Category Archives: Hiking/Backpacking

AT: Family backpacking trip

For my birthday, I wanted to do a family backpacking trip.  We opted to do nearly the same exact trip we did with the HTC men’s group in early June, documented here, here, and here.  As the trips were almost identical, I’ll not go into the details of the journey.  I’ll just say that the kids did very well in the 20 miles and nearly 4000′ of climb that we did, and post some photos.

Day 1

IMG_6508.jpg

We stopped for a “coffee break” for me and a rest stop for everyone else.  Reece threw up the hammock and chilled while Kelly got some sun in the back.

IMG_1366.jpg

Here’s the kid’s tent site near Wise Shelter (just on the other side of the creek):

IMG_1369.jpg

Mess hall:

IMG_1372.jpg

Day 2

Heading out:

IMG_1373.jpg

(a bit of a joke as we had only walked about 5 minutes!)

IMG_1375.jpg

IMG_1379.jpg

 

Rock climbing:

IMG_1386.jpg

IMG_1391.jpg

Lunch break

IMG_1393.jpg

Evening camp site:

IMG_1403.jpg

 

Our site was invaded by ponies…  Some editing done by Riley:

IMG_1421.jpg

IMG_0061.jpg

IMG_0062.jpg

IMG_0064.jpg

IMG_1428.jpg

Day 3

IMG_0065.jpg

IMG_1436.jpg

 

 

 

 

AT: HTC Summer backpacking trip day 3

I slept much better on the 2nd night, as per usual.  I was a bit worried about the cold, but it ended up not being as cold as the 1st night.   Sometime just before 6 a.m., though, I was woken by sounds that are very hard to explain.  In hindsight, it’s easy to call them “aggressive munching sounds.”  This was right next to me on the right side of my tent.  And then something was making noise on the upper side of the left tent.  I quickly looked up, and saw the shadow of a head of some kind of animal poking its snout all over my tent!  Based on the way the light was behind it, and not being fully awake, it was not a shape that made sense to me, but my 1st guess was baby bear.  I sleep with my hiking poles in the tent, so I “gently” tapped the top corner of the tent a couple times to get it to move.

Once that was done, I could hear munching all around the tents.  I poked my head out and could see lots of animals — adult and baby horses!  I couldn’t get my phone camera to work for a bit, and all I got was this crazy video:

Well once the animals cleared out, there was no getting back to sleep.  But being awake did allow me to watch an incredible sunrise:

IMG_0958.jpg

After we had breakfast and packed, we walked down to a nice site for morning prayer.  This was the site on way down:

IMG_0965.jpg

IMG_0966.jpgThe altar:

IMG_0967.jpg

During prayer:

IMG_0971.jpg

During prayer there were horses all around us, and some kept going after various packs — trying to get inside, etc.   During the NT reading, there was literally a stampede right through the middle of our group, and Shea had to jump out of the way, while I had to jump behind a tree.  I have a little video of the aftermath where they were running back through:

Eventually the horses let us be and we were able to complete a wonderful morning prayer service, including communion.

As the last day we just had a 5 mile hike, mostly downhill;

Screen Shot 2017-06-12 at 2.02.44 PM.png

 

IMG_0977

IMG_0983

All in all another great trip.  I hope to take some of the 2sparrows clan out on this same loop in July.  But every time I am on the AT, I can’t help but thinking about thru-hiking.  I’ve done close to 500 miles on it now, but spread out over many years.   I really would like a crack at doing it in one go someday!

AT: HTC Summer backpacking trip day 2

I never sleep well on Day 1 on the trail, and this trip was no different.  Despite a camp site right next to a load stream, which was wonderful, I still tossed and turned a bit.  And I was chilly, even in my so called 20F bag.  :-/  Granted I did not put on my socks or jacket, but still!  I woke up early and decided to walk the 5 minutes towards the shelter, as there were two nice privy’s there.

