Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Lighten Up.(Final)

Byline: Stories by Stephen Regenold For the Journal * llustration by Carol Cooperrider Of the Journal

Shedding pounds from your pack can make your next hiking trip more pleasurable

Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail is a lifetime goal for many backpackers. The 2,650-mile route begins in the deserts of southern California, heads north into the Sierra Nevada mountain range and doesn't let up until the Canadian boarder.

But Brian Robinson, a 41-year-old from San Jose, Calif., wasn't satisfied with just that one journey. In 2001, Robinson became the first person to hike the Pacific Crest Trail and the country's two other 2,000-mile-plus trails the Appalachian and the Continental Divide in a single year.

His secret? Intense training, months of preparation, a 6,000-calories-per-day diet, and, perhaps most crucial, a near-religious commitment to ultra-light backpacking.

Full of gear, Robinson's backpack weighed less than 15 pounds for much of the trip. By trimming everything but the bare essentials, he was able to cover more ground up to 40 miles a day and reduce strain on his body.

How did he live in the wilderness for months on end with so little gear?

Frequent food pickups were key (he re-supplied every few days in towns), and some suffering was necessary (no camp-chairs or cushy sleeping pads). But, above all, Robinson was extremely creative and efficient with his equipment.

"Gear used for more than one thing allowed me to cut weight all around," Robinson says. …

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