Assessment and update….

Well we are exactly 15 days and counting until we leave for our AT (Appalachian Trail) adventure.  I’ve been crazy busy at work since the last hiking post so I figured I better get at least a small update in the hopper.

The last I told you folks was that I was doing a shake down hike in the Sipsey Wilderness area of Alabama late last month. Well, it was a raging success. I learned a lot of good bits about my new pack. We did around 13 miles on that Saturday in and out of the gorges. A couple river and creek crossings and more blow downs than I’ve encountered in a long while. There were two different groups hiking. There were six in the group I hiked with but of everyone hiking in our groups that day I was the only one doing it with a full pack. To say I stood out a bit was an understatement.

We had a great hike none the less and as I said I learned a lot. The Gossomer Gear Mariposa 60 was really amazing. There is a lot of elevation change in this area so I tend to get some issues at the end of a long mileage hike with my shoulders and particularly my hips. There was no issue with my hips and my shoulders didn’t even start to get a little tight until right at the last mile we did. Otherwise, the pack rode very nicely. The weight in the pack was around 25 pounds. This is a full 5 pounds heavier than what my pack weight will be all in when we hit the AT that first day and it will only get lighter as we go through our food on the four day hike.

Speaking of food, we finally started dehydrating meals last night. I have to do some work on packing up last night’s meal tonight and then do another one later this week and finish all of it this weekend, but we are gonna be in really good shape for what we are doing. I found a great resource for dehydrated/freeze dried vegetables recently and will have several ounces of dehydrated carrots, spinach and mushrooms to add to the meals we have that are kinda base. The boy will be okay with the carrots. The rest is for me. If you are in the market for this or other DIY supplies for hammocks, tarps, backpacks, etc. take a  look at  www.MakeYourGear.com. Dutch is an excellent guy to deal with and has one of the best customer service records of any vendor I’ve ever done business with. He’s a stand up guy and you can trust him.

We also managed to settle on a snack/in between meals format for the trail. The last time I did a solo on the AT I had the CLIF bar deal and they were fine. Got a lot burned out on that and just felt in my head there was a better way to go that would get me a little more variety, get me the caloric intake needed for long days hiking with lots of elevation change, and not burn me out by day 2.5 or worse.  We managed an assortment of a couple cheese cracker formats, some simple Jelly Belly jelly beans for that sweet tooth, some homemade jerky that we’ll be finishing up this weekend hopefully and a custom trail mix. The custom mix is the most interesting part for us. It consists of Strawberry Yogurt covered raisins, Vanilla Yogurt covered raisins, dried blueberries, dried mango, dried pineapple, shelled roasted salted pistachios, and roasted salted edamame.  We put this together last weekend had some left over after packaging that we could taste test. Awesome sauce. I had to put the packaged mix up and as far back in the pantry as possible to keep the kids out of it. Otherwise, there would be none for the trip. This was a home run for certain. All off the shelf stuff we just poured in a big bowl, mixed it up good and packaged by weight. Now we have enough variety to keep it fun and the caloric intake will be what we were hoping for per snack.

There is still so much to do. Ordering last minute bits and bobs to finish out the boy’s kit and pack and then getting everything together, packing, unpacking, rechecking, repacking and hiking in my head to make sure we haven’t forgotten anything before we leave. Once we are packed for the final time, there is no turning back, adding to or picking up something. We’ll just have to survive without it.

We’ve had to get the boy’s end of year finals testing schedule adjusted but his principal was a huge help for this. Once I told him what we were planning to do it literally was less than 15 minutes and he had granted excused absences for the final three days of class, told every one of my son’s teachers to make it happen for him to take tests early, and told me if there was any hiccups or anything else I needed, just call him directly. He would clear the way for us. Who said principals can’t be cool? This one is a rock star to me.

Well that will do for now. I’ll post later about meal prep and anything else that comes up. The excitement is building slowly but steadily. So many firsts. So many memories to make and so much fun and wonder to be had. I love these moments with my son. I can’t say I’ve been the best father in the world, but I’ve managed to get some of it really right. Hey, the kid has to have something to tell his therapist some day, right?

Oh, one last thing. I mentioned I learned a lot on the shake down hike. I especially learn not to leave my hiking poles at camp with my camera still attached to them. Unattended, there were some interesting photos taken by my “friends”. You know who you are and you know you are truly too twisted for color television. LOL!

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