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Begins: Apr 15, 2014
Date: Mon, Jun 10th, 2013
Entry Visits: 1,160
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I'v also posted some entries on Trail Journals. Haven't decided yet whether to continue using both Postholer and Trail Journals. Until I decide I'll post my entries on both sites.
22 Jan 2013:
Here I go again. If everything works out like I hope, I’ll be back on the AT in 2014.
23 Jan 2013:
Heading SOBO this time. The plan is to begin in Erwin TN during mid April and head south to Springer. Then be back home in time to attend Trail Days. After that its on to Maine in late June.
24 Jan 2013:
In 2009 I began at Springer and made it as far as Duncannon PA before a case of Lyme Disease forced my to end my hike. Since I really didn’t care if I made it all the way to Maine at that time, I didn’t have any regrets. This time I’m beginning my hike with three goals.
The first goal is to make it to Duncannon. Then I’ll have hiked the entire AT. The second goal is to get back to Erwin TN. At that point I’ve done the AT in one year. Goal #3 is to make it from Baxter Peak to Springer Mtn--a one-way thru-hike.
This entry should activate my Trail Journals account. I’m not certain what I’ll talk about in the next year+, but I’m certain I’ll think of something. Take care.
31 Mar 2013:
Still doing a lot of thinking about the hike. Specifically, looking at rain/wind gear. Each time I read another journal or look at another retailer’s/manufacturer’s site, I get another idea. No hurry on this one, though.
Deciding on one of my “big four” items is another story. Because of the cost involved, I decided to make my choice earlier so I could take advantage of any good sales. Last week I used my REI Member 20% discount, plus my rebate to buy a Nemo Nocturne 30° sleeping bag. As a side sleeper, I’m hoping this will help me get a good night’s sleep. This bag should work well with my “systems” approach to gear.
For the heat of summer I’ll use my Speer down quilt with a pad (to be determined at a later time). For late spring/early fall weather the sleeping bag should be fine. For the mid-April start and the September thru mid-November timeframe I’ll combine the quilt and the sleeping bag. Based on using it in a hammock, I expect the quilt will add a minimum of 10° extra warmth. If needed, I can always have my 20° Western Mountaineering sleeping bag sent to me.
Next on my ‘big four” list is a backpack and/or a tent. I have a couple things in mind but I’ll know more after Trail Days in Damascus this May.
To all the thru-hikers out there this Spring, you definitely have my respect. The cold weather combined with the snow just adds to the difficulty. Good luck and keep warm!
27 May 13:
Hello again. Its been almost two months since I last posted. Time is flying, at least for now. Went to Trail Days last week looking to verify my ideas on equipment and/or learn about something new. As it happened, I did both.
Shelter. I had it narrowed down to two--the Obi Elite 2-person tent from Nemo, and the Echo II Ultralight from Hyperlite Mountain Gear (HMG). The big plus for the Echo II was the ability to set up camp in the rain without getting the inside of your shelter wet. The big plus for the Obi Elite was the ability to exit from the side. In addition, the Echo II weighed less but it was more expensive. The Obi Elite, on the other hand, would allow me to use my hiking poles to get into and out of (my knees aren’t as young as they once were) versus the Echo II which uses both hiking poles for support. It just so happened that HMG and Nemo were both at Trail Days.
After visiting both vendors numerous times on Friday and Saturday, I decided on the Obi Elite 2-person from Nemo. Although it wasn’t “the” deciding factor, just the way the representatives interacted with me was a big factor. I felt more comfortable asking questions and with the answers from the Nemo reps. I was hoping to use my 20 percent discount at REI but they, and every other dealer I checked with was out of stock. I explained my dilemma to the Nemo reps and was told they would get back to me with a solution. I received an email from them a couple days later with an online source who had the tent in stock and was also offering a 20 percent discount. I received the tent on Saturday.
The next items on my list were a backpack and a sleeping pad. I’ll discuss them in a later post. That’s all for now..
28 May 13:
Continuation from Trail Days 2013.
Backpack. After a lot of searching on the web, I had pretty much decided on buying either the Hyperlite Mountain Gear (HMG) 3400 Porter Pack or the 4400 Porter Pack.
I was intrigued by the waterproof and lightweight cuban fiber. Waterproof meant I wouldn’t need a pack cover to protect the contents from the rain. Lightweight meant, well just light weight. After trying them on, I wasn’t completely sold on either one. When the rep added some weight they felt ok, but not great. The hip belt felt flimsy and didn’t seem to provide much protection for my hip bones. I’ve had a history of having periodic sharp pains in my hips while hiking. At that time I wasn’t able to decrease my pack weight very much, so the only other option was to get another pack with a more “robust” hip belt, which resulted in a heavier pack. This hike I’m planning to drop 10 lbs, and maybe even 15 lbs compared to a few years ago. Even so, I still wanted a thicker/more padded hip belt than the HMG packs. I was ready to begin the search all over again.
About this time I met a longtime hiker friend and we walked around looking at the options that were available. We eventually made it to the Elemental Horizons booth and I was immediately interested. I first tried on the Kalais Pack. It fit great, but was a little smaller than I am currently willing to go. I would rather have a little unused room than not enough. Next up was the Aquilo Pack. The hip belt was larger and provided more padding than the HMG packs. The hip belt also completely surrounded my hip bones and with the dual straps, its possible to tighten/loosen the top and bottom of each hip pad independently. The other feature that I liked was the external pockets. As much as possible, I like to pack up in the morning and not unpack until the evening. With a little planning, these external pockets will allow me access to stuff I need during the day without digging inside the pack. Not wanting to make a spur of the moment decision. I went home and did a little research on Elemental Horizons and specifically the Aquilo Pack.
That night I found nothing but good things about Matthrew’s business and all of his gear. Everyone seemed more than pleased with the workmanship of each product and the customer service. The next day I drove back up to Damascus with a few questions, primarily size and accessories. Matthrew addressed each concern/question to my satisfaction and I told him he made a sale.
Since each pack is made to order, it may take a month or two to receive it, but I’m not in a hurry.
My next entry will address my choice of sleeping pad. Take care.
6 June 13:
Sleeping Pad. From my previous experiences, a good night’s sleep is very important while out in the woods. My current sleeping pad just doesn’t “cut the mustard.” I’m a side sleeper and its tough to get comfortable, and more importantly, maintain that comfort throughout the night. On previous hikes I usually woke up every 60-90 minutes throughout the night and needed to change positions because of hip discomfort or back pain (while sleeping on my back). I really want to be able to sleep without the constant interruption.
I began looking for a pad at least 2½ inches thick and grater than 72 inches long. I looked at and store-tested different versions of the NEO line, Big Agnes, and Exped. A couple of them felt pretty good, at least better than the one I have now, but not great. At Trail Days 2012, I tried a Nemo Cosmo Insulated and I liked it, but since I was about two years away from beginning my hike, I decided to wait to see if anything different came to market. At Trail Days this year, I tried the Cosmo again and it still felt good. It weighed a little more than I wanted, but I also had a 20 percent off coupon from Nemo. Another plus was the width--25 inches--giving me a little more room to maneuver during the night. The length is listed at 72 inches, but there is an additional 4 inches for the pump. With the 20 percent discount and free shipping I think I had a good deal, so I ordered it.
Appalachian Trail - 2014
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