View Full Version : First Practice Run

04-19-2014, 20:25
Made it out for my first training overnight last night. It's been a while since I've backpacked (little over 10 years) and here's a few things I've noticed:

1) Tent - It rained for 16 consecutive hours (from 7 PM last night until around 11 AM this morning). My tent was a champ. No water issues, weighs nothing, and goes up in no time (BA Fly Creek UL2).

2) Water - I've been a little iffy about filtering water, going between a Sawyer and Aquamira. I really loved using the Sawyer though and it was simple, much more so than pumping used to be.

3) Cooking - I've decided on a Jetboil and this was my first trip with it. I've used alcohol in the past and while it works well in most conditions, but I just wanted cooking to be easy. A little over two minutes to boil two cups of water? I'm into it. It might be my favorite new piece of gear at this point.

4) Sleeping - I picked up an Alpinlite. Comfortable, VERY warm, and very light. I slept very well in it last night. However, I'm on the fence about the Thermarest Neoair xlite. I always slept on pads when I was younger and I found myself rolling off of the Neoair quite a few times during the night. I tried it blown up completely, almost flat, and everything in between. Laying on my back while on it was also uncomfortable. I'm not done with it, but it's really the only thing I have that I wasn't thoroughly happy with.

5) Pack - Osprey Exos 58 - Nothing bad to say here. Light, perfect size for me and has all the little pockets that I love about Osprey.

6) Fitness - I mountain bike 4-5 times a week and can go for hours and climbing mountains did a number on my hip and knee. I only did 18 miles over two days (1 night) and I'm very sore now. I never used hiking poles when I was younger but discovered how great they are around mile 15. Training with a weighted pack and using my hiking poles will hopefully be all I need to not suffer the first few days next year.

I also taught myself the PCT bear bagging method and was able to practice it with tons of success. It's way easier than how I bagged years ago. If you haven't yet, get on youtube and practice up.

Anybody else make it out this weekend or recently? I'd love to hear how you guys are doing and anything I should be doing right now to get my skills where they should be.

04-19-2014, 21:07
I've completed 28 AT section hikes and day 1 always hurts. I just got back from a 3 trip and guess what, day 1 hurt, particularly the uphills. Gym keeps me from getting sore. You look ready to go!

warld piece
04-19-2014, 21:15
Keep on Keepin on... .. .
I did a 13 mile day the other day testing homemaid pack. The up and down of rocks at Mt. Rogers got to my knee. Bought a nice brace with hinges for 20 bucks at mallwart. Heading out in the morning to do 300+ mile section. Thought walking and treadmill had got me in shape, should have done some stairs. I am also getting back out after a couple years break. Good luck and take care... .. .

04-20-2014, 15:50
Did a hike this Thursday/Friday from Deep Gap, NC to Dick's Creek Gap Ga. Tried out my new Osprey Exos 48 and Sawyer mini filter. Wish I could have spent more time out, but for Easter with family. :)

04-21-2014, 09:14
I just got back from Max Patch. Just did an overnight with the dog to see how he fit into my new tent(Lightheart Solo) and there was plenty of room for him to explore and find a spot at night without disturbing me much. We had great weather, apart from a blustery night which was to be expected but the tent performed great even through the winds and I slept great. I don't see too many changes being made but we'll see what the industry can lure me into...

04-27-2014, 11:42
HI Kennajm, I did my thru in 2013 with some of the same stuff, here are my impressions.

Water - I used a Sawer and liked it quite a bit. I use a water bladder with a quick release and made an adapter so I could squeeze it right into the bladder without taking it out of my pack. It worked great. Only downside is you need a cup of some sort for shallow water sources to fill the bag. The big plus for me was no supplies to worry about. I would use it again.

Cooking - I started with and alcohol stove I used for years. I never thought I would change it out, but the speed of the small canister stoves won me over. I switched in Damascus and by the warmer months I had sent my stove home entirely. I never cooked after it got warm. The Jetboil is a great stove and many people used it and loved it. I think its a great choice. The only downside is that its a little bit larger than a micro burner and a 700ml ti pot. But I think the convenience and speed make up for the slightly larger size.

