Roads Rivers and Trails

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Monthly Archives: October 2013


Southbound: episode 8

October 30th 2006
Written by: Bryan Wolf and Joe White

I know its only been 3 days since you heard from us last, but we made another pit stop. We are staying with a family that we had met coming down Mt. Washington 3 weeks ago. They have been absolutely wonderful, very hospitable. We had a great dinner and we got to watch some football too. Two days ago, we crossed over into Massachusetts , our 4th state. We had to hitch into North Adams to pick up our mail-drop at the post office. We didn’t think anyone would pick us up because it had been raining so hard and we were soaked, but we were wrong. While we were in the post office sorting our packages, two different people had come up to us offering rides back to the trail. We hit the trail and hiked another 7 miles to a shelter and called it a day.Appalachian Trail View

It had been raining for the past 24 hrs and wasn’t letting up. A lot of our gear got soaked and to top it off, the shelter leaked really bad. The wind was also blowing rain into the shelter, so it was impossible to stay completely dry. There was some uno cards left in the shelter, so Ice Man taught me how to play gin with a deck of UNO cards. The following day, yesterday, we climbed Mt. Greylock , our last peak above 3000 ft until we get down into Virginia . There was snow, ice, and the winds were blowing around 80 mile and hour on top of Greylock.Kilington Memorial

It was definitely an adrenaline rush. We ended up doing 20 miles into Dalton that day. We are hoping to be in Salisbury , CT by Friday I think. The weather is suppose to be dry, but the nights are suppose to dip below freezing, gotta love it.  Happy Halloween everyone.

This exert was originally published on atwishhikers.com. It’s content has not been edited from the original post.

Epilogue:
by: Bryan Wolf

Coming down from Mt. Washington is when we met the Matty family. At first it was our high spirits and large packs that caught their eye I’m sure. I suppose they could of just caught our stench coming down the mountain. When we stopped to chat however they were most intrigued about our work with the Make A Wish Foundation, since they themselves had worked with that group before. In just minutes they were giving us a business card with phone numbers for when we got to the Massachusetts and Connecticut area. Amazing that in minutes it all transpired, and weeks later the offer still stood.

The wind on Greylock was pretty amazing. 80 miles can be hard to imagine, but when we were up there it was tough to stand. The monument and area around it completely exposed us for a little while.  You can drive to the top and I believe there is even a lodge during the warmer months. There was one man that braved the elements and drove to the top that day, and I would say it was very ill advised.  He had a little girl with him, maybe 5 or 6 years old. She got out of the car and hit the ice around the monument, it a quick second she was being blown across the monument with her slippery feet still below her. Her dad chased her down as she began to cry and scream. We would of helped but Joe was bush chasing his pack cover into the brush. (Osprey puts a button tab there for a reason)

I feel like this was the most spoiled, and lazy part of the trail for us. You’ll see why in future posts, but this was the beginning of even more hot meals, bedrooms, and hospitality.

No complaints.

Souhtbound: episode 7

October 26th 2006
Written by: Bryan Wolf and Joe White

It has been about 10 days since we began hiking in Vermont , and tonight we will camp just a few miles from the border of Massachusetts . Vermont has been such an amazing and unique state in comparison to Maine and New Hampshire . Vermont didn’t have all the spectacular views and glorious climbs, but it had simpler gratifying aspects. Much of the trail has passed through farmland, open fields, cattle ranches, and maple syrup harvests. To us they seemed like rolling hills, but somehow we found ourselves exhausted and stopping after a dozen miles two days in a row. Our expectations to push out serious miles were perhaps too great to live up to just yet. With rain both days we would call it quits and hang out in our shelters for the remainder of the day.Frozen Fire Tower

It was then we had met “Stitch”, a 19yr old from Chicago , he is finishing his thru-hike down to Hudson river . It was nice being alongside another hiker for a few days and share a few laughs while jammin’ out to our new transistor radio. Ice Man and Stitch would take part in the first ever Winturri Shelter Putt-Putt Classic. Despite the early lead with a shot off the top of a water bottle, Stitch took the prize with a shot up a ramp from the farside of the shelter. The next day the three of us decided to push harder and go 18 miles to get to an irish pub and grill just off the trail. The day flew by and the miles were well worth the hot sandwiches and cold soda. It was too dark and we were too tired after dinner to hike to another shelter, so we camped just across the street in the woods. The night was warm, but it rained non-stop. Not only was the tent soaked, but somehow so were our sleeping bags.Putt Putt on the AT

