If you were to visit my house in the coming weeks, provided I let you in (after all, I don’t know most of you from Adam’s Housecat. I don’t even know if Adam has a housecat. I’ll have to ask…) you might think I’m into some sort of kinky stuff. And no, not because I left a certain drawer open or anything… besides, leather is expensive and hard to keep clean.
I say that because over the next week or two there’s going to be all sorts of weird things hanging in the closet, from bedposts, across doors, etc. Ropes of various sizes, nylon straps, carabiner clips, plastic water bags, and tarps and cloth constructions of odd sizes and shapes.
Yes, I’m going hiking again. I’ve been on several overnight events, but it’s really time to spread my wings and head off on another grand adventure, this one somewhat longer. I’ve decided to start at the start. Begin at the beginning as it were. I’m hiking the Appalachian Trail.
No, not the whole thing. It’s 2200 miles and takes six months to walk (unless you cheat a bit and have support, then you can push it to four, or even three). Just thirty miles or so…give or take a few bears. I’m starting at Springer Mountain with a couple of friends, and pushing on to the north.
Now I know there’s a common misconception about our former Governor Mark Sanford lying about being on the Appalachian Trail, when he was cheating on his wife. That is Verizon’s fault. See – someone called him and asked him where he was, and they THOUGHT he said “Hiking the Appalachian Trail”, when in reality he said “I’m liking this Argentinian Tail!”. So, it was all Verizon’s lousy service. He was probably on a Droid, too…
Anyway, I have been assuring coworkers that yes, I really am walking thirty miles through the woods. Unfortunately, hiking the “AT” this time of year has it’s drawbacks. This is peak thru-hiking season. 2500 or so people will start in the spring, and walk all the way to the other end, in Maine. They have to make it by mid-October before the state park at the north end closes, or get shut out and have to finish later. One in four will make it, half will give up before making it through North Carolina. But, since I’m starting at the beginning with all those people, I have been told it will be the AT equivalent of hitting Disney World over Christmas – a bit busy for the woods.
So, I’ll be pulling out all my stuff and going through it. Think about everything you need to live off of for three or four days. Then carry it around on your back for those four days. Okay, you can drop most of the clothes, you just wear the same ones and stink, really bad after a while. But whatever medicines you take, toiletries you need, sleeping gear, shelter, etc. you have to have to survive, goes on your back. Oh – and some way to drink stream water without catching a case of the runs that would make Montezuma Himself very pleased.
There’s the hammock tent and its roof, with all its attachment ropes and tree straps. The carabiners for clipping various bits to the backpack, the water filter and its bag and hoses, the bear bag and rope for throwing the damn thing over the tree… all of it needs to be spread out, checked, repaired where necessary, and packed away. The only thing worse than that is coming home with some of it wet, and spreading it all out, along with the sleeping bag and underquilt.
I’m just hoping the weather is friendly. Tonight, along one of the peaks I will be walking, it’s supposed to be 14 degrees. Oh yeah – that’s calm breeze cold, with the wind chill it will feel like -6. I don’t think so. I would definitely have to avoid that area at 3 in the mornign. Of course, we won’t be camping on top of that peak (by that point we’ll be 2 miles from the car, and I plan on spending that night either at home, or on the side of I-20, depending on when the adventure ends).
My biggest problem of all, however happens to be something people take for granted most of the time: Food. I suck at camping food. I haven’t yet found a dinner worthy of cooking in the woods. I bought two camping cookbooks and a dehydrator. I have made some great “fruit leather” (think: fruit roll-ups in a crispier, drier form), some awesome dried fruits and (peaches in syrup come out GREAT – like candy), but that’s it. Dinner still consists of either Beef Jerky or some sort of processed pasta meal in a bag. I’m going to try to do this trip sans noodles. My hiking friends have some good suggestions. I might even make fajitas of some sort. I’ve dehydrated some salsa already. Interestingly enough, when you dehydrate hot salsa, it concentrates ALL the flavors, especially the hot.
So – the adventure continues, or at least the adventure preparation.