Where Did A Month Go?

Slipped over here and realized that it’s been a month since my last post. Granted, lots has happened in the last month, and I did have some minor hiking-related news I could have shared, but in the interest of, well, interest (or lack thereof) I decided to skip a tedious “Look what I bought!” piece on the three-pack of 32oz. Sawyer water bottles I purchased to replace the functionally marginal 16oz. one that came with my Mini.

For regular readers: You’re welcome.

May is the most brutal month of the year for me, life-wise. Every year. So many birthdays, holidays, graduations, etc. Worse even than that torrid stretch between Thanksgiving and Christmas. By a long shot. Factor gearing up for a move into a new place into the equation, and May became a hiking disaster, salvaged only in part by my Lutsen 55 shake-out on the 3rd.

And here I sit, at the end of June, wondering how I can sneak in a quick trip to the AT before this month becomes July. Hikes in June so far? Zero. Again, unpacking after the move and juggling that around work and obligations has killed the hiking motivation/schedule.

And the blogging one, apparently.

At least I got a nice new storage spot for my gear:

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Maybe next Thursday I’ll grab some chips and candy bars and take a quick southbound on the AT from Thunder Ridge Overlook to see if I can drop a little spontaneous trail magic on some thru hikers…

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A New “Follow”

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.”

Seriously.

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!

Superior, Stupendous, Sensible…Socks? Seriously.

Here I sit in the throes of December, dreaming about a hike but unable to take one. So I’m going to knock out a couple hundred words about an experience I had on my ten-mile AT excursion a few weeks back. And yes, it’s about socks. Socks. I can hardly believe it myself.

I have a peculiar problem with socks, specifically those worn on my right foot. See, no matter what type or length of socks I wear when I run, the seam of the hosiery in question will ALWAYS beat up my right little toe. I mean, to the point of bruising and leaving me with a semi-black toenail. I’ve tried a few varieties of seamless socks, and they were just okay, as I found myself having to give up other features just to have the one.

Then I started reading about socks when I became interested in hiking/backpacking, and heard lots of talk and read five-star reviews about a company called Darn Tough and their foot coverings. Well, Darn Tough is HQ’d in Vermont, and given that I’m a born-and-raised Mainer, I thought I’d give a pair from this company a shot. You know, for geography’s sake. That New England thing. If you live there, you understand.

So I went to my local outfitter and picked up a pair:

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I grabbed the AT version for two reasons: One, I like the logo and the cool little “map” of my favorite long trail on the socks. And two, straight from the company’s website: “We donate 5% of sales to help support the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s outdoor education programs and maintenance of America’s first national scenic trail.” There’s another reason that had some impact on my decision, this eye-opening bonus: An unconditional lifetime guarantee. For real.

Talk about a trial by fire. I took a brand new pair of untested socks on my longest ever day hike. Usually, after a 4-6 mile trek, I’m dealing with a sore, bruised little toe for a week. I hammered those hardy Darn Tough socks up and down hills for ten miles. And came through so unscathed that I was able to go out for a normal run the next morning, something I won’t usually do.

Sold!

So, I’m ready to become one of the thousands of voices in the loyal Darn Tough crowd: I love these socks! Best money I’ve spent so far on hiking gear!

And I’m going to buy more. And some for running, too.

Guaranteed.