One For the Sharks

As I’ve begun accumulating gear I’ve stumbled into a problem: Where to effectively store all my stuff. For now, while living in someone else’s house, I’ve had to be content with jamming and cramming it wherever it will fit. But long term, I’d like to find a nice, tidy storage solution.

As I often do, I’ve bounced from site to online site seeking that perfect-for-me gear locker. So far, I’m unimpressed with what I’ve found. They either flat out won’t work, or the price is, well, prohibitive. There are, admittedly, some acceptable choices out there, but no perfect ones. Which leads me to my next thought…

Maybe I should design one.

Lately, in a fit of evening boredom, I’ve been sucking up copious episodes of Shark Tank, the eight-season hit where budding entrepreneurs stand in front of a panel of five gazillionaires and try to land a financing deal. In fact, it’s so stuck in my brain that last night I actually dreamed about creating a hiker’s gear locker and pitching it to a group of rich people.

I know. Get a life. I’m working on that…

Far sillier things have been created in the history of mankind that turned into multi-million dollar products (are you old enough to remember pet rocks? Mood rings? Or, more recently, Snuggies?) That might be all the impetus I need to create the next great gear locker specific to the needs of hikers/backpackers.

Unless it already exists. If it does, I need one. Soon.

Gear Shopping, Vicariously

Before I even get started, let me state for the record that I am not a (physical) shopper. I see little to no point in wasting the time it takes to drive from place to place, seek out decent parking and meander around from aisle to aisle searching for that one thing that may or may not exist, and/or lead to a purchase. I’ve often joked that I can do an entire mall in twenty minutes, four of which are spent in line to buy a coffee. As a runner, I could probably shave a couple minutes off my time on slow traffic days.

The internet age has been a revelation to me and my personal shopping expectations because, I sincerely believe, all shopping should be done at 5:00AM in shorts and a well-worn t-shirt while drinking that aforementioned coffee. Key the item you’re looking for into a search engine, click on a link or two, and compare/contrast away.

Moving on…

Having said that, I’m actually looking forward to helping my son-in-law pick out some gear. He used to hike back in his high school years (he’s a geriatric twenty-three now), but his gear has all disappeared. For his birthday he got a few hundred dollars in cash and a gift certificate to our local outfitter, as well as a new pair of Merrells from his wife. He’s fairly unaware of the staggering array of possibilities that await him, and I’m more than happy to share my zillions of hours of fanatical research with him. I tend to get excited, so I hope he’s prepared to run headlong into a verbal buzzsaw.

First up? A new daypack…


Don’t Hike Alone?

I read quite a bit about hiking and backpacking. Um…yeah. That’s how this aspirational section hiker learns. I tend to gravitate towards hiking blogs and journals, and read thru-hiking books when one catches my fancy.

And I will, on occasion, see a local news story online about hiking basics or some such topic, and I’ll give them my readership out of curiosity. This past week I saw two articles, in two different online newspapers, in two different states dealing with the topic of enjoying hiking. And both, to my surprise? chagrin? put on their respective lists, “Don’t hike alone”.

That’s anathema to me. As a solo runner, I always appreciate my time alone, pounding the pavement or slipping through the trees. Ditto hiking. Granted, I’m not against hiking with a small group of others or with a partner, as my two most recent hikes suggest. But I’ve always preferred the thought-provoking solitude and flexibility of pace provided by solo hikes, even when I was just beginning. Shoot, my first hike was a solitary six miles into the rugged-for-a-newbie Hundred Mile Wilderness on the AT. Admittedly, I was well prepared from a physical and equipment standpoint, thanks to trail running and a fanatical desire to read everything in sight about a topic of interest. I had my ten essentials. I had extra water and food. I had Permethrin soaked clothing and appropriate shoes.

Maybe these two reporters just decided to err on the side of caution? Not everyone is in post-marathon shape like yours truly. Or prepares so diligently for the simplest of hikes (See: Mother and daughter survive hiking ordeal in New Zealand). Maybe they fear injury, or attack by domestic two-legged or wild four-legged animals. Still, when an emphatic “Don’t hike alone!” makes the list, I feel for those who will take that completely to heart and never experience the joy of the solo hike.

To each his or her own. HYOH (Hike Your Own Hike). However, unless I have an incident that sours me on the idea, or I specifically ask someone to go along, I’ll continue to hike alone…