Archive for April, 2009

Photos 599.7

April 30th, 2009

Just wanted to share some photos of a big bug, an orange lizard, and a suspension bridge.

Dear Grandpa 566.4

April 28th, 2009

Dear grandpa,
I’ve been using your last name as my trail name for sometime now, I hope you don’t mind. I figured it made sense since you were always so woodsie. I’ve been having a problem though that maybe you could help me with. On the trail, I spend about 99% of my time out doors. Before, you would often instruct us to “go outside and get the stink blown off you.” I have to say that no matter how long I spend outside, I can never seem to get the stink blown off me. In fact, it seems like the longer I spend outside the worse the smell gets. It’s a terrible mixture of ass, feet, and sweat. So if you have any further pointers, let me know. Maybe there’s some step I’m missing…

PS. I saw a sweet black rattle snake just off the trail today. Must have been 5′ long. Reminded me of the one in the canyon.

Slack Packing and Physics 550.5

April 27th, 2009

Well my slack packing is over, but I discovered a lot of great things about hiking because of it.
1. You carry less weight, obviously, but this really helps your knees and back.
2. You also go faster and farther.
3. I found for the first time that I was not concerned about when and where I would take breaks, which was really nice because I could pay more attention to when my body and stomach wanted to take breaks. I’m hoping to carry this over into my normal backpacking.
4. You get to eat much better food.
5. Showers.
6. I got to listen to my iPod a lot more. Not so much music but news podcasts.

The podcasts led me to another discovery. I need to get a second bachelors degree on either cosmology or mechanical engineering. It would make me a better artist / innovator and more employable. Don’t know when it will happen though.

Thanks mom!

Trail Names 536.4

April 26th, 2009

Trail names are really weird, for me anyway.  It’s almost a requirement out here to have one.  I know a handfull of people who still don’t, but they are generally quiet or not particularly accident prone (two things that often lead to trail names, the biggest factor being fire).  A lot of people say its like a way to redefine yourself.  When you come out here you can be whoever you want to be.  Which is funny to me because I’ve worked at a summer school for the past four years that praises itself for being a place that allows students to try on new personas.  And when I was in middle school I certainly did that, too, and had several nick names like “Zulu,” “Medicine Man,” and “Jester.”  But… that was when I was 13, not 19 – 70.  I mean, I’m Matthew now, it’s my name and I like it.  I have to agree with a friend of a friend Jay on this one.  That’s one reason why I like Bender, it is part of my actual name, my identity, and not a fabrication I am putting on or trying to connect with.  I also have not lit myself on fire yet, so things could change…

Wild Ponies & The Trail Mind 501.8

April 24th, 2009

Towards the middle of the day, just past Wise Shelter I found a herd of wild ponies!  So cute!  I pet one of them.  

Using Pony Power, I discovered a better way to carry my pack:

It’s amazing how my mind is deteriorating, or shattering.  I mull stuff over a bit, but not nearly as much as I used to, and I get very little emotional response from it.  There are no decisions out here, no choices.  There is nothing, really, to think about.  Iit seems I can only think about the past and future for so long, and that amount of time is getting shorter and shorter since I can’t even pretend to be able to do anything about it out here.  As my mind dulls to off trail things meditation becomes easier.  There is no other place to be but on the trail in this moment. 

There is also a type of mental, physical, and material editing that takes place.  Everything that is not essential gets left behind.

Of course the song in my head today was Wild Horses by the Rolling Stones.

Marathon Monday 461.1

April 20th, 2009

Alright so some people might be able to do the Boston Marathon in close to three hours.  But they do it on paved roads, with hoards of cheering fans, people handing them orange slices and cups of water, and in funny little shorts.  They do not do it on uneven rocky terrain, with 25 pound packs, with rain gear, nor carrying 2.5 liters of water.  My official start time was 7:23AM and I made it into Damascus at 5:41PM, for a total of 10 hours 18 minutes.  Not bad considering it was my longest day by 7 miles and I usually only two 2mph, I think I came in fifth.  My legs hurt real bad, and I am tired.  The funny thing about the trail is that you’re never really racing anyone but yourself.  Like playing Go.  


I found Zoltan and Fireball in town today, which was nice; we watched the C’s barely beat the Bulls.  I heard Rachiopod is around too, but I haven’t found her.

Finally, the gold star goes to Mom for being the first person to make it out to see me.  Being retired probably has something to do with it.

Damascathon 461.1

April 20th, 2009

Well this is it folks, people have been waking up in eager anticipation for this day all around Boston, and not just because it’s 4/20.
Today is the Damascathon! Where people who stayed at Iron Mountain Shelter have 26.1 miles to go before Damascus, VA, aka me and about seven others.
So cheer me on! I’m number 435.2, and am sponsored by Peanutopolis.

Things I Miss 416.6

April 18th, 2009

1. Friends and family of course!
2. Being able to make stuff. I’ve had so many ideas for DIY hiker gear!
3. Swing Dancing.
4. Sitting in a cafe and drinking coffee, oddly enough.
5. Being clean.
6. Cooking real food

Songs 399.1

April 17th, 2009

It’s hard to be on the trail and not have a song going in your head.  I think the natural rhythm of walking has a lot to do with it.  The songs that loop in my head change from day to day, and even multiple times a day, but when I was starting out these ones would get stuck quite often:

  1. House of the Rising Sun – The Animals
  2. Walk of Life – Dire Straits
  3. Planet of New Orleans – Dire Straits
  4. City of New Orleans – Arlo Guthrie

You can see that leaving New Orleans probably had some sway over my audio selection. 

Other things I’ve noticed are that ZZ Top only works when you’re going down hill cause it’s so fast, where as things like Joanna Newsom and other folk songs work better going up hill cause they are too slow.  I was listening to my iPod for the second time so far today and realized that Man-O-War makes excellent hiking songs. 

But a lot of the time you get songs that you don’t really like, or haven’t heard in years.  For instance, yesterday was full of Hootie and the Blowfish…  A few days ago it was Barbie Girl by Aqua…  And when the sun broke after all that rain it was Pepper by the Butthole Surfers. 

The trail also gives you a lot of time to think about the songs, and you start to realize things, like how aweful a song Whatever You Like by TI is for society, and how positive The Way I Are by Timberland is.

So yeah, music is great.  It helps pass the time.  I’ve even lost enough of my sanity to start singing these songs aloud as I’m hiking, which helps ward off bears, and other hikers.

Humps 386.1

April 16th, 2009

Crossed six mountains today, all balds. Here are some photos from the final ascent. It’s crazy getting on top of one of these and seeing the trail cross several more in the distance and knowing that you’re going to cover all of them in one day. Started out in funny rain today, clear sky but there was so much ice in the trees from last night that when the sun came out it all melted and might as well have been raining.