Thursday, December 23, 2010

foothills trail - complete! :)

so a friend of mine and i thru-hiked the foothills trail this past weekend. i'm officially a thru-hiker! i had so much fun and deep down, i enjoyed every minute of it, even if it didn't show on the surface at all times. the scenery was gorgeous, the weather was decent (considering the forecast, it was perfect)... it was, all in all, an experience i am so glad i went through.

there were a few times on the trail when i thought to myself, "would i really want to do this for six months on end? would i really want to walk 2,100 miles?" and the answer was generally a resounding, "yes!" i hadn't physically prepared myself at all for this trip. i'd never backpacked, so i didn't know what it'd be like hauling around a 35# pack for days on end. i regularly walk my dogs to the park, but a 3-mile round-trip walk in the lowcountry is nothing compared to a 5-mile uphill ascent. had my friend not been there, i wouldn't have pushed myself the way i did and i wouldn't have done the 77 miles in five days.

those five days were a constant cardio workout. i know you're not technically supposed to wear cotton, but i did wear a tshirt underneath my jacket. i'd get so hot in some sections of the trail (even with snow on the ground) that i'd have to come out of my jacket and hike in only a tshirt. i still don't understand how my friend rarely ever came out of his rainjacket. i would have burned up. is this a sign of poor endurance, my overheating in such a short timespan? o.O

the first night in the woods, we bear bagged, but it didn't really work out all that well, and i don't think it would have been a sufficient enough job to keep them away if they had come out. the rest of the time, we slept with our food bags in the tent. we cooked right beside the tent (instead of the recommended distance of 50'? away from the tent), and we never had a problem.

we used a clip flashlight tent, and while my friend hated it from the get-go, i only found myself disliking it when we'd wake up in the mornings and there'd be a ton of condensation in the tent around us. there's nothing like waking up wet when you've got a roof over your head. he said it was because of the mesh on the tent. i'm wondering if it wasn't the condensation of our breath? but he dismissed that and chalked it up to the mesh. either way... i won't be getting a clip flashlight.

i had a regular sleeping pad, and he bought me a thermarest before the trip but for some reason i didn't take it. i guess i just slept with the regular one that night in the van, so i figured i'd stick with it throughout the trip. i shouldn't have. i never got a peaceful night's sleep because of the pressure points my hips and the ground would cause. i'll have to look into the thermarests. i didn't get it back from him before we departed.

i've read skywalker's book on his trail life. if there's one thing that got on my nerves about him and bill bryson, it was how much they didn't really seem to enjoy being out in the woods. bryson never even finished the trail, and skywalker slept in every hotel he could find, it seemed like. it wasn't until we'd been on the trail for 3 days and i had a bum ankle and it was getting dark and cold and it looked like we'd have to wind up setting up a wet tent that i understood just why they felt the way they did. we walked into the public restrooms of one of the national parks on the trail, and they were clean and had running water that you didn't have to purify and there was even heatlamps! and you didn't have to pee in the woods! it was when i was there, standing in front of the hand dryer and drying out my buff, that i realized at that moment, i was no better than skywalker. i could see where he was coming from.

the one thing that amazed me was how quickly my body adapted to the demands of the trail. i was never really sore because i kept working those same muscles, getting the lactic acid out of my system. i fell a few times on the second day because of wet leaves and snow/ice and i hurt my ankle a bit. i was sore from that, but as far as my back being sore or my abs being sore or my legs being sore... it never really happened. granted, i felt like my legs were fatigued to the point of failure at times, but they never really ached.

i will never, ever, EVER get another protein bar with malitol in it. i know the label warns of gastrointestinal upset and diarrhea, but i never even let it get to that point because the two varities of bars that i got were disgusting and i could barely eat half of them. i bought them thinking, "oh hey there protein. i'll need you." silly. i will definitely stick to snickers from here on out. joshua even had the fun-size snickers bars. for the mini-boost, i suppose. he also had a bag full of dried apples, banana chips, and cranberries that he'd concocted from the things he'd bought from wal-mart. very good, i'd say. i also should have brought more mashed potatoes on the trail. the third night, my dinner consisted of mashed potatoes, smoked cheddar cheese, and real bacon bits i'd packed in. as soon as that hit my lips, i almost cried it was so good. i will definitely have to remember more mashed potatoes, more fruit and snickers, and less malitol. oh, and less ramen i think.

i took a lot of clothing on this trip... i took a scarf (which i didn't need and will never take again because now i have my buff), my underarmour shirt (which if i would have actually worn, i would have probably roasted alive in it), and a lot of other stuff i didn't need.

i will finish this dump later.. but for right now, i'm sleepy. i just wanna write all this down before i forget it. :)