Tuesday, May 16, 2017

My Sleeping System: I Am Satisfied With Its Performance

I recently upgraded my camping sleeping system. It now consists of four main components: a sleeping bag, a stuff sack that serves as a pillow, a sleeping bag liner, and a sleeping pad.
Sleeping bag, liner, pillow stuff sack, & pad
Sleeping Bag
I chose synthetic over down because I already had a down bag. Thinking I might be camping while exploring water trails via my kayak in addition to backpacking, camping while bicycle touring, and car camping, I wanted a synthetic bag that would still offer some insulation even when damp or a little wet. After some research and snuggling into four of my top preferences, I chose the Regular Length Marmot Cloudbreak 30 because it offered the best fit.
Sleeping Bag Liner
Wanting to keep my bag clean and extend its temperature range, I added a Sea to Summit Thermolite Reactor sleeping bag liner.  The liner theoretically extends the comfort range of my Cloudbreak down to 15 degrees, but I have yet to experience anything colder than 30 degrees, and then I was toasty warm. The liner also offers me the possibility of sleeping in just it on top of the bag in warm weather. One night last August it was rather warm when I turned in for the night. It was too warm to be in my bag so I crawled into just the liner and it kept me warm.  Only when the temperature dropped a few hours later and I woke up cold did I zip the bag around me.
Stuff Sack Pillow
I carry both the bag and liner in a nylon stuff sack made by Outdoor Products. Half of the inside of the stuff sack is covered with fleece. At night I turn the stuff sack inside out, stuff it with clothing or other soft gear, and use it as a pillow.
Sleeping Pads
My sleeping pad is a closed cell ¾ length Therm-A-Rest RidgeRest SOLite.  It provides enough insulation and padding from the hard, cold ground to give me a good night’s sleep. I was later seduced by a sale to obtain a full length open cell Therm-A-Rest NeoAir Voyager and added to that the Therm-A-Rest Trekker Chair ultralight, compact chair sleeve to convert the mattress into a chair.
The SOLite is far lighter than the NeoAir Voyager but it also takes up more space. The NeoAir Voyager offers more padding and insulation, and takes up less space, but weighs more. There is also the possibility that the NeoAir Voyager might spring a leak while in the field, resulting in no comfort and no insulation, while the SOLite is practically indestructible. I can also more easily use the SOLite to sit on during a rest stop than I can the NeoAir Voyager.
For longer backpacking trips where weight and reliability is an issue, I carry the SOLite. For shorter backpacking trips, cycling trips, and car camping where weight is not as much an issue, and when I could get by for a night or two if it sprang a leak, I carry the NeoAir Voyager. When I finally take that overnight kayaking trip I will use the NeoAir Voyager because it will be easier to fit into my kayak than the SOLite.
This post originally appeared on The Trek and has been slightly edited.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Collecting Stoves

I started backpacking decades ago; therefore I have gone through several stoves and have seen backpacking stoves evolve. Because I don’t like throwing functional things away, I now have quite a collection of stoves.

My first backpacking stove was a Primus Ranger, similar to the Grasshopper, which used a removable butane fuel cartridge. I used that stove in some pretty cold conditions but the pot support wasn’t very stable. Pots could be easily knocked off. Nor did it come with a windscreen and I didn’t know much about windscreens back then. I don’t know what ever happened to that stove. It is not part of my collection.

During a few warmer weather trips in my early days of backpacking, which were also my minimalist days, I carried and used an old Boy Scout folding aluminum heat tab stove. I used it only to boil water for tea and to rehydrate freeze dried meals, using an old Maxwell House International Coffee tin to hold water for boiling. I once made the mistake of loaning that stove to someone for a canoeing trip. The person’s canoe flipped and he lost my stove as well as a cook set I had loaned him.

L to R, 8R, 111B, Gaz, Stesco
L to R, Whisperlite, PocketRocket

The Optimus 8R with a detachable mini pump was my first liquid fuel stove. Though a bit heavy by today’s standards, it nests inside a 2 liter Sigg pot. I used a 2 liter bottle of Coleman white gas for long trips involving a lot of stove use, a ½ liter bottle for short trips when I did not expect to make much use of the stove, and a 1 liter bottle for those in between trips.

