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  1. #1
    R00K's Avatar
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    Black Forest Trail 08-2011

    Mission Fail.
    My friend Erick and I left for the BFT with one day notice of which trail we were hiking, and shotty topo map Erick printed from the internet and laminated. You may be thinking, "That's not ideal!" But that was sort of the point. And if you're thinking "Well smart guy, I see "Mission Fail" up there so I guess you got what you wanted!" You'll be displeased to know that not having a detailed understanding of the trail, national park, county, wildlife, locals, etc., or a detailed map had nothing to do with us not finishing.

    Here's some things we managed to see before we left:

    Vistas:
    [A few of many]
    100_0432.jpg
    100_0451.jpg
    100_0469.jpg

    Debris:
    [I think it was two days before - some locals said a tornado did damage to the trail leaving a large amount of downed trees and debris, while it was a mess for the clean-up crews, it wasn't without it's own beauty:]
    100_0438.jpg

    A few more pics:
    100_0436.jpg
    100_0452.jpg
    100_0457.jpg
    100_0474.jpg

    Now normally I would give a lot of detail to what I packed, maybe even what Erick packed, talk about how it poured rain for about an hour, and was otherwise at 100% humidity, talk about why I went with dry food instead of packing a stove, and plenty of other things - but we didn't make it through the first night - so not much of it matters.

    After a full days hiking (about 15 miles) we get to an area we like for camp, and start setting up. I felt great, I normally have issues with my knees, but aside from a slight twinge in my left knee, I felt awesome. The last ascent had me physically shaky, but by the time we got to camp I was back. Or so I thought. I began vomiting shortly after we started setting up. Then felt fine. Told myself it was from pushing it too hard, and kept setting up. When I started vomiting again I grew concerned. More importantly Erick grew concerned, and decided it wasn't worth the risk to stay if I was really sick. The last multiday trip we planned ended the same way. Since we hiked the southern inner-turns of the trail, around to the west leg of the trail it was only a mile and a half from 44, and then 4 miles to our car. Erick jogged the five miles to the car (leaving his gear with me) and came back to pick me up. That's why he's the person I go backpacking with, we have each other's backs. I went home and did some research, and spoke with some friends/family and figured out what happened.

    Exercised induced nausea is something I've never had a problem with before in my life. Maybe it's been a few years of day hikes and over nighters being my only real exercise, and assuming because I'm thin that I'm still in good shape - or maybe it was the heat and humidity - or maybe it's bad backpacking habits (when and how I'm taking breaks/eating and how I'm stopping at the end of the day) - But no matter what it was, I'm dissapointed to find out that I could have slept it off and kept going. Better safe than sorry I guess. Lesson learned.

    I'm happy to talk about anything I left out - but I'm too tired to go into anymore detail in this specific post Thanks for reading.
    100_0433.jpg

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  2. #2
    Joey's Avatar
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    I've seen more than one pile of "nausea" on the trail, usually on an uphill and interesting when there's snow on the ground. Gotta take things easy and know your limits. The Black Forest Trail is known as being strenuous. I'm saving that one for a cool Spring time hike early next year.

    That aside, glad you made it home safe and enjoyed some of the awesome scenery up there. It's beautiful country and excellent for hammocks! The WRT of the PA Grand Canyon is equally as beautiful, but not so strenuous! I really enjoyed hiking that one. It's close to the BFT area, as is the Chuck Keiper Trail which is also on my list.

  3. #3
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    I hiked that trail solo last fall. I'm a very fit runner, 5 ft 10 and 150 lbs. I'm an ultralight hiker, and my pack, including food, was only 11 pounds. Even so, that trail kicked my butt. Beautiful. But tough! I lost a big toe nail a week or so after the trip from all the pounding up and down and banging into rocks. I had a heck of a good time, though. Like the other poster wrote, try the West Rim trail sometime. It's lovely.

  4. #4
    Senior Member SoundMan's Avatar
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    Have another shoot at the BFT...it is the best hiking I have experienced here in PA. Maybe try shorter sections over several days versus the entire loop. There is a trail guide available it outlines the sections of the trail with all the intersecting bail out trails-which could be used to eliminate some of the more difficult sections. Good luck.

  5. #5
    New Member Bigdumbman's Avatar
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    I've hiked the BFT a few times and it is always a challenge. It seems like there is only one flat area in a field for maybe 10 minutes on the entire trail it is really rough the whole way. I did it the first time with a 35 lb pack and that was like torture. Now that I am down in the 18 or so lb range for a 3 day it isn't nearly as bad.
    Keep at it and maybe take a slower pace.
    Last edited by Bigdumbman; 08-30-2011 at 07:49.

  6. #6
    Senior Member finskie's Avatar
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    High mileage days without significant prep make me feel similar. When we recently did the Loyalsock, we planned for 4 days, so we did it in 4... but that worked out to be a 12,15,18,15 mile days. I will tell you that it kicked our butts, and we decided that more endurance training had to be added to our exercise regiment for next years long hike. I think that a consistent exercise regiment may completely remove this problem from you. Either way, don't let it spook you because Wags and I plan on slowing you down for a couple days on the AT next summer, maybe in the Whites
    What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step. - C.S. Lewis

  7. #7
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    I watched a long distance trail racer (150+ miles a day) get whipped by that trail. And he was just carrying snack food and water. We had full support stops along the way at most intersections. You're in good company. It's a beast. It has a national reputation for being a butt kicker, but also for being among the best trails in the nation.
    I may be slow... But I sure am gimpy.

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  8. #8

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    Let's get real. Getting older sucks but it beats the alternative. ;-)

    As we age we heal slower and injure faster. That's why old farts write the books about how to prepare for exercise that young folks laugh at.

  9. #9
    R00K's Avatar
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    Wow - Thank you guys, the "virtual-pat-on-the-back" is felt and appreciated. It's not that I mean to be so down on myself about it, but after the fact, finding out we could have kept going has just been eating at me. Getting time off is tough, but getting two people's complete opposite work schedules to sync up is just brutal. It was really beautiful and I wanted to see more. We'll be back ASAP to finish up. Hopefully this year, but if not - it wont be until after our thru next year.

    We knew going into it that the trade off for the BFT would be vistas for ups/downs. We knew it wouldn't be easy - and my muscles and joints held up surprisingly well given the level of difficulty - but I guess it's been years since I pushed my cardio/respiratory system that hard - and it ended up being harder than we thought. But even still - I could have kept going.

    Joey - you mentioned snow on the trail - Last January we hiked to the highest elevation point in MD on the AT headed South from PenMar to Harpers [it's called High Rock I believe] anyway - It's at around 4000' (so about 2000' higher than the highest point on the BFT) and we didn't know heading in that there would be 6"+ of snow covering the entire trail. Despite the conditions we still pushed out well over 12 miles. Suffice it to say - we went home the next morning after I 'tossed my cookies'.

    Reflection:
    It's an awful lesson to learn - But it's one I'm very glad I did. Finding out how out of shape I am, despite my age/weight/build is so critical to my upcoming thru-hike of the AT. I could have been learning this lesson coming down Springer. I have a lot of work to do, but I'd rather find that out now.
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  10. #10
    Dutch's Avatar
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    Great trail and the Black forest Inn is a great place to eat. Love that country
    Peace Dutch
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