An Ember Flickers

Prior to my hike, I visited my doctors, hoping for a clean bill of health. That wasn’t the case as I learned that my triglyceride levels were off the charts. Seriously. 300-500 is considered high, I came in at 795. As my sophomore English teacher was fond of saying, if you’re going to fail, fail gloriously. I took his advice to heart (unfortunately, literally). The blood work news was followed up with an ultrasound that revealed a fatty liver and distended gall bladder.

If you read my previous post, I was a bit bummed at my condition, so much so, that for all intent and purposes I abandoned my hike. If selling most of your gear qualifies as abandonment, I scored well.

I read about high triglycerides and a fatty liver and changed my eating habits. Truth be told, I started tracking everything I was eating using (also an iOS app). I also stopped drinking (not drinking in general, just the consumption of alcohol). Weird for a guy who bottles his own limoncello, but whatever. I started to lose weight. More importantly, I started to feel better, noticeably better. Everything I read indicated that it would take about six weeks to affect changes. I seemed to be ahead of the curve. Although I hadn’t been on the bike in some time, I was able to quickly string a few good days together. Hmmm…

For those of you who are friends with me on FaceBook, you’ll know my son Chris and I had a very nice hike on a section of the AT near his house in Maryland. AT TrunkWe hiked south from Gathland State Park to Weverton Cliffs. We meet a few people carrying full packs and immediately struck up some conversations. Make no doubt about it, hikers love sharing and talking about their gear. We were having a good time.

The descent from Weverton Cliffs to our pickup point was a steep downhill. Oddly, I could envision myself heading north, making the climb up to the cliffs, even with a full pack. Was it the combination of a good day with my son, or the reality of feeling good, maybe better than I’ve actually felt in years? Does it matter? Something was fanning that ember!

Insights From A (Final) Practice Hike



SnowPeak Trek 900 Cozy
SnowPeak Trek 900 Cozy

February, in terms of fitness preparation was a complete washout. I spent my time perfecting my homemade cozy fabrication. And, the online videos made it look so easy!

However, the second course of antibiotics appeared to be ridding me of the maladies which had plagued me for well over a month. As I was starting to feel better, I had been doing some shorter hikes, 5 miles with about 24 pounds in the pack. I thought it was time to crank it up a bit.

The other day, my daughter Danielle and I headed up to the Delaware Water Gap. The plan was to hike the AT to Sunfish Pond, loop around Sunfish Pond and return on the Dunnfield Creek trail. Mileage for the day would be 9 miles. I was fully geared and rationed up, tipping the scales at 34 pounds. We completed the hike in just over four hours, including a very nice stop for lunch on a rock outcrop overlooking Sunfish Pond.

I realized on the trail that day, that parts of my body don’t enjoy hiking as much as I enjoy hiking. Maybe it had been building as I worked to restore my fitness, or maybe as the date of my departure approached, reality set in. Regardless, the message was very clear and I’ve abandoned my Appalachian Trail thru hike. And, I won’t even get into the plethora of other medical issues that arose in my attempt to receive a clean bill of health prior to leaving for the hike! Ignorance is bliss is a credible cliché, or so it seems right now.

Thanks again to all who offered words of support and encouragement. If my choice disappoints you, I apologize. I have to admit though, I’m less stressed and for now comfortable with my decision.