Friday, June 26, 2015

TRT Planning

Planning for a Hike of the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT)

When I terminated my AT hike, I still had the hiking urge.  I needed to stay home and help my wife for a few weeks, but I was still healthy, and wanted to further prepare for another thru attempt next summer.  So the question was, where could I go backpacking on short notice?  I still had plenty of freeze dried food available :-) , but I needed to take a vacation with my wife (she doesn't backpack) in the fall.

I follow triple-crowner Wired's blog pretty closely (  She does a great job of giving you a good feel for the trail and including great photos.  She did the Hayduke (too long and too much planning for my time frame; possibly too tough) and the Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT) this summer.  The TRT was just about right at 173 miles.  I did 'segments' on the AT of about 120 and 140 miles, and it looks like the TRT elevation profile difficulty is about the same as the Smokies.  Of course, it's at a much higher altitude.

While I was searching for loop trails (and Guthook's hiking guides), I also came across the Collegiate Loop Trail (CLT) on the Colorado Trail.  At 163 miles, it too was about the right length.  But the elevation change was significantly tougher than the TRT and was at an even higher altitude.  As a side benefit though, I could visit my sister who lives south of Denver before or after a CLT hike.

I downloaded the maps I could find on both trails, and ordered selected hard copy from the respective trail associations.  I also bought Guthook guides/iOS apps for both trails.

My thinking is to start with the TRT, then visit my sister for a couple of days.  If the TRT goes well, then do the CLT.  I should be acclimated to the altitude change (I'm at about 1,075' above sea level at home) early on the TRT, minimizing any issues for the CLT.

I've ordered some replacement equipment that I think will make the hikes more enjoyable, and need to wait for it to arrive.  Since the 4th of July is quickly approaching, I've decided to wait till after the 4th to begin my trips/hikes.

The only TRT permit required seems to be for Desolation Wilderness (southwest portion of the trail), which can only be obtained within 2 weeks of the hike date.  TRT thru hikers don't have to use the normal camper/day-hiker process.  Of course you also need a California camp fire permit, even if you use a stove.  But it can be obtained online at any time.

I'm figuring 15 miles per day, more or less.  Which would be 11.5 days of hiking.  So assuming a bit slower, that optimally would be two 6-day (re)supplies.  Tahoe City seems to be the easiest place to resupply as the trail goes down to the city and within a few hundred feet of a grocery (SaveMart).  If I start at a trail head on the opposite side of the lake, resupply should be easy.  That would suggest Kingsbury North or South trail head.  I don't know what the parking will be like in July, but either trail head should work, giving me two options.

I checked the hotel rates for Tahoe City, and they are resort-high (America's Best Value Inn). I'm solo, so there's unlikely to be any opportunity to split costs for a room. So if I can avoid an overnight, I'll try to hike in, resupply, and hike out the same day.  The post office is about 0.7 miles from the nearest trail crossing.  So I could mail a box there and use more of my AT leftovers!  950 N Lake Tahoe Blvd, Ste 12, Tahoe City, CA 96145-9800, M-F 0800-1630.

So, I need to time my arrival for Monday through Thursday for the best chance of a parking space (avoiding weekend hikers and backpackers).  And I need to get to Tahoe City (assuming USPS mail drop) on Monday through Friday.  Figure worst case 11 miles/day; average case 15 miles/day; best case 20 miles/day.  Kingsbury North is 76.3 (7 to 5 to 4 days) or 96.7 (8 to 6 to 5 days) miles from Tahoe City.  Kingsbury South is 82.8 (7 to 6 to 4 days) or 90.2 (8 to 6 to 5 days) miles from Tahoe City.  Looks like starting the hike early Thursday morning will work best.

I could get an inexpensive room in Carson City NV before the hike, and have only a 'short' drive to the trail head.  So now I just need to decide direction on the trail, and when and how to get there...

