Monday, June 16, 2008

Gearing up for the Rachel Carson

Well, the Rachel Carson Challenge is this Saturday. Some things are not resolved just yet, like who will I be hiking with and when we are starting out, but there are options out there. But I'm a firm believer in I don't hike just for the sake of covering ground, I am always doing something else along the way. And that affects what I bring along.

Let's see, I am definitely bringing my VHF/UHF Handheld radio with me. I have a Yaesu FT-60R 2M/70cm radio. There are a few people on the Allegheny ARES/RACES who are assisting the Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy with radio support (whose members are busy obtaining their own licenses because this is so useful). So they will also let me know their frequencies, and I will be testing my ability to operate all day on foot, through forest and valley. I'm taking two extra batteries and I'm using a 1/4 wave antenna for the 2M band (Smiley 270A) I used a smaller MFJ-1717S on the practice hike, so I'll see if there is a difference. I've figured out my earpiece does not work so well on the move, so I'll use a handheld speaker mic. I'm using a Camelbak Maximal HAWG, so the FT-60 will be clipped to the MOLLE webbing on the side (and the side straps will help keep the whole thing stable).

Electrolytes became a problem on the last trip, so I got Camelbak elixir electrolyte tablets for use with the Camelbak. These are formulated without sugar, so they supposedly can be cleaned out of the bladder at the end of the day. We'll see how that works.

I'll have a Leatherman Micra as a multi-tool, and probably another knife. Last time I brought my CRKT M1. It and my Benchmade fixed Griptilian did yeoman's work on a camping trip this past weekend, cooking, cutting and even some batoning to break up some logs we were going to use for firewood. But the M1 is probably too heavy for this trip. And I could bring a Becker Necker, but a fixed blade is also probably too much, especially since I don't really need it. But I have a busted Kershaw Ken Onion Scallion sitting around (I took out a broken assist spring) that is probably not too much overkill. And it probably is big enough for anything that I may reasonably need.

Let's see, LED flashlight. A couple bandannas. I have an ankle reflecter that I'm putting on my camelbak for the early morning/early evening hours. A compass/whistle/thermometer. A cap with brim to keep the sun off my head. I'm bringing a single trekking pole. It is pretty much a necessity because of the hills. I usually only use one, because I like having one hand free to do things like eat, drink and take pictures.

Oh, and a new camera. A Pentax Optio W10, purchased because, well, it is small, and it is waterproof (and dustproof and sort of shock resistant). Because me and water go together. :-)
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