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  1. #1

    Default Is There Anything Left In My Pack? The Pursuit of UL

    I have found over the past year or so that I am naturally looking for new challenges involving my hiking.

    • I earned a nasty leg injury a few weeks ago and was excited to do a hike to navigate having an injury on trail
    • I have started diving into my trail diet, picking items that support the needs of my body on trail vs just eating junk food
    • My trips have evolved a bit, from straight long trails to completing trail systems ie GSMNP900, the Natchez Trace road walk etc


    And so with my latest 133 mile walk I really saw opportunity in reducing what I carry and what I carry weighs.
    I already have a light pack....For CDT#2 with 4 days food I was at 23 lbs. But there is still a lot of meat on the bone and I am determined to shed it by CDT#3...it could be a long trip

    Item>Current>New

    Tent> Dipole 2Li 31oz> Altaplex Classic 16.5oz> 14.5oz savings
    Poles> Komperdell Vario xp Carbon Poles(qty2) 16.6oz> zpacks minimalist single pole 5.9oz> 10.7oz savings
    Pad> Exped ul7 pad LW 21oz> Neoair uberlight LW+flextail zero pump 2oz> 7.3oz savings
    Headlamp> BD Storm 500 4.23oz> Nitecore NU25UL 1.6oz> 2.63oz savings
    Battery> Anker 20mah>12.5oz Nitecore 20Mah 10.42oz> 2.08oz savings
    Quilt> EE 0* LW Convert quilt 36oz> EE 40*LW Convert quilt 22.6oz> 13.4oz savings

    50.6oz(3.16lb) Savings
    New Base weight 5lbs: for tent, pole, pad, headlamp, battery & quilt. Still have some other items to add to that of course but this initial set pf purchased items will make the biggest impact. Does anyone have experience with the altaplex, zpacks minimalist pole or neoair uberlight?

    I do plan to put the sylicone dots on the bottom of the pad
    Trail Miles: 5,154.2
    AT Map 1:
    ✔ | 13-21'
    Sheltowee Trace: ✔ | 20-23'
    Pinhoti Trail: ✔ | 23-24'
    Foothills Trail: ✔ | 24'
    GSMNP900: 134.7(17%)
    AT Map 2: 279.4
    CDT: 210.9
    BMT: 52.7

  2. #2
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    Gambit, I know what you should do.

    The combined Cohutta and Big Frog wilderness areas straddle the Georgia/Tennessee line. Find an old-fashioned paper map and figure out the optimal way to cover every trail (perhaps 150-175 miles) in a single trip or maybe two. It will be complex and rewarding to come up with a plan and it'll take time. Sometimes you'll have to backtrack certain trails, but you can probably do it in 10-15 days or so. Then, go do it!

    Tipi Walter has hiked many of these trails. I've covered all in the Cohutta W.A. and about 20 miles of the Big Frog W.A. I'll be glad to provide info. And perhaps I can find a chance to rendezvous and meet you on the trail.

    On the trail, 2.5 ounces won't cross your mind. You'll enjoy the views and the efforts and, above all, the river crossings (assuming you do this in the summertime) and can swim whenever the mood strikes.

  3. #3
    Registered User Slugg's Avatar
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    04-07-2017
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    Georgia
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    31
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Roper View Post
    Gambit, I know what you should do.

    The combined Cohutta and Big Frog wilderness areas straddle the Georgia/Tennessee line. Find an old-fashioned paper map and figure out the optimal way to cover every trail (perhaps 150-175 miles) in a single trip or maybe two. It will be complex and rewarding to come up with a plan and it'll take time. Sometimes you'll have to backtrack certain trails, but you can probably do it in 10-15 days or so. Then, go do it!

    Tipi Walter has hiked many of these trails. I've covered all in the Cohutta W.A. and about 20 miles of the Big Frog W.A. I'll be glad to provide info. And perhaps I can find a chance to rendezvous and meet you on the trail.

