Tag Archives: tenting

Bra Burning & 90s Gear: Backpacking Mt. Greylock, MA

21 Oct

HT and I agree hands-down, fall is the #1 season of the year. So, we took a little trip up to the Berkshires two weekends back to fit in a backpacking trip before the weather gets colder and our weekends get busier. Leaves, chilly nights and new toasty gear, fires, what’s not to love?

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We’d just picked up the AMC’s Best Backpacking New England book so we started there in deciding on a hike and we landed on the “Have a Grey Day” Mt. Greylock loop. I love how this book titles its hikes like the Abs Diet titles their recipes.

We also just got our hands on a new digital luggage scale (cool!) so we packed up our packs and weighed them for the first time. Yikes. Can you guess how much we carry for ONE NIGHT in the woods? Well first, I was super impressed with my base weight of 14.7lbs. But then, I added water and a few more toiletries. And I’m a BIG hydrator so I don’t skimp. Hello 24 lbs. Sheesh.  HT’s pack was heavier still…I’ll have to ask him to reweigh so I know for sure. To be fair, he carried the tent and a bit of my food…thus the uneven loads. And he’s a gentleman, of course.

So we headed into the woods with our usual gear and some grub left over from the Long Trail stock up (Mary Jane’s Farm Organics, Umpqua oats- now at Costco!) plus a box of those delicious Anna’s super-thin ginger snaps. We started up the mountain mid-day (later than we ‘d hoped) amidst beautiful changing leaves and rolling farm country hills. The trail from the bottom is the Hopper Trail, which meandered for a bit before it started to climb and climb. I was happy to hear HT huffing and puffing as much as I was on some stretches. I stopped him at one point to remind him that I’d been not only out of the hiking groove a little lately but also hadn’t carried a pack since early July. I just wanted to be clear that this hike was not a race. To me, at least.

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The trail was gorgeous. In that area, the leaves had clearly already peaked but enough remained on the trees to make for some spectacular forest views as the sun descended in the sky. There’s also just something so striking about orange and red leaves rimming a flowing creek. I love that kind of imagery.

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The Long Trail: A Thru Hike For The Working Man

8 Feb
Time will tell if I go the shelter route.

Time will tell if I go the shelter route.

A few months ago I decided it was time to plan a hike on America’s oldest long distance hiking trail.  The Long Trail, inspiration for the creation of the Appalachian Trail, stretches over 270 miles through the Green Mountains from the Massachusetts-Vermont border to Canada.  Despite a high point of only 4,395 at the summit of Mt. Mansfield,  the Long Trail averages 500 vertical feet of gain or loss per mile for its entire length, nevermind that it is renowned for the presence of rain, mud and bugs.  By all accounts, it is a deceptively difficult trail, especially in the North.

Long enough to be a challenge, short enough to keep my job, the Long Trail seems like a good fit for now.

Since Christmas I have been doing my research.  Yes, I like to do a lot of research, especially when it comes to gear.    But, for this hike, I have to prepare for 270+ miles and gear is only part of my preparations.    As much as I hike now, the vast majority of my ventures are day hikes.  I’ve relied heavily upon Bob McGraw‘s “End to Enders Guide” and the Green Mountain Club‘s “Long Trail Guide” and official Vermont’s Long Trail Map in my planning.  All three are terrific and offer tremendous information and advice.

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Philip Werner’s www.sectionhiker.com (highly recommended), also offers an experienced perspective.  An example—he is a strong advocate of using the shelters provided on the trail to avoid wet nights and wet gear.  There was a time when I wanted to hike the AT, but all the accounts I read of mouse-ridden shelters have taken their toll.  I will be using a tent on this LT trek.  I’m guessing I can handle the extra 1-2 lbs. Mice or tenting in the rain?  Right now I prefer rain.  I’m sure Phil is right, but as I write from my warm, dry house, I plan 100% on using a tent each night.

As a precursor to the Long Trail, Blue Bin and I plan on tackling the infamous Devil’s Path in the Catskills.  If you are not familiar with the Devil’s Path, it is arguably the toughest hike in the East.  In a mere 24 miles, you endure over 14,000 feet of elevation gain and loss.  At the very least, after completing the Path I expect to be a bit more trail-ready and hopefully test my gear a bit.  As for Blue Bin, she plans to join me for the beginning of my Long Trail hike.  This of course, is assuming she is willing after a weekend on the Devil’s Path.  Stay tuned.

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