The Empor…uh, Hiker’s New Clothes

The final two pieces of my day hiking gear arrived on Monday.

Shirt. Check. Pants. Check. With the Ex Officio socks my loving daughter got me for my birthday, I’m equipped!

Hiking Clothes

Now I need to have a permethrin party. I have the spray. I just need to apply it to everything I’ll be wearing except the socks. Those came ready to reject pests. Eventually I’ll send my apparel to Insect Shield and have it professionally treated so that the bugproofness (there’s a fun “word”) will last for the life of the garment instead of the six washings and/or six weeks the do-it-yourself treatment gets me. But for now, I’m going to pollute my garage with the toxic waste that is Sawyer’s, with the crossing-my-fingers hope of going out to the AT on Saturday morning for a quick hike, temporary sciatic nerve issue and weather permitting.

I wonder what a hazmat suit costs…

 

“Between every two pines is a doorway to a new world.” – John Muir

 

Trail Runners for a Trail Runner

Trail runners are becoming de rigueur among many in the hiking/backpacking set, and that’s fine with me. As a trail runner in more civilized environments, hitting the AT in that style of kicks would be my preference anyway.

But hiking-level trail runners are a different breed from the Asics I typically mud up. They have beefier toes, rock plates, sticky Vibram soles, gusseted tongues, etc. Which, given the more technical nature of the trails I’ll be hiking (versus the ones I usually run) is, once again, fine by me.

So I would hike in trail runners. All I had to do was choose one.

As it turns out, the decision on which shoe to buy was made easy for me. A year ago I bought a pair of Merrell Yokotas as a daily wear shoe, and I still like them so much that I decided to play it safe and go Merrell trail runners for my first hiking shoe, even though I was toss-and-turn-at-night tempted by the La Sportiva Ultra Raptors.

My new shoes arrived Monday and, after slipping them on, I could tell two things: First, that they feel substantially different on the foot than my Asics trail runners; and second, that I’m going to like them. Just wearing them around the house for an hour gave me a very positive first impression. Granted, I’ve been fooled (and blistered) by shoes before when taking them from the soft carpet of the living room out into the real world, but given my history with the Yokotas, I feel pretty confident in these.

 

MerrellsMerrell All Out Peak trail runners. And, in keeping with the theme that has permeated most of my gear purchases, I got them on sale for a great price.

 

I’ll find out for sure at the end of next week when they hit the Appalachian Trail for the first time with me in them. Hopefully the hateful hordes of black flies will let me test them in peace. If not, they will unintentionally be used for running…

Turns Out They ARE Essential

I’m referring, of course, to the lauded “10 Essentials” for day hiking that have been spoken of in story and song. When I first began my journey from runnerhood to hikerdom, I discovered the 10-E list on Philip Werner’s site Sectionhiker.com, and committed to purchase these items before I set one foot in the Hundred Mile Wilderness. The non-perishables on the list (apart from the ones my wife surprised me with for my birthday on Sunday!) arrived yesterday:

Copy of 10essentials

 

So, I’m ready. And I have a real-life cautionary tale to motivate me to carry this stuff I’ll be carefully packing in my trusty Kestrel 28.

Two weeks ago, a mother and daughter left for a day hike in New Zealand with a pack containing only water and snacks. Well, they got lost. And endured a five day-long nightmare. Thankfully, they were rescued and are fine. But as I was reading the story of their adventure, I was ticking off in my head how having the “10 Essentials” along would have eased (and probably shortened) their ordeal. A map and compass. First aid kit. Headlamp for when it got dark. Emergency shelter for the cold nights that forced them to literally lay on top of one another to preserve body heat. And so on.

Again, I’m glad they’re okay. So many of these stories don’t have a happy ending. But I thank them for inadvertently hammering home the need for carrying survival basics on remote day hikes. And even though my first foray into the HMW will only be a six mile out-and-back, I’ll be stocked up with my version of the “10 Essentials” and prepared to have a fighting chance should I get turned around and lost as they did.

Two people have wandered off the AT and died in this state, one of them in the Hundred Mile Wilderness (who still hasn’t been found more than 30 years later). I have no desire to make it a hat trick…