A Woman in the Woods: First impressions of hiking light

Two months into her hike, Christi “Deva” Holmes finally “Lightened Up!” An avid hiker, Deva embarked on an adventure to hike the AT and, with help from Hyperlite Mountain Gear, she reduced the weight of (and waterproofed) her thru hiking load for the first time. Read a chronicle of her adventures by clicking here.

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Deva on the AT.

June 1st was my first day with the new gear. I left Harpers Ferry late, hammering out 30 miles before dark. And the next day, I did 30 more! The first thing I noticed with my new, ultralight Windrider Pack was that my knees stopped aching. Usually when I near the end of big mile days, my knees ache on downhill portions. But on these consecutive days, they didn’t. I slowed to a 17-mile day when I passed the halfway point and entered Pennsylvania because I had to complete in the half gallon challenge. Hikers are encouraged to eat a half gallon of ice cream to celebrate reaching the halfway point. I finished in 23 minutes and will never eat Vanilla Brownie Chunk again.

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Deva going light.
June 4th I tested out the waterproof-ness of the pack. I was hiking into Boiling Springs and considered putting on my pack cover since it was raining pretty hard (I wanted to test the pack before sending the cover home). I held out and after the rains subsided, I discovered nothing in my pack was wet and ceremoniously burned my pack cover. Just kidding, I mailed it home. I really despised the process of stopping in the rain, digging out my pack cover and putting it on. The next day I hiked 26 miles to catch up with my friends, Pace and Porter, in Duncannon. I showed them my new gear, and they teased me about having a pillow. Pace and Porter both carry pillows (inflatable and down, respectively) and I always teased them about being high maintenance. Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s pillow doubles as a stuff sack for my sleeping bag when I’m not using it. At night, I simply put my extra clothes in there and LOVE IT. My favorite feature of my new pack is the accessibility to items on the outside of the pack. I keep my phone and camera in the big, waterproof hip pockets, and keep snacks and bug spray on the outer mesh where I can reach them while hiking (I don’t stop to eat). There have been days where I don’t even take my pack off (I have mastered the art of peeing with this pack on! haha). June 6th and 7th I hiked consecutive 30 mile days again and landed in Hamburg on June 8th. The 8th and 9th had heat indexes over 100 for the area, so we hiked little and sweated lots. I was surprised how little sweat soaked into the straps and back of the pack. I think it’s because the Windrider isn’t as padded as my old one, so it doesn’t soak up as much sweat. The antimicrobial pads really keep the smell down as well (though I won’t ever admit to sweating, anyway). Since I’m used to carrying a heavier pack, I started slowly adding a few luxuries into my pack that I couldn’t have in Georgia, because my old pack was too heavy. I now carry a bikini, change of clothes, and book. These things make my hike more enjoyable and there is more than enough room in my pack for it all.

I’ve only used the tent once, so stay tuned on my thoughts on that and the notorious, “Rocks of Pennsylvania.”

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