The four different weather forecasts we were picking up said anything from on and off showers to flash flooding all day. That’s all it took. We decided to go into Rutland and stay at the Back Home Again Cafe and Hostel. It is a “work for stay” hostel operated by the 12 tribes religious community. Their hospitality was unbelievable. We took the day to dry out our gear and relax. Later that day we helped them paint some woodwork and hang drywall in exchange for our stay. The following day, we enjoyed some donuts and bagels before going back to the trail.

The trail immediately started with a climb up Mt. Killington . Nearly the entire 12 miles up and over the mountain was in 2 inches of snow and ice. It was really exciting to finally get a taste of what was to come. The following day just got us a little closer to our resupply point in Wallingford , so the following day we could just go in and out of town. We picked up our package and got a ride back to Rutland to resupply at the store. On the way back to the trail, Tom, the gentleman that took us into town, offered to pick us up after we finished another 8 or 9 miles to the next road and take us back to the hostel for the night. We couldn’t pass up the offer, but we would end up semi-regretting coming back to town.

After dinner, we helped in the bakery until close to midnight, so we didn’t really get all the sleep we were hoping for. The next 3 days were long and cold. We ended up at 60 miles in those 3 days even through the snow. We picked up another layering of clothing to sleep in, so now we just have to keep our feet dryer and warm. We came into town last night because the road wasn’t too far from the shelter, all of our socks were soaked, and we had heard about a free place to stay. It was actually a barn that was renovated into basically a nice little hang out with a pool table and radio. We hit up the outfitter, the laundromat, and now the library.

I think that is everything in a nut shell. I wish we had more time to write these journals. I feel like we leave some many details out. We can’t upload pictures this time, but hopefully soon enough. Oh, I almost forgot. We are now 578 miles in, 51 days, and more than 25 % completed. Luckily, we only have 11 miles to push out today because its already 1 in the afternoon. We will cross into Mass. tomorrow and pickup our package in North Adams .

This exert was originally published on atwishhikers.com. It’s content has not been edited from the original post.

Epilogue:
by: Bryan Wolf

Stitch had found the plastic putt putt inside a shelter and had been traveling with it for a little while. I gotta say it was one of the more fun, and unexpected moments that we would have. The day that we had met Stitch we had only sat at the side trail that goes toward the shelter to eat our lunch. It was one of those days where you just didn’t want to do anything. Off in the distance we heard a loud commotion, there was banging and screaming that seemed must of been from a group.  We took the side trail to the shelter to find that only one guy was there, and that’s how we met Stitch. He had been going crazy in his loneliness and just started jumping around hitting the broom against the shelter walls and shouting. This isn’t unique to Stitch however, I wouldn’t expect many individuals could hike alone for days none the less weeks or months and not get a little whacky sometimes.

Hiking is a true test to mental health more so than physical health, especially when you hike south and it’s winter. We only hiked with him for a few days before he was swallowed up by the Back Home Again Hostel. There was a “creeper” there that convinced him to have a spa day and stick around, the poor kid just wanted to lay in a hot tub for a while. There are not many trail creepers but you’ll know them when you see them. This guy liked to walk around naked in the hostel and treated the place more like a homeless shelter or hideaway than a hiker hostel. Needless to say we took off.

We know now that the barn shelter is one of the favorite hot spots during the peak season for hikers. Camping space, electricity, and walking distance to a Friendly’s is all the more reason you need. He was actually closed for the season and we were lucky to catch him in town for a place to stay. These were trying times for the two of us. The rain was cold but not quite snow most days so staying warm and dry was hard, the worst case scenario really for hypothermia, and this was just our first taste of it.  The rolling hills were deceiving because they made you expect too much of yourself. Just because the terrain looks easier doesn’t mean that it will go buy twice as fast. I think I was still struggling with the new idea of time and distance that wasn’t marked by peaks.

The tyranny of distance…..

