Tag Archives: vasque st. elias gtx boots

Day Two-Trouble Ahead!

Knowing that water may be hard to come by for the nine mile hike on day two, my hiking partners rigged up a pretty simple water containment system to catch as much water as possible. Over night we did have several hours pouring rain and thunderstorms which made capturing the water that much easier.

When all was said and done, we collected and purified around 5 gallons of nice cold water!

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Collecting water at the Bald Rocks Shelter.

Now the fun begins! Leaving the shelter at around 10 am, we got back on the Ramapo Dunderberg trail and began our day! The terrain in this part of Harriman is just spectacular. Geologists believe that millions of years ago this area of New York may have been part of South America. It always amazes me that rocks end up where they do and stay there!

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Beautiful scenery a half mile into the hike.

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A couple of tenths of a mile from disaster!

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Although the rocks shown in these pictures are dry, when you got the end of one and it turned back into trail, the rock proved to be very slippery.  As I was coming down off of the rock in the third picture from the top, I began sliding and I lost my balance. My left foot became wedged between two rocks as I stopped, my forward momentum kept me moving.

End result? A fractured left ankle and a subsequent surgery to repair it.

Happy Hiking!!!

Hike #21-.9-117.85

Shakedown #1-Ramapo-Dunderberg

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A while back I made a decision that when I retired I would hike the Appalachian Trail. Even though it is almost two years away, I am glad that I have that time to plan for this six month adventure. As I have watched videos of thru hikers, I have come to one conclusion. You have to know what gear you need/want and you have to know whether it works for you or against you.

On Wednesday of next week I will be heading out to Harriman State Park with two friends to backpack the Ramapo-Dunderberg Trail. Running a little over 21 miles, the trail begins at the Tuxedo RR station and ends on route 9W on the opposite side of the park.

I am considering this my first shakedown hike in preparation for the AT. A shakedown hike is described by Brian Lewis as a “…longish backpacking trip where you try out your gear and associated process to find out if there are things you can improve (in either) before your thru-hike. And hopefully it will also confirm that hiking somewhat longer distances is something you really want to do.” My first shakedown will be three days and two nights.

Will I like the gear that I have? Will I want to do another trip, maybe longer before I make any final decisions? I don’t know. Only time will tell!

Over the next few days I am going to post some of the new gear that I have as well as the tried and true that I am pretty sure I will use on the AT.

Please feel free to leave your comments!

Happy Hiking!!!

Please read more about shakedown hikes here:

https://thetrek.co/why-shakedown-hikes-important-new-backpackers/

https://thetrek.co/appalachian-trail/shakedown-hike-gear-review/

https://sectionhiker.com/shakedown-hikes-arent-just-for-backpacking-beginners/

Early, Early Morning

“Enjoyment of the landscape is a thrill.”

-David Hockney 

If this weather could go on for just a little bit longer that would be great. However, I am certain we will be punished soon enough with humid days and temperatures in the 90’s. With that said, this morning proved to be nice and cool, allowing me to get in a six mile hike through Ward Pound Ridge Reservation.

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5:15 am

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The field below the parking lot. As the sun came up, the haze disappeared.

Happy Hiking!!!

Hike #9-6.1-54.1

Why The AT? Then Again, Why Not?

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“To travel, to experience and learn: that is to live.” –Tenzing Norgay

In a little under two years I will be eligible to retire from my job as a special educator. In NYS, teachers can retire at the age of 55 if they have 30 years in the system. Directly after high school I spent four years in the Marine Corps, then went to school and worked other jobs for  several years before teaching.

So what does this mean? It means that my time in education is near an end. So what next?

As I mentioned in my previous post, my first goal in retirement is to thru hike the Appalachian Trail. As a matter of course, the first question that everyone always asks anyone with a similar goal is “Why?”

With that said, let’s get the “why” out of the way.

My first adult real life challenge came in October 1983 when I reported to Parris Island, SC for basic training with the USMC. Without a doubt, this was the most difficult thing that I had done in my life, both physically and mentally. To describe it as three months of pure hell would be an understatement!

After being discharged I began hiking more than I ever had and used this as my primary form of exercise during the months that were suitable for hitting the trail. The rest of the year was spent riding a stationary bike in an attempt to try to get and stay in shape. This remains true to this day.

So, when you look at my love of hiking and put that together with a lifelong desire to accomplish difficult tasks, a thru hike almost seems inevitable. Why not?

