Daily Archives: April 22, 2013

Heading out

Heading back into the mountains! I won’t have a backup battery until Damascus in 120 miles, and I’m not sure I’ll be able to grab a recharge before then. Have to save the juice! Might be largely radio silent for the next two weeks, then post a cluster of updates.

See you on the other side!

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Testing

Got one vote for bigger photos and one vote for OK as is.

Testing a bigger photo

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Categories: Appalachian Trail | 22 Comments

Day 48: Plenty of time

Erwin’s a normal little town. The mountains aren’t huge and the town sprawls—clusters of buildings strung on ropes of gray highway. There’s a train, an old-fashioned freight train that reminds me of my childhood Christmas platform.

Back when Aquaman gave me that trail magic ride to the store, he said there was a local bald that was just as beautiful as Max Patch. Big Bald. Well, I climbed it the other day, and Sir, you are no Max Patch! One reason was that from Big Bald, every vista was corrupted by webs of roadways and machinery scars and tumbled houses and something that looked like a golf course. All of that was Erwin.

There’s not much to say about Erwin. LOL. I think I’ve reached the end of my poetry.

They do have an excellent grocery store.

I’m doing my least favorite thing: Repackaging food. I HATE dealing with the food. If I could get rid of one aspect of hiking, it would be the whole food thing. But that goes for home, too.

I sent my stove home. I’m not cooking, and the bulk and weight are too much. I’ve lost a lot of weight. The pack weight has to come down, too.

I’ll be heading out with six days of food. I’ll have to top off in Hampton, but the next major stop will be Damascus.

A lot of people quit in Damascus, apparently; it’s a psychological milestone.

Smowman, who hiked before, said we’re still just fine for getting to Maine on time.

OK, I got nothin’. Some days just don’t warrant that many words. Which is just what a zero is all about. 🙂

I’m planning to eat breakfast at 6:30 tomorrow, then hoof it back to the trail by 7. Get there by 8, and back on track.

By the way, is the size of the photos OK? I can go a size larger.

OK, back to communing with my gear!

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A word about donations

The kindness of people is a gale force, sweeping and miraculous. It humbles me.

I’ve had a few people ask me how they can contribute financially to the trip. Can I send some money, they’d like to know. Can I send you a few bucks of trail magic?

That gives me a moral dilemma.

This hike, for me, is partly a pilgrimage. I’m walking state by state through the entirety of my life, scouring away old scabs and contemplating future directions. If you want more informatoon about that, we should have coffee and talk. 🙂

But you know, it’s also part vacation. Right now I’m staying in a decent hotel watching NCIS reruns. I’m clean and warm and happy. If it were summer, I might be using the pool.

There are myriad ways I could be doing this more cheaply. Instead of staying in this hotel, I could be bunking with other hikers in the ten-dollar-a-night hostel up the street. I could be living on frozen lima beans like one hiker I met. I could be making use of hiker boxes.

But I’ve found that hostels don’t work for me, not every time. I need a quiet, private place to let my body rest and heal for a day. Even at that, I could be splitting the cost by trying to find a roommate. I’ve chosen not to do that so far. I negotiate at shelters, and the trail itself is a constant negotiation… in town, I just don’t want to have to negotiate for the TV remote or bathroom time. I need to relax and recharge in the way introverts do it best.

You see the dilemma? If I were to take a donation, then somebody else would be paying for my vacation. And I don’t recall a single instance where someone asked me to pay for theirs.

I saved for quite a while for this trip. Am I blowing through my budget at an alarming rate? Yes. Am I alarmed? No. I’ve still got plenty of budget, and contingency plans for later. I’m easing away from the hotel zeroes. As soon as it’s warm, I’m planning to take more of my zeroes in the woods. It’s just been too darn cold thus far. And I like the hostels sometimes, too. Just not every time.

So, to anybody who’s been thinking about that sort of trail magic, thank you. Your compassion overwhelms me and softens the edges of me that lose hope in the days of cold and misery. What models you are! True heroes.

I’m not precluding putting out a ‘trail magic’ jar later in the hike—particularly after the Whites, when I may truly be out of funds. For instance, one glaring hole in my budget is that I forgot to figure in money to get home from Maine (or Connecticut!); I was so concerned with making it past Neels Gap that the end of the journey kind of fell through the cracks.

If anybody still feels compelled to send trail magic, the best way is to email it via PayPal to thumperwalk at gmail. That way you can specify in the notes what it should be used for: food, gear, coming home. The pilgrimage and not the vacation. Semantics, maybe, but I take those very seriously.

For now, honestly, the best trail magic is to comment on the blog. Really. It’s a lonely business out here, and friends vanish as frequently as the weather changes. This space is a rock for me, solid and anchoring.

Thank you so much.

Categories: Appalachian Trail | Tags: | 16 Comments

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