Anthony Galluscio Hiking Gear Review #8: Satellite Communicator

Anthony Galluscio Satellite Communicator

Anthony Galluscio Satellite Communicator Review

  • Item: Satellite Communicator
  • Quantity: 1
  • Make: Garmin (DeLorme)
  • Model: AG-009871-201 inReach SE
  • Cost: $264.00
  • Weight: 7.75 oz
  • Rating: Good
  • Notes: Before I left on my Foothills Trail thru-hike, a friend of mine who is an outdoor recreation lover from the great state of Wisconsin, convinced me that I should bring a satellite communicator. She said that if not for my peace of mind, then I should do it for the peace of mind of my friends and family.  I really can’t argue with that.

When you set up the device you can invite people to follow you on the map. So, I invited members of my family and close friends to track my progress. I set the device to send a ping every 10 minutes. It seemed to work well as long as I had a clear view of the sky. If I was on a trail in dense forest there would be a longer time between pings. However, my friends and family were able to track my general progress.

Another feature of the device, and the associated paid plan, is that you can send an unlimited number of up to three different static text messages. Those are messages that you design in advance.   My three messages were, “Getting started,” Doing okay,” and “Stopping for the day.” I also had a max of 50 free form text messages that I could send. I went way over that limit communicating with my wife, Becca, and ended up paying fees.  You can get all of the information on plans and pricing on the Garmin website. The device is text only with no voice capability.

One very important feature of the device is what I call the “come get me” feature. If you unlock the safety and press the button, the nearest emergency rescue team will be alerted that you are in trouble. Luckily, I did not need that!

I really did not want to take this unit along, but I am glad I did if it gave others peace of mind. The pros are that it is light, has good battery life, and allows you to stay in touch with friends and family. The cons are that if you don’t have a clear sky, not sending pings may alarm folks back home. Overall, I would rate the device as “good.”

 

  • Link: https://goo.gl/M0gpju

Anthony Galluscio Hiking Gear Review #7: Trekking Poles

Anthony Galluscio Trekking Poles

Anthony Galluscio Trekking Poles Review

  • Item: Trekking Poles
  • Quantity: 1 Pair
  • Make: Black Diamond
  • Model: Alpine Trekking Pole, Carbon Cork, 62.5-130cm
  • Cost: $159.00
  • Weight: 17 oz
  • Rating: Excellent
  • Notes: I have now hiked over 100 miles using these Black Diamond trekking poles. Originally, when I was prepping for my Foothills Trail thru-hike, my daughter, Katie, had to talk me into adding trekking poles to my gear list (Thanks Katie, I love you). I don’t know why but for some reason I had put trekking poles in the same category as umbrellas and snuggies, neither of which you normally see Marines use. Wow, was I wrong! These trekking poles quite literally saved my life twice that I can think of when I was miles from nowhere.  Also, these poles help me keep my balance when my spinal arthritis invariably flares up.

The first time these trekking poles saved my life, I was hiking along the foothills trail alone in the morning when the sun was just starting to break the horizon. I felt the pole hit something that moved rapidly. I stopped dead in my tracks as saw that I had just hit a copperhead with my trekking pole.  If I had not had the trekking poles, I would have hit that snake with my foot and I probably would have been bitten. See below for a picture I took.

Anthony Galluscio Foothills Trail Snake Encounter
Anthony Galluscio Foothills Trail Snake Encounter

The second instance when the trekking poles saved my life is actually a category containing many instances where I would likely have lost my balance without the poles. There were many times when I was negotiating steps or a dead-fall on a steep incline. When I would lose my footing, I would invariably catch myself using one of the poles. Imagine taking a tumble down the steps below and waiting a couple days for someone to come along. With these poles I avoided that!

Anthony Galluscio Typical Steps on Foothills Trail
Anthony Galluscio Typical Steps on Foothills Trail

While the instances above describe when the trekking poles “saved my life”, I supposed that could be said for any type of poles. However, these poles are outstanding. The pros are that they are lightweight, adjustable for any hiker, easy to set up, comfortable, and very durable. The only con is that you have to make sure you have the tension set properly on the screws that keep the poles from collapsing or the poles will get progressively shorter as you use them. Once you overcome that, there is nothing else negative I can think of to say about these poles. These poles are excellent and I would not go hiking without them.

