Third time is the charm

Third time is the charm

On April 23 I published that I was going to accompany Chris and Maxine on a trip through Great Smokey Mountains National Park - 6 days, 73 miles, and 21,500' of climb.  Alas, those plans were thwarted by a groin pull.  So I replanned for Labor Day week with a trip to Grand Teton National Park where I was going to do the "High Adventure Trail," a famed extension of the "Teton Crest Tral" made famous in the 1970s by a famous mountaineer named Paul Petzoldt.  That was going to be 6 days, 74 miles, and 20,000' of climb.  Tina wanted to join for at least part of that trip - we were going to do a "staycation" for her for part of it because of her limited vacation time.  Alas, the costs and logistics of that trip gave me pause.  Putting her up in Jackson Hole Wyoming for a week while I was out hiking was going to cost an absurd amount.  So we looked at other options.

A simple option - one that made the staycation aspect easy and inexpensive - was if we traveled to Vermont.  We could start where the AT/LT split East of Rutland, and head East.  Tina could go with me for 2-3 days, then she could staycation (for free) at my sister's house in the Burlington area while continued hiking.  And we could ask my family to help with logistics dropping off and picking up, so no car rental.  This has become the new plan.  Third time is the charm.

The new new plan is 7 days, 107 miles.  This will take me from where the AT/LT split, over several ridges in eastern Vermont, before crossing the Connecticut River at Hanover, then working my way through the southern White Mountains, ending at Franconia Notch.  31,200' of climb!  Yikes!  Yeah, this is going to push me.  It's 50% tougher than either GSMNP or GTNP.  However, this is my home turf.  I've never done these specific trails before, but I am much more confident on this trek than either of the other two.  I know what elevations/tough days are like in New England.  Two years ago I spent a week doing day hikes for all the toughest hikes I could find in Vermont.  This will be like what I did that week - only it's going to be 7 days in a row.  Will I make it?  I'm pretty confident I will, but it will push me.

Trip plan

Tina will be joining me for days 1-3, but she'll be getting picked up at the ~10 mile mark on day 3.  Those 3 days won't be easy, but it's after we part ways that my itinerary gets stupid difficult.  Two days topping 5000'!  Can I do it?  We shall see.  There are lots of bail out points if I can't.

My first true UL extended trip.

I've been acquiring UL gear for a couple years now, I've taken a few short UL trips, and I've used UL gear on a bunch of non-UL trips, but I've never put all the pieces together.  Until now.  I've pared down my equipment list as much as I can to end up at a base weight of 7.9 pounds.  My total starting pack weight with full food and water should be ~17.5 pounds.  I will be using my custom Dandee pack for the first time.  This is my second Dandee pack.  I loved my first one - it carried like a dream.  This new one differs mainly in cosmetic ways.  As you can see, it's sexy.

The fabric is custom printed 1.43 DCF with a fall maple leaf motif.  Beyond these cosmetic features I had a couple structural enhancements over my previous Dandee specifically so that it could carry the bear can on top, and some additional customizations for carrying my rain umbrella, fitting my phone, and carrying an extra poofy quilt like my Timmermade Coati 20 (though I won't be taking that on this trip.)

Here's a link to the Lighterpack list for this trip.


The standard fare for this trip:  hot breakfasts and coffee every morning (oatmeal or freeze dried meals), meat and cheese for lunch, trail mix for a snack, and homemade dehydrated meals for dinner with blueberry cobbler for dessert.  I've found this meal plan to be satisfying in terms of taste, calorie count, variety, and weight.  Tina and I will leave the trailhead with 5.6 pounds of food for 2.5 days.  When I resupply, I'll pick up just shy of 5 pounds for the remaining 5 days.  Is that enough food?  Experts would say no, but my experience says yes.   My experience has shown that it takes a couple days for me to get really hungry - meaning some of the rations that don't get eaten the first couple days certainly will starting on day 4.  I might be a little hungry, but it won't kill me.  We'll see.  I might throw another couple ounces per day into snacks.


So here's the map of where I'm going.  The red house icons depict where I plan on staying each night.  The blue house icons depict other shelters or tent sites.  If plans change, I may stay at any of those.  In addition to the major road crossing shown here, there are numerous local road crossings.  I am anticipating that I should have cell phone service for most if not all of this trip given the trail's rather close proximity to numerous towns.  I am not planning on bringing a Garmin Inreach, but will have an extra battery for my phone.  Should I need to change plans and get picked up anywhere other than I-93 in Franconia Notch, I should be able to communicate that with Tina and my family in the Burlington area.

I expect I will be able to post updates via Facebook while I'm on the trail.

Wish me luck!

Keep hiking my friends