Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ready ...

Saturday morning I hop a train for the first leg of a trip that will get me to the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail on Monday morning. From there I'll start a 2184-mile hike along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains, to Mt Katahdin in northern Maine.  Along the way I'll pass thru 14 states, climb a total of 629899', make 865 summits, and bag five of the 50 states' highest peaks.

If history predicts anything, I'll be one of 1150-1700 attempting an AT thru hike this year. 28% of us will finish.

To improve my chances, I'll start slow - eight mile days with lots of breaks for the first week, and build up to an average of fourteen mile days. There'll be stretches where I bang out twenty mile days, and others where I'll be lucky to do ten.

I've spent the last year putting my pack together, often changing things to get the best performance at the lightest weight. Of course, nothing's lighter than leaving stuff behind, and I'm still working on that. As it stands, outfitted for the shoulder seasons, my pack weighs 21 lbs without food and water. That will drop to 18 when I swap gear in summer.  Food weight will vary between 6 and 14 lbs based on the number of days between resupply.  Water will vary between 2 and 4 lbs depending on water conditions.  I could be humping  as much as 40 lbs, but most of the time it'll be closer to 21-35.

I'll burn 4000-6000 calories a day and will be hard-pressed to consume anything close to that. I've chosen food with the highest calories/oz.  I'll be hiking on a diet high in carbohydrates and fat, with foods selected to assure I get complete proteins, and generally eating like a Hobbit. Most everything I eat will be rehydrated, cooked over a butane stove, and eaten out of a pot with a spork.  Yum.

I scored a sponsorship from Emergen-C and I'm packing their Joint Health Formula, which provides a mix of antioxidents, B vitamins, electrolytes and other nutrients, along with glucosamine and chondroitin.  I'll also be packing fish oil and Vitamin I (ibuprofen).

I'll generally resupply at grocery stores in towns along the way.  However, I have 10 boxes of food and supplies that Mary will mail to places along the trail.  Most of those boxes just have stuff that I'm unlikely to find along the way, plus Emergen-C, Clif Bars, meds, sections of the trail guide, batteries ... There are four that have a full food resupply that are being mailed to places where resupply is limited or non-existent.

I also have a box filled with summer-weight gear that Mary will mail to me when I get past Mount Rogers in Virginia, when the chance of snow and freezing temps is low. I'll mail the winter stuff home, and she'll mail that back when I'm heading into the White Mountains in the Fall.

There's a list of milestone dates over there in the right column. It's based on past thru-hikers average pace, and is not a schedule I feel compelled to keep. It's a yardstick by which I'll measure progress to make sure I meet my one hard schedule point - to get to Baxter State Park in Maine before they close for the season, around Oct 15. Else, I don't summit Mt Katahdin.

I'm packing a camera and a Droid, so I'll be able to post updates to this blog along the way.  Hope you follow along. If you want to be notified when I post something here, put your email addy in that "Follow by Email" block on the right-hand column.

16 comments:

  1. Have fun hiking the trail, and I'll enjoy following along on your blog.
    Good luck.

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    1. Thanks Amtrak. I'm stoked, nervous and chomping at the bit!

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  2. Good luck bro. I wish I was going with you. I look forward to reading about your adventures. Stay safe.

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    1. Thanks Mike. Love your blog. Great photos and writing about spectacular destinations. I aspire to do the same!

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  3. Good luck, Bill!! We don't leave for 3.5 more weeks and we live on the trail so if you need anything, be sure to let us know. Hope to see you out there!

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  4. Good luck, we will be following along.

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  5. Hey Bill,
    I'm Matt and I'm putting together an online A.T. magazine called TravelingSasquatch.com . It combines my own writing with the best blogs and pics of other writer/hikers out there. If you approve I'd love to include some of your work. You'd get credit and then I'd link it back to your site as well. Take a look at the site and let me know if you're interested. When you get a chance you can send me an email at matt@travelingsasquatch.com
    Thanks and happy hiking!
    Matt

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  6. GOOD LUCK! We, in NH, are routing for ya!

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  7. Good luck Bill! Are you getting as nervous/excited as I am!?? Hope I run into ya somewhere on the trail!

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    1. I'm so close to leaving, I'm just trying to tie up loose ends! But, yeah! See you out there. If not on the trail, maybe at Trail Days?

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  8. Hey Bill, best of luck to you! Hoping you are among to 28% that complete the trail. Maybe when you get to ME or NH, I can join you along the trail for the day, and if you make it all the way, lobster dinner is on me! Go get em' Bill!!
    Ray Richard

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    1. Thanks Ray. That's about the best motivation I can think of!

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  9. Good Luck Bill. You certainly did a fine job planning this trip. May your bones, muscles and fortitude be as solid as the way you have thought this through. I hope to see you on the trail someday.

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    1. Thanks Robin. I think we'll be pretty close. I'll be the guy with the X100 around my neck ...

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  10. Good Luck! I'm planning to thru hike next year and look forward to your updates to give me a better idea of what to expect. I'm very excited for you and look forward to your updates!

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