As I was hiking up Speck Mountain around dusk last night, I started looking for campsites on the slopes of the mountain. My standards for a campsite are very, very low. But I was quickly realizing that tonight I would have to drop even my lowest standards. The shelter was still 2 miles away over a decent climb, my tendinitis was worsening and the sun had already set. I managed to find a spot off the trail that gently sloped downward. I was too tired to care anymore. Exhaustion overpowered my rational thinking and I began to set up camp. Continue reading White Mountain Lodge and Hostel, Day 9, 28.2 miles
I started day 2 at Rainbow Stream Lean-to, a beautiful little shelter right alongside a cascading creek. After a short conversation with the guys at the shelter getting started on their thru-hikes, I wished them luck and got on my way. The sun rose early in Maine and by 4am the sky was bright. But I didn’t get up until 5am and was hiking by 5:30. I usually preferred to sleep in shelters to save time from setting up my tarp but the snoring and late nights from other hikers often made it not worth it. And last night a full shelter had made the decision for me. Continue reading Logan Brook Lean-to, Day 2, 41.3 miles
This summer I am going to be attempting to break the unsupported Appalachian Trail record. I have been asked a lot of questions about my trip and wanted to clear up exactly what I am doing by addressing some of those common questions here.
What exactly are you doing?
Self-supported Appalachian Trail record thru hike attempt. It is done backpacker style without a support crew. I will resupply in towns and pick up packages I mailed to myself but cannot have prearranged support from friends or family nor will I be able to accept rides into towns.
How far is it?
It is a 2185 mile long trail that passes through 14 states. Continue reading Appalachian Trail record attempt FAQ
“I do believe that deprived of the softness of dirt beneath our feet, the freedom of fields, and the warmth of the color green, we all get a little thirsty no matter how urban and new age we think we are.” I wrote that a month and a half before I left for my Appalachian Trail thru-hike attempt but had not read this until several hours ago. At the time I was thirsty for adventure and for a natural setting. When people asked me why I came out onto the trail, my response became, “I had itchy feet.” It was a simple response for the complexity of emotions that brought me to this place. I wanted to move, to live, and to experience and I felt that what I was currently doing was robotic and boring and in some sense it was. I had lost the “thirst” that I have always used to define myself.
I look down the ridge at the darkened black woods scattered in the valley contrasting neatly with the crisp white houses centered in lime green grass fields. The clouds cover any hint of sun yet the temperature is far from bitter.
My feet cry from the seven-hundred miles of beating on rocks and roots. My back screams from the months of load bearing. My stomach, even when fat and full yells to me “Is that all you got?” I’m always cold and usually wet. But if you asked me, I’d respond “I’m happier than I’ve ever been.”
I look down into the valley at the rushing interstate, splitting neighborhoods, splitting woods, splitting mountains, splitting lives. Those bored people on that boring road with bleak colors drive to their boring jobs and live their boring lives.
In Fahrenheit 451, Clarisse asks “Are you happy?”
If Maine is birth, and Georgia is death, then why take the highway, the speedway? The man says “Oh yeah this road’ll cut fifteen miles off your hike!”
But you say “Maine is not birth and Georgia for sure is not death”
And I respond “The hike is transition. When you hike, you live in transition.” I say “Many people come to the trail and are reborn, interstate dwellers, the map quest fury: 24 hours 5 minutes, 1402.27 miles. “Yeah and if I stay on that road to Blacksburg, VA it will cut nearly six hundred miles off my hike!”
“Maine is the beginning of life for many, recognition of the adventure that awaited them ever since the first light. And Georgia is the death of the idea of normalcy and pattern.
“So yes those people in the valley will sleep in their beds tonight. And yeah they have a knob they turn to dictate what degree temperature the house will be. But I promise you, they’ll sleep no better than me, and that extra twist from seventy-two to seventy-four will feel no better than my sleeping bag. And I guarantee you that they will complain more if that degree is not right or their sleep was without pleasant dreams.”
For comfort and pleasure do not dictate happiness. That comes with adventure, growth, and discovery.
And the fool who sleeps in the woods, I still say “I’m happier than I’ve ever been.”
Looks like plans have changed.
I may be hiking the Appalachian trail this year rather than next. I may be leaving in early September or late August rather than March. If that is the plan I will hike it North to South. If I set out of August 27th, the earliest I can leave, I will hike attempt to hike the 2000 mile stretch before the new year. Another option is to hike as far as I can until it is absolutely miserable, then section hike the rest.
The reason I would do this is to not miss next year’s triathlon and cycling seasons. I am swimming, biking, and running faster than ever before and I may not want to miss next year’s season.
A few setbacks are keeping me between the two options. The first is the cold. It is going to be absolutely freezing by the end of my journey. And not only will that makes days of the trip miserable, but it will require me to wear pounds more of gear.
Secondly I would be missing Duathlon World Championships in North Carolina this year. I would also miss the late season triathlons. Also, I would most likely not hit my goal finish date and I will probably spend Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s day without a human companion.
I would also not have any company on the trail. Most thru hikers would be finishing up in Maine when I am setting off from their destination. I would pass them going the opposite direction on the trail. I would spend most nights alone in shelters or even if I was with a companion, I would most likely say goodbye in the morning rather than having a hiking partner. Much of my trip would be spent with no sight of another human.
I have absolutely no idea how I will react to such solitude and harsh conditions. I have no idea what to expect to get from this adventure and I have no idea if my body and mind will hold up to the stress but it’s worth the test. We’ll see.