Rab Generator

Generating Serious Heat
Written by: Bryan Wolf

Outside of arctic sub zero situations there are few of us that want to wear a bulky marshmallow puff jacket in everyday use. Even in the backcountry, warmth can be achieved without high bulk; the Generator, despite its slim size, can pack a dependable punch in holding in your precious temperature.  I’m now entering my third winter with my Rab Generator Jacket and through backcountry use and everyday wear I have found the perfect all purpose jacket.

In an urban setting I like something that looks clean and is free of lines or eye popping style. The Generator has little stitching on the face and since it has a Primaloft fill it doesn’t need a lot of baffling to keep the insulating fill in place. I’ll get to the technical uses of this jacket but what was immediately important to me was its usefulness keeping me warm everyday. We all know know a Cincinnati winter isn’t the worst that can be thrown our way but it does get cold and can be unpredictable. This jacket was my winter jacket.  With sweaters, long sleeve wool tops, sweatshirts, cotton waffles, or hoodies I could layer up with what ever style I needed and be warm enough for all my Christmas parties, festivals, walks in the park, or runs to the grocery store. I know that my time waiting for my car to warm up is less painful and I couldn’t be more comfortable. With an everyday or urban jacket you want to feel good walking out the door but also walking in the door.  This is a tech jacket that looks less like a tech jacket.

Now what about outside the treacherous winter of Cincinnati? Well if you are looking at this piece as a active outdoors man/woman than you’ll like it even more. This jacket has been to the tops of several peaks in Maine with snow sticking to my face, and traveled with me to the Alaskan wild. The jacket has 100 grams of Primaloft ONE in the body and 60 grams in the sleeves.  That is almost twice as much fill in the body as other major brands. Primaloft ONE is the lightest weight synthetic fill on the market, and it is also the most resilient toward getting wet.  That means that when it gets wet, you’ll stay warmer. The jacket packs to the size of a softball and better yet does so in it’s own chest pocket (stuffed up it can be your camp or airlines pillow). Who has time for a separate stuff sack or who has the room for a big heavy jacket on top of your already cumbersome backpack?  When it comes to synthetic winter wear, Primaloft is the only way to go.rab wins

When on the trail the only way to really keep warm and dry is with an adequate layer system. This jacket as a stand alone piece could come up short if your looking to stay warm at the top of your favorite peak, but you’ve already lost the war if that is what your plan is. An active piece means that you are on the go, constantly moving and most likely changing in elevations and with it temperatures. If you haven’t already learned this, your ability to add and subtract layers as you move is crucial to your comfort.  The Generator is a flexible fitting, quick throw on piece that is going to hold your heat in fast and stuff back in your pack even faster.

Feature wise the jacket has tight elastic wrist cuffs to keep the temperature in. For the same reason they add a drawcord at the waist to block off one more exit for your life force. The jacket is cut a little longer too to protect heat loss from your lower back.  The neck comes up to the chin but not past (this is nice for those urban events so you don’t have a big goofy tech collar). The zipper is covered and lined at the top to be soft on the chin if it rubs. There are three pockets, one on the chest (the stuff sack) and two hand warming pockets. The insulation is on the inside next to the body when using the pockets. It would be nice if the fill was split between the top and bottom of the hand pockets to hold more hand warmth but that would add some lines and some dollars I presume.

The entire jacket is warm and sleek, and is also a good guard against mother nature. The Pertex outer material seems to be impossible to snag and has a DWR finish as well.  DWR is the water repellent finish put on the material.  This kind of thing needs rejuvenated every so often but when light snow or rain hit I’ve stayed dry much longer than I ever thought I would, and thanks to the Primaloft I didn’t notice a difference in my warmth either (synthetic fibers retain heat when wet). This has to be the single most complimented feature in our store too; I’ve had several Generator users amazed at the protection it provided from wind and rain.Bryan and Generator (This does not replace a shell however)

Altogether it takes a beating from mother nature, from Cincy streets, and from the shove and go backpack life all to keep me happily warm.  My name is Bryan Wolf, I am a gear junkie and outdoor enthusiast, and this is my favorite piece of gear! You can pick up the Rab Generator and other top notch Rab gear at Roads Rivers and Trails in downtown Milford, OH.

