For those of you just joining us, I am preparing for a 2014 thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. That’s 14 states, almost 2,200 miles, and six months of hiking and living out of a backpack. When I return to civilization (unless my workplace allows me 6 months off, which they won’t) I plan to travel the world, teaching English and writing to pay the bills.
My condo sold at the end of September: Since it was an FHA loan, I was worried about delays. The government shut down the next day, so if the loan had not gone through, we might have been delayed a month. I’d love to say I got a bucket of money from the sale, but I just barely came out ahead. Thanks to the idiots on Wall Street, the value of my property plummeted starting in 2008 and only began rising again late last year. This was my first opportunity to sell it for more than I owed and I jumped at it. It went quickly, though the sale process wasn’t unnecessarily bumpy.
I’ve moved: I’m renting a single room in what I lovingly call the International House of Buckhead. It is only 7 miles from my day job and I share it with about 9 other people. Amazing home and though it is more expensive than I’d hoped, the rent covers all my expenses except my cell phone. There is even internet access and a treadmill. Plus the quietest group of roommates on the planet. Finding the place was completely last minute since the accommodations I thought I had arranged fell through.
Reduced what I own: I’m down to about 3 car loads of stuff right now. My goal is to get down to only 1 car load before the end of March. Making great progress. Since I had almost no help moving, it’s a good thing I have reduced my load.
I’ve replaced my tent: I had tried the Contrail from TarpTent.com and cannot tell you how horrible it was through the first rainstorm. It did not work as presented and there is simply no way to keep dry. Plus by the time you seal the seams (does not come factory sealed) and add the 6 additional stakes and guylines this single wall structure needs to be stable, it weighs 2 pounds for something so small you can’t sit up to change your shirt. Better off with a tarp and ground cloth. In short: POS. And the fact that they would not take the tent back OR fix the stake that failed on the third night means I’m out $200. Henry Shires and Tarptent don’t stand behind their product, so I recommend you stay away. Nothing would get me to use one of their products in the future.
So, I’m about to try out the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1, at about 2.6 pounds. More weight than I’d like to carry, but I expect to sleep in it most nights since I hate the mice in the shelters. And the snoring. I will try to stick with items sold at REI because they DO stand behind their stuff. I might pay a tiny bit more, but it is worth it. So, I have a tent and I’m not homeless!
I’ve told my family my plan: My oldest brother is excited for me (and maybe a tiny bit jealous). Frankly I’m glad he isn’t hiking. He’s in better shape and has more experience so he could finish this trail with finesse and in record time. I just want to finish with all my limbs and before the end of the year. My younger brother seems reasonably happy for me and never once said I was insane (or perhaps that goes without saying?). My 8-year-old niece is still trying to understand why I “want to be poor.” My mother is not amused, but resigned to the inevitable. It’s such a shame she doesn’t have a more conventional daughter.
I’ve signed up for some AT hiking “clinics”: I’ve got time, so why not get the best advice I can? First I’ve signed up for Warren Doyle’s Appalachian Trail Institute. Warren has hiked the trail 16 times, possibly holding a world record. He is very knowledgeable and the Monday-Friday clinic should be interesting. I’ve met Warren twice and ….well…I’m going despite that. He isn’t exactly personable….or kind. But if he doesn’t play nice or gives advice I don’t agree with, I’ll just move on. Here’s a Backpacker article about him called Madman Walking?
I’ve also reserved a room at Amicalola Falls State Park, Dawsonville GA for the AT Kick Off, March 7-9. No agenda announced yet, but I hope to learn lots.
I now have less than 6 months before I start my hike. There are still logistics to work through. I’ve got to put in more training miles. I’m still open to gear changes.
I published a book: Check it out! Available on Amazon.