When I started doing more winter backpacking, I upgraded from the Optimus 8R to the Optimus 111B. The 111B has a larger fuel tank than the 8R plus a built in pump. Maybe it is my imagination, but the 111B, while larger and heavier than the 8R, seems to crank out more heat and thus melt snow and boil water faster than the 8R. On group trips of six or more people, I often used both the 8R and the 111B so that we could boil water and cook/fry food at the same time.

Even though I do not use them much anymore, both the 8R and the 111B are workhorses. They served me well for about twenty years in some pretty rough conditions. They are my oldest stoves, but I have kept them because when their brass is cleaned up and shiny, they are almost works of art. Maybe someday they can be placed in a museum.

When I started doing more summer car camping at the beach rather than all season backpacking, I picked up a Gaz Twister on sale. A fuel canister stove, it was less prone to flare ups and didn’t need to be occasionally pressurized like the 8R and 111B. I also had a couple Gaz lanterns that would attach to the same canisters. I used those lanterns in the late evenings for light. The stove, lanterns, and canisters were a little bulky, but hey, I was car camping.

After my car camping days ended, I started hiking and backpacking again. I still use the Gaz Twister with the smallest fuel canister available. The canister nests inside a small pot, and the stove fits inside the top of the stuff sack with the pot.

Because it is almost impossible now to find Gaz fuel canisters in the U.S., I recently purchased a MSR Whisperlite International and a MSR PocketRocket. I use the PocketRocket on shorter trips in warmer weather and the Whisperlite for longer trips and in cold weather. When I take the Whisperlite I use an 11oz bottle of MSR SuperFuel for shorter trips and a 20oz bottle for longer trips.  I carry the Whisperlite inside an MSR Alpine Stowaway 1.6 Liter Pot which I use for boiling water. I carry a MSR fuel canister for the PocketRocket in a metal cup I also use for boiling water and eating out of.

I have played around making my own alcohol stoves out of Coke cans and have tried them around the house but have not yet taken one with me to use as my primary stove for heating water. I am still experimenting with finding a good pot support for the alcohol stove, so if you have any suggestions, please let me know.

Although I have never taken it camping, my stove collection includes an antique/vintage/rare British manufactured Stesco Hikers Stove. This white gas burning stove is indeed a work of art and an engineering marvel. It has no moving parts other than the screw on lead lined cap and removable pot supports, which means the flame is not adjustable. A cork placed through the burner coil seals in the gas when not in use. I was fortunate that a colleague gave it to me after he retired and was cleaning out the garage in preparation for a move.

Yes, I have more backpacking stoves than I will ever need, but each one seems to fill a niche. Each one also reminds me of memorable trips, including backpacking trips to Dolly Sods, the White Mountains, the High Peaks of the Adirondacks, and on the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

This post has been slightly edited from a version that originally appeared on The Trek.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the Seventh Sunday of Easter (Year A)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 is a further revision and refinement of my Lectionary Ruminations and Lectionary Ruminations 2.0.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 draws on over thirty years of pastoral experience.  Believing that the questions we ask are often more important than any answers we find, without over reliance on commentaries, I intend with sometimes pointed and sometimes snarky comments and Socratic like questions, to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to lead a Bible study, draft liturgy, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.

ACTS 1:6-14
Will you handle this Reading differently depending on whether or not your community observed and celebrated Ascension Day last Thursday?
1:6 Who are the “they” who has come together? What do they mean by “restore the kingdom of Israel”?
1:7 When will those who predict or claim to know when Christ will return learn not to?
1:8 Do you have power?  Has the Holy Spirit come upon you? Note the progression from the local to the global. How shall we interpret this if humans ever colonize Mars?
1:9 In the NRSV the action is in the passive.  Must we read “lifted up” as a physical reference?  In English, we occasionally say we “lift up” things without physically touching them or physically moving them.  What might the cloud symbolize? Do not forget the what is “up” in Jerusalem is “down” on the opposite side of the earth.
1:10 Were the two who were wearing white robes really men?
1:11 I think this is a good question.
1:12 Is the mount of Olives really a sabbath day’s journey from Jerusalem?  What is a sabbath day’s journey? How far is it?
1:13 Were they staying and eating in the same upstairs room? What is the significance of the naming? How many are named. Who is not named?
1:14 Might “constantly” be hyperbole? Who might the other women, in addition to Mary, have been Why are they and Jesus’s brothers not named?  Who were Jesus “brothers”? Were they biological brothers? How many were there?
1:13-14 That eleven men are named, but only one woman, in my mind makes this a sexist and patriarchal passage.  What would your reaction be if the passage read, “When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs were they were staying.  All of them were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, the other Mary, Martha, and Salome, as well as his brothers.”?

