Monday, November 13, 2017

The Frozen Floridians And Accidental Magic: Part 1

When you first decide to plan a hike, you know that you are at the mercy of mother nature. My very first planned trip was postponed due to a hurricane, and I narrowly missed getting a first hand look at a forest fire right after that. This trip, we got the arctic cold blast that arrived the same day we did in North Carolina. It had gone from nicer fall afternoons to the point where the locals were stocking up on canned goods....while us Florida boys took off to the woods with our packs on our backs. We had some worse ideas in our lives, but this one was up there somewhere with the bad ones.

Now, you may think that the word "Pivoting" is mostly used for business these days, but when it finally got to me that instead of our trip being in the 40's - 60's in temperature, and we were looking at 27 degrees, I took a serious look at my sleeping gear. Truth is, you don't know nothing, until you go into the woods and think about how you're going to live through the night with what you're carrying on your back, especially when the temperature drops like that. For us Floridians, we're busting out the jackets when it goes below 70, so I knew I was in for a shock, and my quilt and sleeping bag liner hadn't worked that great earlier this year when it was mostly warm. I was finally told that I was putting everyone in danger by skimping on this one piece of gear. Even Pam told me to go out and get what you need to stay warm, and so it was that I ended up with a $300 sleeping bag on the trip. That's probably more than I spend on most anything like that, but by the second day of the trip, I would have taken on anybody that tried to pry it from my frozen fingers.

Where all your money goes in backpacking is in trying to stay light. Everything light costs a lot of money, and I, like most people said "well sir, I will just carry a little bit more weight". You don't say that for too long. The only people that ever say that, are sitting home in a chair with a blanket around their knees, a beer in one hand and a bag of Doritos in the other. Once you've hiked with a 40 pound pack a few days and find out that you can almost cut that in are ready to whip out the checkbook.

This trip was my first trip with Ultralight gear and I loved it. My pack was around 25 pounds, more than 10 pounds lighter than last trip, and that was including everything I needed to eat and stay warm. We were going to hike 30 something miles of the Appalachian Trail near Bryson City, NC. I was pretty sure that we were the only people in the whole world that would be out in the mountains that, was I wrong.

This first thing I would have liked to know after the 27 degree temperature prediction, would have been that it was BEAR season..... 

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