Archive For: Humor

Appalachian Trials

(Book cover: Zach Davis)

(Book cover: Zach Davis)

One of the books that I have read concerning the Appalachian Trail has really hit home for me. This book is “Appalachian trials: The Psychological and Emotional Guide to Successfully Thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail” by Zach Davis.

As its title suggests, this book deals more with the TRIALS of the trail versus being a play-by-play recap of the authors hike.

After reading this book, you realize that probably 75% or more of the ability to complete the trail is purely mental.

I have read multiple books that all state that you do NOT have to be in peak physical condition to attempt the trail. On the contrary, most authors agree that if you show up in decent shape, with the ability to walk about 10 miles per day while carrying 30-50 lbs on your back, you will do just fine. The trail has a remarkable way of turning EVERYONE into a seasoned, fit hiker within the first few weeks on the trail. Translation: you do not have to show up with the physical ability to hike 25-30 miles per day, every day of the week. Over time, the trail will give you that ability.

This book suggests that the Psychological stress of the trail is the main reason that most hikers quit long before finishing the trail. The trail is a Psychological Marathon of epic proportions that few are prepared for. The trail has a unique way to Psychologically attack any potential hikers long before they even step foot on the trail itself.

I can relate.

The trail has been attacking me with my fears ever since I came up with this crazy idea.

My brain is constantly churning…

“I can’t make it!………My feet and legs will never hold up for that long….”

“I don’t have the balance to be walking on small ledges or rocks with a drop-off that will kill you”

“My biggest phobia of my life is FEAR OF SNAKES…..and this trail is crawling with snakes!!”

“What if I get a blood clot out in the middle of nowhere?”

“It takes an act of God for me to just be able to put on my own shoes, here in my house, with furniture and chairs to use for support. How will I put my hiking shoes on inside a tiny little tent?”

“The guide books say there are sections of rock scrambling where you must leap from rock to rock….. how can I leap with two numb legs and a bad foot?”

Most important…

“Good Lord! Ya mean I gotta POOP in the woods????!!!!!”

Sigh…….

I am guilty of something that most all AT Hikers are guilty of. I have spent a lot of time online reading Journals of AT Hikers and have spent a good amount of time watching every AT-Related YOU TUBE video I can find. People who write journals and who take videos tend to focus in on the HARD aspects of the trail. There are few videos of people walking along straight and flat trail through the woods. Most videos highlight the hikers scrambling over boulders the size of small houses, crawling up rocks and hills so steep that they are literally on their hands and knees, sliding down hills so steep that they have to hold onto exposed tree roots to keep themselves from sliding out of control, huffing and puffing up a steep mountain which seemingly never ends, only to point out that they have 7 more such mountains before the next shelter in which they can stop to sleep for the night.

All the while, I am sitting there, mumbling………. “Good grief! I can’t do that!!”

I call the wife and kid in here to the computer, show them videos, and then they too chime in unison “You can’t do that!”

The trail is already speaking to me, whispering.

“YOU!…….ARE AN IDIOT FOR EVEN THINKING YOU CAN CONQUER ME!! I WILL CRUSH YOU LIKE A BUG!!”

Obviously, most of my Psychological fears arise from my physical issues and my lifelong fear of snakes.

Most hikers are fine physically and have little to no fear of our slithering little poison-filled friends.

How does the trail get to them?

Various ways, including:

Body Freezing cold in the southern mountains during the early stages of the hike. Hiking in snow just deep enough to where you cannot easily see the trail, allowing you to twist your ankles on hidden rocks and roots. Temps so cold at night that your hiking boots and water bottles all freeze solid. Hiking in cold rain or snow to where most of your clothing and belongings get wet, causing all of them to freeze during the night.

Endless days of constantly hiking up and down mountains with little respite or flat trail in between.

Hiking endless days and weeks in forest so thick that you cannot see any views, cannot tell which direction you are hiking, with every day seeming to be a carbon copy of every day of the past few weeks.

Hiking and sleeping in the same clothes for days on end. Wet, musty, disgusting clothes.

