Rest and Wild

Fastpacking the East Bay: An Idea is Planted

December 20, 2018

Fastpacking is the mashup of ultralight backpacking with long distance running. When I first got into it, I was living in suburban New Jersey and had to drive a good while to get to the scenic running trails. I kept thinking on these runs, "It's so nice out here, I wish I didn't have to go home." Then at some point I realized that: (1) I was technically an adult and (2) I didn't have to go home if I didn't want to. I could go running and sleep out in the woods and then get up the next day to run some more. I could go fastpacking.

The mobility of it was wonderful. I felt strong and agile, like a Tolkien ranger on the trail of orcs, galavanting along the mountain ridges. But I had a minuscule budget and the nights were unpleasant. I experimented with using my normal tent but without the poles, sleeping on the ground without any sleeping pad, and various configurations of the blue Walmart tarps. Nights were cold and mornings were sore, and my energy eventually turned towards other interests.

A blue tarp shelter

Fast-forward eight years and I've forgotten all the inconveniences while remembering the fun of it.

The Plan

Some time next spring (2019), I'll fastpack from Sunnyvale to Oakland via the Bay Area Rim Trail, a distance of about 50 mi, over two days. I'll camp the one night in a park somewhere half way, carry food and shelter with me, but I'll rely on the parks system for water instead of carrying it.

I've run a couple 50k races, but running two marathons back to back and self-supported will definitely push my limits. Getting my kit as light as possible is one thing, but I'm thinking most of the prep work will be building my endurance.

I'll post progress reports here to keep me going. Expect training updates and gear reviews. Until then, happy holidays!