17 November 2013

Backpacking with dogs

So I let the new E look clean & shiny for almost a whole week before I loaded it up with gear & my long haired mutt for a backpack in Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness in the Pisgah National Forest! My dog was a little unsure of the new vehicle (perhaps it smelled too clean?) but she was able to overcome her uncertainty after a few minutes.

My dog really enjoys hiking & backpacking but, much like myself, tends to overdo it a little so I have to limit her time on the trail to a moderate excess.

The plan was to get a late start Saturday with a short but very steep hike of a couple of miles from Big Fat Trailhead up to the Haoe. The next day was to be a few more miles along the ridge to Naked Ground and then dropping down to Slickrock Creek with a side trip to find a waterfall. Not an easy hike by any means - there is a reason Slickrock Creek Trail made the Backpacker.com list of 12 hardest trails! My boyfriend, Brian, was leading this adventure & another guy from the GSHAG group was attending with his dog, Walter. I really enjoy backpacking with dogs & was glad Eilidh (Ay-lee: Gaelic for "light") was going to have a buddy along. Walter was a good trail dog - lab & pit mix - and very energetic! He and Eilidh probably did twice as many miles as the bipeds.
The climb up is brutal but the views are pretty nice.

We made it up to the Haoe in pretty good time only to find a crowd of people! We were able to snag a good campsite, just not the one we really wanted. But the sunset was still pretty cool......

This was my first test of my Marmot 5 degree down sleeping bag. I have their 20 degree bag I have used for quite a while but I tend to sleep cold & have been wanting something a little warmer. I got it from Sierra Trading Post when they were running a 40% off coupon - couldn't pass it up! Unfortunately it was not very cold this time so I guess I will need to try again. Oh darn! I was almost a little too warm in it as I estimate it only got down to 40 degrees. But it sure is comfortable!

The next day we got a fairly early start by my standards. Maybe not too early as the dogs saw it...

 Can we please just hike now?

The trip out was good - a nice walk on the ridge & a steep descent. The trails in Joyce Kilmer/Slickrock are so very rugged! I am always amazed at how hard the terrain really is. Since it is bear season in NC we did meet a radio collared "bear dog" at Naked Ground. She followed us for a while but eventually went back. I guess she was taking Sunday off.

 Walter says "Nice to meet ya!"

Once we reached Slickrock Creek we rock hopped across to search out a waterfall that should have been a a short distance down the trail. It was a bit further than we expected, but the triple cascades were well worth the extra effort!

So with a short, but again brutally steep climb out, we arrived back to the cars for the trip back home. I am pleased to say Eilidh declared the new E a welcome addition to our "family" & slept soundly the entire way back home.

05 November 2013

Let's get this blog started.....

One of the cool things about hiking long distance is it gives you plenty of time to think. Even when you are hiking with a group, there comes a time when everyone gets tired & turns inward for a while. Kinda like meditation for me, but more on that later. But as far as the idea for this....

While doing a nice 17 mile day hike over Mt. LeConte in the Smokies, enjoying the great fall coIor on a crisp Autumn day, I was talking with my friend Harold about Elements. I bought my 1st E in 2003 - it was love at first sight! I was immediately drawn to the utilitarian aspect of these "toasters on wheels" as they really suit my personality. I mean, c'mon: any vehicle you can practically hose the trail dust, dog hair & assorted detritus of an outdoor lifestyle out of it...PERFECT!  I had to wait 3 months to get my green 'cracker box' since that was a popular color at the time. Along the way I developed a bit of a sticker fetish & it became a work of art, maybe just folk art, but art nonetheless.


Regardless, my E became a postcard of the places I had been, people I had met along the way,  & a few places I was hoping to visit one day. At times I would come off the trails to find 'bonus' stickers stuck in the windows. Apparently some folks thought that 1 square foot of glass I had clear needed something! My E took me on many adventures: ultra runs all through the southeast, hike trips on the Batram,  Foothills, Continental Divide, Colorado & Appalachian Trails. It helped me move across the country twice & this fall moved my daughter into college.

I enjoyed that vehicle for 10 years, 227,000 miles, and unlimited adventures. 

I was heartbroken when Honda decided in 2011 to quit making the Element. I was not in a position to buy a new one at that time, but I began keeping my eye out whenever a 2011 came available. Seems most folks felt the same way as I did as there were not many coming on the market! Last week I found one in North Carolina that was just too good to pass up. Still under warranty, 4WD & a blank canvas for new bumper stickers!

So, with one last farewell hug to my 2003 (I did try to make sure the dealer didn't see me doing that), I set off in my new (to me) Element. Hoping for even more great explorations - being as it is all about the journey!

To tie it all together, in talking with Harold we were also discussing twitter & blogs & other such stuff & it occurred to me that writing about the E & my future adventures with it, including the acquisition of MORE STICKERS!, might be a good thing. And maybe, just maybe, other people would be interested in reading about it as well.

So let me know what you think: good, bad, indifferent.....

                                                           ..........But let the adventures begin!