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PCT Training Hike on the Big Piney Trail, Paddy Creek Wilder

PCT Training Hike

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I set out for my first overnight training hike that I have been on since I was on the PCT in May, 2016. Starting at the Roby Lake, Missouri area, I made my way down an unfamiliar trail, with an intentionally overloaded pack. Two tents, two sleeping bags, and just about every piece of gear and trail clothing I own. I didn’t bother to weigh the pack, but it was the heaviest I have ever carried. Some distance into the trail I found a trail register – I stopped to register and was curious to see if I might come across any kindred souls. Nope, not a soul on the trail register for the past 12 days, I would very likely be totally alone. The trail meandered uphill and down, by ponds, and eventually to a nice creek with a small waterfall. Along the way I came to a pine grove atop a ridge and what a mess that was – we recently had freezing rain here in Missouri and it looks like it took out several dozen along the trail – they literally look like they just exploded – with the trail being impassable for about ¼ mile – resulting in some bushwhacking and hopefully me not getting lost. Unlike the PCT where I have Halfmile, Guthooks, and other apps that can tell you that you are 400’ west of the trail, and which direction you need to go to get back on trail, here you just need to pay more attention.

When finally done tramping around the blow downs I continued down the trail, and back up on top of another ridge and into some pines. I set up camp about 4:30 PM which would usually be early, but it was dark, cloudy and wet – I wanted to find a decent campsite and took the 2nd one that I thought looked nice. As I set up camp I found I was just above a nice running creek, which made for a nice setting. There was no rain in the forecast but heavy fog came in, which collected on the trees and might as well have been rain. Of course I packed everything, except my rain fly it turned out. Yes I had another tent, but that is my PCT tent and I am not going to chance damaging it before I even get there. I decide it’s not too bad, occasional drips would splatter through the netting but all would be well – and I did have my bivy sack so I put my sleeping bag in there, inside the tent, and made sure most things were covered. There were signs of bear throughout, and I could not locate my paracord rope for hanging my food, so I put the food in my pack, put the pack a ways up a tree, and strapped it on to hope for the best. I had a time getting a campfire going, with everything being wet, but eventually enjoyed a nice campfire until bed time. Unlike being on the PCT where you never really feel alone because there are so many other hikers out there, I knew I was truly alone out here, there were no other footprints in the mud – see the pictures of the trail/river – and this was a bit unusual, really feeling alone and way out there. I enjoyed that. It was one of those nights when every noise piques your curiosity, and every drop falling from the trees landing in leaves sounds like a footstep of some kind – I did hear some animal grunt, possibly a ferel hog, bear, or deer even – couldn’t really tell. Nothing bothered my pack, and all was well in the morning – but much of my gear was wet. I set off back down to the trail head, surprised at how little muscle or back pain I was in considering the workout provided by the trail and the heavy weight I was carrying. I would feel it a bit later however, but that’s a good thing, that’s why I am training – trying to get some sense of trail legs before I hit the PCT exactly 60 days from now! I received my permission to enter Canada, I have my plane tickets, and in 3 more days I will apply for and get my PCT permit for March 21, 2017 – time is flying by…

Morgan

Posted by MorganClements 00:17 Archived in USA Tagged hiking big hike trail backpacking pacific missouri crest piney Comments (0)

PCT Training – Days 3, 4, 5, 6

PCT Training

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Days 3 and 4 were training hikes on my own property due to road conditions – Both days were just 2 to 2.5 mile hikes so nothing special – I live on a hill and have 10 acres so I do get to train going up and down hill, and stepping over logs and what not.


My very talented photographer wife took some super-up-close photos of millennials, er uh I mean snowflakes that landed on my beanie and jacket – check out how cool they are.


Day 3 was 18F with a wind chill of 7, day 4 was 7F with a wind chill of-5. Still I am having a problem with proper layering and overheating on trail even with the very cold temperatures. I consulted the Facebook PCT Class of 2017 group for their input. I don’t really want an ironic gravestone saying something like “He froze to death because he overheated” lol.

Day 5 was a zero day, it was 3 degrees outside and I didn’t have the energy or motivation really.

