PDA

View Full Version : It's Not Just Walking



Capt Nat
03-14-2013, 08:05
Itís not just walking

With all due respect to the honorable Lone Wolf, itís not just walking.

This is my story of a very short AT attempt. This will bring out the haters and elitists in droves and should generate some sordidly entertaining comments and responses. The gentle people here will wonder why I put myself out there for such a beating. The answer; in spite of what sounds like a terrible misadventure, this was a GREAT experience for me, I loved every moment, and I am hopelessly hooked now on the AT and I will be back.

I have no lessons to teach, yet some may get some ideas or information from any discussion this generates. The story will show how clueless and unprepared a person can start hiking on the AT.

In 2006, I sustained an injury to my foot that almost led to the loss of my lower leg. During the long convalescence and related illnesses, I gained over 50 pounds of weight and lost any semblance of physical fitness. As I struggled to walk again, I became interested in the AT and discovered White Blaze which fueled my interest and provided much information.

Being born and raised in central Florida, I have only hiked in this flat, tropical environment. I was worried about what happens to water below 32 degrees.

I started buying equipment and walking with it, hiking local loop trails. I got to where I could carry 40 pounds 8 to 12 miles on a regular basis. I was ready to go!

My brother drove me to Amicalola Falls, counseling me that I was going to die. At the top of the falls I got out of the car and was struck with how icy cold the wind was at 40 degrees. It was drizzling rain. We shook hands at the top of the falls and I started walking up the approach trail. One hundred feet later, I turned around and was glad he had driven off because I was completely winded. First observation, walking uphill is very different than walking on flat ground. I crossed a small stream and started up the first real grade. I was so winded I thought by lungs were going to explode. I stepped off the path to let some young people pass. One asked if I was OK. I wasnít. I nodded big and waved them to continue, unable to speak while wheezing violently. One looked back at me a couple of times with a look of concern, I thought, ďwhat a nice young manĒ.

With a determination that I do possess, I powered on. On a positive note, my muscles did not hurt or feel weak and my feet did not show any tendency to develop hot spots.

On the summit of Frosty Mountain, I realized that the inside of my raingear was much wetter than the outside. I took off my raingear to discover that my clothes were drenched. For the next couple of hours of hiking, they dried well in the misty drizzle.

At 3 oíclock, I made it to Black Gap Shelter. Even though I was winded on the inclines every 20 to 50 feet, I felt good and it was too early for me to stop. The summit of Springer Mountain was less than 2 miles away. I started my start-stop climb out of the Gap and before reaching the next ridge, climbed into the clouds, a first for me. As I reached the top of the ridge, I saw a dim flash and wondered if I was pushing too hard. Then I heard a not too distant rumble. I thought, ďThis ridge is not where I want to beĒ.

I headed up the ridge toward Springer with purpose when rain descended upon me with heavy large drops and pea sized hail. It rained so hard that the world mostly disappeared and I stopped, standing in the trail wondering how bad it could get.

Suddenly, the world lit up with a flashbulb blue light, and an intense, stabbing pain shot into my left foot. It hurt so bad that I cried out, but by the time I did, the pain and light was gone. I stood blinking as all I could see was blue dots. I smelt a smell of burning lint or maybe hair. As my vision cleared, I began to realize I had just been hit by lightening, not directly or I would be dead, but close enough to get zapped. I tried to look my boot over and couldnít see any damage. There was no pain and as the rain was still intense, I took a step and then started walking. Another bright flash and close boom of thunder caused me to jump, I was a believer now. In just moments, another followed and I realized I couldnít continue. The temperature was dropping fast and I knew this had hypothermia written all over it.

I stepped off the trail between two trees and in as hard a rain as Iíve ever seen, broke open my pack and started setting up camp. Up went the tarp, then the hammock. I rigged the quilts, then crouched under the tarp, I stripped off my soaked clothes and struggled into my merino wool bottom and top. I was shivering as I crawled into the hammock and warmth of the down quilts. The storm raged. About ten thirty that night, the rain turned to snow. At five thirty in the morning, my thermometer was reading 23 degrees, the coldest Iíve ever been out in.

I next awoke at eight oíclock in the morning. The wind sounded like freight trains coming through the woods. Snow had blown under the tarp and I could not see the ground or anything Iíd left laying there. My breath had turned to frost on the mosquito net. I lay there thinking. I was cold but comfortable. I knew I couldnít stay on that exposed ridge. I formulated a plan. I would break camp, summit Springer, and descend back to the warm world of below. Set up camp. Rig clothes lines and dry all my stuff so that I would be back like I was when I started.

I put on my dry clothes, brushed the snow out of my frozen boots and struggled to get my feet into the solid blocks. Out of the tarp it was still snowing and the world was amazing! Breaking camp was easy but packing was not. Everything was frozen in a solid block in whatever shape it landed.

By the time I got the pack on, I was numb with cold. I pushed up the face of Springer to the top where the wind was really howling. I managed to get a picture of my poles leaning against the plaque but my fingers were to cold to try to sign the register. I needed to get off that mountain and so I headed down the Appalachian Trail as fast as I could on the snowy icy trail.

At the parking lot, the temperature was 29 degrees, some hikers told me that it was going to get colder than last night, and I realized that I was not going to be able thaw or dry my stuff, and that it might not be safe for me to try another night with my equipment covered in ice and snow. I got the number of Ron Brown who braved the icy, steep, narrow road to rescue me and drop me at a motel in Ellijay where I could thaw out, dry out, and put my gear back trail ready. I was not in the least daunted by my disastrous beginning. How much worse could it get? I had been struck by lightening, got everything wet in a thunderstorm on a ridge, and survived a snowstorm. Not bad for a Florida boy on his first outing.

Three days later, Ron dropped me back off at the Springer Mountain parking lot on forest road 42. What a different world. The ice and snow was gone. My gear was dry and properly packed. I was so glad to be back on the trail that I could just sing.

The next three miles were down hill. I made smoking good time and stopped for a quick ten minute break at Stover Creek Shelter. By the time I got to the bottom at Three Forks, I was feeling a new, unusual pain along the forward insides of my ankles, but it wasnít bad and as I started uphill, it seemed less and wasnít a problem. The uphills were still winding me completely, but I now knew that I could power through that. I was quite proud of myself as I was able to make Hawk Mountain Shelter at three oíclock which I felt was very respectable time. That pain was concerning me though as I descended down the blue blaze to the shelter.

What a magical afternoon and night spent with fellow hikers. I was very happy with my equipment and overall setup, though I was looking forward to be able to tweek some things at Neilís Gap.

The next morning, after a great breakfast of oatmeal and hot coffee, I broke camp and headed out with Gooch Gap in my sights. Knowing another storm front was coming through the next day, I was determined to be set up and enjoy as zero there and just bask in the pleasure of the trail that I was enjoying.

Coming down Hawk Mountain, I knew I was in trouble. That pain was steadily increasing all the way down. Climbing out of Hightower Gap, the pain just kept getting worse, adding to the winding of the climbs. By the time I topped out on the first summit, my pace was down to an unproductive shuffle and constant grimace.

Standing on the ridge with the amazing vistas, soaking up the beauty of the trail, I began coming to terms with the crushing realization that I was not going to make it. I was not going to get to Gooch Gap. I was not capable of climbing Sassafras Mountain. I couldnít even make it to the next water source. Tears ran down my face as I reached out, wanting to grasp any solution to figure out how to continue the trail.

The next two hours were agonizing as I made my way at a snails pace down into Horse Gap, wondering what I needed to do.

The unexplainable magic of the Appalachian Trail is a constant tale of lore. I certainly cannot explain what happened as I stripped my pack and plopped down on the ground, having finally made it down to Horse Gap, at the foot of Sassafras, knowing that I could go no further. There was a silver car sitting there looking out of place. Shortly, a nice looking friendly young man came walking down the trail with no pack. He started asking me questions and seemed very interested in my story. At length, Scott told me that the nearest bus station was in Gainesville Georgia and that he lived in Beaufort, just south of it. He would be ready to leave as soon as he put out the trail magic that he was actually there to deliver and would be glad to give me a ride. Yes, the silver car was his.

My Appalachian Trail adventure is over for this season, but I am hopelessly hooked. Though short, painful, and trying, it was more than I had even fantasized. Everything about the trail experience exceeded my hopes and expectations. Iím back home yearning for more. I will heal. Iím going to take up running to build my wind. Iím going to find some stairs to build the tendons that have never been stressed in that particular way. I will make some changes to clothing, gear, and techniques. I will try again and again. The Appalachian Trail has not seen the last of me!

Tinker
03-14-2013, 08:15
Great story.

One thing that has never happened to me is to be hit by lightning (but I can live with that :D).

Glad you survived. :)

Also glad you got hooked on mountain hiking (AT or otherwise).

Cold weather is something that southern flatlanders have to get used to on the AT.
I cut my teeth on the White Mountains in New Hampshire and enjoyed doing winter hikes when I was younger, so those conditions are nothing new to me, personally, so I never found them a real challenge (below zero is a challenge for most hikers, though, including me).

It's good to have someone from your background tell other hikers what they can expect if they hadn't experienced it before.

Thanks for the post.

Edit: Btw - once you get used to it,

It is "Just Walking". ;) (the hiking part). Shelter, food, water, personal hygiene, safety, medical emergencies, etc. aside, that is. :D

Drybones
03-14-2013, 08:37
Great story, thanks for sharing and I hope to meet you on the trail some day. Your story made me think of one of my favorite short stories, To Build a Fire, by Jack London. It's sort of a morbid storie but for some reason I relate to it since for some reason I'm drawn outside in bad weather, if there's a blizzard or hard rain storm I'm normally out in it walking, dont know why the attraction. Get your pack weight as low as you can and get back out there, as for getting in shape, the trail will take care of that for you, just need to start slow. BTW, for the first week or so I thought every hill I came to would kill me before I reached the top.

