Lessons Learned on 1/2 the Hike

Friday, 03 Dec 2016
Start Milepost: N/A   Time: 09:18
End   Milepost: N/A     Time:10:56 
Miles hiked: 3.7
Trails: Pine Mountain Creek to join Delano Trail
Resupply: none – except for a hot coffee delivers by Miss Scamper!
Pine Mountain Creek Trail

Start Milepost: N/A   Time: 12:07
End   Milepost: N/A     Time:13:48 
Miles hiked: 3.9
Total miles: 7.6
East End Trail
Temps: Low: 35°, High: 53°
East End Trail

    It is all coming back to me: train to standard, not to time. And that is why I hiked only one-half of the planned 41-miles. Much was learned during those two days. (The second couple who was to join us this afternoon bailed after I advised that Scamper and I were tentative for afternoon hikes; we both had knee issues. We had already put a CNX on a rainy Sunday hiking. I may still hike in the rain from home to give the rain gear a try.)

If you are not a fan of ibuprofen like me, become one and bring it with you on your hike. Hikers call it vitamin I. Scamper bought four at the Country Store and the young checkout gal opened the plastic container – she figured I’d have issues opening them myself. She was correct; I still struggled with the inside packet! My, what a relief  when I finally ingested just one.

Evaluate your calorie requirements. And don’t pack more than you need. I did both. I will re-evaluate caloric needs in hopes of reducing pack weight.

Do a map recon before you start the day. I did but still ignore some details and missed others as noted yesterday.

Have a mechanical compass to check your heading when in doubt. Coach Gary gave me one with a thermometer. (Actually he got me a thermometer and it was paired with a compass.)

Keep that camp fleece dry to wear after the hike. But initially do give give the base shirt a chance to dry via body heat while wearing the rain jacket immediately following the halt for the day. My base dried overnight – nice, since it was 32 degrees at dawn.

Do keep track of your tooth paste. I lost mine sometime after the first use. (Edit: it has since been recovered from a shallow recess of the pack!) Do pump extra paste into what Crest calls a travel tube – which doesn’t contain much.

Do check those inside pockets of your rain jacket. While I did check them out when I first bought it, I forgot that what looked like pockets were were not – they  had no bottom seam. Which is to say they are not pockets so I lost the cycling gloves I placed there at the lunch break. The best use of said gloves? Wiping your nose. No, not blowing your nose. On the subject of the nose, buy a cotton bandana; mine is part nylon and it is not very absorbent.

Figure out where to put your eyeglasses at night and don’t roll on ’em. I did and I did not.

Recharge your smart phone at night because it takes too long in the morning. I didn’t and it did.

Hot breakfast or hot chocolate in the morning is over-rated compared to the time required. (Stove setup, mixing, cleanup, store stove. Blah.) I will go for powdered, cold coffee for a caffeine jolt.

Double check that “other” water bottle in the morning. Mine “was” full so I didn’t filter water from the Pine Mountain Campsite water source (another blah!) or from any spring or stream I crossed all day. Thus, at the end of 7 plus miles I polished off the remainder of a liter of water and reached for the other bottle – that was empty.

Speaking of water. It was nice not to have to lug a second, full water container, if only by mistake.  Obviously, it should have been filled and it should have been consumed since it is essential for your well-being to drink and drink often.

Still speaking of water. I anticipated freezing temps overnight so I opted not to use the bladder;  I didn’t want to have to carry a block of ice on day two. Since bladders make taking periodic sips easy, I will revisit the decision not to use mine even  if overnight temperatures are expected to be below freezing .

I figured out the various closures on my quilt during the night. I remembered early in the evening that the foot box has draw strings – it sure keeps the up draft down! Late in the morning hours I remembered that the top has a series of snaps that will pull the quilt close about the head if desired. Regardless, the quilt met my expectations!

The silk, quilt liner was great, but it took some effort to figure out where its opening was in the darkness. The liner is solid black and finding the opening was tough in dwindling EENT. It is not simply a tube of cloth to place inside the quilt; there is a body pocket and a head pocket. Shoving your feet into the head pocket thinking it is the body pocket is not practical and rotating the whole thing around in the dark was an exercise in futility. Maybe wrestling with it was intended as a means to build up heat inside the quilt! To double the trouble,  I had the same problem trying to slip back into it after I exited the tent briefly during the night. Yes, a flashlight was at hand, but I still could not make out the seams!  Nevertheless, it sure was a good addition to the equipment list. Edit: Hilarious – I just noted that the head pocket was set to open on the opposite side from the body pocket. Sure it was easy enough to turn the head pocket right-side in (if you knew in advance that it was inside-out), but try that in a one-person tent, with a low head-room, on an air mattress that wants to slide across on the tent floor, in the dark and not being able to see the “opening” in the quilt. Maybe you just had to be there to appreciate the hilarity of it all!

Do address blister issues early. I can’t recall the last time I had a hiking blister.  That includes several years of infantry duty – grounding pounding in all sorts of terrain. But I had two today blisters following the first hike with Scamper. They were probably a carryover from the thirteen miles yesterday. Although I had dry socks at the start today, the 3.0 pace likely led to wet socks and a small blister by 11:00. I treated both with Leukotape – a wonderful alternative to Moleskin. That treatment is why I could and did go on a second hike while Scamper chose to drive home with knee issues. The tape kept me moving without further problems. There were other problems – both knees barked midway thru the second hike. RICE treatment again.

When one knee first barked, I tried to locate a knee strap in my pack. No joy. Eventually I convinced myself that it was in the auto with an unneeded Sunday meal bag and an unneeded field jacket liner I was using as a space filler in the food sack. Why was it a space filler, you ask? Good question without a good answer. Edit: No, the knee strap was not in the car; it was where I thought it was. But I didn’t dig far enough into a shallow pocket.

Don’t play games with placement of items. Put stuff where it belongs so, short of a poor memory, you will find it on the first try.

I will not start next year’s hike by doing 16 miles on the first several days. Eight to ten may be healthy for a week or so to let my legs and feet adapt. That conclusion was reached after seeing what twenty miles did this weekend – particularly the 13 miles on Friday.

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