More on this as I continue my research of the AT and engage in some more self reflection.

Numbers Don’t Lie On The AT

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Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” –Robert F. Kennedy

“No Pain, No Rain, no Maine” – Common Appalachian Trail saying

Since the inception of our great nation, the Appalachian Trail has existed and snaked its way from Springer Mountain in Georgia all the way to Mt. Katahdin in Maine. Almost 2,200 miles of grueling mountains and rock covered trails that punish the body as well as the mind. Every year, thousands of people start the pilgrimage north (and some south) to see if they have what it takes,  both mentally and physically, to thru hike the distance.

The statistics for potential thru hikers are sobering. In 2016, 3,377 people started a thru hike of the AT. Compare that to 2010 when only 1,460 hikers began in an attempt to join the ranks of successful thru hikers. With that said, only 685 actually completed the trail in 2016. That represents just a little over a 20% completion rate. You would think that with all of the information out there, the number of folks completing a successful thru hike would be higher.

So then why do so many hikers not finish the thru hike they begin? I suppose that many times you have physical injuries which can be brought on by many factors. Accidents, poor preparation and the constant feeling of  being uncomfortable for long periods of time that some people find to be not worth it. The mental aspect, unseen and mostly unheard, can end a thru hike as quickly as a broken ankle. That nagging voice that is in your head  constantly telling you, “Just quit. The pain, being wet and miserable can all be over.”

My thoughts are this-I am firm believer that if you are properly prepared to thru hike the AT, then the odds of you completing it go up rather than down. To me, this means you need to be realistic during the prep period. Realistic about living outdoors for six months, realistic about the weather, realistic about not being around your family and realistic about your own physical condition, age and medical issues.

So why this post? Why am I researching the failure rate of AT thru hikers? It is my hope and my intention that shortly after my retirement in 2-3 years time I will undertake a thru hike. Northbound from Springer to Katahdin. 5,000,000 (or so) steps.

Let the preparations begin!

 

St. Elias GTX 200 Mile Review

As I close in on 200 miles with my Vasque St. Elias GTX boots (197.62), I can happily report that they are holding up very nicely. They remain very comfortable and with the aid of my awesome merino wool socks, I haven’t had one blister or hot spot. Also, one of the biggest issues that I have had with every pair of boots I have owned the laces always had a tendency to come undone. This would drive me crazy! With these boots, I have not had this problem. They stay laced and they also stay tight.

As I have noted before, these boots are outstanding medium weight backpacking boots that I use for day hiking. With my weak ankles and knees, I need all of the support that I can get when I am traipsing through the woods.

In terms of the wear and tear, they also doing well. I haven’t seen any noticeable wear on the soles, top or tongue of the right or left foot.

I said it when I first got these boots-they are outstanding! They have proven to be all around excellent and would continue to recommend them to hikers who either backpack or day hike. You won’t be disappointed!

Happy Hiking!

100 Mile Review

“Life is better in hiking boots.”

-Anonymous

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Now that I have hiked just over 100 miles in my Vasque St. Elias GTX Boots and awesome Meriwool Merino Wool socks, it’s time to write a review. Let’s start off with the socks. Since I have three pairs of the socks, I can pretty much rotate them every time I go hiking. I am sure that this has saved on the wear and tear on each of the pairs. As I mentioned when I first got them, they are much better than any cotton sock. To this day they remain comfortable and well worth the extra money that they cost. Still no hot spots (I used to get them all the time with cotton socks!) or blisters!

I did have to do some research as to what would be the best way to wash them. What I do is I fill my kitchen sink with warm water and add some soft liquid soap.  After 15-20 minutes I rinse them in pretty cold water and squeeze out any excess water. The one things that many sites I looked at were very specific in saying that Merino Wool socks should not be wrung out as the wool could be compromised. Lay them on a flat surface to then let them dry.

Overall these socks have been a blessing. They have performed above my expectations and I fully expect that they will continue to do so.

Wearig an 12 W, the Vasque St. Elias GTX has also performed even better than I thought they would. With an exact fit, they provide the amount of ankle support that I need to be able to hike a short distance, or a hilly 10 miler that leave my legs rubbery! The best thing about these boots is you would think that a boot that offers so much support would be pretty heavy.  At 3 lbs. 1 ounce, the St. Elias has enough support to keep your feet and ankles protected, but light enough that you really don’t feel them.

Happy Hiking!