I took my family out for lunch to Pine Point Rapids in the Whiteshell area of Manitoba today. My task today aside from quality family time was to have a training hike with a fully loaded pack in preparation for Appalachian Trail.
Let’s start right at the beginning, even before arriving at the trail head. In the Starbucks drive-thru I ordered a venti blond roast coffee with cream and I was given black coffee. I tried to drink it, I really did but black Starbucks coffee is just too strong and bitter for me. The first lesson of my training hike was clear: I am not bringing coffee with me on the AT because I will also need powdered dairy to cut the bitter taste of coffee and I don’t want it to take up weight and space in my food bag. Instead I will drink caffinated tea that goes down smooth in the mornings and herbal tea in the evenings.
In my Gregory Deva 70 I carried a water filter, a two-person three pound tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, pillow, stove, fuel, pot, mug, spork, two dehydrated meals, 1 day worth of snacks, toilet paper, and 3 liters or water. As the hike progressed, I also added ski pants, a jacket, scarf, and warm mitts into my pack.
The second lesson that I learned on the hike is that I over heat quickly and when I am hot, I am irritable. I felt alive when I stripped my layers off and walked with the crisp breeze on my bare arms. I am likely going to hike the AT in a loose fitting Under Armour t-shirt. I have tried on a few different ones very similar to this.
Today I wore an Icebreaker merino wool long sleeve baselayer (I plan to sleep in it on the AT), a zip up Under Armour hoodie, basic yoga tights from Costco (no thermal base layer, thank goodness because I was so hot), and Icebreaker merino wool socks. I also wore a down puffy jacket that I picked up at Costco for an amazing price, Cabela’s ski pants, and Hi-Tec winter low-hikers. All in all, the layers I chose kept me comfortable once I removed the ski pants and jacket.
The weight of my pack was approximately 28 pounds and with the addition of ski pants and jacket, I likely topped out over 30 pounds until almost 3L of water was used up and food was eaten. Putting the ski pants in my pack was a good indication of what my camp clothes will feel like in my pack, both weight and size. On the AT, I will also have camp shoes, first aid, the Duce of Spades, and a headlamp. I plan to have a journal with me and perhaps a digital camera. My phone will likely be off to conserve battery power.
My tent comes in a bag that is too big. It’s great for folding up neatly and putting away for storage but I want to compress the tent more inside my pack. I am planning on purchasing a medium sized compression sack and stuffing my tent in the sack each morning on the AT, keeping the poles seperate of course. I also need a smaller compression sack for my clothes.
My pack offered a lot of room, my gear did not feel squished, and I didn’t worry that I might bust a zipper. I played around with the compression straps to get it feeling right again after I removed layers and it was fairly easy to find my groove. The pack moved well with me and I didn’t feel much, if any shifting. The straps are comfortable and fit my shape well. I’m very happy with my Gregory Deva 70.
I definitely felt the weight of the pack on my body but I was more phased by the heat. Once I was comfortable with the temperature and not irritated anymore, the weight didn’t seem to matter. I’m quite strong too. I have a small yet big frame. I’m solid yet squishy. Weight wise with my pack, I’m going to be fine on the AT.
To cap the day off after an amazing time on the trail and a delicious dinner, my friend and I went to the YMCA for a dip in the pool, complete with two invigorating rides down the water slides, and the hot tub and steam room. It was a perfect way to end the day.