by Scotty Bowman, Field Supervisor
I arise early, just after sunrise. It is early July and there is a slight chill in the air. I get dressed and begin the process of breaking camp. I open the tent up and place my pack outside to begin the packing process. I stuff my sleeping bag into its stuff sack and throw it outside. I deflate the sleeping pad and place it into its sack with the sheet I carry. I throw it outside along with everything else in my tent. I can hear the Wilderness Conservation Corps (WCC) crew starting their day, stove going, water boiling, lunches being made. I crawl out of my tent, zip it up, and break it down. All the components of my backcountry home are in a pile next to my pack.
First to go in is the sleeping pad and tent sack which I place into the bottom compartment of my pack along with tent stakes and my Chacos. The tent poles go into the main compartment where they will be less likely to break. I go get my food bag from the bear hang pile. I pull out oatmeal and coffee for my breakfast and then place the bag into the main compartment of my pack in the bottom center. Next, my spare clothes which are in large Ziploc bags go into the main compartment on either side of the food bag. After which I start putting the miscellaneous items: book, journal, hygiene bag, and eventually water filter, my cook set, and stove. Everything has its purpose. Everything has its place. All I need is in this pack which I carry on my back.
I assemble the stove and fire it up. Fill the pot with water needed for breakfast and place it on the stove. I sit on the ground and wait for the water to boil; thoughts of coming days wander into my mind. Over the next three days, I will cover a total of 14 miles covering the 7 mile stretch between the Iron Mountain shelter and the Vandeventer shelter on the Appalachian Trail. Down and back brushing along the way. It is July and the blackberry, dog hobble, and other flora growing into the trail all need to be brushed out.
Water is boiling. I make my coffee and take a sip. There won’t be coffee tomorrow, there is no water between the shelters, all the sources are dry meaning I must conserve water. I will need to carry as much water as I can because I plan to camp at the midway point. I will need water to drink today and tomorrow. I will need six liters, but all I can carry is 4 liters, it’ll have to do. I finish breakfast, clean up, and finish packing.