I had the pack. I had the poles. I now had boots. It was time to try a full pack.

Or at least a fuller pack. My pack weight came to 13 pounds approximately, which means about nine pounds of stuff and four of pack. That’s probably a pound or two less than I’ll actually carry in two weeks on the Loyalsock. I used clothing I had in the back of the car to weight the pack.

The location of the hike was Warwick County Park, starting from Mount Pleasant Road trailhead, and
heading toward French Creek. The trail is the former right of way of the long gone Sowbelly Railroad, and isn’t like the Loyalsock, but a man has to start somewhere.

My hike took me to French Creek’s vista, overgrown as expected, and back for about three miles. The scenery was lovely as expected, and this is a park I hike in frequently, but since this was a shakedown or testing hike, I’ll leave descriptions of the views for another post.

Welcome to Pennsylvania.

Here are my takeaways from the three miles, starting at the ground and going up….

Boots: The new boots from my friend John are better at support than the Brooks Cascadia trail runners. That said, as I mentioned in the last Backpacking Project post, the boots are slightly too large. I slid a little side to side and front to back on grades. I think tighter lacing and thicker socks will minimize this problem. The boots handled well on both rock and dirt, and I felt comfortable in them. I didn’t have any plantar problems. The orthotic insole stayed in place.

Also, there was a psychological benefit that I won’t dismiss. I always associate hiking with boots, and just having them on helped me form an image of me as a backpacker. Yes, I know I can hike in anything, and I encourage all my readers to hike their own hike, but still, the boots helped both my feet and my mind.

Poles: John criticized me for having my poles too short, and I corrected that this hike. The poles did their job, and there’s nothing more to say.

Clothing: I didn’t wear the clothes I am hiking in on the Loyalsock. No special reason. I’d just not done laundry. Cotton was fine for the three miles.

Pack: The fitting REI did was OK. The weight rested on my hips and not on my shoulders. However, there was one odd feeling I had. As you might have noticed from my photos, I have a spinal curvature. While the pack didn’t hurt my back, it did force me into a different posture, one more upright than my normal scoliosis slouch. My back muscles feel, well, confused at being forced to take a different position. So do my arms and shoulders. I expect some soreness tomorrow from the fatigue tonight.

Food: I ate badly before hiking and suffered. Note to self – do not eat a heavy meal ten minutes before hiking. Hydration was fine.

Fatigue: Yes, I am worn out. Hiking with a pack takes more out of you, and I am tired. Of course I was tied before the hike for reasons I won’t discuss here, so it might not be entirely the hike’s fault.

The most important takeaway is that I feel I can do this, and while I am going to be challenged during my three days on the Loyalsock, I will be a backpacker. And after this hike, I consider myself one now.