Today, day 6, I had to decide between watching the Steelers beat the tar out of the Dolphins, or hitting the trail – so I decided to hike some miles on the Ozark Trail, a small piece of which is conveniently close by. It was 25F today, didn’t check the wind chill but I would guess it to be about 17F – and while I had changed up my clothing a bit, to a fleece base layer and a very light fleece hoodie, with a UL wind breaker, and a UL down hoodie, I started out cold but by 30 minutes in I was ready to start shedding layers. Today’s hike was the most strenuous yet, and I felt it in my upper legs, hips, and butt! Good, finally reaching a point where I am pushing my muscles and getting them into shape. It seems odd though to be overheating while watching my breath and having my ‘stache freeze up on me hehe.

The trailhead for the North Fork section of the Ozark Trail is a bit sketchy, I didn’t like leaving my SUV there – very trashy, large dead animal carcass, and a car slowing down to look at the weirdo with a backpack on… not to mention I forgot to take out 2 of my favorite and pricey jackets, one a Harley jacket and the other a nice London Fog I received for Christmas. Fortunately everything was fine when I returned from hiking.

Nothing stellar photo wise on the trail – I signed the trail register and snapped a picture of those that signed before me, now a habit in case I ever learn of anyone having gone missing. The trail blazes were excellent, even with leaves all over the trail it was very easy to follow and very well marked – kudo’s to the Ozark Trail Association on that one since this section of the OT is not connected to the rest of the trail and is traveled much less frequently.

I took a break at one of many downed trees, removed layers, ate a snack, and cooled off a bit. The curious photos of ice in the leaves are of something I had not experienced before, they are called ‘ice roses’ also called by some as “frost flowers” which form only at certain altitudes and in certain conditions- so that was something new.


A beautiful osprey took an interest in me as I hiked back to the trail head, and did so for quite a while – I could have taken some video for you but then I decided his visit was just for me.

I discovered I don’t look very good in a balaclava – what do you think?


It was a more difficult day, a good day…now to plan where to go tomorrow…

Morgan

Posted by MorganClements 02:14 Archived in USA Tagged hiking backpacking thruhiking ivinlife gearreviews trailtreviews peakbagging Comments (0)

PCT Training Hikes Day 1 and 2

It is now less than 90 days before I start my Pacific Crest Trail 2650 mile hike on 03/21, my second attempt. I decided that this go round I should be in better shape than I was last year, and that the best way to do this would be to get out and hike.

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It is now less than 90 days before I start my Pacific Crest Trail 2650 mile hike on 03/21, my second attempt. I decided that this go round I should be in better shape than I was last year, and that the best way to do this would be to get out and hike. Duh! With a heavy pack. I thought that it would be best to have some variation day to day as I train since that is what you experience on the PCT. So… my plan is to try to hike at least one new trail each day between now and the time I head to California.

Yesterday was day 1 of the new training regime – I planned to start small and work my way up in terms of mileage and difficulty, the last thing I want to do is get an injury during training that ruins my chances of hiking the PCT. So, I found a short trail on alltrails.com that supposedly leads to a spring – a measly 1.3 mile trail, well off the beaten path. I left early in light rain and heavy fog, about 40 degrees F, and set off to find the trail head. I was where both Alltrails.com and Google said I should be… but there was no trail head, no trail, no signs, no blazes, nothing. I walked up and down the road ¼ mile each way to no avail. I decided I would bushwhack off the road some distance and see if I could pick up the trail somewhere. No such luck. I enjoyed it though, it was beautiful, and a little challenging, but I did want to see the spring. Also it was an opportunity to navigate without a compass or electronics or maps, and not get lost. I finally did come across a closed area called Camp Willow and I poked around there a bit before making my way back to the SUV. Sadly one photo is of the last kind of trail trash I expected to see out in the wilderness – a computer monitor of all things, probably a stolen one.

Day 2 was a short trail close to me in a conservation area – I decided to push it hard, which for me is about 3.5 miles an hour – and see how my backpack setup is working out, and test my new Keen insulated boots out. I am choosing to carry more weight during training than I will actually carry on the PCT in hopes that it makes the PCT a tad easier. Again today it was a light rain, very heavy fog in many places, and in the low 40’s – an enjoyable first couple of hikes

The next couple of days it may get down below freezing and I may not care to try driving on the roads – but I can still train on the treadmill on full incline, and we have ten acres on a hill which is decent enough for training if need be. One of my plans for the coming weeks is to head a bit further away to this or that state park, camp in the campground but use that as a base to hike every trail that the park may offer.

Stay tuned for updates.

Morgan

Posted by MorganClements 07:06 Archived in USA Tagged hiking backpacking thruhiking ivinlife gearreviews trailtreviews peakbagging Comments (0)

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