Monday, May 3, 2010

Survival on the rail

When hiking long distances a hiker must be prepared for all types of weather. Recently I experienced such an ocassion while I was backpacking from Erwin Tenn to Damascus VA, an eight day hike. The second day I would cross over Roan Mountain over 6500 feet in elevation. I started on Monday with heavy rain which turned to heavy rain and high winds. The second day I put on dry clothes and hours later I was soaked again. As I began to near the top of Roan Mountain it began to hail, sleet and snow. It snowed 3 inches and the trail was a swimming pool of frozen ice and slush. My hands were completely numb and it seemed like hours since I felt my toes. It was snowing so much I missed the shelter on top and had to pitch my hammock half way down the other side. I had nothing dry except my Eddie Bauer down jacket, my down quilt, polar tech hat, and hammock. I hardly slept the night, nude except for my jacket, and I never did gain circulation of my toes and fingers. The next morning the temperature was in the lower teens. Everything I had except what I was wearing was frozen solid. My pants, socks, shoes, and shirt were so frozen I couldn't put them on. I got out my alcohol and esbit stoves. I tried thawing out my clothers by suspending them above the alcohol stove. I managed to get most of the clother thawed out except my boots. Because most of my clothes were synthetic I managed to burn a few holes in them before they were wearable. For my boots I placed the esbit stove inside the boot and melted the ice. But along with melting the ice I managed to melt part of the boot also. I had a hard time untieing the hammock lines and repacking. I hiked to the main road and took a zero day at a hostel in Hampton, Tenn. I continued my hike but I saw very few of the through hikers that I had been hiking with the previous day. They either quit or took several zero days to recoup. When we hike we must always be able to make a decission when enough is enough and with me it ended 3 days early because that night took so much energy from me that I could never regain enough to complete my hike.

Burned holes in my socks.

Burned boots with melted tops.

Esbit stove

Stove inside my shoe

Life saving down quilt by Speer.

Hat for night time wear.

Eddie Bauer Down jacket.

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