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  1. #1
    Long Trail '04
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    Default Lighten up: Long Trail thru-hiker packs an easy load

    Good read..



    Lighten up: Long Trail thru-hiker packs an easy load


    By Patrick Garrity
    The Burlington Free Press
    September 6, 2004

    Demetri Coupounas went for a walk in the woods the other day. He kept going ...
    ... and going ..

    ... and going and ... .

    When he was through, Coupounas had hiked for two weeks and 273 miles, covering every inch of Vermont's Long Trail from Canada to Massachusetts.

    The "so what" of his feat is not that he made it from one end of the grueling trail to the other. Two hundred people accomplish that impressive achievement every summer. What makes Coupounas' hike unique is that he pulled it off without stopping to restock his provisions. Everything he needed -- every bite of food, every stitch of gear -- he carried from the get-go.

    The 38-year-old Coloradoan is on a mission to show people how much more fun backpacking can be if they're not carrying the kitchen sink in their packs. Coupounas is so passionate about that point that he and his wife, Kim, launched a lightweight-gear company, GoLite, to make easy-going even easier. His Long Trail trek, and two others on trails in California and Colorado, are part of GoLite's fifth-anniversary celebration.

    Jeez. Some guys just throw a party.

    "The point isn't to see how far I can go on one tank of gas," Coupounas said. "The point is to have a lot of fun and show people how much fun they can have with less weight on their back."

    Coupounas hatched the idea of what he calls "Alpine-style thru-hiking" years ago as he watched friends go through the logistical gymnastics involved with long hikes and trying to figure out just how much they could carry.

    "I realized how complicated all that was and thought 'What would it be like to be able to blow all that off and just hike?'" he said. "You know, not to have to worry about 'It's Sunday, the post office isn't open' and 'What time is it? I've got to get to that store by 5 o'clock.'"

    "What would it be like to forget all that and remember what we're there for in the first place."

    That epiphany has blossomed into a thriving business in Boulder, Colo. GoLite's backpacks weigh as little as 20 ounces; it's parkas less than a pound. GoLite gear is available in all 50 states and 13 countries, and trade magazines have embraced the company's concept to "lighten up" a little.

    Coupounas acknowledges his Long Trail excursion takes the concept to the extreme, but even the director of the Green Mountain Club, Ben Rose, said we all can learn a little from "Coup."

    "I recently spent five days on the Long Trail with my son, Micah, hiking from the Massachusetts border to Mad Tom Notch (in Peru), and I was probably carrying 50 pounds," Rose said. "Coup is talking to hikers like me."

    Coupounas left Journey's End in Jay on Aug. 18 with 34 pounds on his back. Twenty-one pounds of his load consisted of food -- dried mangoes, dates and prunes ("That was a mistake," he admits), assorted nuts and kelp. Beyond the food was an assortment of lightweight gear and apparel, plus a water purifier, a first-aid kit, a toilet kit, a satellite phone and four pairs of dress socks.

    "It looks stupid, but they're thin, rugged and they clean and dry so quickly," Coupounas said of his choice of hosiery. "And not many people give you grief when you're averaging 21 miles a day."

    Coupounas' packing was just right; his recollections from previous hikes on the Long Trail, however, were a little off.

    "On the one hand, it's glorious and wonderful. And on the other hand, it's one tough trail," Coupounas said. "To be perfectly honest, in the middle of (Mount) Mansfield, I was a little bummed. I thought 'My god, this is a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.'

    "Then I shifted gears and said, 'OK, this isn't a hiking trip, it's a climbing trip linked by some hiking. Once I made that mental shift, everything was fine."

    Coupounas logged daily reports of his progress to his office via sat phone. Last week, after 13 days, 273 miles, several inches of rain and more than a million mosquitoes, he reached the Massachusetts state line.

    He was back at his desk by the following morning, harvesting his in-box and paying penance for his two weeks of play. His return to the office is temporary, though. Coupounas leaves later this month for the third leg of his mission -- the 468-mile Colorado Trail.

    "I'm not telling people to buy all our gear and go hike 273 miles," Coupounas said. "We're just trying every way we can to show people just how much freedom you have when you lighten the load a little."

