Saturday, May 1, 2010

Going Solo - South Mountains State Park.

Well, I have decided that since I'm not "into" cycling nearly as much as I was this time last year, I would, maybe pick up another hobby. I used to go hiking/backpacking to the Uwharrie's quite a bit in the late 90's/early 00's and I really enjoyed it.

So, I decided that would be my next hobby because I liked it and I already had some gear. Boy, was I in for a surprise....I knew I wanted to get a new backpack - what I used to use was the old external frame pack - I wanted a new & improved internal frame pack. Picked up an Osprey Ariel a couple of weeks ago and a few other items. I "thought" I could just use most of the stuff I already had....

So, earlier this week, I decided to just go ahead and try this out...Picked out South Mtns because it's close to my Dad's house and I planned on visiting him this weekend (his birthday is tomorrow). Packed up the gear I had along with the rented sleeping bag from REI and put the pack on. OMFG. Heavy. I decided to stop at REI in Durham on the way and see about a few "lighter" items. Replaced the heavy (1.5#) pots with a 10.7oz set, replaced the 2 # Thermarest with a 16oz one, ditched all the clothing except a shirt & clean undies, ditched all the food except a meal for supper & breakfast. Put the pack on after doing this. Wow, that's much better! :)

Then I put the REI Half Dome tent inside.........holy cow! Now the pack is heavy again! Oh well, not much I can do about that now because the tent I wanted is on backorder. So, I go with what I have. BTW, the tent weighs in at SIX POUNDS!!

I arrived at South Mtns later than I planned (a couple things to take care of for my son caused delays), but thought I could get to camp in 1.5hr. I didn't plan on the whole 4 miles being pretty much UPHILL. Followed the creek for a while, then crossed it at the lower waterfalls. Then the trail went UP. OMG. This was strenuous for a first time out hiking in ages. But, I motored on. Finally, I reached the top of a really long climb (shadow picture) then headed down, thinking it's not much further.

Wrong. More uphills, a few flats, but the majority was uphill. I was seriously wondering what the hell I got myself into....I finally reach the trail to the Jacobs Branch campsites after2hr. I set the tent up, go down this really steep trail to the water source, climb back up...Boiled the water for my meal - at this time, I'm lightheaded from not eating since 11:30am - and it seems like it takes forever. Finally, get the meal ready and while waiting on this to "cook", I start my campfire. I'm actually doing pretty well with this solo thing.

Eat my supper, let the boiled water cool off and add that to my water bottle. Another couple arrive around 8pm and set up across the field. I'm pooped, so I went on to bed around 9pm. It was windy the whole night, got just a tad chilly. I know one thing - I do not like these mummy style sleeping bags. I don't like my feet so close together - I like to spread out. I'll have to find something with a larger toe box...

Up around 7am, eat breakfast and begin packing up around 8am. It starts to sprinkle, so I hurry up & get things packed up. My hips and right knee are hurting before I head out and only get worse as I head back. I thought the downhills would be easier, but they weren't. Actually made my hips and knee hurt more. By the time I reached the waterfalls and traversed down the steep stairs, my legs were shaking. I didn't think I'd ever get back to the car, but I did.

I'm going to replace the heavy Whisperlite stove with a Snow Peak GigaPower stove and that heavy assed tent is being replaced with a Big Agnes FlyCreek UL2. Also, I need to pick up a pair of trekking poles - I think those will help too.

That's about it. I'm thinking of going to Eno or someother park either next week or the week after.....

It was great fun! I sorta wish I had someone to go with me - might be a little more fun, but overall, I did have a great time. :)

Linky for pictures until I can add them here, once I get home tomorrow....