Tomorrow I'm heading out to the woods to make an attempt to work on the internet using only solar power. It's not going to be a full week as I'd planned, as I'll probably be coming back Friday — or if my constitution, food or internet supplies fail, sooner.
One immediate problem: I'm not quite sure where I'm going.
Well, I do. I'm going to Harriman State Park. But my exploratory overnight trip, whereby I was to test where best to get an EVDO connection, never happened. (I was waiting on equipment that didn't arrive until Friday.) So this will be a bit by the seat of my pants. Worse — or better, depending on how I feel — you can only camp in designated areas in Harriman, so I'll have to move locations every day. That's actually sort of neat — as long as I can continue to get a good connection. At worst I can work on posts and videos and such at my campsite, then hike up a hill to get an EVDO connection and upload.
Worst case, I just don't end up having the live connection from my campsite I was hoping to get each night. That's okay. This whole thing is going to be an adventure.
One shelter I want to try to reach is the Big Hill Shelter. It looks like a nice place to spend an evening.
I'll be posting updates to my Twitter stream. I've found that EDGE and SMS often work well even in remote areas. If nothing else I should be able to inject blips to the web that way while I try to find good EVDO coverage from Verizon.
Another problem: My pack is coming in too heavy.
I just weighed my pack on my innacurate scale it comes in right under 40 pounds with most of my gear, including the solar gear: a Brunton Solaris 52 and one of the unreleased Brunton Solo 15 battery packs. The battery pack is necessary because I can't get my laptop — a review mule Lenovo ThinkPad X300 with built-in Verizon EVDO — to charge directly off the panels. So instead the panel will charge the battery, which will in turn charge the X300 through an invertor. Not the most effecient system but since I couldn't find a 12-volt car charger that would work with the X300, I decided to play it safe. If nothing else, having the huge capacity of the Solo 15 sitting on tap will make it possible to keep using my gear once the sun goes down.
And while Brownlee enjoys telling me how he schlepped around 80 pounds in a backpack while hiking the world, once I get done adding the rest of my gear I'm expecting to top out around 50 pounds. Maybe it's just how I've arranged my gear and straps on the bag, but testing it out with a quick run through the backyard for 20 minutes it already seemed to be a lot of weight for me. Much of the weight is in my Big Agnes Skinny Fish 20° sleeping bag (97% recycled content by weight [4 lbs]) and the Diversion Recycled Insulated Air Core Sleeping Pad. I'm going to tear down my pack again and try to rearrange it. Maybe it's just the way I've got it laid out. Advice, if you want to offer it, is welcome.
As for water, I've got two water purification systems I'm going to try out: a Kayadyn Hiker Pro (which I bought) and a SteriPEN JourneyLCD. (Yes, I realize using both at once might muck up the tests, but this is more about ease of use than "Which one of these let the giardia into my bowels?" Sorry to disappoint!) I've also got one Nalgene-type bottle, plus a 3 liter water bladder in the bag.
Food: Dehydrated hiker crap I will surely hate after the first day. And coffee. And a bottle of booze, which yes, is heavy, but no, I'm not leaving. I'm already leaving the banjo — don't take my snort of whisky!
I bought a camp shovel on the recommendation of a couple of folks.
I bought a hiking stove but forgot to buy fuel. I'll take it anyway. (The food can be eaten without heat, although my coffee can't.)
I bought a little mess kit that I'll probably just end up leaving at home.
I've got two headlamps from Coghlan's, the 0843 and the 0841.
I've got my Amazon Kindle with a copy of Walden on it. (Which I've never read.)
Got my knife. Got good socks. Have lightweight, silkie thermals for the evening. Have the most beat-up ball cap around. Have sunscreen. Have fire. Have cables, spare batteries, and trash bags just in case I need to cover something up.
Got my tent, the Hubba Solo, again on multiple recommendations from readers. I haven't set it up yet, which means that it's a certainty it will be missing parts or that I'll have to do so in a freak Hudson Valley hurricane. Oh well — it'll be good comedy, right?
I've got my camera and the Gorilla Pod.
I've got rhythm.
So basically, I think I'm ready to go. Just have to figure out this pack situation, since I should be able to lug it all in.