Coffee Rules!
03-14-2013, 08:51
Thanks for sharing it! It's not often that people can put their unsuccessful ventures out there for the world to see.

Good luck getting better prepared and kicking ass next time.

aficion
03-14-2013, 08:55
Great post! Should be required reading. May have to change your trail name to Sergeant York, what with the lightning and all. Glad you lived to tell the tale and hike another day. See you out there.

bfayer
03-14-2013, 08:58
Great story. Thanks for sharing.

I grew up in Michigan and I thought that was flat, until I moved to FL that is :). I truly feel for you.

My first hike in real mountains kicked my backside too (actually still does), there is no shame in that, just keep at it and don't quit. It does get easier I promise.

You don't need to be fast, and no matter what you read on here, you do not need to hike 15 to 20 miles a day to hike the AT. I still get passed by groups of brownie girl scouts climbing Old Rag :). Just keep hiking.

Not too long ago we took our Scout Troop up Elliot Knob which I think is the second highest mountain in VA. 10 years ago I could not have made it, but even though I'm over 50 now, once I made it to the top, I dropped my pack and hiked back down to meet up with our slower group of scouts and carried one of their packs back up. My point is, if I can do it, there is hope for anyone out there that wants to hike the AT.

I am just a weekend section hiker so unlike thru hikers I get to experience the joys of earning my trail legs several times a year when I go on my longer hikes :)

Get back to the trail when you are ready, you will do fine.

yellowsirocco
03-14-2013, 09:05
So many noobs start out during bad weather and I just don't understand it. I generally try not to leave town when it is raining and if I do, I just go to the first shelter. At least you had him drop you off at the top of the falls instead of the bottom.

And it is just walking, your mind just isn't in the right place yet. There are growing pains that you have to go through like the experience you just had that will help you figure it out. Once you figure out how to be comfortable living out of a pack then you will understand.

Train Wreck
03-14-2013, 09:11
Wow, amazing story!
it reminds me once again why I am a spring through fall hiker only.
We once had to outrun a major thunderstorm on the ridge heading toward the Low Gap shelter, which I think is just north of where you got out. It was an extremely scary experience.
I've had to bail due to injury, in fact, a lot of us have. I totally trashed my knee on a section hike near Pond Mt., TN. I was so disappointed I just sat down and cried.
Over many years of sectioning, the AT has beat up on me pretty good(my trail name is very well-deserved) but like you, I still feel the allure.
thanks for posting this account. I can't imagine why this thread would draw any haters!

RedBeerd
03-14-2013, 09:16
Sweet story!

The Cleaner
03-14-2013, 09:27
Great story,thanks for sharing.Maybe a few will read it and learn something.In the last few years several hikers have died on the AT....

Cookerhiker
03-14-2013, 09:29
...My Appalachian Trail adventure is over for this season, but I am hopelessly hooked. Though short, painful, and trying, it was more than I had even fantasized. Everything about the trail experience exceeded my hopes and expectations. I’m back home yearning for more. I will heal. I’m going to take up running to build my wind. I’m going to find some stairs to build the tendons that have never been stressed in that particular way. I will make some changes to clothing, gear, and techniques. I will try again and again. The Appalachian Trail has not seen the last of me!

Thanks for posting this real-world story. For all the pain and hardship you endured, your "take home" from this experience is inspiring. It's gratifying that you're inculcating your lessons for future attempts rather than throwing in the towel.

You may want to abridge your write-up and submit to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (http://www.appalachiantrail.org/) for publication in AT Journeys.

bigcranky
03-14-2013, 09:38
Great story. Thanks for sharing.

FarmerChef
03-14-2013, 09:50
Great story indeed. There is no shame in sucking wind those first few miles or even coming to the realization that you might need a bit more time to get ready. So often we never hear back regarding those who tried and decided to postpone their adventure. But it's exactly those stories that teach some very important lessons for the future hikers and encourage the others who, like you, decided to take a different path. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

PapaGarrettP
03-14-2013, 09:59
Thanks for sharing your story. It will make a good Chapter 1 of your book, "How I Hiked the AT Twice, subtitled: and made it to Katahdin once!"

gizzy bear
03-14-2013, 10:59
i think that is an amazing story!! and i hope that you are able to complete your dream :D just wondering... what exactly was wrong with your ankle?

burger
03-14-2013, 10:59
Great story. A few pieces of advice to get you back on the trail this year or next:

Go to a sports medicine doctor and get your feet checked out. It could be routine foot/arch pain, or it could be something more serious like a stress fracture. If it's not a break, get the name of a good physical therapist and let them give you an exercise routine to strengthen your feet and ankles.

Get a gym membership and put in some time walking uphill on the treadmill or on a stepmill. Do it with a pack on.

Lighten your pack. The less weight you carry, the less stress on your feet and legs.

MDSection12
03-14-2013, 11:05
Great story and I appreciate you sharing, but I don't see anything here that implies it isn't just walking. You walked until you couldn't walk anymore and that was what defined your trip. If anything I'd say your trip is proof-positive that it is just walking...

HikerMom58
03-14-2013, 11:15
Wow... thanks for sharing Capt Nat! I'm glad you made it back home. Of course, I thrilled to read about the trail angel that helped you out!:sun
I wish you a speedy recovery. You'll be back. We will celebrate that day with you!!

Lone Wolf
03-14-2013, 11:15
Great story and I appreciate you sharing, but I don't see anything here that implies it isn't just walking. You walked until you couldn't walk anymore and that was what defined your trip. If anything I'd say your trip is proof-positive that it is just walking...

for my first thru-hike it was just walkin'. with some weight. i was 27, in excellent shape and no ailments so walkin' the AT was not physically challenging to me. but i can see, have seen, how much older, out of shape and unprepared folks can be miserable right out of the gate

HikerMom58
03-14-2013, 11:27
for my first thru-hike it was just walkin'. with some weight. i was 27, in excellent shape and no ailments so walkin' the AT was not physically challenging to me. but i can see, have seen, how much older, out of shape and unprepared folks can be miserable right out of the gate

Thanks for the clarification LW... it helps. :cool: Everyone wants to try in it in their own way. I think that's what makes WB a special place for most people. They can share, on here, what happens to them without judgement. I doubt anyone will say/think he's a weenie or a wimp because he is neither of those things. He has learned a lot and he will succeed.. i have no doubt.

bfayer
03-14-2013, 11:43
... I doubt anyone will say/think he's a weenie or a wimp because he is neither of those things. He has learned a lot and he will succeed.. i have no doubt.

That depends, he didn't say if he used hiking poles, I have it on good authority that only weenies use hiking poles :D

Hikemor
03-14-2013, 11:49
Depending on the extent of your injury, in 4-6 weeks you could be back on the AT this year.

swjohnsey
03-14-2013, 11:59
You can't quit without a reason.

prain4u
03-14-2013, 12:01
Great story. Glad you made it home safe. Your story--as well as the following thread about hiking in the Blizzard of 1993--should be required reading for everyone who wants to start a thru hike before sometime in April (unless they are already experienced in cold weather hiking in mountains).

Thanks for sharing your story--and here is the link to the other current thread on winter hiking in the Blizzard of '93:

http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?93359-It-was-twenty-years-ago-today-March-12-13

Lone Wolf
03-14-2013, 12:01
That depends, he didn't say if he used hiking poles, I have it on good authority that only weenies use hiking poles :D

:cool:.........

Odd Man Out
03-14-2013, 12:08
Thanks for sharing it! It's not often that people can put their unsuccessful ventures out there for the world to see....

Also thanks for sharing. What a great story. In many ways, it's a much better story for a beginner to read than a complete Springer to Katadin travel log. Also, I would not classify this as an unsuccessful venture. It sounds like you did a lot of things right. There are lots of people who in the same situation would have had much worse outcomes. You have a great attitude and that's what matters. I'd rather hike 1% of the trail with positive attitude than hike 99% of trail and feel defeated for not finishing.

gizzy bear
03-14-2013, 12:09
That depends, he didn't say if he used hiking poles, I have it on good authority that only weenies use hiking poles :D

imma WEENIE :eek: (and damn proud of it :p )

Slo-go'en
03-14-2013, 12:18
And this my friend is why we recommend not starting until April when there is a bit more room for error.

HikerMom58
03-14-2013, 12:30
imma WEENIE :eek: (and damn proud of it :p )

Me too gizzy..I'm proud of myself for getting out there... When I tell some people/"friends" that I help out hikers and get out of the trail myself, they look at me like :eek:- crazy. I don't want ANY lip from my hiking friends .... I'ma gettin er done MY WAY and I'm PROUD of it.....bo yah!!

FatHead64
03-14-2013, 12:31
imma WEENIE :eek: (and damn proud of it :p )

Yeah - me too. Kicken' sand right back! :cool:

gizzy bear
03-14-2013, 12:47
Me too gizzy..I'm proud of myself for getting out there... When I tell some people/"friends" that I help out hikers and get out of the trail myself, they look at me like :eek:- crazy. I don't want ANY lip from my hiking friends .... I'ma gettin er done MY WAY and I'm PROUD of it.....bo yah!!

you go HMKD!!!!! you ain't skeerd !!! ;)

gizzy bear
03-14-2013, 12:48
Yeah - me too. Kicken' sand right back! :cool:

i am just glad i am not a ball park frank!!!

slbirdnerd
03-14-2013, 12:52
Thanks for sharing your story! Don't give up! Just trying is a vast deal more than most would ever do...