PSALM 68:1-10, 32-35
68:1 Is this Psalm paired with the First Reading only because of the “Let God rise up” language? What does it mean for God to rise up?
68:2 This makes God sound like a hot wind.
68:3 Do we ever act like the righteous?
68:4 Now we have “cloud” imagery to pair with the First Reading. This verse could be adapted for use as a Call to Worship.
            One: The Lord be with you.
            All:   And also with you.
            One: Sing to God.
            All:   Sing praises to God’s name.
            One: Lift up a song to the LORD who rides upon the clouds.
            All:   Be exultant before the LORD.
            One: Let us worship God
68:5 Where is God’s holy habitation?
68:6 Was Israel once desolate and a prisoner? Whom is the Psalmist talking about?
68:7 This sure sounds like a reference to the Exodus? How do you handle the “Selah” if at all?
68:8 When was the last time you heard someone begin a prayer with the address “God of Sinai”?
68:9 What is God’s heritage?
68:10 Was God’s flock needy?
68:32 Not only Israel but “kingdoms of the earth” are called to sing praises to God. This verse could also be adapted, and or combined with 68:4 for use as a Call to Worship.  Try writing your own inclusive Call to Worship using this verse. Note another Selah.
68:33-34 Here we have “rider in the heavens” and “skies” language to add to the “rise up” language of 68:1 and the “cloud” imagery of verse 68:4. When was the last time you heard God addressed as “O Rider in the Heavens?”
68:34 Here we find more sky imagery, leading me to wonder about what spiritual vacuum reports of UFOs and aliens might be filling.
68:35 My God is “awesome”!  How do you understand this affirmation?  What does it mean to be “awesome”? This verse offers more imagery and language for a Call to Worship.

1 PETER 4:12-14; 5:6-11
4:12 What is meant by ‘the fiery ordeal”?  Shall we read this any differently in light of the Holocaust/Shoah or even Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
4:13 “Rejoice”?  Really?  Is this supposed to a pep talk? Christ was not burned at the stake so how does experiencing a fiery ordeal equate with sharing Christ’s Sufferings?
4:14 I find this verse easier to take than the one before it. Have you ever been reviled for the name of Christ? I am wonder why “spirit of glory” is not capitalized but “Spirit of God” is capitalized.
5:6 What does it mean to humble oneself under the mighty hand of God? We usually exult God. Why would God exult us?
5:7 What might a Psychiatrist say about this verse?
5:8 In other words, “Pay attention.  There be Lions” and tigers, and bears, oh my! Revelation refers to Christ as the Lion of Judah. How do we reconcile the lion image as a biblical image for both Christ and the devil?  I wonder what Simba, or Aslan, might have to say this verse.
5:9 Might “all the world” be a hyperbole? Was persecution really that widespread?
5:10 Now I hear a word of hope rather than resignation but I wonder long “a little while” might be?  I like the “restore, strengthen, and establish” language and would consider using it as a Blessing or Benediction.
5:11 What function does this verse serve?

JOHN 17:1-11
17:1 What “words”? Worshipers might need to be reminded what preceded this passage. Can we still think of heaven as being up? What “hour” is Jesus referring to?  Is there a Quid pro quo here?
17:2 Did Jesus really refer to himself in the third person?
17:3 I like this image of eternal life more than eternal habitation on clouds playing harps or residing in the New Jerusalem: it is a state of mind or spirit rather than a place.
17:4 What work was Jesus given to do and how did he finish it?
17:5 Jesus had glory in God’s presence before the world existed?  Oh, that is right.  I forgot.  This is the Gospel According to John. See John’s prologue, John 1:1-18.
17:6 How could Jesus make known God’s name when Jews would not pronounce God’s name?
17:7-8 I think Jesus is attributing more knowledge and understanding to his followers than they really possessed at the time, or now.
17:9 Why the distinction between Jesus’ followers and the world?
17:10 How has Jesus been glorified in others?
17:11 If Jesus is no longer in the world but still coming to God, then where is he? What name has God given to Jesus?  How can those for whom Jesus prays in any sense of the word be “one” as Jesus and “his Father” are one?