    On the trail, 2.5 ounces won't cross your mind. You'll enjoy the views and the efforts and, above all, the river crossings (assuming you do this in the summertime) and can swim whenever the mood strikes.
    I “red-lined” this Cohutta/Big Frog in a little over a year’s time (including Sugar Cove Trail which was not/is not a “trail” anymore). And I’ve got about 3 miles to go to red-line the Citico/Slickrock area as well. Got a few other areas I’m working on doing the same like Southern Nantahala, Sypsey, Linville Gorge, Bald River Gorge/Upper Bald River, Snowbird, etc. You don’t really hear about people doing this much but it is quite rewarding, fun, and I would say more challenging than long trails.
    Appalachian Trail 16-
    678/2198
    Pinhoti Trail 17-20
    321/321
    Benton MacKaye Trail 17-21
    286/286
    Bartram Trail 22
    116/116
    Foothills Trail 21
    78/78
    Palmetto Trail 22-
    22/380

  4. #4
    Registered User Slugg's Avatar
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    Georgia
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    You havent mentioned clothing in your pack list..Might be able to shed some ounces taking a close look at individual times and substituting where possible.
    Appalachian Trail 16-
    678/2198
    Pinhoti Trail 17-20
    321/321
    Benton MacKaye Trail 17-21
    286/286
    Bartram Trail 22
    116/116
    Foothills Trail 21
    78/78
    Palmetto Trail 22-
    22/380

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slugg View Post
    You haven’t mentioned clothing in your pack list..Might be able to shed some ounces taking a close look at individual times and substituting where possible.
    Already took all my clothes out of pack LOL just got what i wear, other than insulating top. No extra clothes. After these upgrades, I will be down to counting grams. I tend to do that as well, currently you know I may have 3-4 tubes of Chapstick, 2 lighters and 2 of the same charge cord...So I will need to start being more intentional with THE item I bring, vs taking enough to not have t look for it in more than one place lol
    Trail Miles: 5,154.2
    AT Map 1:
    ✔ | 13-21'
    Sheltowee Trace: ✔ | 20-23'
    Pinhoti Trail: ✔ | 23-24'
    Foothills Trail: ✔ | 24'
    GSMNP900: 134.7(17%)
    AT Map 2: 279.4
    CDT: 210.9
    BMT: 52.7

  6. #6
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    Rome, Georgia
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    Gambit, a couple of questions.

    (1) When did you do the Sugar Cove Trail? Was there actually any trail left? What did you think of the experience? I did Sugar Cove about 18 years ago, when it was still a maintained trail.

    2) What is "red lining" (this may require too much of your time, on too mundane a point, to answer)

  7. #7
    Registered User Slugg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Roper View Post
    Gambit, a couple of questions.

    (1) When did you do the Sugar Cove Trail? Was there actually any trail left? What did you think of the experience? I did Sugar Cove about 18 years ago, when it was still a maintained trail.

    2) What is "red lining" (this may require too much of your time, on too mundane a point, to answer)
    I believe you are responding to me, lol, not Gambit. I hiked Sugar Cove Trail in June of 2020, a stupid time of year to do it, and there was no trail whatsoever. Brutal. Creek-walked a lot of it.

    “Red-lining” or “mapping” means completing an entire trail system..In a park, wilderness, whatever.
    Appalachian Trail 16-
    678/2198
    Pinhoti Trail 17-20
    321/321
    Benton MacKaye Trail 17-21
    286/286
    Bartram Trail 22
    116/116
    Foothills Trail 21
    78/78
    Palmetto Trail 22-
    22/380

  8. #8
    Registered User Slugg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Roper View Post
    Gambit, a couple of questions.

    (1) When did you do the Sugar Cove Trail? Was there actually any trail left? What did you think of the experience? I did Sugar Cove about 18 years ago, when it was still a maintained trail.

    2) What is "red lining" (this may require too much of your time, on too mundane a point, to answer)
    How was Sugar Cove 18 years ago? It was a useful trail to open up more loop options.
    Appalachian Trail 16-
    678/2198
    Pinhoti Trail 17-20
    321/321
    Benton MacKaye Trail 17-21
    286/286
    Bartram Trail 22
    116/116
    Foothills Trail 21
    78/78
    Palmetto Trail 22-
    22/380

  9. #9
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    Thanks for the reply and clarifying who I was replying to.