88BlueGT
03-14-2013, 13:04
Thanks for sharing. Great post.

Dogwood
03-14-2013, 13:18
That was a good post Capt Nat. You candidly put yourself out there potentially exposing yourself to a difference of opinions. I too enjoyed your story and also totally agree with you that backpacking isn't the same as "just walking." I do chose to walk ALOT but when I do it's not with a pack on my back, 6 days of food, a stove, shelter, sleeping bag, etc. When I "just walk" it's with a dog on leash, I'm coming back to a warm dry house with a roof over my head, and I go to the fridge for my food.

Dogwood
03-14-2013, 13:22
Also thanks for sharing. What a great story. In many ways, it's a much better story for a beginner to read than a complete Springer to Katadin travel log. Also, I would not classify this as an unsuccessful venture. *It sounds like you did a lot of things right. There are lots of people who in the same situation would have had much worse outcomes. You have a great attitude and that's what matters. *I'd rather hike 1% of the trail with positive attitude than hike 99% of trail and feel defeated for not finishing.

Ain't that the truth! Good pts Odd Man Out.

rocketsocks
03-14-2013, 13:36
Nat, What a great adventure you had, and you told your story so well, I think there's a book deal in your future! I honestly can't imagine what it must be like to be there and wrestle with the things you did, I've never done it. But I can relate to being totally defeated and getting ticked off enough to do something about it.

In 2005 I could not walk to my mail box, slowly things got better, and today I walk every where, however it's on flat ground, completely different to slogging up hills with weight on your back. Recently I've started doing squats, and walking up and down some bleachers near my home, this has made a huge difference.

I know you'll get out there one day, and do it to your satisfaction...I will too. Probably one of the best things you did for yourself was to be realistic, and not keep pushing along only to risk possible injury. Glad your safe and back home to plan and try again, cause in the end, it's just walkin...but man sometimes it sure can be a tough walk! all the best to you and yours, and again great story, thanks for sharing that...good stuffs!

Berserker
03-14-2013, 13:37
Out of all the chaff that pops up on WB it was great to see a post like this. Loved your story, and good luck on your future endeavor to get back out there.

rocketsocks
03-14-2013, 13:45
Also thanks for sharing. What a great story. In many ways, it's a much better story for a beginner to read than a complete Springer to Katadin travel log. Also, I would not classify this as an unsuccessful venture. It sounds like you did a lot of things right. There are lots of people who in the same situation would have had much worse outcomes. You have a great attitude and that's what matters. I'd rather hike 1% of the trail with positive attitude than hike 99% of trail and feel defeated for not finishing.I like what Odd Man Out says here. So true Odd Man.

Sara
03-14-2013, 13:49
I appreciate your honesty discussing you challenges Capt Nat!
I went hiking in Florida last January and my feet/ankles felt extra sore from the constant flat ground. :p

Maybe I'll see you on the trail next year. :)

mountain squid
03-14-2013, 13:57
Concur with everyone . . . this is a nice story.

For the last several years I have been going down to Springer for a week or so. Every year I see numerous hikers that are not prepared and I always wonder Why?. There is so much information out there (WhiteBlaze, Trailjournals, Blogs, books, - hasn't everyone read 'A Walk in the Woods'?, etc, etc) that it just boggles the mind that year after year hikers begin their journey with inadequate gear or gear that is just not needed; heavy packs; a bird; a cello; a hand-cart; or they are not prepared for the mountains or the weather (it can be snowing one day, violent thunderstorms the next and 75f the day after that); push themselves too hard (I can make it to Neels Gap in 2 days) . . . Every year there is something that'll make me scratch my head.

I know that WhiteBlaze is full of opinions (and some from cyberhikers that haven't hiked and don't really know what they are talking about) and it might be difficult to sift through it all, especially if you are inexperienced. But all the lurkers out there should be able to get a reasonable idea of what to expect and at least not be completely clueless.

There are enough of us here that will still reply to the threads with money questions, or the weather related questions and unfortunately it seems that the original poster will inevitably argue their point and disagree with the conventional wisdom offered. Often times a reply to a thread might actually be more for the lurkers and not the original poster, especially once it is obvious that the op isn't going to change their mind. Just maybe a lurker will wise up and decide that a 40f bag is not a good idea in Feb.

So my question for Capt Nat is: Why? Why were you clueless? Why were you not prepared? What led you to seemingly believe that 'walking uphill' would not be difficult (especially with a 40# pack)? I'm just wondering out loud here . . .

Glad that you are OK and reasonably certain that you will be better prepared next time around. And maybe some lurkers will learn from your experience and be better prepared.

See you on the trail,
mt squid

read some observations (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?14493-observations-from-fs42-(advice-for-first-week-on-trail)&highlight=) thread for additional observations about that first week on the trail

maintenance videos (http://www.youtube.com/user/mountainsquid04/videos)
how to hike (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?73587-how-to-hike)

WingedMonkey
03-14-2013, 14:36
So my question for Capt Nat is: Why? Why were you clueless? Why were you not prepared? What led you to seemingly believe that 'walking uphill' would not be difficult (especially with a 40# pack)? I'm just wondering out loud here . . .

Glad that you are OK and reasonably certain that you will be better prepared next time around. And maybe some lurkers will learn from your experience and be better prepared.

I'm glad you are safe, and glad you are looking to get back out there. But I wanted to ask the same thing Squid did.

Maybe someone can learn from you.

Coffee Rules!
03-14-2013, 14:55
I'd rather hike 1% of the trail with positive attitude than hike 99% of trail and feel defeated for not finishing.

Hear, hear!

Dogwood
03-14-2013, 14:55
Mountain Squid, I get where you are coming from but NO ONE knows everything. That includes you AND ME. With all the worthwhile and possibly applicable info available my hiking knowledge is constantly spiraling upward. I'm constantly evolving in so many ways. Heck, I'm consistently adapting my hiking kit, hiking knowledge, hiking style, etc. to find the balance that's currently right FOR ME. Some of us know more than others hence some of us can be more prepared than others so it's no surprise to find different hikers differently prepared. If you think about it there are undoubtedly areas in both of our lives where someone knows more or is better prepared than each of us and can be wondering why we aren't as prepared or knowledgeable as them.

Coffee Rules!
03-14-2013, 15:11
Squid, I just went back and read your post in the thread you linked. Good stuff! A nice "one stop shopping" location for a goodly portion of the bare bones wisdom one will find here on WB. Thanks!

Capt Nat
03-14-2013, 15:14
I'll try to answer your question Mr. Mt Squid. When I thought of hiking the Appalachian Trail, I went to the internet for information and landed here at White Blaze. I read a lot about gear, cooking, sleeping, resupply, etc. The information that I got here was invaluable and I had no problems and complaints about my equipment. I read a lot of trail journals and tried to determine what separated success from failure.

What I was completely clueless about was just what a mountain really is. And it's one thing to read about weather, but I only related to weather in Florida. In Florida, if there is a thunderstorm, you see it coming for an hour. I trained till I was carrying my pack 8 to 12 miles. I read about weather in the teens and twenties, but those were only numbers. Without a walk in freezer, there was no way to experience that.

So, I got out of the Car with no idea how sharp and penetrating cold air is. Luckily, I had clothes and sleeping gear that was adequate.
In thinking it was just walking, I had built up enough strength to do that as evidenced by no muscle or feet problems. So, I studied on the trail and determined why I was having such a hard time. I realized then that I can put a car in neutral and push it, but I couldn't push it up hill. Not having access to slopes, I had not discovered that. Now I know walking uphill is not the same as walking on flat ground.

Having been walking on flat ground, my ankles had a normal range of motion. Going up the hills pushed the toe end of the foot further upward than was normal for me. Walking downhill pushed the toe of the foot further downward than my normal movement. The result was moderate tendinitis in both ankles. The pain felt more than moderate to me though...

I attempted to be prepared. I trained as best as I knew how. I think you need to be exposed to mountains, cold, ice, and snow to be acclimated to those. I struck out acclimated to warm sunny weather and flat walking. I am going to spend this summer, as my tendons heal, trying to train for inclines and declines. It would probably help to try to find a walk in freezer to live in also.

In the end, it's all good. I had a great time. I learned how different the trail environment is from the one I live in. I'm excited about a new, different training routine.

I am interested in hiking and enjoy it. I don't need to be "successful" at it and don't need it to define me. I also scuba dive, metal detect, fish, sail, fly airplanes and helicopters, operate a ham radio, and dabble in wood working. I loved hiking in the mountains and am going to get better at it. I've already been hit by lightening, next time I'll have to be attacked by a bear to top that!

Coffee Rules!
03-14-2013, 15:16
Without a walk in freezer, there was no way to experience that.

Okay that just flat made me chuckle. Can you imagine the laps you'd have to do in even a good sized walk in to get 8-12 miles? :p

Mobius
03-14-2013, 15:27
Having been walking on flat ground, my ankles had a normal range of motion. Going up the hills pushed the toe end of the foot further upward than was normal for me. Walking downhill pushed the toe of the foot further downward than my normal movement. The result was moderate tendinitis in both ankles. The pain felt more than moderate to me though...

