Tag Archives: travel

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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Filed under Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, challenge, Decision making, Hiking, outdoors, Persistence, Walking

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

An Appalachian Trail Backpacker’s Code

As backpackers and hikers gear up for another season in the wild, it seemed appropriate to revisit this post.

Write in Front of Me

Photo courtesy Jim Dollar @ Flickr Photo courtesy Jim Dollar @ Flickr

Daniel Wood left journals from hikes he had taken. Among those pages I discovered this document. I testify it was written by him. He requested whoever discovered it would post it online for all Appalachian Trail hikers and backpackers.

A Backpacker’s Code

I realize that choosing to hike this trail is a fulfilling, but serious endeavor. In setting foot here, I choose to be responsible not just for myself, but for those I meet on the trail. While I may never find myself in such a situation, I owe it to myself and others to hike responsibly and stand ready to help another backpacker should the situation arise.

I realize that I am to be responsible to myself first, and self-reliant to the extent of my backpacking and camping skills. If I do not have the basic skills of the art I will seek out seminars…

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Filed under Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Life direction, Long distance backpacking, Outdoor sports, Travel, Walking, Wildlife

Doggone Cold! Winter Gear List for Dogs

Yes! You *can* take your furry friend onto frigid winter trails; Patches Thru share with you just how it’s done!

Patches Thru

Winter on Mary's Rock

Here’s a list of the winter hiking and backpacking gear that M’s Seeing Eye Dog Edge used on our winter Appalachian Trail adventure in Virginia for New Year’s. This list includes the gear he used for climbing up to Mary’s Rock with wind-chills of -15℉, as well as the gear he used for his first winter overnight (with a record-breaking low of -2℉).

Winter Day-Hike Gear List for Edge

  1. Fleece-Lined Waterproof/Windproof Jacket (5/5): The jacket was easy to put on and take off, provided good coverage for precipitation, great mobility, and some added warmth. The jacket performed as described; I think it would have been perfect if the weather had been in the predicted range (lows of 15℉ to 25℉), but with temperatures dropping into the single digits and wind-chills making the effective temperature even colder, a warmer jacket with more coverage would have been better.
  2. Musher’s Secret Wax:

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Filed under Adventure, Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, dogs, Hiking, outdoors, Walking, Weather, Winter hiking

7 Posts From My Archives Every Anticipating AT Hiker Should Read

Stubbs offers some fascinating and worthwhile advice on how to increase your chances of enjoying a successful Appalachian Trail backpacking adventure!

Stubbs Rambles On

Hello readers! My apologies for my total lack of new content lately, especially on trail life. I’ve been tied up in the “real world” trying to get my life back on track after my injury, and I’ve also been in the process of getting back to work. It’s about that time of year when expectant thru hikers and section hikers are about to get the show on the road, and are wrapping up on that last minute planning and preparation. I aim to kick out some more hiking content in the coming weeks, but until then, I’ve put together a wrap up of some of my archived posts that I thought are worth a read if you’re still concerned or confused about things. All of these posts can also be found on “The Trek” blog, which I used to write for.


1) Happy Feet: Your Guide to Not Having Angry…

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Filed under Adventure, Adversity, Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, Camping, Dreams, Hiking, Long distance backpacking, outdoors, Transformation

Creating A Backpacker’s Journal — Because You’ll Surely Forget!

Photo courtesy Ray Dumas @ Flickr

Photo courtesy Ray Dumas @ Flickr

In the fall of 1985, after a summer backpacking the Appalachian Trail, I spent extensive time at a donut shop north of Boston. I know, there’s no worse way to sabotage a svelte hiker waistline than keeping company with chocolate croissants and dark roast coffee.  But I wasn’t there for an insatiable sugar binge.  I was there to write (OK, I did have some coffee).

I was there to copy what I had journaled that summer from one notebook into another.  I knew the fuzzing of memory over time would dim the the events of those rare days.  The photos I’d taken could never express my feelings, and some entries were so sparse they barely described what happened.  To prevent the potential fraying of my recall over time from robbing me of a record of that hiking season, it was vital I transcribe and clarify my brief journal.

First I reviewed the original material and jotted notes on entries which required expansion.  I corrected misremembered points. I expounded on moments which had deep meaning. I used a fresh corps of words to conjure a picture which featured adventure and exhaustion, frustration and elation, sadness and loneliness.  I penciled in what I felt and thought, all my regrets, misgivings, and moments when endorphins had me feeling I might take wing from the glorious summits I scaled.

