Just got back from 2 days on the Appalachian Trail

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by DarkLight, Sep 21, 2014.

  1. DarkLight

    DarkLight Live Long and Prosper - On Hiatus

    So my son's Boy Scout troop went on a backpacking trip to Roan Mountain this weekend and they really needed more adults for the number of kids... so I went along.

    What a wakeup call. We did a total of 14 miles, starting with a 1.5 mile hike at 11:00 pm to our first shelter. Then 7 miles (approximately) to the next shelter for the second night and then 5.3 miles today. I have good boots but a new pack which I have got to learn how to pack correctly. Even at 35 lbs I'm done in.

    I know we all say to pack it up, trek with it and make sure you can carry the weight as long as you need to. I can't so I obviously need to rethink some things. Yes I finished and showed as little weakness at the time to my son who was having a hard time (pack too heavy and possibly too big, couple of blisters and started to get dehydrated) and as an adult I fully understand that there's no other way of that mountain. You finish, simple as that. They can't come pick you up if you are too tired to go on.

    Afterwards, however, we talked about it and I was honest with him and we discussed what was good and bad about the trip. He did ultimately enjoy it but it wasn't a stroll in the park. It was, I'm ashamed to say, grueling for us and like I said a real wakeup call.

    I won't be taking fresh water available at the turn off a knob for granted for quite a while. I absolutely LOVE my bed. Carrying my house and everything I need on my back would be nothing like many have romanticized it to be.

    Will I do it again? I don't know for sure but probably. Will I do some things differently? Absolutely! Was it ultimately a good expedience? Yes, for both my son and I. The views were amazing and I absolutely love the night sky without all the light pollution.

    Please forgive any rambling or misspellings as I'm posting from my phone as I fall asleep. I just wanted to get this out there.
    ditch witch, fmhuff, GOG and 8 others like this.
  2. Wheelsucker

    Wheelsucker Out of Airspeed, Altitude & Ideas

    Me too and a very similar trip. We were at the southern end. Did some cool stuff w/ 2m radios and roll up antennas including talking to another group from our troop 85 miles away through a repeater. I was carrying 35lbs at start and probably 40 at end (unusually young group so had to help a few who struggled). Pace was fairly easy so the adults and the only older boy (mine) had no trouble. We then visited Camp Merrill (one of the adults was a former Ranger Instructor) as saw some hard bastards w/ 80+lb packs and weapons heading out for a 5 day exercise. Better them than me. Carrying enough to live off and be able to fight is not easy.
    tulianr and DarkLight like this.
  3. -06

    -06 Monkey+++

    Whew, been a long time since I spent any time on the AT. Lovely places that are just as pretty as any place on the globe. We did a 24 mile hike one day so we could stay at a "wet" camp. Broke camp in the dark, did about 5 miles, wet breakfast, 7-8 more, dry lunch, 7-8 more, dry supper, and hiked into the wet camp by flash light. We were a beat bunch but had the whole next day to rest.
  4. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey Moderator

    It is an amazing experience to get in the great outdoors and pack a bit into the wild..... glad you were able to experience it with your son and grow together through this adventure.

    All that I can say in regards to your struggles is, get out there and do it more.... and often. You will find the more that you do it, the better prepared you will be for the trek and the task at hand... as well as the physical conditioning you will gain from the walkabout... :)

    Work on your load-out for your packs and do a true eval of what you used... and what was just weight that never came out of the pack....
  5. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    @DarkLight what great experience. I think we all should do what you did. Sitting on the couch knowing we are in shape means nothing until we actually get out there and do the actual physical act. A few years back we went for a hike. We just went out the door and hiked, then we separated. Lots went wrong. We discussed what we lacked, what we should have done and what was a must have. It was a great learning experience. I know with my day bag if I don't pack it correctly that it gets real cumbersome and if the kids ask Mom (the family pack mule) to carry some of their things it gets real bad.

    I am glad you had this experience with your son, not only making memories but were able to discuss the good and the bad.
    stg58, Yard Dart, DarkLight and 2 others like this.
  6. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Same thing with hunting. If the bag isn't packed right, or something is missing, that can be a bad days hunt.
    Or. You have to redesign what you intend to do, because you can't carry everything you would need.
    If I'm hunting close, I can set up a nice heated blind with a chair and cooler. If I like, but there is no way I would carry all that into a wild area, unless that was my only choice.
    If going in deep, I'd swap for lighter gear, and less of it. Pare it down to just what I really need, and leave the rest in the truck.
    stg58 and DarkLight like this.
  7. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    This has been pointed out on numerous threads that I have read. What we think we need vs. what we really need. The lists for the BOB are all over but those are guidelines. People really need to actually use them in order to know what they themselves need. I am sure @kellory knows what he needs vs. what a list says he should have.
    fmhuff and kellory like this.
  8. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Your list must reflect what it is you need to do, and where you need to go.
    Motomom34 likes this.
  9. fmhuff

    fmhuff Monkey+++

    If you read the blogs of AT hikers their packs get very light after a few days. You can learn a lot about what is essential and useful and what is not by reading them.

    Really read some of those blogs. It's amazing just how little you need or want when it gets real.
    Motomom34 likes this.
  10. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Have you seen the prices on some of that ultra light, backpacking gear? take a gander at this Sierra Designs high-tech, $1,800 tent
    i'm old school. no money for ultra light gear, and most of what I carry is used, when I get it. I could, with no effort at all, spend $2000.00 per bag, on only the very "best" gear, and lightest possible, specialty, hardware.
    it is NOT going to happen. so I will not be going through blogs for just the right pieces.
    I will go by what I know, I need for what I need to do.
    a day hunt, does not need all the gear you would carry for a week or two on a trail. it needs to carry what you need to hunt, and enough extras to cover emergencies. shelter for a day or two, if you must, water, and a means to get more. some food that you don't need to cook, and at least two or three ways to make fire, if you need it.
    mapping gear, you should have already (compass, maps, note paper, and pencil. GPS is good, with some means to charge the batteries for flashlight and GPS.) dry clothes in plastic ziplocs. a weapon or two, and ammo. drag rope for game.
    first aid and fishing kit.
    besides that, you get into all the gear that help, make things easier, options. scents, lures, decoys, camo, range markers, binos, ect. the most useless gear I carry, is probably my sheath knife. but everyone seems to think you must have one when out and about. it's redundant. there is nothing that knife can do, that the skeletal folder in my pocket, can't do as well. or the pocket tool, I am never without (gerber multi-plyer).
    my gear is old, multipurpose, solid, and heavier than necessary, but ultra light, and specialty cost too much.
    @Motomom34 , the idea of me with a perfectly packed BOB, is ludicrous.:lol:every time circumstances change, the bag gets raided, and what is not needed gets set aside. (I don't need deer calls for turkey, though turkey decoys work well on deer) every item gets evaluated, for what is needed....now.
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