Sunday, July 21, 2013

Bartram Trail- Osage to Whiterock Mountain

A short 24-hours on the Bartram Trail.  Been getting ready for another aerial silks performance, so had practice in the morning and also needed to work on my costume.  But I also really needed to get out and stretch my legs.

I opted for the high-elevation section of the Bartram Trail in NC from Osage Mountain Overlook to Whiterock Mountain (4480 feet).   The flowers were gorgeous and blueberries were ripe, just like last year.
Phlox and white bergamot.
By the time I got to the trailhead, thunderstorms and heavy rain were going strong.  When I stopped for a snack, I readjust my pack.  I was trying out a pack that I'd borrowed from my friend JJ (THANKS JJ!).   After I redistribute the weight in the pack, I was so stoked because I found the sweet spot where it sits just right and feels like a natural extension of my body. 

After that, I flew up the trail, making it past Jones Knob all the way to Whiterock Mountain, much further than I did back in January.  Oh the benefits of summer-weight gear and longer daylengths.
My stealth site near Whiterock Mountain was well away from the fragile mountaintop plant community.
 After setting up camp, it finally quit raining, so I hiked up Whiterock Mountain for dinner and the sunset.
Going barefoot on the rocks to air out my water-logged feet.
The next day, I took a detour on the side trail to Jones Knob.  It was still fogged in, but the rocky outcrops were lush with mosses and flowers so I spent some time enjoying the small things.  Last weekend, my friend Renee, who took a vacation from thru hiking the AT to go up to the Smokies, used the term "hiker entertainment" to describes the simple things that hikers do for fun.  Like getting mesmerized by water flowing over rocks in a stream, or watching insects buzzing around.  At home I often get caught up trying to get so many things done, that even fun activities seem rushed and distracted.  For example, listening to the podcasts while painting more sparkles on the  costume for our show.  Not fully paying attention to either thing.  That's why hiker entertainment is so awesome- becoming fully absorbed in the smallest things that would otherwise go unnoticed.
On Jones Knob.
Back at my car, I weighed my pack- getting the "base weight" (i.e. without food and water, but with everything else).  I don't write about packweight much anymore, but I still measure it.  I suspected my base weight would be light because JJ's pack that I was borrowing was much lighter than my old one.  But I was still shocked when I read the scale.
10.8 lbs.
The cutoff for "ultralight" is 10 lbs, so clearly I haven't yet achieved that status.  To go any lighter, I might have to take some extreme measures.  At home as I unpacked, I contemplated changes I might make to my gear selections.  Like empty out the all trash I'd picked up along the trail from the pockets.  Or dry out my poncho, tarp, and soaking wet socks-- probably a half a pound of water right there.  My toasty warm, bombproof 12 oz PVC rainpants?  An obvious candidate, unless you know how often I get cold (and even hypothermic) in continuous, soaking rain if I am really pushing myself physically.  (side note-- normal people would find PVC oppressively hot and clammy, but I am not most people.)  Plus, then I wouldn't have a luxury item (since I do consider being toasty warm a luxury), and having a luxury item is very important for backpacking.

Not sure what changes I'll make next, or if I'll ever get below the magic 10 lb cutoff, but I sure had an enjoyable trip.


  1. "but I sure had an enjoyable trip." and that's all that matters, don't worry about a sub10lb pack weight, just have fun.

  2. Are you telling me that I'm not gonna suddenly reach backpacking nirvana if my pack weight drops below the magic cutoff?

  3. You might like the Pox and Puss podcast. It is mostly AT specific whereas the Trail Show is broad ranging. They crack me up!

  4. Thanks, Misti, I'll check Pox and Puss out. Always like listening to podcasts.