After the Continental Divide Trail Days in April, I set off for the City of Rocks Campground in New Mexico, which is by far one of my favorite campgrounds. Although my visit was during the states fifth-season called “the spring winds,” the campground’s unique geological features are a visual marvel, with boulders 20-30 feet in height protruding up from the ground making excellent wind deflectors. Each campsite has a picnic table and a fire ring within the boulder formations.
While enjoying the visual beauty, I took the time to breakin, and fine tune my recent backpack I purchased in Albuquerque NM, It is a Deuter 75+10 Aircontact men’s backpack in my favorite color of midnight navy blue.
After physically stretching and loading the pack to a weight just under 40-pounds, I started towards a nearby hiking trail, and within my first mile, I adjusted the two shoulder, sternum, and waist straps allowing a better fit for my body. The pack rested comfortably on my shoulders, and waist with little discomfort as I walked into the second and third mile.
I was giddy with excitement as I hiked remembering the backpack’s namesake, “The Aircontact,” which has perforated holes under the shoulder straps and the rear of the pack where my body make contact, yet my back was completely dry with temperatures in the mid-70s.
The pack provides a top and front access with a cavernous interior area, a separate sleeping bag compartment and an area large enough for a 3-liter water bladder. On both sides of the pack, I have oversize side pockets with room for two-32-ounce smart water bottles and the other carries my REI backpacking-chair and a camera tripod.
The waist belt has zippered pockets with room for my iPhone 8, on one side and the other is perfect for a ziplock baggie of snacks. The thick padded shoulder straps have plenty of loops for my bear spray and a Garmin inReach location device sunglasses, and trekking poles. I love my Deuter backpack as I anticipate hundreds of miles of backpacking ahead.
(“I mentioned the “Garmin inReach so my daughter, sister’s and relatives know where I am at all times.” 🙂
As I hiked into the fourth mile, I began reminiscing about my early years of hiking and backpacking in the early 70s when, as a Boy Scout, I received my first backpack.
I was ten or eleven years of age when my father gave me his U.S. Army equipment he used during the Korean War, which included his old canteen, sleeping bag, and Rucksack. To say I was excited and proud to use his old equipment is an understatement. 🙂
However, I only used it once on a weekend camporee, because after that trip, my mother bought me an exterior framed backpack made by “Kelty.” I was sort of happy to get the new backpack, but I missed the old Rucksack. But, I guess my mother found it difficult to pack three days worth of clothing, toiletries items and an extra coat for a weekend camping trip into the Rucksack.
My mother, was talented as, she taught me how to roll my clothes to pack my own backpack for future trips.
Her clothes packing class was simple, beginning with me laying my pants flat on the floor of my room with the pants legs seams stacked on top of one another, then folded at the seams. I would place on top of one another a shirt, t-shirt, underwear, and one pair of socks flattened and the same width of the pants legs.
With everything neatly stacked, I begin tightly rolling from the bottom of the pants leg, towards the waist of the pants while keeping the clothes evenly and tight within the pant legs. I did that six-times for week-long camping trips and twice for the weekends.
Although everything was precisely folded and packed neatly in the backpack, I always returned home with one unused rolled set of clothing after a weekend camping trip, and four or five returned unused after a week of camping, depending on if it rained.
I know, it nasty as it was, but this was during a time of my life when I tried not to clutter my day with trivial issues like hygiene. I just wanted to spend as much time outside, running free, which remains one of the happiest times in my life and to some extent, to this day.
Over the years, my backpacking experiences had evolved when, as a father of a son who became a Cub, and later a Boy Scout. I, of course, volunteered as a Scout Leaders at both levels. I found myself buying my first internal frame backpacks, and I bought my son his first Kelty external frame backpack.
At the time during the 90s, the internal frame was the newest selling point, and I was excited like a young kid. However, that old backpack was capable of carrying 7-days of clothing, including some of my son’s items with room left over as every Scout Leader needs with prepubescent forgetfull boys.
So as I hiked along the trail considering all that I have experienced that has led up to me purchasing my latest backpack, and I can honestly say, I have come full circle.
In my next blog post, I will explain more about my completion of the circle, along with the current innovations of today’s backpacking and hiking.