Fully Loaded

This weekend I loaded up my pack with the heaviest load I expect to carry on the trail, put on my hiking boots or my trail runners and walked around with it.  The load was 34.7 lbs!!!  You might be thinking, dang girl, what are you carrying in that pack that makes it so heavy?  A laptop?  Bricks?


I'm carrying 7 liters of water (15.4 lbs) and two days of food (4 lbs). Add that to 16.5 lbs of baseweight and you get a heavy pack.  All the water is for the desert portion of the trail, where there are a couple of times where it is 30 miles between water sources, so you've got to camel up.  It's also very likely I will need to carry more food than that for those stretches.

That is a lot of weight, especially for a small woman.  That pack weight is 29% of my body weight!

I'm going to take a close look at my gear.  Maybe I can find a few ways to lighten my desert baseweight.

I have some pack lightening gear in the mail, like lighter trekking poles, tent and headlamp. However, I've also got some gear to add, like a chrome umbrella to reflect the sun in the desert.

I feel like I'm starting my training a little late, 5 weeks from trail, but I'm in pretty good shape to start with all the running and backpacking I've been doing.  Now I just need to test my new gear and get used to carrying more weight.

Friday night I walked around downtown Cary with my pack and hiking boots, which felt super weird but kind of fun.  I expected more weird looks but people mostly mind their own business.  Or they thought I was homeless and therefore I was invisible.  Anyway, I did 3.6 miles in an hour and five minutes, which is 3.33 mph.  A fast pace for backpacking!  My pack handled the weight really well.  The Osprey Exos 58 is such a great pack, I'm enamored of its ability to handle a load while weighing less than 2 lbs (without the top).

On Saturday we drove to my parent's farm for my dad's birthday.  Had a good time, went for a February swim.  The air was warm enough but the water was still so cold!  I also hiked for an hour around the farm with my pack and Roscoe running around me.  He snacked on a bleached in the sun turtle shell before I was able to get it away from him. I was worried about him digesting it, but he seems fine.  Iron stomach on this dog.  My lower back bothered me that night while we watched "Tell it on the Mountain", a documentary about the PCT.  It was one of the things that made me want to hike the trail.  I wanted my parent's to see it to get a better feel for the trail, which might have been a mistake.  The High Sierra section shows off the difficult stream crossings and snow which worried my mom a lot.  We didn't even finish it, because we started falling asleep.

My back felt all better in the morning.  On Sunday, my family went to Hanging Rock State Park to hike on the Sauratown Trail.  We wanted to do a hike where we didn't know every step.  We started in the Tory's Den parking lot and did the short Tory's Den and Tory's Falls trail first.  The Sauratown Trail is detoured onto the road for 2.6 miles, so we ended up taking the James Booth Loop Trail instead.  It's entirely on private property, but it was a nice change.  Lots of rhododendron down near the creeks, with beech poplar and oak up in the hillsides.  It was pretty forest, with a few views of nice fields.  Some trees are starting to bloom.  We covered 4.5 miles all told, we didn't cover all of Booth Loop.

So, the pack is heavy, but it's doable.  I just need to keep throwing it on and increase my miles.  This is totally going to work.  I've got this.


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