We are always departing, in each moment. Observe impermanence closely, for it leads to freedom. In a few days I’ll be setting out on a 5 to 6 day solo trip out on the Bailey Range in Olympic National Park. It’s been 25 years since I attempted anything close to a 65 mile hike through trackless terrain on dirt, rock, and snow, relying only on inner resources, and my two legs.
About 8 years ago, a knee surgeon told me I had about 15 years left on my knees and to avoid weight bearing exercises. I’m not ready for the easy chair life yet, but I have taken my doctor’s orders into consideration by going ultra-light to reduce the crunch factor on my cartilage.
My almost-fully loaded pack weighed 19 pounds today – ultra light tarp with bug tent (no additional poles required), sleeping bag, pad, extra clothes, ice axe, hiking poles, cell phone camera, extra battery, GPS tracking beacon, and lastly, a bear canister (1.75 pounds!) into which all the food and toothpaste must go. One source suggests carrying 1.5 pounds (or 2500 calories) per day at minimum. Having read that many people carry a 35 pound pack on long wilderness hikes, I’m aiming for a pound of food a day, which would put my total pack weight around 25 pounds. It stands to reason that a lighter pack requires fewer daily calories.
Following the same reasoning, I’m eliminating a stove and fuel canisters from my item list and will be following a vegan diet with the main staples being flat bread and granola, supplemented with almonds, cashews, black currants, MedJool dates, and protein powder. I expect to find wild greens, grasses, and a few fresh berries if I am lucky, along with lots of mountain spring water, and fresh air coming off the open Pacific Ocean.
The Bread. The basic recipe is pretty simple. One cup wheat flour, half cup water, 2 tablespoons olive oil. Stir together with a fork, empty it out on a well floured surface and knead 3-5 minutes, adding lots of flour (probably an additional half cup total), with each turn of the dough. Once the dough can be picked up without sticking to the hands or surface, knead a bit more in your hands (throwing in some mantras and magical incantations if you like) and then drop it onto a baking sheet and form into a disc about 1/8 to 1/2 inch thick (thinner = crispier) by pressing outwards from the center, as if forming a pizza crust. I pour a little olive oil onto the loaf one final time just before pressing the ball into a disc to prevent sticking. If you want to make many loaves, you can quadruple the recipe and knead a larger dough ball once instead of doing four smaller ones separately – just dissect the dough into quarters before forming the loaves. Bake at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes.
I switched to newer fluted baking sheets which circulate heat underneath and flipped the bread discs after ten minutes (they were perfectly flat), baking an additional five to ten minutes. I also shaped the discs so that they perfectly matched the diameter of the bear canister, maximizing packing efficiency. After the loaves cooled a bit, I wrapped them in a thin plastic bag (not zip lock because that crease next to the zipper would hog precious space in my canister) and then placed them in the freezer until the day of my departure.
“Give us this day, our daily bread”….for it may be the last. Let us take only what is needed, and leave the rest, respecting all life and awakening to the circle of interconnectedness. Tread lightly, leaving only memories and laughter. Be kind to all creatures and remember to smile, your spirits will immediately brighten – it’s cheaper than one of those acupuncture facelift treatments that some charge ridiculous sums for.
*I will be out of the clinic from 5pm, Monday, June 29, through Sunday, July 5. Treatment slots available tomorrow, Saturday, and Monday. Peace!
**June 28 – on the eve of my departure. The pack weighs 27.6 pounds fully loaded. The south slope of Mount Carrie and possibly from the Ferry-Pulitzer saddle to upper Queets Basin are the only sections I may need to carry water. It might actually weigh the same to carry only freeze dried food, even with the added weight of a stove, fuel canisters and a cooking pot. (Remember that the recipe calls for a half cup of water in each loaf of bread). Though not needing to cook certainly makes things a lot simpler, and in times of high fire danger, it is safer for the forest.