A Jolly good journey

jaunt [ jawnt, jahnt ]
noun
1. a short journey, especially one taken for pleasure.
verb (used without object)
1. to make a short journey.

Bubba was arriving at 6:30am to pick up our little group and drop us at the trail head for our first day back with our full packs.

I called shotgun as he pulled up; it was cold and grey outside and I’d outgrown my excitement for riding in the back – the novelty had worn off.

I couldn’t put my finger on it but my head was elsewhere this morning. I lacked any excitement for what was ahead: a glorious hike through the Virginias on the Appalachian Trail. According to AWOL’s guide, today was going to be quite easy by comparison. Relatively “flat” with rolling hills and little real work; well, except for the first climb.

Working our way down the gravel road and over the overpass, we came across a small campsite by the trail’s forest entrance, and sitting atop a parked car was a white foam cooler. I peered in through the dense, damp tree line close by and spotted tents of various size camped by a small creek. A voice shouted, “Take a soda! They’re in the cooler, help yourself!” I recognized the person, she was a friend of Stink Bug’s that I’d met at Trail Days. She is a former thru hiker and she is slack packing her husband, with her newborn in tow. I forget her name, but I remember her being very cool.

Red Specs pulled out two Dr. Peppers and handed one to me. Oh yes, I’ll take one of those gladly, mein freund. The cold sugary goodness melted away the humidity, if only for a short minute. Last night’s rain lay thick across the forest and trail, slowly rising as the morning temperature increased. It had also turned the low points of the trail into muddy quagmires.

The next hour was uphill. A narrow green corridor of no particular allure. Jesus it was humid. My clothes were soaked after only a few minutes, and I was wiping away spiderwebs from my face every 10 feet. The ones at shin level looked like tiny tripwires that the woodland animals had laid out to ensnare their human prey.

I’d chosen to hike on my own this morning, and was making a great pace. I could feel my body “remembering” how this works: one foot in front of the other, breathing deeply and uniformly (in through my nose, out through the mouth), and I’d gotten the rhythm back with my trekking poles – I felt strong again. I’d missed this feeling.

The miles burned by and so did the morning – by 9:00am I’d cleared 5.5 miles and I decided to break for a quick bite: Babybel cheese, a granola bar, and a poptart followed by 3/4 liter of strawberry flavored water.

I’d slung my pack half way over my back and I spotted Red Specs coming down the hill. “Guten morgen!”, I shouted, and I got a great guttural one in return – it was a thing we did when out hiking together.

I started out and he followed for maybe a minute or two and said that he was going to stop for a break himself. I wanted to keep going so I offered him a “cheerio” as I faded into the forest ahead.

I’d been listening to music since early morning, and with it I can fly through the mileage – house music was always my favorite for getting the blood pumping.

Something caught my eye, a chipmunk or squirrel darting through the undergrowth, so I pulled out my earbuds and stood still. All was silent except for the occasional birdsong.

It was at that moment that it struck me: I didn’t want to be here. I gave it a few seconds thinking it was just my aching body that was doing the talking — it wasn’t.

Coming back to the trail had been a mental struggle of where exactly I should restart my journey; Hemlock Hollow (the place I left the trail), to join Cap and crew and slack pack / car camp the whole AT, or rejoin Tie Dye at Partnership Shelter in VA. I chose #3, and I’d been happy with that decision – until now.

I was ~250 miles north of where I should be. My days of hiking up here didn’t feel accomplished. I was forcing myself to walk every day. Before my injuries pulled me off the AT in April, I loved whipping out my AWOL 2013 AT Guide and planning the next day’s hike. I wasn’t doing that anymore, and it’s because I felt I didn’t deserve to be this far north; I hadn’t earned this mileage.

I started walking again and regained my composure, but these thoughts were filling my every step. Soon I reached the next gravel road about eight miles in and I starred into the forest ahead of me at the trail as it curved away, fading away from me into the thick green woods.

I wasn’t taking another step. I’ve hiked my hike.

I was on my own and I hoisted my pack off my shoulders and onto the ground. Again I looked into the trees ahead of me and a wave of certainty engulfed me: I missed home. I missed everything about home, and I missed my wife the most. Without a second thought I took out my phone, took it off airplane mode, and called Bubba for a ride off the mountain.

After I’d scheduled my shuttle — which would be arriving in 30 minutes — I felt at peace. For the first time since returning, I felt completely happy.

