Well good evening, internet. I’m sorry it’s been ages since I posted but it’s been pretty busy over here. Finishing up my Masters report, creating and editing the presentation, then defending it. Good news though, I passed and have minimal paper edits to make, so it looks like my AT plans are officially on…..well I guess more official than before.
Today I went out to East Fork State Park in southwest Ohio and I really wanted to get in a good hike that would challenge me and hopefully bring up some bodily problems I might have while hiking. I went on the backpacking trail, which starts at trail head parking and travels a single path for about 5.5 miles. Then there is a 3 mile loop at the end, looping back up to meet the main path. I hiked the 5.5 mile trail, the loop, and then went back 5.5 miles to the trail head. So about 14 miles total. I really wanted to challenge myself so I packed up my Osprey with all my stuff and then added weight for a grand total of 40 pounds, and went off on my adventure. Just a day hike though, I have too much to do tomorrow for an overnight.
Now I know that I will NEVER ALLOW MYSELF TO CARRY 40 POUNDS ON THE AT, but for this trip I wanted to stress my body and find any problems my body might have while hiking. So please don’t write in the comments that I shouldn’t be carrying 40 pounds on the AT, because I know and I was never planning on it. I’m sure there is some smart ass out there who will anyway.
Anyway, the hike started off great. I was zipping right along. The terrain on the 5.5 mile section isn’t too challenging, so I made great time from the get go. There just so happened to be a big running event going on at the park today, going the opposite direction on a section of the same trail, and so I kept moving off to the side and waiting for them to pass. I had good sporadic conversation with some of them. A couple dozen even did the loop twice so I got to talk to certain people twice. The guy who won, and very much the most hardcore out of all of them, ran the course three times. That guy must love some running. Though I did get 3 small conversations with him.
As I said, the first 5 and a half miles were pretty easy.
The trail goes around the edge, or part of, Harsha Lake. Or maybe it’s Lake Harsha? You could almost always hear the boaters, but you never really came too close to the water.
I’m always a little paranoid when I’m hiking a trail that splits or changes directions at an intersection that it won’t be marked well. I’ve definitely gone down my fair share of wrong paths. That was definitely not going to happen on this trip.
Now the looping section of the trail was definitely the most difficult. There were some pretty serious ups and downs that were quite steep. Your newbie, Boy Scout, backpacker probably wouldn’t have the greatest time on this part of the trail. Now I went down the front trail and returned via the back trail. They both connect, no real need for a different name. Campsite 2 trail splits the loop in half at the back end. The front loop section was kinda nice and provided a great place to eat lunch.
Once I passed the Campsite 2 trail, there was a massively steep uphill. It took me by surprise. I managed just fine, but it might destroy a beginner. The back side of the loop trail is not well traveled or maintained. It’s overgrown most everywhere and it’s the only place I got a tick. Lots of stinging nettle got to rub up and down my legs and I’m still feeling it. Getting back to that sign was great just because I wasn’t running into all the plants.
On my way back I stopped a couple times for conversation. Once with a pair of guys who asked me countless AT questions and again to chat with a troop of boy scouts. Their leaders told me they were stopping at Campsite 1, just avoiding the 3 mile loop entirely. They took 3 hours to hike a couple miles, so I felt pretty bad for the group.
The 40 pound pack really didn’t take it’s toll until about mile 11. My upper body, waist and legs were just fine, but my feet were taking a pounding. They were definitely feeling that 40 pounds. I made it, but because of the weight I wound up getting a number of blisters on my feet. Compare this to me normally never getting blisters. They were mainly between and under toes though, so I think I’m gonna change to toe socks. I’ve read a lot of good things about people using toe socks on the AT. One guy claimed he never got a single blister on the AT when wearing toe socks. But that’s why I was loaded down with 40 pounds, to figure things out like that. I could have just brought my day pack with a couple water bottles and my lunch and probably finished in 5.5 – 6 hours, but I wound up getting done in just under 7 hours. Everything is feeling a lot better now. Oh, and I lost 4 pounds because it was soooooo humid.
34 days til’ Katahdin! #SOBO #Maine2Georgia
“I am much inclined to live from my rucksack, and let my trousers fray as they like.” ~ Hermann Hesse