Chapter Three: Packing
With both you, the reader (hi!), and I, the author, eager to get out on the Agua Fria Trail to see what we might find there, it is tempting to omit the detailed telling of the packing for the trip. And as I am in sympathy with us, both the reader and the author, I will do my best to gloss over the surface of these copious details. But I cannot entirely discard them because elements of what we pack for this journey have too much to say about the structure of the trip itself, and of the nature of our recounting it.
Mindful of weight I omitted many luxuries from my pack and possibly some necessities, like the aforementioned stove and fuel. However, since I was scared of the dark, I indulged in the number of candles, matches, and flashlight batteries. I also packed too many socks, which oddly enough turned out to be not enough socks. I had two paperback books to start with for my entertainment and for my desperate escapism. I had a small, good camera and enough film for two pictures a day, a number I committed to taking and kept to. For reasons unclear to myself even now I resolved to take a picture of a water source every day, the results of which you will find at the conclusion of each chapter here. I had a blank journal, which I also committed to writing in every single day of my trip. Without this journal, and the fact that I kept to my plan, this account would be impossible, devolving into sheer fabrication and nonsense. Although, I have to admit, there's a fair chance this account will devolve into sheer fabrication and nonsense anyway.
It may have already happened.
My resupply boxes were along these lines as well. They consisted mainly of my dense, shelf stable food, gorp, salami, and seaweed, but regularly included a new paperback book, a roll of film, a four-pack of batteries, and a few candles. Less often there would be another blank journal, a replacement shirt or pair of socks, and water purification tablets. This was a time before the common availability of water filters, and though my long route was among the wetter thru-routes in the world, I would need to purify most drinking water with iodine tablets.
There were dozens of items in my pack that I am not mentioning or covering in any way here. Surely at some points in the narration of this journey most of these items will make sudden appearances from seemingly out of nowhere. But believe me, I will have carried each one of these items, large and small, over countless miles on my back.
I just see no reason why you should have to carry them now too.
And so in the end, as promised in the title of this chapter, I was packed. My forest green, Kelty backpack was far heavier and more tightly crammed than I would have liked, and yet, it was also missing an enormous number of things it felt truly unwise to leave behind. There is something nearly proverbial about that. And furthermore my bedroom at my parent's house had 15 carefully packed, stamped, and addressed resupply packages mostly ready for shipping, set to be carried by me in their turn as well.
I had $750 in operating capital left, secreted about me and my pack, and it increased $200 when my Dad kindly augmented the fund on my departure date as a small token of support I did not know I had.
My friend's car pulled up to the front of our house.
My stomach hurt.
Next: The Departure, and I really mean it this time!