First BP trip!

12:06 a.m. on April 27, 2009 (EDT)
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It's about time I got into the outdoors for some good TLC. 3 years now I've been working on getting BP gear and such. Although the trip was short, it was a good lesson.

It started when I finally got my last needed part of gear, the MSR fuel bottle. Now the action may begin. My dad and I combined calendars to find a weekend to do this. In short, I skipped prom to go backpacking ;) Best decision ever!!! (besides I didn't have a date).

I saw how busy my dad is so I decided to organize the details. I did the food menu and organized the meals per day. In great anticipation I couldn't resist the urge to just put the stuff in my pack and try it on. I couldn't wait! Our destination was up in the local Ochoco mountains up near Mill Creek (3880' approx.). The trail was mentioned in the news paper, which triggered our curiousity...

While packing my pack, all the hints and ideas from Trailspace and Backpacker Magazine were flowing through my head. How do I pack this? How do I organize that? Who caries what? Finally I decided to learn through trial and error... In otherwords, I carried the brunt of the load. It was kind of an expiremental trip for me. I'm way out of shape, and I chose to carry most of the stuff to see if I'm really up to this backpacking sport.

FINALLY the day arrived... Around 10:00am we arrived at the trailhead. "Wow, late!", some of you may be thinking, but keep in mind that the trail was only 5 miles in. (we chose this short distant trail just in case "something" happened, besides, we're new!). I was the first one in the pack and ready to go, 10 minutes later dad was finally ready... The trail is located in a valley next to a creek, everynow and then the trail went through the creek onto the other side. We on the other hand didn't want to get too wet, so we hunted for a good place to cross, always a downed tree. The trail winded throughout the canyon along the most beautiful trail. The actual destination though of this trail is the twin pillars. Stacks of rock supposedly created by volcanic sediment washed away over time.

My pack (jansport klamath 85) worked great. However I wasn't quite used to adjusting it so detailed. Most of the time the back support frame was resting on my butt, which eventually near drove me crazy! On the way back though I perfected my adjustments and thouroughly enjoyed the trip back. Thankfully before I went crazy we rounded a corner and found a perfect little valley in the canyon. I remembered the LNT rule of camping 200 ft away from a designated trail and hiked a ways in. We set up our tent (kelty grand mesa 2) near a patch of trees and some very green grass. While setting up i noticed something in the patch of trees. It was a full cooler of ice and a container with peanut butter in it!!! Sorry people, I know its trash, but I'm not about to carry out a 15 pound cooler and a big blue container! It looked as if these had been there for awhile anyways, eversince the fire somewhere around 2004. Anyways, we made a fire and just had a jolly good time. Took some naps and overall enjoyed our time together. Until we noticed a trail about 50 ft away from us up the hill, oops, so much for the 200 ft thing :-/ We chatted around the fire after downing some ramen noodles and chicken teryaki and rice. Good food, good company, good location = good times ;) Thats what matters!

Quite frankly I was a little worried about the bear thing. The first try of hanging the food bag was comical. Second try, better luck. All night I kept imagining something scary about a bear, it never happened, phewww. Morning came quick and we packed up with ease. Hot chocolate was the breakfast of choice and it sure tasted good. Wait, doesn't it always when your out there? ;)

On the way back I listened to my ipod, that put a little fire under my belt. Since I figured out the perfect adjustment for my pack I just kept going without stopping. My dad actually had to tell me to stop and take a break! I soon saw why it was a good idea, the muscles on the side of my legs were shot. We finished the trail strong reminising on what we had just done. My first and deffinately not the last!

There were a couple of lessons I learned though...

Lesson 1: Get in shape!!!

Lesson 2: Pack adjustment is crucial

Lesson 3: Dont bring so much food! We had enough for a week!!!

Lesson 4: Butane lighters are hard to light when cold out. When you have numb fingers too...

Lesson 5: Food tastes very good after a long day

Lesson 6: Praise yourself for buying quality equipment ;) nothing went bad on us.

Lesson 7: Bring a dog, even though dad may be fuzzy he isn't as snuggly on a cold night as Jake my dog lol;)

Some equipment I used (all of which I recommend):

Pack - Jansport Klamath 85

Tent - Kelty Grand Mesa 2

Stove - MSR Whisperlite

Water filter - MSR Sweetwater

Sleeping pad - Therma-Rest Z-lite

Sleeping Bag - North Face Cats Meow 20 degree

Oh yea, my pack only weighed 25 Ibs, excluding food ;)

10:56 a.m. on April 27, 2009 (EDT)
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Nice report and congrats on what sounds like a great weekend with your dad. I'm sure it was the first of meny to come.

Gary C.

2:03 p.m. on April 27, 2009 (EDT)
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I'm glad you had a fun, successful first backpacking trip, CShamrock!

