HYOH – Shakedown Edition

If you read my last post, you know that I was being a complete weenie about doing a shakedown hike. I won’t get into all of my excuses again, but they were just that: excuses. I tried to think of a way to test both my mental resolve and gear in a way that would keep me from making more excuses. Now, I know I MAY get some heat for this, but in the spirit of HYOH, I shook it down the best way I could without pussing out AGAIN. I booked a camp site at a place where I was familiar with both the area and the trails. I got off to a later start the morning of my intended hike, but rather than use that as an excuse to not go at all, I adjusted my anticipated mileage. 

Here’s what I did:

I arrived on site at 3 pm, knowing that the sun would be setting in a few short hours, and parked my car. I found a trail that would allow me to get a decent hike in and make it back to “base” before dark. I donned my pack containing the following: tent and stakes, sleep system (40 degree bag, thermal bag liner, air pad), footprint for my tent, stove, pot, spork, small towel, headlamp, 2 days worth of food, extra socks, fleece outer layer, rain poncho, warm jacket with gloves in the pockets, fleece hat, water filtration system, a few band-aids, mini Minion (more about him later), a book, water proof matches, one empty tic-tac container with about 2 ft of duct tape, 100 ft paracord, and one full 20oz bottle of water. I estimated a pack weight at around 15#. I grabbed my poles and hit the trail. At this point, I had 2 hours before sunset- 2 1/2 before it got dark, so I walked the trail I knew I could complete in that time.

After going 5.3 miles, I made it to my “base” and began unpacking to set up for the night well before dark. I had my tent set up in less than 5 minutes (a new record for me), got a campfire going, and started to prepare the meal I had brought for my dinner- Ramen and GORP. As the sun went down, the temperatures dropped like a hammer- to most, a 43F night isn’t too awful, but I haven’t seen temps that low in 2 1/2 years, so it was a little daunting for me. I ate my Ramen from the pot sitting by the fire. Once the fire turned to embers, I left its warmth for my tent. I went back and forth all night between being too warm and freezing my ass off, but woke up to a sunny day, packed up and headed home.

Here’s what I learned:

The pack I have will NOT make the cut for my planned thru hike. It has the comfort I want, but not the capacity.

I need a better sleep system. I toss and turn a lot so the liner helped insulate me when my bag was failing, but I need a bag that will not fail. I WILL invest the weight and $ in a pillow.

Socks: they CAN be too tight, and this will lead to blisters, even on a low-mileage hike. Test them like you would any other piece of essential gear.

Ramen, prepared as purchased, does not agree with me. While this is good for providing some “natural heat” in my tent, would not be good for shelter stays or for getting a good night’s sleep.

MOST IMPORTANTLY: I AM capable of spending time alone in a tent and can handle cooler temperatures.

Here’s what I’m going to do:
Re-assess my gear choices, make some purchases, and make my next shakedown a 2-3 day trek without the comfort of a car camp base. HYOH for me means baby steps… Let’s do this!





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Comments 1

  • Charlotte Bloom : Nov 2nd

    Every journey begins w/ a step. A baby step is still a step in the right direction! Kudos to you for knowing your limits and pushing them a bit at a time to learn the best way for you. By the time you hit the Big Hike, you’ll be ready, and better prepared for success.


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