Monday, March 31, 2014

Panic Prep

What's more exciting then getting on the road but, finishing up last second to do lists.
I enjoy a certain level of clean around my place, even at my desk, I cleaned.  I did leave a keyboard brush floating.  Keyboards are disgusting any ways then add a crummy person like me always snacking at my desk and you get the point. 

My point isn't that side trail rather a last minute check on resupply locations left a spot or two wide open for hunger.  I threw a quick grocery list of items together and soon enjoyed a living room full of drop boxes.  Instead of cleaning today as planned, I loaded and portioned out supplies.  Granted one or two need only two days worth, I went on for six.  I figure this way I'll have something other then ramen, again.

Pairing on last minute, while it's raining (last night it was snowing), I need to seam seal my tent.  I've chosen to forgo the hammock in place of a much lighter option.  I do plan on staying in the shelters enroute so a tent is more of a backup option when either to many are present or something is not agreeable.

So close and yet so far away.
Head up to see the goal & hike on...

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Random Tips

Random Tips
I collect tips from wide resources and think of others on sleepless nights.  Here's a collection of some.
@ use hex-head 1/4 inch screws as ice cleats by screwing them into the soles of the shoes.
@ practice setting up your shelter in nice weather with wet gloves, a stiff heavy coat, and dark glasses.  This will prep you for doing it in bad conditions.
@  wrap 1/8 cord around the shoes when in need of a quick traction on ice.
@ drinking straws
   Cut to 1 1/2 inch lengths.
   Melt ends closed using needle nose pliers and a flame
   Fill with: spices, cold meds, asprin, matches, cotton swab & vaseline, veggie oil, etc.  Anything one use of would be used.
  Try to find clear fat straws.
@ chapstick
  Zipper lube, rub on open zipper.
  Pin hole water proofing, temporary.  Smear over offending spot.
  Cover small scratches.
  Fire starter, smear on lint, tissue, or other tinder fuel source.
  Candle, rub a cotton swab & stick short piece into center.
@ Sawyer water filter
  Use a smart water bottle when the bladder breaks.
  Gently roll the bladder.
  Wet and leave the filter for a few minutes to allow the fibers to moisten.  A premoistened filter will work faster then a dry one.  Experience taught me that one.
  Use an open bottle as a scoop and a hurricane funnel adaptor to fill squeeze container.
  Always back flush in silty streams.
  Always air back flush when conditions of freezing are present.  Freezing this filter will ruin it.
  Attach a drinking hose directly to the filter and use a drity water bladder.
@ carry the pack towel on the outside of the pack
@ carry extra safety pins
@ carry one extra tent peg in case of loss or need of extra securing point in windy conditions
@ tie guide lines to tent stakes instead of to the tarp or tent.  I've used this for years and helps prevent lost pegs and tangled lines.
@  tie glow or reflector cord to any tripping or clothes lining hazard.
@ chain braid long lines
@ tie the bear bag cord to a rock sack.  Stuff line into sack for storage.
@  make soft shackels for the bear bag
@  know the back out plan.  Know when is far enough for the conditions present.
@  have a back up plan for when the primary is not possible.
@  make an I.C.E. card with a current face shot.  Take a photo of it.  Many new cameras have an internal memory images can be stored in with the memorybcard removed.  Copy I.C.E. card to every memory card used.
@  take photos of all map sections of travel.
@ take photos of relevant guide book pages
@ carry solid fuel tabs made of wax and cotton balls.  They are light, durable, and a fire starter in case of emergency.
@ know and practice two or more ways to start a fire.
@ duct tape
  Some say wrap it around the water bottle or hiking stick.  I find these methods lead to beat up tape.  Duct tape does have a short life span when constantly exposed to the elements.
  I prefer to wrap it around a card and carry it in the emergency kit.
@ use bubble wrap envelopes as freezer bag meal insulation.
@ establish mulitple ways of communication with your home base to let them know you're ok.
@ carry an extra tent stake.  It can replace a lost one.  It can re-enforce the windward side of the shelter.
@ carry a wide snow stake.  It serves as a cat hole tool during the day a fire coal mover by night.

Avoid Cotton - All cotton worn on this trip. Criteria 2010


Critters I want to see

I could say I just want the trail to be under foot tomorrow.  Indeed after speaking of this for years some of my friends would love for me to be there too.  Fortunately, for them once I finish, I'll have trail stories to tell endlessly.  My friends and I have such a wonderful friendship. I do chat up my latest hikes locally and if I've seen any wildlife.  I'm lucky if I do.

