Welcome to Breakfast in America

My photo journal is an eclectic mix of things; there’s no guiding theme or topic. It is whatever happens to catch my attention, what I’ve been thinking, doing, and whatever my current obsessions are. At the moment, they are clearing some of the backlog on my ‘honey-do’ list, backpacking and hammock camping.

Posts

  • 2024 Total Solar Eclipse Camping — Sunday

    Eclipse Camp (Sunday April 7, 2024). 2024 Total Eclipse. Copyright © 2024 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    This is my third and (most likely) last total solar eclipse. 1999 in France and 2017 in Missouri being the first two. Ginger wanted a more open view of this eclipse, prompting me to find a small Farm Road in the Mark Twain National Forest, near the center track of the eclipse that offered clear views of the sky. Checking aerial views online, it looked like there were several likely spots along the road that had been used by RVs during the pandemic (when campgrounds closed).

    My original plan had been to hike into Irish Wilderness, but Ginger wanted to keep the hiking distance short, and I wasn’t going to complain because we’d have to pack in all our water (several gallons), as there would be three of us. Ginger and Lanie, sharing the Duplex tent, and me in my hammock. I did offer Lanie my spare hammock, but (for now) she says she prefers to remain a ground dweller so that critters cannot walk underneath where she is sleeping.

    To avoid traffic, we decided to set off on Saturday, spend two nights in the forest, ready for the eclipse on Monday.

    We drove up and down the farm road checking out places to park before deciding on the first one we passed ¯\(ツ)/¯ I dubbed the place “Pottyville” due to the various abandoned commode seats that had been left behind, presumably when all the RV-ers decamped back to the regular campgrounds.

    We bushwhacked about half a mile from the road into the forest and set up camp.

    Saturday and Sunday were overcast, with a fair bit of wind — too much Saturday night to let us have a campfire — and even a short pattering of rain at one point. Sunday night the wind eased off, and Lanie kept my Firebox Nano woodstove going all evening.

    Monday was forecast to be clear with some slight high-level cloud, nothing to worry about.

    Eclipse Camp (Sunday April 7, 2024). 2024 Total Eclipse. Copyright © 2024 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.
  • Journal: Three days hiking the Big Piney Trail, Paddy Creek Wilderness, March 2024

    Pool below the shut-ins. Solo backpacking in Paddy Creek Wilderness, March 2024. Copyright © 2024 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    I spent three days on a hike of the sixteen-mile loop of the Big Piney Trail in Paddy Creek Wilderness which I managed to extend to twenty-two miles. I also managed to break some more gear and at the end of the hike needed to call out a tow truck to get me home.

  • Postscript. It was at this point I discovered that the factory-supplied tire iron did not fit these lug nuts

    It was at this point I discovered that the factory-supplied tire iron did not fit these lug nuts — Solo backpacking in Paddy Creek Wilderness, March 2024. Copyright © 2024 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    It took three hours to get someone to come out with the right tool to switch the tire.

    Later research uncovered the fact that this is a problem with several Ford models. The lug nuts swell! Needless to say, I have now had new lug nuts fitted that will not swell.

    Somehow, Ford dodged a class action on this because they are not considered ‘unsafe.’ Bah!

  • End of hike selfie & Trip summary

    I Hiked over twenty-two miles in two-and-a-half days. I’m happy with that.— Solo backpacking in Paddy Creek Wilderness, March 2024. Copyright © 2024 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    I’ll let my trail journal do the talking…

    1120 On the trail. Clear, Sunny, Windy! 70°F
    1125 at the short cut jct. ECG inconclusive. I’m feeling good so I’m going for the 7 miles.
    1205 Little Paddy Creek crossing
    — Bear? tracks on the trail [Future Gary: No, it’s a dog.] I cannot be sure if it went through before or after my run through on Wednesday.
    Two deer.
    — filling up with water.
    1241 Three Creeks short cut Jct carrying straight on.
    1245 On the North Loop. 1 Deer.
    1300 Trash can. Met two hikers + pack dog.
    1312 at the turn off stock pond. Water & Snickers stop
    1320 Back on the trail.
    1421 at the falls. 5.3 miles so far. 3 hikers.
    1445 on my way eta 1545?
    1500 at the Nrth/Sth Trail Jct.
    1525 at TH Flat Tire?

    6.73 miles +757 -664 2.2 mph 1.6 mph

    Overall I’d hiked 22.19 miles in 2½ days.

    Unusually, there were several cars in the parking lot. It being a Friday afternoon probably helped. There was a group of Scouts at the registration point when I got there.

    Gosh! There are cars in the trailhead parking lot! That makes a change. Solo backpacking in Paddy Creek Wilderness, March 2024. Copyright © 2024 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.
    Big Piney Trail, ‘Figure of eight’ route, starting counterclockwise from the Roby Trailhead. 40ft Contour lines.

    What worked

    • My jury-rigged hiking pole made it out with no issues, though I discovered later that the middle section was also damaged beyond repair, so I have a new pole on order.
    • The Circadian Hammock is excellent, and possibly a long-term replacement for my Chameleon.
    • Bringing my winter under quilt.
    • The Bedrock Cairn Evo PRO Sandals were excellent. The main improvements over my Luna Sandals are:
      • Better grip on the soles.
      • A much grippier footbed.
      • They have a much more secure fastening system that doesn’t come loose on the trail.
      • They hold my feet much more securely.
      • Much easier to put on and take off.

        I only have two issues with the Bedrock Sandals so far:
        • The heal strap is not as well padded.
        • My foot seems to go over the side of the footbed at times.

    Lessons

    • I need to buy a portable tire inflator.
    • I must be more careful in picking my routes when bushwhacking.
    • At this point I’m not sure what I need to do to minimize the chance of AFIB. I’m exercising a lot more, one hour a day five days a week, 30 mins cardio & 30 mins strength. I’ve (almost) cut out alcohol entirely. I don’t think it’s really practical to do a lot more.
  • Old signpost

    Old signpost — the sign itself is long gone, and I’ve no idea if this was for the trail or something else. Solo backpacking in Paddy Creek Wilderness, March 2024. Copyright © 2024 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.
  • Big Dog!

    Big Dog. Solo backpacking in Paddy Creek Wilderness, March 2024. Copyright © 2024 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.

    By eleven-twenty I was back on the trail. After the (very) short hike to the Short Cut trail junction, I concluded that I was fit enough for the longer — around seven miles — hike out via the North Loop. I’d not gone far down the short cut trail before I saw this set of impressive prints. “Nice Doggy!” Can you see the racoon and deer prints?

  • Heating water for breakfast

    Heating water for breakfast. Solo backpacking in Paddy Creek Wilderness, March 2024. Copyright © 2024 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.
  • Morning Coffee, camped off of the Big Piney Trail

    Morning Coffee, camped off the Big Piney Trail. Solo backpacking in Paddy Creek Wilderness, March 2024. Copyright © 2024 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.
  • Finally, the sun reaches inside my hammock

    Day three, sunrise from my hammock. Solo backpacking in Paddy Creek Wilderness, March 2024. Copyright © 2024 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.
  • Enjoying the view from my hammock (with legs)

    Enjoying the view from my hammock. Solo backpacking in Paddy Creek Wilderness, March 2024. Copyright © 2024 Gary Allman, all rights reserved.