Thursday, January 31, 2008

Makes you wonder!

I found that the US Forest Service took a survey in 1998 regarding how they could improve the wilderness experience for us city folks and here is what some people suggested!

1. Too many bugs and spiders. Please spray the area to get rid of these pests.
2. Trail needs to be reconstructed. Please avoid building trails that go uphill.
3. Chairlifts are needed so we can get to the wonderful views without having to hike to them.
4. A McDonald's would be nice at trailhead.
5. Too many rocks in the mountains.
6. The coyotes made too much noise last night and kept me awake. Please eradicate these annoying animals.

Unreal eh! You just have to shake your head and wonder what were these people smoking!? I guess people will never stop surprising me!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

"The Backpacker with No Name"

Hello all,

Only 38 more days remaining, which seems like an eternity. To pass the time, I have been reading journals of previous AT thru-hikers. I stumbled across a journal of a man, who hiked the AT trail in 1983 (when i was 6 years old!). Since there are no TV's, books, X-Box's, Rock Band, etc... there is a lot of time to think and read the trail registers!

You may wonder what are the trail registers? Well they are your form of entertainment along the trail (like your magazines in the bathroom!). Each shelter has one, and thru-hikers sign there names if they stay there. Also you can post information on trial conditions, or you can be creative and put down stories, comic strip drawings or say hi to fellow thru-hiking friends that maybe arriving later. A thru-hiker usually stops at the shelters, takes a break and reads through the registers.

Well this gentleman, George Steffanos, came up with this ongoing story of the "Backpacker with No Name.", and placed them in the trail registers on his 1983 hike. Since it is the 25th Anniversery of his hike, I would like to share one with you.

"The Backpacker with No Name" by George Steffanos.

The midday sun beat down mercilessly on the Moreland Gap Shelter as I strolled in, leading my faithful mule. Oddly the place was full of emaciated backpackers. They watched with guarded expressions as I dropped my pack and started to prepare my lunch.

A skeletal boy edged timidly over and sat down next to me. Greedy eyes surveyed my Tang and peanut butter crackers. "Want some?" I asked.

"Oh, it is no use, Mister," he said in a curious, flat monotone. "Ramone will be the only one to feast on those crackers."

I reached my hand inside my faded, old serape, fished around in my pockets, and finally pulled out the half-smoked stump of an old cigar. "I don't know who this Ramone is, " I said. "But, nobody is enjoying this roughage but me."

Oh, you mustn't talk like that, Mister!" the boy cried. The other backpackers stared at me, fear and despair haunting their hollow eyes. Those nearest to me stood up and shuffled to the other end of the shelter. I shrugged calmly, pulled my hat brim down a little lower over my eyes, leaned back, and munched a saltine.

"I'll take the rest of those crackers, americano," said a harsh, flat voice from behind me.

I turned slowly, carefully removing the cigar stump from the corner of my mouth to spit out a stray shred of tobacco. Facing me across the shelter was the biggest, ugliest woods rat I have ever seen -- more than eight feet tall, with a huge, round beer belly. I pulled out a match and struck it against the stone of the shelter's foundation. With cool deliberation, I lit my cigar and exhaled a long, slow tendril of smoke.

"I am Ramone," he said, his lips moving a little out of sync with his words. "This is my shelter, and any food that comes into it is mine!"

I gave him my trademark dubious sneer and dropped my cigar butt down on the ground, crushing it slowly out with my boot. I picked up a saltine, calmly spread peanut butter on it, and popped it into my mouth.

"Now you die, filthy americano!" he snarled, a full half-second before his lips began to move. He lunged for his rifle.

"Mphmrmph!" I replied, spitting out cracker crumbs. I flipped the right side of my serape over my right shoulder for faster access to my right hip. He quickly lifted his rifle, but I pumped three quick shots into him before he could fire. A weird, Spanish-sounding music was playing in the background as he slumped to the ground, his eyes filled with horrified amazement.

