Sorry it’s been so long since my last post, I’ve been pretty busy with school starting up. Anyway todays post is all about day hiking. Day hiking is one of my favorite things to do in fall with the weather being absolutely perfect. One perk of living in New England is the fall foliage, I used to laugh at people who came here specifically to look at the trees.
Then I moved to Tennessee for a year and realized how beautiful it is up here compared to the Nashville area. One major issue I do have with it however is mountain biking, gorgeous yes, but the fallen leaves hide all the roots and pot holes on trails! Makes for some very bumpy surprises. Anyway on a typical day hike I’ll go 10-20 miles. I’ve had plenty of 30 mile days too and also plenty of 5 miles days, but 10-20 seems to be the average and also the most comfortable. The local trails for me are usually no longer the 5 miles per trail. But there’s plenty of them connecting together. There’s a fantastic post on 8 steps of how to be a badass day hiker on the trail Sherpa website trailsherpa.com. Definitely worth reading, he really knows his stuff. Today I came out to the Holyoke Mountain Range which isn’t much of a mountain range but for Western Ma it’s awesome. The highest peak for the mountain range is a mere 1,106 feet.
There’s also a sort of, “cave” along the trail I’m on today which is actually where I stopped to make some lunch and write this post. I tried a new stove setup today and it sucked. I’ve read about tons of people love the tea light stoves, but I had to refill it twice just to boil water. Not what I had hoped would be the case. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong but so far I’m 1 for 3 on fuel types. Love my MSR Pocket Rocket, can’t get the esbit tabs to boil water efficiently or even at all sometimes now, nor the tea light stove.
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Although the white box stove – heet combo works well with an average 6 minute boil time. When you talk to most people about day hiking they only bring snacks with them, usually no form of a stove to make food. I always bring a stove because I really like hot food and I’m not the type of person to be trying to spend every second hiking. I just like to enjoy the scenery. I do go on very fast hikes from time to time, a friend and I would go about 20 miles right after school, usually 3 times per week. It would only take us a few hours at the most, but that’s because we only carried a water bottle or two, some snacks, and extra clothing if it was going to get chilly out. Now on almost every day hike I take a few more items. Like I said I love taking a stove, I always have my sundries kit, and I usually wear shorts but bring pants just in case along with a wind breaker. I’ll be doing another post on just my sundries kit if you’re wondering what’s in there. Anyone who likes the outdoors would definitely enjoy day hiking, it can be as strenuous or leisurely as you’d like. It’s also a great way to get outside with pets, my dog is too old to take out now but I know lots of people who won’t go hiking without their dogs. I’ve never met an aggressive dog on the trail either. I’ve taken my friends dog out a few times, never on a leash, and never any issue. I think they’re more interested in all the smells than they are in othe people/dogs. Anything you’d like to add or think isn’t nessacary?
My First Real Backpacking Trip: Thoughts on Day 1:
I left my house around 7am this morning and embarked on the 3-4 hour journey up to Franconia Notch State Park. I kept an eye out for a trail head parking lot on Route 3, parked the truck, and set off. On the drive up I contemplated turning around due to thunderstorm warnings, and to be honest, yeah I’m a little nervous. It’s really my first night backpacking for real. Still not sure that I’ll make it the entire 5 days but even if I’m only up here for one or two nights, it already seems worth it. I met a few cool people who are thru hiking, a few heading north, and a couple heading south. I got to a place I really wanted to camp, right on the the pond, and then found out its not allowed. So I tried to continue south on the A.T. however my plan was interrupted by a moose! Just feeding in the middle of the trail as myself and a day hiker tried to watch and not bother it. This moose was rather young but still a good size. I waited for at least an hour and the moose was still feeding, so I turned around and headed north to camp out along the stream. Not sure if this is a good idea or not yet, but I love the sound of the water so hopefully it works out. On one of the streams I ran across earlier today, I decided to throw a line in. I brought my 9′ Soyokaze with me, a few lines, and jam packed fly box. The stream is very narrow so I used a shorter line with a size 14 Utah Killer Bug. I also gave this terrestrial a try, only got one with it though.
I caught a gorgeous 6″ wild Brookie first cast! Then I caught another one a few minutes later. I think the fish learned after that though because they weren’t even looking at it. I moved upstream a bit and caught the biggest of the day, 12″. Nothing huge but still a very nice fish. The colors were beautiful! I’ll try to get a few pictures of then tomorrow! That’s all for today, time to get some sleep, I’m exhausted!
Morning Day 2:
It’s about 6:30 in the morning now and I’m still tired! I didn’t sleep very good due to the tarenchle down pours that started around 11 last night. When setting up my hammock I now know I didn’t pull the rain fly tight enough on one side. I slept almost the entire night without getting wet, but this morning rain started trickling in on one side. It wasn’t that big if a deal just a little bit of water. Plus the wool blanket took up some up the water and is now virtually dry. As far as the hammock itself goes though, I’m very happy with it. Very very comfortable, felt no need for a pillow of any kind, and it was super easy to set up. The thing may be a tad bit heavier than some UL tents, but with it I don’t have the need for a sleeping pad so I save some weight there and also save space in my pack. One thing I really like about this hammock is the organizer in the middle. It’s at the top so you know it’ll never get wet and it’s perfect size for things like a phone or notepad, headlamp, wallet, and I kept my sunglasses there too. Just a couple things I didn’t feel good about leaving on the ground and knew could be handy. And what a surprise, it’s pouring again! So happy I brought long johns, wool socks, and my north face jacket! May even have to wear the underarmer cold gear turtle neck too. I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to do today now. There’s a pretty big fly fishing shop I may go check out, and go find some more fishing spots, but who knows.