It wasn’t too long until Red Specs came into view and I told him of my new plans. His shoulders slumped and face dropped in disbelief. Tie Dye came walking down shortly thereafter and I dreaded telling her, I knew how she’d react. I explained how much I missed home and she understood. I wasn’t in any physical pain, and I was leaving of my own accord.

Tie Dye had been my closest friend throughout my hike, my confident, my journey’s companion. A woman of such positive mental fortitude, and I’d had the good fortune to hike these incredible miles with her. She never complained about the trail, instead she found ways to positively describe the roughness of a particular spot, or she’d examine ways of tackling it in a different way. She was the most positive person I’d ever had the pleasure of knowing – and it rubbed off on everyone, including me. We hugged and cried a little, and her hug felt genuinely embracing. I’m going to miss her the most. She waited for a while as I made another call to my wife to break the news. We hugged again, and I made her promise me to keep in touch and send me plenty of pics. In honor of our friendship — and just because she’s silly — she skipped and danced onto the trail ahead of me and slowly blended into the dense woods. I beamed a beaming smile as a thousand memories flooded my mind at a million miles an hour; it was hard to not lose my shit right there and then. I’m really going to miss her.

My outlook on life and my own existence had gone through the wringer on the trail. Questions, semi-answers, more questions, doubts, and all balanced by daily bouts of elation. The AT will make you look at yourself in ways you never would in the “real world”, as it forces you to open up your heart as you stroll along its 12″ wide dirt path. The AT will get to know you, you will have no option but to open up, to reveal yourself completely. You will become utterly vulnerable.

One thing I learned very quickly is that there’s no faking it on the Appalachian Trail. It’s tough. Very tough. And it’s daily, pounding your muscles into lactic acid-hardened pieces of meat. My 40-year old joints felt like they’d aged 20 years in two months. For many long distance hikers, taking on a journey of this magnitude is oftentimes a battle against the trail, its terrain, and the ever changing weather. It wasn’t like that for me: it was a lesson in who I really am, what makes me happy / sad, and what stuff I’m really made of.

I’m strong, and not just physically. My mental fortitude is way stronger than I imagined, and my desire to make others happy around me became abundantly clear. “Jolly” wasn’t a bad name for me after all.

Everyone knew me, even people I’d met only once remembered me and my trail name. I’d have moments of singing while I’d hike solo; today in fact I was singing along to “What a Fool Believes“, and let me tell you, Michael McDonald can really hit those high notes. I always give it my best shot, but not being able to hear my own voice, I doubt I sounded any better than a dying cat. But it was who I was out here, and I f*cking loved every minute of it.

I’ve hiked 326.5 miles, walked through four states, crushed the Smokies (although they crushed me in return), taken ~750,000 steps, and had the good fortune to meet some of the finest people in the world.

More importantly, I found myself, and I am returning home with exactly what I wanted out of the Appalachian Trail: the real me.

Thank you to everyone that sent me their best wishes and comments, they were way more helpful than you’d ever know.

Zero, semi productive day

My knees were pretty bashed up this morning, and the right one was noticeably swollen. The guys went ahead without me today which is totally fine, I’ll rejoin them tomorrow.

Got a package from home today which contained my hammock bug netting, the Jacks ‘R’ Better tarp tensioners I’d ordered, a Union Jack patch, and some other goodies – including a small coin-like token with an angel stamped on it; my very own trail angel.

Spent most of today watching TV and resting. I sewed on the patch and it looks great.

Back to resting.

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Climbs, smiles, and ~15 miles (566.5m)

I rolled out of bed at around 6:00am and Specs was still asleep (we’re sharing a double room to save money), so I tended to my morning doings in a quieter fashion than normal.

Teeth brushed I opened the front door and spied the sunrise; and it was stunning. The sun was just above the horizon and was throwing yellows and oranges over the Appalachians in the distance. The hills were still blanketed by rolling mist as the humid forest floor shed its moisture from the downpour the day before.

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It wasn’t long before Red Specs and Tie Dye emerged, and we were also joined by Double Dare — a class of 2003 AT thru hiker — and breakfast was on the cards. There’s not much to do in Bland, VA – a Dairy Queen, Dollar General, a gas station, and a Subway. We hit up DQ and pounded breakfast sandwiches and burritos. Specs, Tie Dye and I saved some of our burrito breakfast to take on the trail for lunch.

We headed back to the motel where Double Dare was being picked up for his shuttle to the trail — a spot farther north than we were heading today — and Bubba rolled in at around 8:30am. Bubba provides a shuttle service for hikers in and around the Bland area.