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Explorer Test Part II

Today I did two loops of the 4.35 mile trail that included the Guadalupe River State Park trails: Painted Bunting, Live Oak, and River Overlook.  So by the state park map, I did 8.7 miles in roughly 3 hours 10 minutes by my watch.  I did the first loop in 1 hr 30 minutes +/- 1 minute, but forgot to check my watch immediately when I finished the second loop.  The temperature rose from 75 when I arrived to about 88 when I departed.  The heat really slowed me down the last half of that second loop.

So by my calculation I did 2.9 mph the first loop, and 2.6 mph the second loop.

I had two devices tracking my progress.  First, I left my iPhone 5S on (cellular, no WiFi or bluetooth) and tracked my progress via Gaia.  The phone is down to 9% 4 hours after finishing the hike.  The battery drain was probably from both the GPS and Gaia keeping the screen on; i.e., when I pulled it out of my pocket after the hike, the screen was dimmed but still active.

I thought I had completely turned the phone off before leaving the trail head, but I only shutdown the GPS and Gaia and turned off the screen.  Gaia shows that I went 8.43 miles over 3 hrs 17 minutes.  But I unloaded the pack and changed shoes then stopped Gaia and the Explorer, so there are a few minutes included in each device's track after I stopped hiking.  Here's my track from Gaia:
I also had the DeLorme inReach Explorer sending my location to MapShare every 10 minutes and logging my location every 10 seconds on the device.  Here's the MapShare map showing the 10 minute sends for the two loops, overlaid with yesterday's relatively high resolution, single loop log from the device.
Please remember I have not yet synched the Explorer to upload the 10 second log track from today.  You'll notice in the stats on the left that the Explorer thinks I traveled only 5.83 miles.  It doesn't know anything about the trail path during those 10 minute intervals.  The trail is very winding.  Hence, it thinks I went very slowly at only 2.25 mph (compared to your speeds, I might be slow at 2.7 mph too).

The conclusion here is that 10 minute tracking on MapShare just isn't an accurate representation of the length of the trail or your speed.  Unless you get the very expensive, top-level plan, you cannot send your location more frequently than 10 minutes.  The highest end plan only allows sending every two minutes.  Still, the Explorer does a good job of reporting your instantaneous location.  All of the locations are right on the detailed track from yesterday.  You cannot tell from the 2-D map, but if you click on a location, it also shows your speed, which seemed pretty realistic.

I did fully turn off the Explorer before leaving the trail head, so the power usage ought to be good.  It went from 98% down to 92% or 6% battery usage over 3 hours at the highest logging/sending rates.  That suggests the Explorer could be good for 50 straight hours at that rate.  Very promising for longer backpacking trips with minimal location sends and track logging.

Next, I synched the Explorer to the DeLorme site, and obtained today's updated track and stats.  This uses the every-10 second-logging function.
Note that today's track is still overlaid on yesterday's every-1 minute-logged track, explaining the couple of sections where the tracks diverge.

But the stats are still not very good.  It shows only 8.29 miles and an average speed of 2.56 mph.  If you are interested, here's a *.gpx file of the track created by the DeLorme export function:

download track for Guadalupe River State Park hike

My conclusion is that the Explorer will do a good job of sending an accurate location.  But don't trust stats on distance or speed.  I won't say the stats are wrong, as I only have one other unvalidated source.  But the Texas state parks map shows the trail mileage down to hundredths of a mile.  That doesn't mean they are actually that accurate, but I have two sets of stats with significant differences.  My conclusion; don't trust either!

Figured I might as well add a photo from the hike today.  This is part of the area where they did a controlled burn back in February 2015.  Have a good day.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Explorer Test

Today I wanted to do a hike and test out my DeLorme inReach Explorer.  Turned out, I only ended up with a partial test.  But I did learn some useful things about the new device.

First, here's a map of the logged data from the inReach.  This was plotted on the DeLorme site after I returned from the hike and synched the device from their web page.

