We are pleased to announce our first Hiking Forward AT Crew member... Goldielocks. Presently, Goldielocks is only utilizing her trail name until just before her hike. Please enjoy the story of her preparations of her future thru-hike.
Hi everyone! It's great to officially be the first member of the prestigious AT Crew 2017!! You can call me Goldielocks!
Just a few things about me:
-I'm a super nerd. I love all things math and science. Where my follow nerds at?
-I have a fluffy dog that I absolutely love dearly. (We'll call her Sasslefrass Fluff-bottom).
-Food is a passion! I love Thai Food. I live for Thai food. And sushi. And casseroles. Green bean, squash, sweet potato - you name it. You get the idea.
-I will be setting off for a Flip Flop thru hike of the Appalachian Trail approximately Mid April next year.
Now, let's begin!
I often think about what it must've been like for prehistoric man to stand before the great beasts we call mammoths, armed with only a spear and determination.
I don't really find myself thinking about a man fighting a hairy elephant with a stick, but it seemed like a good way to begin. :)
I DO, however, find myself contemplating the mammoth feat that stands before me: thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. We can all agree that tackling a thru hike of any of the long distance trails in the United States (notably the AT, CDT, & PCT) is a mammoth undertaking requiring physical stamina, mental fortitude and some serious perseverance. Maybe even a dash of stubbornness. Okay, a lot of stubbornness.
Every day is a roller coaster of emotions filled with highs of "This is totally happening; why did I ever doubt this?" and lows of "what on earth are you thinking?!?" Maybe a more accurate analogy would be the teacup ride - you know, the one that spins the life (and hotdogs) out of you. Spinning around and around. The excitement that once filled your soul has begun to fade. The butterflies that once fluttered their wings in your stomach have suddenly turned sour. You find yourself repeatedly asking yourself "Why?"
This ride will last until Mid April when I step foot on the trail. Then, it becomes real. It's really happening.
The obstacles keep piling up into a colossal mountain.
-I'm out of shape and overweight.
-I'm a woman - it's hard to find other women in this hobby to train with
-I'm a novice. There's so much to learn and so many opinions floating around out there.
-I live in Florida. We're known for our white beaches, not mountainous terrain.
-I'll have to quit my job.
-I have another human being that partially relies on me for her care.
-I have to keep a strict budget to reach my financial goals prior to the trail.
-I have to make arrangements for my dog. Does this make me an awful doggy mom?
The mountain of obstacles and doubt is seemingly smothering me. I keep clawing my way, digging through the debris hoping to see light. I just keep telling myself to keep my head low and keep trudging through. There HAS to be an out. Before we even step foot at Springer, or in my case Harpers Ferry, we must first conquer the mountain of obstacles and doubt. And, boy is it all piling up!!
I would like to believe this is totally normal. But, I'm not so sure. Everyone out there is writing about their gear choices and why they chose to save half an ounce on one item here and there. (Just take the extra little bit of toilet paper for crying out loud, Tarzan. We're not barbarians. And when we cross paths later on: You're welcome.)
But, let's be real, I'm also worried about the important questions:
-How am I going to stay up to date with Game of Thrones?
-How greatly will taking time off from my MBA steer me off course?
-I am an avid contact wearer. What am I going to do about my eyes? WHAT. ABOUT. MY EYES?!
-What if I somehow end up on a trail cam pre-tinkle with the full moon in full exposure? THE HORROR.
-How will I burn down my tent if there is a spider? (I'm terrified of spiders...add that to the obstacle list)
We prospective thru-hikers are somewhat on our own in this endeavor. No one is going to force you to live like a badass, mountain-conquering, homeless person for half of a year. It's easy to feel completely overwhelmed and alone. But the fact of the matter is - there wasn't just one man taking down a mammoth. There were a multitude of others with the same goal, different perspectives, all striving for the same thing - a satiation of a common hunger.
These people are my tribe. Even you reading this now - paint your face, baby! Because you're in the tribe too! We all have the same hunger. Although I may not know you, I know I am not facing a colossal beast alone. With that final note, I invite you to join me in my journey. Let the adventure begin!
