I have been throwing around the idea of a long hike this Summer with 2 nights staying at tent sites along the trail. Easier said than done. I don't think I have the correct equipment but really how do I know because I have never even tried. I am part of a great women's hiking group on Facebook. A member posted about getting over the fear of backpacking alone. I had also posted asking for pictures of other peoples packs loaded for such a trip.
I spent a couple days following both threads. One of the best comments was to think about what you are afraid of and handle that.
What exactly am I afraid of?
1. Proper handling of food and smells as to not attract animals. Okay, so the campsite has a bear box. Handled!
2. Ability, equipment, knowledge. Okay, I read, I googled, I brought maps, trail descriptions, went through all my equipment and it seems I do have what I need. Now the only real way to handle this fear is to DO IT!
So I packed up and just started to go with this is what I am doing and didn't think much else about it.
The morning of I needed a few things and tried to find a store, that took me miles past the trail head, then when I was returning I missed the exit and ended up in such a deep fog I started to get nervous.
Re-coop! I drove back to the trail head much later than I wanted. Checked the weather again and saw a full lot. We are doing it.
I arrived in the lot about 9:15 and as I saw a new group introducing themselves I realized they were doing the same thing I was.
Although the peaks I wanted to reach were South I headed North. I figured I would secure a tent platform and lower my load a bit. Interesting little place this Kinsman Pond Shelter and Tent Site was. There was a group site and a site for the caretaker ( which was empty). As I walked father in the trail split. Right to the shelter, water, pit toilet. Left took you to the 3 tent platforms. I chose the smallest one and started setting up. Moments later a group came up the trail and asked about the caretaker and the open spots. 2 men took the site over mine and set up shop with 2 hammocks. The other man set up his hammock just down the trail from me.
As soon as I unloaded the bedding I set out to bag my peaks.
I was glad I took photo copies of the pages about the Kinsmans from The 4000 Footers of the White Mountains guide. It lists details on the trail and distances which helps alot. Like walk past the small cairn on South Kinsman because just past it is the Big Mama below. It literally has a seat built in so you too can be Queen of the Mountain if you want.
I decided 7:30 was good enough and I would read for a bit. Ha! Old ladies get tired when they go exploring. So that didn't take long. Not long after I fell asleep the 2 guys above me determined their hammocks weren't hung correctly and had to make adjustments with headlamps shining in my eye only a dozen times or so. LOL! I will say I wasn't scared here 1 bit. Too noisy for animals. Too nice for troublemakers.
As it turns out the I was awoken by another party animal-BIRDS! and sunshine. I could hear the guys above rumbling and I was not exactly comfortable. It brought me back to Girl Scout camping. Might as well get up and get moving.
After retrieving my untouched food bag I got some water started while I broke down camp. I slept like crap so I wasn't moving very fast. I added water to some chili mac and packed it away for a breakfast down the road and ate a granola bar and coffee.
I was packed up and on my way out by 7am. Not a soul could be heard from the shelter and the group was just unzipping their doors as I went by. The hammock guys came up right behind me. Their goal was to hit the peaks and what a good choice they made. The day was shaping up beautifully.
The hike out of that camp isn't long but its a tough couple tenths of a mile going up and quickly I discovered how bad my breakfast choice was. I was already breaking out in a sweat and couldn't find my groove.
I met the Mt Kinsman Trail in about 15 minutes and I knew it was 3.7 miles down from here. The thoughts of beauty, sunshine and getting to the beach with my daughters as soon as I got home fueled my decent. I decided to hit Bald Peak and eat breakfast.
.2 miles up! Really, this better be good.
It was better than good. It was a 270 degree tree and mountain bounty. I experienced my first few bugs too.
The trail was so gorgeous. Mossy, green and beautiful.
As I was walking out I realized a whole lot of things.
I backpacked it. I need to tweak my set up but all in all I did it with no major issues.
I hiked 10 miles. Somehow with the overnight I was thinking it would be one or the other but really I did both!
My tent got a lot of questions in the groups I'm in and guess what? It's fine. No one cares what you have. People had shit strapped on their pack in all different ways and people pack what they believe they need. It isn't any of my business just as it isn't worry what I have.
So I might be carrying that giant sleep pad if I ever want a good nights sleep on trail but just know that I will be doing this again.
Cabot sounds like a good plan.
P.S. This makes #26 North Kinsman, #27 South Kinsman and #1 Backpack.