Tuesday, March 28, 2017

< 30 Days - Dad, Food and Final Preps

Yesterday, we fell below 30 days in our wait time until we hit the trail.  Things have progressed along and I have gone from feeling like the hike is a very long way away to getting nervous that it is fast approaching and I still have things to do.

Korean Vet

My Father, who has had a few conversations with St. Peter at the Pearly Gates (who kept sending him back) is once again reunited with my Mother in happiness.  He was 87 years old and his body had finally reached the point where it was ready to release his spirit.  He passed peacefully between breakfast and lunch on St. Patrick's day.  My sadness at knowing that I will never have a two way conversation with him again in this lifetime is tempered by a happiness that I know he is now with my Mother again, who my Father has missed every day since December of 2011, when she passed.  He's with his Honey Babe now.

circa 1960s

circa 1980s

When I go back through my memories, I constantly see him as that tall, strong being.  Always there for us, even when he was on a job far away from home, building man's structures.  He was definitely the steady rock of our family.

My Father is also the one most responsible for my love of the outdoors and spending time hiking and camping.  I remember as a pretty young child he would rent an old Scotty 6 sleeper and we would hitch it up to the Buick Stationwagon and head out for a traveling vacation.  We would work our way to the beach and then the mountains.  It was a great introduction to the woods and spending time there.  In the 70s we had a camp up by Moraine State Park.  We spent most of the summer up there and Dad would come up each night or on the weekends.  He really liked to rake the leaves that filled the ground in our campsite.  From there it was some time in the Boy Scouts and then going out on our own.  Hiking and backpacking.  He planted the seed which has grown to this Quest of a long distance hike on the Appalachian Trail.  

He had a long life and he taught me many things.  He had one wife, five children, nine grand children and two great-grandchildren.  I like to think that he also had a good life.  He was certainly a large part in me saying I'm having a great life.  

Shauni and her Pap

I will miss him and his ready smile and easy laugh.  I hope I can find a fitting tribute to him as I use his strength to reinforce me during this upcoming hike.

Dad's last visit to the cabin

Our gear sits in the basement in the "Gear" area and we constantly pitter with it.  Adding this, deleting that.  I have decided on my first four days of food and have started to fill my "operational" food bag with what I already have on hand as I check the shopping list that will complete the contents.  We also started filling our only pre-planned food drop that we will be sending to Fontana Dam in North Carolina.  Sort of a supplement to what we expect to find at the store in the village.  

I have been collecting a lot of condiments in my last several years of doing sections and overnights, so we sorted through that and figured out what we are taking and what has been sitting at the bottom of my shopping bag sized food bag a little too long and needs to hit the trash.

Food bags and resupply

This upcoming Friday, we plan on heading up to my old stomping grounds in PA near the Museum to do a final overnight to once again become more familiar with our new hammocks and quilts.  I also need to get some dirt time.  Just some easy time outdoors for a while.  Before we head to Toms Run Shelter, we will erect the portable Halfway Sign at its location for the 2017 hiking season.  It is once again at Dead Woman's Hollow Rd, so we will put it there and hope to hike back to it, arriving some time in July if all bodes well.

My Before I HIke ToDo List is still pretty full, but I hope to start checking off some of them every day for a while.  Things are scheduled.  Things need to wait a bit still, but I'm confident it will all come together when it needs to and not a second before.  Just like a traveling wizard always arrives precisely when he means to.  

Georgia will be here before we know it and we will step out, with our backs heavy, but our hearts light to take on the challenge that is the Appalachian Trail and our Quest of Pamola.

EarthTone and LoGear

Earl F. Harold Jr.  1929 - 2017
and me  :)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Ten Goals/Traditions Custom Made for My Hike

Sunsday, 25 Rethe:
A lot of hikers look forward to all the unique things people do while hiking the trail.  There's the traditional things like Jumping off the James River footbridge, hiking naked on the Solstice, eating a half gallon of ice cream after making it halfway and mooning the cog to name a few.

I want to create my own goals.  Some things that are offbeat and maybe not very mainstream.  Although some of these thing are done by most hikers, I want to keep my hike interesting with the following things I want to do.  My bucket list of the quest:

1. Be asked to leave an AYCE buffet.

2. Buy a set of clothes in a thrift shop (for town, camp or trail).

3. Swim naked in a pond or stream.

4. Do a complete resupply in a gas station store.

5. Continuously change my trail name.  Try to find a new one for each state.

6. Collect and build some sort of totem for the quest.  Add something for each state or major goal achieved.  

7. Use only Shire Reckoning for all my journal and register entries. 

8. Create several badges, achievements and abilities that can be earned during the hike.  Some examples are the Outsider Badge, the Long Distance Trekker achievement and the Resupply Wizard ability.  

9. Submit an offering of fat and oil to Pamola whenever needed.  

10. After summiting Baxter Peak, continue along the Knife's Edge to Pamola Peak.  There my Quest will end.  

I hope to continuously add to this list as we make our way North towards Pamola.  The plan is to keep everything fresh and exciting.  Especially when the blues intrude on my mind.  

I also have cut this Hike into several short mileposts and goals to make it manageable.  I find it overwhelming to only think of that final mountain.  There is so much more before that final climb.  

Here are the first ten Goals and Milestones:
1. Neels Gap
2. NOC
3. Fontana Dam
4. Hot Springs
5. Damascus
6. McAfee Knob
7. Harpers Ferry
8. Halfway
9. Bear Mountain Zoo
10. Mt Greylock
to be continued...

EarthTone and LoGear

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Time Between Now and Then

This is a hard time to endure.  The time between being ready to go and being able to go.  Our packs are waiting ready.  Our gear is pretty much set.  We tick off each day as it passes and watch others start their own journey.  It's hard seeing them head out and not being out there with them.

Mama Bear (Ginger) after her first surgery.  Now she needs her ACL worked on

As usual, obstacles keep throwing themselves in front of us.  The tentacles are already reaching for us, even before we hit the trail.  Dog surgeries, dental work, mysterious bloody noses.  Each of these, and more, keep jumping up in front of us.  We have learned that each obstacle can be overcome by going around, over or through, so we handle each as it comes up and continue to hope that all will fall into place before we head to Georgia and start our Quest.

Dog walking with my pack

I try to wear my full pack whenever I can.  Most of my neighbors have gotten used to me walking through the neighborhood wearing my pack.  On our way to the woods where we walk the flat, sandy trails.  Some ask me what is up, others just stare and wonder.  

At least once a week, LoGear and I try to get out to the only place around here that has decent elevation changes, Patapsco State Park.  We can do a couple different loops from a couple of miles to somewhere near ten.  Mama Bear gets pretty excited when she sees us getting our packs ready.  It is going to be hard on her (and us) when we do it in late April and leave her behind with Home Base (Brandi).  

Taking a packs off break in Patapsco State Park

I'm itching to get out there.  Even if it is just an overnight.  The weird spring like weather has messed my mind up even more.  It feels like it is time to go, but there are still miles of things to do before we hike.  The obstacles keep us at home.

Until it is our time, and all (or most) of the obstacles have been handled or mitigated, we will continue to watch the videos and read the journals of those who are out there now, hiking their hike. The time between now and then continues, until it is our turn to add our feet to the trail and our voice to the song that is the Quest of Pamola.  

EarthTone and LoGear