So, part of this hike was to test my equipment. It served as a good shakedown run. By in large I'm quite happy with my purchases.
Vasque Breeze Boots? A+ But we knew these were awesome boots already.
Gregory Baltoro 65L Pack? A+ And while we knew this pack was incredible, my estimation of it improved as I found a use for the hip pockets.
Canister Stove? A+ this stove would be fair at the $20 price I saw it for at wal-mart, to say nothing of the $6 I paid.
MSR Sweetwater Purification System? A+ I felt totally safe drinking from the water sources available to me with this purifier.
REI Trekking Poles? Ah, Complicated. Given that one of the poles began to fail in it's primary task, only 3/4ths of the way through, I'm tempted to give it a D- for the day of. But they proved so handy earlier in the day that I'd soften that to a C- for the day of. Upgraded to B+ after getting home and tightening them properly. I don't nudge it higher because that necessitated a philips screw driver to tighten them, and my Nite-ize multitool's slotted screwdriver blade wasn't enough.
Columbia Neck Gaiter? A++ Best New Gear. Keeping my head comfortable, this was an unexpected Rock Star.
REI Vented Explorer Hat? A++ would hat again. Review Pending.
50oz Camelbak? A- Could be larger. Should be larger. Why didn't I buy Larger?
Buck 110 folding knife? A+, but I didn't really need it for much this trip.
REI Passage 2 Tent? A. Totally happy with the tent, but it did add weight to my gear load, and the hammock would have been lighter. Still earned it's A rating for simple design, durable construction, spacious interior (I can sit up! Bob can't do that in his old tent) and keeping the raccoons of of me. Someplace busy like Hartman Creek, I worry that in my hammock, I might wake up cuddling one.
Lensatic Compass? A++, Super glad I brought one. I had thought "oh, the trail's pretty well marked, why would I need a compass?" Definitely needed a compass. Not so much on the trail as on the roads, FINDING the trail, but still, invaluable.
Titanium Pot and Aircraft Aluminum Spork? A+ and A+ They do exactly what I need.
Mountain House Chili Mac? A+, an old favorite
Mountain House Chicken Dinner? A++, a new favorite.
Alpine Aire Bananas Foster? A++ Delicious Dessert.
So, that's what I DID have. What did I want, that I didn't have? I think next time I might bring my camcorder. What I wanted most was company. Someone to chat with, to share the hike with, would have been excellent. I think I need some trail mix (the kashi coconut trail mix is excellent) or some gorp of some sort. Also some manner of fruity, sugary boost for the end. For cognition and morale as much as energy. I'm thinking maybe a Larabar or two. Their cherry pie bar was pretty much "cherries and nuts" but man, that would have hit the spot at that point. What did I have that I didn't need? Not much! I probably could have gotten away with not having my Columbia Polar Fleece shirt/jacket thing... but it weighed little enough and was a comfort at the beginning and end of the trip. Made a good pillow too.
But, this hike wasn't just a test of the gear, it was a test of the hiker. And how do I feel I performed? I'm pretty happy with this as first outings go. I'm still essentially a Level 1 backpacker, which feels weird, since I'm pretty much an Epic Level car camper. I could have done without the morning coffee, I think. Being so active, I got the caffeine shakes pretty bad. I learned my lesson about finding a filtering site.
I think, overall I deserve a B+ for my hike. I need to be in better shape, need to toughen my feet up. I didn't do things perfectly, but I'm still very happy with the outcome.