Shea was camped near me, without even a rainfly:

On the way back I heard what I thought sounded like a lot of cows coming our way, and hoped the guys up on the ridge were awake!  (Shea, David, Caleb, and myself had all camped lower by the stream.)  I arrived and luckily the guys were up, with at least 10 large steer (including LARGE horns) all mixed amongst their tents, including this fire eating bad boy:

And a video:


After all the excitement, I made another amazing cup of stream side coffee:

The privy (“a poo with a view”):

We had a shorter hike today, but it was still a climb:

Once we reached the top of that climb it was really open and exposed — and crowded.  There’s a day hiker’s parking lot not far from there, and there were a lot of people out.  It was still gorgeous:

We debated at the top about what to do.  Shea had scouted the area by the spring, and it was crowded.  There were other options further on, but since he hadn’t scouted them, we didn’t know if they’d be any better.  In the end we headed to the spring and eventually found some good camp sites.

After setting up, Bob and I decided to “fast pack” to Mount Rogers (just a small day back).

AT: HTC Summer 2017 backpacking trip day 1

The summer Holy Trinity Chatham back packing trip was set for Grayson Highlands State Park in VA.  Michael and I drove up and met the crew — large this time at 15 hikers, at the trail head.  We were joining the AT at Fairwood Road (VA 603). The two of us got there late due to a nail in the tire that had to be taken care of before we left Pittsboro, right when most of the hikers were ready to go. The big group took off and Michael and I left 15-20 minutes later.

We caught the main group half way up the hill, and then I decided to keep moving to find Shae, Caleb, and Bob, who were ahead.  After at least an hour or more on my own, I started to worry that perhaps the plan had changed and I hadn’t been told!  I had stayed on the AT, but never saw the lead group.  I reached the 6 mile point, where the itinerary said the shelter would be, but it was at least another two miles according to the map and other hikers.  I debated for quite some time here on what to do, eventually finding a nice rock to make a cup of coffee on and wait.  And wait.  And Wait.

After 45 minutes I debated whether I should just go forward to the shelter/camp site and wait, or go back.  I assumed either way if the plan had changed, someone would realize I was following the original plan and come find me.   I opted to hike back to the group, and after at least a mile, finally came across Shea, Caleb, and Bob.  They had waited at a trail junction, but slightly off the trail, and we never saw each other. The four of hiked on to the camp area and set up our own tents, and waited for the rest of the crew to show up.

Photo’s below:

Strava data – this includes my back and forth route along the AT:

Trailhead sign (and my HEAVY pack — I packed enough to solo thru-hike the AT other than food!):

I was my own barista on the trail, waiting for the group and debating whether to go forward or back…  The coconut is a bit sweet for me, but the frothiness was good.

Lots of ponies by the shelter… We had camped before this, on the other side of a fence and stream as no tents were allowed in this area.

A good place for the food, considering the bear stories we had heard on the trail and read in the log book at Wise Shelter…

Pikes Peak via Crags and Devil’s Playground

When in Colorado in July or August, I always try to squeeze in a 14er…  I hadn’t done Pike’s yet, and hadn’t seen Gordo for two years since he paced me through Leadville…  We got a bit of a late start, as Ben was on call until 6 a.m. and had a call come in that kept him up until 2, but eventually we were on the road a little after 7, picked up Gordo a little after 8, and made it to the trail head around 9 a.m.

This was going to be stout — 4300′ in 7 miles up, then back down.  This just 2 days after the 20 miles Ben and I put in at an average of 11,000 ‘ over in Breck.  But there were donuts waiting at the top!  Pikes is one of those mountain summits that has a road to the top (as well as a train!), along with a gift shop, deli, etc.  But we heard the donuts were good and were determined to earn them the hard way!  🙂

(I did need to excuse myself from the mass crowd inside the building at the top — there’s something about big crowds in places like this that I get a bit agrophobic…  Big crowds in big cities or stadiums, etc., never bother me, and “phobic” isn’t really the right word…  But I guess there’s something I don’t care for about such close proximity to 500 or 1000 other people in settings like this.  :-/)

I’d have to say this was my strongest 14er to date…  I was feeling it on the 1st steep pitch up to 13,000’ or so, but there there’s a mile and a half flat/gradual ascent section before the final pitch, and that gave me a chance to recover.  The final pitch of all my prior 14ers have been a slog, but I felt pretty good on this one.  We arrived at the top roughly 30-45 minutes faster than I had expected!