Walking on a treadmill might help with that extra range of motion on the uphills. I've never found it exactly mimics actually walking up mountains, but as a fellow flat-lander that's what I turn to if I want to climb a "hill" work that's more than a few dozen meters tall. Climbing stairs (in a multi-floor building) helps with the leg strength but doesn't get the range of motion you're probably finding on a slope.

Don't underestimate the beating your quads can take on the descents either.

As someone else alluded to, walking on constantly flat terrain is its own skill. I've had more than one acquaintance from mountainy realm visit flat land and suffer hip pain from the monotony of motion.

Malto
03-14-2013, 15:28
Thanks for sharing this story. I think some of the best stories involve adversity followed by success. One of the best is by triple crowner Ice Axe who had a "challenging" first attempt. He followed up years later and complete all three long trails.

gizzy bear
03-14-2013, 15:36
Okay that just flat made me chuckle. Can you imagine the laps you'd have to do in even a good sized walk in to get 8-12 miles? :p

i had a visual of training in the walk in beer cooler... just walking in circles with a pack on....drinking beer ;)

Coffee Rules!
03-14-2013, 15:39
i had a visual of training in the walk in beer cooler... just walking in circles with a pack on....drinking beer ;)

I don't think that would accomplish much in the way of training, but it sure wouldn't suck. :p

Capt Nat
03-14-2013, 15:40
i had a visual of training in the walk in beer cooler... just walking in circles with a pack on....drinking beer ;)

The whole cooler needs to be tilted. How bout a keg of beer strapped to my back?

Train Wreck
03-14-2013, 15:50
The whole cooler needs to be tilted. How bout a keg of beer strapped to my back?

Can't be lite beer, then

gizzy bear
03-14-2013, 16:01
The whole cooler needs to be tilted. How bout a keg of beer strapped to my back?

we MAY be on to something here!!!!

FatHead64
03-14-2013, 16:02
The whole cooler needs to be tilted. How bout a keg of beer strapped to my back?

No - beer on a table (whatever kind you want) and just move the treadmill in there too. Crank up the tilt and you're off...:-?

gizzy bear
03-14-2013, 16:03
Can't be lite beer, then

maybe...if he is a UL kinda guy?!?!?!

Coffee Rules!
03-14-2013, 16:09
Oh come on now! If he goes for light beer he might as well just train to walk from his bed to a recliner in the living room.

Coffee Rules!
03-14-2013, 16:11
How bout a keg of beer strapped to my back?

I think you're onto something here. The diminishing weight would easily simulate depletion of food and water as you went along.

Stick with this crowd and we'll have you ready in no time!

Ready for WHAT, well, that remains to be seen. :banana

Drybones
03-14-2013, 16:20
Squid, I just went back and read your post in the thread you linked. Good stuff! A nice "one stop shopping" location for a goodly portion of the bare bones wisdom one will find here on WB. Thanks!

I didn't know WB existed until long after leaving the trail. There's no way I can throw rocks... guaranteed I've made more and bigger bad decisions than the OP...anyone out there that never has made a bad one?

Coffee Rules!
03-14-2013, 16:25
...anyone out there that never has made a bad one?

I divorced my worst decision about six years ago. :p

Train Wreck
03-14-2013, 16:26
[QUOTE=Drybones;1439488]I didn't know WB existed until long after leaving the trail. There's no way I can throw rocks... guaranteed I've made more and bigger bad decisions than the OP...anyone out there that never has made a bad one?[/rail?QUOTE]

On or off the trail? :banana

Drybones
03-14-2013, 16:26
[QUOTE=Malto;1439461] I think some of the best stories involve adversity followed by success. QUOTE]

Some of life's greatest blessings are the product of adversity...they're just hard to see when the flames are all around you.

JAK
03-14-2013, 16:26
It's just electricity.

Drybones
03-14-2013, 16:27
[QUOTE=Drybones;1439488]I didn't know WB existed until long after leaving the trail. There's no way I can throw rocks... guaranteed I've made more and bigger bad decisions than the OP...anyone out there that never has made a bad one?[/rail?QUOTE]

On or off the trail? :banana

Unfortunately...both.

Odd Man Out
03-14-2013, 16:28
...and if he's drinking Coors Lite, would make him an ultra-light bru-hiker?

Coffee Rules!
03-14-2013, 16:36
It's just electricity.

+100 ......................

MuddyWaters
03-14-2013, 16:37
Great story.

2 things come to mind :

1) when the average american gains 50 lbs, that makes them 80 lbs overweight.
2) Now you understand why being in shape, and carrying a light pack is so important. Your chances for sucess in future are much higher.


Adventures are what make life exciting. If it was all sunny days and flat trail, it wouldnt be very exciting would it? Anytime you encounter adversity, welcome it. It will probably be your most significant memories.

Rocket Jones
03-14-2013, 16:51
Excellent lesson. I learned my own version years ago when I went on my first backpacking trip in a long time with some friends. I'd been hiking every weekend for a long time beforehand, but I discovered in the first mile that my hikes in the hills had in no way prepared me for hiking in the mountains.

Special K
03-14-2013, 17:35
This is the kind of stuff I LOVE to read! Please don't apologize for posting it. It helps new hikers more than you know. So did you go to a podiatrist to diagnose your feet? I NEVER had foot problems either until I started hiking hills in Maine to get ready for my thru hike in April. I think I was going too far, too fast. Anyway, found out I had flat feet, plantar fasciitis and sprained tendons. Crazy!!! I've had almost 3 months to heal now and have had custom orthotics made. Pain is minimal now.

Didn't mean to hijack your thread but since your reason for leaving the trail was mostly due to your feet, can you elaborate about what you are doing now to prepare your feet?

Train Wreck
03-14-2013, 17:41
It's just electricity.

Good point. We forgot about lightning. Add that to the mix. He must hike in the beer cave, on the treadmill inclined at 30 degrees, carrying a keg of ale, periodically sticking his finger in a light socket.

Drybones
03-14-2013, 17:43
It's just electricity.

+120, +230, +480....shocking!

rocketsocks
03-14-2013, 17:50
The whole cooler needs to be tilted. How bout a keg of beer strapped to my back?If you can hump and hike a keg on your back..."there ain't no Mt. high enough" to stop you.

Drybones
03-14-2013, 17:58
If you can hump and hike a keg on your back..."there ain't no Mt. high enough" to stop you.

You'll make lots of friends too.

Kernel
03-14-2013, 18:08
Capt: your story reminds me of stories from the book "Not without peril". As there are many books about people who made it, a book about stories like yours would be very interesting. Good luck on your next attempt.

Kernel

wren again
03-14-2013, 18:27
Thanks for telling your tale. Take the next step!

FatHead64
03-14-2013, 18:49
It's just electricity.

+120, +230, +480....shocking!

+4160......:eek:

FatHead64
03-14-2013, 18:50
It's just electricity.

Good point. We forgot about lightning. Add that to the mix. He must hike in the beer cave, on the treadmill inclined at 30 degrees, carrying a keg of ale, periodically sticking his finger in a light socket.

...........:cool:

S'more
03-14-2013, 18:59
Great story. Thanks for sharing!

jeffmeh
03-14-2013, 19:22
Thanks for posting. In truth, while injury sucks, it can happen even if someone has done much more training in preparation. It sounds to me like you dealt with the weather reasonably well. There is absolutely nothing wrong with retreating from dangerous weather. I would definitely question your judgment on continuing to ascend when you heard the first close rumblings of thunder, as protocol is to quickly retreat off the ridge and get to thicker tree cover. There are sections of the AT where that retreat constitutes a much longer and time consuming descent.

I wish you well and hope you can get back out there soon.

forrest!
03-14-2013, 19:28
A shakedown hike - like a week on the Alabama Pinhoti for instance - would have saved a lot of grief and heartbreak. It still might be a good idea before getting back on the AT...

Crusinsusan
03-14-2013, 19:30
OP, actually, I find this one of the most inspiring stories here. A REAL person attempting (not an athlete driving to beat the AT in 60 days), hitting all kinds of roadblocks that require common sense to say enough is enough, and willing to have another go at it, armed with more knowledge and experience. This is the human touch, with all the struggles and still with hope.

(I want to sing "...climb every mountain...."

Reminds me of my solo travels around the country in an RV....I hit so many blockades, and while I did manage to hurdle them, some really were very challenging (one even life-threatening).

You were right to "pull over" as it were, and stop. Alone in the mountains during snow, rain, thunder and hail, with physical health clamping down.

But you're an inspiration to have another go at it. And it would be fine to also NOT have another go at it. One needs to know when enough is enough...and you seem to know.

Smart man, that.:clap

Old Boots
03-14-2013, 20:04
It isn't just "A Walk in the Woods". I am sure Bryson created that title tongue in cheek. Everyone should learn a lesson from your experience. Prepare physically and spiritually for this hike. Learn all you can about the climate of the Appalachians. Use your equipment until your are comfortable with it. Find a way to keep yourself aware of the approaching weather. Plan for extreme circumstances of every kind.

Another Kevin
03-14-2013, 22:41
Great story, thanks for sharing and I hope to meet you on the trail some day. Your story made me think of one of my favorite short stories, To Build a Fire, by Jack London. It's sort of a morbid storie but for some reason I relate to it since for some reason I'm drawn outside in bad weather, if there's a blizzard or hard rain storm I'm normally out in it walking, dont know why the attraction.

Great story, that! Classic Greek tragedy with the twist that the protagonist is never named, the antagonist is Mother Nature, and the Greek chorus is a dog.

My daughter's godmother is an English teacher, and had assigned that story to her class about a week before I took my daughter on her first winter ascent of a 4000-footer in New York. Godmother gave me a piece of her mind, let me tell you!