It's nice that you could share it with your dad too. I bet you'll be planning more trips in the near future.

Thanks for sharing your trip report. I especially liked the lessons at the end.

5:04 p.m. on April 27, 2009 (EDT)
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Lesson 4, carry your butane lighter in your pocket to keep it warm. And if you are lighting a butane/propane stove all you need is the flint spark to light it. I often pick up old ones off the street where others have thrown them away and used all the fuel but not all the flint sparker.

The Cats Meow was my second sleeping bag back in the early 80's after my EMS -30 bag. Used mine for 20 years.

6:49 p.m. on April 27, 2009 (EDT)
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Way to go!

Nice trip report as well my friend!

I would point out two things however:

1. He who does the packing should always have the lighter pack!

2. The cooler and peanut butter were probably left there by the gnomes, they often take things and then abandon said goods when the weight becomes too much for them.

Naps are mandatory for me on backpacking trips as I don't get many in the real world. Sounds as though you guys had a great time, that's what it is all about really, isn't it?

12:22 a.m. on April 28, 2009 (EDT)
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Yes ,Trouthunter, thats what it's all about, to me atleast. Despite the temporary pain along the side of the legs and uncomfortable hipbelt, the campsite was beautiful and the company was even better. Many more trips are to come, however I need to wait for the snow to melt;)

I guess I carried the brunt of the weight to lessen the burden for my dad. He has long weeks and long nights, I thought my efforts would help him relax. And they did! He even slept in till 11:00am, really late for him...

So butane lighter in the pocket, never thought of that. I wasn't thinking about that.

8:41 a.m. on April 28, 2009 (EDT)
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I guess I carried the brunt of the weight to lessen the burden for my dad. He has long weeks and long nights, I thought my efforts would help him relax. And they did! He even slept in till 11:00am, really late for him...

What a nice son you are! I'm sure your dad appreciated it and is proud of you.

5:41 p.m. on April 28, 2009 (EDT)
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The trip was almost like an experimental one for me. Since the trip was kinda quickly planned I didn't have the time to get ready (physically that is). I found out about 1 mile in that I have these muscles along the upper side of my legs that kept aching. I didn't even know that I had muscles there! Before my next trip though I plan on working out a little. Any idea how to work out these muscles a little better? Or any recommended muscle workout...

6:23 p.m. on April 28, 2009 (EDT)
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The discomfort you felt in your anterior leg muscles may have been due to wearing a heavy pack without being conditioned for the activity.

The muscle you felt was the Vastus Lateralis, main function is to extend the knee. Be careful not to wear your pack belt so tight it cramps the muscles around your hips and upper thigh as well.

How to work out? Try backpacking.

Okay, so you can't go backpacking every day, do a search for exercises for the legs, also working out your torso muscles is important too. Try squats and lunges with your backpack on, but go slow and build up to it. I sometimes I get on my orbital workout machine with my pack on, I call it "Running from the Skunk".

1:08 a.m. on April 29, 2009 (EDT)
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Wow! Nice report! Sounds like a lot of fun. For additional info, and a bit of fun reading, I picked up a book called The Complete Walker fourth edition by Colin Fletcher and Chip Rawlins (sp?). It is a big book but so far (1/2 way through) a wealth of knowledge. Just a suggestion, have fun. -Nate

11:40 p.m. on April 29, 2009 (EDT)
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Excellent report! Sounds like a wonderful trip, esp. for a first-time-ever sort of thing.

It looks like you planned really well, organized yourself effectively, and then carried out your plan to near-perfection. You can come backpacking with me any time, any time at all. (I'll even let you carry most of the weight if you want! ;-)! ....)

11:50 p.m. on April 30, 2009 (EDT)
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I guess my habbit of precisiveness stuck with me... Organizational freak I guess ;) I like to organize the trips and such. Now I'm just trying to get a good friend of mine into backpacking, along with my pooch, Jake. Just gotta find a doggy pack for him...

3:30 p.m. on May 1, 2009 (EDT)
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It's no surprise your pack gave you problems... that's what you get for carrying an internal frame :D

Naw, I'm just poking fun at all the guys here and elsewhere since I'm one of the few "old fogeys" who still uses an external frame pack. I don't have any TNF gear either... I must not be a real outdoorsman afterall!

Good writeup, glad you had fun. I keep in shape for backpacking by weight training and swimming laps. I try to go every day, but times like these (finals) it doesn't usually happen.

12:07 a.m. on May 2, 2009 (EDT)
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I have both internal & external, each serves their own missions :P


Regarding your trip report, just wondering if you took your camera to remember some of the items you saw - such as panoramas, plants/animals you couldn't recognize, etc. One thing I've noticed when I take 'newbies' on their first backpacking trip, is they don't pay attention to anything around them - just focused on the trail, where they are stepping, and how much longer we have (ha). I'm the type of guy that hates organization (my problem tomorrow, I'm in gatlinburg and have the option to do 2 full overnights here in the Smokeys and can't figure out where to go) --- I take my map (after studying it thoroughly), read the guide books, and just go.


