Monthly Archives: January 2013


The work is finished, except for maybe a half-day job that may or may not come.

The details are in progress, pesky as puppies. Waiting on 1099s so I can do last year’s taxes and pay my estimated payments for this year. Waiting for the roofer to call and tell me when he’s coming to fix my leak. Waiting for the end of the month to cancel some things and handle some nitty-gritty, like figuring out my Smokies permit and doing my final grocery shopping.

So for now, hiking is my full-time job. Set the alarm for 5:00, get up, make meals, pack the pack, commute to the trail (an hour), then hike. Hike hike hike. Then drive home, shower, sleep. (I’m not doing full afternoons yet, so I can check WhiteBlaze and Trail Journals in the afternoon.) Lather, rinse, repeat.

I’m working into the rhythm. First, it lets my body get a taste of hiking on rocks and hills for multiple days without breaks. But really, I’m trying to minimize the Springer Mountain culture shock. I’m the kind of person who gets easily addicted to a schedule. With all the other changes and challenges of Springer to Neels, it seems smart to eliminate the ones I can.

No really big miles, no big weight. I’m just trying to do 10×12—ie, ten miles by noon. Haven’t managed it yet, although yesterday I did get my ten miles by 12:15, then hiked another mile or so. I’m increasing the distance slowly.

Weather, of course, is the limiting factor. Last night brought torrential rain and high winds, and there are winds again today. That trail can be treacherous at times. The ground is frozen with pooled water. Rain makes the ice wet (and the other day I had several near falls; thank the gods for inventing trekking poles). But the winds make branches fly like broomsticks, which is less predictable than watching one’s footing. Discretion being the better part of valor, I’m planning a cozy day working through gear.

My bum knee hurts a bit, but I think it’s OK. Nothing that feels like a new injury.

We’re good to go, one day at a time.






Categories: Appalachian Trail, Planning, training | Tags: , | 2 Comments

From an email

“I’m sorry I’ve been lurking, too. I’m actually going crazy getting ready for an adventure. In a few weeks I’m heading out to backpack the Appalachian trail.

“All I have to do from March through August or September or October is walk: walk and survive the snow in the Smokies, survive the dire heat in the mid-Atlantic, survive the river crossings in Maine and the Vermont mud, survive the bears in New Jersey and the snakes in Pennsylvania and the porcupines in New Hampshire, survive the ticks and mosquitoes and blackflies, survive the White Mountains and the Virginia blues, and keep the ring from Sauron.

“I’ll send you a picture from Katahdin, should I be so lucky. Hopefully Gollum won’t chew off one of my fingers, my preciouses!


Categories: Appalachian Trail | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Biggest challenge

My biggest challenge at the moment: trying to remember not to eat while I’m going through my new AT Guide. Trying not to go through it, page by page, with my greasy potato-skin fingers.

Because if it smells like potato-and-bacon deliciousness, I’m going to have to bear bag it. (And if a bear gets hold of it, well… let’s just say I don’t want some random bear following me north and hitting all the same resupply points.)*

*Because bears can read, y’all. They learned it from the deer.

Categories: Appalachian Trail | Tags: | 5 Comments


Just finished one of the best videos I’ve ever seen on the whole, crazy moving circus. It’s Bomber’s 2012 video. Highly recommended!

Bomber's thru

Categories: Appalachian Trail | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Look, it’s a bear!

OK, not a bear. Just a silly old tent in my dining room.



Oh, and a bear bag. Cause you just never know what’s in your dining room!


Categories: Appalachian Trail, Gear, Planning, training | Tags: | Leave a comment

Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future

Well… I’m as nervous as the next guy, I imagine! But here it is, January 2, and my birthday! I’m not worried about training and eating right and hike prep today. Honestly, I’m trying not to worry about much of anything today—my birthday gift to myself. 🙂

There’s a lot to be done. This week, first and foremost, I have to get the taxes together. One of the issues for a self-employed thru-hiker is that not only do I have to pay my 2012 taxes before I hit the Trail, but I have to pay my 2013 taxes, too. That’s probably my biggest paperwork issue at the moment, and it’s time-consuming. A detail, though.

Everything that’s left is a detail.

The gear is dialed down. I’ll probably dump some stuff at Neel (or Neels—I can’t decide, and sources vary) Gap. Maybe not, though. My pack weight with a max load of winter gear, five days’ worth of food, and a liter of water is 29 or 30 pounds (I’m fussing around with a few ounces). I’m fine with that, for now. (It will go down after Mt. Rogers, when I can send the winter stuff home.)

The arrangements are made. There are details there, too: extra keys to be made, that sort of thing.

And of course, life goes on. This morning my keyboard broke. I have a backup that I’m using. I’d like to not buy anything before I get back, because who knows what I’ll be thinking then? My roof has developed a leak, so I need to get that sorted.

Details, details, details.

For hiking prep… well, hiking and working are butting heads. I can’t walk every day because I’ve got February deadlines. The best thing I can do for myself is take some days (even weeks) away from the trail, since it’s all snowy and treacherous anyway, and finish up the work as fast as I possibly can. That would give me some weeks in February to start amping up the training. I’d like to do more, but I don’t think I’ll be able to—and I’m OK with that. I’m in good physical shape, more or less. The twenty pounds I’d like to lose will just have to work themselves out on the Trail.

The big issue is this arthritic knee of mine. I feel like I’m starting the hike with a giant strike against me. On the other hand, it doesn’t limit my motion in any way, manner, means, or form. It just hurts. So: will the hiking change that? Will the pain increase to the point where I can’t use it? I’m worried about that—quite a lot, in fact. But it is what it is. It hurts at home, too. The only place it doesn’t hurt is when I’m actually walking. If it drives me off the Trail, well, I suppose I’ll be a section hiker. And in fact, I think I’ll probably be fine. But I’m a worrier.

So there it is. The state of the state on my 52nd birthday, and the year in which I tackle the last thing on my bucket list. (After this, I’m going to need a new list.)

Happy 2013! May the weather be mild and the ticks be few! 🙂 (That’s an old Rocksylvania saying that I just made up.)

Oh, and by the way… good luck to Rifle and anybody else who started on January 1. I’m reading your journals while you blaze the Trail. Smooth sailing to you all!

Categories: Appalachian Trail | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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