Pine Mountain Trail – April 2011
We got out of town a little late but made it to the state park and got our backcountry passes and got dropped off at the trail head after leaving our car where we were planning to come out. It was a bit chilly so I started off with my light fleece on but it didn’t take long for that to go back in the pack because we warmed up really quickly.
We didn’t go far before we reached our first sign and you can tell it was early because Richard’s smile still looks like he means it. As time went on the smiles, though still fully meant, look quite forced since we were working hard for our fun! The first part of the trail was very easy and followed a valley for the first mile or two which was full of small waterfalls that were not that spectacular but beautiful all the same. The first real “sight” we came to was a little natural bridge. It is hard to spot in the pictures but it was really obvious when you were on it! 🙂 As we went we were learning how to hike together and figuring out what to mention to the person behind and keeping a “together” pace. We had a lot of moments where Richard would warn me about a low branch that had bothered him that I just missed completely.
We went 6.2 miles the first day and there was probably five or six little waterfalls along the way and even more creek crossings and the whole area was just gorgeous! The biggest waterfall we did come to was called cascade falls and there is a path that you can take that lets you stand next to the top of the falls and it was a really nice place to stop and eat some trail mix lunch. I have to say that we really enjoyed the trail mix a lot more than we thought we would. We actually ate the trail mix as a walking lunch more than the lunch that I had packed. Speaking of food in general, we ate a LOT less than we thought we would. The breakfasts were perfect and by the second morning we got pretty good at making it without measuring the water amounts for our oatmeal and grits. Trail mix as lunch worked really great and we ended up bringing home the lunches I had packed. We also brought way too much for dinners and I brought home a whole dehydrated meal and we never finished the meals we did make.
We also had some issues with the water tablets. The tablets worked great but they took too long to work and we ran out of drinkable water the second day. We have decided that we would like to go with a gravity filter system after seeing another hiker rock one. The amount of water Richard drinks is so high we could never carry enough water reservoirs for a tablet system to work and a gravity filter weighs much less than a average pump filter, especially when you stop and think that the grav filter weight includes a 4 liter dirty and a 4 liter clean resinous and the clean side can be used to store water as well, eliminating the need for extra storage containers. One of the things that worked really well was our packs. Neither of us ever felt the pain we have heard described by new backpackers on similar trips. Of course that might also have something to do with our packs topping out at 25 pounds and that’s without any truly lightweight gear. One of the first things we will be buy before our next trip is a new pack for Richard. His old external frame scout pack worked fine and took the load really well but the pack itself is heavy and hard to use if you run into any terrain.
We arrived at camp an hour earlier than I had planned both days and had ample time to set up camp, make dinner, and hang our bear bag before sunset. We had access to fire rings, but we honestly didn’t really use them. Partially because there really wasn’t enough useable firewood but a lot of it was because we really didn’t have time and energy. I was truly worried that sleep was going to be a problem since I have really bad insomnia but after a full day of hiking I was asleep by 9 every night and awake with Richard with no real grogginess like I was afraid would happen.
The best view of the second day though was on top of the highest point in the trail (all the good views are at the top of a good climb :P) at a place called Dowdell Knob it was a 2.5 hour long climb to get to it and it was worth every step!
All in all it was an amazing trip and we had a great time. It was a very educational trip, we learned a lot about what works for us and what we’d like to try in the future. We are in the process of tweaking our set up to fix the problems we had and of course go lighter than before and we are really excited to get back out there soon!