ADDENDUM
I am a Minister Member of Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and am serving as the Interim Pastor of the Richmond United Presbyterian Church, Richmond, Ohio. Sunday Worship at Richmond begins at 11:00 AM. Some of my other blog posts have appeared on PRESBYTERIAN BLOGGERS and The Trek.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the Sixth Sunday of Easter (Year A)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 is a further revision and refinement of my Lectionary Ruminations and Lectionary Ruminations 2.0.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 draws on over thirty years of pastoral experience.  Believing that the questions we ask are often more important than any answers we find, without over reliance on commentaries, I intend with sometimes pointed and sometimes snarky comments and Socratic like questions, to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to lead a Bible study, draft liturgy, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.

ACTS 17:22-31
17:22 Last week we learned that Paul stood by while Stephen was stoned.  Now, Paul is preaching in Athens before the Areopagus.  The transition and the symbolism are startling.  What do you know about the Areopagus?  Why would Paul go there rather than to a local Synagogue?
17:23 If Paul were to walk through one of our cities, Such as New York, Washington, or Pittsburgh, what would he identify as the objects of our worship?
17:24-29 What is the content of Paul’s preaching?  What does he not say?  Is Paul’s sermon more Theistic than Christocentric?
17:24 Can we still talk about God, who made the world and everything in it, without positing a six day creation and getting sidetracked into the creationism/evolution debate?
17:25 What does Paul mean when he says that God is not served by human hands?
17:26 Who is this ancestor? Does “boundaries” refer to political or geographical boundaries?
17:27 What does it mean to search for and grope for God?  Is Paul’s argument still valid in the post-modern world?
17:28 Paul seems to appealing to secular/pagan poets.  Have we in the church forgotten how to employ the artistic expressions of contemporary culture? What if we paired or even juxtaposed contemporary writings (or other artistic expressions) with Scripture in worship before we preached? What is Paul quoting from?
17:29 In Paul’s mind, in what sense are we God’s offspring? I wonder what Paul would say about Icons, stained glass windows, and other liturgical arts and art focused on the sacred and divine.
17:30 When were the times of human ignorance? Are humans no longer ignorant?
17:31 Note that Paul refers to a “man” God raised from the dead.  Paul seems not to here assert any divinity to this “man” nor has he yet employed a name (Jesus) or a title (Christ).

PSALM 66:8-20
66:8 This sounds like and could be used as a Call to Worship. Why is “peoples” plural?
66:9 What does slipping feet refer to?
66:10 What does it mean to be tested and tried? Why is silver tried? What testing and trials might the Psalmist be referring to?
66:11 Last week the net was hidden.  This week the people have been in the net by God.
66:12 Going through water might refer to the Exodus.  What might going through fire refer to? How shal we read this after the Shoah? What and where is the spacious place?
66:13 What does it mean to pay vows? One might want to juxtapose this passage with Acts 17:24.
66:14 I wonder what sort of trouble the Psalmist had been experiencing.  Might the psalmist’s trouble and subsequent vows been anything like a foxhole confession or conversion?
66:15 How do we deal with such burnt offering and sacrifice language in the context of contemporary Christian worship, theology, and spirituality?  Do you read or not read the “Selah” in worship?
66:16 This sounds like another Call to Worship? What does it mean to fear God?
66:17 What does it mean to extol God?
66:18 Is the psalmist bragging? Does God hear the prayers of only the righteous?
66:19 Does God not head the words or our prayers if we cherish iniquity in our hearts?
66:20 Does God ever reject prayer?  Can steadfast love ever be removed?

