Ramble On

Friday, November 20, 2009

G&H's AT Shake Down Hike - Part 3

Part 3 - Post-hike Report

After three days, completing a section hike of about 32 miles on the Appalachian Trail, Gary and Howard returned Tuesday night. From the main south bound AT route, Howard said they had made a few side trips to visit trail shelters, where they checked out the log books and signed in with their new “trail names,” which I won’t report here to protect their identities. As experienced hikers, they knew when they set out that anything could happen on the trail and they were ready to improvise if needed, but, as Howard says, “Everything went as close to plan as we could have hoped.”

As they shared their impressions of the route, I began to notice that their descriptions of the experience were similar to those I’ve read about in thru-hiking books such as “AWOL on the Appalachian Trail,” and “Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods.” One of the first things you notice on trail sections like the one they chose, is that even though the route follows a ridge and you wouldn’t expect major climbing, there is a cumulative effect from all the little “ups-and-downs” from short climbs and descents.

They took advantage of their freshness on the first day and did extra miles, so the second day was less difficult. Even so, the body rebels at the out-of-the-ordinary strain, stiffening at each break on the trail, or making it hard to get up in the morning. By the third day, they had begun to settle in to their pace, making the last day the easiest day on the trail for them.

When I asked them about what gear they found the handiest, they agreed that their water filters were the key items in the packs, with headlamps coming in second. Gary said that since the winter days are shorter, they often had to quicken their pace to reach the day’s designated camp site so they could set up before it was completely dark, which made the headlamps very important.

They had carried their water with them on this Spring’s overnight hike on the Massanutten Ridge, so the water filters allowed them to reduce some of the weight in their packs. Water was required for the dehydrated meals they carried – all samples from the selection in their stores – and they heated it on a Jet Boil stove. In fact, all of the gear they used on the hike is available at the stores.

Speaking of their stores, Appalachian Outdoor Adventures and Evergreen Outfitters, Gary and Howard have been planning to join forces for the last few months, and with this hiking adventure behind them, they are set to complete the merger by the end of the year. Gary said, “We had been sending customers back and forth to each other and now everything will be in one location,” so the merger is a natural progression. And both are looking forward to the opportunities to expand their services to potentially include guided hikes and tours.

Gary and Howard are planning overnighters in the Spring, but the next multi-day hike won’t be until next Summer or Fall. They choose routes in Shenandoah National Park along the AT but also adventure into the George Washington National Forest as well.

As for the north district AT section hike, it served as an excellent shakedown for longer hikes in the future, with the added benefit of being able to test out some of the gear they sell. The credibility factor is important in their business, and these hikes serve to build it. That’s going to be an important asset as they complete the merger and continue to serve their customers.

This is the final post of a 3-part series on Gary and Howards section hike of the AT. The previous posts were on Wednesday and Thursday, the 18th and 19th of November.

1 comment:

Howard said...


Thanks again for dedicating three whole posts to our AT hike! It was a great trip and as always, your summary was well written and concise! It makes me want to stop procrastinating and actually make some posts on my empty blog!

Thrive Outside!