Happy One Year Blog-a-versary to me! (and you...I guess)
I have finally added the Gear tab to the site, contained inside of it is a chart and list which I constructed for my second Appalachian Trials post which can be found HERE, my next post for Appalachian Trials will probably be my second day on the Trail covering getting to the Trail and starting out, so if you're interested in following closer than that Going Big is the place to be.
Now to cover a few Admin notes, I have added that Instagram button I promised. This should make it easier to locate the page which the Photo Stream feeds from for people to Follow. Soon I'll be adding a GPS Tab where the SPOT Gen3 Beacon will live update for people to track my progress. I'll post another update once this happens. Also I need to construct and bag a first aid kit to complete the gear list.
Now that the gear list is up, I'm expecting some feedback from Appalachian Trials readers, so we shall see if any changes end up getting made before I leave Springer...which is the next problem that I touch on briefly in my AppTrials post. How exactly I will be getting to the Trailhead, currently my thought is to utilize Amtrak service to Gainesville, GA and then use one of ATC's recommended SHUTTLES to get to USFS 42 Parking Area which is .9 miles away from the summit of Springer.
*Gasp* No Approach Trail?!
No...No Approach Trail.
There was never a plan to do the Approach as it's not a part of the official length of the Trail.
Now that drama is out of the way, I can either go straight to the Trailhead or stay somewhere to try to get one more night of decent sleep, another thought has been to get a sleeper cab on the Amtrak so I can chill during the 24 hour trip down to Georgia. Having orders at my unit have enabled me to have a little bit more pre-Trail funding that would enable this choice, but we'll see.
I am waiting on hike planning guides to arrive. I have ordered both the ATC Official Companion and the AWOL Guide, I am going to use them both in the pre-Trail phase of the hike and decide which one will be better to take with me in addition to the Guthook App on my phone.
I also assume people are looking at my choice to bring an iPod and a Smartphone with a raised eyebrow, this choice allows me to listen to music or books all day and have my device with mobile data off or in super battery saver mode (Which is the best feature of my phone that has it operating in Black and White with limited functionality and it will run for 72 hours like this). This will allow me to listen in peace all day and reserve my phone for correspondence and blogging at night.
32 James Bond Books
28 R. A. Salvatore Books
15 Dune Books
I've heard you get bored of the music on your device and that audiobooks not only are more exciting, but also it gets you up and onto the Trail if you're interested in following the story. So I'm going to give that a try, with these titles and probably some others (Star Wars EU titles?).
There are a couple hikers already on Trail and I am following them closely.
56 Days and Counting
(PS - At the End of July, long after my expected completion date, my folks are going to be up in the Lake Winnipesaukee and planning on peak bagging some summits for a Belknap Range Patch. I have been discussing with her some of the hike planning strategy and I think I am going to do a 12.2 Belknap Range Trail Thru, bagging 8 of the needed peaks....but that's a long way out. It's just fun to see my Mom with Trail maps.)
Well it's finally over the journey that started in 2009 is finally over, I graduated with my Bachelor of Science in History, with a minor in Art. Now obviously this has very little to do with my actual job field of Cyber Security, but hey, it's progress.
For this degree path I had to write a thesis paper and I elected to write about the cultural history of the Appalachian Trail. The final 20 page paper has been hosted here in the 'Paper' tab for folks reading enjoyment...if you know you enjoy reading about cultural history in a dry over cited paper. I still have one class remaining before they will actually print my overpriced piece of card stock. This class will allow me to expand this paper so the version you are seeing now is Version 1, check back for updates if you enjoy it.
Now that my big last semester is out of the way I have some work lined up as my military unit so I won't be without income until my departure date for the Trail. Now that my holiday shopping is out of the way I have a few finances I have to finalize for my trip, mostly that is going to involve tickets to GA and a trip to the Trail Head.
Also a few upgrades are in the works for the site, the first and most important is an additional tab on this page which will host a GPS SPOT tracking map which will allow folks following the Blog to track where I'm at while on the trail. Additionally I'm going to add another social media icon that will bring you to the Instagram page.
Oh yeah...and that gear list...I'll have time for that soon.
SIt’s been a long time since I last posted. There a lot of reasons for that, chief among them my term paper (which I will eventually publish here) titled “Appalachian Odyssey: From the Dakotas to Katadhin – How American Frontier Culture Shaped the Appalachian Trail” the second reason, is I backslid into a rut where for more than a moment I had really given up on my 2016 NOBO attempt.
There were three huge contributing factors to this backslide, the first I’ve already touched on: Academic burnout, I’m not really taking the most difficult classes, but for the first time in a long time I am actually on campus and having to attend regularly scheduled classes instead of posting my homework from a tent in Jalalabad. This was a hard transition to make, one that not everyone around me understands, but never-the-less I have persevered.
The second was a financial question. I have had money set aside for quite some time for this trip, but money is currently getting scarce and it looked for a moment that I was going to have to dip into my AT money to get by, however magical trail fairies must have flown inside the Veteran Affairs building in Buffalo, because I magically received some money that was owed to me saving my trail funds to be used another day, at the same time I was being tempted by a pretty sweet job that eventually (thank god) fell through. Similarly I have some temporary work setup from mid-January to mid-February, this will keep the flow of money coming in until my new adjusted start date of:
FEBRUARY 29th, 2016
While I will be waiting until after the Christmas holiday to buy tickets and make reservations, but by adjusting my start date I tackle the money issue by reducing the amount of time I have to support myself before my hike starts and I also deal with the last and in my opinion most important issue.
