On February 16, 2013, I went for a hike in Mautino Sate Fish & Wildlife Area. The area is right next to an old strip mine near the Village of Buda, IL. Quite frankly, I cannot find much in the way of history or geology of the area. This place is really for fishing and bird hunting. If these are activities you like, look this place up.
So, I did try some new gear today. First, I put some 1/8” shock cord on the front of the Granite Gear Crown pack. This allowed me to tuck my ccf pad on the front of the pack. It worked very well and gave me significantly more internal volume.
Second, I tried to make a water bottle carrier on the shoulder strap using the same 1/8” shock cord. It did not hold a 1 quart Gatorade bottle, so I ended up just putting the extra bottle inside the pack.
Third, I used my SmartWool wristlets for the first time. They worked extremely well. http://www.rei.com/product/835652/smartwool-wristlets-womens
By keeping the wrists and hands warm, my fleece glove liners were sufficient to keep my fingers warm in temps ranging from mid to low 20s F.
Fourth, I used my new GoLite Koli Wool Baselayer Shortsleeve Top merino wool tee shirt as a base layer. http://www.golite.com/Ms-Koli-Wool-Baselayer-Shortsleeve-Top-P46758.aspx
This shirt is very comfortable, soft, and warm. The wool works great even when I sweat a lot. And sweat I did!
Fifth, I used a MontBell U.L. down jacket as a mid-layer. http://www.montbell.us/products/disp.php?p_id=2301154
With temps in the 20sF and winds blowing hard and steady, I wasn’t sure this would be enough insulation. I was wrong. I sweated completely through the down jacket and onto the inside of my rain shell. But, I took the down jacket off and hung it on a branch in the sun and wind while I took a short break. Within 10 minutes, the jacket was completely dry and fully lofted. I put the jacket back on and as temps fell in the dusk, I was warm and comfortable.
Sixth, I decided to use a fanny pack turned to the front to hold my wallet, phone, camera and mounts. I was pleased with how easily this worked and how accessible these items are when in the front. I think I may make this a permanent part of my kit.
My total pack weight was right around 22 pounds. Then later in the day, I put my old down parka in the pack and my weight went up to about 24 pounds. This includes 2 quarts of water, 4 oz of alcy fuel, and 1.5 days of food.
It was good to get back out after not being on the trail since the beginning of December. I wanted tio hike 5-6 miles, but the muddy conditions really slowed me down. I only got through about 3.5 miles. Oh well, I learned some new things and I tried the new gear, so it was definitely not a losing day!