Shaking Down at Sawnee

I dragged my kids almost 4 miles around Sawnee Mountain today. My pack was loaded to about 11lb, which was pleasantly manageable. I was mostly testing to see how well my knee is doing now that I’ve started rolling various things connected to my IT band.

The entertainment for today were all the people that tried to skirt around the little streams of rain run-off passing along, through, or down the trail. Not only were they widening the trail, contrary to LNT principles, but they more often than not tracked through a leaf-covered surprise swamp of dark, soft, deep sludge, losing shoes and most certainly getting soaked through to the socks. Naturally, as other people approached and saw missing shoes on feet, they went even wider. I walked mid-trail directly through the 14 inch of water, where the soil is already packed and rocky. When I got to back to the car, both feet were dry and (mostly) mud-free - nothing a few hard stomps couldn’t fix.

I had thoughts while hiking I wanted to capture:

Almost all the ladies were hiking in polyester running tights. So was I. It was not optimal. published an article on how she stayed warm on the AT, which noted that she didn’t wear long pants or tights - she hiked in a skirt. Consider the experience of thru-hikers before dismissing her explanation.

Since I wore blue jeans on my first mountain hike as a kid, which turned an amazing hike at Big Bend National Park into a torturous slog, I’m continuously looking for anything that rubs, makes noise, or otherwise creates friction. Tights prevent a lot of friction, I see that. I see people who wear pants and shorts, but to prevent thigh chafing wear tight boxers, bike shorts, or even long (9 inch) boxers. Again, while those may prevent chafing, they also hold heat and the sweat that results. That means losing salts and electrolytes, and drinking more. Water filtered from the creek doesn’t replace all that, which means carrying more replacements.

Polyester stinks when it gets sweaty, that absolutely includes anything branded “CoolMax” like socks. Prefer wool. The first time you wake on an overnight hike and have to swap back to a sweaty polyester shirt in the morning, you’ll flinch a bit. I don’t often get to use “revulsion” as an adjective, but that’s what it is. For you geniuses to plan ahead, hanging it to air-out at night won’t fix the smell, and that’s even if you’re fortunate enough for something to actually dry overnight hanging it in your campsite.

Having your shoes just a little bit too loose, where you feet slide around inside the shoe on a slant, is bad. When your toes jam against the front of your shoe enough times, they hurt. Tighten those laced up a bit.

Pockets! My Nike tights don’t have pockets, so I used my hip belt pockets. The funny thing about actually using pockets means something is bouncing against your leg, creating friction. Avoid them if you can. Just having them tempts you to do undesirable things like stuffing a food wrapper in your pocket - just for a second, smearing that bear food smell all over you - turning you into bear food.

Hiking sticks - I left them at home thinking my pack wasn’t going to throw me off balance. I forgot they also keep my hands from swelling.

I wore a baseball cap instead of one of my booney hats. I wished I had more coverage.

My knee still started hurting after about 3 miles, but it doesn’t hurt now that I’m back making these notes, so I’m not sure whether to blame IT band friction yet or not. Rolling hasn’t hurt, so I’m going to continue that.

I wished I had my Dirty Girl gaiters. I got rocks in my shoes.

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