« Exploring Patagonia | PoJoGo Home | Crossing the invisible line in the middle of nowhere »

Do Merino Sheep Smell?

Joanne 2007-04-06
Photo: Icebreaker Jo
Photo: Icebreaker Po
In the past, when traveling, packing a suitcase was a no brainer. Should I take another pair of shoes? A few more t-shirts? Sure, why not? As long as the suitcase closes by whatever means necessary, throw it in! This was my thinking BEFORE we decided to carry our "home" and all of our belongings in backpacks.

My shift in mindset changed from thinking - why not take it? To - was this item an unnecessary luxury? And, was it worth the added weight and real estate it would occupy in my backpack? Ok, truth be told, when packing for our travels, it was not uncommon for Paul to have to gently coax items out of my clenched, white knuckled hands... I never said it was an immediate shift in mind-set!

Initially, when exploring bigger cities, I would often find myself stopped in front of clothing store windows, yearning to buy just a few more t-shirts. My internal dialogue would rapidly fire back and forth between: Buy it! No, don't. I'll have more to carry. Buy it! No, don't. I'll have more to carry...

The main incentive in keeping our backpacks as light as possible is the freedom to explore a new place upon arrival, rather than seek out the closest hostal to unload. Having experienced this lightfootedness time and time again, eventually, this "freedom" outweighed the desire to own a few more t-shirts or any other clothing, and the urges disappeared.

When I thought it wasn't humanly possible to pare down our gear any further, we did just that! Before going south to begin our camping excursions, we sifted through all our belongings, scrutinizing each and every item, taking only the absolute essentials, the rest got left behind in Buenos Aires.

Conceptualizing what the "bare essentials" are, is bound to conjure up differing visuals and ideas in us all. What one would consider as excessive, wasteful and unnecessary, another would consider to be minimalistic and insufficient.

After reading about all the varying climatic possibilities in Patagonia, our definition morphed into taking but one set of layered clothing, so in the coldest conditions we would be wearing them all (minus the extra socks and underwear, but even some of these items got left behind). In the end, our wardrobe consisted of the following: 1 pair pants, 1 t-shirt, 1 thin and 1 thick sweater, 1 windproof/waterproof jacket and pants, 1 shorts. Deciding what to wear every morning, now that was a no brainer!

Paul and I take great pleasure in "tweaking" our gear -questioning if there's anything we need to change, to replace, send home, what has not been used... Every now and then there is an item that needs absolutely no tweaking at all, it is only to be appreciated for it's excellence.

Before beginning traveling, our intensive gear research led us to Icebreaker, a company that makes clothing from 100 percent merino wool. They claim that this type of wool is not only light weight and quick drying, but will also not smell, even after repeated use without washing.

We stayed in the wilderness for almost 2 weeks, where wind, rain and snow predominated, and our highest priority was that we keep ourselves warm and protected, which eliminated any possibility of washing them. This was the ultimate test!

Amazingly, their claim was absolutely true, our t-shirts performed beautifully. While we may not have smelled like roses, they showed no signs of the long arduous days of trekking they endured.

How can this be? It leaves me wondering, do merino sheep smell? Should I ever encounter any merino sheep on our travels, I will surly find out for myself and let you know.


Permalink by Gug   |  April 6, 2007 05:19 PM

Ahhh, merino sheep! Minimizing, you are very good students. Next step up, I think, would be becoming a Tibetan monk in orange robe nothing else, oh yes, your walking sticks too. Joanne, you may have to shave your head :)

Permalink by John Condos   |  April 9, 2007 07:23 AM

Hi Guys: Fascinating posts and both of you are excellent writers. We miss you in sunny Encinitas. Love, John.

Ps. I can almost bend down to pick up the newspaper on my driveway without grunting.

Permalink by Anonymous   |  April 11, 2007 12:03 PM

WOW! I marvel at all you are doing and experiencing.What an opportunity of a lifetime made possible by a couple who are gutsy and brave and daring. Enjoy! Stay safe!Love,MOMxoxo/Pennyxoxo

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)