Monday, March 22, 2010

Bear Bait!

So my backpack smells like chicken … which, with less than two weeks before I start traipsing around the backcountry, isn’t really a good thing. To make matters worse (for me) it smells like rotten chicken. Thru hikers can get pretty smelly but STARTING the trip with your bag smelling like the bottom of a curbside garbage can … that could earn me a name change. Yahtzee could go to Stinky in nanoseconds!

Long story short, I took my pack and it’s contents over to my sisters’ homes this past weekend. The intent: show my nieces and nephews all of my gear and explain the trip to them. They all tried on the pack, which is currently standing at 41.3 pounds without water, fuel, my first aid kit and a few other items, so I’m pretty sure it outweighs my youngest niece who, needless to say, couldn’t lift it off the ground.

I got home on Saturday night and unloaded the food bags from my pack. It was then that I realized that there was something wet in one of the compartments. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out what it was. I didn’t have any fluids loaded yet. The mystery liquid was the consistency of water but smelled horrible.

The next morning it dawned on me … one of the chicken pouches I was carrying in my food supply bags must have come open. It was the only thing that had any liquid to it. Sure enough, after inspecting everything carefully I found the culprit chicken pouch with a small slice in it (like that of a box cutter). I probably purchased it that way. It was fine until I squeezed it into a tightly stuffed pack which forced the liquid out of the pouch and into my pack. Needless to say I’ll be checking the rest of the pouches for structural integrity, washing my pack with baking soda and warm water plus looking over my shoulder a bit more to check for “friends” on the trail. A chicken flavored backpack would make me the pied piper of the AT … at least for a short time anyway. 

Happy Trails Everyone!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Spring is here ...

I awoke at 5:00am today although when I glanced at my television’s cable box it said six-something … a reminder that we had “sprung forward” somewhere during the middle of the night.

Spring marks the official beginning of the thru hiking season on the Appalachian Trail. My original plan was to kick off my hike on March 15th but, to be honest, I’m glad I had to push it back to April 1st. Since this is an El Nino year the weather has been extra cold, snowy and wet on the east coast so the extra two weeks will actually work out to be a blessing instead of a hindrance to my six month timeline.

As I walked into my living room this morning I bumped into a moving box and awoke my dog Nixon. His head popped up from behind the Salvation Army donation pile and he watched me walk to the couch. Moving the pillows aside I called him over with a pat on the cushion and he jumped up eagerly. Nixon isn’t typically allowed on the furniture but this morning I didn’t care.

I sat there, with a small amount of light filtering out from the bedroom, petting Nixon and enjoying the simplicity of it all. Sitting on a couch. Petting my dog. The warmth created by the furnace that kept the air temperature a perfectly comfortable 70 degrees. And I thought … why is it that I’m creating this self-imposed turmoil? Why walk away from the best job I’ve ever had and leave my friends who I enjoy spending time with? Why worry my family for six months and what can I say to alleviate their fears and calm their nerves? What the heck am I doing all this for?

As soon as I asked myself that question I already knew the answer. It’s true, I may be relinquishing financial security and many physical comforts (for a time) but the tradeoff is an acquisition of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual gifts which – for me – can not be measured, quantified or hung on a wall. This adventure is a journey of personal discovery and how could I not take it?

So … with Nixon sitting on the couch and the sun slowly starting to rise outside I surveyed my stuff stacked, piled, boxed and scattered about the living room. I realized that I’ll see it all again, in six months time, as I unpack it someplace new. Hopefully having completed one adventure I’ll be starting on my next … whatever it may be.

Happy Spring everyone.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The countdown is on! One month to go...

Today is March 1st and things are getting really real. I've given notice at work, my position has been backfilled and I'm already transitioning my replacement. This past weekend I sold my car although, thankfully, I get to keep it through the end of March. The final walkthrough of my rental property is scheduled and the house has been listed, "for rent." People are already driving by, slowly, trying to determine if this is where they want to live. I hope they come back next weekend when I'm having a yard sale. I've rented a storage unit for those precious few items that I can't bring myself to part with. The airline ticket is purchased and my ride to Amicaloa Falls State Park, in Georgia, set.  It's official ... this is really happening. In exactly one month's time, April 1, 2010, I'll be on the Appalachian Trail.
Realizing one's dreams is a scary undertaking.

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