Category Archives: outdoors

The Appalachian Trail Eleventh Essential – Coffee!

coffee Let me be clear: no coffee – no hike!  Over and beyond the “Ten Essentials” of backpacking, there is an Eleventh Essential — coffee.  There may be a Twelfth, but that’s a post for another day.

Instants have come and gone, though I think Trader Joe’s Columbian instant would do in a pinch.  I’ve tried funnels and gadgets of various sorts.  I will not take an espresso maker; too much to fidget with.

A few years ago I found a lightweight, convenient method of taking fresh-ground coffee on the trail and brewing it with as little fanfare and difficulty as possible.

Enter – the coffee sock.  No, it’s not a “recycled” tube sock (ack!)  It’s a wooden handled gadget with a muslin “basket” which holds grounds through which hot water if poured.  Quick on the brew, good on the palate.  I can amp the coffee with as many grounds as I like and cleanup is a simple rinse.  Occasionally I will use some soap and water to wash out the oils which accumulate.

Viola!  Easy, fast, and most of all – effective!

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Filed under Adventure, Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, Camping, coffee, Food, Hiking, outdoors, The Appalachian Trail

Thinking about “Night Hatchet” on the Appalachian Trail

I just couldn’t resist dicing up your hiking Halloween without revisiting the chilling tale of this most unwelcome trail denizen! Trick or Treat!

Write in Front of Me

Jack-o-lantern

Consider this the “Halloween” post for Write In Front of Me.  It’s not my intent to fuel undue anxiety or alarm but I would be less than upfront if this side of backpacking the Appalachian Trail wasn’t addressed.  Specifically, I’m talking about safety in dealing with other hikers and people you will meet.

First a tale…a true tale.

Cold Spring Shelter along the Appalachian Trail was home for the night for myself and a handful of other backpackers.  We’d left Springer Mountain mid-April and were among the rear guard bound for Katahdin.  Most of us were getting our “trail legs” and starting to feel we were managing the tests the trail set before us pretty well.

What we weren’t prepared for was “Night Hatchet.”

“Night Hatchet” was a young local man, about his early twenties, who was hitching from trailhead to trailhead, hiking in to shelters…

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Filed under A.T., Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, Camping, Halloween, haunting, Hiking, outdoors, terror, Walking

Hello Autumn!

Steve Zigler unveils the wonder of the Great Smoky Mountains at the turn of the season!

Steve Zigler Photography

Hello Autumn!

It finally happened! It doesn’t feel like it, it doesn’t look like it, but Autumn finally began today. The autumnal equinox in technical parlance. My favorite season in Steve parlance. And just this week, the first traces of autumn began to appear in my back yard. Not much yet really, but a few leaves bear the signs of seasonal change.

Not finding much Autumn in my back yard, I went looking for signs of my favorite season with my buddies Richard and Brian at the Foothills Parkway this morning. We didn’t find it there either. It was warm, downright balmy even. No Autumn at Foothills. Rats! However, on a more positive note, we found a nice layer of fog blanketing the valley. It was like Summer had pulled the covers up to its neck in an effort to keep out the change of season. Nice try, Summer!

It…

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Filed under Adventure, Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, Camping, Great Smoky Mountains, Hiking, Living, Long distance backpacking, nature, outdoors

Backpacking Snacks that Will Keep You Satisfied & Fueled

Sound nutritional advice from the Bostonblogger on how to fuel your hiking and backpacking adventures!

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Filed under Adventure, Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, Camping, Food, Hiking, nature, nutrition, outdoors

How anchors can help you along the Appalachian Trail

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Days come when motivation is hard won on the Appalachian Trail.

Heat, humidity, incessant bugs, clogged springs, sunburn, boring food, sprained ankles…need I go on?  These are among the many factors that can have you slumped beside the trail, while a pesky voice in your head says, “Whatever were you thinking?  You? Hike the Appalachian Trail?!”  That voice is often followed by a cackling laughter.  I call it a “trail devil,” a  malevolent voice which will do all it can to sabotage your through hike.

But, what to do about it?

Some get off the trail and into town to rest, resupply, and refocus.  Others simply quit, dogged along their way home with regret.

I suggest pausing long enough to make a list in your journal of ready weaponry in the form of what I call “anchors.”