In later stages you get oppressive heat and humidity that sap your energy and make each day a constant struggle of trying to stumble from one water source to the next.

Bugs! Trillions of bugs! Everywhere! Buzzing around your head, your mouth, all day and night long. Spending half the night in your tent swatting the bugs that have found their way in. Realizing the bugs are only going to get worse as you head north.

Realizing you have only enough food left for one meal, yet you are 30 miles from the next point in which you can get food.

These are actual Physical and mental issues that all hikers encounter, but issues that your mind tells you “WILL NEVER END”.

“ALL DAYS ARE GOING TO BE LIKE THIS!!”

It is these days that the trail claims most of it’s victims, even though there will be many days ahead where you are dry, well nourished, have great scenery, feel great, and the bugs are at a minimum.

A hiker, in good physical shape, physically able to complete the whole trail, will just up and quit, sometimes only days or weeks into the hike.

They will be standing in the middle of the trail, in the midst of a huge forest with seemingly no end, will be soaking wet, shivering, freezing to death, starving because they did not ration their food properly, will be homesick, will have blistered and bloodied feet, will have sore ankles, knees, and joints, their back will ache from the crushing weight of their pack, they are lonely because they have not seen another human all day long, they are paranoid about all the strange noises they keep hearing deep in the forest, they realize that they have 6 more MONTHS of this torture, they come to the realization that no one is forcing them to do this crazy hike…

and they quit.

More than a few hikers have all echoed the same advice: “Never quit on a bad day“.

Virginia is relatively early in the length of the trail. More than a few books I have read all agree that nearly 50% of the hikers will quit before ever reaching Virginia. Most agree that Virginia and the early states are the EASIEST on the trail. The trail is claiming most of it’s victims BEFORE they even come close to the real challenging stretches of trail.

Most are done in by the Psychological tolls of the trail.

They THINK AND BELIEVE that they are always going to be wet and miserable, the trail is NEVER going to be flat, they are always going to be hungry, they are always going to be in pain, these bugs are never going to go away, they are sure to step on a rattlesnake at any point now, and this was easily the biggest mistake of their lives.

(Part of the "Trail" in Maine)

(Part of the “Trail” in Maine)

When Steve and I hit the trail, I’m going to make sure that each of us is Psychologically prepared for everything that the trail with throw at us.

In 2010, I did a Charity Trip to South America with a Firefighting Charity that a relative had started. There was an instance where we were all on a bus, high in the Andes Mountains of Peru, on a road so-dangerous it is called “The Road of Death”, in which all of us were honestly in fear of our lives ending at any moment, when our leader Don just laughed and called out “It’s all part of the experience folks!!…It’s all part of the experience!”

I honestly feared I would die on that trip, but now I look back on it and laugh. He was right. It’s all part of the experience! I look back now and take pride in the fact that I survived the “Road of Death”.

That’s the way to approach the Appalachian Trail.

You just gotta realize that the trail is going to throw everything it has at you, trying like crazy to get you to quit.

No matter how miserable we may get, we just have to smile and yell up to the skies “That’s all you got?”.

It’s all part of the experience!”

Years from now, Steve and I will be telling the fellow residents of the Nursing Home about how we were freezing to death, soaking wet, starved, crawling up mountains, jumping from rock to rock, dodging snakes, bears, moose, dealing with every flying insect imaginable, how we spent days running from toothless, knuckle-dragging crossbred hill people, and how we conquered it all.

It was all part of the experience.

Think about it. Who wants to sit and listen to a hiker who has completed the trail, with the hiker saying “Everything was a piece of cake, no problems at all, just a long walk in the woods…..(yawn)”

Heck, people want to hear the good stuff! They want to hear all the stuff you overcame in order to finish the trail.

It’s all part of the experience!

(Even pooping in the woods)

Humbled Idiot

Pink-Haired-Lady

OK, so Steve has gotten REAL serious about getting in shape and losing weight, hiring personal trainers to yell at him and all………

I walked 4 miles yesterday and had planned on resting until like…..October……….so that my body could recuperate from the trauma of yesterday’s walk.

