Archive | April, 2012

Grand Canyon Adventure

29 Apr

This past week Emily and I packed up the car and took off up north to the Grand Canyon for a few days.  Our initial plan was to hike in the first day, then spend the middle day trail running on the Tonto Trail and hike back out the way we came the last day.  Emily even got us a great campsite right on the Colorado River for two nights to use as a “basecamp.”  While what actually happened differed quite a bit from this plan, we ended up having a really great time.

For those of you who know Emily and I, it will not be shocking to hear that Day 1 we arrived to the park a bit behind schedule.  We had a 10.2mile hike in to the campsite on the Hermit Trail, which is a bit older and less defined than some of the other park trails.  After some quick packing in the parking lot we hit the trail at 4:45pm.  With sunset looming at 7:15pm we made haste down the Hermit Trail, trying to do our best to soak in our gorgeous surroundings while hiking fast.  The steepness of the trail slowed us down a bit, but we were able to knock out almost 9 miles before we were forced to don our headlamps.  At this point we had made it to the last section of trail to the campsite and thought we were in the clear.  No such luck.  Continue reading

Gear Talk

23 Apr

While Emily and I mentioned that we used all our ultralight gear a couple weeks ago, we didn’t go into specifics.  Both of us have worked outdoor retail and we have taken our gear selection very seriously over the past year or so.  I am too embarrassed to say how many hours of online research, trips to REI and other outfitters, and discussions have gone into our final choices, so we will just go with “a lot”. I’ll let Emily speak to her own gear picks, but here are my big ones plus some group ones:

Personal gear:
Pack: Osprey Exos 34. (2lb even)
Sleeping bag: Golite Adrenaline 800 fill 3-Season Short (1lb 10oz.)
Sleeping pad: Thermarest Neo Air (12oz)
Rain jacket: Outdoor Research Helium Air II (5oz)
Synthetic warm layer:  REI Revelcloud Jacket (10.2 oz)
Trail running shoes: Brooks Cascadia 7 (10.2oz)
Hydration bladder from Nathan’s Endurance Hydration Vest (weight unknown)

Group gear:
Tent: Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 (2lb 10oz)
Stove: Snow Peak Gigapower (3.75oz)
Pot: Evernew Titanium 1.4L (7.1oz)
Water filter: MSR Hyperflow Microfilter (7.5oz)

So far we have only been on one overnight to test the big items and I was really pleased Continue reading

Dogs and the AT

21 Apr

*Please note that this post may offend some. That it is not my intention. However, I do want to bring to light other not so typical viewpoints about the AT.

It is so hard for me to understand why dogs are not appreciated on the AT. My trail partner and I have read post after post and article after article about dogs on the Appalachian Trail. People are very negative towards our four legged companions. Don’t they have more of a right to be free in the woods than we do? They are, after all, descendants of the wolf. These creatures were roaming the woods of North America way before our English ancestors were. ( I know not everyone’s ancestors are English, however it was very much a white man’s vision to build the AT.)

I love my dogs. They have and always will be a part of my life. I take them to the dog park, the grocery store, and I used to take them to work. They are well behaved. They actually do not want you to pet them right away. They want to get close enough to smell you, and then they wish to go on their merry way. Our dogs are our trail companions. They always have been. They have grown up faithfully running by our sides on trails throughout North America and even parts of Europe. We feel guilt when we leave them at home alone. Even if it is only for an hour. We simply cannot imagine packing this trail without them.

With this being said I am going to bring to light some controversial viewpoints. Continue reading

Ultralight Lessons #1

20 Apr

Two weeks ago after a year and a half of gear research, gear discussions, and eventual gear purchasing, Emily and I finally set out on our first overnight “ultralight” backpacking trip. Though it had been long anticipated, both of us knew that there were going to be many lessons to be learned, the majority of which would be the hard way. Our trip did not disappoint.

We started off what felt like way too early on Tuesday morning. We were up at 7:30am to make our final preparations and to toss our gear and pups in the back of Emily’s Jeep. We had a 30-mile overnight planned out in the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix. Google maps said it was about a 3 hour drive and we hoped to hit the trail by noon to knock out 15 miles the first day.
Well, five and a half hours after leaving our apartment Continue reading

The Why?

13 Apr

I have spent a lot of time over the past year reading various books and online journals of people who have hiked the AT.  I have read everything from Jennifer Pharr Davis’ blog detailing her speedy record setting thru-hike last year to the hilarious Bill Bryson’s failed thru-hike experience described in “A Walk in the Woods”.  One of the main themes that comes out of these trail journals is The Relentless Slog.  Basically, each day is the same- you eat the same foods, hike all day long and sleep in a tiny tent.  There are variations in terrain, the people you meet and the types of towns you come upon, but in general you just keep putting one foot in front of the other.  For 2,200 miles.

So the questions becomes why?  Why do I want to do this?  Other people walk the trail to “find” themselves or because they are between jobs or so they can be closer to nature.  I have a great job that I love, am comfortable in my life and body, and am happy with my relationship with nature.  So…why? Continue reading

Peaks and Valleys

6 Apr

Well, this post has been almost two weeks in the making. Last Sunday I had one of the worse runs of my life and unfortunately Jen had to suffer through every step with me. It was truly awful. Given the opportunity I like to think I would have stopped at an aid station to help out the other runners, for running was not much of an option for me this day. However, in hindsight, I probably would have just ended up in the fetal position crying in a cactus by the trail. I felt that bad.

We had registered for a 13 mile trail race for training purposes, but after the run we had the week before I think we were both silently optimistic. We had such an amazing time and had run a truly respectable pace that it was such a high. The problem with highs…they are followed by really low lows.  Continue reading