I had the Explorer set to log my position once per minute and send a location every 10 minutes to MapShare.  Unfortunately, I was impatient to start hiking, and didn't bother to put on my reading glasses.  There is a 'Start Sending' button I missed, so the Explorer never reported my location at the 10 minute intervals I was expecting.  It did log my position on the device every minute.

San Antonio has seen an unusual weather pattern the last couple of months.  Frequent rain!  Yesterday was the first day in a week it hadn't rained heavily.  It was scheduled to start again this afternoon.  So I figured this morning would probably be my best chance at a dry hike.  It didn't rain, but the trails were muddy, and the grass and weeds were drenched.  The temperature started at about 78 degrees, and went up, with high humidity.  I was drenched.  I moved all around the trail trying to keep my trail runners mud free (though no chance at dry), so my speed was not what it should have been.

Now back to the data.  The Explorer logged 3.79 mi in 1.63 hours.  The state park trail map says I covered 4.35 miles.  Since the Explorer assumed straight lines between log points, which didn't  happen, I'm assuming the map mileage is more accurate.  The Explorer seems to have under estimated my mileage by up to 13%.  My speed would have been under reported at 2.48 mph vs a map/watch calculation of 2.68 mph.

None of this is a surprise, and really doesn't matter much for my planned used of the Explorer.  I expect to keep it off except at campsites and to check messages.  At least that's how I plan to use it for mapped trails.

But there are a couple of tests I still want to try before I'm ready to hit a long backpacking trip.  First, I'll monitor the power usage at high send rates (every 10 minutes) and log rates (every 10 seconds).  Hopefully, a longer day hike of about 8.7 miles will be long enough for that test.  I also want to pair the Explorer to my iPhone and see if GPS over Bluetooth saves phone power compared to using the iPhone's GPS directly.  I really need to make the pairing test a separate hike to avoid a Bluetooth impact on the basic Explorer power test.

I'll provide the follow-on information as soon as the Texas weather cooperates.

Monday, June 8, 2015

AT Gear List, Apr-Jun 2015

This was my final gear list for my AT section hike.

