Good Morning from the lake, it truly is a fantastic November day here in Maine. I wasn't sure what to write about this week since I didn't go any place. At least physically I didn't go anywhere. Mentally, I was on the Appalachian Trail.
This week's escapade for you is a throw-back, even though it is only Tuesday. I didn't get my weekly get-away in, but I did spend hours on tiding up my next book to send away to the designer. The one good thing about Covid is that I have been very focused on tasks that have been lingering. My writing has taken top priority. Thanks to the help of my wonderful Editor, Elaine Starner, we have spent many hours working on my memoire. With a little luck, it should be out for Christmas.
Writing this book has been an adventure in itself. I knew when I did my first AT hike I wanted to write a book about my journey. But I didn't have the foggiest clue about how to do so. I kept a journal, blog, and had all my pictures to refer too, and and idea. But what I envisioned is not what the final product became.
I know I may be a little, well, probably a lot, biased about my story, but I think it is great. When I read it, I am transported right back to the trail. So, last week, I may not have left my home here on the lake physically, but mentally, I was miles away.
Here is a snippet from Chapter 2 Day One of what's to come.
At 3:30pm, we arrived at the plaque marking the summit of Springer Mountain. It read “Appalachian Trail Georgia to Maine. A footpath for those who seek fellowship with the wilderness. 1934 The Georgia Appalachian Club.”
We took turns posing next to the metal monument attached to the rock, documenting proof that we really were there—just in case anyone back home had any doubts. This marked mile zero and the first white blaze.
Every year, the distance between Springer Mountain and Katahdin, the mountain in Maine marking the northern terminus of the AT, changes due to trail reroutes, acquisition of land, and a host of other reasons. Ninety-nine percent of the original trail has been rerouted. In 2015, the total distance was 2,189.2 miles.
After our informal photo shoot, we put our packs back on for the last time of the day and took our first steps on the Appalachian Trail as we passed our first white blaze. Only 4,999,999 steps to go. Little did we know how important that white mark would become.
The shelter was only .1 mile from the peak and already three-quarters full, but that was okay. We had planned on tenting. We found two spots roughed out by previous hikers. LNT principle #2: Travel and camp on durable surfaces. To help minimize the wear and tear of the shelter areas and along the trail, it is recommended to tent in already established sites. This helps to prevent erosion and maintains the integrity of the outdoor experience.
Andrew used a bivy bag underneath a tarp. A bivy is a waterproof sack you put your sleeping bag and sleeping pad in. I set up both my tents, the Cuben Fiber tarp tent with enclosure from Hyperlite Mountain Gear (HMG) and my Hubba Hubba™ nylon self-standing tent from Mountain Safety Research (MSR). I wanted to see which one I liked better. This would be the first time I had set up either one outside. Back home, winter had prevented any real situation practice set-ups. Both were two-person shelters. Bruce and I decided to sleep in the Hubba Hubba and store our gear in the Hyperlite.
It took me awhile to set up camp. I would not let hubby help me since he would not be with me on the trail most of the time. I had in my mind what I wanted to do, but perception is sometimes far from reality. Once our tents were erected, it was time to think about food.
The temperature was dropping with the sun and the rain was returning. It was barely a drizzle, but wet is wet and at 3,700 feet, wet is cold. When the sun set, little did we know it would be the last time we would see it for several days.
Dinner took longer than anticipated. Again, I had in my mind what to do, but my plans never included having Bruce with me. At one point while I was sorting our food—his, mine, mine, mine, his—he thought my other bag of food was free game. Wrong! He had been grazing for a while on my gluten-free stash that was supposed to last me five days!
When our kids were babies, I would prep the kiddos’ food, and if Bruce was near, I would hand him the dish, snack, or whatever munchie I had just fixed. I would then ask him to give it to whichever child it was intended for. I would prep the next one, turn around, and see baby number one still waiting to eat and Bruce holding an empty dish, often saying, “That was tasty.” It was a good thing my “hiker hunger” had not yet kicked in, or else I would have been one very hungry hiker those first few days.
While we were finishing our dinner of dehydrated meals cooked with my Jetboil, Sisu joined us for a chat. “Sisu” was a trail name used by Jim Fetig, who was a volunteer ridge-runner for the state of Georgia. He also volunteered at the ATC headquarters in Harpers Ferry. Ridge-runners help to educate hikers along the trail, making sure everyone is following good hiker etiquette.
He noticed my two tents, so I explained to him I wasn't sure which tent to use. He said, “I always tell hikers when they consider what gear to use, to ask themselves just one question and the answer to that question will help them with their choices. That question is: Are you here to camp or are you here to hike? Choose the gear that will help you have a successful hike.”
That was some of the best advice I heard. Whenever I stopped in town and thought about picking up something new or changing something out, I would keep that in mind. To be continued.
Check back often to see when my memoire (title TBA) will be available. With lots of luck, I will at least be taking pre-orders starting this weekend.
Health Update: still no scales to weigh in. I will do that in two weeks at my check-up. But health eating is happening more than not. Making sure to drink 1/2 my weight in ounces of H2O daily (take your weight, divide in half. That number is the amount in ounces you should drink in water minimum every day. If you are sick or exercising/sweating you need to drink more). I started my push-up program again and our daily walks. Just those simple changes have helped me sleep better.