The Perfect Start To The Weekend

“It was a very good end to the week.”

-Craig Trychel

Since I used the very few pictures I took of my hike today in other posts, I will recycle an old photo from the entrance of Ward Pound reservation. It’s the end of the week and I couldn’t think of anything better to do to start the weekend. A peaceful and beautiful four miles!

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One way in….One way out…

 

 

Happy Hiking!!!

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Place In The World (WPC)

“The trick in life is to find out where you belong. Once you find out where you belong, you will be happy there.”

-Frederick Lenz

“When you know and respect your Inner Nature, you know where you belong. You also know where you don’t belong.”

-Benjamin Hoff

This is my place in the world. A place where I want to be. A place where I need to be.

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Place in the World

Forest

“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.”

“The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness.”    

-John Muir

Ward Pound Ridge Reservation in New York.

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Forest

Back To The Brown Trail!!!

On a hike, the days pass with the wind, the sun, the stars; movement is powered by a belly full of food and water, not a noxious tankful of fossil fuels. On a hike, you’re less a job title and more a human being. A periodic hike not only stretches the limbs but also reminds us: Wow, there’s a big old world out there.”

-Ken Ilgunas

Hiking and happiness go hand in hand or foot in boot.”

-Diane Spicer

For the first time in about nine months I returned to the Brown Trail at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation. Although it was around 75 degrees, the canopy of the spring trees provided enough cover to keep things cool.

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Happy Hiking!!!

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Early, Early Morning

“Enjoyment of the landscape is a thrill.”

-David Hockney 

If this weather could go on for just a little bit longer that would be great. However, I am certain we will be punished soon enough with humid days and temperatures in the 90’s. With that said, this morning proved to be nice and cool, allowing me to get in a six mile hike through Ward Pound Ridge Reservation.

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5:15 am

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The field below the parking lot. As the sun came up, the haze disappeared.

Happy Hiking!!!

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Why The AT? Then Again, Why Not?

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“To travel, to experience and learn: that is to live.” –Tenzing Norgay

In a little under two years I will be eligible to retire from my job as a special educator. In NYS, teachers can retire at the age of 55 if they have 30 years in the system. Directly after high school I spent four years in the Marine Corps, then went to school and worked other jobs for  several years before teaching.

So what does this mean? It means that my time in education is near an end. So what next?

As I mentioned in my previous post, my first goal in retirement is to thru hike the Appalachian Trail. As a matter of course, the first question that everyone always asks anyone with a similar goal is “Why?”

With that said, let’s get the “why” out of the way.

My first adult real life challenge came in October 1983 when I reported to Parris Island, SC for basic training with the USMC. Without a doubt, this was the most difficult thing that I had done in my life, both physically and mentally. To describe it as three months of pure hell would be an understatement!

After being discharged I began hiking more than I ever had and used this as my primary form of exercise during the months that were suitable for hitting the trail. The rest of the year was spent riding a stationary bike in an attempt to try to get and stay in shape. This remains true to this day.

So, when you look at my love of hiking and put that together with a lifelong desire to accomplish difficult tasks, a thru hike almost seems inevitable. Why not?

More on this as I continue my research of the AT and engage in some more self reflection.

Numbers Don’t Lie On The AT

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Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” –Robert F. Kennedy

“No Pain, No Rain, no Maine” – Common Appalachian Trail saying

Since the inception of our great nation, the Appalachian Trail has existed and snaked its way from Springer Mountain in Georgia all the way to Mt. Katahdin in Maine. Almost 2,200 miles of grueling mountains and rock covered trails that punish the body as well as the mind. Every year, thousands of people start the pilgrimage north (and some south) to see if they have what it takes,  both mentally and physically, to thru hike the distance.

The statistics for potential thru hikers are sobering. In 2016, 3,377 people started a thru hike of the AT. Compare that to 2010 when only 1,460 hikers began in an attempt to join the ranks of successful thru hikers. With that said, only 685 actually completed the trail in 2016. That represents just a little over a 20% completion rate. You would think that with all of the information out there, the number of folks completing a successful thru hike would be higher.

So then why do so many hikers not finish the thru hike they begin? I suppose that many times you have physical injuries which can be brought on by many factors. Accidents, poor preparation and the constant feeling of  being uncomfortable for long periods of time that some people find to be not worth it. The mental aspect, unseen and mostly unheard, can end a thru hike as quickly as a broken ankle. That nagging voice that is in your head  constantly telling you, “Just quit. The pain, being wet and miserable can all be over.”

My thoughts are this-I am firm believer that if you are properly prepared to thru hike the AT, then the odds of you completing it go up rather than down. To me, this means you need to be realistic during the prep period. Realistic about living outdoors for six months, realistic about the weather, realistic about not being around your family and realistic about your own physical condition, age and medical issues.

So why this post? Why am I researching the failure rate of AT thru hikers? It is my hope and my intention that shortly after my retirement in 2-3 years time I will undertake a thru hike. Northbound from Springer to Katahdin. 5,000,000 (or so) steps.

Let the preparations begin!