Sunday, June 29, 2008

Backpacking Gear Shakedown

John and I met at Colonial Creek campground Wednesday evening. The rough winter had destroyed the water tank and there were no other services available so camping was free. Whoo-hoo! We hiked up the Thunderhead Bank Trail to kill some time and spent a quiet night there since we were the only campers. Thursday morning we parked at the East Bank Trailhead at milepost 138 and our Ross Lake backpacking trip began. John's pack weighed in at 50 pounds. Mine was 32. He wasn't happy to hear that. I took half the tent from him and that helped a little. During the next three days we both figured out what was extra and unnecessary as well as what few items we needed to add. Since we were new to this we didn't know how fast we should go. We covered three miles in the first hour. I'd forgotten to trim my toenails before leaving home and paid for it. What a doofus! I had to wrap my toes with tape to keep the nails from further slicing open the neighboring toes. There were no problems the day before so they must've grown just that little bit in one day to make a difference. Our first campsite, Rainbow Point, was only an eight mile trek so we knew we were going to get there early. (Fortunately, someone there had nail clippers and I was saved for the remainder of the trip.) Getting to your campsite early in the day is a problem because then you have all kinds of time to kill. We both forgot to bring a deck of cards or anything else to help us pass the dead time. And it's not like we're rabid conversationalists either.
Yep, there's more trees over there.

Friday was a warmer day and we hiked six miles to our second campsite at Lightning Creek. We took our time but we still got there before noon. Saturday's hike was 12 miles backtracking and it was a very hot day. Stopping at the many creeks and waterfalls was a treat because they felt like air conditioning. We'd stop and filter some water and have a refreshing, ice-cold drink. We were supposed to spend Saturday night at the Ruby Pasture campground but it was in such poor condition we decided to hike the three miles out and go elsewhere. So Saturday's hike was 15 miles. The only problem I had--and a major problem at that--with all our hiking was with the heel in my right boot. It would slide when I'd push off while going up hill. I blistered every day. I went through a lot of moleskin, duct tape and Body Glide to mitigate the effect but that's not going to work for the Wonderland Trail since that has a ton of elevation gain every day. The freezer bag cooking worked great. The meals are easy to prepare and there's nothing to clean except a spoon. We actually had too much for each meal so we can divide that up into smaller portions. Other than force feeding myself large portions I was also uncomfortable eating hot meals on a hot day. I'm adding a pair of sandals and nail clippers to my list of gear. Oh, and a deck of cards. This is what happens when you leave a couple of Power Bars in your glove box for three days at a national park trailhead. The 1996 Honda Civic is not critterproof.

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