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1 Down 24 To Go

For those of you that have run track or done any type of interval workout, you know that one technique to handle the task at hand is to break the workout down into segments.
Well, the first week is in the books, and if I can hold to my plan, I have only 24 more weeks to go. Tomorrow it gets potentially even more exciting as I should pass from Georgia to North Carolina. Hopefully one down, 13 to go.
The hostel at Top of Georgia was full, so the band of merry people handed into Hiawasee for the night. Holiday Inn Express good! Daniels Steakhouse buffet good! Showers and laundry also good!

Trail Magic

Spent Friday night at Blue Mountain Shelter. I awoke to a cold and windy morning. It was 34 in my tent, so I imagine a bit colder outside. I wish I had one of those wind chill charts handy, although it would have been tough to hold, because the fingers weren’t working too well. Regardless, I hit the trail because, well there’s really nothing else to do but hit the trail!
Descending into Indian Grave Gap ( for those keeping score at home) there was a group of people. Some hikers, some not hikers!

As I approached, someone asked me if I wanted a barbecue sandwich. Wow, trail magic! When they anticipate the hiker rates picking up, these good folks set up camp and offer food and drink to thru hikers. I obviously had the good fortune to pass by on Saturday. An unbelievable gesture for which I am thankful.
Still hiking with the three people I hooked up with the first day on the AT ( not the Approach Trail); Ben, Alan, and Adele.
After a sandwich, some fruit and chips we headed to Addis Gap to spend the night.

Not 20%


Yes you’re looking at a tree covered in shoes and boots. The tree is in front of Mountain Crossings at Neels Gap.
Neels Gap is significant because 20% of people that attempt a thru hike bail at Neels Gap about 32 miles in. I’m happy to report that tonight I am tenting beyond Neels Gap just outside of Whitley Shelter. Yeah!
I was cold the first couple of nights so at Mountain Crossings I bought a warmer sleeping bag. Extravagant, yes. Necessary? If comfort and happiness are important factors, definitely yes! After our big day yesterday a much shorter (easy is soooo relative) day today. Sent from my iPhone

“Cotton”


Currently hiking with three other folks, Ben, Alan and Adele. On Wednesday we needed to put in a big day from Stover Creek Shelter to Neels Gap as camping in the middle requires a bear canister which only one of us had. It would be a 16 mile day with our first 4000 foot climb of the trip. I’m happy to say we all passed arriving at Neels Gap ahead of schedule.
All the hostel rooms at Mountain Crossing were taken by the time we arrived so we needed to head into Blairsville 16 miles away. A hotel room was not a bad idea given the thunder storms that were forecast.
We took the dual approach of calling shuttles and hitching when a Honda Accord stopped to give us a ride. The driver was Jearold “Cotton.” He picked us up and dropped us in town and since had to come back this way in the morning offered to give us a ride back to the trail in the morning. Our first experience of trail magic, and what a great experience it was. He showed us some of the prose he’d written about hiking and life in general. Great stuff! As often the case don’t judge a book by its cover.
We all showered and had a great dinner. Then we went to sleep, only to be awoken by the storms that this time we were lucky enough to dodge. Breakfast at Hole In The Wall a ride back to the trail and we were on our way! The big day, the company, and meeting “Cotton” made for a great start! Sent from my iPhone

As Promised

Headed to the southern terminus of the AT via the Approach Trail. Left at 8am but noticed my whistle was missing. Did a u-turn and found it on the road outside the lodge (whew). A minor half hour lost. The folks at Ramsey cautioned me about the Approach Trail. They speak the truth, it was annoying. Arrived at Springer, the real start at about 12:15. Took a picture or two

and pushed through to Stover Creek Shelter. Meet lots of people on the trail. Froggy Pete a self proclaimed AT obsessive has done a through hike or two, some sections and at 74 was back on the trail. I would meet someone older at the shelter (80).
I learned an important lesson having spent the night in the shelter. Don’t be the first on the outside. You block the wind for everyone else and freeze in the process. Ugh!
Meet a few other good folks during the day that I hope to hike with in the coming days. Sent from my iPhone

Let The Games Begin


Arrived at Amicalola this afternoon, compliments of my sister-in-law (thank you Christine). Signed in at the visitor center. I was number 1258 for those thru hikers that have taken the time to sign in! Have already meet four others that will be starting their hikes tomorrow. I imagine at some point I will bump into them again. Looks like it will be a nice day to start. I have been thinking about what would be best to start in, nice weather or rainy weather? Wow, isn’t this great, versus, well it probably can’t get much worse than this! Looks like the former, which is fine by me! Heard that cell service over the next few days is spotty (what, you can’t hear me now) so no idea when next post could be. Regardless, onwards and upwards (literally). Sent from my iPhone

Triglycerides (and Insecurities) Be Damned

On Saturday April 2, after a brief delay (postponement?) I will be flying to Atlanta to commence my thru hike attempt. I’ll leave Monday morning April 4th on the approach trail to Springer Mt. Picking up where my last post left off, I’ve spent time revamping my trail diet, removing primarily the sugar intake. If you’re into current nutrition trends, I’d label my diet as neo-paleo. I’m hoping the continuous burn of calories (at a minimum 4,000 per day) makes the fat intake a non-issue. And hopefully, the recent medical results a non-issue as well. That’s certainly what the neo-paleo folks promise. Although this could change at any point on the trail, I feel like I’ve got my food dialed in: approximately two pounds per day delivering those needed 4k calories. I’ve got a few mail drops ready to go as well!

The delay and hopefully warmer temps has also allowed me to remove an item or two from my gear list (sleeping bag liner for one), lightening the load a bit!

And, as important, the new battery is installed in the lawn tractor, providing endless joy to my primary supply resource, my wife Diane. No seriously, she loves zipping around on the tractor. Weed (hey, not that weed) sticking out the side of her mouth, straw hat. You get the picture. Well, maybe not the straw hat but certainly the weed.

So, in the immortal words of my good friend Andy (friend only via too much time spent in front of the TV) “get busy living or get busy dying.”

Wishing everyone a great spring and summer.

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 loseit.com (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.