(and, btw, sting, I do have my trusty D3 with me on this trip.. left the Bora @ home in the closet.. almost stole my friend's Yukon but didn't like how it felt .. and if you don't own any TNF gear, what is this about ha! its ok, i own a TNF sleeping bag)

11:06 p.m. on May 2, 2009 (EDT)
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Yeah, you're right... I forgot about the tadpole because I haven't used it in a long time and it's in the back of the gear closet. When I wrote that, I was thinking more about TNF softshells and hats, which is what I see all over Little Rock these days (on people I KNOW wouldn't be caught more than 30 feet from a flush toilet). I hit the bivy and never looked back! Even my heavy bivy sack (2lbs) is still way lighter than my tent (4.?).

11:08 p.m. on May 2, 2009 (EDT)
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In the interest of full disclosure, I also just bought a Gregory Z55, but only because it was such a good deal! It's a lot smaller, so I figure it will work well for shorter bushwhacks. I'm sure the Kelty will still see plenty of use on my trail trips... it's so comfortable I STILL can't believe it!

11:11 p.m. on May 3, 2009 (EDT)
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its ok, we'll forgive you.


Now can we do somethin about this rain here in the Smokeys? First time I've ever been soaked head-to-toe. *with* rain gear, mind you.

10:29 p.m. on May 4, 2009 (EDT)
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its ok, we'll forgive you.


Now can we do somethin about this rain here in the Smokeys? First time I've ever been soaked head-to-toe. *with* rain gear, mind you.

Nate, that's one reason I like a tent, those areas see 60 - 85 in. of rain per year, and a lot of it in the spring. I feel for ya'.

Like an old timer once told me.....

Happy floating!

BTW, hows that lightning?

11:54 p.m. on May 18, 2009 (EDT)
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Way to go. like you said trial and error and myself is about to learn that at the end of the month.

4:56 p.m. on May 25, 2009 (EDT)
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My guess is you'll be remembering this BP trip with your dad long after you would have forgotten who you took to the Prom. Thanks for the great report.

1:08 a.m. on May 31, 2009 (EDT)
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Nate, that's one reason I like a tent, those areas see 60 - 85 in. of rain per year, and a lot of it in the spring. I feel for ya'.

Like an old timer once told me.....

Happy floating!

BTW, hows that lightning?

Oh the lightning was fine. Scared the girls in the shelter, they were on some high school-college thing for credit.

Sloshing down the AT was SSSOOO much fun

And the views were PHENOMINAL!!

Saw lots of friendly wildlife... Hi there!! Smile for the camera! no, no, look this way, not at my friends ankles...

[url="]"[/url]; width="NaN" height="Infinity" /></p>[br][/br] <br><br><br>[br][/br] <p>And we all got to sit around the campfire all night and tell stories.</p>[br][/br] <br><br><br>[br][/br] [img="" w=500]

So after all of the excitement, we decided to go for a drive and enjoy the tranquility of the Smokey Mountains since all the tourists stayed in their hotel rooms down in Pigeon Forge..

(this was taken at like one of the FEW moments it DIDN'T rain...)


And if anyone has wondered what it looks like inside a cloud...

9:37 a.m. on May 31, 2009 (EDT)
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Nate, your picture reminds me of a conversation I had with a guy who works at the gear store here. I asked him what the AT was like and he said, "Man, it's a muddy road and you can't get away from people. The BRT is ten times better".

2:00 p.m. on July 4, 2009 (EDT)
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Enjoyed your post! My daughter and I are going on our first BP trip in a week - can't wait!

4:20 p.m. on July 4, 2009 (EDT)
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Welcome to Trailspace MesaGirl

I hope you have an enjoyable time.

11:01 p.m. on July 4, 2009 (EDT)
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Hey guys,

Thanks for sharing the photos! That area is considered a Sub-tropic rain forest. No shortage of fog in the Unaka Mountain Range!

The AT can be a muddy crowded mess at times! The AT is often referred to as "The long green tunnel". A lot of sections are more of a proving ground for long distance hikers than a sight seeing trail, although the AT does have it's highlights and nice vistas such as McAfee Knob and it's loop trail.

Here is a link, check out this guys site! Multiple photos at McAfee Knob and sites along the AT as well as some people he ran into. Forget a Kilt, this guy wears a loin cloth! I enjoyed reading about his trip.

10:00 p.m. on July 16, 2009 (EDT)
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Great post thank you for sharing! The bear situation would have scared me too!

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