I am unpacking my daypack today for the last time. It has become an old wineskin, unable to hold the wine of new adventure without bursting. The seams are frayed. The entire shell is pocked with evidence of tight squeezes and adventurous crawls.
A compact and stuffable travel model, it was designed to be carried in a suitcase, pulled out and quickly packed for spontaneous day hikes; it was never intended for backcountry trips or overnighters-but it served.
There came a time in my hiking life when I knew I needed to graduate from a simple drawstring pack to something with shoulder strap padding. Hikes were getting longer, the climate more strenuous. A water bottle sling fit the bill for morning walks around the neighborhood but not for six-mile hikes down Monument Canyon.
And so, I splurged. In October of 2013, smack dab in the middle of a government shutdown, I used my employee discount and invested in a Chico Travel Pack. Red, of course, to match my adventurous Subaru. Soon I added a 2 liter water reservoir. An emergency rain poncho. Three or four bandanas. A small first aid kit. Then, a change of socks. And still more recently; a pop can stove, matches, a box of soup.
The daypack became my poster child for “Oh the Places You Will Go.” Here are some of the places it has been:
- ALL the trails and more at Colorado National Monument
- Crag Crest and snowshoe trails on The Grand Mesa
- ALL the (non-permit required) marked trails in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park – those under 11 miles
- The Ouray Perimeter Trail – again and again
- Most trails in the south rim of Black Canyon of the Gunnison
- ALL the marked trails of Natural Bridges National Monument
- Two trails in Zion and two trails in Bryce
- And this week -as one last hurrah- the South Kaibab and Bright Angel trails in Grand Canyon
So today, with great ceremony, I unpack the frayed and worn and torn body glove of my past outdoor adventures, snap a photo, and retire the side.
My red Chico travel pack daypack must be replaced immediately with a nearly identical new model. Spontaneity happens. Opportunity knocks. I need to be packed and ready. Yet, neither my red Chico travel pack or its successor is built for overnight backpacking, so I will invest in some additional expensive outdoor gear, something properly framed and fitted to my body type and build. I am in need of more straps for jackets and bedrolls – and I need a brain. Hiking in the great outdoors is habit forming – and it is a very healthy habit, this habit of putting one foot in front of the other.