As far as the tendon stress goes - you need to get the Achilles and hamstrings stretched out. Stair climbing won't do it because the soles of your feet stay level. You need to do things like stretch with your toes on the bottom step of a staircase and your heels as low as they can go comfortably - get a good stretch going in the back of your legs. The thing with the forward insides of the ankles - that's your big toe tendon (extensor hallucis) trying to oppose a too-short Achilles. Also, do you use poles? You might need them - they surely help me with my bad knees.

Another Kevin
03-14-2013, 22:42
Thanks for sharing it! It's not often that people can put their unsuccessful ventures out there for the world to see.

Nonsense. He had a successful two-day trip.

It satisfied Objective #1. Getting there is optional. Getting home is mandatory.

fiddlehead
03-14-2013, 23:14
You've all gotta admit, the OP had a hellish start to his hike.
I've had a lightning strike within 30' of me once. It was not only scary, but a blue flame hit me across the knees and knocked me down.
Luckily there was a shelter within a mile and I was able to get out of the storm and just relax for a few hours.
The OP didn't have that luck.

Also, I've been in some downpours and snow squalls that are so heavy, visability is cut to 20' or less.
But (again luckily) I had enough experience to know to immedietly set up my tent and hunker down until it was over.
The OP was smart enough to do this also.

Starting out in winter was probably his biggest mistake.
Not knowing what a real mountain is, another one.
Not being in shape with at the very least, some time on a step machine, didn't help either.

If he continues to hike, he'll more than likely always be able to compare his situations to his first one and I'm betting he will never experience a worse one.
Good job on the common sense amid all the tough luck.

Siestita
03-14-2013, 23:15
"My Appalachian Trail adventure is over for this season, but I am hopelessly hooked."

Capt.--Thanks for posting your story. It wasn't the lightening, snow, your knowledge, your equipment, or your attitude that forced you off the trail, but simply the beginning, or perhaps renewal, of a debilitating foot injury.

I infer from your post that you went to Springer in order to start a prospective thru hike. After all. why else would any sane person who is not already a winter camping enthusiast (Yes, that strange species exists, see Tipi Walter's posts.) head out on the AT at this time of year? You seem to be very goal oriented. But, at this point no one can know with certainty whether or not your feet will ever allow you to complete an AT thru hike. But by all means, ive that another try.

Whiling waiting until next year to start your next thru attempt, yield to your nascent addiction, being "hooked" on mountain backpacking. Return to the southern AT during more seasonable weather (May, June, July, August, or September) simply to be up there. Not needing to prepare for winter weather, you could safely lower your pack weight at that time, perhaps carrying just 25 to 30 lbs, instead of your recent 40+ lb. load Also, take something along to entertain yourself, such as an activity, book, or audiobook. Deliberately walk slowly, doing shorter mileage days. Think of the experience as hiking, pleasantly interspersed with "back country camping", instead of a race from Georgia to northern Maine.


I've received inspiration from my father ("Grandpa Paul" Daniel). Twenty-five years ago, when he was about the same sage that I am now, 62, he retired from his zoology teaching job and then, over the course of two seasons, successfully section hiked the entire AT, mostly SOBO. He took one zero day per week and walked eight miles per day, on average. Dad carried a stove but spend lots of time cooking instead over wood fires. He probably could have walked faster but chose instead to savor the experience, hiking his own hike.

Train Wreck
03-14-2013, 23:17
"My Appalachian Trail adventure is over for this season, but I am hopelessly hooked."

Capt.--Thanks for posting your story. It wasn't the lightening, snow, your knowledge, your equipment, or your attitude that forced you off the trail, but simply the beginning, or perhaps renewal, of a debilitating foot injury.

I infer from your post that you went to Springer in order to start a prospective thru hike. After all. why else would any sane person who is not already a winter camping enthusiast (Yes, that strange species exists, see Tipi Walter's posts.) head out on the AT at this time of year? You seem to be very goal oriented. But, at this point no one can know with certainty whether or not your feet will ever allow you to complete an AT thru hike. But by all means, ive that another try.

Whiling waiting until next year to start your next thru attempt, yield to your nascent addiction, being "hooked" on mountain backpacking. Return to the southern AT during more seasonable weather (May, June, July, August, or September) simply to be up there. Not needing to prepare for winter weather, you could safely lower your pack weight at that time, perhaps carrying just 25 to 30 lbs, instead of your recent 40+ lb. load Also, take something along to entertain yourself, such as an activity, book, or audiobook. Deliberately walk slowly, doing shorter mileage days. Think of the experience as hiking, pleasantly interspersed with "back country camping", instead of a race from Georgia to northern Maine.


I've received inspiration from my father ("Grandpa Paul" Daniel). Twenty-five years ago, when he was about the same sage that I am now, 62, he retired from his zoology teaching job and then, over the course of two seasons, successfully section hiked the entire AT, mostly SOBO. He took one zero day per week and walked eight miles per day, on average. Dad carried a stove but spend lots of time cooking instead over wood fires. He probably could have walked faster but chose instead to savor the experience, hiking his own hike.

That's a great post, yourself :)

Siestita
03-14-2013, 23:54
OOPs - I accidentally sent that last post prematurely, without proofing or adding my conclusion. Here it is:


I myself have backpacked for brief periods (typically several days, occasionally several weeks) covering perhaps 1,300 or 1,400 miles, during the past 30 years. So far I've avoided contracting either the "Thru Hiker" bug or the "2000 Miler/Section Hiker" virus. My lack of grand ambition may a good thing, because recently I've had bouts of plantar fasciitis. Also, having had a mild case of polio as child, I have never, even with conditioning, been able to walk or run as quickly as other boys and men my own age. So, I backpack about one mile per hour. At this point in my life an eight mile day along the AT, or similar trails, is a long one for me; I prefer to do five or six mile days. I gravitate to especially scenic stretches of the AT, and to equally attractive connecting trails.

Good luck recovering from that foot injury, Captain Nate! And, let us know about how the training regimen has been prescribed for you is working out: keeping your finger in an electric socket, while on a tread mill, in a freezer. Do you ever backpack on the Florida Trail? That might be more fun than the treadmill, at least for a little longer this spring. Swimming is also a great low impact means of developing strength and aerobic fitness.

Capt Nat
03-15-2013, 08:37
Thank you Mr. Siestita, Yes, I have hiked over 100 miles of the Florida Trail and done pieces of that section numerous times. That is what I based my image of what hiking is. Knee to waist deep water and mud would not have surprised me so. Solid swarms of mosquitoes and debilitating heat are the only obstacles I've had to endure.

Though the steep mountains were an obstacle, they were beautiful! The cold air smelled and felt so fresh and clean, I loved it. I stopped to catch my breath on the south side of Springer, looked down where the snow was landing on my jacket and gloves, and saw actual snowflakes for the first time!

I will get some tsk tsks from folks for going to the mountains for the first time in the winter, but I didn't die, didn't get frostbite, and saw things for the first time that they have come to take for granted. I had a great and magical time. The excitement will carry me through the long hot summer. Local friends and family are catching my excitement and there is talk of some trips up there this summer. That will give me a chance to practice walking in the mountains and see how my exercise is working.

I'm going to start out shocking myself with a car battery and try to work up to more voltage. In case I didn't mention it, it hurt like all get out when I got zapped!

hikerboy57
03-15-2013, 08:54
capt nat
thank you so much for your story. its great to hear the "failures" even more than the successes. I still learn something new everytime i go out for a few days. its the "failures" we learn from to make us better the next time around. many are too embarrassed to post when they dont achieve their goal,or they suffer a setback.and like you found out, you can research all you want, but until you're out there doing it, you cant really know what to expect.
but if you learn, and help others to learn from your perils, pitfalls,mstakes and misjudgements, well its all good.
every one of my hikes is better because of both the hikes that came before and the stories and knowledge shared here on whiteblaze.
thank you for sharing

MuddyWaters
03-15-2013, 18:32
If you can find a football stadium with steps you can access, thats a good way to get used to climbing uphill with a pack.
Or stairwells in a really tall building too.

prain4u
03-15-2013, 19:11
I am surprised that so many people are implying that the OP was "ill-prepared". The OP was actually much better prepared than many who attempt a thru hike. A 40 lb pack is lighter than many people start with (And 30-40 years ago, that is a weight many of us would have hiked with--without batting an eyelash). He had trained to the point that he could already carrying that 40 lb. pack 8-12 miles per day. He had hiking experience. (It was just on flat terrain--and in warm temperatures). We would be fortunate if many potential thru hikers were as prepared (and in as good of condition) as Capt Nat.

He had three big issues:
1) He had no idea that hiking in real hills was so different than hiking on flatland--and the toll that difference takes on muscles and tendons.
2) He had no reference point to what hiking in cold weather really is.

With both # 1 and # 2, given his geographic location--he had no realistic way of preparing for hills and cold. That is hardly his fault.

3) His ankles/legs let him down. He became injured. Nothing more. Nothing less. That hardly makes him "ill-prepared". Snow, ice, cold, getting hit by lightening, rain, shortness of breath did not stop him. He still hiked on until his injured ankles could essentially go no further. How many of us could say the same? (And, he still wants to come back for some more!)

