Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The night before

Well as I leave work to finish up the odds and ends I feel a knot forming in the pit of my stomach. Will we be able to achieve our mile plan? Will the cold 35 degrees overtake us at night? Will we be able to trudge on through the forecasted rains? Will our gear hold up? For that matter will I get all packed up tonight and bed at a reasonable hour?

Rusty Nuts and I will complete our final gear inspection and packing tonight then spend the evening in the hammocks in the back woods. Up early to the trail head and off we shall set forth to answer these questions.

The forecast hasn't changed much for the weeks weather, thunderstorms on our first day, near freezing temps the next night, giving way to mild 60 degree days of mostly sunshine, and wrapping up the weekend with clouds. I was prepared for cold, rain, and a Forrest still slumbering from winter. Over the last few weeks we have been gifted with sunshine in abundance, warm days in the 80's and a full showing of spring blooms and buds. I guess I got a tad spoiled. A few day hikes confirmed that the wilderness is again wild, awake, and as eager to emerge from dormancy as I am. Snakes slither to sun bathe, flowers rip through the soil towards to the world, the trees once again show their leafy cover and the grass has carpeted the landscape. Everything seems to be in place for a spring hike, yet after lounging hiking forums, extensive planning, late nights building rain flys, and numerous gear checks I still feel unprepared and inadequate for the trail.

Tomorrow we shall see what adventure awaits us.

Friday, March 23, 2012

5 Days in the Shenandoah National Park

Well it's almost time. Time to pack up and get out for a while. Spring has sprung and I am ready to get away from the hustle and bustle of it all and get back to nature. I usually get to do 2 trips on the Appalachian Trail each year with ol Rusty Nuts, my hiking buddy. Next week we are headed through the Shenandoah National Park from North to South. The trip is almost 100 miles and we are going to do it over the course of 5 days. That will leave us with some days hiking almost 25 miles a day. To date the longest miles hiked by us in a single day is around 16 miles so we really have our work cut out for us.

Our daily mile plan is as follows:
Day 1 - 20.9
Day 2 - 15.3
Day 3 - 23.9
Day 4 - 21.4
Day 5 - 14.3

Map of out hike from Front Royal to Waynesboro

On the map above you can see the locations of the shelters. We are planning to stay at every other shelter along the way. The shelters are a great place to meet other hikers, get water, build a fire and take cover from nasty weather. Most of the through-hikers stay in the shelter but we like to set up camp just outside of them for a bit more solitude. In the picture below, posted by FlyPaper on the whiteblaze.net forum, shows the 3 sided shack, picnic table and fire pit. Standard fair for the shelters on the trail.

Rock Springs Hut. Photo by FlyPaper

Our pack weights should be just under 30lbs so we're hoping for easy going. The temps are fore casted to be highs of 70, lows of 40 and thunderstorms at least 2 of the days. Staying dry should be much easier this trip as we have forgone traditional tents and now will be hanging comfortably above the ground in new hammock tents with over sized rain flys extending out 6 feet on either side. One of the major benefits of a rain fly that is 12X10 is that there is now ample shelter to stay under and cook, pack, etc in case of rainy conditions.

That is my DIY Hex Tarp 12X10
So this weekend I will be spending my time getting everything prepared. This includes breaking down all the foods to the most basic and lightest forms. Noodles taken out of boxes and put into ziplock bags, rationing out powered milk, oatmeal, etc. Weighing all the items, and distributing them between our two packs evenly.

Well here's to hoping for good weather, plenty of fresh water, and some good memories!