What’s Next…

First, here’s a few other interesting pics from the trip that I ran across today:

Chasteen Creek Cascades

Chasteen Creek Cascades

2015-10-26 1255

Sunrise from Clingmans Dome

View from the Appalachian Trail

View from the Appalachian Trail

Turkey in Cades Cove

Turkey in Cades Cove

Meigs Falls

Meigs Falls

Black bear in Cades Cove

Black bear in Cades Cove

2015-10-28 066

Here’s what’s in store for 2016:

April or May – Deep Woods and I will continue our long, slow slog north, starting at Standing Bear Farm just north of I-40 and finishing in Irwin, TN, right around 100 trail miles.  Then, if we’re lucky, we’ll cross the border into Virginia in 2017!

June/July – Loonie and I may head back to GSMNP.  Not sure yet what we will do but we’ve talked about doing the entire Clingmans Dome to Fontana Dam stretch of the AT (south-bound).  Or, if it’s late June or early July, head back up to Gregory Bald and then jump up north of the park to Max Patch.  Either of those would be cool.

August – Loonie and I may be taking my mother out to Idaho to visit relatives and we’ve talked about doing a car trip through Yellowstone and the Tetons while we’re out there.  We’ll see.  I need to get that one figured out real quick!!!

October – I might finally try to wrap up the remainder of the Benton MacKaye Trail in the Smokies (Fontana Dam to Smokemont).  That would be awesome.

In between those, I think we’ll try to sneak in some weekend trips…just overnight hikes close to home.  We have some gear projects coming up and we’ll need to test those out.  Here’s what we’re thinking about making:

Internal Frame Pack for Bulldog – 1.43 oz/yd2 Cuben with aluminum or titanium struts.

Pack for Loonie – 1.43 oz/yd2 Cuben with zippered external pockets

Separating Twin Quilt – 950 fp Down, 0.34 oz/yd2 Cuben baffles.  Not sure yet on liner and shell fabric.  Pertex Quantum, Momentum 45/50, Ventum…I don’t know yet.

Straps to join the Exped UL 7.5 pads together

The one-pole Cuben mid that I’ve been wanting to make will just have to wait.  The SMD Gatewood Cape will do just fine for now.  I had a total pack weight under 20 lbs. this past Spring for the AT hike with Deep Woods so I think it would make more sense to concentrate on getting Loonie’s pack weight down and making something I can haul a bit more with when she comes along.  In spite of it’s weight, she and I will continue to use the SMD Lunar Duo.  It’s a great shelter and it would cost a ton of money just to trim 8-12 oz.  If we did the Clingmans Dome to Fontana Dam hike, we would be shelter hopping anyway so I would probably just bring a tarp or something we could squeeze into in the event of an emergency.  The weight of the Lunar Duo would no longer be an issue.

Other than some better base layers for Loonie, that’s about it gear-wise.  Physically, though, we definitely need to get busy.  I guess I’ll be starting up the stupid “Deep Woods” training program again.  My training regimen of no exercise and diet of coffee, little chocolate donuts, cream cheese danishes and Little Debbie’s Swiss Rolls just doesn’t cut it.  I have to admit that I did SO much better this year than last after losing some weight and getting in better shape.  And I wasn’t nearly as big a cry baby as I was last year.  At least I didn’t think so.  Deep Woods would probably disagree.

More to come…

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