Sailor and Captain are no strangers to wildlife.  When I visit them it's not unusual to stop for a moment to watch an ROES outside.  Mind you these ROES's aren't from the Princes Bride of 80's fame.  The Rodents Of Extreme Size are none other then the mascot of their town.  I've run into them scattered throughout the Wasatch and desire to view them along the trail in Maine.  I'd love to say, with out stretched arms, "his paddles where this big and I was that close."

Okay, I don't want to be that close.  In Yellowstone NP several years ago, what started as a safe distance a few minutes later wasn't.  I ran for the trees, a long with a few other photographers.  I've got a blurry, on the run for my life, picture of a 6 point elk.  That was close and a different story altogether.

When I worked at Skyland in SNP, I kept track of one of the local black bears.  Some days I'd see her from my dorm window, other days while I was strolling along the trail to Stoney Man Mountain.  One Sunday, on my way to the amphitheater, her cubs were at the base of a tree and she at the top.  I was late to leading chapel service needless to say.  I want to see a few bears may be a little further away for comfort.

I'm not a critter holding creature.  I've unsuccessfully grabbed for a couple of the desert lizards.  I want to hold one of the orange salamanders, if they aren't poisonous.  I've got a feeling I'll just have to settle for holding a picture.

If you hear a scream, much like that of a teenage girl meeting Justin Bebier, coming from the woods, chances are you just heard me encountering a snake.  Once while returning from a midnight stroll to one of SLC's best over looks I heard the tell tell rattle.  I walked inches (24) from a snake in the dark, 2 miles from the trail head. Another time, I saw a baby rattler just of the trail in front of me.  I couldn't get my self past it.  That story turns out good, a young lady walking her puppy came the other way and, well, let say I made a new friend.  As much as I hate snakes, I know I'm gonna encounter them.  So I want to see a rat snake, a garden snake, an eastern rattler, and a bird with any of the a fore mentioned in it's mouth.

I'm sure right about now Sailor and the Captain are thinking why didn't we hear about these stories before? Well let me say this, my folks, it was for your protection.  Besides, you're now reading my raw thoughts with some editing.  You will read my raw thoughts.  Of the trail, I've heard it said you will meet people as real as any for the trail respects no class of people but the real ones and even then they too are tested through by the trail.

This brings me  to my final critter I want to meet.  I want to meet people.  I want to meet people who are new to hiking and old pros.  I want to meet people whose nose just twitched as I walked past, who wonder why I didn't bath that morning or ponder if I ever did.  I want to meet people who want to partner with me for a moment, while others want to go further.  I want to meet people who'll not give me the creeps, though I'm sure I will.  I want to meet people who'll challenge my way and I there's.  The one thing I am not use to is hiking and camping around people so if we meet in the woods pardon me for a moment while I shake a way myself.

There's an old saying in my mountains "you're never a lone for long in the Wasatch."  This must hold true as millions pour into the Appalachians each year.  So how long is long before friends are made? Come now let's make new friends  "come brush against the  walls of my life even for a moment, for the greatest stories are made up of short chapters" (From Student Magazine Sept 1989).

Let's see what we can see and who we meet.  Hike on!

On Film, in Shenandoah NP criteria '92

Distance Goals

Distance Goals

"The longest journey begins with the first step," a Chinese proverb says.
A question the Captain likes to ask, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time."
The first failure is always intention not acted upon.

Sayings, yes.  Puns and irony, true.  They are however relevant to goals, to struggle, and to this journey we are about to venure out on.

Now, I'll never eat an elephant.  I hope no one else does either.  The intention simply is, an elephant is so big it's gona take a while to consume.

Intention is next.  Many people intend to do something big, even, small and simple.  Someone intends to call but never does and misses out on benefits when they are needed the most.  Another intends to call and misses out speaking with a loved one before a fateful moment.  Intentions need to be acted on if not for the benefit of trying but also to see if it can be done.

The first step in a long journey is acting on the intention to go.  A long journey takes planning, building of experience, and trust of advisors.

In Union (1300 east and 7700 south) there's foundations of high rise condos.  The stairwell towers over the road, it's an eyesore in another wise nice area.  The developer intended for them to be finished years ago.  I'm not here to judge, I can say others missed out.  This location has clear unobstructed views of the valley and the mountains like no other spot.

I'm coming to the place where I need to post my notice of the intention to build.  Here are the goal points to watch for as this journey progresses.  The Sailor says this journey of mine will be a success even with just one night on the trail.  I'm saying, I've already carved into my proverbial elephant, here are the pieces.  Here is what the building will look like as we progress.

