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What comes after the summit?

Hey guys! It has been far too long since I last updated the masses (all 6 of you) on the status of my journey. By now 4 or 5 of you have had a brief moment (no more than a passing thought) wondering if I have ended up in a ditch somewhere, then immediately went on with the more important things in life such as finishing cleaning the toilet. But I will type away, keeping my delusions that SOMEONE might be a bit curious.

Before I set foot on the Appalachian Trail, it was pretty clear that there would be a lot of climbing involved … clear to anyone who has ever seen a mountain. It was less clear to the middle-aged couch potato who still thought of himself as 18 how STRENUOUS and painful some of that climbing would be. But without fail, reaching the summit always carried a sense of achievement; frequently a sense of awe; and all too often a sense of severe pain and hunger. Yet we continued on, sometimes because we really had no choice if we wanted continued survival, but usually simply because that is what we do. But as I have no doubt mentioned many times before, my life is governed by irony. Little did I know that the pains and rewards of that first part of my current journey … a mere hiking a few hundred miles through varying terrain with a house on my back … PALED in comparison to what came next.

logo-546e4da8_site_iconWithout getting into TOO much detail (after all that is what my best-selling yet to be book is about), suffice to say that the emotional and spiritual part of this journey that has defined the last couple of months is to the hike like The Incredible Hulk is to the kid that always got stuffed into the locker. If you want a less S.A.T.-ish metaphor, or better yet clear speech, it was downright HARD! I reached the depths of despair … not even being able to envision continuing another moment … yet still continued. I found moments of pure nirvanic bliss, so content that if my life stopped at THAT moment, I would know the Question to the Ultimate Answer … yet still continued. I did manly battle with inner demons galore, with many a scar … yet still continued.

And here I am, at the proverbial peak … wondering what is next.

Now I can finally start this blog post. Since I spent so much time in prepping you, I’ll shorten things up a bit. What is next is to continue climbing. No more path to WALK on? Guess I am going to have to fly now. So my new life plan in one long-winded set of words: yet another website (which is also a business) up and running; one old website in the process of being revamped and also turned into a business; two more websites to be upgraded to join the team; all to fall under one shell that also will require a website; three books to finish writing; going to massage school to round off the plan; all this with no steady place to live and no active income yet.

I think I got it all.

Stay tuned folks, it is really starting to get interesting now!!

Time for another gratuitous promo

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63 Britannia Drive Aquone NC 28781

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63 Britannia Drive Aquone NC 28781 35.210986, -83.625814 Aquone Hiker Lodge

Before I actually set foot on the trail, I envisioned a certain level of daily progress, which would improve quickly as I continued along the trail.

I was quickly disabused of such silly ideas.

I forgot to take a few things into account: reality; the fact that these are mountains; the fact that I am a middle aged couch potato. Fortunately there was an easy solution … stopping often and taking many days off. Doesn’t make for speedy hiking, which is fine since I realized I am in no hurry. As a result I have already taken in a fair amount of local flavor (realizing how far off I was in budgetary planning in the process). The various establishments ranged from “I wish I were back in the woods” to “They are gonna let me IN there?”, though they all were alike in having welcoming staff. But my current location is an unexpected bit of homey luxury, so while I am in relax (repair?) mode, I figured I’d give them a shout out, especially since they are new.

Yep. It’s commercial time.

Need I say more? I am gonna anyway though. The Aquone Hiker Lodge is owned by Steve and Maggie. Wiggy (Steve) is himself a past thru-hiker, so he knows how to treat us desperate vagabond types. He and wife Maggie immediately make you feel welcome, and you know without a doubt every need will be met. Clean clothes, a shower, comfy … well … EVERYTHING … ensures that one will be very reluctant to leave (says the guy heading for night 3). Maggie cooks a mean meal, perfect for a hollow, ravenous hiker. Wiggy is very knowledgeable about the trail, and the region in general. Between the two of them nothing will be wanting.

I even had some hot tub time to untangle some severely knotted muscles.

In short (if I can still call this short), this is the type of place I would love to come to for a simple nature getaway. And the bestest part is the price is unbeatable. If you are hiking in the are, make sure you visit this gem of a “hostel”. If you are NOT hiking, come visit anyway. Guarantee the visit won’t be regretted.

Wiggy, Maggie … I’ll tell ya where to send my check ;).

Well tomorrow I should be refreshed and repaired enough to go back to being a dirty, hungry nomad for a few days again. Mostly thanks to my stay at the Aquone Hiker Lodge (though that name may change a bit).