My hat is off to you Capt. Nat.

hikingirl
03-15-2013, 19:11
Loved reading your story and thank God you are ok. That is one of the reason I am waiting to start mid April. Hoping to avoid most of that kind of weather. Good luck in your next attempt.

prain4u
03-15-2013, 19:36
This thread reminds me of a phenomenon that I see often on WhiteBlaze. Many of the WB posters take for granted that most people can get out to "real" trails with relative ease. That is perhaps fairly easy if one lives in many places in the Eastern part or the Western part of the country (and even in small portions of the middle section of the country. However, for those of us in vast portions of the Midwest and Plains--it is a challenge for us to get to real trails--especially longer trails with serious hills and significant wilderness areas and distance. Thus, it is not as easy for us to have training hikes and "serious" shakedown hike.

For me to get to "real" trails is easily a 6-12 hour drive (one way) Significant mountain trails are 10-16 hours away (one way). It makes it a challenge to get out to these places for a "weekend hike".

Once, someone suggested to me online that I train for an upcoming hike by hiking on the hills and mountains near my home. I jokingly replied: "In central Illinois--our idea of a hill or mountain is the pitcher's mound at the local baseball field".

Those of you located close to the AT, the Rockies and many other mountains and trail systems really need to celebrate how great you have it. For me to do a weekend trip on the AT requires roughly a 20-24 hour roundtrip drive. To get to the Rockies is a 26-28 hour roundtrip drive.

FatHead64
03-15-2013, 19:52
One suggestion a little closer to you - here in sand dune SW Michigan you don't have the same height, but the 3 steps up, 2 steps down does a pretty good conditioning job too. Shouldn't be more then 4-6 depending where in IL you are.

mountain squid
03-15-2013, 19:54
I am surprised that so many people are implying that the OP was "ill-prepared".Ummmm . . . . Capt Nat labeled himself as 'clueless and unprepared'. I would agree, though, that Capt Nat was better prepared than many. As I mentioned in my original reply, I have seen plenty of 'clueless and unprepared' hikers.

My take on the original post was that Capt Nat overestimated his own abilities and underestimated the requirements of walking in the mountains. He made a good decision to stop on that first night when he could go no further. But a better decision would have been to stop at Black Gap Shelter. Who knows how things would have turned out.

Many hikers push themselves too hard in that first week. I like to suggest to start with an itinerary with less than 10 mile days and to stick to it. If you get to a shelter or campsite too soon, stop anyway and wait for the next hiker to show up and then talk gear the rest of the day.

I think Capt Nat did fine and my hat also goes off to him. I'm sure alot of hikers will read this thread and maybe a few will make adjustments accordingly. But there will probably be more that will shrug it off and just think 'I'll be ok, I'm better prepared than Capt Nat.' Who knows? Personally, I just want everyone to enjoy their hike and possibly minimize the misery at the beginning.

See you on the trail,
mt squid

Ps. I spent 20 years in the Navy in Food Service . . . I spent ALOT of time in walk-in freezers . . . . brrrrr

Many Moons
03-15-2013, 20:03
Thank you Mr. Siestita, Yes, I have hiked over 100 miles of the Florida Trail and done pieces of that section numerous times. That is what I based my image of what hiking is. Knee to waist deep water and mud would not have surprised me so. Solid swarms of mosquitoes and debilitating heat are the only obstacles I've had to endure.

Though the steep mountains were an obstacle, they were beautiful! The cold air smelled and felt so fresh and clean, I loved it. I stopped to catch my breath on the south side of Springer, looked down where the snow was landing on my jacket and gloves, and saw actual snowflakes for the first time!

I will get some tsk tsks from folks for going to the mountains for the first time in the winter, but I didn't die, didn't get frostbite, and saw things for the first time that they have come to take for granted. I had a great and magical time. The excitement will carry me through the long hot summer. Local friends and family are catching my excitement and there is talk of some trips up there this summer. That will give me a chance to practice walking in the mountains and see how my exercise is working.

I'm going to start out shocking myself with a car battery and try to work up to more voltage. In case I didn't mention it, it hurt like all get out when I got zapped!

I left out of Springer last April 8th. Survivor Dave gave me and another hiker a ride to trail. Hiked for 12 days, got lucky and had no injuries. Going to pick up where left off last year this April 12th. Lots I hiked with did not make their distance they wanted All kinds of reasons.

One hiker that was young and experienced-light pack and all. He got home sick and pulled out at a gap.

Several hikers blew knees-some with youth on their side-pushed downhills too hard.

Some had dogs that messed up their paws.

Some ran out of money too soon.

One guy I met just was not in the right shape(round) it did not work on the trail.

Feet problems knocked off some to.

Some got sick.

Ok this was in just 12 days, think what the thru's could tell us how many they saw dreams end short. I went to Trail Days and ran back into several of the thru's that were still living their dreams and saw some of the names in the AT mag that just came out that made it all the way to K. So, my point to all this Capt. Nat is try again next year - it is a fine line you make it or you don't. The dream is the fun part, the rest is walking and trying not to get knocked off the trail before you want to. Hike On!!!

Miller

Cookerhiker
03-15-2013, 20:06
...I like to suggest to start with an itinerary with less than 10 mile days and to stick to it. If you get to a shelter or campsite too soon, stop anyway and wait for the next hiker to show up and then talk gear the rest of the day....

Regarding physical conditioning, this makes the most sense to me and it's advice I give when asked: first of all, get yourself in aerobic shape so that your first day up the Approach Trail isn't like Bill Bryson's - and now Capt. Nat's - and secondly, do low mileage in the first week, even if your aerobic fitness would let you continue because of the strain on other parts of the body - feet, knees, quads, hips et. al.

Of course those hikers who live near mountains and have time to condition themselves in AT-like settings are in a better stead to start strong and hike more miles at the outset.

Sly
03-15-2013, 20:13
I agree with the OP.

Unless you're in one of Warren's Doyle's Circle Expeditions which is basically just walking, hiking the AT with a backpack is not "just walking"

prain4u
03-15-2013, 20:33
One suggestion a little closer to you - here in sand dune SW Michigan you don't have the same height, but the 3 steps up, 2 steps down does a pretty good conditioning job too. Shouldn't be more then 4-6 depending where in IL you are.

Thanks for the idea. The commute to the dunes is 5-7 hours one-way (10-14 hours roundtrip) depending on the Chicago area traffic and which dunes I would be going to.

Maven
03-15-2013, 21:33
Capt. I too live here in flat Florida. I live in Titusville and the only hill I have to train on is the I95 overpass. Just have to dodge a lot of cars. What date did you start. I am a little older and plan on starting on the 26th. I know, me being born in Key West, cold is my kryptonite. Living in Florida we should know more than the yanks, Lightning is to nothing to fool around with!!! Your story reminds me of laughing dogs attempts last year. He too picked up leg problems within the first week and had to drop out. He rebounded and started a SOBO that same year. His web site http://www.laughingdog.com/ . Bottom line is if you rehab you could be ready for a SOBO by early July!!! If you got the bug don't let get away!!!

Odd Man Out
03-15-2013, 22:49
Thanks for the idea. The commute to the dunes is 5-7 hours one-way (10-14 hours roundtrip) depending on the Chicago area traffic and which dunes I would be going to.

Yea, those dunes will kill you. If you can get up to Sleeping Bear Dunes NL, there are a couple of epic dune climbs. The official dune climb is very loose sand. It is 270 vertical feet up a 1500 foot trail (better than 10 degree average incline). Every time you come over a rise and you think you are at the top, there is another hill to climb (I never have made it all the way to the top). But coming down's a hoot. If you do make it to the top, the view is amazing (If you can't make it all the way to the top, you can drive up on the scenic drive loop). You can't see the actual dune in this picture, but you can see the dune climb parking lot a few hundred feet below at the very bottom of the picture.
20398

If you continue around the scenic drive loop, you get to the Lake Michigan Overlook. Here you can look down the Sleeping Bear Dune right into the lake. This is a perched dune (more like packed gravel), but that makes the hill much steeper. It is an average 30 degree incline down for 850 feet (450 vertical foot drop). In the second picture, you can see a boat in the water and the people halfway up the "trail" for perspective. There is a sign warning you not to go down as many people who can't get back up have to be rescued each year (I have never attempted this one).

2039920400

To get a good look at this dune from 4 miles to the south (and see what may be the most photographed view in all of Michigan), hike the pleasant and not too strenuous 1.5 mile round trip Empire Bluffs trail. Just to the south of the base of the dune (right in the middle of the picture below) is North Bar Lake Beach. This is one of the most spectacular beaches in the US (assuming you need no amenities other than a picnic table and port a potty). On a crowded hot summer weekend, you may very well have it all to yourself.

20401

Freedom Walker
03-15-2013, 23:18
Capt Nat, I feel your pain. I have done two sections on the AT starting in Ga. Both times coming home with knee pain. The first time was a menicus tear. I haven't been back in over a year, but I have been working on getting the knee stronger as well as ankles and calves. I would like to see a list of exercises to help us older guys be better prepared for those mts.

Bronk
03-16-2013, 05:32
This story is probably an accurate description of the experience of thousands of "thruhikers." And one that prospective "thruhikers" probably need to hear a lot more often. People that quit in the first 30 miles generally don't come on here and post about it, they generally sneak off the trail and are too embarassed to talk about it.

I spent the first week (yes, it took me 6 days, and I didn't even do the approach trail) trying to make it to Neels gap with an overloaded pack, and I got flashbacks when you talked about being so winded you had to stop frequently to catch your breath. I was walking 50 to 100 ft and then grabbing onto a tree for support and catching my breath and then continuing on...in addition to an overloaded pack I was overweight and out of shape. But after dropping some pack weight and getting into shape I ended up going 850 miles. Hope you give it another shot.

JAK
03-16-2013, 07:54
Total weight on feet is 90% of the game, as with running also.

