Thursday, August 21, 2008

Summer Socks?

Summer has come to an end as far as my "calendar" goes. Today was my last full day of landscaping and what an interesting summer it has been. I made the hour+ commute (one way) everyday to go simmer in the summer sun... but here in New Hampshire, there is no question that although it was hotter for longer this summer, it has also rained much more than normal as well. In the months of July and August, we received over 21 inches of rain while still enduring 80-90 degree days. I can now officially tell you that I have no desire to live in a rain forest.

Saturday I'll be heading into the White Mountains for an 8 day backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail. This trip is for 3 college credits and a whole boat load of experience in leadership. I'm pretty excited about the adventure but also a little nervous. Either way, it'll be a good time and one hell of a way to welcome myself into my new major, Kinesiology: Outdoor Education. Last Spring I was pretty nervous that I wasn't going to make it into the Athletic Training program at UNH; so I needed to develop a back-up plan. While having little success at honestly writing my "Why I want to be an AT" essay, I decided to take a look at the Outdoor Ed Department and soon found myself writing a 5 page dissertation on why I want to be in the program. I ended up making it into Athletic Training afterall... and I was also accepted into Outdoor Ed. Ultimately my decision came down to this: Do I want to make more money? Or do I want to lead a more fulfilling life doing what I love to do? The decision was easy and I am now officially an Outdoor Education Major at UNH. This 8 day backpacking trip is my first class in the field and classes resume full time on Tuesday, September 2nd.

This will be my last post until Saturday, August 30th where I will re-cap the trip and tell you all about my wonderful adventure. Then Sunday, August 31 is a 17 mile trail race on the Wapack Range in NH. On Monday the 1st I'll be sure to let you all know how that goes as well. So stay tuned!
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The Sock Experiment
I conducted an experiment this summer while working as a landscaper. Everyday I wore the same pair of shoes (an old pair of Montrail Hardrocks) to work as well as the same pair of socks. Gross I know. For the First 24 days I wore the same exact pair of Smartwool socks and for the second 26 days I wore the same exact pair of Darn Tough Cushion socks everyday. My goal was to compare both brands and see how they would each hold up. Each pair was subject to heat, cold, rain, dew, mulch, bush trimmings, grass clippings, grass stains, swamp water, run-off, grease, grass stains, downpours, sweat and stench. Each pair was worn consecutively through days of work, was never washed and was left in the trunk of my car over night. And rest assured each sock had a different outcome...

Pair 1: Smartwool - 24 Days

The Smartwool socks literally fell apart as the period wore on. The tube around the top of the sock became warped and loose allowing for debris to easily travel down into the foot compartment. On the bottom of the sock, the fabric started to wear, tear open and even fray to a point that debris could even creep in from below. The socks lost all cushioning and became hard and brittle, unbearably uncomfortable after the first 9 days of wear. The socks began to be constantly filled with grit, dirt and other debris, they were no long comfortable and I couldn't wait to get them off. They failed the test miserably.

Pair 2: Darn Tough - 26 Days

These socks really stood the test. While they dried each night to a hard crust towards the end, they never lost their cushioning and were always comfortable to put on. The top of the socks stayed tight to my leg and kept debris out. The bottoms of the sock look as good as new and I could keep wearing them for more days if I so desired. However, there is on big different between these socks and the Smartwools. The Darn Tough socks definitely smelt worse and harbored stench more so than the SW's. They smelt so bad, that after work I was almost afraid to take them things off as the residue of stench would be left on my hands, Simply disgusting. Smell or no smell, these socks really ARE Darn Tough as they held together nicely, no fraying or change in shape. Just quality socks standing one of the toughest tests I could put them through.

Thank god its over!

Happy Trails - See you on August 30th!
SJ