A Walk In The Woods Part 2

Getting things in order for the 80 mile trek on the Tuscobia Trail has gone relatively well. It has been a process of checking and rechecking all the gear, both mandatory and optional. The optional gear fluctuates as I continue to look at weather conditions along the trail for Saturday and Sunday. As of now, predictions indicate 3-6″ of new snow scheduled to end on Friday. This should allow for snowmobiles to pack the trail while covering old rocks and ruts that may have been exposed. Temperature predictions are a high of 15 degrees with an overnight low of -5. Sunday’s high will be 1. A 20 degree temperature change is significant, especially if sweat isn’t allowed to evaporate before the chill sets in. A better option: not allowing sweat to build by regulating effort from the start.

Required emergency shelter: sleeping bag, sleeping bag pad, bivy shelter.
Required emergency shelter: sleeping bag (rated 0 degrees or lower) sleeping bag pad, bivy shelter.

Along with the mandatory gear pictured above I need to have the following with me at all times: camp stove + fuel (jetboil is my choice), 3000 calories of food, fire starter, 3 flashing red LED lights (2 rear facing and 1 front facing), headlamp,spare batteries for all lights, and reflective material on my front and back. Strongly recommended is a cell phone with the realization that reception will be spotty. It’ll be on airplane mode to conserve power. An auxiliary power pack/recharger will also be on the sled for the phone.

Mandatory 3000 calories. I'll eat this if in an emergency.
Mandatory 3000 calories. I’ll eat this if in an emergency.

Another electronic device I’ll be carrying is a SPOT Gen 3. This will allow for other people to track my progress on Google Maps. There will be a link to this device on tomorrow’s post. It’ll send a tracking signal every 30 minutes while I am moving. This small, orange device also serves as motivation to keep moving forward. Knowing that others may be watching my progress is incentive to keep moving toward the finish. Finally, the device can be activated indicating that I’m in need of significant emergency assistance. I thank my friend, Rick for allowing me to use this device!

The optional gear comes in two categories: food + hydration and clothing. I have initial clothing chosen. However, I want to be cautious in that I’ll pack some extra insulating upper body clothing, wool socks, head/face covering, and hand covering. I’ll also pack hand and body warmer packs. These small, carbon based packets provide warmth whether they are placed in mittens, inside the jacket, or tucked into socks. I will also use them to keep food in an insulated bag from becoming deeply frozen.

Protein, fat, and salt. All the necessary ingredients.
Protein, fat, and salt. All the necessary ingredients.

Eating during this trek means extra planning, as there will be 1 checkpoint (35 miles from my starting point) which promises hot water, but no guarantee of food. The small towns along the trail have gas stations or C-Stores, but their hours of operation vary greatly. Thus, I’ll have a store house of food items in the sled. Yes, I like SPAM and it doesn’t upset my stomach. Thanks to Chris + Kevin from Hawley, MN for their gift of SPAM. Chris is the owner of The Shear Shop in Hawley at which I get my buzz cuts. The pictured single serve pouches are easy to open and enjoy. The remainder of my calories cover a wide spectrum. I have chips for carbs and salt, nuts for protein, electrolyte chews to keep a variety of minerals in my system, peanut butter packets for protein and variety, small candy bars, peanut butter M&Ms, and hard candies to keep my mouth moist.

Some of my calories to keep the internal furnace burning.
Some of my calories to keep the internal furnace burning.

Hydration will be electrolyte drinks, as well as an insulated flask mixture of coffee and cocoa. All of my hydration will be in insulated bottle parkas which will reside in the sled. My jacket has large internal pockets which will support small bottles of liquids. I’ll have easy access to these liquids. I know myself well enough that if hydration isn’t easily accessed, I put off drinking regularly causing me to get slightly dehydrated. I’ll stop periodically to replenish my fluids, as well as small foods which can be carried in pockets. My goal on this trek is to keep calories and fluids at a balanced level. In other events I have been inconsistent and suffered because of it. In these temperatures the need to keep the bodily furnace fueled and functioning properly is crucial for crossing the finish line.

Finally, along with these materials I’ll transport trekking poles and snowshoes to Rice Lake. Whether or not they get placed on the sled will depend upon existing conditions. Both items are light, but the less I have to pull, as well as worry about the happier I’ll be over the 80 miles.

Shoulder and waist harness for pulling the sled.
Shoulder and waist harness for pulling the sled.