I love my girlfriend to death, but I also feel bad that I basically just got back from a nine month deployment and I am already looking to disappear for 100-110 days (My estimated hike time, it may vary but that’s my goal right now). She works as a teacher and I would like some time with her in the summer so pushing the day back will have me home earlier to spend time with her before she goes back to working. I also feel bad that we have yet to get a place together because my life is so jumbled and I have this wacky dream of walking way too far for way too long.
We recently started roller-skating (Which on a side note is a great leg workout, we go three times a week and often I can feel my legs sore going up stairs) together on the regular, and I am planning on playing Roller Derby now that Rugby is over, I’ve loved the time together and leaving that is going to be very difficult for me, though there’s nothing to say we can’t continue when I return. I think in the end she’ll support me in my trek because of the changes I’ve made to my plan and because she has seen my passion for the Trail being the Editor in Chief of my Term Paper.
Sitting in the office of my military unit today our admin person asked me ‘You gotta make a choice on this trip, it’s affecting our ability to get you into courses and we need to give you the appropriate months off. Let me know ASAP’ It was at that moment that my backslide ended, I have been shopping around my resume and continuing to live my life as if a trip on the Trail wasn’t right around the corner, the money is there, the opening in my schedule is there, if I just adjust some things this experience can really slide seamlessly into my life as long as I just go for it. I haven’t given them my final answer yet, but I sat down at my desk and promptly pre-ordered my 2016 AWOL Guide.
I think this means my backslide is over and I’ve started to put some good planning thought into my hike, also my backslide has really allowed me to come to terms with my nerves over my hike, I am nervous and it’s probably good I’m nervous, which is something I haven’t really acknowledged before. I’ve also started to accept the reality that I can’t be afraid to fail, as statistically most thru attempts do end in ‘failure’, but that’s not a reason not to start.
(Afterward: I graduate from school on December 18th, 2015. Hopefully after this point I will have enough time to do a gear breakdown to post here and on Appalachian Trials. After this date the frequency of my posts should increase, I’m looking to test my sleep setup in the frigid Massachusetts winter as well, section will also be added to the site for my Term paper and GPS tracking dongle
I've been seeing more traffic here and on the Facebook page, I hope folks out there are still reading)
Since the last update not too much has happened in the way of prepping for the big trek. However some of the items I mentioned I ordered towards the end of the last post have arrived. I still need shoes and a fleece as I mentioned before and these things have yet to be ordered.
I am still very much on the fence about the type of shoes I'll be buying it's a really important choice that has me a bit worried. I know I'll be replacing the insoles with SuperFeet. I have decided on which fleece I need to buy, I settled on the Patagonia R2 Jacket.
Now in a past post I discussed the need for me to avoid injury. I have decided to play club rugby at my school for this semester. I wanted to do it to be sure I had a social group during my last semester, if I get injured I will have 3 months at a minimum to recover before getting on the trail.
Also I had the pleasure of participating in the Arcane Live Action Roleplaying Event in Madison, CT. The event was great and the combat system revolved around armor so wearing heavy armor was important to keeping your character alive.
This being said I spent about 30 hours in about 20 pounds of chain mail. Chain mail sits directly on your shoulders. It was crazy to feel the difference between my 20 pound pack for the AT and the 20 pounds of mail.
I will be attending there October event as well, and writing it off as prep.
Now that I am fully moved into school, hopefully I'll be able to get back to more conventional prep soon by getting on a mountain in between rugby games and the October LARP event.
Well it's finally arrived the Walk in the Woods movie that has caused a surge of AT related news. Including the story that was 'trending' about the party scene on the trail. I had commented that stealth camping was always an option if you wanted to avoid the 'party'. Then a thru-hiker from this year commented stating he was quoted in the article and it had been selectively edited to seem to match the authors spin. Even the often times classless BuzzFeed imitator BroBible had this to say about the subject, which I felt was rather unfiltered and matched how most people in the formal hiking community feel on the subject:
"The people who tend to “trash” the trail in my experience aren’t Bros from Shippensburg University out for a fun weekend in the woods with the boys — They’re usually uneducated hillbilly trash that treat State and National forests like their own personal dumping grounds. They respect nothing, including themselves."
The drama surrounding Baxter and their issues with thru hikers and people's fear that a Robert Redford movie will lead to an increase in thru-hikers and have a huge effect on the trail. My personal thought is that trail usage will increase for 2016 in day and section hikers, but the increase in thru hikers wont be seen until 2017. It has been good to see the official Walk in the Woods Facebook page share some Leave No Trace support videos featuring Robert Redford.
I went to see Walk in the Woods on 9/2 (aka Release Day), and overall I enjoyed the movie and I think it was more enjoyable than the book. Those who know me are quite aware that I overall didn't enjoy Bill Bryson's famous AT book. The movie was packed with great visuals of the trail and really got me amped up for March, I found myself also looking at the terrain trying to guess if It was real AT trail. I will say that as much as I enjoyed the movie it didn't unseat my favorite travel related movie "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" with Ben Stiller.
Aside from my trip to the movies I also did a small training hike up Mt. Watatic the day before, which is a mountain in name only, coming in at 1802 feet. I hike up the 'traditional route' which is approximately three miles long in about and hour with my packs summer weight and a liter of water coming in at about sixteen pounds.
While the length was the same as my Monadnock outing, there was a lot less elevation gained and I was able to keep a very fast pace because the trail is not very challenging. It was a good feeling to execute this hike so quickly, while I was hiking I was considering what the starting elevation gains and losses the trail would be like on Springer and my first few days of hiking in March. I can't wait to get that 2016 AWOL Guide in my hand.
I also made more progress on getting the remaining parts of my gear together. With the purchase of a sleeping bag liner, inflatable pillow, SmartWool top and bottoms, and mittens all that remains to purchase before March is a fleece, trail runners, and camp shoes.
The next post will be something a bit different...but I'm still writing it off as trail prep.