From May 21st - 23rd we (EA, Keaton, Keith, Seth) hiked the second section of the OHT. This section began at White Rock Mountain and traveled east to Cherry Bend Road. The section covered about 20 miles and included a considerable amount of elevation gain. Whiting mountain was the largest climb and increased in elevation over a pretty short distance. As with our last trip, we spent only one night out on the trail.
The parts of the trip that really stand out to me were the extremely dense jungle sections (probably b/c I'm sure that's where I picked up the bulk of my poison ivy), the bushwacking we had to do in order to get up Whiting Mountain, and the time we spent eating and relaxing at Fane's Creek. As with the first trip, my favorite part was hanging out by the water while filling water bottles and eating lunch. Having a few cups of coffee after lunch definitely didn't hurt. Having an opportunity to wash off the dirt and cool off in the river rejuvenated the group and prepared us for the remainder of the day's hike.
We finished the hike late in the day on Saturday and stayed the night at a large campsite across the street from the Turner Bend Store. We were all able to shower and change into clean clothes. Unfortunately, there were a number of loud, drunk idiots staying at the campgrounds which prevented us from getting decent sleep before the long drive home on Sunday.
I used my new Osprey Aether 70 (which was about half full) and carried everything comfortably. I had no discomfort on the trail and am extremely happy with the pack. Because of the warm weather, we were able to make the trip without sleeping bags, which had a significant impact on our pack weight (I think my bag is just over 3 pounds). I wore my Salomon XT Wings and had comfortable and mostly dry feet the entire trip. I got a little wet on one crossing, but the shoes dried quickly and a change of socks did the trick. Keith and I utilized our new Steripen and Pioneer Pro water filtration system with great success. Our water tasted much better than when we used the iodine pills. We cooked with an old aluminum pot of Keith's and the MSR SuperFly stove, which worked well. My menu consisted of Starkist tuna packets, tortillas, ramen noodles, oatmeal, trail mix, and Clif bars.
Lessons Learned from my second trip:
1. Wear Pants. World Record case of poison ivy.
2. Coffee on the trail is a great luxury. I'm glad Keith invested in a coffee press.
3. Water is still really heavy.
4. Taking a bach in a river at the midway point enhances everyone's mood.
5. Hiking is great for weight loss when you don't eat three meals at the Swinging Bridge Cafe and carry too much food.