Today I arrived in Warner Springs, marking the end of California Section A and the first 110 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail.
Over the course of the past week I have learned much of hiking, camping, the Pacific Crest Trail, and myself (I don't like mashed potatoes as much as I thought, and butt-chafe is painful). I have also been fortunate enough to receive help and advice from two backpackers far more experienced than myself: Mr. Lint and Mr. Monty.
These two would expose me to the true face of ultralight backpacking (to which my pack fails miserably in nearly every respect).
THE GEAR SHAKEDOWN
You think that you are saving weight by getting the “light” gear and eliminating luxury items from your pack, but what you do not realize is that there is an entirely different level of ultralight that laughs at you behind your back.
For example, you are carrying a 5 oz headlamp? Try 0.1 oz photon lights instead. Full length sleeping pad? Try just two sections of it. A 25 oz tent? Try a 5 oz cuben fiber tarp (and on that note, da faq is cuben fiber?). Five different colored pens?! Why the hell do you need pens? I need my pens, alright, back off.
Sorting through my gear attempting to eliminate extraneous weight felt like an episode of hoarders. There wasn't a gun to my head, but there may as well have been.
In the end we managed to cut 3.5 lbs of weight from my pack (and a second round of expungement would remove an additional two pounds).
As far as my initial expectations on the trail are concerned: I have been cooking less than anticipated (because I find it annoying), hiking around what I expected to (~18 mi/day), been naked far more than I could have imagined (don't ask), and have camped alone only once (not bad for trekking solo).
Falling asleep and walking around camp are two of the most difficult things I have to do each day (once you stop hiking your legs immediately cease functioning), and waking up early has been relatively easy (since my tent converts itself into a sauna upon first contact with the sun). My tan lines are incredibly defined at the elbows, ankles, and knees, while my soft, delicate, outermost layer of skin continues to harden and flake away (my poor, poor feet).
The amazing product Body Glide has been keeping my chafe in check, and aside from aching/numb feet and knees, the body appears to be holding up well.
I am 1/26 of the way there, 2,500 more miles to go. The schooling has only just begun.