Over the past year, I have had the pleasure of doing a number of different trips using Osprey's Exos 58 backpack. My longest trip was a 120-mile loop in the Wind River Range of the amazing state of Wyoming. The pack held up great and is extremely comfortable for long days on the trail.
See a detailed video review here: Osprey Exos 58 backpack review.
The Airspeed suspension provided the perfect amount of tension while allowing free-flowing air to cool and dry off my back as I perspired. Our most demanding trek during this trip was a 17-mile section of hard-hitting trail. The trek included summiting two peaks and mistaking an elk path for the main trail…this led to a few miles of unbelievably nasty terrain and about a half-mile of wandering around looking for the trail after our trusted elk path dissipated into some dangerous rock formations. Needless to say, we learned our lesson!
That’s the message I sent to some friends upon my family’s arrival to the Volunteer State. I already have an affinity for the mountains that was birthed in me when I grew up in Oregon, and as November began, with the leaves turned a beautiful golden yellow color, the air carried a crisp - almost cedar tasting - feel to it – and I was loving life. Add to that, the fact that it was my 31st birthday and we were in town for a wedding – and it’s clear to me that the galaxy had offered me a most radical weekend adventure.
Explaining the functionality of my internal framed Gregory Z-Series (Jade Series for the ladies) backpack is like trying to explain the resourcefulness of a pocketknife on the trail - it's essential. The versatility is broad, no matter where you find your destination.
My experience with the Gregory Z 55 has resulted in me falling in love with it…as well as a professional butt kicking to my ego because my backpack has proven to be more rugged and resilient than me! Now I know you could be thinking “there’s no way that an inanimate object can possibly throw punches…” but I kid you not, it very well might be able to do so with all its advantageous features. (It’s these) that help make it the ultimate companion on any domestic or international adventure!
As the keeper of a North Carolina-based hiking blog I'm always keeping an eye on what the competition's up to. And I'm happy to report that on any given day (most, in fact) these sites based in the U.S. Southeast put mine to shame.
Sandra Friend's Florida Hikes site is one of the comprehensive state- focused hiking blogs in the U.S. Though a lot of goodies are behind a paywall ($27 a year), there's still oodles of free stuff. Pretty impressive when you consider Florida's conspicuous lack of mountain vistas.
When I started hiking, pants and underwear were near the bottom of my shopping list. I was too busy snapping up hydration packs and low-rise hiking shoes. Then I came home after a sweltering 12-miler with a burning in my crotch that nothing to do with getting lucky.
It was the Dread Chafe -- the soft skin of the inner thighs rubbed raw after six hours of contact with seams, folds and fabric built for an afternoon on the couch, not a day on the trail. I'd have traded 12 Camelbaks for anything to keep the burn at bay.
It was Krispy Kritter's birthday today, happy birthday man!May 30, 2010 – Day 55 - Sunday Destination: Jennings Creek, Va 614 Starting Location: Wilson Creek Shelter Today's Miles: 17.00 Trip Miles: 746.80
"Life is known only by those who have found a way to be comfortable with change and the unknown. Given the nature of life, there may be no security, but only adventure."
~ Rachel Naomi Remen
"Fall seven times, stand up eight." ~Japanese proverb
Timber and Advatar wanted to slack pack 13 miles back into town. I didn't want to stay in town another night. I had several options on when to leave and how many miles I was going to do. I ended up hiking out of town with Red Stick around 11:30. It was going to be a short day (a nero) because I wanted to break in the new boots. I was afraid to hike too far or too hard and develop foot problems. Doing the 11 miles out of town would also, if the weather holds out for me, set me up for a campout on Jennings Creek (one of my favorite creeks in Va.).
"You can only do what you can do." ~ King Lui, Glastonbury Castle
I couldn't figure out the name of Pine Swamp Branch Shelter. It wasn't near a swamp and it did not have very many pine trees. The shelter was dedicated to Trimpi which was the name of another shelter near Troutdale, Va. I guess this is one of those AT mysteries solved at a later date.
"Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night."
~Rainer Maria Rilke
Hardcore was over and everyone was up early to catch some type of breakfast and coffee, pack and catch their ride back to where you left the trail. I was designated to 1-Pint (our driver) along with Jesse and Eric the Red. We left Kincora 9:00 am and was driving up the interstate towards Atkins. By 11:30 I was back on the AT looking for the white blazes north.
May 14, 2010 - Day 39 - FridayDestination: Damascus, VA - Trail Days Starting Location: Atkins, VA Today's Miles: 0.00 Trip Miles: 539.10
The first thing I did when I got into Damascus was walk up to tent city where the majority of the hikers were staying. Tent City was laid out differently this year because part of the land was under construction for new baseball/soccer fields. Volunteers for the last three days had been cutting and constructing trails and campsites in the posion ivy infested woods running along a stream. The trails ran a 1/2 of a mile in one direction and a 1/4 of a mile in the other. Premium tent sites were being taken quickly. Several communities were springing up with names like Billville, Miss Janets, Riff Raff, Alcatraz, Trail Talk, Dog Bone Fire to name a few. I decided to head over to the Gear repair site to meet old friends. Granite Gear, big Agnes, Osprey, Mountain Hardwear and others were present repairing for free broken or torn gear brought over by thru hikers. Due to the new configuration, the crowds did not enter through this section to get to tent city this year so the numbers of visitors were down this year. Met up with my friend, Fix It Man and he set me up for the weekend. I decided I wasn't going to do anything but relax, eat and have a few beers.