Archive for May, 2009

Grace Lutheran Evangelical Church 850.5

May 22nd, 2009

Yesterday I was going to write a post like this:

After listening to Rammstein, Mindless Self Indulgence, and The Bloodhound Gang all day I was ready to fuck a goat, kill it, and then fuck it again. Jesus. Good thing I made it the 18.5 miles into town and got away from the farms…

But then I hitched a ride into town.

I was picked up by four guys and a woman in a beat up suv who had three sets of teeth between the five of them. During the 3.5 mile ride down the hill they told be about the local Mexican trailer park whore house and gave me the phone number of the village slut making the goat somewhat unnecessary. Umm WTF mates?

Besides that the hostel was amazing. I’m telling you these church know how to run a place so much nicer than other people, except for Miss Jannett of course.

Observations 832.0

May 19th, 2009

The woods are never quiet. Especially on sunny days. It’s hard to hear all that much when your hiking. your gear clinks and clanks, your pack squeaks and moans, and leaves rustle under foot. Now and then a chipmunk sounds an alarm, a bird chirps, or a plane passes overhead. But when you stop you become aware of another world. The insect world. The thick blanket of leaves that covers the ground is never still. There is a constant popping of bugs on leaves that almost sounds like a light rain, and a soft motion that goes with it, even when there is no breeze.

I have a heightened ability to spot 2″ x 6″ vertical white rectangles at great distances.

Food exists in a paradox. It and water equate to all of a pack’s “live” weight. Your “dead” or base weight on;y changes when you switch gear. The less food you carry the closer you are to your base weight, which allows you to do longer days. But, if you carry more food, your weight goes up and you do shorter days. This means you need even more food to get to town, leading to more weight and slower days and… Not sure which is best.


May 18th, 2009

I started hiking the Appalachian Trail with a relatively cheap rain coat from the Weather company.  When I got to Walasi-Yi 30 miles in they told me the jacket would likely fail, and was heavy anyway so I upgraded to the Marmot Mica ultralight coat.  While it is light, it is not a backpacking jacket.  Around mile 300 I started getting wet when I would wear the Mica in the rain, and not from sweat.  Water was just seeping through the material.  It took me two weeks on the phone with Marmot to get them to exchange the jacket on warranty.  When I first called, Angie laughed at me when I told her I was hiking the AT with a Mica.  They of course only recommend the $400 Exum, which is way out of my budget.  She then promised to call me back on two separate occasions, but never did.  One time when I called I talked to Brian who said he’d email me, which also never happened.  Finally last monday I was able to get them to upgrade me to a Minimalist, which at least is Gore-Tex.  But apparently they weren’t able to ship it in a timely manner because I still don’t have it, and they claimed to use 2 day FedEx.  Under normal conditions this might be manageable, but on the trail it is anything but.  It rains 70% of the time, and hiking in a cheap interim poncho is awful, sweat and stability wise.  I will never buy a Marmot product again, and if you are considering doing any real outdoor activities I strongly suggest you look elsewhere for rain gear.  Marmot clearly does not stand by their products and their customer support is terrible.  Grade: Not Trailworthy.

Trail Days 811.5

May 18th, 2009

Trail days was the sweetest!  It’s one of those crazy events that couldn’t possibly exist anywhere else, or at any other time, and definitely requires experience on the trail for it to make any sense.  So worth it; you know how I love those once in a lifetime can’t be found anywhere else experiences.  

Tent city was huge!  So many tents!  The weather held out pretty well, but condensation built up pretty quick on the inside.  Saturday was the parade!  All the current and past hikers march down main street, some in crazy costumes, which all the locals shoot us with water guns.  But don’t worry, we came armed ourselves.  It was unique among parades I’ve been to in that there was no music!  I’m going to have to make a backpackers boom bag for next year.

We ate so much fast food.  Gah!  Not so much free gear, but I was able to acquire a new headlamp free of charge and help Africa at the same time.

But the best part was seeing everyone I hiked with early on.  Rolling Stone, Burning Man, Zen, Zoltan, Rachiopod, Mustard, and Andy were all there.  Lulu, Cricket, Tinman, and Stretch, too.  And the even better news is that they are just a few days behind me, so maybe I’ll get to do some of the Shenandoahs with them.  I just saw Hodge Podge and Hoosier today, and even saw Dutch while waiting for Peachy Keen to pick us up.  So yeah, I’m really glad I went – thanks for convincing me Peachy Keen!


