Thank you, both David and Matt, for your feedback.
David, I was wondering about the possibility of tapering as you described, but thought perhaps I was being odd with that possibility. Nice to see I wasn't so off when I came up with the idea initially. Tapering is something I'll ask Chris about.
Matt, as I suspect many of us on this site suffer from, I do believe I'm addicted to gear :-) I don't consider being so a bad thing, however. I can pay for it, I'm not out gambling, drugging or drinking my money away and learning about/buying/using cool gear is a great hobby.
I have several packs from a gigantic, ultra-heavy Dana Designs Terraplane all the way down to my small Gregory hydration pack. I did the 500 mile Camino de Santiago with the Dana (first time I ever got into and did a long distance hike back in 2003. The pack was very sound but WAY too heavy and big), 125 miles on my GoLite Infinity Pack (this is a 50 liter pack, but it took a beating on the AT and needed to be sent in for refurbishing. I sent the pack in on February 15th and have not yet received word as to when I'd get the pack back. The size was great and the pack was super comfortable, but I was hiking with another person so the tent (TT Squall) and cook set were split between us - and it was summer). I did the Tour du Mont Blanc using my REI Venturi 30L pack. Just right in every way for this trip.
Using the external pockets, I think I could make a 50L bag work for this trip (Thru hike of the Superior Hiking Trail to begin May 2nd). Northern MN just this morning got another 12"+ of snow dumped on top of a very deep snow base as it was. I'm sure I'll be hiking snowy trails, etc. The pack that Chris is building is specific to this trip, but, of course, I would love to be able to continue using it on other trips as well. Thanks again for your thoughtful replies.