This week was a mess of AT related prep work, as well as getting ready for school. This post might get lengthy so I apologize in advance. It all started Wednesday (8/26) when some developments with Appalachian Trials had me taking a serious look at my gear. I ripped apart my pack and inventoried what I had and considered what I may still need.
I took this as a chance to set up my tent for the first time. It was quick to go up and I do fit inside of it...barely. I was able to get it up in about 5 minutes and broken down just as fast, the Big Agnes UL1 has certainly lived up to the expectation so far. (Hopefully this will remain to be true once the hiking starts)
I spent the remainder of the evening cruising Amazon and using a gear weight calculator, sipping 'Not your Father's Root Beer' (a root beer with a ABV rating) in the shadow of crummy History channel specials focused on anything, but history. After the remainder of my shopping list was complete, something in my head said 'Wiki, it's time to begin your training. Set your alarm and meet me in the Dagobah system.' (or something like that anyways.)
So the next day I woke up early and enjoyed a cup of coffee and made my way to one of the most hiked mountains in the world, Mt. Monadnock in Jaffery,NH. With me I had my pack, poles, and three liters of water. The official weight was somewhere around 21 pounds.
The hike, which was White Cross Trail up and White Dot Trail down, was great and was my first time using trekking poles. The total mileage was around three miles in two and a half hours, not a bad pace for a first outing. I had several big take-aways from this hike they are as follows:
1. A pack changes everything
2. Trekking poles are a must with weight
3. Instrumental movie scores are the best hiking music
4. Brighter clothing is needed, I look like a hiking emo
5. This hydration tube clip makes an awesome way to retain my ear buds
However my lessons learned this week didn't end at this spur of the moment training hike I also ran a Spartan Sprint in Barre, MA on 8/29. It was five miles in length and had some of the most challenging obstacles I've experienced in my Obstacle Course Racing (OCR) career. I had my GoPro on throughout the race so I may post that video soon (my computer is in pieces waiting to be moved into school).
Regardless, as I crested the final cargo net climb I felt a huge tweak in my left shoulder that bothered me for hours after the race. This really got me thinking, I'm registered for four more races this year alone and was considering playing club rugby at my school for the semester. This being said I'm starting to think it's a harsh reality that I 'ain't as good as I once was' in the words of Toby Keith, and it might be time to start considering new ways to fill my time that might not end in injury.
Thru-hike ending injuries are one of my greatest fears at this moment, and now I am working to mitigate any chance I have to have a hike ending injury before I set foot on Springer. Aside from this I had an important finding pertaining to my AT hike, that I've already somewhat mitigated.
1. Chafe is the enemy.
There is nothing I hate more that chafe when it comes to physical activity, I literally have permanent scarring from it (that probably oversharing, but you'll live) this scarring makes chafing more frequent. Now this being said I have found the holy grail of anti-chafe underwear in MyPakage branded underwear, however due to the nature of OCR's I decided to run the race in just work out shorts and no underwear. The shorts had a liner, but after five miles the damage was done
The final and perhaps best part of this week is that a friend of mine from my previous exploits in MilSim has mentioned he has interest in hiking and the AT so we may be planning another training hike soon. Plus his interest gives me an awesome outlet to dump AT related knowledge on. Despite my aversion to activities that could leave me injured, the importance of training hikes can't be understated moving forward, especially with the winter coming and limited training options in the New England area during those months.
I apologize for the title of this post, but it had to be done.
I just returned from a brief vacation to the Lakes Region of NH (aka just South of the Whites) at a condo on Lake Winnisquam. Our first day of vacation we hiked Mt. Major. This hike was short about 3.5 miles round trip to the summit giving a huge pay off with a killer view of the lakes surrounding the peak.
However I was faced with some knee pain on my right knee over the course of this brief hike. Now I wasn't able to determine the cause, but i figured it was one of three options.
1. I was hiking slower to function as a guide for the folks I was hiking with as they aren't outdoorsy people, and slowing my pace hurt my knees.
2. Out of practice as I didn't do much hiking while overseas (obviously)
3. The worst of the three, my old knee injuries are flaring up.
I have a Spartan Race coming up this week and I am considering doing a quick hike of Mt. Monadnock with what gear I do have and my Leki poles this week as a bit of a test with my pace where I stand. Still missing a jacket, proper trail runners, and a sleeping bag liner.
Well it's official, I've finally given out my blog URL. Last weekend I traveled down to Pennsylvania to celebrate a cousin tying the knot before they moved down to Arizona. During the trip out there we passed underneath a raised highway overpass in New York that was marked 'Appalachian Trail'. My mom pulled hollered at me to rip my attention away from the Crimson Skies source book I was reading to point it out.
The next day we drove to Hawk Mountain to do a morning hike before the small gathering my extended family had planned. The hike had some great views, and the path was actually semi-paved making the mountain handicap accessible. On the way there we passed an AT road crossing as well. Later it was explained to me that the AT didn't go through Hawk Mountain but had to skirt around it because it's conservation land. It was interesting.
All of this being said during the hike it was brought up to my cousin's new mother-in-law that I was planning an AT Thru hike attempt. She was very excited for me and willing to listen to me gush on about gear and planning, something I have a tendency to not do at home.
Then she said one of the coolest things "Well when you come through here, be sure to let us know so we can bring you a food drop." As it goes 'The trail provides'....just in advance at this point.
The trip was cool on a couple levels, the first and most obvious one is that I gained a trail angel! The second is that my mom seemed to be showing me a lot of support already, that really surprised me. The final level is that getting the Pennsylvania and 'hiking' there definitely showed that the AT is filled with really diverse terrain it's not all the same as what can be found in MA or the Whites in NH, while I knew this getting displaced far away from what I am comfortable with really nailed that home.
I should have some gear prep post coming up soon, I have alot of the stuff already and need to test it out. I still am lacking starting shoes, a jacket, and a few other small gear items.
My first official Appalachian Trials blogger post is upyou can find it at the link below.
Zach ( aka GoodBadger) was nice enough to share it out on the AppTrials Facebook page and Texaco, who's blog I followed in 2014 and inspired my upcoming 2016 attempt commented flattered that I was so inspired by his adventure.
It will be a while before I post again in AppTrials, (Final Gear breakdown will get posted there) however posts will continue here on Going Big in the meanwhile.