Reaching for perfect

Posted by Ken Campbell June 3, 2010 0 Comment 838 views

There have been times, out on the trail or kayaking on longer trips – more often than not, actually – when I have had too much crap with me. Rarely have I had too little.

With that said, I have been close to the bone on a few occasions, and that is not a good feeling. Low on food and fuel, weather closing in. Thinking about the arctic explorers who survived by eating their boots, things like that. It hasn’t happened to me all that often but I do not need to experience those moments again; I will remember them as much as I need to.

Too much stuff? That’s kayaking, yes? It’s always been a bragging rights issue, how much gear our boats can haul. As if more capacity made the whole experience better, and bringing more things made the trip more valuable. That may not necessarily be true, as it turns out.

All this as a prelude to the packing process for the Olympic Grand Circle, as it stands now: I have been planning on cutting my cargo weight for the SUP section of the trip. I’ve actually looked at that part of the deal as an ultralight opportunity from day one. Add to this, it’s starting to seem like being light might have advantages during the canoeing portion of the trip as well, especially the route through Black Bayou. (I did get a machete the other day for that section… more on that later.) The route promises to include at least some wading, hauling and bushwhacking, and the less weight I have to shunt from one watercourse to another, the better.

My current thinking about how to apportion the gear seems pretty logical, so far. If I plan around a core of items that will be going with me on each phase of the trip, augmenting the list when I have more space (during the sea kayaking segment), I should be able to put together a sensible selection of what I really need. Things like an extra sleeping pad, extra fuel and water, a tarp, canned food and a few more items of cotton clothing: all will come in handy and with a sea kayak’s ability to swallow gear, I’ll have plenty of room for it all.

It’s not about piling it on though, especially if you’re looking to be perfect. As Antoine de St. Exupery put it so well, “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to take away.” That’s a nugget worth remembering.

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