 

Ahnu Elkridge Mid

Boots Boots Boots
Written by: Louie Knolle  

One of those things that can either make or break a hike or any other kind of walking activity.  I recently learned the hard way, being in desperate need for a new pair.  After hiking 75 miles of the Appalachian Trail over my Spring Break in March, I lost a significant amount of skin on the top of my big toes from excessive rubbing in the toe-box of my boot, and that’s never a good sign.  So when I arrived at the building in which I would await my ride, I took off my Merrells with a sigh of relief. I knew with 100% certainty that I was not going to use them for hiking again.  Don’t get me wrong, they were great boots!  I bought them in the summer of 2010 and had since then worn them for countless weekend and longer hiking trips and they served me dutifully.  Not even giving me any blisters once.  But it was time to let them go.

Elkridge Ahnu

When the opportunity presented itself for me to get a pair, I chose the Ahnu Elkridge Mids; I was very excited. I’ve never hiked (with the exception of winter mountaineering) in anything heavier than  a mid-height/weight boot, sometimes even sandals and trail runners if the trails don’t call for anything too heavy.  So the Elkridge Mids were the perfect next boot for me.  I received them on a Friday afternoon, and I was leaving for a 2 day, 23 mile hiking trip the following morning so it was the perfect chance to try them out.  I know what you may be thinking, “Don’t you need to break them in before you take them hiking?”  Although that is a fantastic habit to be in with any kind of footwear, I wanted to test out just how lightweight they were and the true comfort of the sole right out of the box.  The testing grounds would be Shawnee State Park, also known as the “Little Smokys of Ohio” to some.  It is known for its hills and would be the best place to test run the boots short of actually taking them to a real mountain.

The first impressions were stupendous.  Rising just above the ankle, the Elkridge is of similar height with other mid-height cut boots providing good ankle support if needed without making you feel like your hiking in your grandpa’s boots.  There aren’t any of those pesky extra pegs to lace around before you tie your boot; the lacing system goes slightly higher removing any need of that.  One of the other first things I noticed was the immediate comfort.  With an EVA midsole and a neutral balancing system meant to keep your foot stable and not overcorrect its natural gait, it felt much more natural than most other footwear I’ve worn.  This is a big factor for me when purchasing shoes because I have wider feet and try to wear minimalist footwear on a day to day basis, but sometimes you just need to compromise for the comfort and protection a boot can offer.  Speaking of wide feet, the toe-box is awesome in these.  My feet never once felt cramped and allowed ample room for the natural spreading your foot and toes perform when you step onto the ground.

Elkridge Mid AhnuAs far as performance is concerned, I was also very pleased on how they handled the endless ups and downs of the sizable “hills” that Shawnee had to offer. Since my boots were fitted properly, my feet did not encounter any sliding whatsoever inside the boot, so I kept all the skin on my toes!!  One of the biggest selling points for me is the eVent waterproof fabric inside the boot itself.  It is as waterproof as they come, and by gum, the breath-ability is amazing.  It only plateaued in the high 60’s that weekend, but as a person with sweaty feet they are accustom to overheating in boots. Bottom line, these are great light weight hiking boots.  Whether you’re going out for a walk in the park, need some work boots, lightweight boots for backpacking, or just to wear for everyday use, these are everything you are looking for.  Interested?  Feel free to come on in to Roads Rivers and Trails in Historic Milford to give them a try for yourself.sometimes requiring changing socks halfway through the day if I am hiking long miles.  I actually wore the same pair of wool hiking socks both days I hiked; only changing into a fresh pair after we had arrived at camp.  And by the end of the second day the inside of the boots were still as dry as a bone.  Just to say I tried, one of the last creeks we crossed with about 3 to 4 inches of running water, I walked right through it disregarding the stepping rocks to see if I could actually get these things wet.  I was disappointed (more like really happy) to see that even literally being surrounded on every side of the boot almost all the way to the top, the boots kept me nice and dry.

