Wednesday, June 16, 2010

my hard head knew better...

So I may look like a hiking rockstar here, but let me be clear about something. I "lived" a good lesson in gear on this hike up and down Mt LeConte last week. Having hiked this mountain many many times, I knew what to expect, but ignored it in my hard-headed fashion when it comes to packs.

Here's a few comments about gear and its potential positive or negative effects on a hiking experience.

See that little pack I got on in this photo? Little $8 dollar pack I got at a shoe store on a "spin the board" sorta game thing. Granted this pack is stellar for little day hikes, but it's certainly not meant to go 15 miles nor a combined total of 6,500' in elevation with any amount of true weight in it. My shoulders were SCREAMING about an hour into this hike. While it performed like a rockstar (as in didn't tear or fall apart), but on a comfort level when packed full and weighted down, I give it a 1 out of 5 rating. So let's just say lesson learned in the value of a properly fitted pack for not only the amount of gear, but the weight of gear and proper distribution of that weight across one's lumbar region.

I'll be shopping for a "medium sized" pack that's MEANT to carry some weight in it before my next hike like this!

On another more positive note, my Asolo boots DID in fact perform like rockstars! I realized on this hike that I've had this same pair of boots since 1997!! (although resoled this past year) A good pair of boots are like having clouds strapped to your feet when it comes to hiking. Well worth whatever the dollar amount. Don't skimp on boots.

But one funny thing did happen with my boots on this hike. At one point I had some little pebble under my heel so I stopped to take it off, shake out the pebble and continue moving down that trail. Well, as I retied it, the string popped into two pieces in my hand. Everyone looked at me like I just had a train wreck (because everyone stopped to watch this process with my boot). Undisturbed, I just tied that string in a little knot and off we all went again. LOVE my boots!!

So don't be fooled about gear. Those "gear" issues of Backpacker magazine are published for a reason!

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Mountains are calling!!

I had the privilege of accompanying my long-time bud Robin Huskey Dailey, her nephew Brandon and his friend Caleb on a hike up to Mt LeConte last week!

Spending the night as a guest at the LeConte Lodge has been on my bucket list for some time. So naturally I wasn't about to say anything but YES, when Robin called me to see if I was interested in going!

It was like visiting an old friend for a few days...that Mountain holds some very fond memories down to the very the trails we took. (Not to mention it was tons of fun to hang out with Robin again!)
Alum Cave Bluff on the way up (took us 4 hrs cause why hurry), a 5.1 miler with an elevation gain of 2,560' it's nothing short of a butt kicker. Bullhead trail on the way down (took us 4.5 hrs cause again why hurry), a 6.9 miler with an elevation drop of 3,940'.

Click here to view all the photos.

Needless to say, the leg muscles got a serious workout! And I find that my head is still on that mountain some three days later... it was SUCH a wonderful experience...again! So over the next few days I'll be telling some stories and some memories from this trip.

Wow! Anyone can hike this Mountain, given the right pace...and oh how empowering it is...for everyone who goes there!

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

blew out my flip flop...but not on a pop-top...

Sad day cause I blew out my flip-flop on Memorial Day. I know everyone has their favorite flip-flops...and these were mine. My Teva flip-flops from like 1989! yeah, that's right! My old friend...sign.

So was paddling on Harrison Bay with my bud Ellen Kimbro...and we ferried out on a spot where it required we walk on the mucky, thick clay bottom of the bay....and while I was stepping up onto the flip-flop blew out. Yes, we laughed...but...goodbye old friend.

Sad day...but at the same time...creates a great excuse to invest in another pair...which might last me another 20 years. Who knew a pair of flip-flops could last sooooo long. These guys have been at the Ocoee River, up Mt LeConte (Smoky Mtn National Park), in Dayton-Oh, Amarillo-Tx, Pembine-Wi, and of course ye ole home town of Delta-Oh, and on and on the list goes.

So good-bye old friends...RIP. Love me some Tevas!!!

Peace out, Rachel