Posted by
Message
Soda City Spur
South Carolina Fan
Lugoff
Member since Mar 2017
348 posts

First ever backpacking trip
I have a trip planned this weekend to backpack through part of the Foothills trail in SC.

I'm excited as can be because I love camping and haven't done it in forever, but also don't know what to expect as far as hiking up mountains and living out of a backpack for a few days goes.

Has anyone ever hiked part of this trail, or have any general tips for a first time back packer? I'm going with experienced hikers, so I can lean on their experience. But figured it be worth a shot to reach out to this community as I feel there are plenty of outdoors men and women on here.

I know the weather is probably not going to be ideal, so what else should I consider to get the most out of this trip?

Image: https://foothillstrail.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/trail-sign.jpg


tokenBoiler
Purdue Fan
Lafayette, Indiana
Member since Aug 2012
2965 posts

re: First ever backpacking trip
In.

No advice for you but I hope this thread turns into another "guy shoots off his mouth and has to run a marathon to impress a chick" story. That was epic.

Wait, some advice - it's too late to buy good-fitting boots and break them in, so good luck and take extra socks and whatever it takes to treat or cover blisters. Good luck.


Evolved Simian
Alabama Fan
Bushwood Country Club
Member since Sep 2010
16572 posts

re: First ever backpacking trip
quote:

it's too late to buy good-fitting boots and break them in, so good luck and take extra socks and whatever it takes to treat or cover blisters.


This.


Replies (0)
Replies (0)
00
VFL1800FPD
Tennessee Fan
Nashville, TN
Member since Aug 2012
7192 posts

re: First ever backpacking trip
Boots as mentioned above are the most important

For backpacking especially your clothes need to be versatile. Get synthetic materials that will dry quickly. Great for spotty weather. They also tend to be much lighter. Target has some great cheap stuff that would be fine for a weekend trip if you dont want to go all out on expensive gear. Bring max 2 sets of clothes (wearing one). Bring a few pairs of socks and change them at least once per day. Dry out the old ones on your backpack while you are walking. Accept that you will be wearing the same clothes most of the time and you will be stinky especially by day 2-3

Bring moleskin for blisters. Bring goldbond in case you chafe. Its a little thing but when you are 20 miles walking from anywhere then a little problem can turn into a big one.

Biggest problem that most beginner backpackers make is bringing too much. Then youur pack is too heavy and its a snowball effect. Just need to take care of the essentials. I like to take a pair of flip flops or chacos to have something to change into at the camp to relax.

Sleeping (bag, pad)
Shelter (tent - if you have a tentmate split up the weight of it between packs)
Clothes (including boots/socks/rain gear)
Water (probably want at least 2 quarts on you depending on water sources along the trail, etc)
First aid kit
Food (bowl or plate and Spork as well as a stove or fire to cook with) If you are on your own for Food look for MREs at a Surplus store. They are usually too heavy for a long trip but work great for a weekend trip if you dont mind the taste of Army food and they are designed for soldiers on the move.
This post was edited on 7/6 at 2:38 pm


Hogwarts
Arkansas Fan
God’s Country
Member since Sep 2015
13303 posts

re: First ever backpacking trip
Lots of water and bug spray. Any of those loose fitting long sleeved technical shirts are a must. Pace yourself and take plenty of breaks. Enjoy the scenery and post pics!

Take a hiking stick or pole as well, this time of the year is spiderweb crazy. Walking face first through one is not fun.
This post was edited on 7/6 at 6:50 pm


Replies (0)
Replies (0)
20
olddawg26
Georgia Fan
Member since Jan 2013
20842 posts

re: First ever backpacking trip
Socks and water. Big comfy socks

Once a blister starts, you are beyond fricked
This post was edited on 7/10 at 10:21 pm


Replies (0)
Replies (0)
10
ABearsFanNMS
Citadel Fan
tLandmass or NE South America
Member since Oct 2014
10675 posts
 Online 

re: First ever backpacking trip
Learn to waterproof everything and don’t skimp on a good pack.


Replies (0)
Replies (0)
10
scionofadrunk
Tennessee Fan
Williamson County, TN
Member since Mar 2020
1961 posts

re: First ever backpacking trip
How'd it go?


InThroughTheOutDore
Vanderbilt Fan
Middle TN
Member since Nov 2008
7319 posts

re: First ever backpacking trip
NM
This post was edited on 7/14 at 10:06 am


MIZ_COU
Missouri Fan
I'm right here
Member since Oct 2013
13602 posts

re: First ever backpacking trip
Talkative for a vandy fan


Replies (0)
Replies (0)
10
Soda City Spur
South Carolina Fan
Lugoff
Member since Mar 2017
348 posts

re: First ever backpacking trip
Warning - lengthy post incoming

Preparation - I didn't start packing for the trip until the week of as you may have inferred from my OP. Luckily the people I went with were kind enough to lend me a 75L Jansport Klamath pack, a 2 person ALPS Mountaineering tent, a North Face sleeping bag, and a blow up sleeping pad. So the items I needed to buy were shoes, food, and other camping equipment.