JAK
03-16-2013, 08:06
To put things in perspective, if you slow down or reduce your total weight by about 10% you can go about twice as far in any given run or hike without having to rest. Adding a 1% grade is equivalent to about 10% added effort. You combine the effects of added weight and average grade and you can soon be in for a world of hurt, and that is without considering fitness or injuries. It isn't really the 40 pound pack that does people in, or the lack of general overall fitness, but when you add that on top of being perhaps 50% overweight to begin with. The most enabling thing about going light or ultralight is not that it enables already fit lean hikers or trail runners to travel fast and farther, but it enable many overweight first timers to do overnight hikes on trails, period. Unfortunately, outfitters continue to sell 40 pounds of gear to 40 to 60 year old folks that are already 40 to 80 pounds overweight.

FatMan
03-16-2013, 08:37
Thanks for sharing your story. I can assure you that you are not alone in your experience. I have already helped two folks off the trail this year with that empty look in their eyes and the season is very early. I am heading out to Justus Mtn this morning with the wife and dogs and even with the spectacular weather I may very likely come across a hiker who has had enough and is searching for a way off the trail. The hike from Hightower Gap to Justus Creek is too much for some. I don't think most hikers here on WB realize how many do not make it to Woody Gap. What I like about your story is you have not given up. Good luck with your training and future hikes.

Capt Nat
03-16-2013, 09:35
I have a confession to make. I ran my story past Mr. Alligator before I posted it. I respect his opinion. He warned me that I might get beat up a bit but that the story should be shared. This is like walking into a room crowded with veterans of tens of thousands of trail miles, folks that have left tracks every where I'm likely to go and lots of places I will never make, and tell my story of inexperience and being out of my element. Telling all of you old pros that the ground that you conquered handed me my butt.

I posted it for two reasons. It was so awesome and exciting for me that I just needed to blurt it all out. And something that I learned about you on the trail. In my short time out there, I met a surprising lot of people. A couple have already PM'd me on here. There were a lot of young people, as well as old folks like me.

I was standing around the fire at Hawk Mountain Shelter, soaking up the warmth of the fire and the camaraderie of fellow hikers and instead of listening as I should have been, my mind had drifted as it's prone to do, and I was thinking how the young folks gathered were smart, intelligent, motivated, respectful, and full of hope and promise. Like everyone I met along the trail and corridor, you could just feel the air electrified with "good". I looked around at the bright young faces and smiled at the thought of turning the world over to this new generation. They will do just fine. There is hope for the future of the world because of them.

Two nights later, I boarded a Greyhound Bus in Gainesville GA and during my 22 hour ordeal getting home, that feeling of good will toward the future and the young was crushed and ground into the dirt.

People who hike are special. The people who climb up and down mountains all day and live in the woods along the way are people of high moral fiber. They are not people of low character and pettiness. They are people who will work, strain, and sweat all day to earn their place.

You haven't disappointed me. You've helped me laugh about myself. You've encouraged and cheered for me. You've celebrated the things I did OK with and given me helpful suggestions of how to proceed. You've reached out to me and said, if you try hard enough, you are one of us.

Thank you. Your replies mean a lot to me. Capt Nat

Marta
03-16-2013, 10:01
Re: preparation

The idea that one can prepare by sitting at home reading and thinking about the trip seems to me fundamentally flawed. How well did it work out for Bill Bryson, lol? While it may not be convenient for people to have to trek far from home to make a test run at hiking in the mountains, before one launches a six-month project, it's probably worth spending a week giving it a try. Before one quits their job, gives up their house or apartment, etc., it seems prudent to take a week to drive to some mountain area, check into a campground, and make some practice hikes carrying one's pack.

In other words, if you don't take a week beforehand for a trial hike in the mountains, chances are good that that's what your 'thru-hike' will turn into--three days to a week of painful hiking.


I'm not saying this as a rebuke to you personally, Capt. Nat. I admire your courage in sharing your story, and have a strong feeling that you will continue to process and evaluate your experience. You will be back, better prepared next time. Good luck!

HikerMom58
03-16-2013, 10:43
I have a confession to make. I ran my story past Mr. Alligator before I posted it. I respect his opinion. He warned me that I might get beat up a bit but that the story should be shared. This is like walking into a room crowded with veterans of tens of thousands of trail miles, folks that have left tracks every where I'm likely to go and lots of places I will never make, and tell my story of inexperience and being out of my element. Telling all of you old pros that the ground that you conquered handed me my butt.

I posted it for two reasons. It was so awesome and exciting for me that I just needed to blurt it all out. And something that I learned about you on the trail. In my short time out there, I met a surprising lot of people. A couple have already PM'd me on here. There were a lot of young people, as well as old folks like me.

I was standing around the fire at Hawk Mountain Shelter, soaking up the warmth of the fire and the camaraderie of fellow hikers and instead of listening as I should have been, my mind had drifted as it's prone to do, and I was thinking how the young folks gathered were smart, intelligent, motivated, respectful, and full of hope and promise. Like everyone I met along the trail and corridor, you could just feel the air electrified with "good". I looked around at the bright young faces and smiled at the thought of turning the world over to this new generation. They will do just fine. There is hope for the future of the world because of them.

Two nights later, I boarded a Greyhound Bus in Gainesville GA and during my 22 hour ordeal getting home, that feeling of good will toward the future and the young was crushed and ground into the dirt.

People who hike are special. The people who climb up and down mountains all day and live in the woods along the way are people of high moral fiber. They are not people of low character and pettiness. They are people who will work, strain, and sweat all day to earn their place.

You haven't disappointed me. You've helped me laugh about myself. You've encouraged and cheered for me. You've celebrated the things I did OK with and given me helpful suggestions of how to proceed. You've reached out to me and said, if you try hard enough, you are one of us.

Thank you. Your replies mean a lot to me. Capt Nat

That's awesome!!! Thanks so much for sharing!! :banana

RED-DOG
03-16-2013, 12:11
It's just WALKING yeah a person starts on Springer and walks to Maine, A thru-hiker works harder day in and day out than a 9-5er does, they deserve there rewards no matter how big or small for a person to say it's just walking that's a slap in the face to a thru-hiker, yeah it's just walking but it's one Helluva walk.

Another Kevin
03-16-2013, 12:22
Why do you make a trip? For me, the objectives are (in order of priority): (a) get home safely. (b) have a good time. (c) learn something or see something interesting. (d) get to some destination.

It sounds as if Capt. Nat made (a), (b) and (c). That's a good trip already.

And anyone who's sweated going up a mountain under the weight of a backpack is one of us. (At least from my perspective as a clueless weekender.)

prain4u
03-16-2013, 12:43
Re: preparation

The idea that one can prepare by sitting at home reading and thinking about the trip seems to me fundamentally flawed. How well did it work out for Bill Bryson, lol? While it may not be convenient for people to have to trek far from home to make a test run at hiking in the mountains, before one launches a six-month project, it's probably worth spending a week giving it a try. Before one quits their job, gives up their house or apartment, etc., it seems prudent to take a week to drive to some mountain area, check into a campground, and make some practice hikes carrying one's pack.

In other words, if you don't take a week beforehand for a trial hike in the mountains, chances are good that that's what your 'thru-hike' will turn into--three days to a week of painful hiking.


I'm not saying this as a rebuke to you personally, Capt. Nat. I admire your courage in sharing your story, and have a strong feeling that you will continue to process and evaluate your experience. You will be back, better prepared next time. Good luck!


I agree with you--(especially in principle).

Just to make things clear: My previous comments--regarding those of us in parts of the Midwest living a great distance away from real trails and mountains-- were primarily directed at our challenges in being able to TRAIN in such areas easily or on a regular basis (or getting to such places for weekend hikes).

I agree with you wholeheartedly that--IDEALLY--before quitting a job, selling your car, or giving up your apartment--it is VERY wise to take at least a week and get hiking on some real trails in mountain areas for a shakedown hike or two.

The only problem that I can see is (unfortunately, for some people) such shakedown hikes are also a tremendous logistical challenge which border on being "impossible". Thus, I think "selling" the idea to the very people who need it the most would be extremely difficult. Plus, I think many would be too inexperienced to really comprehend the absolute importance of doing such shakedown hikes.

Sadly, some people DO have work or college schedules which essentially prevent them from getting away for a week long shakedown hike--without quitting their job or dropping out of school. (I have personally been in that situation many times). Some people DO have tremendous transportation challenges. Some DO have huge financial challenges. Some people have several of these challenges---COMBINED. (Our posters who are proposing to do a thru hike on $1,500 are probably not going to devote a few hundred dollars to a shakedown hike--even though they probably are the ones who need it the most).

I just did some quick search online (not a detailed search for bargains). If I didn't own a vehicle and I needed to take a train to the Rockies or to someplace like Springer Mountain for a shake down hike it would be cashy and time consuming. Roundtrip to Grand Junction Colrado would cost me $250--and I would spend roughly 49 hours on the train roundtrip. Leaving me just 4-5 days for hiking out of taking 7 days off of work. If I wanted to get just to Atlanta (not counting Atlanta to Springer). The cost of taking a train is roughly $400 round trip and I would spend approximately 4 days out of the seven on the train--plus time getting from Atlanta to Springer Mountain.

Thus, I can see WHY some of our posters don't take shakedown hikes on the AT or on AT like places.

Shakedown hikes on the AT (or in AT-like conditions) are very important. However, the people who need such hikes the most, are often the same people who must overcome the greatest challenges in order to do shakedown hikes. It is a vicious cycle.