I recorded it all: the pain and pleasure, the wrong turns and risks taken.  I apprised the me I had then and since become, capturing in a net of ink and paper a person who, though different today, still lives.  My journal became a lesson book that still reflects the vibrant risk taker I had become.  Each time I read it, I feel I’ve come home.  No video, photo, or electronic blog post can take me back to the intimacy, power and precious story of those days like my handwritten journal.

Thus I would admonish you, my friendly reader; though you blog and video and snap the shutter, nothing will make your hiking memory become a valued legacy like taking pen to paper to document the details.  Do it soon.  Because — over time — you’ll surely forget!

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Filed under Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, Hiking, Timothy J. Hodges

An Appalachian Trail Backpacker’s Code

Photo courtesy Jim Dollar @ Flickr

Photo courtesy Jim Dollar @ Flickr

Daniel Wood left journals from hikes he had taken. Among those pages I discovered this document. I testify it was written by him. He requested whoever discovered it would post it online for all Appalachian Trail hikers and backpackers.

A Backpacker’s Code

I realize that choosing to hike this trail is a fulfilling, but serious endeavor. In setting foot here, I choose to be responsible not just for myself, but for those I meet on the trail. While I may never find myself in such a situation, I owe it to myself and others to hike responsibly and stand ready to help another backpacker should the situation arise.

I realize that I am to be responsible to myself first, and self-reliant to the extent of my backpacking and camping skills. If I do not have the basic skills of the art I will seek out seminars and workshops where I can learn how to hike and backpack properly. I will not simply stuff and shoulder a pack and lumber into the unknown.

I realize that the trail is a much-loved but much used space, and that I am a steward of it when I hike it, as well as before and afterward. I will not litter. I will not leave trash in fire pits. I will sweep clean all shelters I use, before and after. I will leave things better than I found them. I will respect trees and not engage in cutting or harvesting living trees for firewood.

Though celebration of the journey with others hikers is a wonderful part of the hiking experience, I realize the AT is not “party central.” Reckless behavior, selfishness, drunkenness, and drug use are not part of the trail. I will be mindful of how I would feel if I came across a hiker in distress on the trail and wasn’t ready or able to help them out because of my own incapacity. It is irresponsible and foolish. A clear head on the trail at all times shows good judgement and shows me to be a mature, experienced backpacker who is able to care for others along the way. As a result I will find greater enjoyment and respect on the trail.

As a long distance hiker I know where I am going. I don’t simply show up at a trailhead expecting to wander like an aimless nomad. I know the trial, how long it is, what rules and regulations (federal, state, and local) are to be followed. I study maps and guides. I know the terrain I will encounter and the weather concerns. I am ready to deal with snow, ice, blistering heat. I know what risks are genuine as well as the dangers (e.g., it is not bears and snakes). I understand the meaning of the word hypothermia and recognize if I were about to fall victim to this killer.

Photo courtesy Nicholas A. Tonelli @ Flickr

Photo courtesy Nicholas A. Tonelli @ Flickr

I know that the trail is more overcrowded than ever. My trip will factor in this knowledge and, if needed, I will choose an alternate route for my hike, or a different season. I will avoid hiking with a large group, which takes a toll on the trail and results in packed campsites and shelters. I will not camp on land or in areas where laws forbid. I will especially avoid stealth camping in ecologically sensitive areas.

I will practice rigorous hygiene as much as possible, realizing that outbreaks of gastrointestinal diseases or norovirus spoil the journey for everyone. I will wash my hands often and keep my cooking gear clean and dry. I will carry and use hand sanitizer. I will use proper sanitation methods for my private toilet.

Before I leave home I will make sure I have the proper gear and know how to use it. I will know how to use a map and compass and will not rely on a cell phone or GPS while on the trail. I will not cavalierly place myself in dangerous circumstances which might require my rescue and put first responders at risk.

Photo courtesy Ben Townsend @ Flickr

Photo courtesy Ben Townsend @ Flickr

I realize that when I take on the choice to hike the trail I immediately become an ambassador and trail steward. Other backpackers, hiker, day-hikers, and the general public I meed will judge not just myself but the entire hiking community by my example.

I realize, lastly, that in passing along the trail I leave a legacy of behavior and reputation. Townsfolk and hostel owners will remember most the hiker and backpackers who were best behaved. I know that my stay at a hotel, motel, campsite or hostel will determine whether or not hikers behind me are welcomed or sent packing. I will be on my best behavior at all times.

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