“I could never resist the call of the trail.”
“I could never resist the call of the trail.”
“What seems to us bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.”
– Oscar Wilde
I have had the opportunity to do a great deal of thinking since I’ve been laid up after my surgery. One of the questions that keeps running through my mind is, what if I had been alone during that backpacking trip? What if I didn’t have my two friends there to call for help in what has proved to be one of the worst days I have ever had. Now, when I originally planned this trip, I was going to go alone but a couple of months later I asked two friends if they wanted to join me on what was supposed to be a three day adventure.
Thankfully, Ray had an app on his phone that was able to give the exact latitude and longitude of where we were. If I had been alone, I would have only been able to give a general description of where I was therefore possibly delaying my departure from the trail. Jaime immediately knew to call 911 and the Park Rangers to summon help as quickly as he could. Once again, if I had been alone, due to my physical condition I am not so sure whether I could have properly summoned help and I may have sat there for hours waiting for another hiker to come along.
When I was younger I never thought that hiking alone could be a dangerous activity. I spent many days in the woods and my family didn’t even know where I was or when I was going to be back. I never thought for one second that I would ever get hurt hiking!
However, as I started to get older, I decided that it was probably in my best interest to leave an itinerary, just in case. So what info do I leave my family?
I used to think that leaving all of this information was overkill. After fracturing my ankle last month, I am now more committed than ever to making sure that I let someone know when I am going to be out hiking.
Oh yeah, one more thing. Make sure you have more than enough water for your hike. Stay hydrated!!!!!
“Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.”
– Henry David Thoreau
My original plan for this beautiful Saturday morning was to head out early and get in about 8-9 miles. However, as plans always do, this changed after I was 1.5 miles into the hike. As I walked, my left Achilles started to hurt. I decided pretty quickly that 8 miles was not going to happen and after a short water break I cut the loop short and headed back towards the start of the hike. All in all, I still ended hiking just over 4 miles.
“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.”
“Hiking and happiness go hand in hand or foot in boot.”
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.
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!
“I have a therapist. Her name is nature.”
Today’s hike started a little on the dark and dreary side. When I left the house at just around 8 am, it was foggy and the temperature was 47 degrees. By the end of the hike the temp would rise to an extremely comfortable 64 degrees.
As I made my way through and around Ward Pound Ridge reservation, the skies cleared and a nice breeze took care of the bugs that had been had been feasting on my face.
“Walking is a man’s best medicine.”
For the second day this week we have had some superb hiking weather. If it could be like this all year round it would be awesome!