Tag Archives: Hiking

Two Must See Documentaries About The Appalachian Trail (And One Book)

white blaze

The white blaze of the AT

I had the opportunity this morning to watch two excellent documentaries on the Appalachian Trail. The first, White Blaze-Stories From Appalachian Trail, was filled with interviews of thru hikers explaining not only why they decided to hike the AT, but also had it had changed them.

This documentary features M.J. Eberhart, also known on trail as the “Nimblewill Nomad.” His insight and  and wisdom is second to none as he has been hiking for more years than most people have been alive. His hiking accomplishments are many, and to me the most amazing is that at the age of 60 he hiked from the Florida Keys to the far North of Quebec. That is an astounding 4,400 miles!

He is also the author of Ten Million Steps: Nimblewill Nomad’s Epic 10-Month Trek from the Florida Keys to Quebec. I have read this and it is one of the best written hiking books out there. He is one awesome dude! I highly recommend this book to anyone that wants a detailed look at long distance hiking.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-UMoA-QmZU

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The second documentary took a little different path than the first. One group of people that thru hikers will encounter on their hike are “Trail Angels.” Trail Angels are folks that take time out of their lives to provide assistance to thru hikers. Often times in the form of a cooler left on the side of a trail, they can be filled with soda, snacks, beer and candy bars. Trail Magic can also be rides into towns, meals that are bought for you or even a free place to stay for the night.

This documentary featured “Apple,” a 30 year veteran of IBM who decided that in retirement he would spend his time providing Trail Magic to thru hikers.  He sets up a 12 person tent that includes a stove, food and drink. For many at the start of a thru hike, something like this can be a life saver as the weather can be incredibly unpredictable with night temperatures in the 30’s to mid 40’s. He goes into some detail as to why he does this and the cinematography is just outstanding.

Here is the You Tube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uaZxBlVwhcE

Happy Hiking!!!

The Road To Recovery

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My road to a full recovery…

It has now been 108 days since I slid on that damn rock and fractured my ankle. As those of you have sustained an injury like this know, the road to recovery is pretty long and much to my surprise, very difficult. First it was learning how to hobble with the walker without a cast. Then re-learning the whole thing with the cast and taking a shower on a chair with the cast (that’s a whole other story!) And finally PT and walking with a cane and then walking without a cane again.

Each stage came with its own set of frustrations and difficulties. I had plenty of days where I firmly believed that I would not be hiking for many, many months. The constant pain and long days of sitting around with my dog, cat and rabbit sometimes proved to be more detrimental than I would like to admit. Actually, having the animals around did make things more entertaining.

So what’s happening now? I have been riding my stationary bike with the thought that I will be able to go for a hike, albeit a short one, on the first day of November. Of course that all depends on my recovery continuing on the same path it has been for weeks now. I have also been stretching every day for at least 15-20 minutes just to try and stay limber in anticipation of that first hike. Never underestimate the power of stretching! Even though I have always stretched before and after hikes, the extra time really has made a difference. I am a now a believer!

Do I expect that first hike to be a great one? Or even a good one? Probably not. With that said, it will just be nice to get back out into the woods. More on that later.

Happy Hiking!!!

Thank You Ozark Mountain Hiker & MZ!!!

For those who read my blog you may have noticed an incredibly drastic change in my posts over the course of the last couple of weeks. When I started this blog I said that I would use it to share my love of the outdoors and especially hiking. Through my photography, posts and sometimes cringe worthy poetry I have pretty much kept myself to that promise.

Since I have not been able to hike since my surgery, I have had a great deal more free time to peruse the news and pay much more attention to what is going on nationally than I normally would. Now that’s not saying that I ignored politics before my injury, but I have just been spending a great deal more since I can’t blog about imaginary hikes.

Yesterday I received this comment from Ozark Mountain Hiker after my most recent political rant:

I miss your outdoor-related posts. Completely respect your right to express political thinking, but wonder if this is the best platform. Maybe another blog for politics and this one back to hiking?

I read that last night and spent some time on his blog checking out his photos and reading the great descriptions of his hikes. It got me to thinking that I really miss being to get out into the woods! I miss the smell of the woods, the light rain as it falls off of the leaves and the sound of my boots hitting the earth. I miss the camaraderie of greeting fellow hikers and the small talk of what is coming up on the trail.

But what I miss the most is the actual planning of my hikes. Taking out my maps and thinking about the type of hike I want to do. Long? Short? Easy? Hard? A hike packed with views or traveling through the forest? A short drive from home or a long one? If the forecast is for rain, do I still go?

Even after my decision is made, I have to figure out what to bring on the hike. I can’t explain why that makes me happy, but I love it!

So until I can figure out how to better convey my political rants, I am going to stop posting them on this blog. I am going to return to just making this about the outdoors, hiking, my photos and the other stuff that I used to post

Before I end this post, however, I do owe a huge thanks to Ozark Mountain Hiker (Jim Warnock (trail name – Tater) for putting things into perspective for me and making me realize that there is a time and a place for everything. Thank you sir!!!!

***In my haste to convey how I was feeling after I read the comment from Ozark Mountain Hiker, I realized that I should have mentioned someone else as well for hitting me with a dose of reality. I ran into a colleague of mine (after I had originally posted this) who I have known for quite a few years. Several days ago she mentioned the same thing about my blog. She told me now when she sees the political posts she scrolls right through them.