Marta
03-16-2013, 15:14
I agree with you--(especially in principle).

Just to make things clear: My previous comments--regarding those of us in parts of the Midwest living a great distance away from real trails and mountains-- were primarily directed at our challenges in being able to TRAIN in such areas easily or on a regular basis (or getting to such places for weekend hikes).

I agree with you wholeheartedly that--IDEALLY--before quitting a job, selling your car, or giving up your apartment--it is VERY wise to take at least a week and get hiking on some real trails in mountain areas for a shakedown hike or two.

The only problem that I can see is (unfortunately, for some people) such shakedown hikes are also a tremendous logistical challenge which border on being "impossible". Thus, I think "selling" the idea to the very people who need it the most would be extremely difficult. Plus, I think many would be too inexperienced to really comprehend the absolute importance of doing such shakedown hikes.

Sadly, some people DO have work or college schedules which essentially prevent them from getting away for a week long shakedown hike--without quitting their job or dropping out of school. (I have personally been in that situation many times). Some people DO have tremendous transportation challenges. Some DO have huge financial challenges. Some people have several of these challenges---COMBINED. (Our posters who are proposing to do a thru hike on $1,500 are probably not going to devote a few hundred dollars to a shakedown hike--even though they probably are the ones who need it the most).

I just did some quick search online (not a detailed search for bargains). If I didn't own a vehicle and I needed to take a train to the Rockies or to someplace like Springer Mountain for a shake down hike it would be cashy and time consuming. Roundtrip to Grand Junction Colrado would cost me $250--and I would spend roughly 49 hours on the train roundtrip. Leaving me just 4-5 days for hiking out of taking 7 days off of work. If I wanted to get just to Atlanta (not counting Atlanta to Springer). The cost of taking a train is roughly $400 round trip and I would spend approximately 4 days out of the seven on the train--plus time getting from Atlanta to Springer Mountain.

Thus, I can see WHY some of our posters don't take shakedown hikes on the AT or on AT like places.

Shakedown hikes on the AT (or in AT-like conditions) are very important. However, the people who need such hikes the most, are often the same people who must overcome the greatest challenges in order to do shakedown hikes. It is a vicious cycle.

i agree that the people who need the advice the most are the most likely not to heed it. It seems extra sad that someone whose life is filled with problems--financial and otherwise--has the chastening experience of the "thru-hike" turning into the brief shake-down hike they thought they couldn't afford.

Slo-go'en
03-16-2013, 15:20
RE: Preparations:

Prain4u makes some good points, but I don't think you have to go to the mountians to do a shake down hike. Every state has state parks with camping and hiking trails. Most have some National Forest land. No one should have to drive more than a couple of hours to get to such a place. Time of year is more of a factor. Someone living in the upper midwest isn't going to want to do a shake down hike locally in the middle of Febuary! In that case one must plan sufficently in advance and do the shake down hike in the fall while the weather is still reasonable.

Getting into shape is another issue. Once again, I don't think you need to be going up and down hills to do this. It sure helps if you can, but it isn't a requirement. Simply going out and walking every day for a few miles is a big help, even if you just start doing this a few weeks before your big hike.

prain4u
03-16-2013, 16:34
RE: Preparations:

Prain4u makes some good points, but I don't think you have to go to the mountians to do a shake down hike. Every state has state parks with camping and hiking trails. Most have some National Forest land. No one should have to drive more than a couple of hours to get to such a place. Time of year is more of a factor. Someone living in the upper midwest isn't going to want to do a shake down hike locally in the middle of Febuary! In that case one must plan sufficently in advance and do the shake down hike in the fall while the weather is still reasonable.

Getting into shape is another issue. Once again, I don't think you need to be going up and down hills to do this. It sure helps if you can, but it isn't a requirement. Simply going out and walking every day for a few miles is a big help, even if you just start doing this a few weeks before your big hike.

I am not saying that someone must go to mountains or the actual AT to train or shake down. (However, I would say that it would probably be the IDEAL).

My comments were primarily in response to Marta who wrote:
"While it may not be convenient for people to have to trek far from home to make a test run at hiking in the mountains, before one launches a six-month project, it's probably worth spending a week giving it a try. Before one quits their job, gives up their house or apartment, etc., it seems prudent to take a week to drive to some mountain area, check into a campground, and make some practice hikes carrying one's pack.
In other words, if you don't take a week beforehand for a trial hike in the mountains, chances are good that that's what your 'thru-hike' will turn into--three days to a week of painful hiking."

Also, the OP attributed his lack of hiking in hills/mountains as a key reason that his tendons gave him issues.

Slo-go'en
03-16-2013, 17:06
Okay, I guess its the "drive to some mountain area" part which is the problem. I agree, that can be a big problem for some. But the basic concept is good. Before commiting to a 6 month hike, one should do a test run *someplace* before hand. The mountains would be ideal, but anywhere will do.

As for tendon issues, I belive just not doing enough walking before hand is the root of the problem, especially for us older folks.

JAK
03-16-2013, 18:00
I have a confession to make. I've had much the same experience if that is any consolation, except for the lightning. Keep at it, and less weight next time. Nice writing by the way. Story telling is a lost art.

mountain squid
03-16-2013, 18:08
For all the lurkers out there, a couple more pieces of advice:

If a long distance hike on the AT is in your future you might consider taking a trip to Mountain Crossings (http://www.mountaincrossings.com/default.asp) at Neels Gap prior to the start of your hike. Ideally you would go when the bulk of the hikers are going through. Any weekend in March or April is good. All you need to do is sit at the entryway and watch the hikers roll in. Talk to them and get an idea of the first few days of the hike. You will learn plenty, about gear and the mountains. Ask them what they are sending home (i.e. stuff they've been carrying but didn't need). If you already have your gear ready you might also bring it and ask for a 'gear shakedown'. Many of the workers there are hikers themselves. They will give you good advice.

Something else to consider is Trail Days (http://www.traildays.us/) in Damascus, VA. Lots of gear vendors plying their wares. You'll see much different gear than what you'll see at REI or other large outfitters. Much of which is lightweight stuff. You don't have to be an 'ultra-lighter' to carry lightweight gear.

Anyway, Good Luck and Have Fun!

See you on the trail,
mt squid

maintenance videos (http://www.youtube.com/user/mountainsquid04/videos)

JAK
03-16-2013, 18:12
... and along the lines of what Marta said, best way to lose the gear weight and body weight, and other preparations, is by hiking. One of the greatest joys I've got from hiking and other adventuring is still when I discover that I have gotten myself into a jam, over my head or lost or whatever, and have to dig or craft or just tramp my way out of it. It's really quite a thrill, as long as you don't go too deep. But it's always refreshing, when as prepared as you might be you discover that you are not, and in finding that you are not quite the man you thought you were, you are a little more than you were. Smaller and less significant on one hand, but that much further along, and more alive, and more real, on the other. Or maybe its a two steps forward three steps back thing. Not sure. Whatever. It really is just walking, but that's really quite something, if you can make it so.

JAK
03-16-2013, 18:20
It's a very individual thing too. If a 50 year old 50 pound overweight body, and long weekends, and 500 foot hills is all what you have to work with, well that's what it is. So you experiment and work with what you've got. So you develop your own science and medicine and set your own records, or whatever. I don't look down on the 300 pound hikers any more than I look down on the 150 pound ultra runners. They are both gods on some other astral plane in my books. I have to live in the 200 to 225 pound world, at least for now. Every age and weight class is a science within itself.

ChinMusic
03-16-2013, 18:21
I'm just shy of NOC on my thru attempt. I am looking forward to the time "it is just walking".

S'more
03-16-2013, 18:51
Keep it up Chin Music! I hear it gets better, north of the NOC! :D

aficion
03-16-2013, 19:06
I'm just shy of NOC on my thru attempt. I am looking forward to the time "it is just walking".

You are an inspiration to the rest of us 50 somethings. That is not the only reason I wish you well, but it is amongst them.

HikerMom58
03-16-2013, 19:17
I'm just shy of NOC on my thru attempt. I am looking forward to the time "it is just walking".

You're doing great!! :) Just get up & out of the NOC ....horrible climb, I've heard... Then, you can just walk :D

FatHead64
03-16-2013, 19:23
Thanks for the idea. The commute to the dunes is 5-7 hours one-way (10-14 hours roundtrip) depending on the Chicago area traffic and which dunes I would be going to.

Lemme know if you want to hike here - we have Warren Dunes SP and I haunt Grand Mere SP - fewer people, just as "duney". I have a close to 6 mile route and the burn lasts a day or two. I know Grand Mere better, but I have been around Warren Dunes also. We are in Berrien county which is the Southernmost county in Michigan. Warren Dunes is probably only about 15 miles from Indiana. Grand Mere is at exit 22 off I94. Red Arrow Highway is a pretty alternative to the Interstate and there are a few good places to eat along there, too. Just something to think about.

Big Dawg
03-19-2013, 00:15
I enjoyed your story Capt Nat,,, thanks for sharing!! I think of all the many blunders I've made over the years hiking the trail, the times the mountains have sent me home ahead of schedule, and the many lessons learned from it all,,,, and I wouldn't trade a thing. It's my AT story, and I'm proud of it,, and you should be of yours. The fact that you got out there in the first place speaks volumes. The AT has a way of bringing you back, so I have no doubt that you'll be back with a vengeance.

Tinker
03-19-2013, 00:33
You are an inspiration to the rest of us 50 somethings. That is not the only reason I wish you well, but it is amongst them.


Later this year I'll be a 60 something - and that's something! Never thought I'd make it past 30 :D