Flashback Sunday: though winter is “officially” over, I’m reminded how fickle and unpredictable it can be!
Write in Front of Me
As I mounted the North flank of Jay Peak in Vermont it became plain that I was going to be snowed in. During my climb ponderous clouds unleashed snowfall. The wind lashed ice pellets at my face with shotgun blast intensity. My breathing was strained, my hands were losing sensitivity, and my field of vision was diminished to mere feet.
I knew the crest was within reach in about ten more minutes of hiking. Even so, I knew that if conditions continued to worsen at the rate I observed them, the trail would become concealed in a torrent of white and I would be stumbling for direction in a blizzard. Instantly I knew what it felt like to be apprehended by a blizzard without reference points.
I fished my compass from my pocket and formed my best calculation, slogging forward through drifts of snow which threatened to bury the way…
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Filed under Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, Courage, Decision making, Hiking, Hiking in snow, Living, outdoors, risk, snow storms, Writing
Remembering Jack and Wayne along the Appalachian Trail!
Write in Front of Me
This is neither Jack nor Wayne. It is the Real Hiking Viking. But, when I look at him it reminds me of the wonderful wildness that was Jack and Wayne, and they looked very much like him.
The story you are about to read is true; photographic existence of the parties mentioned has yet to be discovered.
Straight up and down; then straight up and down again! Georgia trail maintainers seemed clueless about the need for switchbacks on the Appalachian Trail, which made the footpath through the infamous Georgia gaps more of a roller-coaster endurance test than a pleasant trail. Fortunately for backpackers and hikers tracing the AT through the southern Appalachians Jack and Wayne were there. Or maybe not.
Jack and Wayne appeared with a shock – all laughs and boisterousness – on day three of my hike. The rigors of the trek had thinned the crowd into…
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Filed under Adventure, Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, Comedy, Dreams, Hiking, Laughter, Living, Outdoor sports, outdoors, Walking
As the backpacking and hiking season warms up and you’re wondering about hiking and where to begin, let Carolinatrekker be your guide!
“I want to go hiking, where do I start?”
I get asked this question – or a variation of it – A LOT. I guess for some of us, just knowing where we to go hiking and how to get started is something we take for granted. In my years of hiking, I’ve come to realize most people didn’t grow up on a rural, heavily wooded tract of land where you could hike every day like I did. They didn’t have relatives to teach them how to camp like I did. They didn’t have anyone to teach them about gear, or how to read a map. The great advantage to those getting into hiking today is the internet. It wasn’t that long ago that you had to do a little leg work to obtain a map or a field guide ( or guide book). Now, we can log onto…
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I’m still setting out. Just like I did that mid-April afternoon from Springer Mountain in 1985. I still feel the earth beneath my boots, see the leaves fringe the trees, notice the delicate bluets at my feet. The air smells different, like adventure. Expectation hangs in the air. A thread of anxiety born from that excitement fills me with an alertness unlike anything I’ve known. So many hikers have already passed toward Katahdin, and rather than feeling like I’ve missed the herd, I feel like the trail is somehow left to me more than it might have otherwise been. The gloss of so many years has not diminished the memory; it’s just sharpened it. It has magnified it, not distorted it. I’m still there, filling out the trail register and moving ahead into the span of spring, summer and autum days which will draw me to Maine. I just have to close my eyes to get there. And, most of all, it feels like the trail has never ended, because so many blessing have come from that turn in the road of my life. What would have my life been had I not decided to hike to Maine? As I look back today, I can see the unrolled skein of memory and decision which flowed from that first step to what my life has become now. And all is well.
A pathway into the wilderness.
It began with Ed Garvey’s book “Appalachian Hiker II,” which I discovered at a backpacking outfitter. I read it to enjoy a first-person account of walking the legendary footpath which runs from Georgia to Maine. I didn’t realize I would find myself tracing Ed’s footsteps just over a year later.
Finishing my read, I considered what sort of preparation it must take to complete the 2,000-mile trip. Curious to find out, I purchased one in a series of Appalachian Trail Conference guidebooks. The “North Carolina/Tennessee” guide came with colorful but serious topographic maps. The chapters showed mileage, road crossings, resupply info, reliable water sources, local history, as well as the flora and fauna a hiker might expect to see. This was intensive logistical and planning material! I was amazed by the necessity of planning and preparation required of anyone heading out to hike. Walking the Appalachian Trail would not be a matter of simply shouldering a pack and hitching a ride to the trailhead. A successful hike meant planning and answering a lot of questions:
- how much money would it take to hike the entire Trail?
- how far could one expect to hike in a given day?
- what sort of food would a hiker need to eat to sustain their energy?
- what physical preparation was required?
- what risks/dangers were involved?
- what if it rains? snows?
- how much weight could a hiker carry?
- how big should a pack be?
The list of considerations seemed endless, and overwhelming at times. Priorities would need to be set. Decisions weighed. As if on autopilot, I found myself awash in the details involved in making preparations, which was where my own personal journey on the A.T. began.
Filed under A.T., Achievements, Anxiety, Appalachian Trail, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Backpacking, Climbing, Competitiveness, Consequences, Courage, Decision making, Earl Shaffer, Fear of falling, Fear of heights, Foot travel, Goals, Hiking, Life changes, Living, The Appalachian Trail
It seemed like a bit of retro viewing when I noticed “Fear Factor” was back on television. Contestants competed for money by escaping from cars submerged in water, diving into gallons of cow blood for cow hearts (you heard right!), and engaging in an Indian-Jones-like stunt involving a bus, helicopter, and boat in an attempt to “blow up” a floating barge.
Clearly, fear may not have been a factor for winning contestants, but the point that reality shows dealing with fear are still prime-time viewing choices.
Juxtapose that with the previous post and story about endurance athlete Gerry Duffy, certainly a man who overcame resistance and fear. I found the piece to be challenging and inspiring and intimidating all at once. I also wanted to become Gerry Duffy, and to achieve what he has. And, having finished the piece I came to two conclusions: I did, and I can.
First, on the next section, let’s deal with the “I did” part, the lessons I learned from it, and where I am with the entire fear issue right now.
Filed under Achievements, Anxiety, Apprehension, Camp, Climbing, Climbing tower, Competitiveness, Consequences, Courage, Decision making, Fear of falling, Fear of heights, Goals, Life changes, Living, Outdoor safety, Outdoor skills, Outdoor sports, Rope climbing, Timothy J. Hodges