Morgan Hill Training Trip
Late October overnight training hike
Boomer and I went out for an overnight hike on Morgan Hill State Forest in Fabius NY last weekend. The plan was to hike the “long loop” for 10 miles to Spruce Pond. The 10 miles was according to the downloadable detailed trail guide that purchased. I worked 12+ hours on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, which meant I couldn’t pack until Saturday morning. I figured I’d have just enough daylight to reach my campsite and set up in daylight.
The Reality – Day 1
I brought my GPS, so I can state with confidence that the actual hike was 12.1 miles. Those final two miles ate up most of my daylight! That didn’t leave me much time to select the best spot to pitch a tent at Spruce Pond. There was a flat area but it was too close to the road. So I found a flat spot on the steep hillside above the pond, pitched the tent, ate, and found a place to hang my bear bag in the dark. As I crawled into the tent, graupel began to fall . For anyone who lives in a warm climate, here’s the Wikipedia definition: Graupel (German pronunciation: ; English /ˈɡraʊpəl/, also called soft hail, snow pellets or “‘sago”‘ is precipitation that forms when supercooled droplets of water are collected and freeze on a falling snowflake, forming a 2–5 mm (0.079–0.197 in) ball of rime.
I thought that was better than the predicted rain, but my happiness was short-lived. As the temperature warmed into the 40s, the precipitation turned to cold rain. Boomer again insisted on sleeping outside. He dug in under a fallen log, but still, it wasn’t much of a shelter. And later that night, I discovered that my hasty tent-pitching job had permitted one edge of the bathtub floor to touch the ground, allowing a stream of icy water inside. Definitely user error, since on my previous trip, with higher winds and heavier rains, I was completely dry. Better to learn on a one-night training run!
Even more reality
Another lesson – I should have put my clothes into something waterproof. My sleeping bag was dry, as it was elevated on my therm-a-rest pad and further protected by a sheet of tyvek that was supposed to protect my tent for the claws of a dog who chose not to enter anyway. But my clothes were mostly soaked. In fact, my T-shirt was too wet to put on even after wringing it out. Also I had to use my camp towel to mop the tent floor before venturing off my therm-a-rest pad. But luckily I was dry and not cold and the rain was just drizzle at that point.
Day 2 – The hike out
I decided to cut the loop short. So instead of two 10-mile days, I had a 12-mile and a 7-mile day. Pretty close to my planned 20 miles! We were on the trail 30 minutes after sunrise, and I was surprised to shortly meet up with some trail runners. I didn’t think anyone else would be out so early on a cold rainy day. Boomer was off leash about 15 feet in front of me, but the runners saw him and not me. They shrieked, “A bear!” Then one woman said, “Wait, bears don’t wear orange backpacks.” In a moment they saw and heard me, and we all had a good laugh.
I had wet stuff hanging all over the house. As you can see by the photo, Boomer took a nap on the couch. And my foot was sore from hiking faster and farther than planned without rest stops on the final half of my day 1 hike. But that’s improving. I’m ordering a dog tarp for Boomer. I’ll set that up in the yard as soon as it arrives, and I’ll have Boomer practice lying inside it with LOTS of yummy treats when it arrives.
My phone got wet – but not damagingly wet. So I have to start researching the best way to keep my phone and my kindle dry. (I can’t hike the AT for 6 months without reading! So the kindle will be a luxury item that will be lighter than books.) If anyone has suggestions as to the best way to keep their electronics dry, please let me know.
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