Thanks Wander'n Fool. I'm in the market for a new hat and a pair of trail runners and will check out those you mentioned.I would say this was probably one of the most challenging trails I have done to date. I fell, eh hem, sauntered a few times... more than any other trail. I put my trekking poles to good use. Important to stop and relax the mind and body and take in the beauty. This is not a trail to do without being in shape. I can attest to this, because I am a bit out of shape. The hills are not killer, but a few do take your breathe away. The rustic sense of the trail is the challenge...lots of pointed, sharp rocks on the trail, in camp and under the lakes. You have to stay mentally focussed, a real head down trail. This is why it is so easy to miss the camp site markers. The cairns are very much appreciated. Without a doubt, the second and third night sites were the top two campsites I have ever hammocked. It was like Mother Nature created the sites special, just for us hammockers. I was not fond of the clear cuts on the Kek. I understand the need for the cuts, but I do not have to like them. The good thing is, the clear cut trail sections are not very long. We are water flush up here right now, so water was plentiful. Though, we had a few sections that carrying extra water was prudent. Do not leave your compass and map at home...you will need them on this trail.
I tried out a few new pieces of gear this trip...
Warbonnet Attachable Bug Net (Borrowed from Shug's Outfitters); A nicely crafted piece of gear, worked with my WL Lite Owl. WL does make their own too. Shug has shock cord attached on both ends of the net's attachment loops. Rather than attach the loops where the suspension meets your hammock, I looped the shock cord through the biners where my suspension attach to my huggers. The net adjusted/settled well with my hammock. I learned that an attachable bug net is just not my cup-o'-tea. I used it the first night and then used my head net for the remaining two nights. I was covered from neck down in my comfy JRB Hudson River TQ. I do see an WBBB XLC in my future. A longer hammock fits me right and provides a great flat lay.
Rab Lotok mid gaiters; I like these gaiters because they close on top of your shoe, not on the sides. For me, easier to get on and off. They are waterproof and breathable(eVent). Did a fine job of keeping my feet and socks dry and the ticks off. Velcro closing with snaps. Undershoe strap is solid. These gaiters are not ultralight, however, for me... practicality and safety rules... in this case, weight is not an issue.
Tilley Endurables Eco-Airflo Hat; This hat kept the sun out of my eyes, the sweat off of my brow and is super comfortable. Nature's air conditioning, when dipped in water and placed back on your head. And you all saw, it is quite comfortable to sleep in.
Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra CS WP Trail Running shoes; This shoe totally delivered for me. Scored a nice deal at REI with membership discount and dividend. Surprised they are sold as a trail runner? The rigid sole handled the Snowbank trail sharp rocks very well and the uppers withstood the same beating. The toe cap protects very, very well. I was not sure I would like the lacing system, but I do. The system provides a nice plus... in camp, I can easily loosen the lacing to the max and they became a comfortable camp shoe.
A bit about backpacking with Shug. Yep, he talks a lot...sings a lot... and rips up the trail. But, there is not a finer fellow to follow on the trail. A learned backpacker who shares his knowledge with respect and carries a good soul. And heck, he is quiet when he sleeps Me? Not so much.