The Importance of A Shakedown Hike

This past weekend I set out on a shakedown hike to prep, test gear, and enjoy the outdoors before my upcoming June section hike. A shakedown hike is a hike that is usually taken before an extended hike to make sure you understand how your gear works, test out food, and of course have an excuse to spend more time outside.

Friday a friend and I headed out to Pine Mountain, GA to tackle the 23 miles of blue blazes in FDR State Park. The trails at FDR State Park are maintained by a great group of volunteers with the Pine Mountain Trail Association. We picked this space because of its location, great water sources, campgrounds, and similarity to the AT. If you live in or around southern Georgia I highly recommend it.

We were instantly greeted with rain upon arriving Friday. We hiked in about 6 miles (all in the rain) which was a first for me and  a

Incoming Rain

great test of my gear. I use a ULA Ohm 2.0 pack and pack cover from ULA and all of my gear on the inside and outside of my pack stayed dry. Now I am confident that if it rains, my gear will stay dry (even without a trash compactor bag inside my pack).

Making camp on Friday night I was able to test some new food. In my last post about Planning Your Meals for a Section Hike I mentioned I was testing out some meals from Packit Gourmet. The tortilla soup I tried was good, but the banana pudding I ate for dessert was fantastic! Neither by themselves were filling, but together they filled me up. It was also a great treat after hiking in the rain all day.

Ultralight Joe’s Moose Goo on a tortilla in the rain.

Saturday for lunch I was able to try out my Ultralight Joe’s Moose Goo recipe. I was surprised at how filling this was on tortilla’s. I had three for lunch and did not even dive into my granola that afternoon. Definitely a winner for me and something that will accompany me on my AT Section hike.

There was a major failure in my gear this weekend. After discussion with friends (real and online) and some research I decided to switch over to trail shoes from boots. I purchased some Solomon XA Pro 3d Ultra 2. I broke them in wearing them around the house, to a field trip to the zoo with my daughter, and a few walks in my neighborhood. Either they are a bad fit for me, they are to big, or I angered the hiking gods because they rubbed my left heel raw and a massive blister on my right heel. Luckily I made it through the hike with only a few tears, a little blood shed, and lots of complaining. The bright side is I learned these trail shoes were not going to work out on a weekend hike and not my 10 day section hike.

Overall this shakedown hike proved invaluable. I learned I can (albeit hate) hike in the rain with confidence that my gear will remain dry, that moose good is the best trail food, and that it hurts really bad to hike with blisters on your heels. Full album of pictures are available here.

I will be setting out on a second shakedown hike closer to June to test everything again.

What I need help on is where I should do this next hike. Any suggestions for great weekend hikes in the southern US within driving distance of Birmingham, AL?

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