May 1, 2014

Pack Frustrations

My adventure from Idyllwild to San Jacinto started out differently than expected.  The heat rash on my legs had healed with a day's rest. I found a couple guys who were planning to head back to the trail at 5AM to do a side route of summitting San Jacinto. It was an extra 2000 foot climb, and I was ready to conquer every piece of it. That evening, we said goodbyes to people who were staying in town a couple days, in hopes to recover from their ailments. These included tendons in knees, ankles, and hips that felt like they were shredded to pieces. Constant 20 mile daily pounding of dodging loose rocks and poisonous plants takes a toll on a person's body. The ground is rarely level with various types of terrain, which makes for constant jolts, and twists of the human body that is unknown to any sport. 

Some people had feet completely bubbled up from the most gigantic blisters I've ever seen. One guy claimed a girl had blisters under her toe nails. I really wish I would have seen it, because that sounds completely maddening and hard to picture! People would ask me how sandals were working out, and I said perfect! I've only had 2 blisters, and don't have any other problems. One of the main reason people can't keep hiking this trail is because of blisters. When your foot is in a shoe, and you are walking all day, everyday, your foot is bound to blister. Your feet get hot and sweaty, which makes your skin nice and soft. In return, that constant rubbing of your shoe will form blisters. My theory (along with a past PCT hiker) was that wearing a comfortable pair of sandals with out a toe covering, would lead to happy results. Sandals allow your feet to breathe, and if you keep them loose enough, there won't be much friction to cause blisters. Also, if anything slides under your foot, it'll slide right out with the next step. This makes sand, rocks, sticks, and dirt not a problem, and is why I went with comfy Tevas for my trek.

What happens when I cowboy camp, and I'm too tired to organize anything.

I woke up at 4:30am and packed up my cowboy camp. Feeling refreshed and ready to conquer the world, the 2 guys and I jumped into a strangers car as he drove us to the trailhead. As we arrived, I habitually reached down to latch my hip belt around my body. After a short struggle, I realized my strap was completely gone! I literally had no way too strap my bag around my waist! My eyes got big as I rummaged around and soon realized I would not be joining the early birds. I thought about pressing forward with out a hip belt, but knew that would be a stupid decision. I said goodbye as they trudged up the hillside. I jealously got into the vehicle as my ride took me back into town. I was very irritated at my little predicament and sat on a bench outside of the coffee shop for 1.5 hours before they opened. It was a chilling 32 degrees outside, and my hands froze as I retraced my steps and tore apart all of my gear, in hopes to find a strap. As I thought back, I started to realized where the accident must have happened. It was a group hitch hike with 5 other people. They were manhandling the bags in the back of the truck, to get situated, as I sat in the cab falling asleep after my 44 mile hike and delicious food. Somehow my hip belt must have gotten stuck under something and pulled away from my bag. 

When the coffee shop opened, I decided to do a little blogging because I had another 2 hour wait until the hikers shop opened. To increase my luck, and laughter at this awful situation, I ordered a coffee called "Luck O' the Irish". I laughed and thought, well, I'm Irish, and I could use a little more luck right now, so why not? 

As hiker friends came into the coffee shop, they were confused to see me. Looks like this town was sucking me into the vortex of hiker ailments. At 9 am, I made it over to the hiker shop for a quick fix. They were going to give me new straps, but out of frustration and sick of dealing with an ill-fitting pack, I decided to donate the pack to the shop as I stuffed my belongings into my new ULA Catalyst. This was the bag that I was going to buy for this trip, until I was given a free one to be a brand ambassador. The old pack thrust my hips in a forward position, and I had tried to deal with it for almost 200 miles. This new pack, brought my hips to a comfortable neutral position and contoured to the curve of my spine so beautifully. I didn't want to take it off. From this day forward, I knew I'd walk up the mountain like a stroll in the park. It felt AMAZING!

An hour before I left the shop, a guy offered me a ride to the trail head. He was headed up "Devil's Slide" and happened to be exploring the area before he had to go to his oil job in Alaska. Speechless that I was offered a ride with out even having to ask, I jumped in the car, ready to roll. My 5am start, ended up being a 1pm start, but I was going to power up the mountain and watch the sunset from 10,835 feet. One again, a blessing in disguise. 

Here is an interactive map for you to explore my footsteps...

1 comment:

  1. Packs are like shoes I guess. How is your ULA now?