What is this blog about?

My name is Lori. In August, 2014, I plan to hike the Camino de Santiago trail. Feel free to join me on my adventure by following me on this blog.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cold-climate training- Epic Fail

This week was my week to do a cold weather mountain equipment check. I took my toughest friend, Elisa with me...or she took me, I'm not sure which one it was.
I just had a very nice Thanksgiving trip to Indiana with Chris and returned home to Sarasota Saturday evening. I unpacked, and then packed for my backpacking trip. The next morning by 6:30 AM, we were on the road to Georgia.
We made great time, but still it was sundown when we arrived at the trailhead. We gobbled down our left-overs from lunch, put on our packs and were on our way. About 10 minutes in, it was time for the head lamps. This was the first time I have hiked in the dark. What a new experience! It was fun. I saw so many imaginary animals dancing in the shadows of my light.
We climbed almost 2000 ft in elevation in just over an hour. It was 7 o'clock by the time we made it to camp. We set up our tents and started working on a fire to settle in for our adventures first night. We had been watching the weather and knew that we would get rain on one or 2 days of our trip. When we left our car, there was a 30% chance of rain by 9 o'clock. It was tricky to get a fire started because everything on the ground was very wet from previous rainfall. The mountaineering gooroos we are, we had a nice fire started just as it started to rain. We hurried to find a tree to hang our food from animals. Watching Elisa running for her life got me thinking I need to work on my overhand a little as I was attempting to throw the rock, with rope attached, over a high limb. Just so everyone knows, the rock didn't even come close to her head.
Once our food was hung, the rain really started to come down hard. We made a mad dash superman jump into our tents and that is where we remained for the next 12 hours.
The rainstorm we endured this night was nothing like I have experienced before. I felt like my tent was being pressure washed. There were several times that the wind was so strong that I thought a bear must have my tent in his jaws and dragging me around camp. Okay, that might be a little bit of an exaggeration, but the wind was REALLY strong. And LOUD! Elisa had to get out to adjust her tent at one point, and said "we are inside a cloud right now!" About 2 AM I turned my light on to check weather status and realized that the cloud was in my tent. A hazy mist of moisture decided it was okay to shack up with me for the night. I am not sure how this happened but I have a couple ideas. One- the wind that seemed to flow in every direction, blowing rain up under my rain cover and through the unsuspecting mesh that is my tent body. Two- my tent stakes, who have been since FIRRRRRRRRRED, do not have much of a lip on them to hold what they are staking. The wind was strong enough to pull the material and it kept coming loose from the stake, flapping in the wind and allowing moisture in. My tent has an area outside the body, called a vestibule, that is staked out and covered. This is where I usually leave my bag and shoes so I have more room in the tent. This night, I slept with my bag in my tent, but still left the shoes just outside the tent, under the rain cover. By 2 AM my shoes were soaked. Big mistake on my part!
I started taking my tent down, and decided to take a picture first of what our conditions were. Still mostly in cloud, otherwise, we would have had a very pretty view from the top of this mountain.
 Oh yeah...the weather. Forecast was that the rain was not going to stop. It would continue to rain, until snow came the next day and also the following day. Both of us had water inside our tents, wet equipment, and I had wet shoes. The low temps were going to get to 25 degrees. We made the most reasonable decision- to get off the mountain. It was a disappointing decision, but the only safe one.
Equipment check: Tent-fail...let in water and got my sleeping bag, pad, etc wet, also keeping me colder than I should have been. I will definitely look into replacing my tent stakes with something better. Clothing-pass...I did stay warm, but temps that night were only in the 50's and I used most of my layers while in my sleeping bag. I can't say that my clothing and bag would keep me warm at 20 and 30 degree temps. It would be nice to test the low temps out in dry conditions, to know for sure. Food-no grade...I took some meals I haven't tried yet, to see if I like them, but we didn't end up cooking anything.
 (This rushing
 stream wasn't there the night before.)

Over all, this training was a fail...although, I learned some things to improve on, and made some mistakes that I won't again.
We had a nice hot breakfast in a cute German restaurant in Helen. We did some shopping and visited the local winery. On our way home, we went to the most amazing world farmers market near Atlanta. (Dekalb farmers market) This market will never be passed by me again when I am in the area! In the end, the trip was a success due to the fun, laughs, and good girl time with my bud!

Doubts about me being tough enough to do a thru hike have definitely again encompassed me. I worry that I am too much of a wimp in the cold. I also worry about not having a "partner" to laugh off the trials that do come. I'm not sure I am tough enough to keep the smiles we had on this trip, if I am doing it solo. In fact, I was planning in my head for my back-up trip to South Africa instead.
Then the psycho, non-logical part of me, after 24 hours, was thinking, eh...I can still try it, right??
I will have to give my little brain some more time to digest my thoughts and fears.

To be continued:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Movie night

I decided to make a movie to depict how most of my conversations go when someone finds out that I am hiking the AT. Believe it or not, I didn't make up any of the comments, they are things that have really been said to me.