  2. #2
    NE AT 733 of 733 miles & Long Trail End-to-End Tramper Al's Avatar
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    Default Two minds

    There are really two different strategies at work here.

    First, carry all the food you'll need for two weeks, right from the start, and you'll never have to leave the trail or otherwise arange for supply. To be honest, 21 lb (or 1.5 lb per day) sounds like insufficient calories for 21 miles per day. I'd sort of like to know how much body weight this hiker lost over his two weeks.

    Second, carry the lightest gear you can find, and as little of it as possible. Most of us try to do this, of course, to different degrees. I think in this case, the second strategy is absolute necessary to consider enacting the first.

    By the way, a friend of mine did run into this character on the LT. Despite the last quote in the article, he apparently does give a good bit of unsolicited advice to others on the trail
    - Tramper Al

  3. #3
    Registered User Dances with Mice's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Demetri Coupounas
    .....Coupounas left Journey's End in Jay on Aug. 18 with 34 pounds on his back. Twenty-one pounds of his load consisted of food -- dried mangoes, dates and prunes ("That was a mistake," he admits), assorted nuts and kelp. ......

    Yeah. But I'm reading that and thinking "There's his snacks. Where's the food?"
    You never turned around to see the frowns
    On the jugglers and the clowns
    When they all did tricks for you.

  4. #4

    Default

    From Coup's notes:

    WEIGHT LOSS
    I started the trip at 201.5 pounds too much for a 59 dude in no threat of being crowned Mr. Olympia. I ended feeling wonderful at 188, fully hydrated pounds and without a hint of hunger pang. Apparently, I burned 13.5 pounds of mostly fat, and probably a little bit of muscle, off my frame in less than 10 days. I wonder how much I could charge for this protocol if I bound it in a cheap, chatty paperback and called it the Sierra Nevada Diet?!

  5. #5

  6. #6
    Registered User Dances with Mice's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by HikeLite
    From Coup's notes:
    ... Apparently, I burned 13.5 pounds of mostly fat, and probably a little bit of muscle, off my frame in less than 10 days. I wonder how much I could charge for this protocol if I bound it in a cheap, chatty paperback and called it the Sierra Nevada Diet?!
    Probably be a run away best-seller if people thought it involved the beer.

    http://www.sierra-nevada.com/beers/
    You never turned around to see the frowns
    On the jugglers and the clowns
    When they all did tricks for you.

  7. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Dances with Mice
    Yeah. But I'm reading that and thinking "There's his snacks. Where's the food?"
    I was thinking the same thing, but Hey, what ever moves your feet.

  8. #8
    Registered User sloetoe's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Jay
    I was thinking the same thing, but Hey, what ever moves your feet.
    B-b-b-b-beer can move your feet! Ho-yeah!

  9. #9

    Default

    From the sound of those updates, it sounds like he might have mistakenly taken happy pills instead of vitamins.

  10. #10
    Getting out as much as I can..which is never enough. :) Mags's Avatar
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    Default 21 days on the CT

    I just got back from my 21 day thru-hike on the CT. I ate Snickers, lots of burgers and pizza when I went into town, wore shorts and not Spandex and
    did not do newspaper articles or web updates.

    My reward: some beautiful views, hearing elks bugle, and meeting some cool people.

    Will post the link to my pictures (which I am uploading as I speak) if there is interest.

  11. #11
    Registered User
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    Default

    at least 10 characters
    Last edited by Jersey Bob; 10-27-2004 at 13:50.

  12. #12
    Long Trail '04
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    Default

    Has anyone ever seen this documentary of the Long Trail? Is it any good?

    http://www.longtrailhike.com/video.html

  13. #13
    Registered User
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    Default

    I hiked the trail and met mrgolite.(on an advertising spree more than an educational)
    if eating seeweed is more fun than going into a town and having a burger then its all cool I suppose. If worring that your super thin backpack is gonna break every time it scuffs a tree (and then ending up OFF the trail is fun) then its cool. I Last time I wa sso nervous I didnt make it to the store at five I nearly had a heart attack and vowed to hike with a bakcpack full of seeweed to save me the stress.

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