View Full Version : Backpacking Memories

09-05-2002, 14:42
It was a relatively short day mileage-wise, but time seemed to stretch on and on. In March of 1975 we entered the foothills of Mt. Everett heading toward Jug End on the 4th day of a section hike from Lee, MA to the NY/CT border. Snow was still on the north-facing slopes, but we were faring okay. However, the first real precipitation of the trip arrived in the form of a slight rain just before Jug End. We donned our raingear and started climbing the straight up to the ridge, during which time I realized that my new rain chaps were too long for me; I kept stepping on the ends of them while walking uphill.

We traversed several minor summits before descending to begin climbing the northern arm of Mt. Everett. The rain turned to sleet and then wet snow as we gained altitude. We didnít stop often for fear of getting colder than we already were. The climb seemed to go on forever (it used to be 12.5 miles from Sheffield, where we started the day, to the top of Mt. Everett, but now it's only 9.1 according to the 2001 Data Book).

We finally neared the top of the mountain. The only way I could tell was because the vegetation thinned out, the fog was so thick. Near the summit there was a slick patch of ice covering about 10 yards of the uphill Trail. We knew we had to be close to the lean-to (since torn down), so I scampered up and searched ahead. I soon reached the firetower at the summit and realized that we had bypassed the shelter. I started to worry that they had taken it down, but I re-read the hiking guide and realized it was by a road we had crossed just before the ice patch.

I slowly stumbled downhill, sliding on all fours down the ice patch and turned into a parking lot by the end of the road. A few yards in we could barely see the outline of the lean-to not 40 yards from the Trail.

We stumbled in, and I realized that we had to get warm Ė fast. Sleeping bags came out and we had a small snack. We all just wanted to go to sleep, but I got up enough energy to heat some soup. The fog was so thick that it dampened everything in the shelter. In retrospect, we were probably in the first stages of hypothermia, a condition that was not as well recognized by the general public in the mid-70ís as it is now. We were fortunate to have found shelter when we did.

While it was a miserable, cold, wet day, we were finally warm. We woke up to a gorgeous, memorable morning. The cloud layer was now below the 2,602-foot summit with a warming sun reflecting off the cloud tops (click here (http://www.whiteblaze.net/gallery//showphoto.php?photo=155) for a photo that doesn't begin to capture the view). The view and our ability to overcome moderate adversity (we were 17 at the time) renewed our vigor in the hike (which came in handy when I slipped on the solid ice of the Trail on the north side of Sages Ravine (http://www.whiteblaze.net/gallery//showphoto.php?photo=156) and almost fell into the overflowing brook. I still remember the view and how I felt getting up that morning.

09-05-2002, 18:42
Its been rainy and cold, one hiker out of your group was rushed off to a hospital with a torn achillies and youve been lost and ended up hiking south when you wanted to go north for about three miles and you still have eight and a half miles to go and its around four o clock in the afternoon. you are forced to sleep in a parking lot along skyline drive and get yelled at by rangers ever hour or so who havnt heard from the other rangers that your allowed to be there. you squeeze thirteen people under a two man tarp. but it turns out to be a great bonding experiance and you learn a lot about one another.you have a knee thats acting up and a toe that has gotten infected. but you keep at it. you have to resort to using two large sticks as semi-crutches just to keep moving forward, and still you press on. and you realize, that not once have you thought about going home, because you are home. the hardships and the misfortunes are part of the trail and part of the experiance. determination is a strong force behind anyone. if you set your mind to it your are more than capable of accomplishing your goal. everyone has days that just seem like hell, but really if you make the most of them, they can be the days you never forget.

Former Member
02-28-2003, 09:31

02-28-2003, 10:14
This past November I was doing a section hike from Troutville to Damascus. Well from the time I got on the trail until the time I got off the weather was pure lousy. I now realize that the schedule I was trying to keep was pushing things a little too hard. One day to get myself back on schedule I had to do a 22 or 23 mile day which is a stretch I normally would not plan on. Well,day turned to night and I had 3 or less miles until Bailey Gap shelter. The wind was bad, it was raining/sleeting, the fog was thick, and it was cold. The only light I had was a tikka headlamp which was not enough to cut the heavy fog so when the trail started to cross large boulders I eventually lost the trail,after wandering in the general area for maybe 20 minutes I realized I had to set up camp and make the best of it. The shelter I was carrying was a sil-shelter which I had never slept in although I had practiced setting it up(thank God!). I always hike solo but this was one night I wished I had somebody with me. The shelter proved reliable but like in Kerosenes last post I think I may have been nearing the first stage of hypothermia at the time I decided to stop and set up camp.
What I learned:
No more $2.00 cotton work gloves
Plan shorter days when daylight is shorter.
If you're an excessive sweater like me carry more clothing because my clothing never had a chance to dry even when sleeping with it. I did keep one set of clothes dry strictly for sleeping.
Be able to set up camp in the worst weather and in an undesirable location.
No matter how experienced you think you are you may run into rough situations.

10-09-2003, 20:11
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