Then, Steve takes the gloves off, so I have to rethink my strategy..

So, this morning, in the blistering 62 degree Texas Heat, I headed back out the door, to walk 4 MORE miles!

Yeah Baby!!

sammy-hagar-rocking

There I was, about a half-mile from home, chugging along, face down, gray beard billowing behind me as I cut through the wind, “I can’t drive 55” by Sammy Hagar blasting on the Ipod……

Maintaining a ridiculously fast pace that no mortal human could possibly keep up with….

Until I suddenly caught a glimpse of a large shadow over my left shoulder.

I struggled to turn my head to the side. With the massive amount of G-Forces I was generating by walking so darn fast it was not easy to do……

And then I saw THEM.

Yes, THEM.

Two gals, probably in their 70’s….

Pink hair, pink walking pants, pink water bottles, happily chatting away and laughing…

As they blew past me WALKING on the road.

I struggled to raise a tired arm to give them the “How ya doin?” wave….

and then they were gone…

Getting ever smaller as they walked ahead of me….laughing….joking…….with their pink hair blowing in the wind.

Translation: Death might be slow.

I am slower.

I chugged along for the remainder of that first mile. I reached the driveway that I know is exactly one mile from my front door and looked down at my watch.

22:00 minutes….

Appropriately, “All by Myself” by Eric Carmen was now playing on the Ipod.

Walking this slow, that’s what I’m gonna be out on the trail….

All by Myself.

Steve will have plenty of time to blog about our exploits seeing as how he will be spending hours on rocks and tree stumps waiting for my slow butt to catch up.

This Idiot has been humbled.Hopefully, after 1090 days of training, I can at least KEEP UP WITH the pink-haired speed walkers in town.

But, on the bright side, that’s 8 miles walked in two days….

Though the trail will demand we walk that distance BEFORE LUNCH each day…

Yikes!

Things are getting serious now……….

internet-down2

Only 1091 more days until we hit the trail, and Steve has cranked up the training competition a notch or two….

Steve knows that most of the calories I burn in a typical day are burned while sitting here typing at the computer on one of the 3,951 blogs in my Idiot Empire. Steve also knew that I had gotten an early jump on the weight loss and physical exercise challenge by going out and walking a couple miles yesterday.

I don’t know how he did it, but somehow Steve manipulated our local phone lines and Internet routers so that I had NO INTERNET service today….all FREAKING day long!!

I can tell ya this… You sure don’t burn many calories starting at your modem waiting and praying for the little GREEN light to come back on. (Throwing a cat at the modem does not help either)

So, while Steve was out signing up for some Personal Trainer-type thigamajig to help him drop some pounds, I managed to drag my Internet-less butt back out the door for a FOUR mile walk (Cannon fire….followed by ceremonial release of doves)………….THEN, I got on the stationary bike and pedaled some more miles.

(Start the theme from “Rocky” now)

The topper to this display of physical determination and prowess was the large piece of CAKE that I downed after climbing off the bike…….

(I’m a weak-willed Idiot)

On the actual Hiking front, I purchased yet another E-Book on the Appalachian Trail at about 8pm last night and as of 3pm today, I was done with it. No Internet connection leaves plenty of time to read.

I’ll talk more about the book in a later post.

(The book: “How to kill your hiking partner and dispose of their body in 10 easy steps”)

Now, if you’ll excuse me….I need to get back to the training table so that I can finish this meal of FAT FREE CHICKEN STRIPS, FAT FREE GRAVY, and ZERO CALORIE ROLLS.

Burp!…….

The trail tail grows

I did not really intend to write again so soon, but the decision to go forward with this has given me a serious sugar high. It has nothing to do with anything I have ingested recently. I swear!

As youse observant types might have noticed, there is a new menu item up that away ↑↑↑.

Whatever you do, don’t click on it!!!

Do NOT press HERE either! Just because our addendum to the plan may be so earth shattering … so news worthy that the word Idiot will no doubt need to officially change its dictionary definition … is no reason to CLICK ON THAT PAGE!!