We had to wait until Bubba returned for our shuttle to Walker Gap. We were on the road by 9:30am, and I hopped in the back of his truck as Tie Dye and Specs shared the cab up front. How often do you get to ride in the back of a pickup truck?!

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It took literally 45 minutes to get to the trail head at Walker Gap, and the ride trough the mountains albeit bumpy and long, was gorgeous. I spotted three deer (one of which stood majestically, and starred at me as we followed the forest road) and the smell of freshly dewed fauna was spellbinding. We arrived and hopped out of Bubba’s truck like three teenage gymnasts – we were ready to take on the day.

We’d decided to slack pack and flip flop today as the elevation map looked a little kinder southbound than going north. Our goal was to reach VA 610 where we had finished yesterday, 14.9 miles away. Given we were staying at the motel again tonight (I’m expecting some packages on Wednesday), it didn’t make sense taking a full pack; slack packing is easier on the body, and bigger mileage can be enjoyed with less stresses on the muscles and joints.

I led our trio up the first climb (remember, there’s always a climb out of a “Gap”), and I was going great guns. The 1.3 miles and 890 feet of elevation gain was easy, making the summit in 20 minutes. It felt great to get so much clean trail air in my lungs. At the top was Chestnut Knob Shelter, a fully enclosed concrete block shelter. The views from the summit were, as always, beautiful. We snapped away before heading out.

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A slowly descending rolling hillside was gorgeous to hike trough, and views to the east were plentiful. We passed many AT hikers going north and most of them looked wiped out; their climb (our pending descent) was a lung busting 4.4 miles over a 2,077′ elevation gain – ridiculous.

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We took our sweet time going downhill, and we spent at least a couple of hours making our way down. We stopped by a small stream to refill our water bottles and grabbed a bite to eat: burritos! They were cold but a couple drops of Texas Pete’s hot sauce turned them into gourmet food.

We came to a gravel road (VA 625) and Soul Sister was here talking to some section hikers. It was nice to see her and she and Tie Dye caught up. Photo op and we continued on.

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The trail was muddy and wet as it wound through the forest alongside creeks and streams and I pretended to be a tightrope walker along many of the notched log crossings. I was having a great day.

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Slight descent for about a mile and we came upon a gorgeous footbridge which crossed the wide and deep Lick Creek. We stopped and took some more photos and enjoyed watching the abundance of small fish swim about.

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From there we had a pretty steep and long climb, and the day had become very warm – it was at least 80°F and humid. For 1.2 miles we climbed 736′ and the heat was brutal – the cork handles of my trekking poles were soaked and slippery with sweat which had rolled down my arms and over my hands.

Once we got to the top of Lynn Camp Mountain we realized that we’d taken our sweet time all day – not starting until 10:40am didn’t help, either. We’d scheduled a 4:00pm pickup with Bubba from VA 610, 7 miles away, and it was 2:45pm. We were not going to make it, not a chance. Tie Dye called him and we were given a 5:30pm alternative. Chugging what water we had left, we ran — and I mean ran — down to Lynn Camp Creek. I was down in 15 minutes and my ankles, knees, and everything else was holding up nicely. Then came a 2.5 mile climb to Brushy Mountain – we didn’t think to stop at Knot Maul Branch Shelter to say our hellos to two other thru hikers – we were on a mission. The climb was long, humid, and prolonged. It completely kicked my ass and drained whatever was left in the tank. I was spent. I took some video while descending through open meadows and without the tree cover it was awfully hot.

O’Lystery Pavilion was at the bottom and to the side of VA 42, and the trail continued on the other side. The trail was level for the next mile, then it went up, and I had nothing left. Absolutely nothing, my body yearned for the hike to end. I bumped into Nutella as I climbed — I’d met her a few times before, nice girl — and asked how far the road was. She was it was “just up there”. I hate it when people say shit like that. I need to learn to stop asking stupid questions like these, because it’s never just up there or just around the bend.

I had to climb over another two stiles, which at this point of the day felt like climbing over giant wooden ladders. They weren’t, they were only 5-6 rungs at most. The meadow by the side of VA 610 came into view, as did the road shortly thereafter. I let out a WHOOP! and with my head down and body aching, I made my way to the road where Bubba was waiting. One more stile to climb over, I seethed in disgust. It took all I had left to pull myself into the back of the truck, and my knees were completely shot. They throbbed, and I had a headache, too. Tie Dye and I exchanged some conversation in the back as we headed “home”, and I fidgeted the whole trip trying to find comfortable positions for my beat-up legs.

