Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Test Hike in the Making

This is arguably the most gorgeous summer weather I have ever seen in my 37 years in the DC area.  If you're not familiar with DC summers, they normally consist of temperatures in the mid-90s with humidity to match.  Dew points are regularly in the mid-70s, making the whole place a swampy, disgusting, mosquito-breeding, sweat-fest.  You can maybe tell that I am not so fond of summer here, and that is true.

Maybe I was conditioned by a childhood where summer vacation meant escaping to the mountains of western North Carolina to see my grandfather.  That was always the sweetest reprieve from DC's suffocating mugginess.  It's not surprising that when the worst of DC summer hits, I feel a desperate pull to escape to higher elevations, where the early mornings and evenings require a fleece and jeans, and the days are made for a hike, bike, or run in breezy comfortable air that allows sweat to actually cool the body, rather than trying to drown it!

Right now, I'm sitting in my garden.  I'm wearing a jacket.  It's 12:30pm, and it's 67 degrees with a nice cool breeze!  Unheard of on July 29.  Though I would have thought that this would make me less likely to want to flee to the mountains, apparently, I am just hard wired to want to be in the mountains no matter what the weather is doing.

So, we have been working on planning a test-hike for sometime next month! (Hopefully the weather will stay awesome, but even if it doesn't, mountains are always awesome!)

We want to keep things logistically simple, and we don't want to preview any more of the actual Appalachian Trail than we already have.  (Our second date was an out and back day hike into West Virginia on the AT!)  So, we have picked a sweet 70ish mile circuit hike in the southern district of Shenandoah National Park!  From our research, we will encounter some tiny pieces of the AT, and we will be rewarded with panoramic views, waterfalls, and even some swimming holes!

We are planning to do cover a modest 10-12 miles per day and really enjoy our time in the woods.  The distance and time out with our gear should give us a pretty good idea of adjustments we need to make in pack weight.  We also hope to make a fair assessment of our current trail clothes and footwear, our stove, tent, sleeping bags and pads, and our food storage.

We will post a full inventory of what we take before we go, and we will post a review on how each piece rated when we return.

Now, I think I may need to go for a run and warm up!

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