Mountain Crossing at Neels Gap

4-24-12
AT Miles hiked today: zero
Total AT miles hiked: 31.7

I took my first zero day today, after the big day yesterday.

I didn't sleep well last night due to repeatedly sliding downhill all night. I had already decided to take a zero day at Mountain Crossings to get a pack shakedown so I headed in to sign up for a bunk and the shakedown first thing in the morning.

I knew I needed to figure out why the pains in my neck became so bad that I couldn't even turn my head to the side, and it started tingling and feeling numb at times. I had adjusted my pack constantly, trying all sorts of combos I could think of. Tighten the waist belt until I can barely breath? Loosen it until it barely holds? No better. Shoulder straps, loosen until there's no weight on them at all, or tighten until I can't move my arms? No better. Load lifters, pull them as tight as possible, or loosen until my pack pulls me backwards. Still bad. Maybe it's my trekking pole technique? I sometimes put my full weight on them.

Squirrel did my shakedown and helped me send home another 6 pounds. I lost nearly 12 pounds from my pack in two days! I went and weighed it and it was 38 pounds. ??? Somebody's scale must be wrong, or my math is fuzzy. Maybe I really was carrying a 50 pound pack to start? And maybe I really did carry 48 pounds yesterday (at times, with two liters of water) on my longest day ever and over Blood Mountain. I'm glad I didn't know how heavy it really was.

I also asked for help getting my pack fitted to see if I was doing it wrong. The shoulder straps were resting two inches above my shoulders when the load was close to my body and I had to let the load fall back very far to get the straps to even touch the the tops of my shoulders and then it pulled me backwards. The waist belt wouldn't raise up to make up the difference. I had a small torso-sized pack, and needed an extra small. So all of that pack weight was resting right on my clavicles and it can't be adjusted enough to fix the problem.

I need a new pack. Squirrel helped me try several packs and we finally found the right one. He even switched out the shoulder straps and lap belt, so it was basically customized to fit me. I couldn't just order or buy that pack anywhere.

So now what? If I don't get the right fitting pack I may not get very far on this hike. So I bought it. Ouch on the wallet, but better on the body.