Potential miracle

Ohmyfreakinggod, people! I got a note in the mail from an old company I used to work for, and there may be a surprise bonus coming. This is completely out of the blue. I don’t know how much it is (or even for sure that it’s not a clerical error), but there’s a 50/50 chance that it’ll be enough for me to move my hike from 2014 to 2013. How freaking awesome is that?

How freaking terrifying is that?

I was on pace for spreading my worrying out over 16 months. Six months? Not so much!

On the other hand, it might not be enough cash anyway. I’ll know for sure in a week or so. So currently? Limbo.

But if it pans out, my training ideas have to change radically because I don’t have time anymore to leisurely look for a good trail. I think the best I can do is keep going to Eckville, but do a repeat loop from the parking lot to the trailhead past Eckville shelter, about 2 miles uphill to the Hawk Mountain trail, then reverse. The total gain is only 600 or 700 feet, but none of that section is flat, and some of the slopes are extreme enough for training. At least it’s hill walking—and in fact, it’s the site of my disastrous June hike. (That was disastrous because of the heat and the boulders, though. If I stop at Hawk Mountain I get the greatest physical benefit of the hills without the mental issues of the boulders.)

Trouble is, I need to do it three times to get 20 miles. Which sounds, frankly, like torture. Torture! Would I even be able to make myself do it three times? I mean, jeez—even a flattish road walk at home isn’t something I think I could bring myself to repeat three times. So ‘Walk four hours to your bonk place, then do it twice more’ sounds like a little more than I have willpower for. Last week I would have bailed after 11 or 12 miles. I’m thinking I might—might—force myself to go twice. But three? Hrm.

Mybe I can find a way to switch it up so each time is a little different. Do it once, then add headphones. A podcast, or some music.

We’ll see. I’d prefer a 20-mile loop rather than three 6-mile back-and-forths. On the other hand, one advantage is that repetition is measurable. I can see whether I’m improving.

It doesn’t solve the other issues—the autumn leaves littering the trail, the hunters banging away in the distance, the safety concerns about the parking lot. But those are resolveable, at least in part. The trail is hilly, so the leaves don’t pool. The trail is covered with roots, but not so many rocks, so the risk of injury is lower (and if I should trip or otherwise need to cut the hike short, I’m at most 2 miles from the parking lot, as opposed to 10). I have plenty of orange to wear. And the parking lot hasn’t given me any trouble on a weekday yet; plus, with three round trips, I’d be visiting the car twice during the hike. If the parking lot has filled with cars that make my spider sense tingle, I’ll have opportunities to just drive away. I don’t think the hunters are the problem, really. They’re there to hunt and enjoy the woods, not to smash open my car to steal my cheap radio (and I don’t leave anything in the car anyway). Plus, hunting season might deter some of the more casual vandals. If you’re going to piss somebody off by breaking into their car, do you really choose somebody who’s likely out there with guns?

I don’t know! I don’t know how it’ll work! Limbo!

Now, shit. I have to figure out how to tie a bear bag a lot sooner than I was anticipating.

Categories: Appalachian Trail | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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