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Foray Into Fastpacking

My good friend Lee (We've been friends since highschool, that should tell you a lot about his character...and mine) and I are planning to go on a "fastpacking" trip this coming weekend. Oh yeah, he's the one in the middle with the striped tie.

What is fastpacking you might ask? Basically, it is taking as little gear as is possible (and what gear you take should be super-lite and durable) so that you can travel great distances in the wilderness unimpeded. Since this is our first big trip, we've done a couple small practice hikes, our goal is to have no more than 20 pounds in our packs including all necessary camping gear, food, and 70oz (2 lites) of water. With this weight on our backs we plan to hike from Harpers Ferry, WV all the way to Georgetown, Washington, D.C. in 48 hours or less. In case you are wondering, yes, that is quite a distance! 61 miles in 2 days!

We're thinking about it as a nice walk in the park :)

We plan to hike along the C&O Canal trail which is nice and flat the whole way.

To make it spicy,Mother Nature (and the Internet) tell us that temperatures will be in the low 30s at night. We're not bringing sleeping bags...we're commited to the core! Or is that frozen to the core?

If you are interested in fastpacking, or are just looking for your own sufferfest (I mean-- ADVENTURE!) in the wilderness, then check our some of the links below:
- Backpacking Light Magazine
- GoLite Equipment
- Ultralight Hiking Site -not updated often
- The Lightweight Backpacker Site
- Some guy named Michael's personal site
- The guy who wrote the book "Beyond Backpacking" that convinced me this was a good idea...-- Ray Jardine (inventor of camming units for rock climbers)

Comments (11)


Have we planned the weekend's menu yet?


Nope. I'm guessing 5 meals: Saturday lunch (cold), Saturday Dinner (hot), Sunday Breakfast (Hot), Sunday lunch (cold), and Sunday dinner-like meal (cold). We can eat Saturday's breakfast in the car on the way up to Harper's Ferry. Sunday's dinner-like meal shouldn't be a whole meal, but we might not get done hiking until close to 9pm or 10pm so we don't want to go 9 hours without food.

We should also plan at least one snack between meals and 1 snack before bed (it helps keep you warm).


Basic Logistics Suggestion:
If we leave our house Saturday at 5:30am or so then we can be hiking by 7am at the latest. Add 14 hours (3/miles per hour with frequent breaks and an hour for lunch) and that gets us in to camp 30 miles later at roughly 9pm. On Sunday, IF we can get up and out at the crack of dawn we could realistically by hiking by 6 or 6:30. That means getting in around 8pm or 8:30pm.

Not a sermon, just a thought :)


That plan sounds good to me.

Do we need to call ahead to the campsite we've earmarked as our halfway point?


Nope. No reservation required.


I'm going to "work at home" on Friday to run errands, buy supplies, etc. As we build the list of "don't forget XX", we can try and carve up who gets what and I can run around and buy stuff as necessary. If you can handle the fruit foods, we can go together on Friday night after dinner and pick up the rest of our menu.



If your foot is still bothering you tonight we should definately amend the trip. Perhaps shoot for 30 miles over 2 days?

One Option besides Harper's Ferry is to get dropped off near mile marker 30 at "Edward's Ferry".

Alternatively, if we were still a bit ambitious, we could get dropped off at mile marker 45, Noland's Ferry on Friday night and hike 10 miles to Turtle run that night. We could then hike eaither 35 miles all the way into Georgetown or just 25 miles to Carderock.

Just a few options...


This morning was weirdly unbearable, but this afternoon it seems to be the same as it was yesterday. I wish I knew what happened.

I was also thinking Whites Ferry, just above Harrison Island, at mile 35. Starting at a nice bend in the river and coming down and around.


Weird. Weirdly weird. That's a real bummer. Another option would be to start at carderock, hike 15-20 miles out. Camp. Hike 15-20 miles back. Real simple, no pick-up or drop-off. We could do the same from Georgetown. Park overnight somewhere donw there. Hike 15-20 miles out. Camp. Hike 15-20 miles back.


I left you a phone message that said something to the effect of: sleep helped a bit, and with more sleep tonight I should be okay to do an overnight.


Starting pack weight including all gear, food, 70 oz. water, and sleeping pads for me & Scout:
18 lbs.

With black hooded "coat" (1.5 lbs) and tent (6 lbs):
25.5 lbs.


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