I haven't been backpacking since I was a Boy Scout some 30+ years ago. It's as incomprehensible to me as to not having been back to NYC since 9-10-2001 or being out of the country since, well I can't even recall.
Last year when I took Skye shopping for a backpack at REI for her first backpacking adventure, I was more than a little envious. So this year when the opportunity came up to join her and the home-school group on their next leg of the Appalachian Trail, I jumped right in.
I don't know who was more excited, myself or Skye.
I can tell you who was less prepared.
Yeah, that would be me, by a landslide.
I had a certain amount of gear from the car-camping that we had been doing for the last few years and Burning Man, of course. But there are a lot of areas where due to weight concerns and other issues, the cross-over doesn't equate.
After visiting our various storage sites and collecting up gear, I made several trips to REI. Even then, I found myself shopping for footwear the night before we were set to leave.
I've been to Burning Man three times now and have yet to get a "Playa" name and I'm perfectly OK with that. In that same spirit, one gets a trail name. I made it on to day two, when I unwittingly bestowed upon myself the trail name, Imelda as in Imelda Marcos.
Which ironically suits me on and off the trail. I am an unabashed shoe aficionado and have shoes for every occasion, more of them for practical reasons than fashion; ie cycling shoes, climbing shoes, wrestling shoes, and of course, the oxymoron, "barefoot" shoes, of which I have several.
I posted a picture of the shoes I would be taking with me on the hike.
- Kathy Curtis Cahill Oooo The Red for sure!!
October 10 at 12:26am · Like
- Annie O'Sullivan Comfort!
October 10 at 12:50am · Like · 1
- Brian Estes Merrill obviously
October 10 at 8:07am · Like
- Bradley Blasdel Go for the high tops
!October 10 at 8:52am · Like
- Jennifer Proctor Ankle support!
October 10 at 11:54am · Like
- Lisa Cortez Barry For the pct Kyle really liked trail runners
October 10 at 1:33pm · Like
Ideally, I would have just taken my Merrel Gloves. The brown ones, I've had forever, but I wasn't sure that my feet would be OK with rocky terrain and extra weight. I wore them all day on the first day with no issues whatsoever.
I bought the Innov8's because I needed a shoe that I could use at the gym and on trails, something more substantial than my Merrels. But because I had not worn them outside the store where I bought them, I decided it would be wise to bring my broken in boots as well.
I gave my bright minimals a go the next day and couldn't have been happier.
I never put on the boots.
I've been an "outsider" for as long as I can remember, and on this jaunt I was once again the "new guy" as it were. I'm not from the South and I have barely dipped my toe into the Atlanta home-school world. I had met the lead teacher/trail guide a few times but other than that I didn't know anyone.
But I couldn't felt more welcomed. I had so many incredible conversations on the trail. It certainly helped keep my mind off the fact that I hadn't carried a loaded pack up a mountain in a number of years.
And the times when I was not with the group, when I was alone in the forest. Those times were beyond magical.
Another thing that was so cool for me coming from the West Coast was the newness of it all.
I was used to a very different sort of forest.
I fully embrace the new, the different, being a "tourist".
Then there was hang-out time.
I joined the Mushroom Club of Georgia several months ago and have yet to make it to a meeting, seminar or group outing.
How I wish I knew more about the regional third kingdom denizens. Unfortunately my phone and thus camera ran out of battery much sooner than I thought so I only was able to take a few pictures of the many mushrooms that I came across.
In addition to these few, I saw bright red shrooms, blue shelfers, orange ones, white puffies and so many, many more.
Pretty sure I came across a lovely chicken-of-the-woods which would have been a delicious addition to one of our meals, but I lack the expertise and confidence to forage at this point.
I decided to take up rear and hang with the other adults. When we caught up with the group at the end of the day, after tromping up and down hills with my bare-foot Merrils and my new super-comfy backpack, I was raring to go. When I learned that two of boys had gone ahead to check on water resources, I chucked my pack and took after them.
After a half-mile, I was wondering how much of a lead they had on me. And when I got around a mile out, I started getting concerned. Where were they? How could I have not come upon them yet?
And then I reached the shelter. And still no sign of the intrepid scouts. So I continued on to the water source.
And still no sight or sound.
I headed back up the trail.
And I came upon them.
This miscommunication led to my doing a little extra 3.4 mile trail run which was awesome except for sending me back to the point where myself and the wonderful mom who waited by my pack ended up to camp just as it was turning dark.
Which led to me fumbling around with a filter pump and dropping my camel-back into the stream.
All's Well That End's Well
Eventually tent's were set up, dinner was served and a goodly amount of "hang-out" time was had.
Indeed, myself and El Capitan turned in a bit after mid-night.
I was quite impressed with both the shelters and water stops along the trail. I don't recall seeing those on the west coast, but then again I haven't really spent much time on the Pacific Coast Trail.
On the first and third night we had the shelter all to ourselves which was incredibly convenient and luxurious.
There are more stories, photos, thoughts and reckonings.
They will have to wait or more likely stay untold.