Monday, March 12, 2012

Up Up and Away!

Cara and I went to REI attic sale and I found an MSR Hubba Hubba 2P tent for $50! The tent is damage free. After first thinking to have Cara bring it with her when she comes and visits, I made the call to replace my one person Mountain Hardware Sprite 1 for the MSR. I made this decision despite the tent being probably a bit less than a pound heavier. The fabric, itself, is the same or lighter, however the poles account for a bit more weight. What prompted my decision was the ability for the tent to be free-standing, and the ability to take down  or setup the tent rain-fly first. Even in torrential downpour I will be able to keep the inside of the tent relatively dry. And being free-standing I can carry less stakes, and set it up on platforms, or hard surfaces. I also like the idea of having a $330 tent for $50 - to prove to myself that the Trail can be hiked economically with "second-hand" gear. I returned the Sprite and foot-print and got Cara a Osprey pack that we fitted for her. The Aura 50 is a great pack, and it fits her very well. I can't speak more highly of Osprey.

My new home
To try and justify the extra pound I went through my pack item by item and weighed the pros and cons and rid myself of over a pound of things I probably won't need, including: 2 smaller sections of rope, 4 tent stakes, half of the chamois towel, long under pants, a mesh bag, 2 caribeaners, my Reactor sleeping bag liner, and the small funnel part of the Steripen pre-filter (I have wide mouth water bottles, so it's extraneous). I am at the bare minimum of what I am willing to take, everything else will be used or should be kept for emergencies. My sleeping bag is rated for 15 degrees, I have a down vest and extra pant and long sleeve shirt, if I'm chilled I can put on all my layers, and some other tricks I know to keep warm - I am beginning 'late' and won't run into weather colder than 15 at night, I will be surprised if I see that temperature. If I regret this, the next town will get my money for additional gear, it's in the budget.

I weighed my pack with all my gear and 3 days of food, it comes in at 33 pounds, add water to that to 36 pounds. A bit on the weighty side, but it will get better when I am firmly in summer time and I can switch out some gear. The first mail drop at Mountain Crossings with 8 days of food is going to be a tough slow climb up the next few mountains. I will definitely be eating the heavy meals right out of the gate - maybe 3 dinners on the first day and Clif bars for dinner later in the week!

Up in the Air! 

Cara flew a plan this weekend. We went to Potomac Airfield with a Google Offers coupon and, as she has always wanted to pilot a plane she sat up front. I sat in the back enjoyed the view. On the distant horizon I could see the mountains I will soon be on! Oh how those Appalachians call to me!
Cara did very well, and enjoyed herself, she flew around in circles within sight of the US 301 bridge over the Potomac river. The day was clear and sunny and perfectly calm, we really couldn't have asked for a better day to be up there. After we landed we went and hung out with a couple friends, Anthony and Liz, in Alexandria since we were so close.

Pilot Cara
We are keeping busy between now and when I leave for the Trail. Our time grows short and the ache of missing her is already there even though I'm with her. It's great that she has been so understanding of my special form of insanity! I will be looking forward to the day that the Trail leads me close enough that she can come and visit me easily - somewhere around where 64 hits 81 north to NY is not too far a distance for a weekend visit.