Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Appalachian Trail Update

Hey gang! Just filling you all in on our AT plans, and such. This past weekend was a good trip. Michelle and I went a little crazy at Little River Trading Company in Maryville, Tennessee in preparation for the hike. We grabbed a few last things that we needed. Water purification, good insoles, clearance Columbia mid-layer fleece (total score), socks, sock liners, gaiters, a water carrier for camp...you know. All the things that you may need when walking a long way and camping without the modern conveniences. As I said before, once I get everything together and arranged, I'll be posting my complete gear list for you. Weights and all. I figure it will be a good idea so I can then compare after the hike and figure out what I really needed and didn't need. (I'm thinking it'll be a good comparison for all of you out there if you decide to try this at some point.) We are pretty much ready to go with the exception of food at this point, and we mostly have that figured out, so the prep is essentially over. That is of course, excepting the physical conditioning, which is ongoing. So now we just train, and wait for it. And read and try to learn as much as we can to be ready. I figure there's only so much head knowledge you can accumulate for this kind of thing. At some point you just have to put one foot in front of the other and do it. We're ready I think. Is there trepidation? Are we a little nervous? Yeah a little, but the excitement and anticipation are there in equal parts if not greater. This is going to be real adventure. The kind you can write books about! :) So I was doing a little reading about Thru-Hiking. Hiking the whole trail in one go. And the guy was talking about what happens to you on the trail. I know we're only doing a week and only 75-80 miles at that, but I hope that this trip has an impact on me. The guy who wrote this article, put it this way (paraphrased): Most people who attempt a thru-hike and succeed find that they are a different person at the end. In a good way. On the trail, there are three examinations that happen in order. First, you examine your body. You wonder if you can really pull it off. If you're physically capable. Then you start to examine your gear. Do I need this? Do I really need it? I can definitely get by without this or that. Many people start to leave their unneeded gear behind. (Sometime if you get the chance, stop in at the Happy Hiker in Gatlinburg in peak thru-hike season and take a look at the boxes of discarded gear left by hikers. They leave it in case another hikers needs it.) Finally, you start to examine yourself mentally and spiritually. (End paraphrase) Michelle and I call it "resetting your meter" and that's the part I hope I get to in my short week on the trail. The point at which you start to see what you're fortunate to have in a different way. When you start to appreciate what you have more fully, and when you start to see how much it really is that you're blessed with. That's really the biggest part of what this trip is about for me. Perspective. There's a lot of fun in seeing how simply you can live, and in seeing how far you can travel on foot and all that, but truth be told, if I can gain just a little more appreciation for creation, and the things I have, then the trip is worth it. In short, my expectations for this little walk in the woods are as follows: I expect to-
  1. Have a lot of fun with Michelle, Dad and any friends we may make along the way. (By fun I mean walking really far, hurting a lot, and smelling bad. On purpose!)
  2. Do something mentally and physically daunting that I never imagined I'd do.
  3. Spend some time while I have a perfect opportunity to pray and meet with God in the mountains.
  4. Search my pack and leave behind any gear that I don't need. Figuratively speaking
So, that's that. And THAT was going to be a quick update, but it seems to have turned into a discourse. :) Anyway, that's what I hope to do on this hike. Won't be too long on that gear list I mentioned. Thanks for reading! -J

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