A Shakedown Hike to Welcome the New Year
My shakedown New Year hike couldn’t have been timed any better with less than 45 days to start the AT. Plus an easy excuse not to prop my eyes open till midnight to watch some silly ball drop. The hike started with a rendezvous point and strategic car drops and a stashing of some spirits for New Year’s Eve. The plan was 45 miles on the Florida Trail (FT), ending up at our vehicles at Buckman Lock in Palatka. Right on cue was the rain that stayed with us for a bit over 11 miles, We were granted a brief reprieve, we got camp set up, water squared away, and dinner before the next raindrops fell. I was super stoked for this hike to really test my gear, clothing, trail runners, filtration, sleeping system, tent, etc. I was extremely fortunate to enjoy the company of five experienced hikers who had all section hiked the AT in various sections. I asked and they all offered nuggets of advice, which was very appreciated. Friends and memories were made, and we all got to see two shelters out of only seven on this 1,300-mile trail that is well known for its abundance of water. Three night and four days was an ideal shakedown of gear. Thanks to my buddy Maverick (AT class of 2018) my pack got an expert prehike shakedown that reduced five pounds right from the start. Though it was mid-80 degree temperatures during all four days, my pack had all my winter clothes for the start of the AT. I wanted the extra weight to simulate my real weight that I would carry on the start of the trail. Lots still to learn and that’s what makes it exciting. Happy New Year and happy trails, my friends.
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