We checked the calendar and the date is closing in. Thirteen months ago we pegged the first week of March, 2015, as the start date of our thru-hike. The day we decided “Yes, this is what we will do,” we had over a year to plan it.
Since that day we have scrounged gear, fooled around with alcohol stoves (not for me), tried out our hammocks multiple times, been on day hikes, took an extended outdoor excursion into the Chestatee wilderness, and perfected the Ramen Bomb (Ramen noodles, instant mashed potatoes, and jerky). It is as disgusting as it sounds. I also learned some things.
Less than a 120 days and one tends to start scrambling. I should have done a few things, and I can kick myself for not having done them.
1. Bought a Sawyer Squeeze. Bailey read up on them and watched a few YouTube videos. He decided he wanted one, and bought one using the allotted funds. In June of 2014. Now that all of the Thru-Hikers have wandered home, that twenty dollars and change he spent on it has suddenly gone up. Seems like the people that make those things found out they weren’t charging what they were worth, and now they sit at 40-50 dollars (depending on where you shop). All those successful summiters of Katahdin sang the praises of the this magic item, not to mention that it will filter about 100,000 gallons, and the free market ran with it. I’ll probably go with Aquamira now. For less than $15.00 I can make my water taste like a swimming pool.
2. Read that book by Bryson. Maybe not. He didn’t finish. Too much booze, and that real or imaginary friend of his derailed him. Still, it would have been fun to identify what he wrote about. I did read his history the English language, so I guess it all comes out the same.
3. Not gone on whiteblaze.net. A lot of people use it as a primary resource, and the number of successful thru-hikers that post there makes it a logical starting point. The thing about it is they tend to be religious about it, and weight, and where to stop, what is official, yadayadayada. I intend to stick to the trail, but I’m not going to take a picture of Bailey and I standing next to each and every white blaze to prove anything. I’m also carrying more than I probably need, but my pack weight is well under 40 pounds. I don’t plan on stopping at Standing Bear Hostel, because I heard things. Meth things. I’ll skip it. Appalachian Trials is a good place to straighten things out. Plus they have videos (on YouTube no less). Seriously, it’s just walking, and it’s on the east coast. It’s not like we are going to be doing the PCT or CDT (those are later).
The one thing we will do before we leave is arrange for my wife to do two mail drops between the leave date and June. We will have one package of resupply at the Fontana Dam or NOC area, and another as we get further into Virginia. I’m up in the air about New Hampshire and Maine area, but we will play it by ear at that point.
So we have more than three months left, and the weather is turning cold. Tonight it will be in the low 30s. Everything I have read tells me that is similar to evening temperatures during early spring for the southern portion of the trail. I remember the snow and ice last year (who could forget staring at I-285 for the better part of a day). I think I will sleep on the porch tonight (not really, I’m going to watch television and drink beer).