PSA: Back to the Woods

Well, it finally happened. Two years after finishing my thru-hike of the AT, my worst fears have come to pass.

The Problem

I was hanging out at the Kingdom Trails parking lot, waiting patiently for my friend to get there so we could go shred on some bikes, minding my own business when it hit me. That lunchtime hunger. Being the independent woman that I am, I walked to the corner store and got a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Half Baked. Which, by the way, is the best B&J’s flavor, hands down.

Taking my time to enjoy the bright, sunshiny day we were having, I found a picnic table to sit down at and eat what was passing for my lunch. Idyllically, I spooned mouthfuls of creamy sustenance into my body and slowly the lunchtime hunger dissipated.

About two-thirds of the way through the pint, that hunger was replaced by a different feeling. A dreadful feeling. That “oh god, I don’t think I can finish this whole thing” feeling. A feeling I have not felt since before the AT, especially about ice cream. Mind you, I am a proud finisher of the half-gallon challenge, and after completion of said challenge, I proceeded to hike another seven miles.

So as I sat in defeat, alone at this picnic table in the middle of East Burke, VT, I thought to myself, “Well damn, I guess it’s time for another thru-hike.”

The Proposal

I’ve been contemplating a thru-hike of the Long Trail for some time now, and the way my jobs lined up this year, it fell pretty perfectly into place. In talking about it to my coworkers, one of them came up with a brilliant suggestion. What if, when I got to the top of the Long Trail, I went over to the top of the Cohos Trail and hiked that SOBO? It was a bold suggestion, but it appealed to me. Last year I tried and failed to hike the CT due to a knee injury.

Another big reason why the CT was tough for me was the lack of human interaction. If this plan were to succeed, I’d need to find a friend to do it with me. Enter: fellow AT 2017 hiker Patch. I knew of his plans to hike the Long Trail this year, and it didn’t take much convincing to sway him into another 170ish more miles. And so there it was. I had the plan, I had the partner, now let’s talk about gear.

The Gear

I was actually trying to be weight conscious for once. The gear for this hike is drastically different from the gear I had on the AT. I traded my Osprey pack for a ZPacks Arc Blast, my REI sleeping bag for an Enlightened Equipment quilt, and my tent for a tarp and custom bug net. Needless to say, my pack is going to be MUCH lighter.

Here’s my Lighter Pack breakdown:

And the obligatory gear picture:

A little bit of background on my shelter for this hike: both the tarp and the bug net are homemade, by two good friends of mine. The tarp was created by fellow AT thru-hiker Ryan. It’s 10×10 feet and more than capable of covering two people plus their gear. With the rope for the corners and the ridgeline, it weighs in at 12 ounces. Ryan can be found on Instagram @simpleliving365. The bug net is a prototype creation of fellow AT ’17 hiker Two Speed (@cguynn), who builds hammocks and tarps. We’re both learning a lot about the build and setup for it, as it’s still in testing phases. Nothing beats not getting eaten alive at night though.

I’ll be leaving for the Southern Terminus of the Long Trail on August 28. When I arrive at the Northern Terminus, fellow AT ’17 hiker Peregrine will be picking up Patch and me up and shuttling us over to the Northern Terminus of the CT. My plan right now is to finish all 450ish miles in about a month. This is very likely not going to be the case, but I’m excited to experience it and find out!

You can follow my trek on Instagram @the.spitfire or contact me at [email protected]!