Last Chance-Hiking Trip-Chapter 2

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The window was left open all night and a cool mountain breeze flowed across my bed and over my face. I snuggled down into the cozy flannel sheets that lined the cot and allowed my eyes to get accustomed to the light that filled the room. Our room was quiet but busy.

One by one, we popped out of our beds and got dressed. We checked and rechecked our packs, tightened straps and made adjustments. We texted our goodbyes and final instructions to our families, then turned off our phones and rolled up our phone chargers. We wouldn’t need them where we were going. No electricity on the trail and no electrical outlets in the huts.

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It was our last chance to add or take away from the weight and supplies we were going to carry on our backs over the next three days. For me, there was nothing to add or take away. I had gone over all my supplies about fifty times and carefully packed clothes in Ziplock bags labeled for specific days. Normally, I am not this organized but for this trip I felt it a necessity. Maybe it was my way of trying to control the unknown.

Most of my pack was filled with clothes because I was very serious about not being cold. I packed layers and layers of items for every situation I could think of. Yes, even if it started snowing, I was prepared to be warm. A few second thoughts and nervous feelings about overpacking ran through my mind but I could not bring myself to remove one single item from my pack. I decided to call it done.

Once everyone was ready, we headed down to the lodge’s kitchen. I stuffed myself full with a hearty, warm breakfast of oatmeal, eggs and fruit. Loving Leader had suggested we have a big breakfast and a big dinner, and eat snacks and bars (things easy to pack) for our lunches on the trail. We had an important task to do before leaving the dining room area, we needed to fill our hydration bladders. My water reservoir was much larger than the one I have used in the past for running. It was awkward to fill but I pretended to look like I knew what I was doing even as the water sloshed in the sink and over my bag. Screwing the cover closed, I felt accomplished and I carried the water upstairs to put into my pack. I was surprised at how much 3 liters of water weighed and somewhat dreading the extra weight to my pack but I knew that this was a non-negotiable item.

After Loving Leader led us in devotions and prayers, I felt full in almost every way. Full of food, full pack, full hydration bladder, full heart, full of energy, full of anticipation. One more comfortable, indoor bathroom facilities use and then we checked with the front desk about the day’s weather forecast. The forecast called for cloudy skies with rain in the afternoon. The expected rain would be the “heaviest” around 1pm-2pm. Not perfect weather but not terrible weather either. (At least, this was my thinking.)

On Wednesday, 9:20 AM, under cloudy skies, we headed out of the lodge’s doors and stepped onto the Avalon Trail ready to “bag” our first peak. Three expectations were about to be tested.

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WONDER-FULL Wednesday- The Right Stuff

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It’s been a few weeks since I have updated my adventures in preparing for my hike. Hike month is now here! Twenty-two days until I step onto the trail. To date, I have only had one hiking dream  nightmare. In my dream, I was in the car with my friends heading up to the mountain. We were almost there and I needed to get something out of my pack. When I opened my pack, I found NOTHING! I hadn’t packed a thing! I panicked, told my friends to let me off on the side of the highway (which they DID!!!!) and said I would meet them on the trail. Then I walked back to my house to pack the essentials- socks, trailmix and underwear. Except there were no clean underwear to pack- I am a little blurry if that was a dream or reality. And then I woke up.

The dream got me thinking about what gear I already have and what I need to buy/borrow. If you ask my husband, I am sure he would say that I would be fine hiking with my old school backpack with a couple of Market Basket shopping bags tied to the side for the things that cannot fit. Seriously, that would be a lot of bags tied to my side straps! I am not my husband though and part of the fun of this adventure is a little shopping (thank you for the birthday money, mom, Gammy and Jonette!)

The most important thing that I needed to purchase was a pack. When I visited REI, there were walls and walls of them and it was overwhelming. I needed a smaller selection and decided that I would try EMS. Now that I am a true-outdoorsy, adventurous type person, I need to get very familiar with these outdoorsy-type stores.

Purchasing the hiking boots provided me earned confidence. I walked into EMS with a little more swagger in my step than I had in REI. I met Austin who reminded me of Price Harry (who I have never met but maybe because he was a red head.) He was in his twenties, an outdoorsy-type kid and enthusiastic about my trip. As a side note, I have never met a ginger I did not like and I trusted his opinion. It was a good start.

Austin led me over to the packs. He pointed out two packs that he thought would be good for me. I tried the first one on. Boom! Perfect fit! Austin was surprised. Just to make sure, he had me try on another pack. I made him load and unload weight and I walked around the store a few times. Everything was great! The pack was comfortable and it was black. Black goes with everything. And yes, those types of things matter to me.

I do not know much more about my pack other than it has a lot of pockets, it has a place for a water reservoir (Austin told me the size I need to get) and it has a rain cover (which according to Austin is a MAJOR plus.) He told me he has the same pack and lived seven days out of it. If Austin can do seven, I can do four!

Austin also said the key to fitting everything you need is to pack smartly. He told me a down jacket was a smart pack. He showed me one that can be squished into a pocket on the inside of a coat. It looked great to me! Fifteen minutes later, my pack was purchased as well as the squishy, puffy, down jacket and I am now that much closer to having everything I need for this trip. PS I am still not sure how the coat fits into that pocket but I will figure it out.

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The lightweight, puffy, squishy jacket….

 

A few other purchases….A new headlamp! BONUS:  I did not know the head lamp had RED FLASHING LIGHTS!!

I was looking for something to keep my hair back and greasy, unshowered hair covered (no showers in the huts) and I came across a thing called a Buff. I figured it would not only work for good appearance purposes but will also “protect me from the elements.” It is a very interesting accessory. The tubular piece of fabric can be worn in many ways. Here are a few examples.

The last picture accurately depicts a novice trying to use this tubular headwear. I am kidding. I can see how this item will come in very handy. It seems like it will keep me warm, cool and comfortable.

My favorite way of wearing the Buff might be this though…. Just call me Belle Starr (The Bandit Queen)

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Well, that’s all for now….until next time, don’t squat with your spurs on…