Tomorrow I’m taking a hike. I’m hiking up the Cooper Spur trail to Tie-In Rock (8.2 miles with 2800 feet of elevation gain) with a couple of other guys. Tonight, I am preparing my gear and provisions. My ride is picking me up early, so I set everything out the night before to cut down on my prep time in the morning and to make sure that I actually take everything that I might need.

For this hike, I’m taking a couple new items of kit: trail gaiters and a long sleeve technical shirt. One of the reasons that we’re going on this hike is to prepare ourselves for a more difficult hike on Mt. St. Helens next month. Cooper Spur is a drier, high elevation trail on Mt. Hood, and I’ve been told that the conditions are similar. I’ll be packing gaiters to protect my ankles and keep rocks and debris from trying to get into my shoes. I’m not sure how well they will work for me, since I’ll be wearing my Fivefingers, but it is an experiment. I bought the shirt for sun protection, since I managed to give myself a pretty bad burn on my last hike.

My outfit will start a merino base layer consisting of briefs and a short sleeve v-neck. I will wear my usual fatigue pants (digital woodland ACU pants) and my new long sleeve technical shirt. I’ll have my Fivefinger TrekSports on with wool-blend toe socks. I usually tie a bandanna around my neck and wear sunglasses and a hat as necessary.

I wear a heavy, but rugged, backpack. In the outside pocket are a folding knife, pen flashlight, compass and a map of the area. This is also where I stash all the other things that are usually in my pockets: house keys, wallet, cash and phone. The second outside pocket is made to hold a Nalgene bottle. In the bottom of the bag, I’ll have a fatigue jacket neatly folded and my first aid kit. On top of that I’ll have food in a paper bag, the Sullivan guide, and my camera. I usually toss the hat, bandanna and glasses on top until they are needed.

This makes for a fairly weighty pack, but that’s kind of the point. I figure that I might as well load it on when I am day hiking. Hard day hikes will make me a stronger hiker, and that will make it easier when I am backpacking with a multi-day load.

As far as food, I’ve been using a pretty regular formula: two cups of trail mix (split between to bags to make rationing easier), two power bars of some sort (I have been favoring Larabars), and a pair of egg salad sandwiches. Since I’m expecting this to be a pretty dry hike, I am taking three 32oz Nalgene bottles filled with filtered water. I’ll leave one bottle at the car for the ride home, put one bottle in my pack, and clip the other bottle to a shoulder strap with a carabiner. Once again, this is probably more calories than I strictly need, but I prefer to err on the side of too much. I have on occasion had to feed a hiking companion.

Oh, and I almost forgot. I will be tossing a small tube of sunscreen in my bag. I can already feel the heated stare Mrs. Portmandia would give me if I came home with another sun burn.

Now all I have to do is hike.