Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hiking the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania

 The Plan

Everyone needs a plan when attempting any hike. My plan was to hike from Caledonia State Park in Pennsylvania to the town of Duncannon on the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania a total of 65 miles. I arranged to  meet two other hikers from Raleigh North Carolina and Virginia to be my companions. They hiked at a faster pace and soon left me after the first 15 minutes of every day. I usually hike at about a 2 mile per hour pace and stop to take take pictures on an occasion. They stopped and waited for me to catch up several times along each days hike. We had agreed that if I didn't show up at camp after several hours that they would come looking for me.

I have hiked a lot in my lifetime but I have been seriously hiking for about 5 years and find that every hike is different. Each trip becomes a learning experience. I am always testing out new gear and try to carry as little weight as possible. I was scheduled for a double knee replacement about 10 years ago but decided to just hike and bicycle till my knees wouldn't bend anymore. On this hike my challenge was to see if I could cut my daily food requirement  by half. Most experienced hiker/backpackers recommend to carry about 2 pounds of food per day. In my last blog I showed how I could cut the food weight to one pound per day.

The Hike

This 65 mile backpack of the AT traveled through areas rich in the history of the iron industry. Iron furnaces and blacksmith shoppes supported the towns along the route.

                                There were many unique areas along the trail like this "egg tree."

Along one part of the hike Hessian troops in the 1700's, escaped slaves in the 1800's and Nazi submarine commanders all passed along large bands of quartzite boulders laced with stripes of white quartz. Camp Michaux runs along the edge of the trail where WWII prisoners of war were kept. Large iron furnaces are found all along the trail.

Iron Furnace

Communities of workers lived and worked around the iron furnaces. Many of the buildings have been renovated and are used as hostels. We stayed in the old pay masters house where at the end of a pay period the workers would be paid.

Pay Masters House - Workers would go up one set of stairs, get paid and then go down the other set of stairs.

Not far along the trail we passed the midpoint of the entire Appalachian Trail at 1090.5 miles from Georgia to Maine.

It rained for several hours while hiking along the trail. The water flowed along the trail like a small stream. We had to hike in ankle deep water to stay on the trail and through muddy fields.

Trail Stream

Water Trail

Muddy Field

There were many modern well kept shelters along the trail


As well as many modern bathroon facilities.

Modern Outhouse "Privy"

The trail is a roller coaster type hike up and down along the northern end with many rocky formations. The trail crosses through the town of Boiling Springs an iron industry settlement around a large lake.

Town of Boiling Springs

This 65 mile hike ends in the Town of Duncannon along the Susquehanna River.  Despite the rainy weather, and the muddy wet trail I enjoyed the fellowship of two very nice men that made backpacking this section of Pennsylvania a real treat.

Town of Duncannon

Psalms 3:4
To the Lord I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Food Carried on a Five Day Hike by Weight

I recently completed a five day hike on the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania. I decided to weigh each food item that was taken on the hike in grams. I weighed the food in grams because I could get a more accurate measurement for each item.
Many hikers carry 50 pounds and up in their packs and have no problem doing it. This post is for those who need to carry less weight in their packs. Most hiking books state that hikers carry on an average of  2 pounds of food per day. Two pounds is equal to  907.18 grams.

Lets First Look at Tuesday the first day of the hike.

Breakfast is not included because the hike started after the meal.

Chili Mac Dinner                          82g
Cliff Bar   Lunch                           48g
Cliff Shot Extra Energy                 34g
Mars Bar   After Dinner Snack      54g
Crystal Light Dinner Drink            04g
Mixed Nuts  Lunch                        44g
Nutrient Drink Evening drink        32g
Plastic Bag                                     08g

Total                                            306g

Second Day Wednesday Full Day

Chili Mac Dinner                          84g
Oatmeal Packet  Breakfast            36g
4 Packs Raw Sugar  for Coffee     20g
Honey 2 Packs  for Oatmeal          22g
Creamer                                         04g
Coffee Bag                                    06g
Breakfast Cookie                           50g
Mixed Nuts Lunch                         48g
Crystal Light                                  04g
Cliff Shot                                       34g
Cup of Soup Packet                       16g
Power Bar Lunch                           68g
Mars Bar                                         52g
Nutrient Powder                             36g
Bag                                                 10g

Total                                             490g

Thursday Hike

Mac and Cheese                           104g
Pop Tarts Bag                               106g
Mars Bar                                         52g
Power Bar                                       70g
Creamer                                           02g
Mixed  Nuts                                    44g
4 Packs Raw Sugar                         20g
Cliff Shot                                         32g
Soup Packet                                     16g
Breakfast Cookie                             48g
Nutrient Powder                              32g
Tea Bag                                           02g
White Sugar packet                         06g
Crystal Light                                   04g
Coffee Bag                                      04g
Plastic Bag                                      10g

Total                                             552g

Friday Hike

Beef Trekkie                                     94g
Mars Bar                                             50g
Cliff Shot                                            32g
Oatmeal                                              46g
Big 100 Bar                                      104g
Coffee Bag                                         04g
4 Pack Raw Sugar                             20g
Crystal Light                                      04g
Creamer                                             04g
White Sugar 2 Pack                           06g
4 Packs Honey                                  38g
Mixed Nuts Packet                            46g
Tea Bag                                             02g
Nutrient Drink                                   30g
Plastic Bag                                        10g

Total                                                  490g

Saturday Hike Evening Meal is Not Included

Pop Tarts                                          110g
Cliff Bar                                             70g
Mars Bar                                            50g
Mixed Nuts                                        46g
Coffee Bag                                        04g
Nutrient Powder                                32g
Crystal Light                                     04g
Creamer                                            04g
4 Pack Raw Sugar                            16g
Cliff Shot                                          32g
Bag                                                   10g

Total                                                  378

The grand total of food I carried for all five days was 2,216 grams converted to 4.89 pounds. This is just about one pound per day.

So if you want to pack ultralight you do not have to pack on an average of 2 pounds of food per day. Of course this does not include water nor the food bag to carry the food.