Friday, August 12, 2011

The Difference a Year Makes

Evening descent down Crawford Path - Aug. '10
About one year ago to the week, in August of 2010, I crazily set out to attempt a Presidential Traverse. I want to take a few minutes to reflect on that trip, and talk about the difference a year makes, a year of a ridiculous amount of hiking. Things were different then, and I was much less experienced than I am now. After all, my pack then was over 30lbs. I had a tent with me, as I planned to make it more than halfway and camp in the Dry River Wilderness. However, after I came down from the summit of Madison, my knee had gradually developed some serious pain; what I found later in the year to be a possible patella femoral syndrome, however I question that vague diagnosis. I hiked to the summit of Adams and then skipped the rest of the peaks all of the way to Washington walking the Gulfside Trail in serious limping pain. Despite the pain, I took it in stride and didn't think to much about it not working out this time. I had to get down.

One thing I miscalculated about the Ammo Trail was how soon I would be able to find a spot for the tent. I hobbled until midnight when I found a flat spot. It was a relief to get it pitched and fall asleep. I had slept in until about 9, packed up, and had a very short hike out, where I was picked up at the Cog.

With all of that now a part of history, I make my way up the same trails this weekend - one year later. The difference is that in 2010, I had not hiked any other 4000 footers, besides Washington in 2007. This time, I have under my belt 250 miles of hiking, 75,000 feet of elevation gain, and a mental note of everything I have learned while reaching the summit of the other forty-three 4000 foot peaks in the last 8 months. In addition to that, my pack weight will be 13.5lbs (before food). That includes 2L of water. With 6 weeks in a row of hiking some of the toughest ones on the list, I am ready for the ultimate ending of my quest, with the toughest of them all, the Presidential Traverse.

With the way this year has gone - which has been great, and full of memorable moments, it only makes sense that I've planned this final trip to have the potential to be an experience of a lifetime, not only for me, but my brother as well. We are watching the weather very closely for this one. The moon is going to be 100% full tomorrow night. We will traverse most of the Presidential Range in the 9 hours of darkness slated for Saturday into Sunday, with a possibility of experiencing the following: a traverse via light from a 100% full moon, the Perseid meteor showers, which just passed their peak, and a chance to experience sunrise on the highest peak in the Northeast, or maybe better yet, my 48th and final peak on this quest, Monroe. How much of this potential greatness will we get to experience? That's determined by the weather, but a year of hiking and many weeks of planning and gathering information are done, and we're ready to go.

Moonlight Presidential Traverse Pack List

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