I Just Gotta Shake Shake Shake Shake
61 days until we are officially standing on Springer! My last post left a few things to try out on a trip before putting them through the 2000+ mile ringer, drop boxes to get ready to drop, and a few last things to check off the lists! Time is of the essence. DO I PANIC NOW? Just kidding, no panicking allowed!
The Shake Down
Shake down hikes are fun. Enough said. Shake downs with your best friend and future thru hiking partner, who has been stowed away in Kentucky for far too long, are a thousand times better!
It was Christmas day and all through the house…I was running around like a mad woman packing because the next day was our shake down in North Alabama and I wasn’t prepared at all, even a little bit because I am a slacker who waits until the last minute to do everything. You thought you knew how that story went, didn’t you? I was so busy preparing for Christmas that I hadn’t gotten a single thing from the closet of doom, where all the hiking gear (and scary other things) were.
I did end up packing, for myself AND my husband, and I did quite well on such short notice. I even remembered to pack us food! I crashed into bed with the alarm set for way too early to take my little dude to my parents (all 10000 Christmas gifts in tow) and to await Jacqui’s arrival.
After having accomplished all of that the next morning and we then made the drive to…our local Walmart. “This looks suspisciously NOT like mountains!” I bellowed. Actually, Jacqui needed a few things that required my opinion. And, finally, we were headed toward Cheaha State Park through hours of nothing and roads that looked very unlived on. Panda, my 4 legged partner, was a trooper and napped for exactly all of the ride. My better half joined her.
Here’s what ŵe learned on our quick, two night, rougly 12 mile shakedown.
1. Just because you plan a winter shakedown doesn’t mean you will have winter weather.
It got a bit nippy at night when the wind picked up but for the most part the weather was in the 50s and up to 70. Hiking with base layers on in 50 degree weather is still much too stifling and you will have to stop once you get moving because you will have to shed clothing.
2. Rainflys over hammocks are not just for rain.
Terrible, thick fog rolled in around bedtime the first night and stayed until midday the following day. Fog means wet, drippy sleeping without a fly and Jacqui ended up joining us in our small tent because she was getting soaked by midnight any and every time the wind blew and rattled the trees. If you think you won’t need it, you will need it.
3. FroggToggs are good wind breakers when its too warm for anything else.
4. Panda’s Ruffwear gear needs to be fiddled with and adjusted before we leave camp.
Everytime we thought it was adjusted well, it would go sliding too far forward or hang oddly to one side. Both days we got her ready, pack on, suited up and ended up having to stop five minutes later to adjust her belongings. Do it before we have packs on, before we break camp, and we won’t have to do it again less than five minutes later.
5. Eat more, drink more, and we will feel better overall.
I think this will come with experience and burning more calories per day. Knowing you are on a quick hike means you don’t have to take the best care of energy levels. Once hiker hunger hits I think we will be lucky to have not eaten our gear.
6. Our original plan of 8 to 10 miles may fall short.
We did 4.5 miles in under an hour, thanks to Jacqui’s fitbit keeping track. Our plan was to start our thru hike doing shorter 8-ish mile days but that may mean incredibly, incredibly short hiking days. This is one to look at on the trail after a few days, but I sense our first months plan may take less time than we imagined.
7. We are going to have a blast thru hiking together.
The Gear Testing
Unfortunately my quilt from Helium Hiking Equipment did not arrive in time to take on my shakedown so I will be bringing it along without any prior use on the trail. I’m a bit nervous about that but it is what it is. Should I sleep cold, Neel’s Gap is a few short days away.
I did get to test out my inflatable sleeping pad from Klymit and I will NEVER go back to sleeping on a foam pad. Roots? Rocks? Bumps? Never felt them. Hard shelter floor? No waking up with aching shoulders, hips, or sides. I’m in love.
As Jacqui’s dad asked “How will you carry food for all 5 months?!”
Drop boxes are well under way now. Atleast 5 of my ten are nearly done. I’ve gone and checked my meals and snacks for a day and I noted I’m falling very short on daily calories. Each day fell somewhere around 1200 calories, which is not going to cut it. I’ll be figuring out ways to boost those up, be it with a larger lunch or breakfast or just adding more snacks, as well as olive oil, chia seeds, and more. I’ve also found a good protein powder, fortified with vitamins and minerals to include in my diet. I’m also looking for ways to shake up variety in each box, be it by including an item of a different flavor in each, or by adding in a few items i’ve never tried before. I’m trying my best to not get too crazy on new things, should I hate whatever item it happens to be, but I also don’t want to be stuck eating the same foods in every drop.
That quick hike did nothing but light my bones on fire for true time in the wilderness, with no schedules, no time limits, no restrictions. It also taught me a few things. But mostly I just enjoyed some gorgeous scenery and amazing time with my best friend, her pup, and my husband. Some people say to complete a thru hike there are days you have to treat it like a job. This might be the best job ever. We will find out in 2 months!
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