Pre-Hike 03/01/2015

Let me introduce you to my dad, going by trail name Klondike John!

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He will be joining me for a time at the beginning of the hike. He purchased enough of his backpacking gear that we could go on a practice hike together this Sunday.  We hiked part of the Graysville Mountain RMA section of the Cumberland Trail.  Precisely, we attempted the Leggett Road to Roaring Creek Overlook part of the Laurel-Snow segment.

It was a good trip.  We both wore several layers, some of which were peeled off later as the temperature was only in the low 40’s.  I started out without a base layer under my cold-weather REI Mistral pants, which worked out perfectly.  I wore a base layer long-sleeved merino wool shirt, my Patagonia R2 fleece, and a rain jacket since it was raining lightly while we were out hiking.  I should have taken the fleece off much sooner than I did; you will see in the video that I worked up some rosy cheeks.  We both had pack weight of between 25-27 lbs.

The path started out flat and ran mostly parallel to the Roaring Creek river.  The air smelled clean and fresh with a strong scent of pine.  I really appreciate that having spent most of the past five years in smoggy L.A.!  There were some really interesting remnants hailing back from when the area was mined for coal, such as the ruins of an old stone bridge:

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There were a few small tributaries that flowed down from higher up the hill to our right that we had to rock-hop over.  I was able to get one such crossing on video.  The snow hadn’t quite melted and there were some spectacular ice formations that had formed over the last few days as the snow melted and froze repeatedly.  I promise, it looks a lot colder in the video and pictures then it actually was!

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The trail then started a pretty respectable ascent that got our blood pumping and heart rates up before the way dipped sharply back down to an unnamed tributary that crosses the trail.  The trail description commented that the “drainage [has] stepping-stones that make crossing safe on the rare occasion when water may be flowing fast”.  As you can see, the recent snow and rain made for “extra” rare conditions where the stepping-stones were too far spaced and way too slick to make crossing safe.   Evidently in the summer the bed is often dry!

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Klondike John and I took separate directions to find a crossing point, but in the end we decided against risking jumping slippery stones or just walking through and wetting our feet.  I was, however, able to capture a beautiful shot of a cascade from underneath an ice-festooned rock overhang.

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The mileage to this point was a paltry one mile so in order to feel like we got a good training hike in, we turned back walked up and down the steep section three more times.

Klondike John found he needed some adjustments to his new hiking pants and I decided that I needed to remember to adjust my layers or at least vent in order to avoid getting too hot while hiking in the cooler weather.  I also found upon returning home that once I do cool down, I need to put the layers back on for a while in order to avoid getting chilled, even indoors. I’m grateful that I got the chance to figure some of this out before the AT hike seeing as Southern California hasn’t really had a winter this year.

During the hike I started reflecting on the nature of anxiety.  I have dear ones that suffer from this to a larger degree than I do, but it is something that came up for me when we first set out on the hike.  In many projects or endeavors I make myself unhappy with anxiety because at the beginning my mind immediately jumps forward to the conclusion of the activity.  As we started on the trail I was already thinking of being back at the car after the hike.  Please don’t get me wrong, I love to hike, but I also love to draw, sew costumes, and do countless other activities, all of which incite this anxiety at times.  The result is that I end up not enjoying myself due to the symptoms of impatience and physiological effects of feeling warm, having tightness in my chest and stomach, and other unfortunate consequences.  Thinking on this, I wondered if when I started on the hike a week hence, would I feel the same?  How will it change seeing as there wouldn’t be an end near in sight? Would my mind jump to feeling anxious about breaking for camp that evening?  Would the hike degenerate to me holding my breath for each day’s end or lunch time, or perhaps the next planned stay in town?  It just seems to me that would be more exhausting than the trip is worth.  Keeping these things in mind, I am confident I can work through this and become more adept at living in the moment while getting a conscious upper-hand on managing my mild anxiety.

I will still need a few weeks to get my trail legs and will struggle athletically at first, to be sure.  It won’t be just a walk in the park (pun intended), but it will give me a chance to really think and work through things in my mind.  My plan is to use this blog for writing on several fronts.  I wish to post videos of the beauty of the trail and my adventures therein, share the statistics of the trail such as elevation, temperatures and weather and the performance of my gear, and finally to write about musings that I will inevitably ponder as I put one foot in front of the other.  It may be at times funny and joyful but in turn also be melancholy, raw, and highlight my frustration.   I hope to provide interesting ramblings for those looking for different things from this blog.  Please let me know if there is anything in particular you would like me to cover in text, photo, or video and I will be so pleased to oblige if I can.  Looking forward!

Click to watch the video:

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Music Credit: “Irish Heartbeat” by Van Morrison

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-Gypsy