I just want to say that my experience with this site and forum has been wonderful, and I am grateful to all of you for sharing so much know-how and experience in a positive atmosphere.
I just signed on as a member -- mainly to take advantage of discounts on gear that I can't get elsewhere. But I am also looking forward to perusing all the articles I couldn't read before.
I first heard of lightweight backpacking just 10 months ago when I visited REI in the States for the first time in years and was *shocked* at packs that weighed "just" 2.5 pounds. Back in Ukraine, I began reading online and gradually got the drift of things. I made a bunch of purchases early on that were decent, but not truly ultralight. Then, in February, I visited the U.S. again and had a TON of gear mailed for pick up. I got "Beyond Backpacking" and read it three times to try to let as much as possible sink in.
Back in Ukraine, I started taking a bunch of solo hikes and increasing the mileage and dropping weight. I've gotten down to 7 lbs so far and am now thinking about 1 and 2 lbs for summer hikes in balmy Crimea.
Now I'm heading to Colorado shortly to do my first long-distance hike -- a yo-yo through the Co. Rockies. It's always been my dream to experience the Rockies close-up, and now I can do it. All my reading and efforts to gain real-life experience have made this possible.
To this day I have not yet seen another ultralight backpacker in real life. In January I launched a website in Russian for the hitherto nonexistent UL community in the Russian speaking world, and it has garnered a lot of interest. I want to give back some of what I have learned and find new friends and contacts at the same time.
Anyways, I just wanted to say thanks to this community and to the folks who created it.