Snow Shakedown

Some people love to geek out on gear. Me, no. If REI sold an AT- Thru-Hiker Starter Pack, I’d be all over that trash. Instead, I had to do my research like everyone else, but I procrastinated the heck out of that process and bought two of my “big three” (tent, bag, and pack) only Saturday, a mere 73 days before the hike.

Also, I still haven’t slept in the woods.

But Saturday I finally got a sleeping bag (Big Agnes Roxy Ann 15-degree) and a tent (Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 1-person), along with a Sawyer water-treatment system, a rain jacket, and socks. (I got the pack, pad, and stove a few months ago.)


I had hoped to do a proper shakedown overnight trip this weekend with a new friend who has lots of expertise and kindness, but the 26 inches of snow Mother Nature dumped on us last weekend sort of nixed that possibility. With any luck, we will get out soon, though.

In the meantime, yesterday’s sunny skies and mid-fifties temps offered a good opportunity for a trial run with a loaded pack. I stuffed in my sleeping bag, a couple jackets, the tent, the Jetboil, trail mix, an apple, my wallet, a small green notebook, a full Camelbak 2-L bladder of water, the Sawyer water treatment system, a few tissues, and two moist wipes. I got it up to 20 pounds—a good training weight for now.

I had hoped to hike from Keys Gap on Route 9 in West Virginia to the David Lesser shelter, about 3.5 miles, but the snow’s depth, the slight incline, and my newness to carrying any appreciable weight quickly disabused me of that notion.

First time I've found my poles to be a liability

    First time I’ve found my poles to be a liability

Some things I said out loud today while hiking alone:

Wow, this pack is heavy.

(In a whisper) It’s so quiet out here.

Phew, I’m sweating.

Oh, hey, someone camped here last night!

Fuck. This fucking snow.

Is that a blister? Am I getting a blister?

God, this is pretty.

Am I still going uphill?

Are you kidding me? That is a blister.

Man, look at that sky.

It should be pretty obvious I got nowhere near the shelter. But I did, as mentioned above, come across a tent site someone had created with his boots, packing down the snow in a nice, neat square, so I decided to set up my tent just to see what that felt like. It was fun! I also tried out the Jetboil—in particular, the French press attachment (what a mess–anyone know how to make that actually work?).


I hadn’t packed my Thermarest sleeping pad, so I laid out some jackets on the tent floor and chilled (literally), even had a quick Hangouts video call with Inti (no, that won’t be happening on the thru-hike!). I wrote a bit in my green notebook, packed everything out, and called it a day!




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Comments 4

  • Miko : Feb 2nd

    Don’t let that sawyer filter freeze with water in it!

    • Mathina Calliope : Feb 3rd

      Ooh, good looking out, thanks!

  • Alice aka Countrygirl and Terry Aka Canyonman : Feb 10th

    Hey lady I am friend of Brave’s if you need anything at all on the trail when you get in Va NC and TN we can help you we live close by.

    • Matti : Feb 13th

      THANK YOU!!

      Countrygirl & Canyonman, you will be on my radar.



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