Red Specs raided the hiker box inside the motel office and finagled some shower gel, which is a luxury out here.

Showered, changed, and smelling like “fresh mountain spring”, we took a (painful) walk down to the gas station to pick up a 12-pack of Heineken and I ordered two large pizzas and garlic bread for the three of us. We enjoyed the rest of our evening woolfing pizza and beers outside on a picnic bench in the parking lot and watched the night roll in.

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With full bellies we turned in. My right knee feels swollen, and I intend to zero if I’m in worse shape in the morning.

I was out like a light.

Miles hiked today: 14.9

Hiking in the rain clears the head (551.6m)

Waking up in a bed after two nights in my hammock didn’t feel right; it was like cheating. But, to put it frankly, it beat trying to pitch camp in the pouring rain yesterday. The pizza was bloody amazing, too.

Anyway, up, shower, blah blah – nothing new to tell you.

TD, Specs, and I went across the street to the Barn Restaurant and treated ourselves to a breakfast of eggs, bacon, hash browns, home fries, and a biscuit. Coffee and ice cold water was also enjoyed by all.

It was late when we headed out onto the trail, nearly 10:30am – the latest I’d ever started. It was already raining when we climbed through a very gentle incline through meadows and knee high grass. Passing through a cow pasture we stopped to make “mooing” noises as several of the bulls enjoyed a nice morning shag. Lovely.

Onward and upward we climbed through dense undergrowth, and then the heavens really opened. At one point I said aloud, “are you taking the piss?!” as the downpour turned the trail into a creek. The day went on, and so did the drenching. At one point I thought it was slowing down so I started to sing: “I’m singing in the rain, just singing in the rain! What a glorious feeling, I’m on the trail again!” – then it pissed down so hard, like the man upstairs decided that my singing voice was worth drowning out, literally.

Whatever; I kept singing, and Tie Dye joined me.

We stopped at a couple of places to eat a quick bite – we couldn’t stand still for long because it was just too wet and raining hard, and stopping walking would lead to cold muscles.

The rain did subside at about 2:30pm so we broke for lunch, and I precariously tried to pull apart my stuck-together tortillas – I laid out some cheese singles on one of them, three slices of ham on top of that, and slathered on the Cholula Hot Sauce — utterly delicious — I was about 10 seconds from heaven. My fingers were still wet and puckered, and as I went to put down the bottle, the f*cking thing slipped out of my hand and shattered on the rock I was sitting on. Hot sauce explosion, everywhere. On the rock, all over the forest floor, and all over me and my rain kilt. I looked like a proper tw*t.

The others felt it necessary to point and laugh, then take pictures.

Shit, just goddam shit.

I cleaned myself up and slung my pack over my shoulders and off I went – with my long face.

Tie Dye had called Bubba’s shuttles from the guide book — after her fair share of laughing and pointing — and we had our ride into Bland, VA.

It was about 3:20pm when we got to VA610, and Bubba rolled up at around 4:00pm. We all hopped in the back of his truck and laughed and took pictures the whole way.

I have a cheeseburger with my name on it. My stache is also coming along nicely again. And I realized tonight looking in the motel room mirror that I’ve put back on some of the lbs I’d lost before I left at Hemlock Hollow. I’ll work on that over the next few days/weeks I’m sure.

My ankle feels strong. These shoes are awesome. I ordered some new ones, a half size bigger, and they should arrive at the motel day after tomorrow.

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First day back, hello Virginia (542.2m)

I woke in my hammock at around 6:00am and realized I needed to be at Crazy Larry’s in half an hour.

Shit!

Breaking down my shelter in record time and pack fully packed (15 minutes flat), I said my farewells to Stink Bug and also to Honey Bun as she poked her head out of her hammock.

Walking through Damascus’ high street felt eerie, a silence had fallen on the town between last night’s festivities and today’s mass hiker exodus (Trail Days was now over).

I’d almost reached Larry’s when Tie Die pulled up next to me in Co Pilot’s car which was a nice surprise. We got to Larry’s and hoisted our packs into the back of SG’s (Snake Girl: a name she picked up during her 2012 AT thru-hike after stepping on a rattler), and off we went.

