I’ve just returned from my first cruise, and while it was a lovely family excursion, I fear my waistband will never recover. With the hiking trip to Israel a mere two weeks away, I had planned to stick with salads and protein on the boat. What a ridiculously naïve notion. I didn’t last through the first meal before succumbing to the cornucopia of food, and the rest of the week was a buffet-shaped blur.
Having said that, I have streamlined my gear and I am weighing everything that I am taking with me (except my notably rounder self). My toothbrush is literally cut in half. In addition to that I am bringing
• one pot, a cup, lightweight poly utensils,
• a little stove, a first aid kit
• a whistle, a Swiss card (a cool credit sized card that you can build a house with)
• tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat
• 3 t-shirts, bra, underwear, a fleece
• one pair of long pants, one pair of shorts
• a pair of long johns, a merino base top layer
• 2 pair of wool socks, 2 liner socks, flip flops
• headlight, reading glasses, toilet paper
• water purification tablets, light weight rope
• a rain cover, hiking poles
• a lightweight down jacket, a fleece pillow case (to stuff at bedtime)
• three big Nalgene water bottles, a 2-litre platypus water carrier
• bug juice, sun protector, lip balm
• 3 handkerchiefs (one for sweat, one for nose, one for head),
• a tea towel, all-in-one wash
• a little bottle of olive oil (for food and skin)
• my phone and charger (for camera and emergencies)
• IPad for writing
• passport and guide book.
The list sounds extensive but the gear pile looked surprisingly small considering we will be self-sustaining for over two months while hiking in various conditions and terrains. And yet when it was all loaded into the pack it felt heavy enough. I am also bringing packets of oatmeal, powdered eggs, cliff bars, my favorite licorice spice tea, and mountain house meals for the first several days in the desert where food and water sources are rare.
Maybe carrying some extra body weight at the beginning of this trip isn’t a terrible thing. And maybe after walking 1000 kilometers I will return wiry and tough but right now my reserves are uncomfortably straining the seams of my hiking pants. And when I am hauling my reserves across the desert gnawing on stale bread and dry oatmeal, thoughts of eggs benedict, bacon and midnight buffets on the cruise will be the stuff of dreams.