Pictured below:  Rolling Stone, Hot Sauce, Yoni Bear, and Peachy Keen.





Tent City

Tent City

Halfway 795.2

May 15th, 2009

May 15. Two months since I started hiking. And my scheduled arrival date for Harpers Ferry. Unfortunately I’m still about 215 miles from Harpers Ferry. With my adjusted hiking rate I wouldn’t be finishing till about August 20, four days before my classes start at ASU. The bad news: I am no longer thruhiking the Appalachian Trail, but hoping to half and half it. The good news: I’ll be back in Boston for a week or two in early June, I’ll be teaching my own 3D design course at ASU, and I’m heading back to Damascus today For Trail Days! All in all I think this will work out for the best, my money and patience for mountains are getting low anyway.

The other night I camped alone in the vicinity of a stray bear cub. Can you see my friend deer?

Angels 775.1

May 13th, 2009

Had the best trail magic last night. I got into a shelter after ten miles and over 3000 feet of climbing, was beat and upset because my group had pushed on another seven miles to a campsite. Then this guy showed up with no pack and wearing jeans, which made me suspicious. But then he asked if I wanted any pancakes, eggs, and sausage, and I said hell yes! I helped him bring the stove, skillet, and goodies from his car back to the shelter. I ate and ate and ate. It was wonderful! Some other guys showed up later to partake in the feast. There’s a reason why they’re called trail angels. After the cook left Doc and Snake-eyes showed up. I hadn’t seen Doc since Hot Springs and Snake-eyes since Springer! It was good to see them again, but they are really cruising now and I probably won’t see them again. A good night all and all, and the weather has been holding out.

I’m dreaming of an apartment with a French press and full refridgerator.

Whole New Mind 716.7

May 9th, 2009

The first and only book I’ve read so far on the trail is a Whole New Mind, on recommendation of my mother. I forget who wrote it, but the basic premise is that the MFA is the new MBA and that right brain thinking is replacing left brain thinking. It’s an interesting idea, but I don’t see it happening, at least not in the next fifty years. If it were happening, I’d have a sweet job right now rather that a couple dozen puss filled bug bites.

Rain 716.7

May 9th, 2009

It’s been a long haul from Pearisburg to Daleville. Six days. Doesn’t sound like much, but you try going for an hour run every day and not bathe for six days and let me know how it goes.
It’s been raining too. Everyday. Rain is tricky for a couple reasons. You get dirtier because you sweat more in rain gear. You also stay wet because the sun never comes out to dry your wet clothes, so you go through your clean clothes much faster. The trail gets muddy so you legs get real filthy. But most of that is manageable. The worst part is when you get into camp and realize you have to stay in the shelter because you’ll just get more wet if you stay on your tent. In shelters there is always some asshole who snores, which means I don’t sleep. So besides being extra filthy I’m also sleep deprived. This fearsome duo easily destroys my willpower to continue hiking. It also has other side effects like me no longer having any compassion or remorse for destroying all insects in my path, or jabbing other snoring hikers in the ribs with trekking poles. I even caught myself thinking the other day that mountain top mining might not be such a bad thing because then I wouldn’t have to climb over all the mofos.
All that said this has been one of the most gorgeous sections of the trail. Four days ago I had to do 21 miles since I was running out of food, and I came down through some cow pastures with old barns and power lines and blooming dogwoods and it was just like walking through a model rail road. Sadly, god could be standing 200 yards off the trail, but if the bastard wasn’t holding a cheeseburger and a hose I would waste the time to go see it.

Morale 624.0

May 2nd, 2009

It’s amazing what a shower, clean clothes, and hot food can do for morale. Stayed at Trents two nights ago and it was wonderful. Now Trents is a gas station, but they have tent sites around back next to the campers. From what we could tell the campers were all abandoned, but the were some horses and cows around. They had the normal gas station fare plus burgers, beer, and a killer salad. And for breackfast there was OJ and coffee. The bath bathroom rivaled some of the ones I used in India for filth, but I loved it all! Going into a town or store makes the last part of the day so much better, and the feeling carries on through the afternoon of the day you leave, which is great.

I’ve been feeling a lot more love in general, not sure why. Maybe it’s my body’s ability to finally cope with all the lactic acid and just enjoy the endorphins. Leaving town is getting harder though.