Forecast for today was cold and rain. Sigh. But I just got some new UL rain gear from GoLite and decided to test it out. Tumalo Jacket (9 oz.) and Tumalo pants (7 oz.).
Packed up the daypack and headed to Mad Tom Trail. Really an exaggeration as this is more of a bushwack than a trail. Still one of my favorite places to hike. Steep and a beautiful mountain stream is always in sight. About a 100 years ago there was a crude road running up this narrow gorge and a steam tractor would pull the wood down to town. The road is non-existent for the most part and has 15 inch thick trees growing in it.
Steam Tractor carcass.....
It was raining steadily and **** it was chilly. Instead of my Keen Targhee boots I was trying a pair of GoLite trail runners that I sniped on Ebay for $20. With the addition of trekking poles to my gear this year I am toying with the idea of light and fast shoes despite my habit of spraining ankles. The poles seem to offset the risk and at 7 ounces they save me about a pound on my feet for a net 9 ounce loss.
The shoes were a nightmare! If it werent for the poles I would have wiped out a few times. The soles refused to hold on wet rock, and there was lots of that. On mossy rocks they were fine but plain wet rock was like being on ice. Definately going to reduce these GoLite shoes to logging road and railroad bed hiking. Others who have reviewed them said their durability is pathetic so I will more likely try some Inov8s in a test before my thru hike of the Long Trail this summer.
Hiking at a brisk pace to heat up I opened the pit zips on the Tumalo jacket. Definitely need some grograin zipper pulls added as they are way too tiny to function with slightly chilly hands. Other than the fact that I was disappointed that the hood didn't extend out far enough the jacket and pants performed flawlessly. I stayed bone dry. And the Pertex seemed to breathe amazingly well. Much better than my old GoreTex jacket. I would get a bit damp when I was humping hard but if I just slowed down a bit I was dry as could be in a matter of minutes. I think I will add a Gore Tex bucket hat and not rely on the hood. Couple of ounces there will make for much better rain hiking in the heat of the summer.
The trail continues up steeply with three stream crossings and the bushwack section is 2 miles. When my feet got wet they drained and warmed up again in merino socks. Liking the trail runner experience so far with the exception of the grip. After the bushwack you get onto an old logging road that has a lot of blowdowns across it for about a mile and then you end up on an improved road called Mad Tom Notch Road for another mile plus. I ended this leg of the hike at the Long Trail/Applachian Trail crossing of this road. There is normally a well pump here that I was hoping to reload my water bladder but the Forest Service hasn't put the handle on the pump yet. Still too cold at times I guess. There was light snow at this level. It appeared that the rain that fell last night fell as snow up here.
I headed back down the way I came up. According to the GPS it was 8 miles round trip, just under three hours with an average moving speed of 2.7 mph.
The rain gear gets a thumbs up for the thru hike. It rained the entire time and I was comfy and dry. Just need some zipper pull work. The shoes didn't pass test but I will continue to use them in drier conditions until they fall apart and then search for a pair with better grip. The trekking poles continue to amaze me how they help in a variety of situations.
I call it gear testing but it is just an excuse to get out in the woods and enjoy some time with my dog and nature. Fun was had by all except the turkey and the ruffed grouse we flushed.