Monday, November 2, 2009

Big Trail Weekend

After buying so much outdoor crap, it was all but inevitable that I would feel the urge to try all those toys. After an unsuccesful attempt at finding like minded companion for a little running/camping trip, I set out for the Terra Cotta Conservation area, all by my lonesome self. This being Halloween night, my yougest daugthter made sure to ask me if I had seen "The Blair Witch Project".

Because of an issue with my cat, I had a late start and didn't get there until almost 4PM. I left a sign on my dashboard indicating that I would be sleeping overnite and took off. The Terra Cotta trail was very nice. The weather was marginal, covered and really windy, but on the trail it wasn't really an issue. The footing was ok, but you had to be careful because the dead leaves covered everything and it was fairly rocky. At some point I got to a fence right on the middle of the trail, with a big "Private Property" sign. I didn't notice that the fence had a builtin ladder to let pedestrians through so I took a side trail. Only on the way back did I notice the ladder, which I used to run a bit more on the main trail.

My goal with these run was to try my gear, so I had both my Garmin trusty Forerunner 305 and my new eTrex Legend. On the Legend I had loaded the Canada Topo map of the area as well as the "Bruce trail" map from the Bruce Trail Project. Even after this weekend, I'm not comfortable with the eTrex. The map drawing is really slow and I found myself going back to my 305 for navigation. Also, even though I enabled the WAAS option, which is supposed to enhance the precision, the route recorded by my 305 seems more precise than the eTrex. Mind you, at some point I stuffed the eTrex in a side pocket while the Garmin was on my wrist, but still...

So I ended up running about 14k in 1:45, with my pack on, loaded with about 5 lbs of stuff. After my run, I went back to the car, stuffed some more gear in the pack, attached the tent to it, grabbed another bag and hiked to the camp site which was a mile from the trail head. I was in a bit of a rush because it was getting dark fast. The ground was fairly wet but my tent came with a footprint so it didn't cause any problem. I setup my tent, took a picture and got in. The wind was really blowing and it was getting cold.

Inside, I organized a bit. I changed into fresh clothes. To be totally frank, I really didn't feel like firing up the stove. It was a bit nippy and the thought of opening the door to cook was really unexciting. I toyed with the idea of stuffing myself with energy bars, but the whole idea was to try the gear so I opened up the door least exposed to the wind, opened the vestibule and started the stove. The vestibule on that tent if fairly small, so I'm going to be really good at starting the stove before I can cook without opening it. The thought of those flames so close to all that nylon/polyester had me eye the other exit in case I had to make an emergency exit. I boiled my water, dumped it in my Spaghetti with meat sauce and waited a few minutes. I must admit it was really good. 500 calories, lots of carbs and protein. Keeper. I read until about 11:00, changed the time and went to bed.

My sleeping bag was rated at -7C (20F) and the temperature went down to about 0C (32F), so I was quite toasty. Actually, at some point during the night I had to open up a bit because I was HOT. I had a decent sleep, although I admit I did dream that a bear was getting in the tent and I was paralyzed and could not wake up. I slept until about 7:30, longer than I expected. I opened up that tent and  cooked some Scrambled Eggs w/ham and peppers for breakfast. By cook I mean I boiled water and poured it in the pouch. This one was not a winner. It felt really heavy and didn't have enough carbs. The taste was ok, but I won't be bringing that one to Yellowknife.

After breakfast I quickly broke camp and hiked to the car, where i dumped most of my crap. I emptied my backpack, keeping a thermos of Gatorade, my phone and the eTrex. I wasn't supposed to run with a pack, but due to a packing error, I had forgotten my "pee bottle" in the car the night before and had to pee in my water bottle during the night. Rinsing it did not seem sufficient so I decided to use the thermos and I needed the pack to carry that.

For that run, I went south in the Silver Creek area. This trail was really challenging. Few flats, really hard footing. Rocks everywhere. For long sections, you basically have to jump from one rock to the other. All that, with leaves hiding most of the bottom of the trail. In some area, the leaf cover was some complete that it was easy to lose the trail. I had to concentrate so hard on my footing that it was easy to miss a trail marker. It was a beautiful trail though and well worth the effort. Didn't do much mileage in the 1:15 that I ran, though.

When I got home, let me tell you, people kept a safe distance from me until I had my shower, which felt glorious.

I'm really happy with how the weekend went. I'm comfortable with my gear. I know I can eat that dehydrated food for a few days. I probably won't start a major fire in the tent at R&I. My only open issues are about how I can run for 3 days without a shower. I almost hope they keep that tent freezing, because the stench of a few of us will be unbearable.


Derrick said...

Great report JD. Loved it. Sounded like you had a wonderful training camp weekend. The trails look amazing. Always feels good to test out gear and have confidence in it. Two awesome runs too.

Campfoods are certainly a challenge. Some are really good and some not so say the least. They have come a long ways from the old ones, but you will be pretty stoked to have that first 'real' meal after day #3 at R&I regardless.

David said...

Great report. Sounds like a fabulous weekend - I would have loved to have joined you, but a little far for me.

Yup after Day 3 we will be really hungry and THIRSTY. Damn that first beer will be good.

JD said...

David, funny you should say that: I drank two beers as soon as I got cleaned up. Too bad beer freezes at about -5C, I would have stuck a few cans in my bag!

Don't forget STINKY. I might order some Action Wipes.

Jamie said...

Great weekend. I need to get out camping more.

Pee bottle?? Isn't that what trees are for?