Awesome, awesome video from Alastair Humphreys. No loud music, no catchy action sequences. Does a great job illustrating the beautiful monotonous slow pace that dominates life on most adventures. Making me really excited for a simpler life out on the Appalachian Trail this summer.
“You know what they call alternative medicine that’s been proved to work? -Medicine.” -Tim Minchin
I hate alternative medicine. Absolutely despise it. I hate it not because of some belief that our current system of treating patients is flawless, nor because of a belief that medicine should be defined by pharmaceuticals, nor that all our current treatments are evidence-based and all-encompassing. No, the reason I hate ‘alternative’ medicine is that it implies a separation where there absolutely is none. It’s a meaningless, confused misconception that splits a common goal into two ambiguous non-categories. The goal of physicians is to care for patients and no concerned doctor is going to deliberately exclude any evidence based treatment at the risk of harming a patient. Continue reading Alternative to what?
I’ve begun the process of packaging up resupplies to for my Appalachian Trail mail drops. Made a mess of my apartment in the process and logistically kind of a nightmare but hopefully it pays off and saves time off the trail. Throwing in some Ensure shakes, pudding cups, and fruit cups for a little snack at the mail drop. If you can think of other happy food I should put in there, let me know!
I realized after my recent post on backpacking diet that I did a great job outlining some of my diet choices for my fastpacking trips and a poor job of explaining why I chose the foods I do. I wanted to do a write-up explaining the backpacker’s diet so people could better understand what purpose it serves and how a diet loaded with empty calories is not unhealthy granted the context.
My backpacking diet serves a very specific purpose and addresses the most immediate concern: starvation. It focuses on macronutrient intake and finds the densest foods to obtain the most calories. Anything beyond that is fluff. Continue reading Explaining the backpacker’s diet
I’m excited to announce that I will be partnering with Wild River Outfitters for my clothing needs for my upcoming Appalachian Trail self-supported thru-hike record attempt!
They are a local outfitter here in Virginia Beach that stocks gear for kayaking, canoeing, backpacking, and rock climbing. They also lead professionally guided trips and instruction for fly fishing and kayaking. I’ve grown up depending on them for my gear needs and am thrilled to be partnering with them for this upcoming adventure!
Check them out at http://www.wildriveroutfitters.com/
And on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/WildRiverOutfitters
With a solid training week coming to a close and preparations reaching a lull, I wanted to take a moment to review a piece of gear that is going to be invaluable to me on my upcoming Appalachian Trail self-supported record thru-hike attempt, my Enlightened Equipment 50 degree Enigma quilt.
To give some background, a quilt is similar to a sleeping bag, except sports a simpler, more efficient, and lighter design. While a sleeping bag wraps all the way around you, a quilt maximizes the insulation by only covering above you and letting the sleeping pad take care below. They usually come without a hood or with a detachable one. To most new backpackers they’re daunting for their simplicity in the same way that new hikers flock to tents over tarps. Unfortunately this kind of misunderstanding really halted the quilt’s progression as an innovative piece of backpacking gear. For years quilt companies simply didn’t have access to the top fabrics and were way behind the field in design. The fully enclosed counterparts were often lighter despite being fundamentally inefficient.
When I started checking out the market for new, lighter gear to replace my battered gear from my previous trips, I was elated to find Enlightened Equipment leading the way in lightweight sleep systems. Their 10 denier nylon fabric matched that of the outdoor gear giants and the option for 800+ fill down showed their dedication to using the highest quality materials for their quilts. I continued my search for competitors to make sure EE was truly the best and nothing came close. There was no getting around it, I needed an Enlightened Equipment quilt for my hike and to carry anything else would put me at a disadvantage from the gun. Continue reading Review: Enlightened Equipment Enigma quilt
Overall my recent training hikes have been very uneventful hiking. But I do need to evaluate what slowed me down and each individual ache and pain. Back when I was racing triathlons I was extremely resistant to making excuses. I blew off every reason that could have slowed me down or made perform less than my best. But while in a two-hour race my stubbornness probably helped, with such long distance hiking, denying any ache or pain can turn into a brutal lesson.
On my spring break trip I had developed achilles tendonitis in my left heel. By the end of the trip it was creaking and severely inflamed. Because of the grueling punishment I had put my body through, I couldn’t be certain of exactly what had caused it. I suspected going from the flatness of Norfolk out to the high mountains of Smoky Mountain National Park had put additional strain on my tendon on the uphills and that stretching may alleviate it. I had also wondered if it had to do with my ridiculously small climbing shoes I had been using for several months at the climbing gym in Virginia Beach. And of course there was the distressing possibility that my body simply didn’t want to tolerate 40+ mile hiking days. Continue reading Evaluating setbacks
There have been a lot of questions about my diet on my 40 mile/day fastpacking trips on the Appalachian Trail. I choose to not cook, saving me the weight of cooking supplies, the headache of a less versatile food bag, and the time spent cooking. But there’s a huge misconception that the food I carry is somehow heavier than dehydrated meals. So I want to share my method of creating a food list for a trip, address some common misconceptions, and list some methods that can be used at quick resupplies along the way. The list is tailored to a fastpacking trip on the AT with ample opportunities for healthy meals but the method of analysis can be applied to any backpacking diet.
Update: Explanation for these food choices and the purpose they serve posted here: http://graysoncobb.com/2015/04/26/explaining-the-backpackers-diet/
I am in the process of compiling a google doc listing most potential foods for any given trip. I list cal/gram, then protein, fat, carbs, and sodium by fraction. Unfortunately this list does not include harder to calculate homemade items and dried fruits because of inaccurate nutrition data. What mostly creates a high caloric density food is fat content. With fat dishing out 9 cal/g and protein and carbs lagging behind at 4 cal/g, a high fat snack is going to be higher than a sugary one. With that said, surviving on swigs of oil simply isn’t practical or healthy so we need carbs and protein in our diet. The primary benefit of this spreadsheet then is to tease out the foods that have significant amounts of water or undigestible nutrients hidden in them. Anything that sits below 4 cal/g has something in it that isn’t providing energy and probably has a denser alternative.
I had a couple good days of hiking this past weekend out in Shenandoah National Park. 35 miles on Saturday and 38 on Sunday. Not huge days but were solid training back out in the mountains. It was the first great weekend of spring and it was wonderful seeing so many other people enjoying the beautiful weather after several lonely hikes this winter.
You can check out the GPS files for each day here and here. I’ve tried keeping a good training log to track my progress and for transparency but it’s been harder than I anticipated. At least these two files give some idea of what pace I hit, how long my breaks are, and where and when I may need to adjust my pace and mileage.
Tomorrow I’m heading out to hike Old Rag and around the area for some training. I noticed on my spring break trip that my coordination and footwork was lacking, especially on the downhills. After growing up on trails, to hesitate on downhills and stumble on rocky terrain was pretty disappointing. No amount of running in Norfolk and treadmill hiking can prepare me for the variety of terrain that I will encounter on the Appalachian Trail. I’ve tried to make it out to the mountains often but school does a decent job keeping me close to my books. But after a biochemistry exam this morning, I’m taking the opportunity to hit some big miles out in Shenandoah National Park for the next couple days. Continue reading Old Rag reflections