In the spirit of Memorial Day weekend, Ben and I headed out yesterday for an overnight trip to test out our gear and work out any kinks in our systems. It was also a chance to just get out and walk and clear our heads, as planning for a long-distance hike has been really overwhelming at times. I will be sitting at my computer, checking snow depths, reading gear reviews, or making an outline of our trip itinerary/resupply schedule and I will think, “I just want to walk!! I don’t want to plan to walk anymore.”
And so we walked. We headed up the Green Lakes Trail in the Three Sisters Wilderness and camped near the still snow-covered lakes. Luckily, we were able to find a dry campsite in an alcove of trees so we didn’t have to camp on the snow. We had optimistic thoughts that we might get a decent weather window to go up Broken Top early this morning, but it rained and snowed for much of our mini-adventure. I’m a Seattle girl, so we expect rain on Memorial Day (and Fourth of July for that matter). Besides, I consider it valuable psychological training for the thru-hike.
We received our ZPacks quilt in the mail a few days ago, and I was anxious to see how it worked in the field. Instead of carrying two sleeping bags, Ben and I will share one quilt. It saves us a significant amount of weight, plus has the added advantage of allowing us to share body heat and snuggle in the backcountry. If you’re used to a mummy style sleeping bag, it’s definitely a different concept. The quilt kind of tucks under your body, but if you move around, it can be a bit drafty. The quilt is also made with a water resistant down that helps the down to maintain its loft (and therefore it’s insulating qualities) even if it becomes wet. We will still do everything in our power to keep our sleeping system from getting wet, but it is nice to have some added security. Overall, the quilt was pretty darn comfortable. We were a little cold on and off, but hopefully with practice we will figure out how to move around without letting cold air in. The sleeping pads, however, are a different story.
We got these Velcro strips that we adhered to each of our sleeping pads, hoping that they would keep our sleeping pads from inevitably sliding apart during the night, which causes one or both of us to be laying on the ground, sandwiched between the pads. Unfortunately, the Velcro seems to pull apart as soon we lay down on our inflated sleeping pads. Pretty immediately after getting home this afternoon, I went to work researching an alternate solution. I just ordered a “Thermarest Couple Kit,” which is a pair of straps that you wrap around both sleeping pads. They have decidedly mixed reviews – from useless to awesome – so we will have to see.
Most importantly, it was invaluable quality time with the other member of my wolf pack. There has been a lot of change lately, and it is important sometimes to take a step back, go to your happy place, and remember what you are doing, why you are doing it and who you are doing it with.
Warm and dry (the camera lens got a little wet and fogged up)
Looking toward Broken Top
Our mountain home..the Tarptent Double Rainbow
Our double quilt from ZPacks