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.