Heading down to the Smokey’s next week to do a little trail walking and photographing of waterfalls. Don’t think I’ll actually hit the AT…although the desire to do a little trail magic might hit me one day. I’m sure I can find someone that needs a ride from Clingman’s Dome to Gatlinburg.
Should be a good time to test out some of my new gear for food, a couple of the trail food recipes I’ve made lately, and my new boots from Keen. Most of the hikes will only be about 5-10 miles, but should still be fun. Heading down with friends from church, and the good thing is, we’re going with the understanding that we don’t have to stay together. :) I know a couple of them, don’t know the other 9, but it’s nice to be able to take off at 5:00 am to hit the trail early and not feel like you’re abandoning them, or you have to wait until everyone else is ready to go at 8:00 or 9:00 in the morning. Waiting…not my strong suit. :)
It’s funny how when you talk to people about hiking the trail, some think you’re just crazy, some tell you how dangerous it is, others say you have to go with someone, etc., etc., etc. But none have actually hiked it. :) I know they’re concerned for me, which is nice, but I love when someone asks questions before telling me how I should do it.
As a result of planning for backpacking trips and ultimately hiking the AT, I’ve gotten into dehydrating foods. I’ve got a black eyed pea soup recipe in the dehydrator now that I got from the book Backpack Gourmet. I’m really liking the recipes from this book. More options, in my opinion, than packing food into a freezer bag to cook at campsite. Although I plan on packing some of those also, especially the ones involving couscous, since it doesn’t require the longer cook times. I also can’t keep dehydrated apples in stock! I keep eating the damn things they’re so good. Oh well, the trials of eating healthy. :)
What are my motivations for this trek? Is it to get in shape? I better be in shape before I hit the trail, or I’m not going to make it very far! Simplify my life? Possibly, although I doubt it’s really a major reason, I kind of like my life the way it is (for the most part). To inject change in my life? Hmm, probably not, after all, who really likes change? An adventure? Well, it will be that whether I’m after that or not. “Because it’s there?” Possibly.
Or could it be something more deeply felt? Something that isn’t entirely in focus yet? Probably. I know a part of me wants to accomplish it. A sort of challenge that will make me prepare for it mentally and physically and emotionally. I have a tendency to take the easy way out too much, so tackling this will force me off the couch and into the gym to prepare my body for the rigors of what will come. And another part of me wants the solitude with God I’ll have while on the trail.
When I was younger I liked being out in the woods. Growing up in Orlando I didn’t have much chance to be in mountains, but when we’d take trips to Lake Junaluska, NC, I loved hiking up the mountains and exploring the woods. And then one day later in life, that just stopped. Not really sure why. Perhaps God will open that up to me at some point.
I may not even know the real motivations, or at least all of them, until somewhere along the trail. And I’m fine with that. So long as why I’m doing it isn’t to impress someone or to be able to say, “I’ve done that.”
Conquering the Appalachian Trail. It’s an idea a friend of mine and I had in the early 90’s, but we never got around to actually doing it. And now, here I am actually contemplating doing it.
The biggest decision, other than actually committing to doing it, is whether to thru-hike or section hike the trail. A part of me really wants to thru-hike the whole trail. I guess it’s the purist in me. I like starting and finishing something. For example, I rarely give up on a book, I’d rather finish it, even if it isn’t that good. But if my body is up to it, and I have the time to complete it, I think I’d like to thru-hike the whole thing. I could do half one year and another half another year, but I think I’m afraid I won’t go back if I stop.
There is also something very intriguing about the idea of taking off on the trail for six months and just hike and discover God, nature, and others on the trail. While parts of what I’m planning to do are very exciting to me, some things are challenging, like what to do with my things while I’m on the trail. Or paying bills while I’m out there in the woods.
My idea for this blog is to update it periodically as I walk, giving my friends and family the chance to see my progress and participate (vicariously at least) with me on the adventure. Once this blog goes public, feel free to join me in my trek!