My stove came in the mail last week, and I have to admit that I've been a little scared to try it. Having never used an alcohol stove before, I knew it would be a trial-and-error process. So, I set up my junk in the driveway and made today the day.
Hot water was first on the menu. The directions say that the stove is "fine-tuned" to bring 2 cups of water to a boil on 15mL of fuel. After spilling fuel on the driveway and myself, and wasting a few matches in failed attempts to light, I got my water cooking. The stove burnt out just as the water was on the verge of boiling (maybe because it was cold outside?), so I tried again with 20mL of fuel and got 2 cups to boil in about 6 minutes. (I don't know if that is good or not..?)
I had bought some Lipton rice sides and tried cooking one of those next. I ran in the house for a minute (big mistake) and when I came back out the rice had boiled over and made a nice mess on the driveway. The stove burnt itself out in 13 minutes (I had used 40mL of fuel), but the rice was done enough, so overall I consider that experiment to be a success. It did plant the idea of carrying a small towel designated only for kitchen use in case I have an incident like that on the trail. It was easy to clean up in the kitchen sink but would be a bigger problem in the woods..let's just hope that doesn't happen! I cooked some Ramen noodles next (much easier than the rice) without incident. Maybe I will just get lucky and won't get tired of eating Ramen every night!
As for preparation in general, I'm still waiting on some of my gear to come in the mail, and I have a few things I still need to order as well. My tent shipped this week so I should be getting it soon, and weather permitting, next weekend's project will be seam-sealing it. I expect that to be pretty interesting.
Mentally, I'm definitely not ready, and I'm not sure that there is a way that I can be. Since I've never done anything of this magnitude, it's hard to know what kind of mental fortitude I am going to need, and thus difficult to prepare. Before all the trips I have been on previously, my mindset has been, I'm going to be cold, I'm going to be wet, I'm going to be dirty, I'm going to be tired, I'm going to be miserable. The difference is thatin this case, I could be cold, wet, dirty, tired, and miserable for weeks at a time. How do I prepare myself for that?
Physically, I have (admittedly) been slacking big-time. I've been doing steps consistently but I haven't been meeting my other weekly goals. I think the distraction of tangible preparation has been a big factor, and once that is out of the way I will be able to focus more on the physical. I tell myself that the more I do now, the easier it will be later, but my mind's rebuttal to that is, it's going to hurt no matter what. :)
I now have only four weeks left at work, and five weeks until I actually start the trail. It's hard to believe it's down to weeks now; when I started planning it was a matter of months! Soon it will only be days away...March is coming fast!
Trail Designs Caldera Cone for REI Ti Ware 900mL pot