I've broken down these for simplicity into three catagories.  Major goals are points that help break the over all distance into manageble chunks.  They are also places I've read about or visited previously.  Secondary goals further divide the distances into more reasonable chunks.  I've thrown in a couple of reasons too.

All of my hikes include these.  When I took a group up to Mount Raymond, I set similar goals that the group could achieve.   If a consensus came to be that the summit was out of reach then the secondaries were good points.  Only one person that day chose to stop short.  The knife edge presented a challenge to much for her.  With her permission the rest continued to the summit.  She enjoyed the view she had.

I am also including a few weigh points to keep in mind like views to see and the challenges prevously presented.

# Springer Mountain.  Mile 0.  Goal type, Major. The starting point.
# Blood Mountain Shelter.  Mile 29.  Goal type, Secondary.  The first major mountain.
# GA/NC Stateline.  Mile 78.5.  Secondary.  The first of 13 State border crossings.
# Franklin TN.  Mile 109.8. Goal type, Challenge.  Fast food!
# Nantahala Outdoor Center.  Mile 134.  Major.
# Fontana Dam.  Mile 166.  Major.  Entry into the first National Park, the Smokies.
# Clingmans Dome.  Mile 199.  Secondary.  Sunrise.
# Charley's Bunion.  Mile 207?.  Secondary.
# Max Patch.  Mile 254.  Secondary.  Cowboy camping.
# Damascus VA.  Mile 467.  Major.  Trail Days.
# Audie Murphy Memorial.  Mile 686.  Historical note: Audie Murphy is the most decoreated soldier from WWII, European Theatre.
# Dragons Tooth VA.  Mile 695 Secondary.  Just sounds awesome.
# MacAfee Knob.  Mile 707.9.  Major.  The most photographed place on the AT.
# Shendandoah NP.  Mile 858.8. Secondary.  My last park of my Parkie days.
# Little Stoney Man Cliffs  Mile 929.3 Major.  A place I use to visit frequently.
# The Roller Coaster.  Mile 989.4 to 1003.  MUDS. I'd like to hike this in 1 day.
# Harper's Ferry, WV.  Mile 1019.6.  ATC hq & psychological half way point.
# 4 State Challenge.  Mile 1002 to   1060.5.  Challenge,  I am not planning on hiking this challenge.
# AT mid point official for 2014.  Mile 1092. Major.  I'm closer to the end then the beginning.
#  Pine Grove Furnace State Park.  Mile 109.9.  Major.  Ice cream half gallon challenge.  I'll be game.
# The Lemon Squeezer.  Mile 1382.  Major.  The trail goes through a boulder field where the pack needs to be taken off at times to pass through.
# Nuclear Lake south shore.  Mile 1438. Secondary. Site of a nuke accident in the '70s.
# CT State Challenge.  Mile 1457 -1502.3.  Secondary.  Another distance challenge that I'll be passing up.
# Mount Greylock.  Mile 1582.4.  Major.  Highest point in MA.
# Mount Moosilauke.  Mile 1792.  Secondary.  Views.
# Mount Washington.  Mile 1852.  Major.  Know for views and infamous bad weather.
# Kennebec River crossing.  Mile 2033.  Major.  The canoe ride is the white blaze way.  The end is within reach.
# Abol Bridge.  Mile 2170.  Secondary.  One final point to ponder.
# Mount Katahdin.  Mile 2185.  Major.  It's over.  This is it.  The Big K.  Time to .

Fog over the Shenandoah Valley from Skyland Lodge area in '92

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


AT Traditions

Once again a teaser, a pre-hike installment of what's the perceived life like on the AT.  In a previous post I wrote about the challenges of the AT. This installment will over lap and may include challenges.  Today, I want to explore the traditions of the AT.  Any sub-culture would be incomplete without traditions. Traditions are ingrained into organizations, too.  The Navy celebrates the crossing the equator.  The Air Force celebrates a pilot's first solo flight.  Colleges celebrate graduation.   Many companies celebrate a Founder's Day.

The AT's oldest tradition is the trail name, a moniker a hiker will take on for this journey.  If they continue onto other long trails, there too the trail name will follow.  Earl Schaffer returning from the Pacific War, WWII, hit the trail with crude maps calling himself the Crazy One.  He wanted to walk off the war. Other Vets are also hiking of the war(s) with the Warrior Hike.  Some times a trail name is given based on what someone does or what they've said.  A trail name can evolve over time and does not need be adopted by a hiker.  If a hiker gives themselves a name it often gets changed by someone else, another tradition.  Only the Crazy One could legitimately give and keep his own trail name.

