Appalachian Trail 2010,  Hiking,  Outdoors,  Travel & Places

Destination: Katahdin

I could blame Eliana. After all it was practically this time last year when we went to Payne’s Prairie and met up with them after their epic adventure across North America.

She gave me a few magazines to read on the way home and one of them was Backpacker. I didn’t read it until a few days later, but inside was an article on the Appalachian Trail. It took all of finishing the article for me to develop a plan. When Chris got home from work I brought up my great idea: Thru-Hiking the Appalachian Trail. He looked at me with a quizzical brow (ok, it was more like, whaatttt?) but we went to dinner and decided it was do-able. The biggest thing was coming up with the money to do it.

We took a few days to sit down and read about it. A magazine article wasn’t going to cut it. We scoured the Appalachian Trail Conservancy website, read Trail Journals and came up with a game plan: save a bunch of money and start doing a lot of hiking. We broke the news to our parents the following weekend and I think they were pretty much stunned. I think they thought we were insane.

Sure, we were giving up jobs that we’d gotten comfortable in. But, he’s 30, I’m going to turn 30 on the trail, we have no real responsibilities other than the cats (which are joining their cousins at my parents house for a few months), no mortgage, no children. We finally reached a point where we had some ability to use our money instead of scrimping and saving and paying off bills. It was now or waiting until we were 60 and our kids went to college. Sure, there are the brave souls who travel the world with their children and take them hiking on all sorts of adventures, but I don’t think I have the money or the patience for that.

Throughout the summer we slowly bought new and better gear. We couldn’t walk in our hand-me-down Kelty external frame pack—well, we could, but the name of the game is light-weight. We tested out different things, and slowly bought everything we would need. We won’t be the lightest pair on the trail, but we’ll be doing 25-30lbs starting out of town each time. Summer time should get us down to 20-25 lbs possibly. The ultra-light hikers do 10-15lbs and sometimes even less than that! But, we choose some comforts over ultra light packing.

So, where does that leave us at present? Well, packing. And selling our plants and a lot of our furniture. We had a plant sale back in November and are having another one tomorrow. It is hard to be getting rid of a lot of them, but I know we can start over again later, especially when we have a house that they can go in the ground. Part of my emotional week from hell last week (the week Ashleigh was born) was also because I gave my boss my four week notice. After nearly six years on the job it was difficult to part ways. That is another post later on, a post about our time in Florida.

We’ve quit our jobs and we have two weeks until we hit the road west to Texas. We’ll stay in Texas for three weeks or so and start probably the second week of March on the AT. We’re bouncing back and forth between my parents and Chris’ mom’s house and trying to get some hiking in while we are there. Texas actually has some hills so that will be good training as opposed to flat Florida.

Where we will end up after the trail is up in the air at the moment, but it will be more than likely Texas. But, like South Texas or somewhere like that. Not Houston. Been there, done that. And we’ll find jobs again, or maybe we’ll actually do something with our photography and try to get something off the ground in that aspect. Who knows? The trail is going to help us out a bit on that part.

As for the trail, here is a brief run-down of what to expect here on the blog:

-I’ll be posting when I get to town, at libraries or hostels, but that will be every 3-5 days and then who really knows if I’ll have the time or not. We’ve decided not to carry an iphone or Blackberry, so we’ll be free from the ‘net a bit.

-When I do post I’ll try to break it down into several posts so that you are entertained. Photos, lots of photos. And videos.

-We are sleeping in a tent. For six months. There are shelters every 8-12 miles, but especially at the beginning they tend to get very crowded. And there are mice. And they run over your face. The tent sounds nicer, now, right?

-It’s going to be hard. There will be up and down days, just like in real life. The trail is a lot of physical work, but it is mostly mental. It rains a lot, it’ll snow, there will be bears. Things will get to you. You just have to let it go and take it one day at a time. You can’t hike 2,178 miles in a day. You do 10 miles to start and work your way up to 20 mile days in Virginia and the more flat states and go from there.

-I’m going to smell. WOO! I’m trying to convince Chris to grow a beard out. Maybe get some shaggy hair going. I wonder if I can grow my leg hair out long enough to braid? haha, I will be taking a razor.

-Food…whatever is light and packs the most calories. This isn’t a time for dieting. We’ll be eating a lot and sometimes we’ll be running a deficit, no matter how much junk we can pack in at town. This is great…I need to lose 20 lbs! We’ll be supplementing with dehydrated meals that we’ve bought online, Mountain House is one of the brands, but we’ll also be eating a lot of sealed chicken and salmon with those Lipton/Knorr rice and noodle packs. And ramen noodles. Dried fruits…that sort of thing.

-We adopt trail names on the trail. Gone are Misti and Chris. I’m going to be Ridley, I think…Chris hasn’t decided yet. Most people let someone on the trail pick the name.

-Really, I can’t cover it all here, but if you have questions, post them and I’ll do a FAQ post.

-Some of my favorite blogs that I’ve read: Postcard (a 2010 hiker), All Right and Half Left (another 2010 hikers and from Florida), Wags (2009 hiker and excellent journal), Ben & Lauren’s 2007 Journal (loved this one because it was a couple.), Joe Liles 2009 journal.

2,178 long miles up the Eastern seaboard….

It all started at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park in January 2007!


  • Heather

    Very cool! I didn’t realize you’d be doing the whole dang thing! Maine and everything. Wow. Too bad it’s not the Freedom Trail in Boston. 🙂 I’d bring you some Mike’s pastry. Oh well.

  • Chelle

    ok ok, this isn’t my first time hearing about this but you know i’m still way YAY about it!! and uber YAY that we get to benefit from some of your time off 🙂 (uber uber yay on that one) but umm…i had thought about your poor little plants and wondered what you would do with them. are you bringing any back to texas? any room anywhere? cause *cough cough* …I just happen to have a house now and ummm *cough cough* i could take some off your hands if they don’t sell *cough cough* 😀 either way, MANY “YAY”s in this house at getting to see you guys soon!!! *hugs*

  • Joe

    I’ve wanted to hike the AT ever since reading Bill Bryson’s ‘A Walk in the Woods’.

    This sounds like an awesome adventure… Not only the AT, but starting over more or less with everything.

    Have fun! And when you’re making your way through MA, I’ll be sure to bring you some treats.

  • Digital Flower

    Sounds like an adventure of a lifetime. I would never have the balls to do that so I am going to have to live through you guys.

    I think your going to find some friends along the trail. Certainly let me know when you get to Connecticut.


  • Amy (AB)

    Wow Misti! How cool. You will be walking within a few miles of me. Think of me when you hike into NE Tennessee (Carter County, Roan Moutain area, Watuaga Lake, Dennis Cove (awesome waterfall there). I’ve hiked all of those areas and live close if you need anything. Email me and we can exchange contact info if you like.

  • Chris Hind

    OMG! How am I supposed to compete with THAT????
    I’ve followed your journal for awhile now and it always inspired me to go more places and explore more of florida. We would do something and then I would visit your page and see you did something even better so it drove me to try even harder.

    But how, HOW am I supposed to compete with THAT?

    jealous. thats all i can say.

    maybe if the south florida economy keeps falling apart we’ll be forced into a position of selling or storing our stuff and travelling around southeast asia looking for rare tropical fruits and undescribed nepenthes.

    I wish you the absolute best in your adventure and I am insanely jealous.

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