After posting up for a last minute trip to Grayson Highlands this weekend, Cooldays and I decided to meet up at the park and do an overnight loop trip.
Left the house around 1030 for the 2 hour drive to Grayson, and as I was passing out of Damascus noticed 2 thru hikers trying to flag down a car. So I stopped and gave them a lift back into town. Apparently one had dumped his bottle of alcohol while cooking lunch, and needed to go back to town to resupply. After they grabbed a few things, I took them back to the closest road crossing to where they had left the trail, and attempted to still meet Cooldays at 130.
I didn't manage to get to Grayson until around 2PM, and Cooldays had already started hiking, so I stopped looked over the maps and decided just to short cut it NOBO on the AT and go straight to Wise shelter where we were supposed to meet if we didn't meet up at the trail head. I made quick work of the 4 miles, and managed to get to Wise shelter just in time to see a Christian girls outdoor group washing their hair with Herbal Essence shampoo in the creek north of Wise shelter. I went ahead and found a good secluded place to hang my Blackbird, and then took a nap.
Cooldays showed up later on after doing atleast 13 miles on the loop.
BlueMoon and Bloodhound both thru hikers arrived at the shelter along with An army officer Kyle and his younger brother. Between Cool Days, Kyle, and Blue Moon there was a blazing fire in the firepit at the shelter within minutes, and great conversation continued until around 10PM when the thru hikers and Kyle and his brother turned in for the night.
I of course keeping up with my trail name took a Wrong turn trying to find my hammock, and Cool Days had to lend me a hand to find it. Luckily he already knew where I was hanging, and I got ready to turn in for the night.
Last night was my first night in the woods with my Blackbird, 3 Season Yeti, OES MacCat Deluxe Spinn, Whoopie slings, Opie's tarp Ridgeline, BlackRock Beanie, and my Zelph Cobalt Soloist.
I was happy with some things and greatly disappointed with others.
My blackbird was comfortable, though when I'd move my Feet in the footbox it would shift the Yeti, and I'd get Cold Butt Syndrome instantly. I've seen Shug address this problem in one of his videos, and plan to rig something up as well. The Yeti when I could keep it in place was incredibly warm. I'd reccomend it highly for an UQ, the suspension just needs some tweaking.
Opie makes awesome products. My Whoopie Slings, Tree Huggers, toggles, and Tarp suspension worked flawlessly. Suspension never sagged or stretched and setting it up took under 10 minutes. I could not be happier.
The MacCat Deluxe worked well, though I'm sure a windy night would be a quite loud experience.
My BlackRock Beanie worked great. Kept my head toasty, but did not cause me to sweat at all the entire night. Probably my new favorite piece of gear.
Finally the one item that let me down was the Cobalt Soloist by Zelph. While the stove is well built, and lights easily. 1 Ounce of fuel could not achieve a boil in the stove last night nor this morning. Water was hot, but did not come close to a boil.
After giving some fuel and food to Blue Moon this morning, and saying goodbye to Bloodhound and the brothers, we packed up and got ready to go.
Cooldays and I hiked together up until the turn styles, at which point he burned a trail up to the top and then waited for me to slowly make my way up to the summit. After some pictures of Cooldays up on one of the rock peaks, we quickly made our way to Massie Gap where we went our seperate ways. I went back to my car after getting a message from the little woman that my daughter was sick, while Cooldays went on up to Thomas Knob shelter to have lunch before he left.
It was good to meet Cooldays, and hanging out with everyone at the shelter around the fire last night was a ton of fun. The oldest of the brothers had gotten married on Monday and then hit the trail with his younger brother this weekend. Brave guy if you ask me. Blue Moon is shooting for an end of July finish date, and at the miles he is making, I am sure he is capable of doing it. Bloodhound was planning on taking a zero day at the end of this week somewhere around Atkins. Great bunch of guys, and good time had by all.