I’m heading off into the woods on Monday to tackle a 41 mile section of the Appalachian Trail from Pen Mar PA to Harpers Ferry WV… and then 41 miles back in a really ambitious 4 days. The total mileage is going to be something closer to 90 miles by the time I’m done. I expect that I’m going to have more to say about hex crawls, weather, and encumbrance after I get back!
I do have a couple of posts queued up, but don’t expect any replies to comments or e-mail for a few days.
What I’m bringing for 4 days/3 nights:
Hooded rain jacket
2 quick dry synthetic t-shirts
2 pair of shorts
6 pair wool socks
3 liter waterskin
1 liter UV water bottle
light sleeping bag
Cookpot, Cup, Spork
Solar Cell Charger
First Aid kit
Emergency Kit (Whistle, Rope, Compass, Mirror, Matches, Duct Tape)
Toothbrush & Toothpaste
8 power bars
6 packets of oatmeal
6 fun size candybars
1 bag homemade trail mix
4 instant coffee packets
3 dinner packets
Total Weight: About 30lbs, of which about 1/3 is water.
In preparation for the trip I've reviewed a number of backpacking websites, read numerous accounts of the Maryland Challenge and the 4 state Challenge, as well as journals of various hikers who have attempted the Maryland section of the AT.
For the most part I was pretty buoyed by what I read, and feeling psyched about the whole thing. The instances where people dropped out of the Challenges were mostly due to injury, often really bad blisters. Since I’m not planning on trying to do all 40+ miles in 24 hours, I’m not too worried about that.
What I am worried about is being slow. There was one journal (http://www.cosmicsmudge.com/on-the-appalachian-trail-i-70-footbridge-to-harpers-ferry/) where it took the one guy 2 days to do 22 miles. In the second paragraph, there’s this line:
“Even if we finished the day at a brisk 2 mph pace (and that didn’t seem likely), we were facing at least a mile in the dark.”
A brisk 2mph?!?! Then again, it looks like he was carrying WAY more than is even close to necessary for an overnight hike.
Yesterday my sleeping bag and solar charger arrived, so I packed my pack to see how it looks/feels. I’ll be taking it out for a spin this weekend so I can get an idea of what my trip will feel like, and see what adjustments I’ll need to make to my packing.
I can already tell you that 30lbs is a lot of extra weight... off balance weight too. Having it all right behind you radically changes your center of balance. I'll be adjusting what I'm carrying, and how I carry it over the weekend. And even what I've got is around a third of what a soldier carries in the field! Yikes.