Southbound: episode 6

October 16th 2006
Written by: Bryan Wolf and Joe White

  It is amazing to think that it has been almost exactly two weeks since we crossed over into New Hampshire . Tonight, we sit in the Dartmouth College Library just a mile from the Vermont border. We will cross over late tonight after updating the journal and dinner in town. The NH – VT border marks a big milestone for us. Its marks our 2nd state completed (hardest 2), 20% finished, 440 miles, and 40 days of continuous backpacking. This is my longest consecutive backpacking trip ever, but lets not forget that it is Ice Man’s first backpacking trip. Both of us are still excited and feeling great.Falls on Moosilauke

After our night camping under the I-93 bridge outside of North Woodstock , we had a beautiful short hike back into the mountains. That night Ice Man built his first fire on his own with no fire starters or fuel from the stove. It was a nice size fire that kept us warm before dinner. That night, we had the heaviest rainfall of the whole trip. In the morning the stream beside the shelter had risen almost a foot higher than the day before. Ice Man was excited to summit Mt. Wolf , but disappointed that no one actually put a sign at the top. The sadness didn’t last long. We stopped later at a stream to filter some water and the water filter has been making strange noises. Well, as Ice Man was pumping water, a moose walked up behind him making a similar grunting noise as the water filter. It was the funniest thing. The moose stopped just 10 or 15 feet away and looked at us, and we just starred back. It didn’t take but a few seconds before it realized that we were not another moose, and took off running. There wasn’t enough time to even get the camera out.

We had hoped to climb up and over Mt. Moosilake , the last of the White Mountains, before the following day was over. The rain slowed us down, but not nearly as much as the beautiful mile climb up Moosilake. Almost the entire climb paralleled a brook with endless cascading waterfalls. We stopped at the shelter just below the peak instead of risking night hiking. As the night went on, the weather cleared, the mountains hidden in the clouds came out, and the night sky was perfectly clear. It was a great sign of what was to come, or so we thought.Mt. Moosilauke

In the morning, there was a 1/2 inch of snow on the ground, our boots were frozen, and the water filter was iced over. We boiled 4 quarts of water for the day and used the stove to de-ice our boots. We were not expecting this to happen anytime soon. It was a miserable start to a great day. The views from the top of Moosilake were clear. To the east, was the taller rugged White Mountains that we already conquered, and to the west, hahaha. We were a little bummed out to be standing on a mountain that was taller than anything to come in a long while. On the maps, we started to see not just mountains labeled, but also hills.

We knew we were leaving the hardest part of the trail behind as we came down the mountain. The trail almost instantly became smoother and more gradual than before. We ended up doing 16 miles that day even after taking a two hour snack break at the bottom of Moosilake. We wanted to make sure we could make it into Hanover by this morning, so the following day we pushed out a 20 miler over smaller mountains and fields. Yesterday, we made 18 miles to the edge of town. We were hoping to stay in town, but there was nothing cheaper than $80 a night. Luckily a wonderful man, named Dwight offered us a place to stay for the night.Osprey Pack

We were so excited. He had a wonderful family and he and his wife treated us very well. They treated us to hot showers, laundry, and a fabulous dinner. He mapped out the town and dropped us off to wonder around. We stopped by Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and Murphy’s Pub. It was nice to sit and relax for a while. We slept on a nice comfy bed with a down comforter and our own bathroom right next door. It was excellent. We came into town this morning to resupply and tie up loose ends.
We are going to experiment with our diet this week by doubling our calorie intake. According to backpacker magazine, winter hikers that hike for 8 hours need 5 to 6 thousand calories a day. I think we were somewhere in the ballpark of 2500 on a good day. Food is heavy, but we are loading up this time. The only thing harder to hike with other than an aching body is a hungry stomach. It is amazing the diet we can handle out here. It really is. The plan is to be in North Adams , Mass. in 9 days which is where we hope to update you once again, but it may come sooner. We have to resupply in a town again in a few days.

This exert was originally published on atwishhikers.com. It’s content has not been edited from the original post.

Epilogue:
by: Bryan Wolf

My first memory of Hanover is that of randomly hiking up on Dwight and his son. It was a great display of faith and trust on his part to extend his hand and his home.  There couldn’t of been five minutes in conversation before he offered showers and home cooking.  This was an amazing surprise after what was one of the very hardest nights and mornings on the trail.  What we came to find out at dinner, is that Dwight was one of the original founders of Jetboil.  We will always have a wonderful story and proudly sell Jetboil because of the good nature we received that day, besides they are great stoves too!