Another long standing tradition is getting the pack weighed at the Amicalola Falls State Park Visitor Center.  This weight is done less food, fuel, and water.  The weight is also known as a base weight.  For some this is a bragging point, others just informative.  The lighter a pack, the more experienced a hiker is thought to be.  A lighter pack also implies more efficient a hiker is, lighter is related to more miles covered.

While at the visitor center, sign in as a thru-hiker and get a starting number. The numbering system resets each year.  This is reported up to the ATC for statistical purposes.  The final number is recorded in the far north, if the hiker gets there.

From the visitor center, head to the arch leading to the Approach Trail for a picture.  Hiking the Approach Trail is a point of contention with Purists.  I plan on hiking it just 'cus it is part of the experience.  This photo will be the first of many.  The other starting picture is of the Benton MacKaye Plaque on Springer Mountain.

Another tradition and point of contention is climbing the stairs of Amicalola Falls.  I hear they go up forever and beyond forever.  These steps for many will be the last steps they take with family and friends as the hiker is.  After the hike, the hiker will be reborn as a different person forged by mountain trials and distance.

From the beginning of having the pack weighed some will start tossing gear, as each step brings the questioning of one item to the next. One of the first major road crossings brings the first outfitters.  The gurus at Mountain Crossings at Walasi-Yi.  These gurus are experts at throwing (a shakedown) your pack. reference these gurus as wanting to help you achieve this goal, selling their wares isn't the goal.  If you want some lighter gear, I'm sure they'll help you lighten the wallet too,. Mountain Crossings is at mile 31.7 so if a hiker made it this far, it's also time to celebrate as 15% have found a reason to depart the AT.  They lighten the load by 12 pounds per hiker on the average or a great way to haze the new UPS drivers.

By this point in time the male gender of thru-hikers are developing untreatable growths upon their faces.  The hiker beard as it's often called tends to begin to show as part of the city slicker ebbs further and further into the past.  'Unkept' outsiders will call them.  The odor surrounding thru-hikers is not from being unkept.  That's just part of life when a shower is but once or twice every 10 days.  The beard, however, is a choice.  Later, these males take pride in this growth much like they may have taken care of a shiny motorized toy at home.  Many males who take a bit of time away from the trail express regret for becoming kept.

Sunrise at Clingsman Dome, mile 220(?), is not to be missed.  Sunrise from the concrete tower is said to be beyond imagination.  The season and weather plays a big part.  I've seen pictures of complete beauty and utter misery taken within days of each other.

Where tourist mix with hiker another tradition emerges.  For many hikers Clingmans Dome will be their first professional try with this.  And no, it's not hitch hiking, that's just a life line to and fro the trail on resupply days.  Named after the crafty bear of Jellystone National Park, of Hanna-Barbera cartoons, Yogiing. Yogiing is the art of begging for food from a tourist without coming out and saying directly 'feed me.'  Techniques vary from sitting around looking pathetic to telling elaborate stories.  No technique though will work every time, flexibility is key.

One thing I keeping hearing about is a must do is to cowboy camp on Max Patch, mile 251. Cowboy camping is throwing down the sleeping bag without any shelter.  To me, it means heading out to the desert with a wool blanket for a cold night and a big campfire.  This is the AT so no blankets (sleeping bags are ok) just sleeping out under the stars.

Another tradition, and no writing of the AT would be complete without, the mention of the Damascus Trail Days, mile 460.  Trail Days is the party of the AT.  For 2014, it is over May 16 to 18th, the time many thru-hikers will be passing thru town.  This 3 day party includes a tent city, outdoor vendors large and small, and the Hiker Parade.  A sad note from last year, several hikers hike ended when a car careened through the crowd.  The Hiker Parade is complete with hikers getting free showers by a variety of means with super soakers and water balloons.  This big event will mix former classes with this year's and enthrall would be hikers. It is also a reunion of friends from around the globe.  Tips, tricks, and pranks are shared.  Stories tall told around fires and over drink by hikers and trail angels alike.  Because of the success of Damascus' Trail Days other celebrations are popping up, don't be fooled there is only one Trail Days.

Even if one chooses not to carry some form of dedicated image capturing device, the next traditional picture is worth the weight.  A photo standing on MacAfee's Knob is worthy of framing.  This view point juts out from the cliffs with a near 280 degree panoramic view.  This is the most photographed spot on the trail.

