James (Jim) Marco has been hiking and backpacking since the early 60’s. My other hobby is fly fishing. My pack started simple with no more than a wool blanket and a fishing pole along a Catskill stream (Delaware River.) I moved up north to Ilion, NY, fishing/camping along the West Canada Creek and tributaries. I spent many years car camping & backpacking with my kids: Lansing Kill, the upper Mohawk River, The Ausable River, Salmon River(above Pulaski), Beaver Kill, and many that have no name. The ADK’s is/was always my go-to destination to get out canoeing and fishing. It is now my children’s destination, too. Working at Cornell U. allowed me to explore the Finger Lakes region: The North Country Trail (Finger Lakes Trail) and a few fishing holes. Since I retired, I have been hiking/canoeing the ADK’s almost exclusively. It is a HUGE park with a thousand miles of trails and a thousand lakes, streams. I have also hiked portions of the AT (Georgia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey) but dislike the number of people on it. Alabama and Tennessee let me explore the hill areas of the deep south, but alas, few trout were found there. One notable exception was the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, very enjoyable through N, and Maine.
For the past 15 years or so, I have been getting my pack weight down from a 40pound high (with the kids) to SUL. About 8-9 years ago, I gave up and went back to simply UL. SUL simply didn’t work for a week of cold rain in the ADK’s in September. All of my recent trips out are for a week or longer. I carried 26 pounds for a recent two week Northville-Placid trip. When headed into the High Peaks area, my pack weight is 17 pounds or less, including the dreaded “bear ball” and it’s food.
The big three were changed to realize my goal of UL weight. 1) My old sleeping bag (cheap down at 3#6) was swapped out for good down(1#11) about 10 years ago. 2) My pack was dropped from 2#4 to a 15oz Miniposa. 3) My tent went from about 5 pounds to a 1 pound tarp. Many smaller savings contributed: Impulse & E-Light and spare batteries instead of a Mag Light. A 5.5oz fuel bottle was swapped for a 1.2oz “coke” bottle. One set of UL cloths and set of long johns instead of two sets of clothing. A 9oz pad (doubling as a pack frame.) was swapped for a 2# therm-a-rest. Two ~1.3 L ~5oz Nalgene bottles were changed for two .5L gatoraid bottles at 1.5oz each. The mUV, then the Steripen, was swapped in for the old MSR SweetWater filter. (2 small bottles of AM is always there, too.) Bulk packaging of foods saves a bit… Anyway, slapping over thirty pounds from my base weight was fun. For most trips, food far outweighs my base weight these days. I am always interested in light gear. My one exception is my 40 year old SVEA…not exactly UL.
I have been fortunate to meet some very good people on the trail. I have been fortunate to help many people with gear. But, to me, it seems I am only a beginner with light weight stuff. Everyone has their own way of doing things. Easily, my biggest weight savings is my body weight dropped from 240 to about 185 or so (Diabetes has been a problem for the last 15 years or so. Hiking helps to manage it…and my weight.) Hmmm, this doesn’t really count as base weight, though.
There is just nothing like having a loud “WHO COOKS FOR YOU” calling over your tent at night or watching a pair of mated loons skip and dance on a mountain lake. Or watching a bear scoot through the woods, up the hill and off the trail during a fleeting encounter. Sometimes a Brook Trout, in all his fall mating colors, is just too pretty to eat. And, cussing at the inquisitive otters doesn’t intimidate the critters, they’ve already ruined the fishing. The cocoa made with wintergreen leaves for that little extra flavor in spring is a great treat. That bunch of wild carrots in the soup to add some comfort through an angry thunder storm…all are examples of things that are quite enjoyable and awe inspiring. Nope, I won’t say where that huge 12 point buck was, ha. I like to think he is still standing there.
I am beginning research into the Trans-Adirondack Trail.
Somehow, where I have been is far less important than how I got there. The mountains of the Adirondacks are my home and the trails through them, my hallways to adventure.
Home: Ithaca, NY
Outdoor Organization Involvement: BSA Alumni
Favorite Training Ground: Finger Lakes Trail