Beach Training

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After hiking the local bike trails a couple of times I had a painful realization. It donned on me that I wasn’t really training for the type of terrain I’d be hiking in Sept and Oct. The sections of the Florida Trail I’ll be doing have a good bit of sugar sand and they’re out in the open. Hiking regular dirt trails under the cover of trees isn’t really a good simulation to get ready.

So today I decided to change my training regimen. I hit the beach! What better place to find fine sugar sand with no cover/protection from the searing Florida heat? I waited for the heat to kick up a few degrees, drove to the beach, geared up, and hit the “trail”. You’d think people had never seen anyone with a full pack hiking down the beach. 😀

I used my Pacific Crest pack today instead of the GoLite. When I packed the GoLite I must’ve done it wrong because I just couldn’t get it to carry right. I needed to try out the PC anyway, though, so it worked out fine. I have to say that for an inexpensive pack I’m pretty impressed. It’s a big pack (4000 cu in) but I didn’t have it full. The number of pockets is a big improvement over the lack of flexibility you have with the Jam 2. The full hipbelt and improved padding on the back and shoulder straps made a big difference. It did increase the weight by about 6.5 lbs but I almost think the comfort was worth it. As long as I kept the weight on my hips I barely felt a thing. It was wonderful! My only real complaint is that the hipbelt doesn’t lock enough. I had to re-tighten it several times throughout the day. However, this wasn’t any major issue.

I packed right in at 30.5 lbs of gear. I hope to be in the same neighborhood if not a little lighter for the actual hikes. Since this was the first hike with the new pack and in a new setting I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d planned on a quick 2 mi hike but it was going so well I kept going. I ended up at 3.7 mi. I’d hoped to get to 4 mi but hit a drainage area on the beach that I didn’t want to walk around. As it turned out this wasn’t a big deal. It started to rain about the same time. Fortunately the PC has a built in rain cover so I just hiked on back to the truck without a care in the world…except for the lightning. 🙂 My total time was about 2:20.

I’m still going to try packing the Jam 2 to see if I can get it as comfortable as the PC but we’ll have to see. I may end up dealing with the extra weight. If I can shave those pounds, though, it should make for relatively simple hikes.

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