Monday, May 13, 2013

Separation Anxiety (from gear)

I was standing in a phone booth in Mojave, California, trying to talk a North Face rep into sending me a free backpack so I could continue hiking the PCT.  My pack was slowly self-destructing, and hiking the trail was still exciting enough to the big gear companies that they were willing to sponsor random dirtbags such as myself (or at least that's what we had heard).  She was balking, I was talking, and then she said, "Wait a minute - is that a real bird singing?  Like, you're actually out there in the desert?"  I said yes, gave here a general delivery address in Kennedy Meadows, and she agreed to send a big new Badlands pack.

Then, when we got to Kennedy Meadows, it was generally agreed that going up into the Sierras at that point was a bad idea - one guy tried, got lost in the snow, and then spent days fumbling down the Kern River to get out of there.  Of course we could have gone on - and the next year I did so (in even more snow), but at the time we didn't know any better.  I had barely picked up my pack at the General Store when our prospective ride was leaving, and there we were riding in the back of a pickup truck down into the Owens Valley while I was transferring my stuff from one bag to the next.  A policeman kicked us out of the truck near, where, Ridgecrest?  I left my old bag in the back, and we got another ride.

And now, fifteen years later, the big red backpack is sun-bleached practically pink, the mesh gear pockets are practically torn off, and it's time to sell a few things here so we don't have to pay for extra bags on the way home.  I don't want to sell the Badlands - it still fits well and has a good suspension.  On the other hand, I don't need it, I have better backpack at home, and it's too heavy for the trips I do now.  Did I mention I don't want to sell it?  But it's time to sell it.

I end up walking over to a dental lab and handing it to a Japanese guy who is getting into tramping.  I don't understand most of what he says - he likes the pack, even though it's probably overkill for what he's doing.  He hands me the money - I hand him the backpack.  I stupidly tell him to call me "if he has any questions," like he just bought a complicated software suite.  I try to linger for a minute, but he takes off back  into the lab with the bag, and I go back out into the sun.

That North Face Badlands was a good backpack, and it went on a lot of trips - I even lived out of that thing for how long, a year?  Two years?  Wow, it was even longer than that.  Now it's gone, and I'll have to use another one.  Now that I think about it, I was way too attached to that old thing.    

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