Wednesday, October 1, 2014
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114 miles to go. Victory will soon be mine!

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I don't have a lot of time, so I'll keep this short. I last wrote from the White Mountains Hostel and Lodge in Gorham, NH. It was a beautiful place and my favorite hostel so far without a doubt. They had a flat screen with Netflix and HBO and it was a real house and it was nice and modern, not somebody's garage. Not that I don't appreciate the garage hostels, because I definitely do! They have their own special charm that make up a huge part of this experience. The White Mountains hostel was completely full when I was there. Skippy, Didgeridude, and I played Rumikub and Scrabble with Molly and Rabbit and then pretty much everyone in the hostel would gather around the TV and watch movies, Netflix shows, and football together. It was very nice. Since Read more [...] Read More »

Purity at Our Feet: Success on the A.T. and in Life

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Our Struggle With Consciousness I sat, silent, still, meditating. Clearing my mind. Creating empty space. Rising above the noise surrounding me into the hollow sky. Breathing. All I heard was breathing. Breathing. Then, a sudden pinprick started to emerge in the back of my mind. It started small, barely a whisper of a thought, but it began to grow. A tortuously slow agonizing evolution I was acutely aware of but unable to stop. I began to sink back to earth: a listless unnerving descent. I struggled against it—fought back. But back into my body I descended. This growing tumor of a thought grabbed me by my ankles and forcibly yanked me back to my dreary bedroom: it’s cluttered mess, it’s monotonous four walls and the smell of car exhaust Read more [...] Read More »

“You’re Gonna Be Eaten By a Bear” – A Tale of Support

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It never ceases to amaze the amount of support my brother and I are getting for our big hike. "You're gonna be eaten by a bear." My coworker Glenn leans back in his chair smirking. We're on break at work and one of the Senior Keepers, Tim, asks how my attempts at locking down sponsorship goes. This conversation happens at least once a week - the other zookeepers in my department see me reading the latest gear guide or book on the AT and a genuine discussion on preparation ensues. Then Tim takes a sip of his tea or a bite of salad and gives sage advice and encouragement to hang in there. Bill, an older fellow who has been at the zoo for roughly 1000 years, collects baculum (look it up),and has an insatiable curiosity about all animals, tells Read more [...] Read More »

Girl’s Best Friend: To Leave or Not To Leave My Hiking Buddy Behind

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Not only was Twiggy a rescue mutt, she was the ugly duckling of the litter and left behind while her cuter brothers and sisters were immediately adopted. As soon as she laid eyes on me, she adopted me. The shelter workers told me she was the ADHD puppy of the litter, she hadn't caught on to training nearly as fast as the others, and that she may or may not have parvo. Those things didn't matter. She was mine before I even walked through the door that day. So there I was, a 10 week old puppy in one arm and a whole packet of adoption papers, to-do lists, care sheets, and antibiotics in the other. I felt a lot of anxiety that day and the weeks after. I had never taken care of a pup this young before. Somehow, it all worked out. At 9 months old, Read more ... Read More »

View From the Top – Hiking Mt Whitney

That'll make you feel small.

On Tuesday, September 2, 2014, I summited Mt Whitney, the highest elevation in the continental US  (14,505 ft above sea level).  The Mt Whitney Trail gains over 6,100 ft in elevation in 11 miles and hikers attempting the trail have a 30% success rate. Things I Learned on Mt Whitney: - Do make friends with strangers - Don't forget sunscreen - Do bring your tent, even if you don't think you'll be sleeping - Don't hike 22 miles when you have to be at work the next day - Do eat Gardetto's that fell on the ground (the ants aren't judging) - Don't overpack - Do use trekking poles - Don't pass up the opportunity to sit on the perfect rock - Don't underestimate your ability to prove yourself to that one person Read more [...] Read More »

Woe is not me.

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General update:  The Whites are a real ass kicker.  They've been beautiful, but you'll notice by my daily mileage that I've slowed down A LOT.  I've somehow managed to catch the bubble, and that is really nice.  I know about 30 hikers behind me and at least 10 in front of me, so if I go faster or slower I'll see some familiar friendly faces either way.  It finally feels like we're almost there and I've stopped crying every day.  Woe is not me.  When we still had 400 miles left, I felt like I would never get there.  Now I'm getting closer every day...except today because I'm taking a zero.  I've got less than a month to go.  My foot is feeling better.  It still hurts, but I no longer walk with a limp.  I did a 28 hour slack pack and stepped Read more [...] Read More »

Done, done, done.

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Well, I did it. I hiked all 2,185.3 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Maybe I'm being a bit Meriwether Lewis, but I neither feel like I thought I would, nor as accomplished. Not to mention, summitting Katahdin was a bit, well, underwhelming. I imagined an elation that would last for weeks on end, a spring in my step - a sort of new perspective or some semblance of a low level enlightenment. I feel none of this, I think. What I feel is more confident, but not in the way I imagined at all. More brazen, perhaps, ready for anything with an unshakeable certainty beneath me that tells me I can handle anything and everything. But it seems I'm looking for situations to test this newfound confidence everywhere I go. I've already expressed myself in Read more [...] Read More »

Getting there slowly but surely.

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8/15/14 Days miles: 1.1 I nearo-ed into Danby to catch the bus to Rutland to see a doctor. The bus schedule posted on the wall was from a different year, so I missed the first bus, and then the second bus, and when I finally looked the bus schedule up online, I realized the next bus didn't come for another 4 hours. It was cold and raining out. I cried, called Ms. Janet to see if she was in the area, she gave me someone's number who lived in the area, and he didn't answer. I started hitching and got picked up by a man named John and his 11 year old daughter he adopted when she was 3. He told me he made a million dollars before he was 24, and his friend pilots helicopters for the president. I'd like to believe him but I'm skeptical. You never Read ... Read More »

Expectations, Reactions and Worries

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Reactions and expectations are curious things. And a lot of them are going around as Adam and I get closer to our launch date. A couple of weeks ago, we went to our hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. It was a chance for us to see many family members and gauge their reactions and friends’ reactions to our aspiration for next year. We were pebbled with many questions about the AT, gear, our attitude about all of this, etc. On the whole, people were very positive. I felt very blessed. We May Have Company One of Adam’s brothers-in-law asked us when along the trail might be a good time for him to join us. We decided that a section hike in Virginia might be the answer to staving off any possibility of us contracting the Virginia Blues. My girlfriend’s Read more [...] Read More »

Fifty Miles

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My most recent hike was also my longest – fifty miles in twenty-four hours. I hiked from the Tom Leonard shelter to Cheshire, MA, where I am now, taking a brief rest. People like to say that they can’t hike the Appalachian Trail, or that they could never hike fifty consecutive miles, or that they can not pursue their dreams. I am thoroughly convinced that they are wrong! Sure, I suffered from sore feet, paranoia, and delirium, but I did it. It was worth it, simply to prove to myself that I could do it. A favorite author of mine says: “Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they’re yours.” Of course. And why not challenge yourself? What’s the worst that can happen? You start living your dreams? Read More »