Monday, January 30, 2012

Delivery! StickPic

A new gadget came in the mail today. Because I am so extremely photogenic and my photograph is always in high demand, I knew I had to find a better way to photograph myself when I'm solo. Admittedly, none of that is true except the last bit.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Trip Report: 20 Degree Winter Backpacking with Hammock

The plan was simple. Hike nineteen miles over two days gaining and losing 5300 feet of elevation in snow, freezing rain, and rain with nighttime temperatures in the low twenties. Toss in the mile long rock scramble up Old Rag.

The first day we climbed up the classic Whiteoak Canyon trail all the way until we intersected with the AT here:
Highest point on the AT in Shenandoah at 3837 feet
Continuing up the side trail we reached Stony Man Mountain summit at 4011 feet. Since we were still shrouded in cloud we couldn't see very much. Heading back down to the AT we continued north past Little Stony Man. Here were some great views. Still shrouded in cloud, we were treated to swirling mist and cliffs that dropped out of sight. At cliff's edge the wind was strong enough to physically knock you back but stepping back just three feet put you in complete calm. I've seen this before at a steep cliff edge. The wind blows directly at the cliff but is blocked. With nowhere else to go, all that force is expended upwards resulting in an astonishingly forceful wind.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Backpacking weekend

Winter has arrived (mostly) so it's a backpacking weekend!

As you saw from my last post, my gear list is essentially complete. Tomorrow and the day after, I get to test my setup through rain, freezing rain, and fairly cold sleeping temperatures. This will be my first time carrying my quilts instead of my sleeping bag and I'm really looking forward to the reduced weight and bulk. I did follow my own advice and tested the quilts in the neighboring woods for a night. While I wasn't completely satisfied with the result I am pretty certain I know what went wrong. The top quilt is incredibly warm and the under quilt is too - as long as I have indeed figured out those pesky drafts. Plus I'm bringing my go-to-ground pad as backup.

The hardest part is going to be getting to the trail head when the roads may be icy. I think I may bring my ice axe just for fun. How could that go wrong?

Meriadoc the soon to be wet and cold

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Gear Fun!

Over the past seven months I have had the luxury of playing with gear sets. My ostensible goal was to create the perfect set of gear for a through hike. Um, I'm going to stick to that story. It sounds better than being a gear obsessed backpacker. After all, it's not about the gear is it?

I'm just about done having fun. This is what my kit looks like for 20 degrees:
14.3 lbs Base weight without clothing
17.6 lbs Pack weight including clothing not worn for hiking
23.7 lbs Skin out weight including clothing, shoes, trekking poles
Add in 2 L of water and 2 lbs of food per day, and my pack weight for 5 days starts out at roughly 32 lbs with 6.1 lbs worn, including trekking poles.

And here's what each section looks like:

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Risk Analysis: Hiking alone (Part Two)

First of all, what are the dangers of hiking alone?

I. If there is a critter who decides to munch on me, there is no one who can go for help.
II. If I become injured or violently ill, there is no one who can go for help.
III. If there is a moon-mad human, I am more at risk if I am alone.

I. Critters with Munchies
Along the AT the largest risks are from bears and snakes. However, these risks are pretty small. Bears tend to shy away from humans and most of the danger comes from habituated bears that learn humans are a source of food. So practicing proper bear safety technique really minimizes this danger. And then even when a black bear gets the munchies, humans are usually not attacked directly - it's usually more a case of loss of food and gear.

What do I do if a snake gets the munchies?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sorry for the Delay!

My apologies for the extended period sans updates. The holiday was as good as could be and quite long. I promise that I'll post a new post (and hopefully I don't mean posting a post through the postal service - that could be expensive - unless it was an earring post . . .) soon, maybe even tonight. Until then, know that I was here:

Meriadoc the Snowboarder