Friday, March 2, 2012

Gear Maintenance and Trail News

With temperatures in the mid-80s in central Florida, I haven’t wanted to hike.  I’ve closed the curtains, cranked up the AC, and hibernated inside for two days.  Gene did a hike yesterday--suffered through ten miles and was just glad to get out of the heat and humidity.

Since I’d gotten most of the chores done earlier in the week, I used the extra time catching up on my blog reading.  Got kinda behind when Tony and Diana were here.  A couple of things caught my attention from the hiking blogs.

One is the new bear canister regulations put in place by the US Forest Service in northern Georgia.  Bear canisters are required in several places out west, but unheard of in the east--until now.  A bear canister is a container made of hard plastic which is almost impossible for a bear to break into.  Backpackers use these canisters to store food, toiletries, and anything that has an odor that a bear (or any wild animal) might associate with food.  This is a temporary requirement (March 1 thru Jun 1) in a short 5-mile section in north Georgia between Jarrad Gap and Neel’s Gap in the Blood Mountain Wilderness Area.  Since it is just a 5-mile section, I suspect most backpackers will opt to hike on through and not spend the night in the designated area.

The second news tid-bit was about the upcoming US Postal Service closings.  Apparently, some of the small trail town post offices are on the list for possible closure.  I didn’t investigate that (only reporting what I read on another blog), but it certainly doesn’t surprise me.  This news is important for thru-hikers because some use the USPS for mail drops and bump boxes.

A mail drop is a box packed by the hiker, friend, or family member which contains items the hiker will need in the future and mailed to a post office in a trail town.  Gene and I used mail drops when we did our 400 mile section from Hot Springs, NC to Roanoke, VA.  Our boxes contained stuff like water treatment chemicals, ziploc storage bags, first aid supplies, vitamins, prescription meds, and the maps and guidebooks for the next section.  A bump box is used by hikers to “bump” unused supplies up the trail to be used later.  It’s essentially the same thing as a mail drop, but in this case the hiker mails the box him/herself as he/she progresses up the trail.

In recent years, hikers have tended toward mailing boxes to hotels and hostels rather than the post office.  This eliminates the need to be in particular place during hours when the post office is open.  So, even though some of these small town post offices may close, it may not impact the trail community all that much.

Now for the gear maintenance part of this story.  Gene noticed after his hike yesterday that a seam has come apart on his hiking boot.  He has a tendency to turn his ankle, so, unlike the popular trend of wearing low cut hiking shoes, he still wears heavy, high-top boots.  These boots are expensive, so he tries to make every pair last as long as possible.  Today, in an effort to hold that seam together for a few more hikes, he applied plumbers goop.  The boots have about a thousand miles on them anyway, so they’re about worn out and Gene ain’t gonna win no fashion award out there on the trail, so plumbers goop it is.  At least it’s waterproof.  That may become important in a week or two.

The other thing he tried to fix was my raincoat.  I have a Helly Hansen, three quarter length raincoat that I’ve had for years.  Although my mother gave it to me to use on the trail, I don’t.  It’s far to heavy for that.  I just use it as my raincoat and I love it.  However, it has lost it’s waterproofing.  Gene took things under his wing today.  There are spray-on products to waterproof fabric, but he used a wash-in product.  After the raincoat dried, we did the “water” test.  When we sprinkled water on the coat, the drops beaded up pretty good.  A heavy rain will be the real test.

That’s about all I know for today.  Thanks for tagging along.

1 comment:

  1. nice that Gene was able to get the water to bead on your raincoat once again! hopefully you won't need it too much!!