Sunday, October 27, 2013

Shakedown #1: Gear Angst

My friend Renee/ Pathfinder (that you might remember from previous trips here and here and here) just completed her successful thru hike of the Appalachian Trail this year (congrats, Renee!!!!), and came down to visit because she is planning to hike the Pacific Crest Trail in 2014 as well.  We went on a two night backpacking trip up at the Standing Indian Loop in NC.  This was our first shakedown trip for the PCT, and new gear items filled our new packs.  Oh the new gear angst...
Gear angst =  a trunk filled with 4 shelters and 3 packs for 2 people ("just in case” the new ones don’t work)
We've both been researching and getting advice about gear changes we'll need to make for the PCT.   For me the hardest thing is knowing how many years of trial and error it's taken me to feel so well-adapted to the conditions here in the southeast, and knowing how different the conditions out on the PCT are.  I worry that the ways I've found to lighten my pack (like not bringing things like a stove or campshoes) won't work as well for me when I'm on the PCT.  Fortunately, we calmed down a bit once we got on the trail- always relaxing to get out into the woods where we're both in our element. 
Pathfinder enjoying the Kimsey Creek Trail.
We camped our first night a short ways from Standing Indian shelter.   Our new Gossamer Gear Mariposa packs had felt great (we both had matching packs!).  Temperatures dipped into the 30's and the new tent and new DIY top quilt functioned flawlessly.  Gear angst significantly decreased, and goofiness, grinning, and giddiness prevailed.
Nice tight pitch on that Tarptent Notch!
New DIY top quilt can also be used as stylish evening stole.
New Gossamer Gear Mariposa Pack
Obviously, the problem with a shakedown hike on the AT is that it doesn't test our gear under the conditions we will face on the PCT.  To get a closer approximation, on the second night we purposefully camped at the windiest, coldest place around, the summit of Albert Mountain.  Somewhere we NEVER would have chosen under normal circumstances.  Though the winds howled all night and the shelters got soaked from being in a cloud, there was a sense of supreme triumph that we stayed warm once again! 
Albert Mountain.
I know I say after every trip I do with Pathfinder, but the best part about the weekend was how much fun it is to hike with her.  It's incredible to hike with someone who has such similar priorities while backpacking, is as exuberant as I am about being on the trail, and who can have lengthy conversations about hiking philosophy, the mental aspects of hiking, endurance, and technique-- some of my favorite topics and which I think are critical for the PCT (more on these in future posts). 

Overall, this trip was a great way to kick off the PCT planning!
Ice cream at Spring Ridge Creamery.
Trail Info:

The Standing Indian Loop starts at the Backcountry Information Sign, climbs up the Kimsey Creek Trail, goes north on the Appalachian Trail, and then follows the Long Branch Trail back to the trailhead.  Here is a link to when I did this loop in the summer. 


I am a Trail Ambassador for Gossamer Gear, a manufacturer of ultralight backpacking gear.  Gossamer Gear may provided me with this Mariposa backpack to use.  However, I don't receive any financial compensation from Gossamer Gear, am under no obligation to make favorable reviews, and all reviews are based on my own opinions. 


  1. The only thing about the PCT that scares me is the desert and water issues. The rest of it seems awesome. I think if we did the PCT we'd have to adapt our cooking methods for sure in the the desert areas since we typically cook our dinners.

    Excellent! I think y'all will be successful.

  2. The water carries are sure going to be different, especially in contrast to this year with our record rainfalls. Springs were so plentiful, I got spoiled carrying so little water. It sure is interesting trying to figure out how we will have to adapt. I'm so excited for the new challenges though.