1 PETER 3:13-22
3:13 Is this a rhetorical question? It sometimes seems in life that no good deed goes unpunished.
3:14 Can we be blessed in any other way other than suffering for doing what is right? Who are “they”?  What do “they” fear? What do you fear?
3:15 How does one sanctify Christ in their heart? Is this a call for apologetics?
3:16 Nothing bothers me more than mean, cruel, judgmental words said with gentleness and reverence. 
3:17 Does the reason for suffering in any way affect the moral value of our suffering?
3:18 What does this verse say about the nature of the resurrection? Was Christ not alive in the spirit until after he was put to death in the flesh?
3:19 Must we connect this with the “He descended into hell” phrase in the Apostles’ Creed?
3:20 Is Peter thinking only about those killed in the flood?
3:21 These are some interesting words about baptism.  Just as there are many understandings of the Lord’s Supper, are there also many understandings of Baptism? When you celebrate the Sacrament of Baptism, do you liturgically connect it to The Flood?
3:22 Who and what are these angels, authorities, and powers?

JOHN 14:15-21
14:15 This is a big “if”?  What is the nature of this love?  What are Christ’s commandments?
14:16 Is Christ’s intercession contingent on our keeping his commandments?  Why, in the NRSV, is “Advocate” capitalized?  What do you make of “another”? Can we read and interpret this verse without being informed by the Doctrine of the Trinity?
14:17 Notice that in the NRSV “Spirit” is capitalized. Note that in John 14:15 Jesus uses the future tense but we have both the present and the future tense in this verse.
14:18 “Orphaned” could be an often overlooked but powerful image, after all, Christian Theology often speaks of our being “adopted.” Is Jesus talking about the coming of the Spirit, the Second Coming, or something altogether different?
14:19 What is a little while?
14:20 What day is “that day”?
14:21 Is this free grace or does there seem to be an element of works righteousness? Had Jesus not previously revealed himself? 

ADDENDUM

I am a Minister Member of Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and am serving as the Interim Pastor of the Richmond United Presbyterian Church, Richmond, Ohio. Sunday Worship at Richmond begins at 11:00 AM. Some of my other blog posts have appeared on PRESBYTERIAN BLOGGERS and The Trek.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the Fifth Sunday of Easter (Year A)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 is a further revision and refinement of my Lectionary Ruminations and Lectionary Ruminations 2.0.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 draws on over thirty years of pastoral experience.  Believing that the questions we ask are often more important than any answers we find, without over reliance on commentaries, I intend with sometimes pointed and sometimes snarky comments and Socratic like questions, to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to lead a Bible study, draft liturgy, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.

ACTS 7:55-60
7:55 This verse offers us the opportunity to enter into all sort of speculation about the Holy Spirit.  For instance, what does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit? What does it mean to gaze into heaven? Furthermore, do people need to be reminded that “right hand of God” symbolizes; not the absolute superiority of right handedness and right handed persons?
7:56 What purpose, if any, does this verse serve?

7:57 Is this a literal or a figurative covering of ears? Who rushed against Stephen and why?
7:58 If we knew nothing about the rest of the story, would we even notice that a young man is named?  Note that this young man casts no stones. I wonder how young this man was. Why was Stephen stoned outside of the city rather than in it?  What city are we talking about?
7:59 This is certainly the prayer of a martyr.  Is this not also the prayer of anyone near death? Is it not the prayer of all Christians? Is there a difference between praying to Jesus and praying in the name of Jesus?
7:60 What does the mention that Stephen “cried out in a loud voice” remind you of?  Take a look at Luke 23:46.  Compare the conclusion of Acts 7:60 with the conclusion of Luke 23:46. What do these similarities say about Stephen?

PSALM 31:1-5, 15-16
By the Lectionary pairing this Psalm with Acts 7:55-60, are we to read this Psalm as a commentary on what else might have been going through Stephen’s mind but not recounted in the Acts passage?
31:1 What is “refuge”? The most contemporary example I can think of is a “wildlife refuge”. When I visit National Wildlife Refuges I am reminded how quiet and serene a refuge can be.

31:2 Does the “Incline your ear” make this a petition?  How can a rock be a refuge?  Is there such thing as a weak fortress?
31:3 Rock/fortress and lead/guide seem to be poetic constructions.  
31:4 What is the imagery here?  How can one be taken out of a net if the net is still hidden?
31:5 Does this verse sound familiar? Where else are we used to hearing it? Consider this verse in conversation with my comments regarding Acts 7:60.
31:15 I consider the first line the ultimate confession of faith and trust.
31:16 What does it mean for God’s face to ‘shine” on a person? Has God’s face ever shone upon you?