In a past blog entry I touched on this strategy.  It simply consists of using your mental powers to “pull” yourself along the trail by reaching one goals at a time by the use of “anchors.”

Look at the photograph above.

Do you see the “anchor” in it?

It’s the simple patch of light.

Now, you might be viewing it some yards away, sitting on a log and feeling discouraged.  The light is inviting and beautiful.  The quality of it is enthereal and it has something which you find compelling.

So, let’s take the observation further.  Let’s view that light as an “anchor” point; a spot to attain.  A goal.

So, you say to yourself, “I don’t have to do five miles on this sweltering day.  I just need to get to that patch of light.”

So, you lift your pack and intentionally take the necessary steps to reach that beam of light.    Then, you stand in it for a moment, letting the warmth bathe you.  You appreciate the light.  You allow yourself to feel grateful for making it to this one small goal, even if it only took twenty paces to reach.

There.  You’ve done it!  You’ve chosen an “anchor” and you’ve reached it.

Next, you consider what another “anchor” might be.  Maybe you check the trail guide and see a waterfall is only a quarter mile away.  So you choose to make that your next “anchor” and your walk to it.  You put aside the total miles you expected to hike in favor of a more appealing choice…a refreshing waterfall.  You reach that “anchor,” and you rest a while.  Then you select another “anchor.”

In this way, day by day, you motivate yourself to continue your hike.  Failure ceases to be a concern.  Instead, you’re focused on reaching specific, short-term goals, which will add up to miles, which collect into states hiked through, which lead to Katahdin in Maine.

Take a page in your journal and record the “anchors” you reached and those you have plotted to attain in the days ahead.  You’ll no longer be daunted by unfurling miles; you’ll be happily exploring the A.T. and ticking off “anchor” points along the way.

Using the power of your intention and thought, you have a new tool in your arsenal to transform your hike from the mundane to the magnificent.  May each “anchor” you choose lead you to greater adventure!

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Filed under anchors, Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, challenge, Decision making, Goals, Hiking, outdoors, Persistence, thinking

5 Anchors for the Appalachian Trail

If your boat (or life!) has no anchor – you’ll drift! Likewise, if you’re backpacking the Appalachian Trail intending to reach Katahdin, you’ll need your own unique anchors to avoid “trail drift.”  We review what they are on this Flashback Friday. Enjoy!

Write in Front of Me

Photo courtesy talksrealfast at Flickr Photo courtesy talksrealfast at FlickrWill you anchor hold in the storms of life,

An anchor is defined as “a person or thing on which something else is based that can be relied upon for chief support, stability, or security; a mainstay.

The greatest anchor is Katahdin, whose looming summit entices when you first see it.  If the spirit of this summit doesn’t burn within you from the time you leave Springer Mountain your chances of becoming a thru-hiker diminish.  This is the “grail anchor,” and its majesty is compelling.  But Katahdin is many footfalls distant.  One needs other anchors — other goals — to guarantee a successful hike.  Let’s look at other anchors you can use to propel you to Maine

Towns.  Whether it’s to resupply for the next stretch of trail, or to find that all-you-can-eat restaurant you’ve been reading about in the trail registers, towns are significant…

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“Nature Don’t Care Who You Are!” The wisdom of Ricky Ruiz for the Appalachian Trail.

Risk has reward, and backpacking the Appalachian Trail – while tough – fills your life with rich dividends!

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A Walk in the Woods

Forget what Bill Bryson said in his book “A Walk in the Woods” about hiking and backpacking the Appalachian Trail.  Abandon the notion that your hike will be a thrill packed adventure.  Get the thought out of your head that the journey will unfold a certain way.  That’s a guarantee of disappointment.  When you leave your expectations at liberty, you’ll be prepared to experience the trail on its terms.

Despite its popularity, frequent foot traffic, and common road crossings make no mistake — most of the Appalachian Trail runs through remote land.  In some places, such as the Great Smoky Mountains, and upper reaches of Maine, you’ll be hiking some of the last genuine wilderness east of the Mississippi.  This is unbroken nature and, as trail philosopher Ricky Ruiz has said, “Nature don’t care who you are!”

Considered Long-Distance Hiking at Half Price ...

Ricky is right.  To sign on the hike the Appalachian Trail is to…

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Filed under Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, Camping, Courage, danger, Decision making, Hiking, Life direction, outdoors, risk