She said the same thing that Ozark Mountain Hiker did. Go back to posting about your hikes! So Meghan, thank you as well for what you told me and for getting my blog back to where it should be!

HAPPY HIKING!!!

The First Ride Back

“Your body can stand almost anything. It’s your mind you  have to convince.”

-Anonymous

After 65 days of no form of aerobic exercise, I was finally given permission by my surgeon and physical therapist to start riding the stationary bike again. Up until June 28th I had either hiked or rode my stationary bike no less than 6 days per week for the past three years. Of course I had regularly exercised prior to that, but not at the distances that I had been able to work up to.

When I decided to ride bike today I really didn’t know what to expect. How long should I ride? How much resistance should I put on the bike? And the biggest question, How much is it going to hurt?

So I climbed on the bike with just a little bit of hesitation and set my stopwatch for 15 minutes. I took a deep breath, put the resistance on two and started pedaling.  Starting pretty slowly, I was surprised that I didn’t feel any pain. Of course the doctor and the PT had told me that since it is not a weight bearing exercise it probably wouldn’t hurt, but what do they know?

One minute passed, then five, and at the fifteen minute mark, the alarm sounded. Since I didn’t feel any pain, I decided to go for another fifteen minutes. When that fifteen minutes ended I was even more shocked to find that I still wasn’t in any pain.

I will admit that as I climbed off of the bike and began stretching, I felt a great sense of relief.

I’ll count this first workout on the road to recovery a success!

 

 

Camino de Santiago

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A couple of days ago I wrote that after careful consideration, a thru hike of the Appalachian Trail was not going to happen. After consulting with my doctor, the fact that something could happen during a thru hike related to being dehydrated and my kidneys was too much to ignore. Also, if I were to get injured on the trail, I’m not confident that I would be able to either get out under my own power or be able to contact someone for help. This latest incident really made me think!

So what am I to do? A couple of years ago two of my colleagues completed a portion of the Santiago de Compostela. As I sat in my usual spot earlier this summer waiting and waiting for my ankle to heal, I thought about that and began researching what it would take to hike the entire Camino Frances.

What is the Santiago de Compostela you might ask? (taken from Wikipedia)

“The Camino de Santiago “Pilgrimage of Compostela”; known in English as the Way of Saint James among other names, is a network of pilgrims’ ways serving pilgrimage to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried. Many follow its routes as a form of spiritual path or retreat for their spiritual growth. It is also popular with hiking and cycling enthusiasts and organized tour groups.”

Although there are many different routes to get to Santiago, “The commonly agreed-upon route for El Camino de Santiago (a.k.a. the Way of St. James) begins at Saint Jean Pied de Port, France, and travels 500 miles through four of Spain’s 15 regions, ending at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia.” This is the route that I intend to take.

Because so many people choose to hike, walk or bike the Camino, it has actually become a livelihood for the poeple living there and as a result has been broken up into 32 stages. Although the distance of each of the stages are similar, the difficulty can range from really difficult to really easy. It all depends on the day. They say you should allow for a total of 35 days to hike the Camino Frances, but some take longer, some shorter. There are so many towns and villages along the way so that if you decide that you want to go longer one day or cut a day short, it’s all up to you.

This is the main reason I have chosen to hike the Camino Frances. The fact that being isolated along the Camino is next to impossible, water is plentiful and places to stay are in abundance makes this an ideal place to spend a month or two right after I retire. You can even add on mileage at the end to add a hundred or so miles to your trek!

So the dream for now to thru hike the AT is gone. That’s ok. The large amount of other places to experience what it offers can be found elsewhere and I think that I have found it.

Has anyone reading this hiked any part of the Camino de Santiago?  Is anyone planning to do so? Let me know. 

 

 

One Small Slip For Man…

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I have mentioned in previous posts that the one thing the last two months has given me is a chance to think. And since I have been doing a lot of thinking, I find it kind of funny how one small and seemingly insignificant event can change plans, goals etc. For the longest time I have wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail. My original plan was to retire and then soon after that start the trail on Springer Mountain in Georgia. That has changed just a wee bit since the end of June.

As I leaned against the slab of rock in Harriman waiting for the park rangers to carry me out, I knew that I was in for some time off from hiking. What I didn’t know at the time was the extent of how dehydrated I was and how that could possibly have an effect on future hiking. The ankle I can deal with. The surgery repaired it and the PT will help me get back on the trail.

The dehydration thing is a whole other story. After spending four days getting bags and bags of fluids pumped into me, I also knew that I was going to have to make some changes in regards to a thru hike.

After much deliberation, I don’t think that a thru hike is possible. Why you might ask? Even though the AT crosses many roads and you do have access to towns, the amount of time that you can be isolated in the woods is somewhat daunting. If something happens or access to water is limited, that could spell trouble.

Am I making to much of this? I don’t think so. At my tender age of 53, I have developed a healthy respect for staying alive. Watching videos of folks who have vlogged their thru hikes, although water is plentiful at times, at others it can be scarce. My doctor has said that I can not afford to have another episode of dehydration like this one.

So what to do? With all of the time to think and ponder that I have had, I believe that I have found a suitable alternative. One that makes me happy and one that makes my family happy (and less worried!)

Stay tuned!