A good hike

Yesterday I loaded up and set out for my first overnight backpacking trip. I have some new equipment I wanted to check out and I wanted to hike the section of Bearwaller Gap I hadn’t previously hiked.

I arrived at the Overlook parking lot about 9:30ish, hit the head, then hit the trail.

Heading down the initial section is straight downhill with few switchbacks. I knew this would be tough when I came back. (I was right.) The trail was mostly covered with the freshly fallen leaves meaning you had to really watch your steps. Naturally, watching my feet means I wandered off of the main trail and ended up heading in the wrong direction. I probably added 45 minutes to an hour to the hike in.

This trail is very hilly and rough. My new hiking shoes (New Balance) did well; though I need to put some arch support inserts into them.

After getting off-trail once I was very careful to find the blue blazes marking the trail. At one point I stopped, looking around, but didn’t see one ahead. I turned to see if I could see one behind me and was startled by a brown animal! I let out a yelp. It was a dog. Her tags say her name is Iris and she stayed with me until camp. Very sweet dog.

The trail follows the edge of Cordell Hull Lake. But it’s always high above it on bluffs. You can’t access the lake. I finally arrived at Two Prong Primitive Campground.

Two Prong Campground

 

I sat down at the table to have my sandwich, which I shared with Iris.  Then I checked out the spots to set up my tent.

My camp

I assumed that others would be arriving later, so I selected a spot up and away from everything.

Then I did a bit more investigating.  There is a spring for water:

Springhouse

 

And the cleanest privy I’ve ever seen:

The privy

Then I made a cup of coffee using my nifty new REI french press coffee cup and settled down with a book.  Throughout the day hikers came by and would usually stop to chat.  Once a hunter came by too.  I had not realized hunting was allowed here so I wasn’t wearing safety orange.  He said his buddies had gotten a deer, but he hadn’t.  I saw deer a couple of times on the trail.

As the sun got lower, I realized I was going to have the campground to myself for the night.  Very cool.

I started a fire in the firepit.  I am a very bad fire builder but finally got a little one going.  Then I started to work on supper.

I had brought a Mountain House meal, spaghetti, so all I had to do was boil water.  That was fortunate.  I really need to work on my cookware.  I had 2 tealight stoves and a cheapo set of Coleman cookware.  I really need to do some upgrading here.  The cookware has no grabbable handles and the tealights are so light as to be unstable.  So It was really aggravating and I lost fuel and water before it was over.  The cookware will need to be replaced outright.  I will modify the tealight attaching a wide flat base.

After eating and cleaning up, I decided to take my book to the tent as the temps were already dropping.  I changed into comfy clothes for sleeping and crawled in.

This is where the equipment testing really came in.  I had ordered my tent and bag from REI, on sale of course.

The tent is an Alps Mountaineering Comet.  I was quite pleased.  It was warm enough that I left the fly open for the night.

The new bag is an REI brand down bag.  Warm as toast.  I think the temps went down in the 40s.  The only time I was chilled was when I woke up at dawn.  But I didn’t have it cinched around my shoulders.  If I had, I don’t believe I would have been cold.

For part of the evening, I just laid with my head stuck out the door watching the stars.  I even saw a shooting star!    I could hear little critters close by and kept grabbing a light to see if I could catch a glimpse of a raccoon, but I never did.

I finished my book and probably went to sleep at about 9:30.

I woke up and laid in the tent waiting for it to get light enough to see to make coffee and oatmeal.  After a fight with cookware I had breakfast.  If it hadn’t been so hard to heat the water, I probably would have had more oats.  I did manage a second cup of coffee though.

After lounging around a bit, I started to break camp.  There was a little condensation on the tent fly.  I don’t think it appeared until after I had gotten up.  Next time, as soon as I’m up I’ll remove the fly.

It didn’t take long to clean up, pack, and police the site.  There is a garbage can there, so I didn’t have to pack out the garbage.

The hike back to my truck started out a bit rough as my legs are sore and I start climbing straight out of the campground.  But I think that also stretched out my calves.

I was hoping Iris would show back up and walk with me a while.  At one point I heard a dog barking.  I called for her, but I think the dog I heard was penned.

Once I stopped to take off my pack and shed a layer of clothing.  I spotted a pretty young buck with a beginner set of antlers.

I had very little trouble heading back, well except once.  I was climbing through a fallen tree and grabbed a stub to pull myself over and through.  It came off in my hand and I went over backwards.  Happily, I landed on my pack.

That last climb up to the parking lot was tough on my poor sore legs and feet.  I was quite happy to spot the red of my truck through the trees.  By then it had really warmed up and I was really sweating.  I sat down on the tailgate of the truck right on 10:30.

Home by 11:30!

A look up the trail

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~ by susancyclist on November 8, 2009.

2 Responses to “A good hike”

  1. Sounds like a great break from the day to day life!

    Remember, though, that your tent doesn’t keep you warm–that’s your sleeping bag’s job. All the tent does is keep rain/dew/wind off your bag (and the rest of your gear, if you are not sleeping in bear country). I follow Cliff Jacobson’s advice and put my ground cloth INSIDE, so that rain (or dew) running down the tent sidewalls doesn’t collect on the cloth and wick under my tent.

    A good stove is a wonderful thing, to be sure. I got a deal on a Coleman white gas backpacking stove some years ago–it holds enough fuel to go a weekend of solo backpacking, and is easier to use than any MSR I’ve tried (I have an MSR stove, and don’t like it as well, despite its light weight and small size–and the separate fuel bottle).

  2. I wasn’t in bear country! Though at some point I want to go to Big South Fork which still has a few bear.

    The tent was pretty warm until I opened the fly for the night. But the down bag was very warm. It’s rated to 20 degrees. I also have a thermarest pad, military, that I got at a Army supply store.

    Off to get ready for bed. For some reason I’m tired. 😉

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