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What I wear and pack for over night trips in the Shawnee.

Ok, I do overnight trips in the Fall & Spring with daytime highs low 70’s to mid 50’s. I haven’t actually done overnights in the heat of Summer.

The usual, a MAP, phone (may not be very useful), pick up arrangements, compass or two. (I have one and a whistle attached to my backpack, a knife, a lighter, a flashlight…)

I always have a hat, and I wear a hunting orange one so at least I’ll have an open casket. My backpack also has bright colors. I have begun to wear zip offs for day trips so I can go shorts when it is warm but put the legs back on if it turns cold, or if I hit a bunch of poison ivy. Loose fitting underwear and Gold Bond. If you haven’t had a heat rash, you are in for a treat without it.

I bring 3 t shirts for 3 day trips and 3 changes of underwear, a pair of long cotton joggers for sleeping in and walking into a civilized store or restaurant after 3 days of mud on my pants. I have a pair of trail shoes and a pair of crocs for crossing creeks. Ok, I lied. I always forget the sandals and I don’t own a pair of crocs yet, but so far I’ve been lucky crossing creeks with bare feet, but when you are far, far from help, you really don’t want to injure your feet.

I bring an insulated flannel jacket or hoodie which spends most of the time stuffed on my backpack. Climbing the trails with a pack is warming work. I know there are a lot of different ideas on socks but I wear shoes that fit slightly loose and thick wool socks (in the cooler weather). My shoes aren’t waterproof, I just try not to get them wet. All the waterproof ones I’ve worn are too hot and sweat prone. I also bring a pair of socks for each day and an extra pair for the heck of it.

I have a light aluminum backpack frame but haven’t tried it. I went around to the various outfitters and tried on backpacks and the two that felt good were something from one of the big outfitters and a Coleman Max from Wally World and I tried them both on before deciding that I couldn’t tell the difference and bought the Wally World Special frameless pack. My sleeping bag fits perfect in the lower compartment. It has the essential waist belt for support and the padded shoulder straps are ok. Sometimes my shoulders get to hurting because the straps are at the ends of their adjustment and still a little snug if I’m wearing a jacket, that’s how close to being long enough they are. Normally they are just right. It does have a rain fly in the top compartment. I’ve never been in a rain with it, just drizzle.

I carry a 3 man pop up hiking tent from Wally World too. It weighs in at 5 lbs and has held up reasonably well. I didn’t go smaller because I want my pack in with me, and it has room to sit up in and also to move around in if I have it set up before I discover that tree root or hickory nut I missed. It also keeps wild things out for peace of mind. Mosquitos drive me crazy and it is nice to have the privacy to check for ticks without looking like a lunatic out in public. I carry one of those rolls of foam they sell for an exercise pad. It helps insulate from the cold bumpy ground and doesn’t weigh anything. I keep it rolled up with one of those bungees with the 2 balls on it. The back pack has the perfect straps for both the tent & the foam roll.

I bring food, water, soap, a wash towel and  toothbrush & paste. A roll of TP is something you don’t want to forget and adds to the ‘pillow’ I make out of extra clothes and my jacket. I carry 2 LED flashlights, the little 3AAA sized ones. I used to bring a couple of lighters and a can of sterno and a pan & utensils, but I really didn’t benefit from them enough to offset the weight.

Speaking of weight, they say every 1 lb off your back feels like 5 lbs off your legs. The waist strap on the back pack takes a LOT of weight off your back. I keep 2 or 3 bottles of water in the back pack and drink them first and carry another 2-3 in the cargo pockets of my pants.

About water. You can carry it, you can filter it, you can use those horrible iodine pills. I’ve decided the best solution is to cache it. I drive to what looks to be a days distance where the R2R crosses a road and leave 5 bottles in an out of the way place and cover it with leaves. The plastic water bottles I’ve used crush and store nearly weightless. That will probably get poo poo’d but it works. I will likely try a filter next trip and see how that works. That’s the only way you are going to do it in hot weather. The iodine pills are the last resort before just drinking diluted horse urine. (what I imagine is flowing down the creeks with all the horse crossings)

The Iodine bottle A is poison and kills anything living in your bottle of horse urine water. The bottle B is the antidote to the poison you put in the bottle. Make sure you let it work the whole time recommended plus a little no matter how thirsty you are.

I used it once to see how it tasted and dumped half back out.

Foodwise, I start with an apple or 2 and due to the weight always have them ate later the first day. I like a pack or two of poptarts (heavy but worth it come morning or last thing at night) Also partial to individual spam slices & Horsey sauce from Hardees. I carry a bag of bread, 6 slices or so & go through them. A little can of pringles goes with them fine. Usually a couple sandwich bags of assorted trail mix rounds it out and I usually still have them at the end. I also buy sodas & sandwiches if I pass a town. Subway was nice leaving Goreville. Eddyville Food mart has Ice Cream.

I have a trusty hiking stick made out of a Wisteria vine that was cut to the right length and let dry in the garage over the Winter. It dried so hard you can’t even think about whittling it. It is also unbreakable & light. It is very useful when climbing down steep areas and crossing creeks. of course I have had to go back & get it from time to time. Comes with age.

I carry a snake bite kit but the only thing I’ve used out of it is the shaver. You don’t really see them in cooler weather. My old Nokia tracfone cell phone has a pull up antennae and gets reception in 90% of the R2R trail, but not GPS! I call my wife in the morning after I get going, about noon, and when I camp for the night. It’s nice when you are solo to let someone know where you are.

One thing to consider in late Fall or Early Spring hiking is the time of darkness. It gets dark about 6:30pm and stays dark until 6:30 am. I can sleep about half that. I use one flashlight for nature call trips at night & the other for reading.

I keep my pack about 30-35 lbs. Some large amount of that being consumables that get lighter.

Probably I’ve left a few things out that I might add later.

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