Appalachian Trail 24 Apr to 4 Jun 2015
Item oz (ea) # oz (total)
Packed Items...
ZPacks Arc Blast 60L, Hybrid Cuben (2014) 19.8 1 19.8
Trash Compactor Liner 20 gallon 2.1 1 2.1
Backup Wallet add-on (homemade) 0.49 1 0.49
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Square Flat Tarp (8.5'^2) w Tie Lines 11 1 11
Stakes/bag (14) + Xtra Tie-Down + Cuben Bag 4.52 1 4.52
MLD Superlight Bivy, Cuben, All Net Hood, LG 5.33 1 5.33
Tyvek Sit/Pack Cloth 3'x3' 1.69 1 1.69
Katabatic Palisades 30 Sleeping Quilt, 6'6" 18.8 1 18.8
Thermarest NeoAir Xlite, 72" (Regular), Inflatable 12 1 12
Fissure Tri-Ti w Toaks 850 ml Ti Pot, 12-10 Stove 5.96 1 5.96
Cuben Pot Stuff Sack for Toaks 0.14 1 0.14
Fuel bottle, alcohol, 8 oz (16 meals) 1 1 1
Gallon Baggy for Fuel Bottle 0.32 1 0.32
Aluminum foil (1' square) 0.28 1 0.28
Titanium Spoon - Folding (Toaks with bag) 0.67 1 0.67
Matches Safety, Coughlan Waterproof (40+box), Lighter & Baggy 0.85 1 0.85
ZPacks Bear Bagging Kit (carabiner, sacks + 50' Zline slick cord) 2.6 1 2.6
Loksak 12x20 odor-proof OPSAK 1.5 1 1.5
SteriPen Classic 3 w 4 AA Lithium 4.94 1 4.94
Aquamira Chlorine Dioxide Water Purifier Tablets, 24 0.2 1 0.2
Nalgene HDPE Ultralite 1 L Wide-Mouth Bottle 3.84 1 3.84
Dasani Water Bottle (1 L) w Platypus Push/Pull Top 1.1 1 1.1
Platypus Plusbottle 1 L (Empty) w Push/Pull Top 1.34 1 1.34
Toilet Paper Small (8 squares + baggy) 0.18 8 1.44
QiWiz Original Trowel, Ti, 6" 0.42 1 0.42
Finger Nail Clippers, Brio & Nail File 0.77 1 0.77
Light comb, black 0.3 1 0.3
Purell in 30 ml squeeze bottle 1.34 1 1.34
Dr Bonner in large 30ml dropper bottle w baggy 1.48 1 1.48
Dental Kit Small (toothbrush, floss, backing soda, lip balm) 1.23 1 1.23
Sunscreen in large plastic squeeze bottle 2.68 1 2.68
Bug repellant (Picardin) in 30 ml large dropper bottle 1.31 1 1.31
Earplugs, yellow foam 0 1 0
Sea to Summit Headnet 0.9 1 0.9
Headlamp, Black Diamond spot 3.35 1 3.35
Guide Pages/Maps 1 1 1
Photon Freedom Red/White & UST Whistle on Lanyard 0.67 1 0.67
Mini-glasses (1.5) in soft case 0 1 0
Fisher Space Pen, Stowaway 0.18 1 0.18
Leatherman Micro, Red AL 1.9 1 1.9
Verizon Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot MiFi6620L 4.97 1 4.97
Ricoh WG-4 GPS (Pentax) Camera, 64 GB, Halcyon 1500 mAh 8.22 1 8.22
Sandisk Sansa Clip Sport 8 GB (yellow) w 32 GB Micro SDHC 1.02 1 1.02
Powergen  Dual Port USB Charger, White (HLPG-001-12W) 2.19 1 2.19
Dual USB Car Charger (2.1 A and 1.0 A) 0.6 1 0.6
Ricoh Camera USB charging cable (56", black) 2.1 1 2.1
Micro USB Cable, 1m (black, Amazon) 1.31 1 1.31
Syncwire Lightning USB Cable (1m, white) 0.6 1 0.6
Apple Ear Buds (white) 0.42 1 0.42
Gear Repair Kit
Baggy: Neo-Air, Cuben Tape, Pertex Tape, Floss, Needle 2.75 1 2.75
First-Aid Kit + Pills + Aqua Mira Tablets 3.46 1 3.46
Benadryl/Ibuprofen/Acetomeniphen/Ammodium/Zantac 0 1 0
Hiker (Feet) Goo in green plastic container 1.31 1 1.31
Body Glide in red plastic container 0.95 1 0.95
ZPacks Micro-Fleece Hat (black) 1 1 1
Lightload Pack Towel 0.6 1 0.6
Polypro Glove Liners (L, black) 1.27 1 1.27
ZPacks Cuben Rain Mitts 1.13 1 1.13
Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew (L) 2.1 1 2.1
Darn Tough Hike-Trek Micro Crew (L) - Sleep 2.7 1 2.7
SeaToSummit Ultra-Sil Nano Drysack 8 L (for clothes, Blue) 0.8 1 0.8
SeaToSummit Ultra-Sil Nano Drysack 8 L (for rain stuff, Orange) 0.8 1 0.8
Patagonia Houdini Jacket, Eclectic Orange (L) 3.2 1 3.2
Outdoor Research Helium II Rain Jacket (L, gray) 5.3 1 5.3
Montbell Versalite (rain) Pants (black, L) including sack 4 1 4
Mountain Hardware Ghost Down Jacket (silver, no hood) 7 1 7
Base Weight (lbs) 11.2
Breakfast & Dinner (6 oz each) 12 5 60
Lunch/Snacks (10 oz/day) 10 5 50
Fuel, Alcohol (0.75 oz/day - one meal/day only) 6.66 1 6.66
Water (35.2 oz/L) 35.2 1 35.2
Comsumables (lbs) 9.5
Total Pack Weight (lbs) 20.7
Worn or Carried Items…
Black Diamond Contour Elliptical Trekking Poles 9.5 2 19
Duct Tape around trekking pole (5'/pole) 0.4 1 0.4
Altra Lone Peaks 2 Trail Runners (11.5), Low Cut (Black) 12.8 2 25.6
Headsweats Protech White/Grey Coolmax (w neck sunshield) 2.3 1 2.3
Smartwool NTS Light 195 Zip T 8.8 1 8.8
ExOfficio Sport Mesh 9" Boxer Brief (M) 2.7 2 5.4
Columbia Covertible II Pant (Sage, M, 34"L) 11.46 1 11.46
Darn Tough Light Hiker Micro Crew (L) 2.1 1 2.1
iPhone 5s 3.95 1 3.95
Lifeproof Nuud case for iPhone 5s (white/clear) 1.4 1 1.4
Suncloud Pursuit Polarized Sunglasses, Gray 1.06 1 1.06
Hide Neck Loop/Cover/Cleaner, Yellow for Sunglasses 0.56 1 0.56
Reading Glasses w Case (Brown or Gray) 1.13 1 1.13
Bandana (cotton) 0.8 1 0.8
Pant Leg Stretchies 0.1 1 0.1
Suunto Core Wristwatch, Black 2.3 1 2.3
Worn & Carried (lbs) 5.4
Body Out Weight (lbs) 26.1

