I'm still a newbie hiker, and this is my first time out for the year, so I don't expect anyone will learn anything from this post, but I feel like writing it anyway, so here goes. I didn't do anything impressive, but went out after work with a day pack for a short hike in a nearby state park. For me, as a desk jockey who hasn't been athletic in ten years, this is a good start. I made my day pack somewhat heavy in case of an emergency overnight, and to test out my legs. I learned a lot, which was 90% of my goal.
56 degrees and cloudy, no wind.
A bit over Two miles, blazed trail, in some places very steep, wet (trail = stream) and muddy
One hour plus 15 minutes enjoying the view.
Some things I learned:
Snow melt is COLD, but even at 56 degrees it feels nice when you're moving. My feet are always hot, and the wrightsock coolmesh double layers I tried out worked very well with the ventilated shoes, with or without water.
Trail runners don't "dry" so much as empty of water enough to warm back up quickly. I like them a lot and didn't miss the ankle support, but debated whether I could have kept my feet dry in boots. I think if it were colder, this might have been important and will consider getting a pair. I see why extra socks are on everyone's emergency list.
I drank over a liter of water in an hour. I need to find something to do with my camelback hose, though it worked OK over my shoulder. This reinforces my desire to choose a filter (leaning to katadyn hiker pro) over chemicals. I know, holy war, but 11 oz seems to be worth it. If I had one with me, I'd have been drinking from the snowmelt stream instead of tap water within 2 minutes.
I like my REI sierra pants, but I don't like having stuff in my pockets. Everything quickly ended up in my pack. I did an OK job hemming them today (my first diy-ish gear). Ugly but functional. The legs are too wide, probably because I bought such a long pair (deep discount) and had to cut off 7 inches. Also, because I'm fat enough to need a large.
I'm also a big fan of my smartwool T shirt, which is all I wore on top. Never got sweaty or hot, and never got chilled when I stopped for a while. I need more of these.
Two miles in an hour is a brisk pace, but I think I could manage to keep that up for a few hours, break for an hour and then go some more. This surprised me, since I'm out of shape. I think 8 to 10 miles is a very reasonable daily goal with a full pack. Of course, we'll have to see what happens when I try it, but at 2 mi, I felt like I was just getting going.
I'm glad my pack was light (guessing 6 lb base), but my overnight kit adds "only" about 9 to that, which seems quite workable. I credit this forum with my 15lb base weight, which I'm pretty happy with considering my budget at this point. I may load up my full pack next time out, with some dead weight to feign food, and see if the 2 miles goes as smoothly with 20 lb.
The big question: Will I feel like hiking tomorrow? This is critical for my planned multi-day trips this spring/summer.
It was VERY refreshing to be outdoors, breathing the clean air, enjoying the expansive views that I didn't know could be had so close by, and relishing in the peace and quiet. I just hope I can get in shape to do this more often, and maybe talk my wife into joining me.