Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Trav's Trail Contemplations - Guest Blog by Travis Barnes

For today's post, Erin gave me complete freedom to write about anything I wanted as long as it covers our experiences on the CT. She typically uses this blog to post things she has learned, so I will do the same. Here are some things I have learned on the trail, we'll call it Trav's Trail Contemplations. They are not necessarily new ideas, usually it is just a reinforcement, or better understanding of things we have always known but rarely put into practice.

1.  Test wet gear before you travel. Joe and I both learned yesterday that our rain jackets failed to keep out rain. He also had a "dry bag" that filled with water overnight. We were a day away from SAG interaction so we got really lucky on this one, otherwise we would have been soaked for days. So we learned an all-weather shell just means wind, and "dry bag" means maybe dry, maybe wet.

Drying Things Out

2. Do not trust all friendly faces on the trail. At the top of a ridge after a really hard 2 mile hike-a-bike section we met a really fun and friendly lady who said she was a high school science teacher. She also said we were about to really enjoy the rest of the segment. She said the rest of the trail was super smooth, downhill, and fun. She also said we would come across a huge field of wild raspberries, as far as the eye could see, and that we could eat to our heart's content. After the enormous field of raspberries we would then come across an ice chest that a local lady had been stocking with ice cream bars for 10 years and thru bikers/hikers could treat themselves. As it turns out, NONE of this was true. We didn't see a single raspberry, there was no ice chest, and the rest of the trail was the toughest hiking and riding we had done on the entire trip. We actually got a good laugh out of all of this. She got us. She got us good.

3. Stop anticipating. The first few days on the trail we fought hard to keep a certain schedule. We tried to anticipate how hard the trail would be, how far we could make it, and where we would camp. This effort nearly killed us. I now make a conscious effort to leave the GPS and Databook alone unless we need to know which way to go. I try to take each mile as it comes and just be on the trail. I suppose this borrows from the ancient practice of zen that people try for decades to achieve sitting in the zazen position, but I say the true zen master is one who can truly live in the moment while also working toward a goal, keeping the past in mind. Past, present and future all at once.

Probably a Mountain Lion

Grabbing Water from the Stream

4. Mountains are only ever climbed by indians. This is actually a Bear Grylls quote that I love, but it can really be understood out here. Fighting the mountain ends in devastation. There can't be two chiefs and out here the mountain is the chief.

5. Never get complacent on continuous trail surface appraisal. The trail can go from super dark, tacky and smooth to rough, loose and sandy within seconds when descending, and if you're looking at scenery or day dreaming, you're about to get a much closer look at the trail. I took a soil sample (inglorious dismount) a couple days ago because I failed to notice that the personality of the trail had changed from grippy to slippy.

Being only half way done, I expect the trail has many more lessons to teach us. Tomorrow we start segment 15 with a 9 mile climb of 3100 feet. Giddy up!

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