Culver Gap to Delaware Water Gap report
My daughter Lindsay and I completed a 3-day, 25 mile hike on the AT in NJ from Culver Gap to the DWG. This was the first real backpacking trip for both of us and we had a great time.
You can see all the pics and where they were taken in my Picasa web album. Really love the way Picasa lets you map your photos on Google maps. http://picasaweb.google.com/ron.mehr...eat=directlink
I took a HH Explorer Deluxe with Super Shelter and Lindsay took an Expedition with a Walmart blue ccf pad. Each of us had a Mountain Hardwear Lamina +20 mummy. Our cook kit consisted of a self built Caldera Cone (thanks for the great instructional video 2Q), the inner pot and lid from a Coleman Solo and a Trangia burner. Oatmeal and raisins for breakfast. Landjäger (German dried sausage, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landj%C3%A4ger) for two lunches. Two dinners and one lunch were backpackers meals and some Thai noodle dishes. The culinary highlight of each day was when we'd share a Snickers bar on the trail.
My pack weighed in at 29lbs and my daughter's was 20lbs, before water. Each time I hoised the REI Flash 65 pack it seemed heavy, but once on I hardly noticed the weight.
My fears of bad hips limiting our distances proved unfounded as we covered over 11 miles on the first day, moving at a nice clip. Rain showers and thunder storms stayed out of our way until we reached camp 1. Had to spend about 20min squatting on a rock in the rain as we waited for the lightning and rain to pass. When it did we were treated to the beautiful site of sunlight filtering through the trees and mist. We put up the hammocks using one common tree and got food out for dinner only to have a bear approach the camp. We blew our whistles like crazy and she finally decided to move on. Note to self: remember to cook downwind, not in, camp.
It poured all night and may have even hailed. Upon waking the foot of my bag was a bit wet and so was the SS ocf, even though I used a space blanket over it. Hard to know if it was condensation or rain. Lindsay was a bit confused about how to position the ccf pad in the hammock but otherwise stayed warm. Temp went down to about 50F.
We hit the trail late, around noon, on day two. The weather was threatening but held off. This was our shortest day with maybe only 7 miles. One knee started to get sore but not enough to slow us down.
We found a beautiful grassy site on a bluff looking east. Again a 3-tree hang. Even though it was grassy, this was a hammock only site because under the tall grass was nothing but big rocks. Thai noodles cooked at the edge of the drop so we could enjoy the view. Oddly the wind was coming from the east and the temps dropped making our breath easily visible in the light of our headlamps. We trimmed Lindsay's pad to have a tapper at each end for a better fit. I decided to go without a space blanket and I untied the bungee in the SS entrance slit because I was tired of the way it pushes the hammock up when you're not in it. We set an alarm for 5am to view the sunrise. Sure enough we got a beautiful one but both of us decided to view it from the comfort and warmth of the hammocks. Lindsay slept great that night. She says the pad in the hammock is not a bother now that she understands how the HH works. I could feel some cold spots, probably because of the SS entry slot gaping open w/o the bungee. Still I slept well. It was a humid and cool night and inside of SS was covered with condensation by morning.
The oatmeal was good and the coffee terrible. My GSI insulated plastic cup had picked up so much scent from two previous curry dishes even though we were just using the cups to hold the freezer bags the food had been cooked in. The scent permeated everything. Maybe it's time for Ti.
The scenery was beautiful and so was the weather but my now both knees were hurting. About 3 or 4 miles from the end I took a step down that made me wince. Paused for a moment then kept moving. Must have done something because I'm writing this 5 days later and the knee is very swollen. I am so thankful for my trekking poles. They're my new favorite thing. The knee situation would have been much worse w/o them.
I'm very enthused by this whole backpacking thing and look forward to my knee getting better and then strengthening it for future hikes.