What Am I Doing?
Preparing for the Arizona TrailFebruary 5, 2015
You may remember me saying that I would conduct a crowd-sourcing campaign to fund the feature-length documentary on light pollution that I’m currently working on. I’m putting this on hold until early this summer when I’ll have the time to give it the proper attention. But more so, I didn’t want to be traveling off the grid in the middle of when I was to be editing and updating donors on progress. Why would I be off the grid? My girlfriend and I are currently making our final preparations to go hike The Arizona Trail!
Initially, we were looking into the Hayduke Trail, but this turned out to be much more ambitious than we’re prepared for at this time, so we substituted that trail with the Arizona Trail, something we feel much more confident in completing safely.
Since this is my first long-distance thru-hike, I’ve been learning a number of things. The biggest obstacle I’ve been trying to overcome is how to store all the photos and video I’ll be shooting without lugging around a computer, or even having one available at various stops in towns. Both my girlfriend and I were struggling to come up with a cost-effective and lightweight practical solution when I came across a post on PetaPixel about storing photos while off the grid. To summarize, this particular person simply used a tablet as an intermediary between the card reader and portable hard drive, providing both a lightweight solution with just as much functionality as a full laptop. In researching a bit more (aka, my girlfriend pointing it out), I (she) discovered that my cell phone has the same capability to transfer data to a portable hard drive from a USB card reader that is plugged into the phone. So now I’ll have 2Tb of duplicated storage adding a total weight of "just" one or two extra pounds.
Of course the camera equipment I’m bringing along is adding plenty to my base weight. For those that aren’t familiar, your base weight is everything you’re carrying, minus food, water, and fuel for cooking. The goal is to be as light as possible, around 15lbs ideally. At the moment, I’m exceeding 20lbs primarily because of all the camera equipment. I thought about leaving the camera gear behind, but for no more than a few seconds. It’s not an option. That being the case, I’ll be bringing the following gear:
- 5D Mark III
- 3 camera batteries – one in the camera, one ready to go, one charging
- 24-105mm lens for most photography and videography
- 14mm lens for night shooting
- 2x 2Tb back-up hard drives (because I’m not going to trust just one)
- cell phone
- card reader
- solar charger
- adapter for camera battery to solar charger
- carbon fiber tripod and RRS ballhead
- shutter release cable
- 2x AAA batteries for shutter release
All of this adds up to over 10lbs, proving I might be slightly crazy, but it will be well worth the effort. I hope.
On the plus side, we’ve gotten two official sponsors interested in promotion and being featured in the film we’re hoping to come away with. Both happen to make my favorite snacks to have with me in the backcountry (I’m not just saying that). Kate’s Real Food is the maker of five different granola bars that are made just over the Tetons in Victor, Idaho. They’ll be donating a few dozen Grizzly Bars, which are packed with calories and epic chocolatey deliciousness. I always want at least one with me for epic days outdoors. Chapul produces a unique bar made from cricket flour, which of course makes most Americans cringe for a second or two before deciding if they even want to hear about why they’re so much better for the ecosystem. Head over to the Chapul Home Page to see all the reasons why cricket flour is healthier than beef for both humans and the environment we live in. Fortunately, they taste amazing and I love having them with me whenever I’m out doing something active.
If you can’t find either in your area, request them! Both can be ordered online if you want to give them a taste first.
Our next step is coordinating what to send to which post offices for resupplying, and finding friends in Arizona that want to volunteer with a bit of help here and there. We’re planning on being on the trail within the first week of March, so we’re looking forward to getting everything squared away.
One of the highlights of the journey for me will be going across the Grand Canyon, pictured above. Though I’ve visited some part of the canyon over a dozen times, I’ve never actually been down to the river. I’m not only looking forward to seeing the views from Phantom Ranch, but also camping down there. Since we have no idea exactly when we’ll be there, we’re going to take our chances on a spot opening up as soon as we get to the South Rim. I’ve done a bit of research and apparently it happens pretty regularly to other thru-hikers.
Check back here for more info as the starting date gets closer!