Sunday, June 7, 2015

AT Final Thoughts, Part II, Electronics

I almost forgot electronics! 

Just as an intro, I want to mention that I tried using a paper & pen journal on an earlier backpacking trip.  I wasn't satisfied with a paper repository, so when I got back, I typed it into the computer anywhere.  Photos without a journal (earlier trips) weren't enough; I tended to forget what happened or the details of the photos.  So this time I did the electronic blog...

I carried an AT&T iPhone 5s (in a waterproof Lifeproof case), a Ricoh WG-4 waterproof camera with an Eyefi memory card, a Verizon MiFi with 4,000 mAh backup support for other devices, and a Sansa Clip Sport for music and audio books. I also carried a wall charger, a car charger (for GPS in rental cars), and three cables. I also had a backup camera battery and memory cards. 

When I started the AT, I also had a 12,000 mAh backup battery.  But I sent it home from Hiawassee, GA.  I wasn't using it and it was too heavy.

I transferred photos from my camera to my phone each night using the Eyefi (via a WiFi signal). I wrote the blog in BlogTouch Pro on the iPhone.  But I found out that without lots of bars of signal, the uploads failed with full sized photos imbedded.  So I used a Reduce app to convert the photos I wanted to post to around 640x480 pixels.  I still needed a moderately good signal to do blog uploads, but it didn't have to be high strength.  After reaching a good computer, I substituted full sized photos for the low res versions.

I also embedded a screen capture of the elevation profile from Guthook's AT Hiker app into each day's blog.

Typing on the iPhone's virtual keyboard was slow, so I took 30-45 minutes to write each short blog.  I found that BlogTouch Pro occasionally lost a blog saved to local storage (awaiting upload).  So I tried using Pages as the initial app to create a blog's text, but found it was buggy, especially with copying and pasting out of the app.  My last solution was to create blog text initially in Word, then copy and paste it to BlogTouch Pro.  Word has a nice interface and seems very safe and stable.

During the day, I kept the iPhone in airplane mode (no cell radio function) and the screen off.  It usually lasted about 5 days this way.  I used the WiFi only to transfer photos.  I would get it out occasionally to check my GPS location in the AT Hiker app.  But I found the AWOL Guide pages I was carrying to be sufficient for locating my position most of the time. I also checked for signal on some peaks, and when it was present downloaded and sent email. I never had to recharge except at town stays, but it was close a couple of times.

