I did my first shakedown hike this weekend. I drove to Sedona where the weather was a little warmer, arriving around lunchtime. I hiked the Loys Canyon trail for three hours before setting up camp. Here’s what I learned:
1. My pack was pretty heavy. Definitely need to lighten up.
2. Tarptent Contrail set up great. Need to work on getting sidewalls more taut. Watched video on some techniques on how to do that when I got back.
3. Forgot my Go Girl! Had to squat in the woods all weekend. Go Girl thrown in pack immediately upon arriving home.
4. My Caldera Cone System stove worked great.
5. I have no idea how to judge how much food to bring. Two days worth of food should have been about 4 lbs. I was way over that, and didn’t eat a third of what I had. I guess I’ll figure this out as I go along.
6. My clothes were fine. I had enough clothing, with nothing extra. I’m still in the market for a mid-layer fleece. I have a Columbia 200 weight fleece, but it feels heavy in the pack. Would like something that weighs less.
7. I’m still unsure about water in general. I can’t decide whether to bring my 3 liter hydration pack and use a bottle. Or should I skip the hydration pack, use a bottle for water and one for water w/drink mix; and carry a 4 liter Platypus water carrier for camp water. I also can’t decide whether to bring my water filter, or just go straight with Aqua Mira. Bringing my Katadyn Vario would allow me to be able to drink without having to wait, but it’s heavy.
8. I was cold at night. I used a Thermarest Zlite pad, with a 3/4 length NeoAir on top of it. I have a Marmot 30 degree bag. I wore long underwear, fleece pants and jacket, and at some point in the night, had to put on my fleece balaclava. Temperatures dropped to 25ish. Sleeping in a Mummy bag is hard for me, I like to side sleep and roll around. I felt very confined. I’m going to start sleeping in my bag while at home, so I can get used to moving around in the mummy bag. Oh yeah, a pillow is essential.
Overall, I learned alot from the hike. I had no problem being out there by myself. The trail I was on is rarely used and I saw half-a-dozen people the whole time. Mentally I think I’m prepared. Physically, I need to continue to hike four or five days a week with my pack, while I work on lightening up. I’ll do another shakedown in early February to see how things have progressed. I’m leaving Flagstaff on March 9, and after visiting friends, will be on the trail March 18. Two months…