In my last post I added this picture.
And I explained that to get the weight of my pack close to 40 lbs, I had the brilliant idea of packing my 14 lb bowling ball! Now if I had been thinking ahead, I might have wondered about what would happen if I couldn’t make it or needed to drop some weight from the pack…
And of course that is EXACTLY what happened. I had no idea how tough the climb was, the other 4 were in much better shape and I was a hurtin camper. I was giving serious consideration to just leaving the stupid thing in the snow (even though it was a birthday present from my dad) when one of the other guys stepped up to help.
He opened his pack and started dumping out bottles of water! Yep! It turns out THEY all knew that the best way to add and subtract weight to a backpack was to use water, which weighs about 8 lbs a gallon! No one thought to tell me! But then, we are guys are a self-sufficient lot, and let others make mistakes!
He carried it up, and I then took it back for the down hill trip. Which again was harder on me than them. They dumped out all the extra water (except what was needed for the trip down) while I was stuck with a heavy pack!
Well let me tell you, I am not known for being late to dinner twice! From that day on, I would put the gear I needed for the climb in the pack, and then top off the weight with extra Nalgene bottles (big and small) to hit 40 lbs.
Now I can hear people asking “DUDE! Why the hell would you want to make a backpack heavier than it has to be??” Great question! Well to climb Mt Rainier (or any guided mountain I’ve been on) you have to be able to carry 40 lbs, uphill for a long time!
The only way to prepare for this is to carry a heavy pack during training hikes. Hence the water. Now lugging that much weight down hill from the top, over and over again, can be bad for the knees. Dumping the extra out on top saves this problem! Heavy pack up, light pack down! Magic!
I found some unforeseen advantages to this “butt load” of water over the years though.
On a hot day, on top of a hill without shade, being able to dump a 1.5 liter bottle of water over your head feels amazing. The birds look at you a bit strangely, but it’s worth it!
Then there is the ability to make friends. More than once on Mt Si, Granite Mountain and even Camp Muir I have announced, “I am pouring out extra water! Any takers??” There are times I have been the most popular man on the mountain after this statement. An in all honesty, I prefer sharing it to dumping it out.
I may also have ruined a date for a guy as well. As I was heading up, I passed a couple coming down the trail, both carrying small and quite empty water bottles you buy at a grocery store. They still had 3 miles to go to the trailhead and their cars, and it was HOT so I offered to refill the bottles.
They both said “NO, we can’t take your water when its this hot outside and you are carrying that big pack!” Then I pulled out the 3 liters that were just part of my extra and explained they would be poured out at the top. I refilled both, and she guzzled a bunch straight from the bottle.
As I left, I heard her say (quite loudly I migh tadd) “Well it’s a good thing SOMEONE on this mountain came prepared! HE obviously had enough water, why didn’t we??” As I giggled to myself, my first thought was “That man is NOT going to get lucky tonight….”
I was also able to deliver 2 gallons of water to a work crew on top of Granite Mountain who were doing maintenance on this fire lookout:
The gallon bottles were sitting in a cooler at the trailhead with a note “Please use our water for your training. Cookies at the lookout for anyone who delivers a bottle” I receive 6 homemade chocolate chips in return! A great trade if I do say so myself!
I’ve seen people use rocks for extra weight as well, but that just seems like WAY too much work, gathering then into a back, loading them, dumping them out…. Smarter than taking a bowling ball mind you, but still…
It’s fun sometimes to look back at some of the stupid things we’ve done before we were good at something. I still have the bowling bowl and I am pretty sure its the only one that I know of that has been at Camp Muir!
Thanks for visiting!