A lot of people have asked if I’m going to be completely authentic in everything I wear and carry on my upcoming 1915 hike. The short answer is “no.” I could parse out every historical detail and approach the hike that way, but that is not the purpose of my trip. Mainly I’m out there as an educator. The exterior costume is meant to be an entry point for talking to people I meet on the trail and in the huts about history. It’s my own little guerrilla marketing scheme as an Archivist and self-avowed history geek. As for other gear, there are some elements of safety and comfort that I just won’t give up.
Firstly, I am taking responsibility for own my trip into the backcountry. I will carry things that will enable me to take care of myself in the event of an emergency on the trail. I will have my modern first aid kit and the other Ten Essentials like a map and compass, food and water, etc., in my pack. I have purchased one of the new New Hampshire Voluntary Hike Safe Cards. As the NH Fish and Game Department site states, “Any person determined by the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department to have acted negligently and requiring a search and rescue response by the Department shall be liable to the Department for the reasonable cost of the Department’s expenses for such search and rescue response.” I would still be liable for the cost of a rescue if I were to be deemed reckless, but I hope I know better than to get myself into any intractably sticky situations in these mountains.
P7105789 So what all else will be in my pack and part of my outfit? Along with the first aid kit I’ll have a stick of Band-Aid Friction Block to help prevent blisters (I’ve tried Body Glide as well, but despite Band-Aid’s unappealing fragrance it still works better for me). Also for my feet I will have many, many, many pairs of socks. My liner socks are distinctly un-1915-ish, but they’ll work well under my thick, grey Smartwool hiking socks. The rest of my outfit will consist of grey wool knickers, white blouse, grey wool coat, neckerchief, and hat. On hot days I’ll forgo the hat and coat and probably tie a bandana over my head (the pirate look was in vogue in the 1910s and beyond). My rain coat will be my trusty Mammut shell which has served me well through years of adventuring and never lets me down in foul weather.
I am not messing around when it comes to the possibility of rain on this trip. I could bring an oil-coated overcoat, but why? It’s heavy and maybe not too waterproof. I’ll have gloves to go along with cold, wet weather. I like these cheap, double gloves I found. They consist of fingerless gloves over a pair with full fingers so that I can choose whether or not I want to quickly make holes in the fingers while scrambling over rocks or not (I am death to most gloves when hiking). For my hut stays I’m bringing a lightweight Marmot sleeping bag and the Princeton Tec headlamp I’ve had for years.
Then there’s my jackknife. It’s a Swiss Army knife and my dad gave it to me when I was a teenager. I wanted one for a long time, and having one given to me was proof that I was a responsible hiker, ready to trek off into the wilderness, live in a tree, and cut whatever I might need to cut all by myself. Finally there is my sketchbook. It’s a brand new Moleskine - notebook of choice for the likes of Hemingway, van Gogh, and Picasso. There’s just something about the way they open so perfectly, close up with the little elastic band, and fit in a large pocket or pack hood. I expect to fill many pages as references for later mountain paintings.
And that's about it!
My hikes in the White Mountains have led to many paintings in the last few years. You can see the results of that side of my trips in the Hinterlands gallery of my website. Some of the original paintings are available through my online shop. You can follow along on my next adventures via Facebook and Instagram. Happy Trails!