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.