It’s A Keeper!

My now-used Granite Gear Lutsen 55, that is. I put a twenty-two pound load of gear and half-liter water bottles into it, and hit a local woods trail for its maiden voyage:

Lutsen 55 Creekside.jpg

Usually I would run out to the AT for a shakeout of a new pack (like I did when I bought my Deuter Airlite 22), but I had concerns about the stiffness of the lumbar pad paired with the rigid framesheet causing me some discomfort. And I didn’t relish the idea of being miles from the car if it did.

Well, those fears turned out to be unfounded: Under load, I found that the pad slid perfectly into place in the middle of my lower lumbar region, and gave the load confidence-inspiring stability. It didn’t bother me at all during my quick four miler, so I was able to focus on the stunning morning and the emergence of green on the trail:

Blackwater CreekBlackwater BridgeBlackwater Split LogBlackwater Rail BridgeBlackwater Sunburst

I’m ready to take it out for an overnight on the AT. Now to find the time…

Note: Another positive came from the hike. I actually got out during the FIRST week of the month, instead of the last, as has been my habit (see last week’s post). So May should feature at least two trips to the trees.

I hope.



So Long, Protozoa!

I had time for a short hike yesterday, and I’ve wanted to test out my Sawyer Mini filter in the wild, so I conflated the two and took a quick run out to Matts Creek Shelter on the AT. There were wisps of fog along the James River as I crossed the bridge into the woods, and I hustled along, excited to give my Mini a shot.

I’d heard two things about the filter I was anxious to test. One, that’s it’s an idiot-proof filtration solution, which dovetails nicely with my personality, and two, that it screws onto a 1L Smartwater bottle.

As it turns out, both are true. Having never tested it, I found my first attempt at using the Sawyer to be drop-dead simple.

Sawyer Mini System

There are several good spots on the creek near the shelter to grab water, and I filled the pouch about half full or so before screwing on the filter and squeezing the water into my bottle. The flow was better than I expected, given that I didn’t pre-soak the filter in advance (which I know to do, having used Brita pitchers/filters for years now), and yielded crystal clear, tasty water that was so cold it caused almost immediate condensation on the bottle:


I also screwed the filter onto the bottle and took a couple of pulls from it to test the seal of the filter to the bottle, and it worked perfectly. The Sawyer Mini is a great little system, especially for the money…

While the hike itself was only a brief four miles, the morning was quiet (I was alone out there the entire time!) and beautiful. And the Mini was a champ.

Now I can filter my own water. One step closer to multi-day backpacking.

And to surviving the zombie apocalypse…

Tent Pitch, Foiled

A couple weeks ago I posted regarding my son-in-law’s purchase of a backpacking tent. Yesterday, we decided to make a quick run north on the AT out of Big Island to Johns Hollow Shelter to pitch it. His personal hibernation cave comes with something like 14 stakes, so he was anxious to see how it set up in a wilderness that didn’t resemble his living room.

Rain showers were expected around noon, so we set off at 9:30AM for the short, pleasant 1.75 mile jaunt.

As we cruised down the side trail to the shelter a short time later, a few random raindrops plopped on my hat. We laughed them off and, setting our packs on the picnic table, checked out the best pitching spots (there are several, as I noted in yet another earlier post).

As he opened his pack to pull out the tent, I jokingly commented to him that it would probably start raining once he got it spread out on the ground. He laughed, and strolled over to the selected spot.

And, naturally, it started to rain.

Well, he had no desire to learn a new tent pitch in the rain, so he returned it to his pack and we headed back towards the car, disappointed.

There was, however, one good thing to come out of this unexpected shower: I FINALLY got to try out the raincover for my trusty Deuter Airlite 22! Not being the masochistic sort, I always day hike on decent weather days. So, no raincover required. Needless to say, this shower provided me the opportunity for which I had been waiting. Short version: It worked as advertised. +1 for my friends in Germany.

It was a gentle rain, and we were oddly enjoying it in spite of our dry packs (he got to try out his pack cover too) and soggy bodies, so we crossed the Foot Bridge (Yep. That’s the correct spelling and capitalization) and added two miles to our hike on the other side of the James River.

James in Fog

As is ALWAYS the case, the sun broke through the clouds as we returned to the car, but we didn’t even grumble. It was, rain included, a good morning for a hike, and we made the most of it.

Next time, that tent is going up if we have to set it up in the shelter and drill stake holes in the floor.

(Just kidding, U.S. Forest Service. Juuuust kidding!)