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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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Filed under Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, Camping, Decision making, guidance, Hiking, Life direction, Long distance backpacking, Outdoor sports, outdoors

“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!

Write in Front of Me

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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You get a different life

“When you put a drop of red dye into a glass of water, you do not get a glass of water with a drop of red dye in it; you get a red glass of water.” Uh, OK, so what’s that got to do with hiking the Appalachian Trail? Read and find out!

Write in Front of Me

Photo courtesy amish.patel at Flickr Photo courtesy amish.patel at Flickr

I recently ran my eye over this comment: “Neil Postman has an analogy along the lines of what you’re saying about giving forethought to your use of a new technology: ‘When you put a drop of red dye into a glass of water, you do not get a glass of water with a drop of red dye in it; you get a red glass of water…’”

Nowadays, we’re disposed to leap on anything “new” like a jaguar on a capybara.  Why do we do this?  Why do we glom onto the latest thing without considering the consequences to our lives?  All of us are trying to employ some command over our lives and we do this by making what we believe are wise decisions.  Yet the truth is that we are swamped with tidal waves of options, more than we can manage.  It seems to…

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Filed under Adventure, Appalachian Trail, Apprehension, Backpacking, Hiking, Life changes, Life direction, Living, outdoors, risk

The persistence of Gimli and the Appalachian Trail

I still hold to the answer, whenever I’m asked, as to what “one thing” gets you to Katahdin more than anything else. One thing — one word — PERSISTENCE! Thus, we revisit the spirit of Gimli this Flashback Friday.

Write in Front of Me

Perhaps Gimli personifies the endurance it takes to hike the A.T.  For sure, he is uncomfortable, way past a long rest.  Yet he seems up for the game, and presses on.  Chasing orcs will take you out of long pursuits; after all, they’re Saruman‘s creations – mindless, heedless of discomfort, meant for speed and killing.  Humans, not so much.  Granted, Aragorn and Legolasare faring better and they also keep going, regardless of pain.  Because they’re focused and committed.  And, yes, the lives of the hobbits are at stake.  When hiking long distances, it’s likely the safety of friends or family is not in the balance, and Katahdin is not Mordor.  But you want to get there.  That’s why you set out – to get there and back again.  So the key is to accept the physical pain.  But don’t be reckless about it.  Don’t ignore blisters and aching…

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Dear Gear

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Photo courtesy Thruhike98 at Flickr.

Dear Hiking Gear,

First off, I am sorry.  Sorry that you’ve been stowed away in boxes on the upper shelf of my dark closet.  I am sorry I separated you into “gear I normally use” and “spare gear” whose box lid I rarely open.

For instance.  I love my Whisperlite white gas backpacking stove.  But, I also like my Svea 123, the old brass workhorse whose coarse and noisy voice was a welcome wake-up on many memorable mornings.

Dear Whisperlite, I love you for your quiet voice.  But, Svea, I respect you for your simplicity and reliability.  Just because I boxed you doesn’t mean I don’t care.  Don’t you remember when we walked down memory lane and I polished you with Brasso last summer?  I know — I didn’t light you up, so the shine job doesn’t really count.  But I still know you’re there; ready to rock should the Whisperlite fail…

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Photo courtesy kc7fys at Flickr.

Yes, dear gear — I’ll still keep you.  And if you doubt that, remember the old Kelty Tioga pack frame.  You know the one.  The pack bag is long gone, but I can’t part with the hardy aluminum skeleton.  Sure, I’ll never find a replacement for the pack bag, but I’ve kept the frame safe and sound.  Along with the Sierra tent, First Need water filter, and Svea stove.

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Photo courtesy Simonov at Flickr.

Take heart, dear gear.  Maybe we’ll all have a class reunion one day.  And, yes, expect to see a Spork, some titanium cooking gear, and an ultralight backpack on the guest list.

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Filed under A.T., Adventure, Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, Backpacking gear, Camping, Hiking, outdoor gear, Travel

The risks and rewards of hiking solo as a woman

Aislinn gives an interesting perspective about backpacking solo.Screen Shot 2018-03-14 at 11.21.26 AM

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Filed under Achievements, Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, challenge, coffee, Courage, Hiking, risk, Walking, wilderness