    18 years ago, Sugar Cove was still marked and maintained, to a degree. Its steep toughness and interior location made it the least used trail in the Cohutta Wilderness. The U.S. Forest Service "decommissioned" and stopped maintaining it perhaps 10-12 years ago. After all the fires, droughts, windstorms of the past eight years, I can only imagine finding traces of the trail would be tough.

    The one time I did the trail was part of an East Cowpen, Rough Ridge, Sugar Cove, Jacks River loop in January. The water was up, making the river crossings cold and pushy. It was lovely and worth doing. Had I known its days were numbered, I'd have returned. I may try to do it again in the winter.

  10. #10
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    10-27-2003
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    northern whites
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    About 20 years ago I did 5 week section hike. UL was just getting big led by Go Lite gear. Ray Jardine a legend on the west coast had developed the UL concept. The problem was his designs were set up for west coast PCT hiking, basically dry season alpine and desert hiking where it may not rain for weeks. Unfortunately, that is not the weather that a typical AT thru hiker should plan to encounter on a typical NOBO thru hike. Far more rainy, damp and wet hiking. Ray did through hike the AT once or tiwce using his gear but as in many sports, his experience skill and luck made up for the gear incompatibility. Nevertheless, Mt Rogers in Damascus, was selling a lot of the latest and greatest UL gear to NOBOs who had too much gear and were desperate to go with a lighter packweigth. They had a hostel across the street and when a thruhiker came struggling in with a monster pack, they would usually send them over to the hostel to get a good nights sleep and make an appointment with the hiker in AM. More than few folks ended up with almost an entirely new UL setup, sending their old gear home. Usually, the weather had gotten a bit less nasty by Damascus, so the UL hikers headed out with a lot less gear designed for west coast conditions.

    As we were car swapping for our section hike, we tended to look at the forecast and bounce around a bit. One evening we were camped at a shelter site north of Damascus and south of Mt Rogers. It was a warm dry evening and we met someone who had gone in whole hog for the Mt Rogers UL gear diet. He was so excited with his new set up. Overnight a weather front came in and the temps dropped 30 degrees and it was raining and breezy. It was cold damp morning and the UL convert was out with every piece of gear on shivering. He looked at us and told us that he had every piece of gear on that he was carrying and was still cold. My friend and I decided to blue blaze out back to our car and go do a section in the woods instead of missing out on Mt Rogers on a crappy day. About a day later the weather changed again and we headed up Mt Rogers from the other side and we met the UL guy. He told us he had spent a miserable night shivering at the shelter near the top of Mt Rogers and that the gear wasnt working out like he thought it would. His plan was to make it to a road, hitch back into Damascus and see if his old gear had left town or would be buying additional gear. Not sure if he did.

    Moral of the story is pairing down gear and going UL is great but unless you have the option of heading off trail when the weather gets bad, better be darn sure that you have some margin of error in your gear for unusual weather. My standard plan in the whites is plan on a 20 degree drop below the forecasted temps.

  11. #11
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    This is like vinyl LP records coming back into vogue after four decades.

    On my section this year, I had alot of hikers, young and old, ask about my decidedly non-UL Jansport external frame pack. Several tried it on. Lots of favorable comments. A few UL backpackers expressed various frustrations with their UL packs.

    I've never tried a UL pack nor an internal frame pack because I'm accustomed to my Jansport. I've been using the same model since about 1997. I'm on the second one, purchased "like new" from E-Bay or Craigslist six years ago after the original final had serious issues just south of Damascus.

    But I'm only a section hiker, out for a few days or a week at a time. Maximizing and minimizing everything isn't necessary, like it is for LASHers and thru-hikers. Still, I wonder if external frames will come back, like vinyl records, or if they are more like Kokak film, gone forever.

  12. #12
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  13. #13
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    I think if you go light then you need an exit plan in case of bad weather.

  14. #14
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    • I have started diving into my trail diet, picking items that support the needs of my body on trail vs just eating junk food
    Are you going stove less???

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