Tradition or challenge this next one is mixed.  Jumping from the James River foot bridge, mile 770, is here.  Why not? A hiker needs to get clean and with hiking 1/3rd the way a good soaking is in order.  Jumping from a bridge can be dangerous and or illegal, please consult with locals first.

Since we've picked up a number of photos so far let's stop for another.  This time stopping at the ATC's head quarters in Harper's Ferry, WV.  Remember the starting number? What's the rank at the psychological midpoint? Sign in, get a number, and a Polaroid next to the ATC sign.  Breeze the wall of images for friends who are ahead and leave a message for those coming.  Congratulations are also in order,  most hikers got off trail and only the elite are continuing on.  The hikers that reach this point are more the likely to finish.

From the mid-point to the end there are butt a few traditions left.  Mooning the Cog on Mount Washington is that butt, bare it, flash it, drop them drawers as the cog huffs and puffs with a load of tourist bound for the summit.  Butt there is a catch, the cog is no longer belching black foul of coal and often children are on board.  Arrests of indecent exposure are reported in the last few years.  I'd say, don't risk ending the hike with matching cufflinks.  Why not present skinny bellies? You got it, you earned it, why not flaunt it? This may be the last time a hiker will be this skinny.

While in the Whites, a working tradition abounds.  The AMC runs a series of maintained huts.  These huts are as close to the original reason for the AT.  The AT was to be a retreat, a string of huts a long a corridor of connected trails folks could hike to to get away from the hustle of city life.  A hiker can work a few hours for a place to sleep and some food.  This is on a first come first served basis as the paying guest get first servings and a bunk.  A hiker may get something to eat and a place on the floor.  If there are other thru-hikers present, the new arrivals may have to pay up or move on.  Work for stay is not guaranteed.

The final tradition is a combination of two things.  With in an easy day hike lay the summit day, finally, the anticipated moment, graduation day, what ever one desires to call it, it's time to sign the registry and check the ranger station at the base of the mystical mountain of KATAHDIN.  The grand finally is at hand time to ascend beginning at Katahdin Stream, the trail climbs above the treeline, past Thoreau Springs in the Tablelands, and onto the sacred wooden sign marking the end of the AT.  Celebrations of exquisiteness, sadness, joy, photos of the moment alone and with other hikers fill the moment.  I'm sure I'll be a basket case.  The climb is said to be the hardest of the AT and worth it.  SoBo's and Flip Floppers won't know the elation, they have their own points, only climbs are easier from now on.  PS don't forget to sign out as well, we don't want the rangers needless looking for someone who's gone back to the city, a strange place for the thru-hiker.

I'm sure I've missed a tradition or two.  Send me a message, I'll write it up and add it to an edited version.  At this point I need to fill in the blanks and do some fact checking.  I'm also hungry too.

AT Challenges

Appalachian Trail Challenges

Everyone likes bragging rights of some kind or another.  When I was a kid, it was how far beyond the bottom of the sledding hill could you go.  In Scouts, it was how fast could you tie the basic 6 knots or who could belch the loudest.  The AT presents a string of challenges as well for bragging rights.  I've searched out a handful.  Honestly, I'd love to brag this is a complete list be ready to be mildly disappointed some of these items are easy in concept but truthfully how many can say... they did that.

I've tried to get these in some order of location and category of distance, an activity, the food.  With distances try to not to take a zero (a day off from hiking) after wards for bonus points.  After all why rush a section only to recover after wards, why not keep the momentum going?  Also with distance challenges if you  do them separately you get bonus points around the campfire.  With food challenges please beware of your body, if you can't eat something look for an alternative or cheer on those trying.

Speed Hike to Damascus challenge.  If one is in reach of Damascus VA for Trail Days, pump up the volume, burn a few more calories, and get to the party.  Refueling is plentiful and one can start bragging of completing this challenge immediately.

50 miler challenge.  It can be done anywhere along the trail.  The idea is to hike 50 miles with minimal breaks.  It can be combined with other distance challenges.

The Roller Coaster challenge.  This isn't an official challenge but, it is one I'd like to bring in.  There is a section in Virginia that is about 13 miles of regular ups and downs know as the Roller Coaster.  The challenge is simple hike it in one day.

The 30 Days of Virginia.  Since Virginia is contains the greatest number of miles for any state on the AT (500) to avoid the Virginia Blues some under take completing the state in under 30 days.  An exception to this is if you grab a few days for Trail Days.

