Minor Changes

20 May

I am laying in a top bunk of a hostel as I write this. You heard right, top bunk. So when the headline reads “AT hiker dies in tragic bunk bed accident” you will know it’s true. I feel there should be laws about people over a certain age sleeping in bunk beds, but when you’re basically homeless any bed will do. Actually the hostel in Damascus is quite lovely despite the bunks. We are staying at a place called the Hikers Inn and we are grateful for they allow our 4 legged companion to stay with us. They even have a dog bed! I know my hiking partner posted a recent update so I will spare you a repeat of those details. What I wanted to talk about were the small changes that have taken place from the beginning of our journey until now. Some friends have inquired about the differences so I will tell.
One of the main changes we have made is in terms of mileage. When we first started last June we wanted to do big mile days. Our first day on the trail was 25 miles. We were doing fine until all of our little issues started to build up. Swollen/infected feet, porcupines, abdominal problems. So, we started a series of high mileage days followed by low or no mileage days. We struggled with consistency. What we found out around Pennsylvania is that we really liked days around the 18 mile mark. This amount of miles left us feeling like we covered significant ground but also have us time to enjoy views and smell flowers. So during these southern states we are trying to learn from this. We were doing well, but this last week resembled mileage from our earlier months. Big, big, nero, big. So we have used the time in Damascus to come up with a plan that is consistent in hopes to accomplish timely miles and be nice to our bodies.
We made very few changes to our gear. I bought a new 20 degree synthetic bag for the wet spring, and in anticipation for the PCT next year. I love the bag and have been happy on wet mornings. Jen kept her 1+ season bag and added a liner. The liner is a thin piece of fabric that adds 15 degrees of warmth to her down bag. She too is happy and warm. I plan on getting a liner as my summer cover as we head further south. As the days get warm it is truly all we will need and takes up less room in the pack.
Our packs are the same. Mine has needed repairs and some patching, but Jens was of a bit sturdier build and has held up well. I have no complaints though, we put our packs thorough a lot and under the circumstances they have done better than any I have owned. We still carry 32-35liters of gear and food with our packs weighing in at about 30 pounds when full. We did have to purchase new pack covers to fight off the rain, but that is a purchase well worth it’s weight.
Our footwear and apparel have had minor alterations. I am currently hiking in the same shoes as Jen, but look forward to getting new shoes in Erwin. The shoes we are in are fine, but my feet are low in volume and have a bit too much room in my current shoes. Jen will also get new shoes in Erwin. We will weigh in on her thoughts at a later time. Our socks are different. We have a new favorite. For a long time we both swore by a certain brand of wool socks. Now, we are swearing by another. Darn Tough wool socks are made in Vermont, and as far as we are concerned… they rock. We are also sporting wool shirts. Last year Jens best friend Alison gave her a wool shirt to hike in. She conquered 1300 miles in that shirt before it needed to be retired. We were in awe at how well it handled both the wear and tear as well as the hiker smell. This section we each have one of these fine garments. They are, as expected, holding up quite well.
Mentally, we are better. Our attitude is slightly healthier than before. We no longer just have to put our heads down and hike. We have less pressure due to weather, and enjoy talking about the miles to come. We will do a comprehensive gear post/ review when we are done with the hike, but that requires links etc. that are bit too fancy for the phone. Stay tuned, we will update you in a few days!

One Response to “Minor Changes”

  1. Kristen R. May 20, 2013 at 9:46 pm #

    Love your updates! Keep ’em coming.

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