 

Anthony Galluscio Florida Trail Aucilla River Hike

Lilly Pads on an Aucilla Sink

Florida Trail Aucilla River Section

Quick Facts

  • Distance: 14.8 miles
  • Duration: 1.5 days
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Terrain: Primarily flat forest with some water crossings
  • Human Impact: Heavy impact due to many access roads near the trail
  • Location: Florida Panhandle southeast of Tallahassee
  • Start: Aucilla Northern Trailhead: 30.25587, -83.86396
  • End: Aucilla Southern Trailhead: 30.18519, -83.93732
  • Dates: February 4-5, 2017

Getting Started

I met my son (Bobby), my daughter (Katie), and Katie’s boyfriend (Miguel) for a very scenic hike of the Aucilla River Section of the Florida Trail. The “kids” live in Gainesville, FL so I met them there and we caravanned to the Southern Trailhead where we left my truck. We then drove to the Northern Trailhead and hiked south from there.

The Aucilla River Trail Crew
The Aucilla River Trail Crew

Northern Section

We started out hiking down an access road. We missed the first trail marker and ended up hiking about a mile out of the way. However, once we got onto the actual trail the orange blazes were easy to follow. The only time it was at all difficult was at the very beginning when we were hiking through some controlled burn areas and some of the orange blazes had turned white. Once we realized that, it was not a problem.

Aucilla River Controlled Burns
Aucilla River Controlled Burns

The Northern Section primarily follows the winding Aucilla river. There are some beautiful views of the river and you are rarely ever far from the river.

Beautiful Views of Aucilla River
Beautiful Views of Aucilla River

About half way through the first day we came to some rapids that seemed bigger than other rapids I have seen in Florida.

Aucilla River Rapids
Aucilla River Rapids

One of the landmarks you will pass along the way is Burnt Bridge. You can’t miss it.

Burnt Bridge on Aucilla River
Burnt Bridge on Aucilla River

We decided not to camp at the South Aucilla River Camp Site. That camp site was quite littered with beer cans and paper. Needless to say we moved on up the trail to a cleaner campsite.

Aucilla River Camp Site
Aucilla River Camp Site

Southern Section

The next morning we got a late start because we only had 6.4 miles to go. This is where it really starts to get interesting. The river actually disappears under ground. We saw a large beaver here making its home in the driftwood and debris. Note there is a lot of trash that floats down the river and collects here. We marked this site mentally for a possible future cleanup.

Aucilla River Disappears
Aucilla River Disappears

Hiking the South section of the trail there are many many places where the river reappears, called “sinks.” We lost count of the sinks and the scenery on this section of the hike makes the hike worth it. Here are some noteworthy pictures.

Typical Aucilla Sink
Typical Aucilla Sink
Palm Tree Growing In Sink
Palm Tree Growing In Sink
A Large Aucilla Sink
A Large Aucilla Sink
Lilly Pads on an Aucilla Sink
Lilly Pads on an Aucilla Sink

The  Aucilla Sink Campground is really nice. There is even a bench there!

Aucilla Sink Camp Site
Aucilla Sink Camp Site

After leaving the Aucilla Sink Camp site we hiked through some beautiful pine tree and palmetto forest.

Aucilla River Forest
Aucilla River Forest

The End

We got back to my truck around noon on the second day.  This was a good hike. We ended at Longsuffering Road. Hilarious!

Ending at Longsuffing Road!
Ending at Longsuffering Road!

