For weeks six and seven, we hit the trails to put new gear to the test. Sure, we have tried out the trekking poles and the new boots on the Hwangyeong-san (pictures 1 and 2), but to take them out for a long hike like Jangsan (3.5 hours) is a true test.
The trekking poles are doing what they’re supposed to (save leg muscles on the ascent, save knees on the descent). We may have to get fingerless gloves to decrease the friction on the handle-grips. However, there may not be need for that, as we are still working-in this set of equipment.
As for the boots, Jangsan was conquered. My boots have thick soles, so I did have a few toe-strikes on trail stones (the poles are great for keeping balance and saved me from tumbling down the hill a few times), but my arches and toes were well-protected from direct trauma. On sheer, dry rock at 45 degree angles, the treads on the soles did not slip at all. As expected, though, at the finish of the hike, both Nic’s and my dogs were barking. It is going to take some time to get them fully broken in but, as with all our gear, this is part of the process of preparing for 30 or 40 straight days on the trail.
Someone finally turned off the furnace here, so our flat-land training will be picking up in the coming months. The biggest challenge we will encounter is the elevation. We are trying to incorporate more exercises (interval walk-run, and Nordic walking with the trekking poles, for example) that might get our lungs better prepared for those high altitudes.
Next week, the status of hiking socks, bandannas, quick-dry towels, underwear and shirts.