"Who are you," he groaned.

"A backpacker," I said.

His eyes rolled over and he said no more. I strolled leisurely out into the blistering heat, wondering where the heck those bells and trumpets playing in the background were coming from.

The other backpackers came running from the shelter, laughing and shouting. The boy ran up to me and tugged at the corner of my serape. "Hey, Mister, who are you?" he asked.

I smiled, flipped him a granola bar and headed up the next ridge.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Well the Webster's dictionary defines a home as: one's place of residence. So, that means that my 1 lb. GoLite Tarp will be my home away from home for the 4-5 months on the trail.

It doesn't look all to bad and check out these perks!

1. It has 3 stable sides (as long as my tree limbs hold up)

2. So far it hasn't leaked on me yet (all though i haven't really tested it in a severe storm yet.)

3. I have a picturesque view out of my front door to take all the beautiful sights of the woods

4. I can pet any animal that may come up to my entrance way...another way to reconnect with nature!

5. And check out the square footage in that place! Man, there must be atleast 60-70 sq feet there! What am i going to do with all that room!

6. No dusting, sweeping or moping needed!

7. Finally, I can cook, eat, bathe, change clothes, do laundry and sleep all in the same spot! Now how is that for being efficient!

So as you can see, this place is well worth the dough i spent...and i didn't even have to get an adjustable rate morgage for it! I feel blessed!

Ahhh. Home Sweet Home.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

"Eye of the Tiger"

Hello all,

I have been putting music on my 1 gig Zen (not Zune...Mark) music player. I have lots of praise and worship CD's on it such as PC&D, Casting Crown, Michael W. Smith, ect... Also as i have been raise up on Country, I have some classic songs that usually have something to do with someone's girlfriend leaving them or their dog dying or visiting their mama in prison!

But i was also wanting to get some classic motivational songs to help me climb to the tops of each of the many mountains i will be transversing. So, I will definelty be downloading "Eye of the Tiger"! Just hearing the name of the song, my mind starts singing the signature beat of the song, and my body soon follows, with me shadow boxing the air as I try to imitate Rocky. I am sure you are doing the same just now!

So, I was wondering if anyone had more ideas of classic motivational songs that i might seek to download to help me with the hike! Much appreciated!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Final Gear Check

Well only 48 more days till I seek to abuse my body beyond belief. I had my final gear check with my friend, Bill, who has hiked the whole thing in 2002. So far I have managed to keep my base pack weight to 12.05 lbs. along with 3.96 lbs. of stuff that i will wear, which includes my shoes. He definelty helped me prune some unneeded stuff such as deo...who needs it while on the trail. We are all going to stink! But dont worry i will have Amee bring some when she comes and visits, I mean come on, I do want to stay married!

One item I plan on taking (that I knew Bill would laugh at me) is an ultralight umbrella, as recommended by Ray Jardine and a couple of other hikers I have read about. An umbrella for hiking? Well it is a very multifunctional piece of gear. Not only will it keep you dry, but you can use it as a wind screen when it is windy and as some needed shade when the sun is beating down! But, Bill still thinks I should forgo it for some lightweight rain gear. I will definetly give it some thought and let ya all know what i decide.

Well here is a quick video of my gear. Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Good Eats.....AT style!

Howdy all,

Only 50 more days left to the big hike! Still have a final gear check with a friend who has hiked the whole Appalachian Trail back in 2002 (Bill Tilt...aka Yossarian). He definelty has helped me immensely with advice on what to buy and take for the trail, and for encouragment along the way. Thanks Bill!

Well back to the main point of the! You may wonder what do hikers do for food along the trail, since you obviously can't carry 4-6 months of food with you! Well you basically take 5-6 days of food with you and then resupply on the trail at different trail towns. You can either buy food at grocery stores (which i will do) or have family at home mail you "mail drops", which the post office will hold for you till you pick them up. They are basically just big boxes of food and extra gear that you may need. Then if you don't need all the items in the box, you simply mail them further ahead on the trail to another trail town (now it is called a "bounce box").