Many thanks to Rick and Brenda Harris for this excellent article that inspired us to take this hike: http://www.cherokeehikingclub.org/special%20aucilla.htm

Anthony Galluscio Hiking Gear Review #6: Water Purifier

Anthony Galluscio Hiking Gear Review #6: Water Purifier

Anthony Galluscio Water Purifier Review

  • Item: Water Purifier
  • Quantity: 1
  • Make: SteriPEN
  • Model: Adventurer Opti UV Water Purifier
  • Cost: $90.00
  • Weight: 4.875 oz
  • Rating: Excellent
  • Notes: I hiked for seven days starting with only two full one-liter Nalgene bottles. I estimate that between cooking and drinking, I consumed approximately four liters of water per day. That means that I used this water purifier to purify more than twenty liters of water on the hike. The water came from many different sources including a running stream, a puddle, runoff from a cliff face, and a lake.  I take arthritis medication that suppresses my immune system, and I did not get sick using this device.

The device is super simple to use. All you have to do is turn it on for one liter of water and stir your water until it turns off and blinks green after ninety seconds. There is also a setting for a half liter, but I did not use that setting because I have one-liter bottles.

The pros of this device is that it is light, easy to use, works well, and works quickly. The only con is that it has a battery that could run out so you may need to have a backup system or extra battery. However, my overall assessment is that this water purifier is excellent.

Anthony Galluscio Hiking Gear Review #5: Backpacking Tent

Anthony Galluscio Hiking Gear Review #5: Backpacking Tent

Anthony Galluscio Backpacking Tent Review

  • Item: Backpacking Tent
  • Quantity: 1
  • Make: Big Agnes
  • Model: Fly Creek HV UL mtnGLO Tent: 1-Person, 3-Season, Gray/Silver
  • Cost: $399.00
  • Weight: 36.125 oz
  • Rating: Good
  • Notes: This backpacking tent has LED lighting that lights the inside of the tent and makes it visible from the outside in the dark. I was initially unsure that I would trade this kind of convenience for the cost of additional weight. However, upon further inspection, the lighting does not seem to add much to the weight (probably on the order of single digit ounces).  Furthermore, I find the lighting useful when camping in the woods on a moonless night. I really like having the lighting to find my way back easily if I have to leave the tent in the middle of the night.  Therefore, I am glad I purchased the version with the built-in lighting.

Another feature I like about this tent is that it is free standing, but can be staked down. You can pick the tent up still on the frame and shake it out before storing it, which helps minimize maintenance. This tent is very easy to set up and the instructions are super easy to follow. Additionally, you have the option of pitching only the rain fly if you so chose.

The pros of this tent are that it is light, durable, easy to set up, and will keep you dry.  Also, the quality and construction of this tent is excellent. On the con side I find this tent to be very small, my pack does not fit very well in the vestibule and definitely will not fit inside the tent with me. Overall, I like this tent enough that I am not in the market for a different one. The size is the only reason I give this tent a “good” instead of an “excellent.”

Anthony Galluscio Hiking Gear Review #4: Sleeping Pad

Anthony Galluscio's Therm-a-rest sleeping pad.

Anthony Galluscio Sleeping Pad Review

  • Item: Sleeping Pad
  • Quantity: 1
  • Make: Therm-a-rest
  • Model: NeoAir XLite Large,Marigold
  • Cost: $179.90
  • Weight: 17 oz
  • Rating: Good
  • Notes: I think a comfortable night’s sleep on the trail starts with a good sleeping pad. It seems intuitive that the more weight you are willing to carry, the more comfortable you will be. However, this pad defies that rule  by packing a lot of comfort into a low amount of weight and small form factor. The pad rolls up incredibly small and is quite light at 17 ounces. This  pad has a mummy bag shape and, with my 6’2″ frame, I have no problem fitting on it comfortably. The pad is very comfortable to sleep on and stays inflated throughout the night. This pad is as comfortable as any ground pad I have slept on when camping. The pros of this pad are the packed size, weight, and incredible comfort. The only con I can think of is that this pad is noisy when you roll over.  That is the only thing reason I rated this sleeping pad as “good” rather than “excellent.”
  • Link: https://goo.gl/kdGVmP