The 4 State challenge.  Hike from the State of Virginia to Pennsylvania in one continuous hiking day.  The mental midway point of the AT is Harper's Ferry WV and the ATC head quarters.  At the ATC remember to stop, get your picture taken, and grab a shower before continuing on.  PS at the ATC you're only half way done for the day.

The State of Connecticut.  Hike this state in one continuous hiking day.  This challenge can be combined with other distance challenges.

The 24 hour challenge.  Hike continuously for 24 short rest breaks are acceptable.  This can be completed with other distance challenges.  The one with the most number of miles covered in give period gets added bragging rights.  I understand by the time one hits VA they're in hiking shape and will under take it within the first bit of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Hike Naked Day challenge.  Okay, almost naked if you're not sure of yourself.  This is to, well, hike in the buff except for your turtle shell for the day of Summer Equinox (June 21 this year).  If you must grab some foliage to cover up quickly please don't grab some poison ivy like one fella did a few years back.

Jump from the James River Bridge.  Sounds easy enough, jump from a bridge.  Since jumping from the wrong bridge can be meet unhealthy ends or arrest, check with the locals first.  I may pass.

Moon the Cog challenge.  This is rather sketchy to do now.   In recent years barring your naked skinny backside to the populaces of tourists on the Cog Train bound for the top of Mount Washington has resulted in a few arrests.  I'm thinking of writing 'feed me' on my bellie and seeing if this results in gaindering of treats at the top would be more appropriate.

Now thus I shift into food.  I'm hungry now after writing for an hour, I ponder how much more so will I be on the trail.

Franklin Fast Food challenge.  This is more then likely to be the first food challenge of the AT and is one of many involving the elusive calorie.  In Franklin TN, dine on an item from every fast food join in town.  Now to my understanding there's more then a handful of 'em and I am not sure if it's like fries from one place, a burger from the next, a cookie from another.  I'm thinking it's a burger from each.

Value Menu challenge.  Formerly known as the Dollar Menu challenge the name is changing as few places actually have $1.00 menus any more.  Stop into a name brand chain, order one of everything, and dine.  Congratulations on achieving carnivore like hunger if you make it on the first try.  Bonus points if you do this early on the hike.  Subtract points if in the last half of the hike.

The Egg challenge.  I wish I could find out more about this one.  I presume it involves eating the most number of hard boiled eggs in one sitting.  However, it does sound like the game 'chubby bunnies' where you stuff your mouth with marshmallows until you can't say 'chubby bunnies' any more.  The location is presumed to be in Virginia.

The Pancake challenge.  Since hikers dream about eating and devour everything off a buffet why not add this to the plate.  In Williamsburg VA at the breakfast place order up the pancakes.  Again, I wish I knew more, I love pancakes more then popcorn.

1/2 Gallon challenge.  In Pine Grove State Park PA stop at and eat half a gallon of ice cream, any flavor, and get a wooden spoon.

A Gallon of Milk challenge.  Drink a gallon of milk in half an hour and keep it down for half an hour.  Location unknown.  I know I'm passing on this one already.  I haven't drunk even a cup of milk in years.  If I tried this one I'm sure my trail name would change to the 'White Fountain' at least temporarily.

There's the list I've found.  If you know how to fill the missing info send me a message.  I'm not sure if I'll take on more then a handful.  The greatest challenge after getting to the AT will be completing it.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Chopping Locks and Movies

The concept of a movie being made into a book is as exciting as watching paint dry.  I can never understand why one wants to read a movie-book unless it’s about the production of a particular story made into a movie.  I’ve made the decision not to watch some movies based on books for the movies seldom will capture the intensity of a book.  A great contrast with these are the Star Wars series versus Lord of the Rings.  How can one honestly read the Star Wars Trilogy (I did).  Please torcher me with the digitally enhanced versions.  Mean while, LOTR movies leave so much out when comparing movie to book.  I’ve only read a few small portions of the books and though there is incredible depth to the movies, it hardly captures intensity of the chapters I read.

I ponder how do the movies based on the section hikes of Cheryl Strayed on the PCT “Wild” and Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods” will capture their back stories? I found their stories to be less of the trail and more of why or how come they were hiking.  Does the movies capture her past? Will the lust for town come true for him?

Why so with and where am I going?  Easy, when one comes across a hiker please just don’t think ‘another dirty almost homeless bum encased in gortex’ or ‘an inconsiderate piece of hiker trash’  sure we are going to be dirty or we may laugh like there’s no one around.  There is shared experience in both and each have a rich back story to share.

