After extensive internal debate, I’ve decided to offer up an invite to EFI, my little orange octopus of a mascot, to join me on this year’s northbound Appalachian Trail thru-hike.
The observant reader might recall seeing EFI on the first draft of this site’s About page, or as the original lead picture for my Bus Question post. I kept trying to drop him in here, there, anywhere, because he’s hugely important to me.
In 2008, after graduating from college, I cycled coast-to-coast, from North Carolina to California, with 29 other young adults. We rode with Bike & Build, a nonprofit benefiting affordable housing. The 3,600 mile journey took 9 weeks.
Early on in the trip, a few riders and I pulled into a flea market in North Carolina. It was at this flea market that I bought EFI for a few dollars. Before riding out of the parking lot, I zip-tied the little stuffed animal to my top tube, where he stayed for the remainder of the summer.
Today, I would pay many times EFI’s original cost in order to hold on to him. Simple, seemingly worthless objects can take on tremendous meaning in our lives. I don’t fully understand why or how, so I won’t go into details, but Radiolab did a great podcast on the subject. It's definitely worth a listen.
Why name him EFI? It stands for “Every F’n Inch”, which is the mantra I used on that summer’s harder rides. This mantra, as well as any other type of reminder we give ourselves on a daily basis, can (I think) have a dramatic impact on how effective we are at achieving our goals, and also how happy we are in our day-to-day lives.
One of my favorite authors, and a local Boston guy to boot, put it best:
“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” - Thoreau
Anyways, I’m taking EFI along because the trade off is worth it. He’ll add an ounce and a half to my pack weight, but if and when I get lonely on the trail or stray from my ultimate goal of reaching Katahdin, then a quick look at his goofy grin and the reminder of another seemingly impossible goal already achieved (with the help of those 29 other folks) might get me back on track.
Also, he’s super photogenic.
And now for a quick break in the radio silence.
Ten weeks from today, I'll be hanging out at a campsite along the Appalachian Trail. Nine weeks from yesterday will be my last day at work. It doesn't seem real.
Hike PrepA few folks have asked how planning for the hike has been going. I have to quickly think about it before answering because, though I do feel busy, I don't feel like I've been thinking about actual AT prep all that much. Things are in a pretty good place on that front. I've written up what I think will be my final list for gear. There are a few items that I still need to sort through, and those are marked with an asterisk. (This might change if you read this post after I leave, at which point the gear list should be completely finalized.) Many of the items with asterisks just need to be weighed for total pack weight.
Something to keep in mind is that thru-hiking the AT can be viewed as stringing together a lot of 3-6 day backpacking trips. Every few days, I'll have access to a town where I can restock on food and pick up packages. I don't plan on doing mail drops, but if there's a piece of gear or clothing that I realize I should have gotten, then it's an easy enough thing to have Amazon ship it out to where I'll be. I feel a lot more comfortable not having everything "perfect" before I head south after stumbling a bit on last November's 5 day shakedown hike in Virginia.
Other Prep, etc.There are other things that have been happening over the last few weeks, though, that have kept me busy. Here's a quick sampling.
Checkout more from The Bus Question