The Ricoh camera seemed to use a lot of power when I turned on the Eyefi WiFi function.  I would guess it probably would last 4-5 days with my approach to use.  I turned it on for quick photos, and then quickly turned it off each time. It never fully drained, but I would still keep the small extra battery.

The Eyefi card itself never came close to being full.  But I did carry a non-WiFi SDHC card in case the Eyefi failed.  The Eyefi app on the iPhone supports uploading all photos to an Eyefi cloud, but I found that required a lot of signal or a strong WiFi access point.

Other hikers seemed to get text message capability via Verizon when I was seeing no AT&T service.  But my Verizon MiFi was usually buried in the pack (it's not too light).  I don't have text on my AT&T plan anyway, but that poor a signal wouldn't have supported a blog upload anyway.

If I did it again, I would probably leave the Verizon MiFi at home.  I only used it in Hiawassee and Franklin.  That might allow me to carry a slightly larger phone like the iPhone 6 or 6+ with an easier keyboard to use.

AT Final Thoughts, Part I, General

So, instead of a thru hike, I ended up with a section hike.  I still want to provide my final thoughts and capture my lessons learned.

As an intro, I thought I would mention my overall impression of the hike.  The trail was great, harder than I expected, but very nice to hike.  The tough footing and nearly continuous ups and downs made it difficult in wet weather.  What I found least 'fun' was trying to get to and from town and the shelter use mandate in the Smokies.  Some say the AT is a very sociable trail, but I think that pertains to the thru hiker community.  My 'late' hiking put me in the situation where most fellow hikers were section hikers.  Some were friendly, but most seemed a little guarded in what they would say.  And I found that younger hikers were less talkative than older; this may have been due to my 'older' age than most.  Bottom line, it was a bit lonely at times.  I don't know how this would affect me on a full thru hike.  Now back to my lessons learned...

I expect like many hikers I wasn't really prepared for the AT. I had equipment tested on six and eight day backpacking trips. But the AT conditions were more challenging, and I didn't expect the concerns about family needs at home. Ordinarily my wife is pretty independent and handles any challenge with ease.

I guess my first lesson would be to make sure that all known family issues, especially medical, are resolved way before the start of the hike. My wife wanted to use the military dental facility for some surgery. But they waited months to get her in. Then it wasn't as simple as I expected. I put off my own hernia repair thinking it might be minor enough to ignore. I started the AT carrying my full pack for the first time in months three days after the end of my ‘take it easy’ recovery. That wasn't a big problem, but I didn't anticipate how much the lack of conditioning for the trail would impact me.  

If you don't resolve those family issues you won't have the peace of mind to keep walking!

Next the southern part of the AT is difficult. In central Texas a 200 foot climb is rare. Having a 1700 to 3000 foot climb is not comparable. But you get the same downs as ups!  Taking it slow or with stops lets the lungs and heart catch up. But the constant stress on the ankles/feet and their supporting muscles, tendons and ligaments is tough. Even being careful, the heel muscles especially, would get tight. Every morning I could only hobble for 10 minutes!

The calves, thighs and back did fine. The many two foot high steps up and down and the long downhills put a lot of pressure on the knees. I used my trekking poles as shock absorbers, but it slowed me down. The youngsters just loped down without a care. I saw one middle-aged hiker that used a knee brace. I suspect that was more common than I noticed.

Bottom line here is do as much conditioning as you can before hitting the trail.

To keep the pack light I did a few things I will change next time. First I didn’t bring extra clothes or long underwear. I had boxers, convertible pants, and rain pants for the lower half. Above I had a long sleeved merino half zip base, a wind shirt, a rain jacket, and a down puffy. I never needed or used the latter.

The problem was what to do in a heavy rain. I didn't want to get my 30 degree down bag wet at night. But I couldn't count on the bag and bivy being enough to keep me warm without some layer(s) of clothing. I kept the wind shirt dry in the pack during rains. But I also wore the rain jacket and pants to keep the base layers ‘dry’.  But the heat and the rain shell caused overheating going up hill. Those conditions happened only for a few short ups but it would have been a problem if I had stayed on the trail longer.