I got a pair of Asics trail runners for $40 and a small F&S multi-tool for $9 from Dick's Wednesday night.

I got the following from Walmart on the Thursday before I left for ~$150: Rain cover for pack, emergency poncho, thick socks for moisture control/blister prevention, cinch bags, first aid kit, bowl/pot, titanium fork, coleman stove/fuel, 2 Mountainhouse Meals, peanut butter, jerky, and some other misc items. I didn't need to buy clothes because I already had dry-fit shirts and shorts. I had everything packed at like 4:30am on Saturday morning, but never weighed my pack to avoid psyching myself out. We all guessed it was between 30-40 lbs. I live in the lower part of SC so I left at like 5a to get to the trail head by 9:30a.

The hike - One of the guys I went with wanted to through-hike the trail with his two teenage (12/13) kids, so they started hiking before my other friend and I started on Saturday. He frequents a place called Appalachian Outfitters where he's made friends with an employee that is also an avid hiker. He asks the dude for advice on what section of the trail he should take a new hiker (me) on and any other advice since he was also new to the trail. The guy makes a recommendation for a new hiker to hike from Whitewater Falls to Laurel Valley because it's scenic and a good mix of terrain, so that's what we did.

I'm 26 turning 27 in 5 days and weigh about 260 lbs with a BF% I'm not proud of. So I'm pretty out of shape, but have always had a strong work ethic and an ability to persevere through tough situations.

Our hike started at 10a Saturday morning and we arrived at our destination at 2p on Monday afternoon. That's an elapsed time of 52 hours in which we hiked ~30 miles. Our starting elevation was ~2,750' and we got down to about ~750' before hiking up to ~2,500' by the end of our trip. We definitely had to make the most out of our daylight in these conditions.

This being my first trip, I didn't have much to compare the views to. There were some nice waterways we hiked over, 2 different waterfalls that were beautiful, and then hiking around the northern part of Lake Jocassee was nice especially when seeing people enjoying the lake on their water crafts while we are enduring a laborious hike. I didn't take pictures because I had my phone in my pack the entire time, but the hiker with the 2 kids pretty much videoed the whole thing and is currently editing it for a highlight reel and camera roll. So I'll put post stuff on that when it's ready. Aside from observing these landscapes most of the time was spent seeing dense woods.

All of the scenes I saw were really nice to me, but they didn't hold a candle to the small black bear I saw shortly after continuing our hike on Sunday. Definitely the wildest part of the trip and the adrenaline rush I was not expecting to get at any point while hiking. The kids and I naturally had a faster pace than the 2 older adults we hiked with so of course we were leading the pack and out of eye sight of the other experienced hikers when we saw the bear. I primarily looked at the ground while I was hiking, but by the grace of God happened to look ahead and saw the bear within ~100' of me and the kids. The bear was skiddish enough to hear us the same time we saw it so it took off away from us but consequently it went down the trail in front of us and I never saw where it broke off from the trail. Let me emphasize this appeared to be a smaller bear so all I could think about was a larger one being close by that would do anything in their power to protect their young. A funny thing about all of this is I had always heard rumors of black/brown bear in SC but never seen one, and in addition to that the hikers I went with have hiked in NC, TN, VA, and had never seen or heard one until I relayed to them what I saw on Sunday. Again they didn't see the bear when I did because we were ahead of them and out of eyesight. After seeing the bear we all stopped until the other adults caught up with us and then made loud noises as a group to hopefully spook anything else that was nearby. We hauled tail out of there in unison and didn't have any encounters for the rest of the trip thankfully.

Some other things that stood out to me about the trip:

1) We got a late start on our first day and still had 5.2 miles left at 5pm that afternoon. We made our intended campsite that day and that was probably the hardest part of the trip for me.

2) Our Sunday leg featured a part of the trail known as "Heartbreak Ridge" that was "widely considered" the hardest part of the trail. It required a steep climb but I realized that's not what made it heartbreaking though. What made it heartbreaking is that you did all the climbing and didn't get any views. I ultimately think the climbing we did Saturday was harder than what we did Sunday.

3) The weather was honestly manageable when it came to tolerating heat thanks to the thick woods keeping most of the sun off the trail but it was still hot enough to be dehydrating and take a toll on my appetite. This got to be an issue in the afternoon because my clothes would be soaked, I couldn't dry my clothes because of the shade/moisture, I felt like I couldn't get enough water to feel hydrated, and this made my stomach unsettled enough to not be able to the eat the way I needed to. I felt like I was running fever whenever we got to camp. I had chills but would still feel hot at the same time, no appetite, and sweated all through the night like I was breaking a fever.

Takeaways -

1) I ultimately enjoyed the trip but vowed to never hike in SC during July, or hike over 10 miles in a single day again.

