Test Hike #1: Carderock and Great Falls
Saturday, February 20, 2016 9:40 pm

I hiked about 9.5 miles today between Carderock and Great Falls, along the C&O Canal Tow Path and adjacent trails. The trekking poles I got add as much to hiking as my Camelbak (and possibly even more so). I now can't imagine going hiking again without them.

The weather today was pretty nice. I intended to start at Angler's Inn, but parking there was completely full, so I drove back to Carderock, and commenced hiking from there. I hiked the Billy Goat Trail B, then up the Tow Path and the Berma Road trail to Great Falls MD, and returned via the (new to me) Gold Mine spur/loop and Valley Trail.

I'm unclear now why I was even slightly worried about snow cover on the local trails. The only places I saw snow were where there were piles in parking lots, and in a few areas off-trail that were shaded.

At a picnic area at Great Falls MD, tried out my stove for the first time. Never having used a camp stove before, at first, it was unclear if it was actually doing anything but making noise and expelling gas from the gas canister, but it quickly became evident that it was quite effectively heating water. After the water finished boiling (and I poured it into the dehydrated meal pouch), the cook pot surprisingly quickly became cool to the touch.

On my way back to the car after lunch, I developed a bit of a headache. At first, I attributed it to not having sufficient food (I meant to bring snack bars with me, and have one before lunchtime, but I forgot to transfer them from my Camelbak backpack, so I unfortunately had nothing to each until lunchtime, which, actually, was really rather more than I'd usually eat during one of my "long walks"). It wasn't until after I got home, and had a nap, and then happened to look into a mirror as I was in the bathroom, that I realized that I had gotten a sunburn! I was totally not expecting that. But that kind of makes clear that I need to take suntan lotion with me, at least for the first part of the hike when the leaf coverage will not be as extensive.

I was somewhat surprised at the higher-than-expected power usage of my phone and watch (56% and 68% respectively) for the hike. I'll need to take further measurements with WiFi and Bluetooth disabled on the phone, and Airplane Mode enabled on the watch. Keeping everything charged is clearly going to be a challenge. (The day when my phone and watch can charge via movement can not come soon enough.)

On the hike back on the Tow Path to the car, saw my initials inscribed in the ice in the canal. I can only assume that this is a good omen.

My feet continued to be less than happy with me, starting about halfway into the hike. In particular, my left little toe kept jamming into the front of my boot on downhills. I'll need to look into options. I hope I don't have to get new boots (I otherwise rather like the ones I got, though maybe I need a size 11.5, rather than size 11). Possibly, getting sock liners and hiking socks will help. I envision a trip back to the Columbia REI on Monday to continue to harass extract information from talk to staff there.

I got a random call earlier today from an old friend. After I mentioned my Appalachian Trail thru-hike aspirations, he suggested the Iridium inReach, which is a (special hardware enabled) satellite-enabled locator and text-message service. I think that might be overkill for the AT, but it's worth looking into regardless.

I continue to be annoyed that I'm going to have to upgrade my Mac to El Capitan (from Yosemite) in order to push updates to GPSTrack (the gps tracking app I wrote) to my phone. I want to add the capability to send its raw document format to this site (rather than the GPX or KML format it can currently export via email), and also look into allowing showing topographical maps and storing offline data (which, honestly, I don't think is a necessity, so much as a nice to have, albeit one I've gotten feature requests for before, and, now I'd actually kind of like to have it). Bleh.

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