Now, you’re probably looking at the photo above and wondering what’s going on? Well, let this be the start of some shorter posts with a theme I’ll return to now and again. The topic is the heading and by the end of this entry you’ll also be saying, “What was he thinking?”
Since I kicked off my hiking comeback about five years ago, I will confess I’ve made some dubious purchases. In fact, I’ve got two enormous plastic tubs full of absolute crap, bought for the purposes of walking. Who knows why? I’ve no idea about half of the stuff, so explaining it will be difficult. Except for the hammer. I can explain that one and really it needs a drum roll…
Mind you, in order to get your brain around what I’m about to tell you, you’ll have to suspend all common sense and convince yourself you’ve accidently wandered into an alternate universe of complete hiking stupidity, but let’s not muck around any more and once and for all explain this fiasco.
I’d done some shorter walks and then decided I needed to do something longer, so I opted for the Great Ocean Walk in 2009. No problem right? Well no, not really, except I didn’t know what I needed for a weeks hike. I even wondered, “What’s the soil like? Will I have trouble putting the tent pegs in?” Now, after that line you know where this is going.
I of course wasn’t confident of the Victorian soil and whether I could penetrate a peg into it. Mind you, I’d lived in Victoria for most of my life, I was walking in winter and I weigh 110 kgs. Do you think at any time I considered the soil would be as soft as butter and even if it wasn’t, that I could apply 110 kgs through a boot to put a peg into the ground?
No, I didn’t and what sort of preposterous, logical thinking is that? So, I went to the hardware store and made my selection for the lightest hammer by using the technical method of picking them all up individually and waving them around. After about ten minutes I’d found a real tool and also a light hammer. Here it is, but at 206 grams I guess it really wasn’t ultralight after all?
Yes, I lugged that hammer for the entire walk and brought it back home without once taking it out of the pack. I guess the winter soil of Victoria wasn’t that hard after all?
So, that’s that and what a grand opening to ‘What was I thinking?’ Don’t worry though, I’ve got loads more crap in those plastic tubs which I’ll reveal now and again. Actually, this post has been brewing for a while and I’m hoping it’ll be a sort of cathartic exorcism which will rid me mentally of one demoniacally stupid purchase…
I just watched a National Geographic documentary on the Appalachian Trail. They did a short segment on the Walasi Yi Store at Neel's Gap and said that they find a lot of people have packed hammers with them, at this point they send them home. You're not alone.
Nothing wrong with packing a hammer. You never know how many psychos might be about that you have to defend yourself from.
But will it rid you *actually* of the hammer? Do you still store it in with your hiking gear?
On my last backpacking trip, we encountered some guys that were carrying a BB gun with them. A BB GUN. The rifle kind. They also hiked in a dozen eggs pre-cracked into a plastic container . . . cream in a mason jar for coffee . . . regular-sized ceramic mugs for coffee . . . I wouldn't have been surprised if they had a hammer too . . .
Ha ha… and not even a claw hammer!
It is good to be prepared… but carrying a hammer is a bit much. Thanks for the read.
Hi Nate, so what you're saying is that I'm not the only dick in the world who decided he was incapable of pushing in a tent peg? I'm not sure if I feel any better?!
Actually, even I, in my dazed preparation state would not have considered a hammer for the AT. I believe ultralight would make sense over 3000 miles?! I must say though, what sort of wimps decided to mail them home? I'd either bury it and leave it for some future archaeological survey that studies stupidity or carry it all the way like a real man (or bigger idiot. The jury is out on that one).
Hi Anna, now this is heading into Deliverance territory! I haven't met many psychos out in the bush. Yeah, maybe the odd semi-recluse with no social skills or just the plain old oddball, but no mass murderers as yet. If I did, I think a weeks worth of walking body odour would be my first line of defence rather than a 206 gram hammer. My armoury consists of giving 'em the 'twin arm pit' head lock. That's guaranteed to make the psychos toes curl up 🙂
Actually, Drop Bears, Yowies and the odd romance seeking Bunyip are more of a threat I think…
Hi Oanh. What? Get rid of the hammer? Are you crazy?! No, it was bought for hiking, so it remains in the hiking tub. I can't possibly use it for anything else other than tent pegs. Hammering nails? No, it's a hiking hammer 🙂
Hi Sonia, now I've carried some crap, but a BB gun? What's that for? Angry squirrels?! I guess it's handy for being in a group. You know, covertly shoot some blokes coffee out of his hand on a freezing cold morning? That'll be funny?!
Eggs? Well, I hate to say it, but I know another 'egg carrier'! In fact, I've been on hikes where she'll bring out the egg box. They're not even in a container, just the carton 🙂 Surprisingly there's always a few casualties. Imagine that?!
Coffee mugs. Mm…now it's getting weird, but then again I took the 2011 IKEA catalogue to the top of Mt Bogong which is Victoria's highest mountain. I don't think that's strange at all, as there were quite a few good couches in that catalogue that I wanted to check out at 1986 metres.
Hi Andrew, claw hammer? The ones on offer obviously didn't pass my technical test of waving them around in the store. Too heavy! Yeah, okay, probably more practical, but I was concerned about the weight of a heavier hammer. Yes, I'm fully aware that the last line I just wrote is totally absurd 🙂
Hi Andy. Do you think it's a bit much?! Preparation is important for me, but I agree the brain can think too much at times. Maybe I should have just taken my car and given the walking a miss? It'll be a lot easier and the hammer could have sat in the boot?!
Thanks for the comment and dropping by!
Well, magazines can always serve as emergency toilet paper! I suppose if I had some urgent interior decorating decisions that needed making over a weekend of hiking, I'd bring along IKEA 2011 instead of a book 😉
Yes, one doesn't need to lug some sort of spiritual outdoors book with them all the time. I like to check out couches when I'm walking, so it makes sense to include a decent catalogue 🙂
Well, in ultralight orthodoxy, every item should have more than one use, so if you were able to use it to light a fire or something, it might be excused!
I liked the commenter's reference to Neel's Gap on the AT. Like many others, I ditched some stuff there and bought some more. It's a lucrative business they have there, perfectly situated! I remember walking out thinking, "The lighter and flimsier something is, the more it costs."
Looking forward to the next instalment!
Mm…Ultralight orthodoxy…The only thing I can think of, for another use of the hammer out bush is randomly assaulting people who are too loud? "Your voice exceeds certain decibels? Okay, hammer across the back of the head for you!" That sort of thing…
Business transactions in gear whilst out and about? That sounds pretty good! I'm still disappointed that you left snow shoes under a bridge in Japan. I'd loved to have found them, as I'm in the market for a pair as we speak!
Yeah, there's more crap in that hiking tub. I'll close my eyes and just pluck something out for the next instalment…