Back on the trail after an 18 year break.
by, 05-23-2012 at 19:52 (972 Views)
Hi this is my first blog entry ever, anywhere. Like most people on this site I have dreamed of thru hiking the AT ever since I was a boy scout and learned there was a trail that spanned georgia to Maine. Of course life got in the way but now I find myself sans house, wife,dog,car payment and rent. If I don't go now i never will. I am about as out of shape as a person can get. I smoke a pack a day and i am pushing 300 pounds. I had my doubts if i could make the most modest of hikes. I have been training but not as much as I should've.
I started at usfs 42 at the bottom of Springer hiked up Springer and waddled my big ass North to woody gap. Needless to say my gear is old and heavy. I have an external frame Kelty from the early 90's and a 5 pound Coleman sleeping bag. I have a msr whisperlite that surprised me that it still worked. I have many tents but none under five pounds. I found a one man tent at academy sports for 25 bucks . A few mountain house entrees , a water pump and i was on my way.
My experience on the trail was not what I expected. I had this image of solitude and utter self reliance. Nothing could be further from the truth. The subculture of the trail swallowed me right away. In the three nights I was on the trail I was offered a job, given tons of knowledge from day hikers and thru hikers alike. My pack weighed in at 45 lbs. At the start and was down 10 by the beginning of the second day. One couple was particularly helpful. I wish I could remember their names. The husband was 53 and he completed his thru hike in 2010. I call him teacher because that's what he was to me. His wife's name was Martha (aka sugar mama) and they had a great dog named blaze. They were headed to hiawasee and we all pretty much hiked at the same pace. Despite my physical fitness, I am no stranger to backpacking. I have gone to philmont and hiked most of the SNP. Thanks to this site I became very good at "dirtbagging it" a grease pot makes a great cooking pot and tyvek home wrap is the coolest thing since sliced bread. Anyway, teacher didn't really help me with my gear, he helped me with my head. He helped identify lots of the pitfalls us noobs fall in. My favorite saying of his was " you can be comfortable on the trail, or in camp, but not both."
If I can offer some advice to people in my spot. Fitness first, gear second. Believe it or not I could fly on the down hill and flat ground. The uphill made me its bitch. Not because of muscle strain or pack weight, but cardio. I quit smoking the day I returned. Don't stress the gear. Titanium tent stakes and ULA packs are not needed. Spend the money on a personal trainer. I now see the trail in a new light that just intrigues me more....