Monday, March 29, 2010

Enjoy Backpacking

I enjoy backpacking because I can be in total control of each hike. I can decide wheather to do a day, section or thru hike. But no matter how much time I have or how many miles I want to hike in a day I always find something unique to tell people when I come back. A good story always highlights every hike. This past week I completed two 8 mile hikes near Roanoke Virginia. I hiked MacAfee's Knob and Craig Creek sections of the AT. I try to keep in my mind that there are hundreds of people that will never ever see or experience the joys of hiking. As you reach one of those breath taking experiences on top of a mountain you have to know that only God could have created such a site. On top of Brush Mountain on the Craig Creek hike you find a memorial to Audie Murphy the most decorated veteran of WW II and actor who stared in 44 films. He crashed in a private plane on memorial day in 1971 killing himself and 4 others. If you never hiked that section of the AT you would never see that memorial.
Psalm 72:3 The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness.

Monday, March 15, 2010

No more snowAT

It looks as if there will not be any more snow this year. It is time to start hiking seriously again. The trails are muddy but if you use gaiters they will keep the mud and debris out of your boots. I usually use the short gaiters when just dealing with mud and leaves. I plan to do some day hikes around Roanoke Virginia. Dragons Tooth and MacAfee's Knob are a few very popular hikes with super views around Roanoke. The deep snow on the AT almost convinced me into buying some snow shoes. But I got over it. Most of the time I hike in the winter I hike cold. I like to put on 2 layers of synthetics for shirts and a simple one layer convertible pants. Usually no hat or gloves. I only put on a jacket or rain coat if I stop for more than a few minutes, especially if I break for lunch. The last hike I was on a friend went with me and he carried twice my pack weight and he wore multiple layers along with thermal underware. I will be glad to hike again. I am remodeling my house and I have a critically ill brother dieing from cancer. I need some time to be alone so I can talk with God and He can talk with me.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Backpacking stoves

I have been in search of the perfect light weight backpacking stove. I need to hike as light as possible. I was supposed to have a double knee replacement about 8 years ago and the doctor told me to enjoy my natural knees as long as I could. So I began backpacking seriously 3 years ago. I hike on the average of 500+ miles a year. I still have my natural created knees. Before my knees went I ran on an average of 4 marathons and 3 ulta marathons a year and bicycled 500 miles a year. That is why I want to find the lightest of everything for my backpack. The backpacker stove is the first place to save weight. Keeping in mind that you will run into periods of bad weather you must not depend on wood as your primary fuel. The bush budy is a great wood burning stove but it must have dry wood to be an efficient cook stove. Cannister stoves like the jet boil and pocket rocket are great but are on the heavy side and you don't really know how much fuel is left in the cannister. They are excellent for short hikes of a few days in duration. Gasoline stoves tend to be more on the dangerous side. Years ago I had a gasoline stove blow up and leave me with 2nd or 3rd degree burns. I no longer carry white gas stoves. Everything starts to feel heavy after 4 or 5 days. Long distance hikers need to get up early, hike late and leave a short time to set up camp and eat before bedding down. We can hike a longer day for a greater distance with a lighter pack. I have been hiking solo because many of my friends want to hike longer distances but struggle with 40-65 pound packs and end up quiting after the first day. In the beginning I did the same thing because I didn't listen to the experienced hikers. I hike with the alcohol stove and carry the fuel in a plastic bottle. I carry esbit cubes in case I run late or the weather is bad. I never cook anything I just add boiling water and eat. I only boil water for coffee and oatmeal for morning, eat a dry lunch and boil water for a pouch meal for dinner. Carry only one light weight pot. Most people say that you can count on 2 pounds a day in weight for this type of menu. You can probably restock every week or two. Depending how long you hike during the day you can average with a light weight pack 10 to 30 miles a day. I hike a longer day because I like to study the biology and geology along the trail and have a tendancy to get to camp later. That means I have less time to hang around camp before I go to sleep. I try to hike all year round. If you have any suggestions let me hear from you.