Planning a long hike

I’m hoping to hike across Switzerland in August, from the Rhine valley near Lake Constance to Montreaux on the great Lake Leman. I’m wily though…if the forecast is weeks of rain, I’ll probably move south and do something different in order to benefit from the rain shadow of the Uri and Bernese Alps to my north.

I just want to walk. And stand in high places. And occasionally sleep under the stars. For many days.

To that end I just bought some stuff. I’m not usually a gearhead, but I’ll obsess for the evening. Mainly because I’m really excited and need some distraction :).

My backpack is a Vaude Citus 24 LW, described as a “Daypack.” Ha! Not for me — a multi-week pack it’ll be. Here’s a review.

The reason I’m being so careful about weight is that I want to climb some peaks along the way, or take detours into the Uri Alps, for example. To be free, you’ve got to have little. But you need to be able to sleep out, at least if it’s a clear night.

I’ve thought about going for a “trail running” setup, but if you really want to be able to run you’ve got to rely on infrastructure to a degree that I realize I just don’t want to. Plus, I’m not really in running shape. So *thats* easy. :)

The sleeping back is a Yeti Fever Zero, rated to 15 degrees Celsius. Ha…I know. But my gosh it packs small…more like a hut sleeping liner. I combine this with a Pieps Bivy Sack. Seems like it’ll work, and very small package.

The one place where I discard all the high tech and expensive technology is the sleeping pad, where it seems worthwhile to keep it simple, and just strap a big and light ground pad to the outside of the pack.

Here is my pack with water and everything else except for food.

In the camera case, ready to snap at a moments notice I’ve got a Canon S110. I’ve had this camera for 2 years, and love it. Unfortunately, I allowed my first one to get too wet and the contacts for the battery and the SD card are bad, making it a gamble whether or not I can take a picture. So I bought a used silver one for 180 euros and I’m going with that.

The umbrella is a Euroschirm Swing. For years I’ve been laughed at for my dedication to an umbrella for hikes. But I love it. I recover some of the fun of hiking with an umbrella, instead of sopping in “waterproofs,” I’m just a guy out for a stroll, which lightens the mood in rain so much.

Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

For reading material I’ve got the Via Alpina 1 book from Cicerone Press. I’ve got a paperback copy of The Ladder of Lights, an incredible book about the mystical Qaballah and the Tree of Life. I’ve got a Kindle, loaded with…well, I’ve got to figure out what to bring. I do have a copy of “Why Switzerland?” by J. Steinberg on it, and I’m already learning some interesting things about the country.

For rich symbology and deep thought, you can’t do better.

I’ll do without paper maps. I’ve got Orux Maps on my Android Phone. Fantastic offline maps there. I’ve got to figure out what to do about data in Switzerland — another SIM card, prepaid?

For music I’ve got plenty of Postrock, Robert Rich, Of Monsters and Men, Sigur Ros. And audiobooks. Things from Alan Watts, Eckhart Tolle, even some Stephen King and Tolkien. My iPod Nano 7th generation has a cracked screen and I hope he makes it. A little worried about that, because there is no chance to sync music along the way!

Hiking poles? Just my old ones. If they break en-route, I’ll get more.

Warm hat, sun hat, sunglasses, extra contact lenses. Gloves and headlamp. Extra socks, shirt and underwear. Haven’t decided what pants to wear, but you can bet if I buy some new ones I’ll amend this file with a silly picture of pants.

I’m hopeless. Too excited to do something more important with my time — I’d rather write a silly blog post like this about gear. :)

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