Lots of photos below:

  
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    

And some shots from Gordo:

IMG_20150722_100503071 IMG_20150722_111616249 IMG_20150722_115622169 IMG_20150722_131842497 IMG_20150722_132631976 IMG_20150722_132648158 IMG_20150722_134814448

Mount Washburn, Yellowstone

This was a family hike of roughly 3.25 miles up with1500′ of gain to 10,200′, and then 3.25 miles back down the same trail.  I was able to sneak in a few hill sprints ranging from 30-120 seconds.  With a backpack full with all of our food and water, 2 minutes at 10,000 feet was tough!

  
    
    
  

AT: US19E -> Damascus Run

On June 12th Sho Gray and I ran from US19E to Damascus, roughly 74 miles by trail distance, but more like 75 miles or more by the time we were done.  Not due to getting lost, but due to “side trips” to get water, back track a bit, etc.  I had estimated maybe 20-22 hours based on the elevation profile and from what through hikers had told me — namely that the last 30 miles into Damascus was “easy.”  Boy did I underestimate it!  It was a very difficult run that took over 25 hours to complete, had 15,000′ of climbing, and was filled with rocks and roots and mud most of the way.  Both Sho and I had moments of despair, but we persevered and made it through!  Here are photo’s from the trip…

First, the map from the GPS data: Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 5.12.39 PM

Next, the elevation profile: Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 4.25.02 PM And now just random photo’s Sho and I took along the way: 11289861_653365220273_477716749_n 11541296_653365250213_939594453_n 11541318_653365275163_2045145477_n 11637869_653365439833_950857036_n 11647317_653365429853_1157875560_n 11650466_653365320073_1523579652_n 11650666_653365225263_1299348017_n 11650761_653365030653_1015992070_n 11651311_653365409893_75085878_n 11652126_653365290133_325504724_n 11653477_653365160393_1481651955_n 11655529_653365364983_1754572062_n IMG_5108 IMG_5110 IMG_5111 IMG_5116 IMG_5119 IMG_5120 IMG_5128 IMG_5130 IMG_5132

Gear:

  • Ultimate Direction Scott Jurek pack – ripped across the top and I lost my Sawyer filter bag and maybe (?) some food…  UD is replacing the pack, and I still love it, though maybe a touch small for this distance/length of a run
  • Sawyer Squeeze Bag water filter system — will next time use the Sawyer mini filter in-line from the hydration pack to mouth piece, and a collapsable cup to  fill the hydration bladder.  The Sawyer squeeze bags are great when you have running water, but not so great when you have a small spring / puddle, which is what we had the 2nd half of the run.
  • Altra Superior 2.0 — my 1st pair ripped in the toebox and this was a brand new pair, never worn before.  Had a bit of a hot spot the 1st day but overall this shoe was still great, considering it was brand new.
  • Nike combat compression – still happy with these after moving on from under armour.
  • Petzl Tikka RXP headlight – love this light.  One charge lasted all night.
  • Fenix PD32UE – super bright hand held helpful for finding the trail in some areas when it’s not always obvious.
  • Icebreaker bodyfit 200 top — got some terrible chaffing between this and the pack.  Had never chaffed in this shirt before, but had not worn it with the SJ pack.
  • Icebreaker 200 hoodie — ended up wearing this at night and taking off the body fit due to chaffing, and it got me through.
  • Injinji toe socks – awesome as always.
  • Buff – never leave home without it…
  • Had a knife, black trash bag,  and a rope for emergency purposes — ended up using the rope to tie my pack together once the top ripped so badly.
  • Food:  Started with Ucan super starch in the bottles and a bit of gatorade for flavor (it’s all the shop at the hostel at the start had…).   Epic bison bars.  Vfuels.  One pack of pop tarts, one pack of peanuts.  Was really low on food the last 5 hours, but I’m not sure if I lost some food due to the torn pack or if I just had the perfect amount to get through to the end….
  • Water:  gathered along the way from water falls, streams, and springs.