1 PETER 2:2-10
2:2 What is a “babe in Christ”? What is the pure, spiritual milk of which Peter speaks? Does there come a time when we outgrow spiritual milk and need to move on to more solid spiritual food?
2:3 Is this a reference to the Eucharist, more than the Eucharis, or something else altogether?

2:4 How can a stone live?  Come to think of it, I do remember one episode in the original Star Trek series where stones were living. To what might “rejected by mortals” allude or refer?
2:5 How can we be built into a spiritual house?  Is there such a thing as an unholy priesthood?  What sort of sacrifice is spiritual?
2:6-8 Is this proof texting or the imaginative play and interplay of biblical images from several sources? Is Peter engaging in anything like midrash?
2:9-10 These are two of my favorite verses of Scripture. Where Does Peter get these images? What mighty acts might Peter have in mind?  From where does Peter draw his words in 2:10? Was Peter addressing all Christians or Jewish Christians in Jerusalem?

JOHN 14:1-14
14:1-7 I have probably read these verses at more Services of Witness to the Resurrection than at Services for the Lord’s Day. Maybe it is time we hear them in a context other than one related to death. How has your heart been troubled?
14:2 Is Jesus talking about the Temple, or something else? What do you make of there being “many dwelling places” in God’s house? In what sense does our dwelling place need to be prepared?

14:3 What does it mean for Jesus to take us to himself? Why does Jesus want us with him?
14:4 Early followers of Jesus were known as followers of the way before they were known as Christians. Maybe we can think of Jesus as a spiritual GPS.
14:5 Is it ironic that Thomas is the one to speak?
14:6 Here is one more of the “I am” sayings” found in John.  How do Universalists deal with this passage?
14:7 Because of Christ, can Christians see God without fear of being struck dead?
14:8 How can Philip say this after what Jesus says in the previous verse?  Is Philip dense?
14:9 Apparently Jesus thought the same way about Philip as I do. Philip was dense! Is there any significance to this exchange involving Philip?
14:10 What does it mean for the Father to dwell in Christ?
14:11 Do we take Jesus at his word or do we need works? What works does Jesus have in mind?
14:12 This formulaic phrase, “Very truly, I tell you”  (Αμήν Αμήν λέγώ ύμίν in Greek) is found 25 times in John’s Gospel and nowhere else in the Bible.  What do you make of this fact? What works could be greater than the works of Christ?
14:13 Whatever?  Really?  I want to win a major lottery prize, even though I do not play the lottery.
14:14 What does it mean to ask in Jesus’ name? 

ADDENDUM
I am a Minister Member of Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and am serving as the Interim Pastor of the Richmond United Presbyterian Church, Richmond, Ohio. Sunday Worship at Richmond begins at 11:00 AM. Some of my other blog posts have appeared on PRESBYTERIAN BLOGGERS and The Trek.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Do I Really Need All These Packs?

With so many diverse brands and styles of packs available, each designed for a different type of use, each appealing to various needs, wants, and fashion trends, it’s no wonder I own so many.
The first backpack I called my own lasted about four years before I upgraded to a much better one. That second pack, heavily used but well maintained, served me well for over thirty five years. I hated to part with my second pack. It was like an old hiking buddy who had been on many memorable trips with me but could no longer keep up or negotiate the terrain. I have also gone through two or three frame-less day packs that eventually wore out or no longer met my needs.

I currently own several packs, some specialized, ranging from a fanny pack that converts into a day pack, a few frame-less day packs, and two internal frame backpacks. Because I have been hiking and backpacking for over forty years, I did not acquire all of these packs at once. The oldest dates back at least forty years. A couple I obtained in just the past two years. I am not as emotionally attached to any of them as I was to that thirty five year old rigid framed friend I have since discarded. My variety offers me the ability to choose the right pack for the right hike.

The four packs in my go to inventory range from a slim and trim 12 oz. day pack to a 6 lb., 4 oz. behemoth of an expedition pack.

Day Hikes

I use my limited edition REI “Member” Flash 18 for day hikes in warm weather to carry the ten essentials, rain gear, a first aid kit, food, water, and perhaps a few other items. This top loading pack offers 18 liters or 1,100 cubic inches of internal space and weighs a mere 12 oz. It is equipped to hold a bladder and offers daisy chain loops on the back through which I wove a bungee cord for quick attachment.

