Saturday, January 1, 2011

Why Hike The AT?!

I've camped a fair bit through my life. Did some backpacking in scouts. In the Navy, I spent more time wearing cammies in the field than the average Sailor. More recently, I took the National Ski Patrol Mountain Travel & Rescue course for which I used my old Svea stove, my 1976 vintage REI sleeping bag and a 5 lb tent... Mary is retired Army, and spent a fair piece of time in the field - But never backpacked for fun. So, you could be excused for wondering how in the hell we got it in our heads to to attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail next year ...

Mary and I first day-hiked a section of the AT back in 2001, and talked about hiking it's length someday. We were both retired from the military, and working for the federal government in DC. A few years later, my folk's health started to go south, and we decided to move to Michigan where the rest of my family had migrated. We packed up, and took the summer to sail our old sloop from the Chesapeake to Michigan by way of the Erie Canal. (See our eBook on this trip here.)

We've been here for a few years now. Mom passed on, and Dad's relatively healthy and living in an assisted living community. I got into Ski Patrol, and outfitted myself with some winter camping gear for a course in Mountain Travel and Rescue. We started talking about the AT again, reading trail journals, everything we could find on the web, and several of the better books ... We decided on a 2012 late March, northbound start. We're outfitting ourselves this year, walking a lot, and we'll be backpacking in some of the great parks here in Michigan.

We have the typical maladies of folks our age, and we latched onto the lightweight backpacking concept in the hope it would spare our knees and backs! We're outfitting ourselves with gear that we feel is the best compromise between weight and comfort, and we're hoping to keep our total pack weight under 30 lbs including  water, and food for 5 days.

We're thinking thru whether we want to replenish thru drop shipments, and maybe a bounce box, or just go with the flow and replenish at grocery stores along the way ... We're inclined towards a hybrid of the two.  A few strategically-placed boxes to supplement what we find in trail towns.

Mary long ago told her employer to take her job and shove it, and I just need to figure out when to leave my part-time gig at a big-box hardware store. We'll want to have plenty of opportunity to get out into the wilderness, get our legs under us, and fine-tune our kit.

None of this answers "Why?" but, perhaps explains how we got to this point ...

Anywhere is walking distance, if you've got the time. - Steven Wright

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