Anthony Galluscio Hiking Gear Review #3: Hiking Shoes

Merrell Hiking Shoes

Anthony Galluscio Hiking Shoes Review

  • Item: Hiking Shoes
  • Quantity: 1 pair
  • Make: Merrell
  • Model: Men’s Moab Ventilator Hiking Shoe
  • Cost: $84.00
  • Weight: 32.5 oz
  • Rating: Fair
  • Notes: I chose these shoes because they are not too heavy and provide good support. The shoes that I purchased for the Foothills Trail thru-hike represent at least the fifth pair of this exact shoe that I have owned. I find these shoes to be comfortable right out of the box and this is my shoe of choice for casual wear and light day hiking.  However, I had never hiked a grueling seventy seven miles through the mountains wearing these shoes until my Foothills Trail thru-hike. The toe box on these shoes is quite wide.  While that is great for casual wear, it does provide opportunity for blisters. The pros are that the insole is removable and the shoes dry easily over night. The cons are that the shape of the shoe is conducive to light, rather than strenuous, hiking. In summary, in the future I plan to wear these for casual wear, but not for strenuous hiking.
  • Link: https://goo.gl/qUExjn

Anthony Galluscio Hiking Gear Review #2: Compression Shorts

Anthony Galluscio's Compression Shorts

Anthony Galluscio’s Compression Shorts Review

  • Item: Compression Shorts
  • Quantity: 2
  • Make: Nike
  • Model: Pro Combat (long)
  • Cost: $20/each
  • Weight: 2.38 oz each
  • Rating: Poor
  • Notes: I wore these shorts that supposedly fit up to 3 inches larger than my waist size. However, they are too tight for hiking. About one day into the hike my left leg started to go numb due to pressure on my lateral femoral cutaneous nerve. As a result, I cut the band with a knife, which helped tremendously but ruined the shorts. That was five months ago and I am just starting to get the feeling back in my leg. This is not a general complaint about Nike. I have a lot of Nike gear that I like. Rather, I think that I would avoid wearing tight compression shorts when hiking, independent of the brand.
  • Link: https://www.amazon.com/Nike-Mens-Long-Compression-Shorts/dp/B00AACR6SM

Follow Anthony Galluscio Social Media Links

Anthony Galluscio Social Media

Anthony Galluscio Social Media

I was trying to think of a way to store all of my (Anthony Galluscio Social Media) various social media links. So, I thought I would put a list into a blog posting and update it as they change. To that end, please see all of my existing social media sites below:

In summary, I will update this blog post as I add social media sites. Otherwise, it is very difficult to keep track of all of them. Since this post will not change frequently, I will republish this post if I establish a new social media presence.  However, I will only provide an update to the existing publication if one of the links above changes.

Anthony Galluscio Hiking Gear Review #1: Stove

Introduction

Hello everyone! Last September when I (Anthony Galluscio) thru-hiked the Foothills Trail I was thoughtful about the gear I selected for the trip. However, some of my gear gained high marks and some did not.  Consequently, my goal is to go through my gear piece by piece and provide reviews that may help other hikers.  Especially relevant, I will review my lightweight backpacking stove.

Pictures

Here is my stove:
Anthony Galluscio's Stove
In addition, here is my fuel canister. I carried two, but did not need both.
Anthony Galluscio's Stove Fuel

Anthony Galluscio’s Review

  • Item: Stove
  • Make: MSR
  • Model: Pocket Rocket
  • Cost: $42.50
  • Weight: 4 ounces
  • Rating: Excellent
  • Notes:  I hiked for seven days and camped for six nights using this stove every evening to boil water.  Therefore, I have ample experience using this stove in the field. This stove is capable of bringing water to a boil in minutes. The stove stores in a very small plastic case and is easy to remove. The stove arms fold out easily and the stove is simple to use without instructions.  I did not use even a fraction on one canister of fuel. Overall the stove is easy to light, heats water rapidly, and provides a stable-enough platform. In summary, I was very impressed with this little stove and I would not trade it.
  • Link: https://www.amazon.com/MSR-11792-PocketRocket-Stove/dp/B000A8C5QE