Catching Up

A view of the water at West Branch State Park

It’s been a minute since the last update. I was using this space to mark time and perhaps I should get back to that. The summer disappeared and suddenly, fall is right behind it. This picture was from a radio expedition to West Branch State Park. I do enjoy a quiet Saturday morning.

We’re still well. Still in the pandemic. Still adapting in place and preparing for more changes as we roll into 2022. Such a strange thought that a year would have that number.

The holidays are here.

Vacation

We took some time in West Virginia to visit The New River Gorge National Park. It’s a beautiful state and a beautiful river. The rafting was amazing!

Most importantly, it was quiet. No WiFi at the cabin. Spotty cellular service. The way a vacation should be.

The Trail

A silly Rottweiler sniffs at a trail sign.

Most days are ending with a turn through the park. 3 to 6 miles of terrain with some amount of gear and a large puppy. The first run through the park with what will be the bulk of my gear for the backpacking trip was pretty good. I remembered why I loved this particular pack. It’s 50L and will more than hold what I need it to hold. Certainly better than a half-empty 75L pack would.

With the optional radio gear, it isn’t too bad. Given that the longest day is set to be about 12 miles, I think taking the radio will be worth it. Not taking it would, in some small way, invalidate having purchased it at all. Not really, but that’s one way to talk myself into the extra weight. And more importantly, I’m learning that this pack and the gear that I’ve selected will likely be perfect for summer conditions in most settings. Depending on the circumstances, a tent might be preferable to the hammock setup (imagining a place with no good trees) but that might go in a separate bag on a bike.

Yes, the thoughts are trending toward bike packing. I doubt that I will do any this summer as my current bike is really only good for paved surfaces, but in the fall (assuming a new bike is available) I could probably squeak in one quick weekend just to see how it feels and to scratch the itch.

In the meantime, backpacking and doing portable radio seems like a good way to spend some summer.

Walking The Dog

A slightly out of focus picture of a big, silly rottweiler with a gentle lead around her nose looking ready for a walk.

The weather couldn’t quite decide what it wanted to do with itself. At first, it was bright, then grey, and then, after much deliberation, a torrent of rain that made mowing in the afternoon impossible and changed the trajectory of the evening. With dinner eaten, Bella and I got in the Jeep and headed to Towners Woods for a turn through the park. We got our 3 point something miles in. She loves riding in the open air of the Jeep. She also really enjoys walking in the terrain. It definitely makes her tired. We kept a good (for a so-called middle-aged dude and a puppy) pace of about 20 minutes per mile.

The trees were all beautiful and green. The park was almost devoid of the noise of humans. There was the sound of us moving along the trail and of some ladies taking a walk further up the trail. Luckily, they took a different route before we could overtake them. They were moving just fast enough that we would have to move really quickly to get through and past them without awkward conversation.

My pack was not as loaded as it should have been. Next time I go, I will take my radio pack with gear in it. Or more likely, I will take the mid-sized Kelty that I have and fill it with gear. I want to see how it sits on my back and how it feels over a 3 mile stretch. It might be a contender for my minimalist load out for the summer backpacking trip with the troop.

The drive home was as good for Bella as the drive there, but maybe better because she was hot, tired, and got a really nice breeze in her face. She can’t seem to figure out how to get in and out of the Jeep on her own just yet. She always needs a very embarassing boost to get her hindquarters in. She will figure it out eventually. Or maybe not?

Preparations

A tree fallen across a trail.

3 miles at a time. That’s how we do it. The loop we walk through the woods runs almost exactly 3 miles from getting out of the Jeep through to getting back to it. The trip we have planned for this summer is about 6 miles on the average day. With a current pace of 3mph, that’s about 2 to 2.5 hours a day on the trail. Not a long time. Of course, the trip is in PA, so the terrain will be loaded with ankle-rolling rocks and other nasty stuff.

But to prepare ourselves, we walk our loop. 3 miles at a time. Next week, we’ll be doing 2 loops with each trip. And then we’ll load up the packs. We’ll be ready.