#JamesOnTheAt Week 2 Update: 100 miles in!

Backpacking / Ideas & Advice

It’s Patriot’s Day in New England and while most of the region’s attention is focused on the Boston Marathon and the traditional Red Sox game, it’s just another day on the Appalachian Trail for James Willette from our Peterborough, NH store.

A remarkably accurate cartoon rendering of James Willette as he is being tracked by the staff of our Peterborough, NH store.

A remarkably accurate cartoon rendering of James Willette as he is being tracked by the staff of our Peterborough, NH store.

When I last heard from James, he was feeling the need to drop some nonessential pack weight. One week later, he’s shaved ten pounds of weight off his 38 pound pack–a weight he claims will be the heaviest his pack will EVER be. “I ditched the brain (top pocket) of my pack for simplicity and I am more mindful of my food weight. I started out with a lot of food in order to figure out my appetite.”

James admits he doesn’t weigh his backpack each day so as not to distract himself by obsessing about what he may have done different during his long hours on the trail. “After a while, pack weight becomes all you think about so I take the approach of telling myself that I am light as a feather… which keeps me going.” Weather-wise, James is reporting warm days and cold nights, with a few evening temperatures down into 20′s. While he has had the option to sleep in shelters, James has preferred the comfort of his own tent, specifically, the lack of mice. James also enjoys the “orchestra of all sorts of zippers in the  morning.” “It’s a funny thing really,” he adds. “Once I open the sleeping bag, it sets off a chain reaction of unzipping, packing, stuffing and repacking.” Sounds like solo backpacking has James infinitely more tuned into his surroundings and his daily routine than usual.

Georgia is officially in James Willette's rear view. One state down, 13 more to go!

Georgia is officially in James Willette’s rear view. One state down, 13 more to go!

After trekking through Georgia, James took his first “zero day” in Franklin, North Carolina where he grabbed a hot shower and shored up his food supply. After checking in with family and friends, he’s back on the trail today and I’ll keep posting his updates as he sends them along!

4/21 UPDATE: Here’s a photo James sent along of this morning’s sunrise. Happy Earth Day!

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Jim Darroch


Jim's love for the outdoors began with family camping trips in "Brady Bunch" style canvas tents and progressed to backpacking adventures with the Boy Scouts. In 2007, he fulfilled his teenage dream by joining Eastern Mountain Sports as Brand Communications Manager. When he's not in the office, you'll find Jim kayaking, hiking, and mountain biking around the Monadnock Region and throughout New England with his wife Brenda and his dog Brewski. Follow Jim Darroch on !

1 Comment

  1. April 22, 2014, 9:23 am

    It’s really great to be following James along on his journey and I wish him well while on the trail!

    Here are a few of my questions:
    1) What is he doing for mental activity/entertainment?
    2) Is he finding that hot meals are worth the weight of the cooking gear?
    3) Is he planning to swap some of his cold weather gear later in the trip?

    Thanks so much!

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