April 2, 2015

This is my last training hike before leaving home. I am at Doe Skin, my favorite nearby hiking spot. I have intentionally loaded my pack with 80 pounds, consisting of several full 2 liter soda bottles and a 30 pound rock I found in my yard. I intend to prove today I can complete 20 miles under such an extreme load. This would take 4 loops around the 5 miles of contiguous trail. At the same time I was practicing some map and compass navigation in search of a solar battery pack and cable that I think got snagged on something when I went off-trail on a prior hike.

After the first loop, I had to take 2 of the bottles out of my pack. I just wasn’t going to make it otherwise. Still, a 72 pound pack is extreme.

I removed another bottle after 10 miles, and another at 15. I was pretty sore and it was pretty warm (in the 80s), but I was determine to achieve my 20 mile goal. It was getting close to 5 pm and I was concerned if they lock the gate at sundown that me and my car would get stranded.

I went out for my final loop making decent time with my lighter but still heavy 64 pound load. I had no luck finding my snagged battery and cable so I plowed ahead, but needed a rest at my favorite spot halfway around in a nice canopy with a log that is perfect for a bench. I looked at the time and measured my fatigue. I deduced I would be best served getting down to the car quickly by taking the 30 pound rock out of my pack and donating it to Doe Skin right under my favorite log. I now strapped on my feathery light 34 pound pack.

If felt a strange sensation on the back of my leg. Was I rubbing against a tree branch? Maybe something dangling from my pack? I took off the pack and noticed the whole bottom of the pack had split open and contents were leaking out.

Heck!

The good part is it justified an opportunity to lighten my pack weight with another trip to REI.

Through the evening, my leg muscles were going into random spasms and cramps. I was already embracing the brutality