I’ve thought about a couple of partial solutions. First I need a light bottom base layer for use in the bag. Second, carry a 2 oz cuben rain skirt. Cool in the rain on ups. For the top seems like you can go without rain gear, use a jacket, a poncho or an umbrella. Carrying a jacket seems like the best option. But have a light base layer for use in the bag when you just have to be in the rain without the jacket because of exertion/heat/ups.

My shelter system was another issue. I use a flat square cuben tarp (8.5’ square) combined with a bivy that has a cuben floor, pertex top, and bug mesh over the head. I put my NeoAir pad, quilt and me in the bivy at night. It's all very functional and the tarp and bivy combined weigh only16.3 oz. I could use the bivy under the tarp or in a shelter.

The first issue is comfort. It's hard to turn over in the bivy, just not enough room. I roll over all night. The mesh hood solved the condensation issue I had with other bivies. But rain spray means I have to keep the cuben bathtub raised a bit over the hood. This lessons the leg room by a few inches. So I cannot stretch out my legs!  That's a real problem after hiking all day.

But the bivy becomes a problem on sloped camp sites. In the Smokies you have to use the shelters (usually full with early stoppers and section hikers with permits) or tent next to the shelter. There were no flat sites where I tarped in the Smokies. So every time I turned over in the bivy it would slide a bit downhill. This tended to expose the foot area of the bivy to rain splatter. From inside the bivy you cannot move the bivy back uphill and while sleeping you don’t notice the extent of the problem. In the morning the foot-box of the quilt is a little damp. That wasn't a problem but it could be with longer periods of rain. You don’t want to know what I was thinking of the Park Service and their shelter/tent policy for thrus. I also wasn’t thinking charitably of the hikers in the shelters with their short days.

My solution is to get a cuben tent like the ZPacks Altaplex. If I give up the bivy its about the same weight. But I won’t have a significant rain splatter problem. I get plenty of room to stretch out. And best of all I can sit up in a bug protected space! To blog of course. Also I can bring the pack in and give up my 2 oz Tyvek ground cloth I use for the pack under the tarp. The Tyvek gets disgustingly dirty and is hard to clean!  The tent will have a slightly smaller footprint, use one less trekking pole, and a couple less stakes. I could carry a 1.5 oz ground cloth for protecting my NeoAir in shelters.

Another potential problem I really didn’t encounter was having enough warm and dry layers to handle persistent cold, wet conditions. There were a fee moments I got chilly on the peaks wearing my base layer and rain shell. What if I had started in March or had bad cold wet weather in the Whites?

I’ve got a Cap 4 mid-layer hoody that I left at home. I need to try it out and see whether it could replace or supplement my down puffy. For wet weather it would seem a good option.

Bugs are another problem. My arms and legs are bitten up and I may have some poison ivy from the high weeds across and near the trail. Surprisingly in Texas I always wear loose, long pants and long sleeved synthetic shirts. The first and last time I hiked in 100 degree sun with shorts, my skin became so hot it almost burned (with heat). But I only have to survive short ups in Texas.

Maybe more extensive use of insect repellant would help. Also some hikers used tall gaiters to protect from the weeds (bugs, scratches and wet). Maybe they make a light version?

I guess most of the rest of my issues were pack organization (always something I stuffed somewhere that I couldn’t easily get to during the day), daily routine (don’t skip meals and snacks to save time), and hygiene. Hygiene is just tough with limited water sources.

The final topic is resupply. I’ve got a lot of meals and snacks left that aren’t going to get mail dropped. Plus, I had trouble: getting my wife to send boxes before I explicitly told her to; no signals for email to my wife; and watching the USPS let Priority Mail sit in one place all day (not its destination) while I was expensively sitting on my heels waiting to get back on the trail. I need to use mail drops only when absolutely necessary and resupply in towns at other times. 

In Part II of my Final Thoughts, I'll cover electronics.