I hitched via bus through Chicago long before I realized how adventurous I’d become.  As I took the shake rattle and sway transportation method called ‘the El’ people looked at a not so clean cut kid with a guitar and knapsack with a blanket rolled tied to.  I wondered what people thought of me then.  When I asked which stop I needed for the hostel, the person I asked sounded surprised on how polite I was.  They neither knew my story only had a perception.

As I stepped into work today, I got a few shocked looks, and comments of curiosity.  Unlike those looks in Chicago, I know these folks and yet we don’t know each other.  Is that long haired dude someone who likes to wear his hair long?  Or the gal with really short hair, is that really by choice?  What may be a common looking tattoo, is it really a normal tattoo or is there a deeper meaning behind it?  Much like movies and books, there’s a lot more behind what is seen then viewed even with the familiar.

My blog is more than just about me hiking the AT.  I chose on purpose not to start from scratch.  I’ve chosen to let what I’ve written in the past remain.  What for? Easy, the greatest books are made from a lot of short chapters.  Movies can’t explore the details within the pages of books even with the most skilled of writers working with the most skilled directors.

Where’d then did my hair go?  Hint it relates to this entry… and ties into this organization  somehow it’s become a major part of my story whether shared or unshared.

Ask the book for the details, forego the movie…
Hike on…

Sunday, March 16, 2014


Infamous, claim to fame, that guy.

Any title, any cringe, any brag point, call it what you will.  I will proudly say, "I am that guy..."  okay I don't want to go that far.  In and around the office one can lay low and never be known by something other then a guy who comes faithfully to work, be know for keeping things light hearted, taking on projects, or even be the guy that folks cringe for one reason or another.  We are all known for something even if it is nothing.

I can faithfully say I've become known for a waffying smell that permeates the office every lunch since last June of '13.  A waffying smell that is undeniable.  I will lay claim to the guy who pops microwave popcorn.  I even have my own secret I am sharing with you.

Hover around the microwave, listen for the slowing of the pops, and never let the time exceed 3 minutes.

No, that's only a small portion of the secret.  The rest is on the pictured bag.  Now, I do recognize that LifeHacker does list brown paper bags as one thing never to microwave for they may contain any number of additives in the proccessing that make it unhealthy for you.  As a side note that article just appeared in the last week or so.  Please use your own descression.

In near 200 bags, I've only brought one to the point of self ignition.  I mindlessly for got that the microwave I was using is the one that doesn't enjoyably pop favorably.  I kept hitting add 30 seconds until 4 minutes passed and smoke more then waffed into thy face upon entry into that cooking chamber.  I immediately brought the contents to the sink and did not cease to flood the now chemically enhanced contents with dihydrogenoxide in liquid form until no more.

I do beg the pardon, even of today, of those who lively put up with breakroom activities near their positions of diligence.  I do say though of all the bags popped, I've only brought one to the point where the nose cring of awfullness.  Most the time, 'tis the smell that awakens the desire to consume sustinence or make a stretch at mid day.

Now there are to many to list here in honor so for the noted: Dale, Dell, JamieLynn, Tom, the late Jim T, Nelly, Joel, Sussie, and most notably of all who posted the sign that began it all Carolee.  Thank you.

Now to whom shall the torch be passed? Who desires to consumate the starting of training on how to master the microwave? To whom shall pick up the mantel of desireous senses to announce mid day provissions are needed?

Now, to my friends, never fear, the pop is making way to the trail.  I've taken to mastering it in a kettle the size of your desktop beverage container.  A little oil, a little heat, and carefull attention to the sizzel over open flame.  A simple amount not to lift of the top and so goes the announcement of dessert to share.  Please let me shake a little into an open hand or container.

Snack healthy and hike on...

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Generic FAQ Video

I came across this video a while ago and it's quirky.  It does address somethings rather humorously about some of the typical conversations I have with folks at work.

Friday, March 07, 2014

My FAQ's

What is the AT? I hear often when I tell others I getting ready for something big.  Next question is are you going alone? A few others mockingly joke, haven't you left yet?
Questions, statement of fact, or common curosity any of the a fore or a combination of unexpected.  The way it does not mater.  What is mattering is the fact question either phillosophically thought out or poorly phrased, they mean the same thing, I'm interested or faining interst for a momment until I can think of something else to say.  I care and care less about the motive.  I'll gladly share an answer to any question.
Over the last few weeks I've listened to the questions.  Here are the most common ones asked by work mates and others I know.
# What is the Appalachain Trail?
- In short, a continous trail the goes from Georgia to Maine.  It's about 2200 miles and cross through many wild areas and towns a like.

