Wildcat Hollow (short loop) & Burr Oak Lakeside Trail Shakedown Hike


Thursday night. The learning process began early. And since this is truly a shakedown trial run before heading out to Washington, I’m grateful for the fact that I took some time off to accommodate such an effort.

First off, I was scrambling to document the PCT bear bag hanging method, and while we don’t have bears in Ohio (for the most part), I want to have some experience with this because I am guaranteed to run into that situation in a week or so according to our guides. Secondly, since it’s raining really hard this weekend. 80% to 90% chance of it from Mohican to Burr Oak State Park (the latter is where I will be tomorrow) I may have gone a little overboard on my packing. Normally I am packing about 22 pounds. Tonight? Thirty fucking seven. Ummm… yeah, no. Yeah, it was manageable going down the hallway. Sat well on my body. But damn!

I think that’s the point where I realized I wanted to sacrifice the six-mile short loop through Wildcat Hollow that I was rushing to get to after work tonight. This would have entailed hiking in the dark through a trail I have not done yet. And yeah. Rain. So I emailed my emergency contacts and let them know I’d be leaving early tomorrow and not tonight and that my target was still the Burr Oak State Park Reservoir loop trail. Big trees down or not on the West Side (ranger station side) – I called earlier to check trail conditions. Always let your people know what your plans are when you are going off the grid.

Another thing I did was to watch this guys YouTube video titled “Learn to love hiking in the rain.”

So as I upack my backpack tonight. I will be lining it with a strong unscented flex garbage bag. Dropping my tarp that I was going to take as a shelter away from my tent. Opting to cook and eat in the rain when it permits. Dropping my inflatable mattress and just using my Thermarest foam roll instead. Pairing down my clothing bag by dropping my rain pants, keeping my rain jacket, dropping my swim trunks and long underwear, adding a weather resistant rain shell that I have for running and adding a Patagonia mid weight base layer. Beyond that, since I will be in an area that has water, I can drop a couple liters of water as I can use my filter as needed as well as I won’t be in Wildcat Hollow.

We will see what the weigh in tomorrow morning looks like I suppose.

Here’s to lessons as they come! (And tomorrow’s forray to do a hike I’ve been watching vicariously through others now for over 8 months).

Original Post

Sitting here at one of my favorite burger places here in downtown Columbus watching the rainfall. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s not what you think. They have this vegan burger which tastes damn near like the real thing. Close enough for me anyway.

So, I’m almost ready to go spend the weekend back in Wayne National Forest. 3 nights and 3 days. In the rain. Roughly 27 miles. Roughly 9 miles a day. Given that Lake Vesuvius Lakeside Trail racked up just under 9 miles and I didn’t feel crippled the next day, I feel confident about those targets.

Of course, I’m second guessing myself and my advertised love of being outdoors right now. Rain. I’m a creature of comfort I love summer. Campfires. Open air. This weekend is gonna be all about the rain suit, a pack cover and sitting under a tarp, on the ground on one of my foam bed rolls, or inside my 1-person tent. Again though, thank goodness for REI and the “expert Advice” pages they maintain. I read the “How to go hiking in the rain” page. Which of course led me to the “Blister and prevention care” page. While I have the Smartwool socks already and a pair of boots I’ve been breaking in over the summer, I did a WTF when I read about “sock liners.” Really? So I guess I need to take that into account when I buy shoes next. Just part of the learning process I suppose.

This is meant to be my shake out trip before heading off to Portland Oregon and then driving up to the Olympic Mountain ranges to hike from the Hoh Rainforest all the way to a place called Hurricane Ridge. The prep work is already giving me some much needed advice before heading out to the Northwest I suppose.

Still, I will be taking some of my favorite trail foods with me. I’m not sure if I will bring my Jet Boil or not, weight is an issue this time as the first overnight over six miles has no water to speak of. So, I am looking at upwards of 4L being stuffed into my already full pack with the extra rain gear. I may skimp that back down to 3 L and see where the weight shakes out though.

It’s funny to me that my sanctuary is my bedroom. Grown ass man and he likes his own cave. Right? I left dirty clothes out for the cats in addition to putting fresh pheromone atomizers out to abate some of the anxiety issues. Sent notes out to my emergency contact folks and got my satellite messenger ready. Downloaded my custom All Trails map which is a composite of the Wild Cat Hollow and Burr Oak Lakeside trails. If this all works out I will only have one more Wayne National Forest trail to complete for 2018. Then it’s off to West Virginia and Kentucky I suppose.

The week started with terrible sleep and a couple bouts of anxiety. Lot’s going on and not so clean living to thank there. Circumstance and personal choices. As the hike approached however, my sleep got better as did the panic levels.

I plan to spend a fair amount of time meditating, reading a couple books on my Kindle and audio logging some thoughts. Maybe journaling a little bit too for the actual post. Failure or success. I’ll see when I see I guess.

So, here’s to hiking with heart disease. Solo. In a National Forest. In the rain! What’s not to be excited about?

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