Ah yes, the long awaited sequel to my failed attempt at the End to End attempt of the Wapack Trail. That's right it's a full blown rematch....in the red corner we have the defending champion 'The Wapack Trail!'
"Well I gotta say John he sure doesn't look imposing, but in the right conditions he can sneak up on you."
"You're absolutely right Steve, weighing in at 21.4 miles with 4,850 ft of gain, it's not something to be taken lightly as a one day venture."
....AND in the blue corner, the challenger 'Jason "Wiki" O'Connell', a hiker with some solid experience behind him that faltered in his last encounter with the Wapack.
"I'm really feeling like Wiki needs to come prepared here John."
"I definitely agree Steve and I talked to his training staff they said he feels like he's got this. Also note...he came without a partner today, definitely a deviation from his past strategy."
"Well it worked for him on the Belknap Range Trail, it could work for him here."
I imagine that's what the commentary on the mythical sports casters (John and Steve....good TV names, easy to pronounce you know?) that provide commentary about my life would sound like when discussing the second attempt at the Wapack Trail I took this weekend.
First I want to cover a bit of history behind the trail...as I find that kind of stuff fascinating. The trail was originally conceptualized in 1922 and opened in 1923, meaning that this trail is more than 90 years old. Which if you have read my paper on the AT is quite a feat to have survived through WWII and still be a thriving trail today. The trail is meticulously maintained by the group 'Friends of the Wapack'
So why Wapack? Many folks (me included) may instantly assume this name was derived form a Native American name for the range, but it's actually name for it's two anchor mountains. Mt. WAtatic and North PACK Monadnock.
My last attempt failed mostly due to not being prepared for the level of ice that was on the ground only making it five miles through the Wapack Reserve on the Northern end of the trail, however after studying the maps a bit more I also noticed that there was not really any sort of water supply on the trail. Knowing I drink a lot of water I needed to figure that into my consumption not so much what I chose to carry. I decided to carry my entire backpacking setup as training for some other hikes I have coming up this year. The forecast was calling for 60 degree weather, which was colder than it has been but also not truly cold.
I took what is considered to be the 'traditional route' starting from the Wapack Wildlife Refuge parking lot on Old Mountain Road and travelling south to North Pack. The section that I had struggled on early in the Spring when it was covered in ice was a breeze, I flew to the top of North Pack where a woman was conducting a raptor migration watch. I talked for a bit as I ate some snackage and drank some water, donated a couple bucks to 'keep the watch going' and headed on my way.
Reaching the bottom of North Pack was fun, as it marked the start of trail I had yet to hike, but before I could leave the park I saw a sign that caused me to chuckle. 'Thru-Hikers please pay the Day Use fee at the Ranger Station'. I went over to the Ranger Station and it turns out being a veteran I didn't pay to enter the park, so I chose instead to donate a couple bucks and get back on trail. I crossed 101 and that's when the road walks began, there were quite a few road walks along this 21.4 mile route.
Using an access road I followed the Yellow Triangle blazes to the top of Temple Mountain I began hiking along the ridge there, with the occasional view of Mt. Monadnock in the distance. When I stopped for lunch I chatted on Facebook with some folks and found one of my Derby friends has been looking for a buddy to backpack with, Fall is upon us but there maybe another trip in my future.
Windblown XC Ski Area is very well marked and I never felt like I was going to be mis-directed like some blog posts suggested I might. Unfortunately after clearing the ski area my pace ground down to that of a snail. My feet had finally had enough and the pain shooting through them every time I put them down made it hard to press on. But I did, just far slower than before. I eventually arrived at the summit of Watatic leaving just my descent to the parking area.
Like Kelly, Ozone, and Turbo stars of 'Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo' my second hike along the Wapack was completely unnecessary, but at least it wasn't unwanted. The best part of the trail is definitely that North Pack Section north of 101, but I appreciated the rest of the hike as well regardless of the number of Doomsday Prepper Shelters I walked by or access roads I found myself on. The trail is wonderfully maintained by the Friends of the Wapack and it shows. That being said I dunno if you can expect a 'Wapack Trail: Tokyo Drift' post anytime soon.
The 21.4 mile distance is the longest I have ever hiked in a single twenty-four hour period, while getting more backpacking experience is important before I step out on the AT, knowing that I'm capable of big mile days if I need them (at least on relatively easy trail) will make me feel better at the beginning.
Remember kids, every sticker on your Nalgene is extra weight you have to carry...so make sure they are damn good stickers.
Also for those who follow the blog via Facebook, I haven't really been sharing 'The Ocho' Content there as the posts have been coming every now and then, so bounce over there and see what else has been going on in my life....or don't...you know.
Also feel free to comment down below, I'd love to know peoples thoughts on how the AT Prep blog is progressing.
Avg. Speed: 2.1 MPH
P.S. - Apologies about the lateness of this post...I did this hike 1 Month ago, but Graduate level Project Management Classes are the Devil.