Hiking Lessons Learned, more from MST 1A

I learn something every time I hike. In an earlier post, I wrote about hiking lessons learned in the first leg of Segment 1A. So what did I learn in this second leg?

Staying Warm

I learned that my foam hammock insulation, while an improvement from last time, was still not ideal. It bunched up and shifted, and my sleeping bag slid around on top of it. I really need an underquilt for the hammock… so that’s the first thing I ordered. A Greylock 3 season torso-length quilt from JacksRBetter. It should make hammock camping much more comfortable (without pads in the hammock) and I can sleep directly on the hammock fabric, and use my down sleeping back like a top quilt. This setup should keep me comfortable to freezing or a bit below. It weighs 17oz; that’s 9 ounces heavier than my foam pad. So hopefully one hiking lesson learned was how to stay warm!
I learned that my hammock rain fly was too small. It would be fine in the summer, but it’s not large enough to block much wind during cool breezy nights. And this makes things colder than they need to be in the hammock. So I ordered a lightweight silnylon hex fly, that’s only about 3oz heavier.
I decided I needed to take that additional weight back out, somehow. So I figured out how to convert my setup to use a very lightweight “whoopee sling” suspension… and that saves about 12 ounces. So that makes up for the 12 ounces I added with the rain fly and underquilt. Same weight, far superior setup. Win.


I learned that instant oatmeal is pretty much the perfect backpacking breakfast, so that’s probably all I’ll take from now on. Will save some money, and some space. A simple but valuable hiking lesson learned.


I learned that the “power saving” settings I had found for my Fitbit Charge HR, that supposedly would yield 10 days of life… are good for about 6 days when you’re walking 30,000 steps per day. I had just enough power to make it to civilization on day 6 and sync my Fitbit. So I need to take my charging cable for more than 5 days on the trail.
I learned that a 10,000mAh battery pack is good for about 5 days of hiking, when starting with a fully charged iPhone and InReach. Any more than 5 days, and I’ll need to take a second (or larger) battery pack. So a couple of technology-related hiking lessons learned.


I had some clothing-related hiking lessons learned. I learned that I really can do without all that extra stuff I took out of the pack since last time. I didn’t miss the extra shirt, extra socks, rain gear, etc. I’ll probably find a few more things I can shed before next time.
I learned that hiking with long sleeves, long pants, and gloves is the way to go, in the backcountry. My trip would have been much less enjoyable in shorts, and without the gloves. Mostly because of the downed trees, but there were other areas where I had to bushwhack a bit. Full body coverage is good.
I learned that I need thinner hiking socks. My super-thick Thorlos are making my boots too tight on my toes. I’m trying some other things now.
I learned that earplugs are good. They dramatically improved my sleep. You just have to get over any fear of things “sneaking up on you” in the woods.


I learned that weight distribution in your pack matters a lot. I played around with this some. The more weight I could get high, the better. I wish I had figured this out the first day or two… it would have probably saved some wear and tear on my back.


I learned that camping neighbors can be a good things. Next time, I won’t be so quick to assume they’re just spoiling my solitude.

Other Hiking Lessons Learned

I learned that I really can find a couple of trees and make camp just about anywhere, if need be. Even in a briar patch / spider nest.
I learned that I really can do this. I had no significant pain the entire trip! Back got a little tired and achy by day 4… but relatively short days and extra rest on days 5 and 6 helped a ton.
I learned to have less fear about unknowns on the trail. Trust that I’ll find a way around obstacles, that I’ll be able to adjust to conditions I encounter during the hike. I feel much more adaptable and self-reliant now. These may prove to be the most valuable hiking lessons learned on this trip!