Sunday, March 4, 2012

One way ticket on a southbound train

Countdown: 4 days to hike start

Friday was anything but normal or relaxing. Moved out of my (weirdest living situation) apartment in the morning, got into work a little late, ate a hotdog at 10am (breakfast of champions), went to a meeting to hear our CEO talk about the company's financial situation and plans, left for lunch to move my motorcycle to a friend's garage, ate leftovers back at work, rushed to final leadership/manager meeting, wrapped up things at work (unfortunately not getting to say "later" to all I wanted to), then headed back to odd apartment to meet with landlord and to move couch out, then off to the gym for a final "normal" workout.

A weekend of very little trail planning has been great. Enjoyed spending it with friends and some very special people to me. As I sit here typing this, I'm on a southbound train from Merced to Santa Barbara via Bakersfield to meet up with the man, myth, and legend Chris Clemens, and new friend Brian Sarvis.

After a little over a year in Merced, I can't say I have a strong connection to it. Not really my kind of town. BUT, the past few days and weeks have made me realize that I do have connections with some people, places, and things in the area. Going to miss the good people at work, my fellow gym rats, and great training from trainer, mentor, motorcycle riding buddy, and good friend Harry. Also very blessed to have been introduced to a new church and the family that makes it what it is. Thanks to Harry once again for inviting me to check it out, to all those who accepted me, and to an inspiring, passionate, and hilarious Pastor Rick. A special thank you to The Moe's for taking me into your lives, home, and kitchen :). You are great people! And to all those to whom I call friend, thanks for the good times!

Just over 2 hours on the train, with another 5 or so left. It's dark outside, but I think we are going through cow pastures. I hope numerous days on the trail without a shower doesn't make me smell anything like this! So what's in store for the next two days? Pulling all my gear together, including a choice of three potential backpacks that I haven't tried out yet, and brainstorming with Chris and Brian to double check what we need and don't need. Overall, I'm aiming for a total pack weight of 40 pounds. Broken down, this will consist of 20 pounds of dry weight (everything else except food and water), plus 20 (possibly 25) pounds of food and water. The next two days are going to be the time to really evaluate what I have been planning to bring, and what I will actually bring, with the aim of getting my pack to the lightest weight possible. We will be breaking weight down to pounds and even ounces. I agree with Chris...we will be working with pints during this time too. Mmm... beer. How I will miss thee. Luckily, there are breweries (oh, and an REI) in town to help us out!

As promised, some facts about the trail:
-At almost 2200 miles, the Appalachian Trail is the longest marked trail in the United States

-The A.T. is marked by more than 160,000 "blazes" 6 inches by 2 inches in size. Primarily found on trees,
one can follow the trail of blazes all the way from Georgia to Maine

-Of the thousands of hikers who attempt to thru-hike (from Georgia to Maine in one shot), only 1 in 4 make it

-The A.T. passes through 14 states: Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York,
Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine

-More than 250 shelters can be found along the trail. Sometimes called a "lean-to", the shelters are generally a three-walled structure with a wooden floor and roof

-It is estimated that 5 million steps are required to complete the trail

-Vigorous backpackers can complete the A.T. in four months, but most hikers require 5 to7 months

-The highest point on the A.T. is 6625 feet at Clingman's Dome in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

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