My trip to Alaska and Northwest Territories a few years back really drove one thing home – there’s a lot of world out there to see and with a bit of effort and time it’s easy to get lost (in a good way). I was amazed at the remoteness of the North and how space uninterrupted by humans can really make one relax and unwind.
This year, I will attempt to find quiet and remote places off the beaten path on my way down to San Francisco and Stinson Beach. I’ve chosen to really make an effort to be outside and camp along the way. Partly to experience and reconnect with nature but also to see what a few weeks away from a city and the hustle and flow of everyday life will feel like. It’s been a particularly hectic school year and I think this will be a recipe to rejuvenate and reinvigorate.
Much of the camping gear is sitting awaiting the trip. I’ve added some new cooking gear, a water system for storage, and a backpacking chair and sleeping cot. The water bladder/pressurized system is from a company called Geigerrig, which makes a ‘hydration engine’ that pressurizes a 3-litre bladder for ease of use but also can be used to hose yourself off (or spray others) after a long day – very ingenious, yet to be tested. It comes highly reviewed and tested by outdoors people.
The backpacking chair and cot are lightweight and easily packed away on the bike for transport. The chair is the Alite Mantis. It’s light, small, durable and will be nice for the end of a long day of riding. It’s small enough to put into my dry bag or maybe even into one of my sidebags, so it’s out of the way. Again, highly reviewed and highly recommended – as yet, by me, untested.
The last piece of kit is a sleeping cot. My only issue with camping in the past has been sore back, cold body, and being uncomfortable. The Therm-a-Rest Luxury Lite Cot should help a great deal. It is also very easily packed away, light and apparently gives a great deal more comfort sleeping in a tent since your body is supported (like a bed) and off the ground. Getting a good night’s sleep and fresh air is the part of the trip that I think will be most refreshing (let’s hope this cot is the key).
Another part of this trip will be being disconnected from my smart phone and internet for a large part of the trip. Recently, I watched a Doc Zone documentary called Deluged by Data which shows just how ‘connected’ we are 24 hours a day and how difficult it is to step away and disconnect. I’m going to make a conscious effort to avoid the distractions of technology and just enjoy the outdoors. Moving from my previous job as a website developer meant that I brought along into my new career as a teacher that constant connection with technology and data. I’m going to experiment with not being connected and see how that feels. I’ll still keep a daily journal but won’t post updates daily as I have in the past, rather, I’ll wait until I get to San Francisco. Maybe I’ll even try handwriting again, maybe….
The only hitch in this summer’s plan is weather. I’ve been very fortunate to have only had a few experiences with rain on these long journeys in the past – a day or two here and there. I’m keeping my fingers crossed this time for similar weather so that I don’t have to rely on accommodations in hotels/motels. But while I am committed to camping, I’m not obsessed with it and if the weather does not cooperate it’s a reasonable ‘plan B’ if necessary.