2) The experienced hikers were not very impressed with the trail itself citing the terrain and scenery. The climbs featured these 8X8 pieces of wood driven into the ground with rebar that my group had not seen before.

3) The through hikers had 16 miles left on their trip after me and the other experienced hiker were picked up, and apparently that leg was the most scenic of the trail as it went over Sassafras Mtn. which is SC's highest peak.

4) I had a pretty significant pack rash around my hips and waist that made me appreciate getting out of the woods when I did. I also had a couple blisters on each foot that were fine except the one that spanned across the entire bottom of my pinky toe that hurt pretty bad. The ligament area of my left knee began to throb pretty good on the last few miles of my trip. Hoping it's just soreness for unknowingly compensating due to bad walking technique(s).

5) The best way I can summarize the trail at this point is that it is the state of SC's way of making the most out of the "mountains" we have. I think the trail could be a lot shorter and there needs to be some work down to improve the views. The trail's conference wants to make you feel like you're climbing mountains which is fine but then there was no scenic reward for most of the climbing you do.

6) I would hike the parts of the trail I didn't get to see, but probably wouldn't be interested in through hiking it. Nonetheless I'm definitely looking forward to my next trip.

7) My buddy who frequents Appalachian Outfitters went back after the trip to talk to the guy, and the dude ironically confessed to how rough the part of the trail I hiked was.

Sorry for the lengthy post, but appreciate those who read this far. How did I do?


tokenBoiler
Purdue Fan
Lafayette, Indiana
Member since Aug 2012
2965 posts

re: First ever backpacking trip
Thanks for the update -- too many people ask advice about stuff and never come back to say what happened.

Sounds like a pretty solid experience for the first time -- that's a lot more extensive a trip than I was expecting from your OP.


Replies (0)
Replies (0)
20
CrownTownHalo
Mississippi St. Fan
CrownTown, NC
Member since Sep 2011
847 posts

re: First ever backpacking trip
Saw this too late to respond...but why not drive an hour or two further, gain a lot of elevation and do the hike in NC? Would have been a lot cooler. And probably better scenery.
This post was edited on 7/21 at 8:36 pm


Soda City Spur
South Carolina Fan
Lugoff
Member since Mar 2017
348 posts

re: First ever backpacking trip
We were originally going to hike a trail near Asheville, but someone said it might be too hard for a 1st time hiker.

I also think the through-hikers had been wanting to through hike the Foothills for a while now.

Lesson learned though.



Arksulli
Arkansas Fan
Fayetteville
Member since Aug 2014
19241 posts

re: First ever backpacking trip
Wait until early fall, not too late when it gets all cold and drizzly, and walk the many nature trails in Northwest Arkansas.

Seriously. There are miles upon miles of trails up here to walk and most of them you can walk a bit then easily get to your hotel. The nature trails that run from Fayetteville all the way up to the Missouri border are a very under rated treat.


awestruck
Auburn Fan
Member since Jan 2015
5968 posts

re: First ever backpacking trip
He’s a lot closer to the GSMNP and now has the beginnings of personal experience.

enjoy


Replies (0)
Replies (0)
00
immobileman
Georgia Fan
nowhere in particular
Member since Nov 2014
470 posts

re: First ever backpacking trip
Just saw this and I’m glad you enjoyed it. From your take-aways, don’t say you’ll never hike it July. Say, you will work hard to be ready next July! Kick that trails ass!


Replies (0)
Replies (0)
00
NYCAuburn
Auburn Fan
TD Platinum Membership/SECr Sheriff
Member since Feb 2011
53470 posts

re: First ever backpacking trip
quote:

We all guessed it was between 30-40 lbs
thats a lot for a two night hike. is this before water as well?


Replies (0)
Replies (0)
01
Harry Rex Vonner
Louisiana Tech Fan
Gumps who's the Rounders boy?
Member since Nov 2013
12840 posts

re: First ever backpacking trip
Very meaningful event and post



I think I'll stick to fishing and building stuff


Replies (0)
Replies (0)
00
Soda City Spur
South Carolina Fan
Lugoff
Member since Mar 2017
348 posts

re: First ever backpacking trip
quote:

Northwest Arkansas.


Thanks Sulli. I'll keep that in mind if we ever want to do something that way.

quote:

GSMNP


Definitely planning a trip for this within the next 12-18 months.

quote:

be ready next July! Kick that trails ass!


I like that mindset .

quote:

is this before water as well?


This was everything including 4L of water. I did get some guidance against that from the guys while on the trip, but I honestly felt it was necessary because of the distance and heat.

quote:

Very meaningful event and post


Thanks HRV! Glad it turned out this way


Replies (0)
Replies (0)
00
first pageprev pagePage 1 of 1next pagelast page
refresh

Back to top

logoFollow SECRant for SEC Football News
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to get the latest updates on SEC Football and Recruiting.

FacebookTwitter