen team, making vegan bacon and pancakes.

This can be thought of as the fun part. It’s my job to put on weight, or at least that’s how I see it, and that endeavor has paired nicely with my longing to spend quality time with people I love….over ice cream. There has been many a beer-and-peanut-butter-cup sharing and I’m feeling honored and blessed for the incredible people in my life. I’m getting sentimental, if you can’t tell, for I will miss them all.

On the lighter side, I took my pack weight to the chopping block. I made big and small changes.

I made a few style changes here. Like giving up my palace. My 2-person tent set up has always been an enjoyable luxury for me, but I’m going to try something different this time. Imagine a thru-hike where I actually pay attention to weight.

Like going from this…..

To This!!!! Carried so casually by Wren, the 8-year-old hiking boss.

This time, I’m thinking about how every ounce is every step. For some reason, that hasn’t been all that much of a thought in my first four thru-hikes. Appalachia grants me a few graces that the Rocky Mountains do not, like frequent town stops and warm nights. Plus, I have the two greatest gear sponsors I know of; Mountain Laurel Designs (the stud-muffin of the East) and Big Agnes (the boss of the rugged west). If ever there was a time to experience a light hike, this is it. Which leads me to making decisions like not bringing camp shoes and hoping my bare feet are all I need at the end of the day. So here’s how it all added up……

  • Gear changes
  • The no-camp-shoes decision
  • Portioning out small containers of sunscreen and water treatment
  • Cutting 2 feet of excess length off of my sleeping bag liner

This change shaved off 2.2oz, thanks Trenton Harper for the suggestions

I am shaving off a grand total of 5lbs 13oz! Which is comparable to removing one elephant off your back in thru-hiking terms.

I’ve come a long way since the time another hiker tried to name me “3 Books” on the AT in 2011. To which I responded, “It’s two books and a play.” This will be a different experience, though a couple of things will be the same. Come hell or high water, I’m still not getting a smart phone. I’ll take one book to read, probably not three, and I couldn’t give up my cooking style. I love cooking in the woods. I carry produce and take long meal breaks. I’m a mountain eater, mostly. That is why it seemed appropriate to take the kids I nanny out to the woods for my last day with them. We went to our spot, the foxes den, for a tea break. As I laid back to appreciate what we’ve got, I said to them, “This is the stuff. If you ever wonder what I’m up to out there, it’s probably something like this. Sitting in a ditch, drinking coffee, feeling lucky.” In my best moments, I remind myself of Baloo the Bear.

So just try and relax, in my back yard. Cause if you act like that bee acts, you’re working too hard. And don’t spend your time looking around, for something you lost that can’t be found. When you find out you can live without it and go along not thinking about it, I’ll tell you something true. The bear necessities of life will come to you.

-The jungle book

4 thoughts on “Gaining Pounds, Shaving Ounces

  1. I miss you! I can’t wait to hear about your trip someday when you get back. Have the very best time!💞

  2. Happy trails, Shayla! Stay safe; we’ll have a party when you return. We have a couple of trail angels from NH following you. We worked with them at the hostel in Waynesboro, VA. If you run into a hiker called Taco on the trail, say hi for us.

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