Written By: Emily "Lightning" Ginger
At home I have a large bed. I have 5 pillows on that bed; two go under my head at night and the rest just surround me. I find this arrangement very comfortable. Out here, I sleep on a very thin therm-a-rest (sleeping pad) that only accommodates my upper body, so my legs get no cushion. My pillow is my clothes bag which I wrap my rain coat around, with the inside-out because the inside of my jacket is the cleanest surface I can trust for laying my face on (I got a rash from sleeping on a dirty “pillow” for the first few days we were out here). It took about a month for my body to adjust to sleeping on the ground every night while being semi-exposed to the elements (I would wake up feeling groggy or not well-rested after 10 hours of sleep).
About two weeks ago my inflatable sleeping pad sprung a leak in the seam, and I had to send it into the company for repair. This left me sleeping on the hard ground for the past two weeks! Surprisingly, I didn’t really notice; I slept through the night, every night, even when I was sleeping in the shelter on the hard wood floor. I think I was already accustomed to sleeping on nearly nothing anyhow (with such a small pad), and just for kicks, since it’s a funny story, I’ll share how this wasn’t the first time I have slept on the hard ground. When I was younger, my sister and I would fight incessantly. Since we had such a small house where we shared a room, the conflict was loud, consistent, and unavoidable. My dad threatened to use an alternative” form of punishment: if we didn’t stop fighting he was going to take our mattresses away. He probably assumed thought such a threat would do the trick, but it didn’t and of course he followed through with his word. I’m not sure how long it was, but we slept on the hardwood floor for maybe a week; I think we each had a thin blanket and pillow. I don’t even know if it stopped us from fighting but I don’t blame him for trying that method, and I appreciate the experience as it seems to have prepped me for sleeping on anything.
Not only did my pad spring a leak, but my other gear has also decided to break down all at the same time! First it was my backpack; the steel frame that keeps the bag suspended completely ripped off, leaving the weight of my pack to rest on my shoulders and not my hips. The next day it was my camelback, my water “bladder” sprung a leak and saturated my pack. Two days later, one of my trekking poles comes apart and resists being retracted. All the while, the shoes that I bought a month ago have suffered unreasonable “wear and tear” on them. I have invested a lot of money in the gear that I brought out here and I need it to last me! Fortunately, I was able to call up the companies that produce these items; I explained where I am, what I am doing with their gear, and the extent to which I rely on it. Fortunately, all of them kindly agreed to replace their product that was breaking down and they had it shipped out to my next expected post office stop. Thanks Gregory, Montrail, Camelback, and REI for having such great warranties for us hikers, I appreciate your value of the customer! I hope my gear lasts me past this trip so I can use it for future hikes.