Keep Hiking Forward!
Friends, I am stoked, depressed, excited and worried all at the same time. Stoked. Lets start there. Tomorrow the first of the Hiking Forward AT Crew 2015 steps foot on the Appalachian Trail and starts his ( Michael "Rev" Kane ) journey on the to Katahdin. I am so happy not only for Rev but all the other Hiking Forward AT Crew members who presently have butterflies in their bellies as they approach their start date on Springer or for one hiker Katahdin.
For the past 4-5 years I have faithfully scoured YouTube for videos of people thru-hiking the AT to live vicariously through each footstep, shelter stay and re-supply in town. This year will be no different, but this year I am happy to be able to communicate directly with the Hiking Forward AT Crew as they tackle the AT. As the snow melts here in Illinois and the weather gets warmer I know its thru-hiker season at Springer. I am very happy for all the hikers who have planned and are giving it a go this year, I wish them all well. But I have to admit I am ..... UBER JEALOUS. Depressed is a strong word. Some refer to the Virginia Blues I refer to this part of the year at the AT Blues.
What I have come to seriously realize over time but also recently is that only one person is hiking all those steps yet many others have truly allowed them to take place. My dream is to take these steps. Every single one from Springer to Katahdin. In order for that to happen an amazing woman, two little girls I love a lot and my buddy "Boston" have to sacrifice to make that happen. Whether this happens sooner or later the sacrifice is the same. 5-6 months without the person they rely on and you love is a huge thing.
Understand that thru-hiking is not an easy endeavor by itself. Only 1 in 4 or so make it all the way. Without understanding that you need the people around you as much as you need them you are set up for failure in a big way.
So, as the hiking season begins on the AT... Congrats to all the thru-hikers. And don't forget the people left behind and what they are putting on hold, sacrificing to allow you to capture your dream.
And remember in those dark moments, they want you to succeed. One more step.
Keep Hiking Forward!
AT Family Section Hike
It's been decided. We are doing a section hike on the AT next summer. It took a visit as a family to Harpers Ferry, WV and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy - ATC to shake me and the wife into realizing we aren't getting any younger and the experience would be something our girls will remember for a longtime to collectively hike as much of the AT as we can each summer.
Everything can't always be perfect. I'm never going to have six months to spare till I retire so why wait? So, over the next many months we are going to get serious about day hiking, backpacking and multiple day backpacking in order to get the girls used to carrying a bit of weight gradually and stretching their distances. While they get used to this I will obviously be getting used to carrying more and managing my expectations of big miles and making sure we find things on trail to keep them engaged.
In addition to training and gear purchases I am beginning to research easy yet still fun sections to be our first actual section. I think I have it narrowed down to half a dozen areas.
Lastly, one of Graces friends just requested baby items for a crisis nursery in lieu of birthday presents. This got us thinking as a family the other evening about supporting a local charity with our section hike. Currently we are thinking our possibily supporting our local food bank, but Grace is still considering some other options. Would love to hear about other worthwhile causes from you as well.
More soon from our recent trip to the ATC and our climb up Mt. Monadnock in NH.
Keep Hiking Forward!
Pen Mar Appalachian Trail Section
This is a section I discovered last year while visiting the area for work. Not only do you get the chance to cross a state line into PA but also get a chance to view a beautiful vista looking into the state as well. Washington County Park is a great place to relax, use the facilities and get a cold drink prior to heading into PA. I was fortunate to meet multiple thru-hikers heading north and chatted for a bit with "Bearfoot" about his hike. Great guy and best wishes to him on his continued trek.
Take less then 10 minutes of your day and immerse yourself into the possibilities the AT can bestow upon you. Go ahead. I dare you to watch the video and not feel an insane desire to feel what they are feeling, see what they are seeing and wonder when was the last time you even came close to feeling that totally free.
You watched it, didn't you? I was right wasn't I? Good news is you still have two months to prepare!
Keep Hiking Forward.
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