Some of the most popular foods eaten on the trail are (in no particular order):

1. Poptarts
2. Instant Oatmeal
3. Trail Mix
4. Beef Jerky and Summer Sausages
5. Peanut Butter
6. Cheese and Crackers
7. Snicker bars or other candy bars
8. Dried or fresh fruit
9. Power bars
10. Mac and Cheese
11. Instant potatoes
12. Instant Rice or Ramen Noodles.
13. Ben and Jerry Ice Cream (probably the most sought after item in towns!)
14. AYCE restraunts (All You Can Eat Buffets... when you are in a trail town)

Yummy eh! Plus i have found a website (, which gives recipes to make certain dishes with dehydrated and instant food products stored in freezer bags. Just add 1-2 cups of boiling water to the package, let sit for 5-15 mins. and then dig in! This is what i will do for the most part for dinner.

Finally, here is a video of my cooking system that i will be using on the trail. It weighs only 3.5 oz (not counting the fuel). Hope you enjoy! Good Eats!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Grandma Gatewood

Lately, I have been devouring a book called "Beyond Backpacking: A guide to lightweight hiking," by Ray Jardine. It is an great book for someone who is thinking of going lightweight. It is out of print, but thankfully a great guy (Ben from California) allowed me to buy the book from him at what he paid for it many years ago ($15) one condition that if I ever decided to sell it... I had to sell it at cost and to an aspiring hiker! If you check on, the cheapest one used is $75 - $300.

Well, now onto Grandma Gatewood, who you probably never had heard of. Here is her amazing story, from Ray Jardine's "Beyond Backpacking".

Emma "Grandma" Gatewood (1888-1975) did not look like much of a hiker, but sometimes looks can be deceiving. During an illustrious hiking career that spanned 18 years, she thru-hiked the Appalachian Trial --- not once, but twice --- and she section-hiked it a third time!

Grandma Gatewood started hiking at an age when most people retire to their armchairs. And even then her accomplishments were outstanding. During her second AT thru-hike, she took no rest days, and completed the rugged journey in only 4 1/2 months, finishing just a few days before her 70th birthday. Her secret? "I had always lived on a farm and was used to hard work," she told one reporter. "I was in good physical condition, so I decided to hike that trail, and I just started out." And in her spunky style she quipped, "Most people are pantywaists. Exercise is good for you."

What set Grandma apart was her equipment. Backpackers wore sturdy boots to protect their feet; Grandma wore Keds sneakers. They used expensive parkas and "lightweight" bug-proof tents. She used a rain cape and a plastic shower curtain. They carried expensive frame packs that distributed their heavy loads evenly. Grandma didn't carry a heavy load. Her items of extra clothing and gear were few, and she carried them, along with her food, in a home-made bag simply draped over one shoulder!

Wow, how amazing eh. Reminds me of a certain verse in the bible. 1 Cor. 1:27 states,

" but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong."

Well, if she can do it...certainly anyone can!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Appalachian Trail

Hello all,

This is my blog as I prepare, Lord willing, to hike the 2175 miles of the Appalachian Trail starting March 5th, 2008. Then for the next 4-5 months, I will be somewhere between Springer Mountain (the southern point) and Mount Katahdin (the northern point). The trail goes through 14 states: Georgia, N.C., Tennessee, Virginia, W. Virginia, Maryland, Penn., N.J., N.Y., Conn., Mass., Vermont, New Hampshire, and finally Maine!

Here are a few tidbits about the Appalachian Trial to chew on!

* 5 million footsteps to reach Maine

* 82,366 white blazes marking the trail (avg of one every 39 feet)

* 6,000 calories burned daily by a thru-hiker

* 265 shelters or lean-tos dotting the trail (avg of one every 9 miles)

* 12 minutes for record-holding thru-hiker to devour a half-gallon carton of ice cream at the half-gallon challenge in Penn.