The final (30) repacking(s)

Maytag's "before"

Maytag’s “before”

Today is the last day of “civilization”. Maytag and I are making sure we have every thing we need, and and making sure our bags are packed well. It means absolutly NOTHING that bags have been packed and repacked several thousand times at this point. Though it does explain why a guy who doesn’t play tennis has tennis elbow. We also went out for final haircuts and a diner breakfast, followed by a 6ish mile stroll to attempt to digest the meal.

Mrs. Maytag (aka Janice) is an artist, and she has insured that every BODY who should be there will be. She has provided us with our very own hand-held Idiot so he will be in an photo up that feature the hiking team. We have to make sure we all show up in the book!

Pocket Idiot

Pocket Idiot

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Clover, North Carolina

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Clover, North Carolina 35.111248, -81.226465

Tick, tick, tick (and a few tocks too)

Two weeks from this moment, I will be sitting in a Jetblue airplane, practicing my starvation skills as I very slowly munch on the five peanuts provided by the airline, as the plane begins its decent into Charlotte Douglass International Airport. I will no doubt be wondering if my well packed backpack will indeed be AS WELL packed once it gets off the plane. And trying to figure out what extremely important item I forgot to pack. My blood will be rushing through my veins and my heart will be racing as the reality of the pending adventure begins to truly sink in. I may even be regaling my poor neighbor about said pending adventure in fast words without breaths in between, while they desperately beg the flight attendants for relief.

passport1Yep, the journey is almost upon us. As with any great adventure, I fluctuate between thinking everything is all set and wondering what other little thing I need to get. I have a “Oh yeah, I need THIS” list that never seems to get smaller. Meanwhile, Maytag (who may change his trail name to Nucking Futz instead) keeps finding cool toys to bring along that do not actually require another sherpa. For instance he just got us our official Appalachian Trail “Passports”. We can fill it up with stamps from participating folk, thus proving once and for all we actually did pass through all the places we will claim to (even if nobody can prove we actually HIKED the distances in between).
Even as I am typing this, the following came up on my streaming radio. Freaky eh?

As important as having accurate navigation on the trail may be, the trail is really well-marked. I am more concerned about getting lost in my own pack … therefore I still need to make a good pack map. Kind of a challenge with a nosey cat around. It might be awkward if I pack her by mistake. I also need to pack my “bump” box … basically the box of stuff that I may need more of, don’t need right away, or to eventually put what I don’t need any more into. This box, if I do things right, will be waiting at post offices a few days ahead of me. That, combined with purchasing on the way, is how I plan to keep the larder (and belly) full. Also, for the convenience of any people who are fond of care packages, such as cookies (and other baked goods), I will generously keep people informed on which post office will be best to send them too. Make sure you make enough for everyone on the trail though!!

Stay tuned folks. I am sure I will have more excited babble in the near future!

It’s March!!

Can ya believe that we will be leaving in about three weeks? It seemed like just yesterday this whole adventure was just a vague idea!

The last few days have been a bit … outside the routine. Which is not necessarily a bad thing since my routine is about to change drastically anyway. But this shift in routine was a little thought provoking. For one, my uncle passed away (from dementia), resulting in a funeral and my family reconnecting with some people we have not seen in over thirty years. The next day I found myself coming down with some sort of bug that refused to be named, which I am just today recovering from. So the recent days have been filled with a crazy mixture of thoughts of the past, family, mortality, whacked dreams, and what we will be facing on the trail. Mixed in with the constant, “Am I forgetting anything?”

Evolution of a fashionable back pack ...

Evolution of a fashionable back pack …

Now that I am sort of thinking clearly again, I can most definitely, without a doubt say that I am almost completely sure that I MIGHT have just about everything I need … I think. Thanks to the random bits and pieces of advice that have been sneaking in, I seem to keep thinking of just ONE more thing that might come in handy. I got this nifty bungie web thing that attaches things tightly to the outside of the pack. So no more danglies. And it even matches the pack. After all it is important that I hike fashionably. If I pack only a weeks worth of food at a time, I actually have  fair amount of room to work with, so it just comes down to keeping track of post offices now. I still have not done an official weighing of the pack … the recent affliction put it off. So the current to do list:

  1. Do a full packing (including food and water) and weigh it, as well as do some practice walking with it.
  2. Make a map of the pack so I actually know where I put all my knew toys.
  3. Figure out a shipping plan to keep my stomach happy.
  4. Pretend to get some more exercise in.
  5. Visit the local watering hole at least once more to make sure they will survive six months without me.
  6. Hopefully not spend too much money in said watering whole.
  7. Spend some time with the family members who might miss me for a few minutes.
  8. Buy the small things that I did not need to special order but still need.

This list is growing as I type. Seems I still have a few things to do to prepare. Which is actually better than having nothing to do accept gnaw on the woodwork until I actually go.

More updates when I actually have something useful to say. Just felt the need to check in.