We woke up on the last day and the rain had passed. The sky was still overcast, but I was quite pleased with the lack of rain. My body ached all over and my feet were still angry from the previous day’s hike. I took some ibuprofen and put on dry clothes. After a hot bowl of oatmeal and a couple of packets of hot chocolate, I was ready to hit the trail and get home.
I woke up early on our second day. It had rained all night and it was still drizzling. A shouted conference between our tents led to the decision to wait for a while and make a late start of it. So we waited until it was apparent that the rain was staying with us for the day. We ate breakfast and broke camp and started a long day of hiking in the rain.
We started late on our first day. My hiking partner didn’t pick me up until around nine and we had to stop for some supplies on our way, so we didn’t get on the trail until almost eleven. Luckily, everyone else was lagging even more and we were able to get a good parking space right next to the caretaker’s trailer. We got our packs on and adjusted and got moving. Pretty much right away, my buddy realized that he forgot his poles. This was a bit of a disappointment for me, since it meant that I would feel like a bit of a jerk using my poles when he didn’t have his. The jaunt to the base of the Ruckel Creek trail was quick though, so I really didn’t have long to wait before the climbing began.
A while back, I set a pair of goals for my summer backpacking: to hike a 40 mile loop in the Columbia River Gorge and to hike the Timberline trail on Mt. Hood. The trails I wanted to use in the Gorge finally started clearing up in June, so that is where I headed first. I didn’t go backpacking last year, so I had a lot of preparations to make and since this was the first time that I was going to carry a pack while wearing my FiveFingers, I had a lot of conditioning to do. Oh, and of course there were last-minute changes to the route that had to be made on account of the weather. A lot to do.
Next week I am going on a long hike. The plan calls for forty miles over four days and three nights. I’ve never spent that much time on the trail before and though I am looking forward to it, there is a certain sense of dread that accompanies the anticipation. As I go about my preparations, fretting about food and gear choices these sensations continue to grow. To be honest, I suspect that they will continue even as I set foot on the trail and begin my trek.
I really enjoy gear. I like to spend time comparing the merits of different brands and analyzing the performance of the kit that I take out on the trail. I might be a fetishist, yet I think that many hikers would agree that having good gear can make all the difference between a miserable slog and an invigorating hike. Gear can also be the only thing that stands between an inconvenience and a disaster. As such, I am always on the lookout for good books about gear. Trail Tested was written by Justin Lichter, who probably wears out more gear in a year than most people ever own. He hikes thousands of miles a year and he knows a thing or two.