Thanks, Tony, for your kind comments. Many people here and at previous GGGs have answered lots of questions, offered advice and shown me their gear and even how to use my own gear. Ryan, I still feel like I can't add to many discussions of gear because it's all been said by more experienced backpackers but I still continue to read regularly and learn, learn, learn. Yes, ask questions, at the GGG ask to see gear and how it's set up or how it works. Ask if someone can help you improve how your gear is used, etc.
One advantage I do have as I approach 72-if I can set it up, use it, have a successful trip with a piece of gear, clothing, etc. then others know that THEY can almost certainly do it as well or better. Last summer while hiking on the Rae Lakes Loop a couple of us LOLs got comments from people who couldn't believe we were using such light gear, using cuben tents, etc. It was a great opportunity to share with them about BPL, specific gear and answer the often asked, "Well, I shouldn't ask, but, how OLD are you?" It gives them encouragement to lighten their load so they can keep getting out on the trails into their 70's or older.
You'll find lots of friendly people at GGG. Last year I happened to set up my Hexamid Solo next to John Abela's latest tarp or tent. It must have pained him to see that I didn't have a perfect, taut set-up so he very diplomatically offered a couple of suggestions on how to improve it. Great! That's always helpful. Then I got to check out his latest gear.
So, ask, walk around all the tents/tarps, check out the packs, stoves and, most of all, talk with friendly people.
Tony, see you soon. Need to ask you and others about the many ways to use my new Sawyer Mini.
Tomorrow I meet with three older women and we'll calendar and do preliminary planning for our 3-4 backpack trips for 2014. My husband and I have a one week trip planned, too. Lucky me!!