# Are you going with a group?
-  Yes, I'm meeting them as we hike.  I'll meet people who hike about the same distance daily.  This loose group will gain and loose members as we journey northward.
- Alt answer.  No, I'm not as I've chosen to hike at my own pace which varies.

# What will you eat?
- I'm not foraging for it like Bear Gryils.  Nor am I hauling it all, this isn't an expedition.  There are towns along the way so I'll stock up on calorie dense and light food.  Things like peanut butter, ramen, and bagels.   While I'm in town I'll AYCE up too.

# Where will you sleep?
- Any where I want.  I use a hammock so where two trees are 12 feet apart, I'll be good.  I'll try to stay near one of the many huts and grab an occasional bunk at a hiker hostel.
-Post addition- I've since reconsidered the hammock but I'm not abandoning the tarp.  I'll have that and stay in the shelters that are spread out along the trail.  The tarp will take me to the ground but will lighten my load 3 lbs which in terms of comfort is huge for a day of hiking.

# What will you wear?
- The clothes on my back.  You will see a lot of the same shirt go from rei new to why the hell isn't it burned in a fire yet dirty.  On town days I'll make a fleetin attempt to wash what I do have at the local rock & scrub.

# Why?
- A one word question with a billion answers, many answers just don't make sense.  Let's put it this way, everyone does have their own why.  I could regurgitate a pre-meditated answer but, as these answers echo out my vocal chords or rattle around my head, they loose their punch, their meanings.  I just want to is why.

# How will you find your way?
- The general consensus is to follow the white blazes north.  A few of my closest friends recieved a post card saying, I've steeped away from my desk... follow the white blazes north to find me.  This isn't far from the truth.  Every hundered yards or so there's pained blazes about the size of the American currency painted on trees, rocks, and posts.  I'll carry a guide book, compass, and map to assist where things aren't clear.
A device I carry will tell you where I'm at though I may not besides, I'm here where I'm at.  The Captain, I'm sure will break out the map to pin point it.  Hint: GOOGLE Maps.

# What if?
-  You do realize that is a very loaded question?  I'll have a PLB for Sailor's sanity and for that one off emergency message.  This will send a message of where I'm at to the sky and back to your communication device if you too want to follow.  I intend to disappear into the woods AND come out again.  The PLB will just let others silently know what part of the woods I'm in that night.

# What about your job?
- Yes? And so? My two week notice will go in at the appropriate time.  I'll need to get re-hired when the journey concludes.  Even so, in my job history I change direction every 3 to 5 years.  The timing of this hike make sense then.  When I get back may be I'll have a renewed sense of purpose for what I do and a cleaner direction.

# How much is this costing?
-  May I ask you this? Why do you want to know?   Honestly, the actually numbers may be more scarry then finding out if a bear does poop in the woods first hand.  What I will say is, this is going to cost me: [not an inclusive list] sore muscles, hamburger feet, sweat, blood, irritations beyond.  The reward will be far more reaching then money can place a figure on.  Only other thru-hikers know.

Will you keep in touch?
- Why are you worried about this? I ask, will you keep intouch with me? Since you've come across this blog, you've started.  Bookmark this page, add it to your news feed, etc.  Check back often as I may post a few things back to back then not at all for a few days up to a week. You can also check the Subscribe To link at the bottom of the blog page.

# Will you take and share pictures?
- Yes,  you'll see a few attached to the posts and others will be avail in the Flickr feed on the side bar.  Flickr is where I'm dumping images.  I'll have location enabled so you can see the awesome sights with my sweat instead of your's.

Are you taking protection?
- As much as I can from the elements.  I know what folks are implying here.  The real protection comes from a sharp mind, good witt, and observation.  The last thing I need is mixed messages and bad action.

I hope this addresses your questions.  More answers are found in other posts as well.
Read on, while I hike on...

Thursday, March 06, 2014


Since Utah seldom sees rain, I'm taking advantage of it right now.  I've pulled out my hammock tarp and put it up in the backyard.  If I didn't work in the morning, I'd sleep out here.  The cuben fiber tarp is bone dry inside.  It took a bit of tweaking to get it tight right to the ground.  It is a palace for one.  I've got about 7 feet usable floor distance and 4 feet across that's also usable.  Much further to the edge and it's to low. 
One thing about this fabric I'm noticing is how translucent it it.  I can almost see objects thru it at 6:30 this evening.  I guess that's good if I'm worried about things that go bump in the night.
I sure do love a dry place to set a while and the sound of rain on a tarp.  Let's see if I still love it in a few months.
Stay dry & hike on...