Depite the top of Mt. Mooilake being one of the more difficult mornings, it was also one of the more thrilling. I remember and often revisit that adrenaline rush that comes with harsh weather and long exposure to the elements of our raw world.  My boots had frozen and took the first two miles to thaw, even after which my feet remained frozen for several more. The first time you face these challenges, and the first time you realize the severity of your choice to do a winter thru-hike is scary.  At the same time it is exhilarating and makes you feel very alive.  It is these experiences that build your confidence and knowledge in these trips.

Southbound: episode 5

October 10th 2006
Written by: Bryan Wolf and Joe White

   It has been a while since you last heard from us in Andover , Maine . I’ll start from the beginning I guess. The first few days out were also our last in Maine . The first day, the weather was incredible and we tackled two 4,000 ft + peaks in 15 miles. We were so excited to have done so much over that terrain, but the following day put us in our place. The Mahoosuc Notch, the hardest mile on the whole trail, took us 3 hours to do a mile. It was nothing but climbing over, in between and under boulders, of course it was wet too. We had a few close calls, but only a bumped head and some scratches. That day we only went 5 miles before we called it a day.the Mahoosuc Notch

The following day was soiled with bad weather, yet crossing into New Hampshire and finishing our first state kept us in good spirits until Ice Man fell into the mud. His right leg missed a board and sunk into the mud up to his thigh. Luckily, his left leg was still on the board, otherwise, I don’t know how he would have gotten out. We called it an early day and stayed dry at the next shelter. We stopped in Gorham , NH for a dollar menu feast at Mcdonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts in the morning.White Mountains

We had 2 and a half days until Pinkham Notch, which is the gateway to the Presidential Mountains. They were spectacular mountains to say the least. They are called the “wildcats” and the views the gave of Mt. Washington were incredible. Our second day in the wildcats, there was ice covering the whole north side of the mountains(the pics turned out great). We have had nothing but the best weather since we left Pinkham Notch. Locals say that the weather we had going over the Presidential Mountains and Mt. Washington , was by far the best all year. This was the place we expected to be having the worst weather. We had warm days, clear skies, 120 mile + visibility, and winds of less than 10 mph for days. Not even the Columbus Day weekend crowds and tourists on the mountain could make us wish for better. We were down right spoiled. We hiked 2 and a half days above treeline in the White Mountains with unimaginable weather. Mt. Washington put us over 6,000 feet at exactly one month since we had made the summit of Katahdin, a nice coincidence.Zeacliffs

A couple nights ago, we camped right on some cliffs, watched the sunset after dinner, and relaxed under the stars with hot apple cider. We stayed up swapping trail stories with a going to be “3 time” thru-hiker named Doc Knarley. Oh, he had some crazy stories. Last night, we spent a few hours relaxing on top of Mt. Garfield . We are going to miss these mountains. We rolled into North Woodstock today to refuel, and send you guys an update. We hope you enjoy these pictures. We love you all and wish you could be here. We have to catch a ride back to the trail soon. We figured we would “troll camp” tonight under the I-93 bridge. We hope to update you again in Hanover in less than a week.Troll Camping

This exert was originally published on atwishhikers.com. It’s content has not been edited from the original post.

Epilogue:
by: Bryan Wolf

This is a big section to stop and reflect on and I feel like there are many untold stories. For starters; Mt. Success.  I am over 6 feet tall and almost all legs, when we reached the top of cloudy Mt. Success the last thing I thought I’d encounter was a endless pit of doom trying to swallow me in the mist.  The mountain even at the very top had wood planks to walk on to avoid the swampy mess but even those boards were covered by mud. I found myself poking the ground in front to find the boards before taking each step, to no avail.  I fell (in a very flexible moment) over waist deep in mud while keeping my left foot still on the board ahead.  Joe was up in front and after a try or two I had to shout ahead for help getting out.  The mud and cold water was sinking into my boot making it feel like concrete holding me down.

After getting pried from the depths and retiring to the following shelter, I was quickly warmed up from some trail magic: tequila! This whole section had chance encounters of booze carrying trail angels. Passing a flask of vodka back and forth with “Doc” on top of Zeacliffs near the hut made for one heck of a night! That had to have been the single most entertaining hiker we stayed with on the trail. As far as Washington, I’m not sure I could ever go back. If you ever are lucky enough to have that “perfect moment” than you don’t dare chance ruining it by going back.

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