Co Pilot — who looks uncannily like Bill Murray and Tom Hanks — dropped Tie Die, myself, and a new hiker friend, Red Specs (a German photographer over to hike the trail) at Partnership Shelter. Saying our goodbyes we headed north and up – something I hadn’t both written, or hiked, in three weeks.

I’d felt extremely anxious about getting back on the AT, and I just didn’t feel ready; to be frank, I wasn’t quite sure I belonged anymore.

We came across a box of goodies right off the bat which contained Oreos, apple sauce pouches, candy, and other awesome stuff – I love trail magic, and it helped my much cultivated doubts about returning to the AT.

The first 3-4 hours were very, very hard emotionally. All I could think about was being back home in New York; home, the place I’d just enjoyed three weeks of being with loved ones and friends. The trail hadn’t felt like home for so long, and I wasn’t feeling it here. Not one bit.

I spent most of the morning catching up with Tie Dye and also acquainting with my new friend Red Specs. We’d started very early — 7:20am — and I realized about six miles in that I was becoming winded up the smallest of climbs. My knees started to hurt, too. Good grief, the time away had softened my body. This was the first time I’d used my new pack, too, so everything felt strange to me. Home didn’t feel strange: I didn’t want to be here at all.

This went on for another mile or so until we reached the top of Glade Mountain and I was smacked in the face with a view that almost floored me. I can’t explain it but my body and soul felt as if they were finally drawn back into what made me fall in love with the AT during my early days in March: the sheer beauty. I let out a scream of happiness and we took pictures and threw our voices through the hills and valleys below.

I was back.

For another few hours we hiked down until we hit Lindamood School and Settlers Museum. Many pictures later, we continued through a meadow and downward again. We reached I-81 at around 2:30pm and I decided to stay at the motel close to the trail – my hamstring had started to hurt and I got a blister – my first, I was pissed. These new Sportivas are a half size too small, I need new ones and stat.

Tie Dye and Red Specs decided to join me and we enjoyed a hot shower and laundry. We ordered two large pizzas and enjoyed a few Heinekens, also.

We talked, planned a little, and we were out before the sun went down. I was planning on staying at the motel and have some new gear shipped to me and allow the pain to dissipate, but I felt great the next day and decided to head out.

Miles hiked today: 12

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Saturday, rainy Saturday

It’s my last day in Damascus and I’ve bumped into a lot of my old trail friends: Bitter Goat, Rainbow Brite, Mr. Cleveland, Willow, Stupid, and some others I recognized (yet not hiked any miles with) – Mountain Man, Nomad, Stupid, and more.

I’ll be honest, I’m having mixed emotions being down here. Maybe it’s because there are so many people here (literally thousands of hikers), or it’s trail nerves given I haven’t hiked for three weeks. I’m not sure what it is, but I don’t feel super pumped for some reason; that bothers me. I don’t have the spark in my belly like I used to. Could also be due to the fact that I just spent three weeks off the trail.

I’m trying to keep focused and spend time consciously thinking of being back on the AT tomorrow morning with Tie Dye. I’m looking forward to hiking with her again, but I’m second guessing my decision to not return to Hemlock Hollow.

I took another walk through the vendors again first thing and said threw a “mornin’!” to AWOL as I passed his tent. I met him yesterday, quiet fella, very humble. He’s a bloody AT legend and he talks in a soft voice with such a “good guy” mannerism. I liked him a lot, and it was a thrill to meet him in person and get a handshake. Instead if asking for a photo opp — like I usually do — I asked if he wouldn’t mind signing my cap: he did, gladly, and said it was the first time he’d signed anyone’s hat before, and let out a grin as he autographed my ball cap.

I’m sitting in my hammock next to the river by Damascus Old Inn with my tarp in porch mode, looking out to the waterfall to my right and flowing to my left. It’s gorgeous.

Stink Bug and Honey Bun mailed back their tent today as they’d both bought new Snipe hammocks from Wilderness Logics – they have a vendor tent here, too, along with ZPacks, Hennessy Hammocks, Osprey, Black Diamond, and many more

I managed to find a spot yesterday that had three trees in pretty much of a perfect triangle shape. We set up out hammocks and tarps here last night and all slept soundly.

I’m nervous about tomorrow and what the days ahead will bring.

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Damascus and Trail Days

Quick update: hanging (literally) with Stink Bug and Honey Bun in Damascus. Convinced them to ditch their tent and buy hammocks. We’ll be hanging in our hammocks by the river tonight. Done with my tent so I can mail that back home. Thank god.