Don’t do it!

I am watching you!

I am watching you!

As a matter of fact, just ignore everything above this sentence!

A quick update:

I have now officially signed on as a TEAM BEACHBODY COACH. What exactly does this mean? It just so happens I am going to tell you. Wether you really want to know or not.

It means:

  • I have actually paid out money to get my sorry ass in shape, meaning that if I don’t follow through, my financial advisor (mom) will no doubt spank me thoroughly and ground me for weeks.
  • I now have personal drill sergeant, as well as a group of experienced exercise commandos, to ensure that I put down that candy bar and actually work up enough sweat to make the Sahara green.
  • I have the potential to actually torment others after they see my new god like body and make a few bucks.
  • I will now be the guy who can KICK the sand on the beach, thereby no doubt having a following of bikini clad beauties on my tail.
  • I have a name for the best-selling book and movie that will no doubt come out moments after we finish: Mountain Watch. We will have a picture of both of our sleek oiled up bodies in a nice red swimsuit on the cover.

On top of that, I have actually started counting my calories. Granted at the moment I am just seeing how high I can go, but it’s a start. Add to all this getting out of bed by 930 and sweating for a whole ten minutes, and I feel well on the way to stardom fitness.

Oh yeah, we are supposed to be training: Day 1.5

GuiltedInspired by Mark’s fresh start and enthusiasm, I too must step it up, and it does not hurt to post the official starting stats to shamegoad me into action. So here I am with the details of MY fresh start:

April 3, 2013

9 pm

A Wedding Function Hall

Taochild (affectionately known as Kramer in this arena) has just finished working a bar shift, the first real “work” he has done in a loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong time.

Serving roughly 400 thirsty networkers for 3 hours, especially when beer, wine and soda is free, officially counts as heavy training in my book. So I am calling that my frist official workout.

The tossing and turning all night because of how sore I am was just bonus calorie burning.

April 4, 2013

Taochild’s cave

Clad in … well you really don’t want that picture … Mountain Steve rolls out of bed bright and early at 1030. This in itself is a feat since the bed is surrounded by three walls and a dresser. Being hungry from my labor (and lack of sleep) of the precious night, I grab a banana and make a turkey sandwich on a bagel  and sit in front of the computer for a bit of relaxation and catching up on things while I eat brunch. Only for a short time of course.

Two and a half hours later, having been sucked in by FB, specifically a conversation about how to get into shape that wore me out, I read the Idiot’s update and realized that I was already getting left behind.

I quickly ran to my scale (read that as a brisk waddle) and stepped on it. It will not be a completely good reading because I just ate and it is not the first thing in the morning, but it will be a working figure. I get on the scale and looking down, cant’ quite see what it says. There seems to be a belly in the way.

It’s down there somewhere!

I lean forward so I can see around said belly.

168.7

Ecstatic to be starting at such a good point, I realize that as I leaned forward, I put my hands on the counter for support. Hands removed and I get my precarious balance and look again.

Flashing a serious of numbers AROUND 244. Since this is roughly where I was at on my last weigh in, we will call it 

244.0

The masochistsdoctors claim I should be about 180 or less. So I figure I will aim for a more realistic number like 195 to 200.

I am writing this before actually doing any exercise today, but the plan is to either walk a couple of miles as the Idiot did, or do some iPhone exercises that can actually be pretty intense. Maybe even both if I feel like abusing myself. But here we have it. this is the official starting point. I too will be weighing in every monday morning, and I expect much abuse and vicious glares if I back-slide again!

OK now I am off. Putting on my sweat band as soon as I post this (even if it is pretty chilly in these parts too)! I might add an update when I am done.

NOTE:

Haven’t even managed to finish this post and already have an update. No I have not actually gotten sweaty yet. But I am chatting with a Personal Slave DriverTrainer as I type these words. The mere fear of what she is describing has already caused me to sweat off about 16 lbs. And the money I have now spent is definitely worth another pound or three. Well on my way now!