December 19, 2016
FOOTHILLS NATIONAL SCENIC TRAIL
DIOCESE OF ST. CUTHBERT
Come join us as we leave our comfort zones and distractions behind and set out on a spiritual encounter. Be part of a group of eight on a guided retreat for five days and four nights on the Foothills National Scenic Trail along the South Carolina and North Carolina border.
What to expect.
This adventure requires no previous backpacking experience. While the climbs and distances are not extreme, you should anticipate a moderate degree of physical exertion. The average high temperature for May in the area is 79F, and the average low is 51F. May is one of the drier months but still has 4.6 inches of precipitation. Rain is definitely a possibility.
The only charge is $50 to help defray the costs of shuttles and re supply.
We are planning on staging in Oconee State Park (SC) on May 21st and leaving for the trail from there the next morning. Since our group is small, we will work with each participant with regard to their travel.
We will provide all supplies needed for navigation, water purification, fire starting, and first aid.
The equipment you will need to supply is listed below.
Water bottles/ hydration: We recommend you carry 1.5 to 2 liters of water with you. Avoid “heavy” nalgene type bottles if possible. You can use platypus or camelback hydration systems or simply carry a couple of 1 liter plastic Gatorade or water bottles. It is not necessary to bring filters or purification systems, we will provide this for the group. That being said, do not drink untreated water at any time on the trail.
Headlamp or flashlight: Stock with fresh batteries. Lithium batteries are recommended, they should last the whole trip with no need to carry spares.
Backpack: We recommend an Internal Frame Medium capacity pack 50-60L
Try for pack weighing about 3 pounds or less
Pack Cover not necessary (unneeded additional weight). Instead put a trash compactor bag inside your pack, it is lighter weight and will keep the contents of your pack completely dry.
Tent: One or two person lightweight or ultralight tent. Try to keep weight 3 pounds or below. If the tent has a tub bottom a footprint or ground cloth is not necessary.
Sleeping bag/compression sack and pad: Sleeping bags are temperature rated. The rated temperature is for survivability, not comfort. Comfort range will be at least 10 degrees higher than stated rating. Average lows in the area is mid 50’s. Sleeping bags are either synthetic or down filled. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Down bags are generally lighter, synthetics do better if wet.
For space considerations, pack your sleeping bag in a compression sack. Also, a sleeping pad or air mattress is recommended for comfort.
Trekking poles: This is a matter of personal preference. Some hikers like using two poles, some use one, and some do not use poles.
Cup, spoon or spork: It is not necessary to bring a “cook kit”. “Cooking” will consist of heating water to add to dehydrated meals or drinks. Meals can be eaten from their packaging or your cup. We will provide stoves fuel and containers to heat water.
T.P.: A whole role of T.P. Is probably not necessary. Either pack a half roll or 2 or 3 small packs of Kleenex tissues.
Personal Items and medications: Don’t forget your personal toiletries and medications. Store them in a waterproof bag or container.
Food Storage: Hanging food at night is recommended. 30-50 feet of paracord is recommended. You can hang your pack or bring a stuff sack for the food.
Equipment rental: If you do not have or cannot borrow equipment, you can rent equipment. Most local outfitters or REI stores rent equipment as do some colleges and universities. It is also possible to rent equipment online. Two vendors are listed below, but there are others available.
Outdoor Equipment Rentals. https://www.oerentals.com/rental-process/
Lower Gear. https://www.lowergear.com/product.php?id=164
Before getting into specific recommendations for clothing there is one general maxim that can be life-saving. That maxim is “Cotton Kills”. Hypothermia is one of the leading causes of death in the backcountry and it is a danger even in the summer months. Cotton looses all of its insulating qualities when wet, and does not wick moisture away from your body. Synthetics wick moisture away from you body and wool retains its insulating properties even when wet – both are acceptable fabrics for backpacking. Cotton is not, so leave your jeans and t-shirts at home.
Set aside a pair of socks, underwear, and shirt that will be reserved only for night and will be kept always dry. Have one set of clothing you will hike in. It is best to “layer” your clothing, so you can add or take off layers depending upon temperature and hiking conditions. A possible combination would be a light weight short sleeve wicking base layer, a long-sleeved synthetic shirt, and a jacket for cooler mornings and evenings on top. Wicking underwear and synthetic hiking pants on the bottom. Long pants afford extra protection from insects and brush, but some prefer to hike in shorts for the coolness. (Convertible type hiking pants are also an option). At most bring one extra set of clothing.
A hat or head covering with a bill or brim is suggested for both dealing with the sun and rain. A poncho or rain jacket should be included. A poncho has the advantage of providing extra rain protection for your pack. Rainwear ranges from rain resistant to waterproof. In my opinion there is no such thing as a waterproof “breathable” rain jacket regardless of what the reviews say. Also, when hiking in the rain in summer you will get wet. You will either get wet from rain getting through your jacket (cold wet), or wet from sweat under your waterproof, non breathable rainwear (warm wet). Warm wet is always better than cold wet. Do not worry about waterproof foot covering, wet feet are part of backpacking. As long as you have your dry socks in your night clothing you will do just fine. Some hikers like to bring light weight “camp shoes or sandals to wear at night in camp.
When choosing clothing, especially things you will put in your pack (dry night clothes, extra hiking wear, rainwear, and camp shoes) be conscious of weight of the items.
Ticks and insects are always a concern when hiking. It is suggested that you pretreat your clothing and pack with permethrin. One application will be sufficient for multiple washings of the clothing. Permethrin is available at most outfitters and online from Amazon and other retailers.
Footwear: There is no end to the advice that people will give you on footwear. The most important thing is to try the footwear on and find what feels comfortable for you. Footwear ranges from full boots to mid height to low cut or trail runners. Some hikers prefer the full boot to lower cut boots or shoes because they feel it gives their ankles extra support, however multiple studies have not shown any difference in ankle injuries between the types. Goretex or other water resistant materials are not necessary hiking in the south in the summer and add extra weight and heat for your feet.
Food: The only thing we will be cooking on the trail is water, and we will only “cook” at breakfast and the evening meal. You can utilize dehydrated meals like Mountain House or other similar meals which are prepared by adding water to the pouch they come in, or place other water added only meals (Ramen Noodles, oatmeal, instant grits etc.) in a ziplock back to which hot water can be added. Plan on taking a mid morning and mid afternoon snack and lunch which don’t require cooking. Trail mix, protein bars, tortillas, peanut butter, tuna, etc.
Avoid bringing cans or jars of food (extra weight). Your food should weigh a maximum of two pounds per day.
Here is an example of what I bring in general.
Breakfast: Two Pop-Tarts, instant coffee
Mid morning snack: Protein Bar
Lunch: Jerky and Trail-mix
Afternoon snack: Protein Bar
Evening meal: Mountain House or other dehydrated meal
Nighttime snack: Tea, Justin’s almond butter.
Information and Registration: For more information or to register as a participant send me an e-mail at:
Please put wilderness in the subject line.