Day Hikes and Overnights

During colder weather, I ditch the Flash 18 and opt for my front opening Kelty Redwing Classic (2003 Model) to carry what I would have stowed in the Flash, plus a stove with some fuel, and a Therm-a-Rest seat cushion. The extra room in the pack allows me to throw in clothing that I might shed as either I or the day warms up. It offers a back pocket with two compartments for smaller items and two sleeved side pockets I can use to quickly attach XC skis to the pack.
I use this Redwing for overnight trips in warmer weather when I don’t need to carry a lot of gear; however with a three season, two person tent, sleeping bag, stove, pot, and food, I pretty much max out its 40 liters or 2,400 cubic inch capacity, with my closed cell sleeping pad lashed outside to the bottom. It weighs 3 lbs., 1 oz., over three times the weight of the Flash 18, but barely doubles the internal capacity. On the other hand, it offers lashing possibilities and three pockets that the Flash doesn’t. In addition, the ability to zip open the front allows me to see all its contents and find what I need without taking out gear or feeling around in a top loading Flash.

Overnight to Week Long Trips

My top loading Osprey Volt 75, with a 75 liter or 4,577 cubic inch capacity and weighing in at 3lbs., 12 oz., doesn’t qualify as a minimalist lightweight backpack, but it comes close. I use it for short winter trips or longer warm weather trips of up to six days and five nights and have not yet filled it to capacity. Its compression straps allow me to adjust it to fit the load I am carrying, and I can strap my closed cell sleeping pad and a tent under the bottom if I need to. The small pockets built into the waist belt are great places to store some GORP and other small items I can access without taking the pack off. A lower zipper entry into an adjustable lower part of the bag compensates for sometimes having to feel around or remove gear to find what I need. My Volt is the pack I would carry if I were headed out on the AT for a weekend trip or a through hike with resupply.

For the Expedition I May Never Take

I used my LOWE NOLS Expedition Pack only once when I was taking a Leave No Trace Master Educator Course in Shenandoah National Park and needed to carry course material as well as personal and some group gear. The Volt wasn’t in my inventory back then and the pack I did have was aged, deteriorating, and may not have held up. When I had the opportunity to buy this workhorse, new, and at a reduced price, I took advantage of the offer. I didn’t even come close to filling it up on that trip.

This internal frame expedition pack, offering 115 liters or 7,000 cubic inches of capacity and weighing 6lbs., 4 oz. is not be my first choice for a weekend trip. If I were headed out on the trail for more than a week from mid-fall to mid-spring, or needed to carry additional gear like climbing gear, this is the pack I would take. It is also the pack I would use if I ever get the chance to return to the Winds for a week of climbing or a couple weeks of backpacking without resupply.

When is Enough Enough?

These four packs currently meet all my hiking and backpacking needs. I do not foresee acquiring any more packs in the future. They offer me the opportunity to carry whatever I need, be it for a eight or ten mile day hike in warm weather or that dreamed of unsupported, two week long expedition into the Winds.

How many packs do you own? How many do you really use?  When is enough enough?

This post originally appeared on The Trek.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the Fourth Sunday of Easter (Year A)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 is a further revision and refinement of my Lectionary Ruminations and Lectionary Ruminations 2.0.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 draws on over thirty years of pastoral experience.  Believing that the questions we ask are often more important than any answers we find, without over reliance on commentaries, I intend with sometimes pointed and sometimes snarky comments and Socratic like questions, to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to lead a Bible study, draft liturgy, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.

ACTS 2:42-47
2:42 Who are “they” What does it mean to be devoted? What are you devoted to? Is it the apostles’ teaching and the apostles’ fellowship, or the apostles’ teaching and fellowship? In other words, does Apostles’ modify both teaching and fellowship or just teaching?  Regardless, I consider these the four marks of the church.  Against them, how do we measure up? What is meant by “the prayers?”
2:43 What is awe? When was the last time awe came upon you or your congregation? Are the wonders and signs the same thing as miracles or are they something different? How are these signs related to the signs Jesus performed in the Gospel According to John?
2:44 Is this pure communism?
2:45 “All” means whom?  If they distributed the proceeds to all, how did they have anything in common?
2:46 This seems to suggest that followers of Jesus were daily gathering together in the temple.
Note the distinction between what was happening in the temple and what was happening in homes.   Is “broke bread” a reference to a Eucharistic sort of meal or simply eating together? Do church covered dish and pot-luck dinners ever become sacramental?
2:47 How do you understand “day by day”?

