Saturday, September 5, 2015

New Gear, New Hike, etc.

As Justin works his way out of Maine, here are my thoughts on my latest adventures.
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There is this sense of peace I feel, when I am starting to plan my next hike.  A shiver of calmness, mixed with excitement, goes through me as I check the mileage, the drive time, how many meals we will need and everything else that goes into getting quality dirt time.  

This next trip will be epic for me and will take me to places on the trail I haven't visited yet.  New miles towards my 2000 miler status and new places to explore; the holy grail of the trail included (at least a view of it, the mighty Greatest Mountain).  

The Trail's End Festival, in Millinocket, ME, is approaching in two weeks and will be the center point of our hiking adventures to come.  Happily, my bride will be with me for this trip and I am looking forward to hiking with her again along with her sister too.  Here's the plan.

Lisa must take a full week of vacation at a time from her Commissary job, so we will start heading north on the Wednesday before the Festival.  We will drive to New York, near Bear Mountain and hike an out and back to the nearby shelter areas.  Two nights out and then back on the road to Maine.  This will just be the start of our adventure.

The premise of this trip is the Festival.  Back in January, at the Northern Ruck, at Bears Den Hostel, I made plans to bring the AT Museum's Traveling Exhibit to the Festival and display it in a most prominent place.  We will be staying at Ole Man and NaviGator's place, the Appalachian Lodge, in Millinocket and will enjoy the festival for the weekend.  One thing we want to do while there, is drive to Abol Bridge and do a day hike up to the Katahdin Stream Campground and back again.  We hope to do the loop consisting of the AT and the Blueberry Ledges trail, which parallels the AT and leads right to the Birches Shelter.  

After we pack up from the Festival, we will head back South, out of New England and into New Jersey.  There we will meet up with Lisa's sister, Adrianne and her friend and hike some of the New Jersey AT.  

Adrianne is scheduled to take her own epic adventure to Australia in a few months and one of the things she plans to do there is hike some of their awesome trails.  She wants to get her feet wet and prepare by hiking here in the states and where else should anyone do that, but on the AT?  Of course she needed all of her own gear and one of my hobbies is to help other people spend their money on awesome gear.  Usually I recommend the gear I covet, but can't afford, so I'm a great friend like that.  I will help you buy the best gear, but it will cost you.

So as we were planning this latest trip, I saw an email in my inbox, announcing a Labor Day sale at EMS.  As I checked it out, I saw they were offering their Osprey packs at a very good discount.  I have wanted an Osprey pack for quite a while.  I passed this information on to Age and she bought a very nice Osprey Atmos AG pack.  

I had bought Lisa a decent Kelty pack a while back, but even though I had never humped it, I thought she should have a better pack and she agreed.  We decided to check out the nearby EMS store after seeing "A Walk in the Woods" at an Annapolis theater and we discovered that the fates where plotting against us in making the purchase.  We went into the store and looked around some as I always do when I go into any outfitter.  We noticed some plastic sheeting over all the backpacks and sleeping bags and discovered that workers were doing some structural maintenance in that area and we wouldn't be able to check out the packs. 

We left disappointed, but resolved to take advantage of the sale.  At home, we decided to buy an Aura AG for Lisa on line and after making the transaction, discovered the pack was on back order.  The next day EMS cancelled the transaction, saying the order couldn't be filled.  Bummer.  Our resolve stiffened as we planned a Friday morning assault on EMS.  I called ahead to ensure the construction was done and we headed there with mixed optimism.  We entered the store and headed straight to the packs.  There we saw a decent number of Osprey and other packs and stared checking out the Atmos that were there.  Before too long Warren came to assist us.  There was something interesting about Warren.  He was wearing a backpack as he made the rounds of the store.  We had seen him on our last visit and were wondering somewhat.  It all became clear when he mentioned that he was going to attempt a Thru Hike next year on the AT.  What better way to prepare yourself to wear a pack all day, then by wearing a pack all day as you went about your business?  What better place to do that, relatively unnoticed, than at an outfitter store.  I never asked him why he was wearing a pack.  It was just naturally understood.  

Warren, (trail name Ranger... something...), helped us size and pick our packs.  Oh yeah.  My birthday is coming up soon and Lisa "insisted" I also pick out a pack for myself.  It seemed only natural.  :)

So we pretty quickly settled on the Atmos, the exact same one that Age had bought (so we will be pack triplets on the trail).  We did some food shopping and then came home with our new purchases.  After putting away the groceries, I headed down to do some exploring with my new pack.

It felt a little strange as I took gear that is in the perfect place in my old pack and placed it in the new Osprey.  I sorta felt a little pang of sadness and a little bit of unfaithfulness, as I moved the gear to the new pack.  It was a little weird, but that pack, an REI Flash 65, had lugged my gear on every mile I have hiked so far, on the trail.  I felt a little like I was cheating on her.  

Yes, she is a her and she also has a name.  But that is a story for another day.

As I moved my gear and eventually hung up "Old Gray", I told her, that I would use her again or find her a new home.  Her smell will always be with me, since her smell is basically my smell.  

And there we are.  Standing on the precipice of a new adventure, with new gear and a sound resolve.

I'll let you know how it goes...

EarthTone



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