I was able to go on a 26-mile shakedown hike a few days ago on the Taum Sauk section of the Ozark Trail in Missouri and this is what I have learned.
1. I’m Bringing My Stove
Recently I have been debating on whether or not I should go stoveless. I decided to take my stove on my shakedown, and I am glad I did. It was a great morale booster to eat warm food after a cold day of hiking. I will appreciate that in the early parts of the AT when it’s cold. Even if I decide I don’t want to use it, it does not take a lot of room in my pack and it’s super light, so I’m definitely going to start out with it.
2. I’m Bringing My Trekking Poles
Taum Sauk is NO JOKE! There are so many rocks, my feet took a beating. I think I would have fallen a handful of times without the assistance of my trekking poles. I originally did not want to take them, but I think they are handy to have for multiple reasons. Not only are they good for balance, but they are also good for spearing any weirdos who try to come into my tent while RaffyTaphy is tryna put me to sleep.
I had no service the whole time, only saw four people, and was in my tent ready for bed by 5:45. Not gonna lie, it was kinda boring. However, I am not too stressed about it. I know I will have a lot more fun on the AT. For example, I will have service most of the time (Verizon), there will be people to meet, and the days will be longer so my nights in the tent won’t be as long. I was in my tent from 5:45 p.m. to 8 a.m., an agonizingly long time when there is nothing to do but sleep and listen to Bob Seger all night (love ya, Bob).
4. I Love My Pack
I have the Gossamer Gear Kumo, and it’s my favorite pack ever. Just look at how sexy that thing is! It fits all of the gear I have and rides very well on my back. My loads are usually around 20 to 25 pounds, which feels good, especially when I wear the hip belt. I also love the shoulder strap pockets and the roomy mesh on the front of the pack; it holds wayyyy more than you think.
5. My Quilt Is Going to Work
I was eager to test out the limits of my 30-degree UGQ bandit down quilt on this hike. It got down to 24 degrees and I did not feel cold; in fact, I never even strapped my quilt onto my pad. Granted, I was wearing my base layers, Nano Puff, and rain jacket, but still, I did not get cold. I am starting my hike April 3, so I am anticipating a few nights on trail that will be colder than what I experienced on this hike. Nevertheless, I am very happy with it!