Now that we have all this new gear, we need to become familiar with it before we use it for the first time.The Colorado high country is not the place to figure out how our tent works, so we found a spot in the back yard to set it up and take it down. Now when we do it for real, we’ll know what we’re doing.

We browsed the manuals for our sleeping bags and pads. It turns out that they both want to be “decompressed” when they’re stored in the back of our truck for days at a time. The sleeping bags will become matted if they’re stored in a pack, and the pads will lose their ability to self-inflate if we keep them rolled up. They’ll take a bit more room in the truck, but we’ve invested in this stuff for the Long Haul, so we want to maintain it properly.

Since we plan to do a lot of hiking at very high elevations, we’ve been training. Since the snow melted, we’ve gone to Hixon Forest to hike on the trails that go to the tops of the bluffs. There is one trail that’s not on the “official” maps that starts near the parking lot and follows a straight line to a sparsely visited overlook. Our goal was to be able to make the climb to that overlook before we leave. We’re pleased to report that we’ve achieved our goal.

We worked our way up to that by making frequent use of the other trails to climb the bluffs. The change in elevation between the parking lot and the lookout points is several hundred feet, so this was the best preparation for Colorado we’d be able to find in Wisconsin. Today we made one last climb, and we took the steepest trail we could find.

In the process, RoZ got to break in her hiking boots, Obbie broke in his sandals, and we got to spend some time getting familiar with our camcorder. We shot some footage and easily imported it into our laptop to edit into a half-assed video. The video quality looks good and it captures superb audio without the assistance of the external mike we got for it. But we’re seeing a lot of strange indicators on the display screen, and we can’t find an easy way to get the digital stills out of the camera and into the computer.

If we don’t solve that last problem, we’ll only be able to shoot about a hundred digital stills before our memory card fills up.

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