I like food. It's good. And I like beer. It's good too. Fortunately, Harper feels the same way. So last night we went to Magnolia Pub. It was probably the last really good dinner we'll have for the next three weeks.
We'll both miss it, and wanted to go one last time. Plus we're too busy getting shit together to cook dinner. We had to cancel our plans for riding in the Marin Century yesterday, in fact, so we could devote the entire day to packing and planning our trip next week on the John Muir Trail.
We're both experienced in the backcountry. And we've taken lots of great trips in the Sierra before. We're both fit. And we've got plenty of experience camping at elevation. But neither of us has ever done anything even remotely as long as the John Muir Trail. We (and by "we" I pretty much mean I) seriously underestimated the degree of planning involved. There's so much minutiae. So many decisions.
Every item we bring represents a tradeoff. You have to decide between comfort on the trail versus comfort in camp. In our minds, camp is just a place to crash. We don't even cook there. So we like to go relatively light, without overdoing it. We're influenced by Ray Jardine without being followers.
We want to go light and move fast. But we also want to enjoy the trip. Lugging a 50-plus pound pack doesn't sound like any fun to me. It sounds awful. But, as much as I admire it, so does this five day fastpack.
We want to be somewhere in between the two. We're carrying a water filter, for example, because we both get a lot of joy out of drinking from mountain streams. While chemical treatments are much lighter and easier to deal with, we like the pure water. We've made all kinds of similar decisions, some coming down in favor of the on-trail experience (weight), others in favor of off-trail experience.
We're re-supplying in Vermilion Valley. (Not coincidentally, Vermilion gives thru-hikers a free beer or beverage upon arrival.) The day we start out from there on a 133 mile segment--my pack will weigh 41 pounds with water (3 liters). I'd like to get that heaviest day down under 40, which will mean it will be 35 or less at some points in the trip.
My guess is that it will be the greatest beer I've ever tasted. But it won't be a Proving Ground from Magnolia. So though we were still not finished, after nine or so hours of nonstop trail-prep we went to have our last local beers, and hash out two of the great remaining questions.
1. Canon vs. Canon
Should we take the G10 or the SD1000? At this point, I'm leaning towards the Canon. Weight aside, the biggest thing the SD1000 has going for it is that I'm not afraid of smashing it on a rock. I can afford to replace it, which makes me fearless in terms of when I'll use it. Which means I take more pictures. But the pictures from the G10! Oh! They are quite good. And what's more, it's a joy to use. I love that camera, and we bought it with the trip in mind. But now we're second-guessing that decision. Every ounce counts, dollars are precious, and lots of photos can yield a few great ones.
2. Half Dome or Not Half Dome
This also doesn't look like fun to me. Do we really want to start off our trip with the Yosemite-at-high-season experience? Half Dome is not on the John Muir Trail, but it's essentially a trail tradition at this point. Both of us really want to climb Half Dome--but neither of us wants our first time to be in August. We'd both rather wait and do it in the late Spring or early Fall, around the time the cables go up or come down, respectively. Yosemite isn't a life trip for us; it's close to home base. We're thinking of skipping Half Dome and coming back for it later, but we certainly haven't decided.
So last night we sat and talked for an hour or so in our neighborhood pub. I had a Stout, and then the Prescription Pale Ale. She had a guest-brewed Pale Ale, followed by a Ruby Mild. We both enjoyed the Brick Chicken.