As I’ve posted here in the past, every spring I pick out two people/couples to follow as they attempt their AT thru-hike. Or through-hike, for you language purists (When I see a “Drive-Through” at a fast food joint, I’ll change my thinking AND my spelling. Promise). On occasion I’ve had to switch “follows” as my chosen intrepid explorers meet with various trials that pull them from the trail before they even set foot in Tennessee.
This year marks a new experience for me. Now, before I comment, let me state for the record that I’m as much a believer in “Journal your own journal” as I am in “Hike your own hike.” Having said that, I’m a reader and, as such, I like to…read. And while one of the people I’m following is a wonderful journal keeper and is getting and giving so much on the trail, the other is the Cliff Notes version of “Cliff Notes for Hiking the AT.”
Many days he puts up nothing but miles hiked. His “long” entries are two sentences. On the practical side, he’s motivated, covering good miles and seems like he’ll have a legitimate shot at finishing.
But his journal is mind-numbingly boring. Assuming emptiness can be considered boring. Maybe he’s too focused on the mission? He seems to be very efficient in every way, which bodes well for him as a hiker. But the written record of his journey doesn’t capture the imagination of anyone outside his hiking bubble. Again, I’ll gladly defend his right to HYOH and JYOJ, but…I want to read exploits!
On my birthday (May 8th) I chatted briefly with a thru-hiker on the James River Foot Bridge, and managed to stumble across his journal yesterday quite by accident. He, like the other hiker I’m following, is a conscientious journal keeper, and I gleefully read the last two weeks of his adventures so I’d be caught up. Then, I swapped him into the fold, and the other hiker (I wish him well!) out…
So I’m still following two hikers. And I look forward to their continued success!
My now-used Granite Gear Lutsen 55, that is. I put a twenty-two pound load of gear and half-liter water bottles into it, and hit a local woods trail for its maiden voyage:
Usually I would run out to the AT for a shakeout of a new pack (like I did when I bought my Deuter Airlite 22), but I had concerns about the stiffness of the lumbar pad paired with the rigid framesheet causing me some discomfort. And I didn’t relish the idea of being miles from the car if it did.
Well, those fears turned out to be unfounded: Under load, I found that the pad slid perfectly into place in the middle of my lower lumbar region, and gave the load confidence-inspiring stability. It didn’t bother me at all during my quick four miler, so I was able to focus on the stunning morning and the emergence of green on the trail:
I’m ready to take it out for an overnight on the AT. Now to find the time…
Note: Another positive came from the hike. I actually got out during the FIRST week of the month, instead of the last, as has been my habit (see last week’s post). So May should feature at least two trips to the trees.
Translation? No hikes in April. And that’s so wrong, for a few reasons:
- My two favorite hiking months for this new climate in which I now live are April and October. To have zero hikes this past month surprises me, which leads to the following point;
- While living in Maine, getting out on the majority of trails (especially the AT) in April was nigh impossible, unless you favor snowshoes, which I do not;
- One of my goals this year is…uh, was to hike at least once each month. So long, goal;
- And finally, I bought a new multi-day backpack that’s just CRYING out for a weighted practice hike, especially given my concerns about the stiffness of the lower lumbar pad on the thing.
Looking back over previous months, I’ve discovered a disturbing trend: Most of my once-a-month hikes fall in the last week of the month. That’s surely part of the problem. Waiting until the end of the month gives life and its many responsibilities (and irresponsibilities, truth be told) a chance to eat up my in-the-trees time.
So for May, another promise: I will NOT wait until the last week of the month to hike!