Sleeping - I had the xlite and have mixed opinions about it. I did not have any back issues (im 43) using it. I sleep on my side so I wanted lots of hip support. I too had issues feeling like I was rolling off of it but I think that was minor in the long run. The big downside to me was the setup time. At the end of the day its sooooo easy just to roll out a mat. The big consideration here is just how often and long you will be using it. After using it day after day for months you might get tired of blowing it up (I did). It held up well and I do recommend it, but if you can be comfortable using something like a zlite then the set up time might make a difference. One huge plus for the xlite: When it was hot (and it gets real f'ing hot in the mid-Atlantic states) it doubled a a great raft to float around in lakes with. I used it several times that way.

Fitness - Don't worry about it. Your knees will suffer on and off. I started out at 261 pounds (finished at 192). Poles help very much. Your body will adjust. Some days you will just have to take it easy, just listen to yourself on those days. A short day can really save you from a bad injury if your body is telling you to stop. Don't do miles just to get a daily goal in. Everyday will be different.

Bear Bagging - Mostly a waste of time. I say mostly because there are some instances where it is prudent, but most hikers (and myself) realized it was not necessary. I bear bagged when others were in camp and were more comfortable doing it and in areas known for bear issues. If you spend the night with a decent size group you most likely wont have an issue with not bear bagging. What I do suggest is hanging your food in all shelters. Mice are a bigger worry than the bears.

I hope my comments help,
Have a great Hike! (might do it again in 2015, perhaps I'll see you out there)

04-27-2014, 13:07
The most common injury I have seen is knees. It doesnt discriminate, young, old, etc. Almost every time I came across a group of 4-5 hikers that started together, usually one was having to drop out due to knee issues before they got out of GA.

Listen, and believe, that you need to start slow, and add mileage very slowly when you in it for the long haul. Your cardiovascular fitness is irrelevant, your tendons and ligaments get little blood flow, and they adapt slooowwwlllyyyy. The old runners proverb of adding 10% per week works well. Section hikers can go out and hit 20mpd, no big deal if they get sore , they are going home anyway. A new thru hiker needs to plan for success.

Last weekend my son and I were hiking . We were plodding along, a few thru hikers we had passed up started passing us. They were rushing to get to the shelter because there are only 6 spots, and the ground sucks for tenting there. One guy, after he passed us, started sort of running with his pack, trying to catch up to the others. A few miles later, we passed him up limping along very slowly. He stepped off the trail for us to pass, but pretended to be looking at a view, seemed to be embarassed, didnt look at us or say hello.

He did a stupid thing, and it might have derailed him a few days, a week, or ended his hike.

To top it off, there were lots of great campsites at the gaps that came after the shelter. The shelter was overcrowded with people pitching on sloped surfaces. 250 yds past the turnoff for the shelter, was great flat tent areas in a gap, as well as water source. Few camping spots are really in the guidebook. Dont stress about it. Anyplace that says "gap" means reasonably flat ground.

Hike longer, not faster. Trying to go to fast will only significantly increase your chances of getting hurt, and thats not what a thru hiker needs. Your hike can end with a single misstep. Believer it.

04-28-2014, 07:44
snaef999 and MuddyWaters -- this is exactly the kind of insight I was looking for. Thank you. I think I'm at the point in preparation where I question everything from my gear choices to "Can I really do this?" Hopefully that will subside as I get closer and I can just walk. I had a lot of fun out there last week, and that made me feel a lot better about everything.

Oh, and snaef, I hadn't thought about the raft thing. That may give my xlite a second life.

04-29-2014, 12:24
I know the feeling, but you are way ahead of the game. Don't sweat all the little details. Your expectations will be right and wrong. There are plenty of opportunities early in the hike (if your going NOBO) to switch up gear as needed. My best advise is to not over plan. Break the entire trip into smaller sections and sit back and enjoy the changing seasons. Have a great hike. When you see a little sign offering a hot breakfast or some ice cream (you may have to play crochet though), take the extra time to go off the trail a few 1/10ths. Those people make all the difference and you will never regret meeting them.