PSALM 23
What can one say about the most popular passage in the Bible that has not already been said (like just six weeks ago on the Fourth Sunday in Lent)? Why does this Psalm appear twice in the lectionary in such a short span of time?
23:1 Does it serve any theological and homiletically purpose to point out that “The LORD” is not a reference to Jesus but to the LORD God?  How many Christians hear this Psalm as a Psalm about Jesus rather than a Psalm about God?
23:2-3 These verses speak to me from my experience and hope as a backpacker.  After a long, hot day on a trail there is no more comfort than to stop for the day in a soft, grassy clearing near a cool, mountain stream? What paths are right?
23:4 Do you prefer the “darkest valley” of the NRSV or the “valley of the shadow of death” of the KJV and RSV? What is the darkest valley, geographical, spiritual, or metaphorical, that you have ever experienced?  One afternoon when I was hiking out on the same snow covered trail that I had hiked in on in the morning, my hiking staff, with bear bell attached, was a great comfort as there were fresh bear tracks in the snow that had not been there earlier in the morning. What was the LORD’s rod and staff?
23:5 Who wants a table prepared for them in the presence of one’s enemies? What does it mean to have one’s head anointed with oil and one’s cup overflowing.  Can we really speak of overflowing cups when in the Eucharist we barely fill little plastic or glass  cups that hold less than a shot glass?  Can we speak of being anointed with oil when most congregations rarely, if ever, practice it?  I argue for anointing with oil at the time of Baptism as well as the laying on of hands associated with prayers for healing and wholeness.   If we practiced more anointing with oil, this popular Psalm might actually mean even more than it already does. Doe the “table” and “cup” inform our understanding of the Eucharist?
23:6 What is goodness and mercy? What does it mean to dwell in the house of the LORD all one’s life?  Is “house of the LORD” a reference and/or allusion to the Temple, or something else?

1 Peter 2:19-35
2:19 I would rather not receive this credit.  How about you?  What does it mean to be “aware’ of God?
2:20 I understand this within its context, but in our context, can this lead to and feed a martyr complex? Have you ever felt like no good deed ever goes unpunished?
2:21 I thought we were called to love one another, even to serve, but to suffer? How does this verse inform any theology of “call?”
2:22 Where is this quote from? Who was it originally about?
2:23 So much for an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, which is often wrongfully applied and interpreted. 
2:24 The first part of this verse often serves as a call to confession.  How is anyone healed by another’s wounds?
2:25 Is this the verse that motivated the creators of the lectionary to make Psalm 23 the Psalm for this day?  How and why do sheep stray? I like the “guardian of our souls” language.

JOHN 10:1-10
10:1 Here we have a formulaic Johannine opening introducing yet more sheep and shepherd imagery. Whom do you think Jesus/John had in mind when talking about anyone climbing in another way?
10:2 Whom do you think Jesus/John had in mind when talking about the shepherd of the sheep?
10:3 This verse seems to suggest that there are sheep of more than one shepherd in the sheepfold. Who is the gatekeeper?  Why are the sheep led out of the sheepfold?
10:4 What shall we make of the “voice”? What does the shepherd’s voice sound like?
10:5 Is there any correlation between the stranger of this verse and the thief and bandit of 10:1?
10:6 And want made John think that we would understand? Do we understand? What is a figure of speech?
10:7 Once again we have a formulaic Johannine phrase.  Why the change of metaphor from shepherd to gate? How can Jesus be both?
10:8 This verse seems to refer back to verse 1.  Whom is Jesus referring to? Who came before him?
10:9 I am fascinated by the “come in and go out” language, suggesting movement rather than stasis.  If I understand the imagery correctly, we come into the sheepfold at night to find protection, but during the day, we go out into pasture to find nourishment.  Is this what Jesus was talking about?
10:10 Who is the thief?

ADDENDUM
I am a Minister Member of Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and am serving as the Interim Pastor of the Richmond United Presbyterian Church, Richmond, Ohio. Sunday Worship at Richmond begins at 11:00 AM. Some of my other blog posts have appeared on PRESBYTERIAN BLOGGERS and The Trek.