After trip thoughts:
So this trip was a great time, I’m positive I want to get into backpacking more, and I’m not longer nervous about being out in the wilderness alone. Some huge victories there! Unfortunately I picked an awful weekend to go, after I packed up I went over to the lonesome lake hut to check out what the weather would be like. It was nothing but pouring rain and major thunderstorms for days so I decided to just head out. Definitely a disappointment, but was still worth it. That afternoon a friend and I decided to go surfing down in Rhode Island, it was my first time going so I wasn’t exactly that successful. I still had a blast though! I also got to go do some rock climbing at a different rock gym than I’m used to. It was the Central Rock Gym in Worcester, and I thought it was okay, pretty small and not too much variety on the bouldering wall.
So, how was everyone else’s weekend?
Hiking and Tenkara, two completely different ways of enjoying the outdoors that can go hand and hand. I’ve been hiking since I was super young but never enjoyed it the way I have in the last couple years. Of course when I was younger I’d run all over and jump on the rocks and stuff. But now I enjoy it much more because I rarely stay on the trail, at least not for the ascent. I have so much fun climbing up the few hundred feet of rocky areas and don’t mind that I have no bigger mountaineering type mountains around me. The only mountain “nearish” to me is Mount Washington and that is still only about 6,000 feet. Still more than double the size of anything in the close area but it’s a few hours and a couple tanks of gas away. And along with hiking is my other passion, Tenkara. I’m about a year deep in my journey of learning Tenkara and have loved every second of it! Tenkara is an extremely versatile style of fishing and very simple. It is exactly what hikers and backpackers want. The best part is its super light, easily less than 8 oz for your entire setup if you do it right. Mine is even slightly lighter than that I think. I carry my “technically tanago” but to me backpacking Tenkara rod (Diawa Soyokaze 9′) weighing in at 1.6 oz. I have a random set of forceps, fishpond nippers, a spool of 5x/6x/7x tippet depending on where I’ll be fishing, a small fly box with all the flies I need for a week or more, and last but not least are the line spools. All of that weighs in at about 3 oz. I typically carry two spools. 1 setup with a longer line and one set up with a shorter line. I prefer to carry it all in my pockets or right in my backpack when hiking instead of lugging around a bulky fishing pack. Although I love my fishing vest for local streams its not very practical for longer hikes. If you’re the type of person that likes nets, TrailLight Designs makes a titanium net weighing just 2.4oz. Its incredible how light things are getting these days. Some people prefer to get a hip pouch that slides onto their belt to carry all their fly stuff, however by not using one of these or a net I’m able to have an extremely light set up! One major thing I want to point out about hiking and tenkara is that you don’t have to spend tons of money, these activities cost virtually whatever you choose to spend. I spent about $100 to get a rod, line, spool and tippet as i mentioned in my previous article, ‘Beginners guide to Tenkara: part one’. For my day hikes I spent about $200.
I spent $90(regularly $145) on my shoes that are Columbia Talus Ridge Outdry, they keep the water out(sort of) and keep warmth in. Very comfortable and sturdy. They are rated for carrying up to 30-35 pounds of gear and are meant for harder dirt surfaces. They will not excel in the Rockies but are great for the Appalachians. Highly recommend these shoes, very comfortable.
A bit heavier than some other shoes like the Merrel Bare Access 2 at just under 1lb 13 oz but they’re stronger so to me it’s a fair trade off. Shoes like the Bare Access 2 are trail running shoes and thats all they’ll ever be. I took them for a few trail runs this week and iI’m impressed by the lightness of these shoes. They have 4mm of a Vibram sole so they’re certainly a barefoot runner. Very flat bottom providing pretty good traction, though the Talus Ridge have better grip. Overall I would recommend these for anyone trail running or looking for an extremely lightweight shoe. I got the shoes(Talus Ridge) with a higher weight rating than I needed because I usually pack a bunch of stuff I won’t use in my pack if I’m going out for a quick day hike just as a conditioning thing. And the pack I carry is usually about 25-30 pounds. However the last time I went backpacking, which was only my second time ever going, I had my pack at just over 5 pounds not including my water. I carried a lightweight pot, 3 esbit tabs, 3 REI stormproof matches and striker, a shaved down plastic fork, a shaved down tooth brush with just enough toothpaste for my overnight, some pasta for food, about 2 liters of water if I remember correctly, the clothes on my back, and a very thin fleece blanket. The reason I took the fleece blanket was to have something to lay on that night. I used my pack as a pillow and kept on my clothes to stay warm though I think the temp was about 60 at the lowest all night if that. The best part about the trip was the trout I caught for 2 out of the 4 meals. Unfortunately on this trip I didn’t bring my camera or even my phone to take some pictures which was a bit of a bummer because I saw some pretty gorgeous things. I wanted to see just how lightweight I could go on this trip. And keep in mind that was my second ever trip, this summer I’m hoping to go a lot more! I’m hoping I can go with actual gear this time though. There’s nothing like sleeping right under the stars, but there’s also nothing as annoying as waking up with bugs all over you. Still can’t decide if I want to get a lightweight tent or go with a Hennessy Hammoch but more on that when I actually decide. As you can see Tenkara and Hiking go together perfectly for me, how does this work out for you?