First tough test

Was kind of excited yesterday to do my first local practice hike with the new Gregory backpack, loaded with 15 pounds of gear. I expect my base weight at the beginning will be more, likely 18 to 20 pounds, but felt this was a good weight to try. I haven't used a backpack in a long time.

Chose to try a new trail system this morning as well, driving across town to the Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge, which is located in the Still River / Devens area of Harvard.

The trail starts along the Nashoba River, and then curves inland to "Tank Road", formerly of the decommisioned Fort Devens. The temperature was in the mid-teens (F), sunny, with lots of snow on the ground.

Decided I'd do six miles, three in and three back. Map here (Tank Road continues northeast).

The path was icy and the snow crunchy, lots of resistance. Cross country skiers had been using, and in general the trail was uneven - lots of work for ankles and knees. One icy crossing over a partially flooded patch of trail.

The way out wasn't too bad, but my water system's (Geigerrig Hydration Engine) hose started freezing up and I lost my water access. Luckily this didn't happen until half way but was surprising. Not sure whether it was the hose freezing (the drink-head certainly had ice crystals), or the water itself was freezing. Will have to spend more time on this next time.

My trail mix (mixed nuts, dark chocolate, dried fruit, sunflower seeds) worked great. This was a combo of two Trader Joe's packages (Trail Mix being one, and unsalted sunflower seeds the other). Tasty, filling, easy to munch on. Will switch to salted sunflower seeds for the trail.

Made it back in about two hours, covering the six miles with only modest elevations.

Drove home and was just beat, tired and sore. I've been walking over two weeks now, frequently five miles, but with the pack and the uneven, icy trail, must have gotten my first taste of how arduous the AT might be like.

Not dissuaded, better educated.

Try again on Thursday.

Seven weeks to go.


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