Ice coffee for now, and I’ll hit the post office later today.

Road trip, friends, and Virginia

After many conversations with family and friends, I have decided to rejoin the AT with my hiking buddies Captain Dan, Tank, and Camel in Virginia, and a touch north of Damascus.

My original plan was to return to where I left the trail at Hemlock Hollow, and just pick up my hike from there and head north.  The purist part of my brain was 100% sold on this, and it just made sense to start where I left off.  The only negative about being I’d be ~170 miles behind my friends whom, until my departure, had played such a large part in my own journey; I considered them family.

Plan B was to rejoin the AT at Cap’s current location, which is a little north of Damascus, about 466 miles from Springer.  To be honest, I think I’d rather just hike the trail as a normal backpacker than partake in the truck slack packing, but at this point, I’d prefer to just be with my friends again.  Familiar faces and the tightness of our bonds, it’s a no brainer.

Virginia it is.

You may be asking yourself what I’m going to do about the ~170 mile gap that I’m leaving out.  Those I’ve spoken with of my decision, some wondered if I’d just leave them be and not bother walking those miles.  Not at all.  My goal is to complete the rest of the hike to Katahdin then return to Hemlock Hollow and complete those miles and my Appalachian Trail thru hike.

I am choosing to drive the 633 miles and a 10 hour road trip to Tri-Cities Regional Airport on Thursday morning; this local airport is the closest rental car drop-off point to Damascus, and it also means that I can spend a day (or two, depending on when I leave to join the boys) with Tie Dye and Obie.  I haven’t seen Obie since she left Neels Gap with Turtle on March 21st and it will be great to see her again and catch up in person.  It will be the first time all three of us will have been together in around six weeks – crazy.

After my Damascus merriment I’ll take a shuttle to join Danny and the lads on the trail and start hiking the Virginia trail – the longest part of the entire AT, 550 miles of it.

A “Get Well” note from the Milne-meister

What a nice surprise: an autographed “get well soon” note from former Liverpool player, Wigan Athletic manager, and all round soccer legend, Gordon Milne.

He’s a very close friend of Bucketlist, with whom I hiked through the Smokies; Bucketlist totally hooked me up!

Thanks, brother!

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Jolly back on the Appalachian Trail

My podiatrist called me this morning with the news I’ve been waiting to hear: I can return to the AT and continue with my thru hike.  His ‘all clear’, though, came with some conditions:

  1. I consider switching out my La Sportiva trail runners to a high-top hiking boot
  2. Lighten the load of my pack
  3. Hike at a slower pace and for fewer miles

Now while I’m stoked at the call and the chance to return to the trail, I’m not keen on swapping out my Sportivas – I’d rolled my ankle in my old Solomons which had less of an ankle/heel support system.  After switching to the Sportivas I went three days with no issues – I also wore an ankle brace I picked up from Walgreens.

Over the past two weeks I’ve also managed to get my pack’s base weight down to 11lbs, so even with a fully laden five days worth of food, I’ll be at 20lbs – about 10lbs less than I was carrying.  I’ll also be carrying the load in a much comfier and sturdy pack; I switched out my Six Moon Designs Swift pack for the ULA Circuit – it’s just better all around.

I can also go easier on the miles, too.  I’m convinced that my ankle rolling was a result of fatigue in my legs and feet.  By taking my time and literally hiking my own hike, I’ll be able to monitor my pace and take necessary steps for rest stops and ultimately, round out my miles for each day with more emphasis on recovery.

Just got off the phone with Bucketlist (Mike, Cap’s friend that joined us for the Smokies section) and he mentioned that Cap and his cohorts (Tank and Camel) and slack packing using his truck!  Hilarious.  Apparently it goes something like this: one or two of them will get dropped off at point A while the remaining hiker/s drive north to point B, and leave the truck there.  He/they walk south and handover the keys to the one/s hiking northbound.  When they reach the truck at point B, it’s driven back south to point A to pick up the flip flopper/s and then they either drive into the closest town for a hostel stay; showers, resupply (for real food), and more, or they’ll pitch a tent by the truck and grill burgers – yep, burgers on the AT.  Hope I can catch up to them, that sounds like a lot of fun… although it also sounds it could get expensive with paying for gas and hostels/human food each night.

Anyway, I’m off to C-Town to pick up some pasta/rice sides and spam singles.  I also have to figure out how I’m going to get back down to Greeneville, TN in the next few days.