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  • My Closet Looks Like A Mini REI Store

    I’ve taken so many trips and with so much variety, that I think I have everything any adventure traveller  could need. Cold weather? No problem. I have cold water boots for hopping out of a Zodiac at either pole, a red expedition jacket to protect me from the elements and make me stand out in case I get lost in a snow storm, inner and outer gloves, a balaclava hat, gaiters, and two weights of thermal underwear.  Desert? SPF 15 breathable shirts, sand-proof boots, a Tilley hat, SPF 100 sunscreen, and several water bottles.  Water sports? A SCUBA skin, fins, custom snorkel and prescription mask  board shorts, kayaking shirt, water sandals. I also have—trekking poles, day pack, head lamp, down booties, down jacket, down vest, and a wind/rain resistant outer coat. I even have a syringe/suture kit in case I am in a remote area where sterile syringes and needles are nonexistent and I am injured.

    I’ve used each of these items—except for the suture and syringe—a lot over the years. I’ve even replaced several things.  I am on my third set of hiking poles, fourth set of outer gloves, second Tilley hat, and second day pack. Some things wore out. Other items had such improvements in technology that I was compelled to upgrade. For example, the day pack. My latest one has a frame that is sized to my height and keeps the pack from resting entirely on my back, so it allows air to flow between me and it. The pack also has chest and hip straps to make the pack sit comfortably no matter how long the hike. 

    As I look at all this equipment, I wonder what to bring on my trip to the Atacama desert in a few days.  The average temperature should range between 33 °F and 79 °F, but it is possible for it to drop below zero and reach into the 80’s. There is no rain in sight for the parts of my trip in the Chilean and Bolivian desert, but I am making a two-day stop in Santiago first where the prediction is for rain. 

    I pull things off the shelf and out of the closet: Tilley hat, cold weather hat, thermal underwear, fleece jacket, Goretex jacket, down jacket, hiking shirts, hiking pants, liner gloves, socks, boots, daypack, head lamp, first aid kit, extra glasses, sunglasses, sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen, and a swim suit for the thermal hot springs. To this I add hiking boots, city shoes, something decent to wear in Santiago, jeans for horseback riding, and other assorted items.

    My goal is to fit all this in a roller bag—the same one I typically put in the overhead bin. I am dubious, but everything ends up fitting except for the hiking boots. The rollie is now too fat for the overhead, but I was planning to check it anyway. I’ll put the hiking boots in my day pack along with my camera and take the pack onboard with me. 

    Next stop, Santiago!